Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gearing Up for National Novel Writing Month- How You Should Prepare

Song of the Day: Watch Me Shine by Joanna Pacitti

   Hello all! I apologize to those of you who actually listen to the song of the day. I couldn't find the full version of the song. I didn't want to change the song because it's perfect for today and I always try and match the song to the mood of the post. If you still have a burning desire to listen to the whole thing (and I recommend it, because it's AMAZING) then check out the youtube link. 
    I've been reading some very helpful advice about preparing for National Novel Writing Month and thought I'd share them on this post. I came across an article on written by guest blogger Michelle Devon. Some of the points are silly, but I still found the majority of them helpful. Here are her tips:

1. Buy Lots of Coffee

    I actually don't drink coffee, but I have the feeling I might start during November. I wonder if this will actually work for me. I don't really function well due to lack of sleep. We shall see.

2. Buy a Shower Cap

    Devon says that you will need a shower cap to keep you from pulling out your hair. I must admit this scares me. Is it really that bad?

3. Lock up All Fire Arms

    According to Devon, this is in case you want to shoot your computer screen at 5am after no sleep and "a character decides to take the storyline in a whole new direction."

4. Buy Headphones

    You will need to drown out noisy people in your house, the coffee shops, etc.

5. At 11:59 pm on October 31- Promptly disregard and temporarily forget anything and everything 
    you have ever been taught about writing.

   This is the one piece of advice that I hear over and over. Writers are advised to "just write" and keep in mind that they are just supposed to produce a draft of their novel. Can I just say that I'm looking forward to this one? I know. That's probably easier said than done.

6. Learn How Not to Edit
   Again, easier said than done. Especially for the perfectionists out there.

All Fun and games aside, there are some things that I've read repeated by writers who have participated in the past. Here's what sticks out in my memory most.

1. Outline Your Novel

    An outline will give you a general direction of where your novel is going. After all the years I've been writing, I've never really tried outlining. I think I'm going to give it a whirl, instead of trying to proceed blindly into a novel. I'm hoping this will also ease up some of the writer's block. You should probably also get to know your characters, but I think that might go hand in hand with your outline.

2. Develop a Word Count Schedule

    You have to write at least 50,000 words right? That's roughly 12,500 words a week, or 1,667 words a day. Each writer is different. How long will it take you to write that daily? Make sure you set aside that amount of time each day to write. I predict that that many words will take me somewhere between 1-2 hours to write. So plan ahead.

3. Try Not to Schedule too Many Things in November

    Don't make plans, unless it's absolutely necessary. I read somewhere that you should even freeze food ahead of time! I don't know about that one. However, I would suggest trying to plan your life around your writing time, instead of the other way around. For example, I know that I won't have time to blog as much. I'm going to have a few posts written out ahead of time, that way I'm not completely gone for the entire month (Besides, I would miss you guys too much!).

So there you have it! Are you ready?


  1. Ha ha ha! I love this, Racquel! I especially love #3, 5, and 6. :-)

  2. Great post! Thanks for the advice.

  3. Awesome post :) All of it does kind of make me nervous, and I do think I will have to pay attention to some of those tips in order to actually finish a novel this time around. Freezing food? WOW. I'm pretty good at making an outline and scheduling time...but then this thing called life happens. I have no clue how successful I will be during NaNoWriMo but I am def. going to try :) Your tips will probably help me get there :)

  4. The hardest thing for me will be to NOT edit. I can never shut down my internal editor, but I'm working on that. And of course November just happens to be when I'm starting to teach another part-time class AND taking the English lit GRE test to apply to PhD programs (and that' all your fault Racquel! :) ) Nevertheless, I'm going to try my best.

  5. hahaha! Love the advice! The shower cap bit cracked me up. It's not all that bad. I love NaNoWriMo because it forces aside that awful 'I only write crap' feeling because the focus is to write, to get it out. First drafts aren't meant to be perfect.
    A bit of adive I have is don't fall far behind. Don't try to play the 'I can catch up during the weekend' game. Write everyday.

    And thanks for the info about the MFA program, I'll have to look into it!

  6. I'll add - get an accountability partner, someone who will check in you w/you or vice versa, at the end of each day. You'll know that you will have to own up to the daily word count to a human, not just the NaNoWriMo site.

    I did it this way in 08 and will be doing it this way again next month. Heaven help us all.

  7. AWESOME post! today is my first year doing NaNoWRMo. I'm nervous! this post was great though. i'll make sure to go get my shower caps now. do you have any ideas of what you will be writing about?

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone! And Erin Yes, I do have an idea what I will be writing on, however, I may totally scrap that completely! :-/

    Pam, are taking english gre? What did you do to prepare? I need to start thinking about taking mine too...have you found a school???

  9. hey, thanks for coming to check out my blog too! don't scrap your idea! you can do it!!!!! :)
    btw, i really like your blog, so i'm def. going to make sure i come back and check it out often :)