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Preparing for Nationional November Writing Month (AKA: NaNoWriMo)

How can I call myself writing a writers’ blog and not talk about NaNoWriMo? For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is exactly what it says. It’s taking the whole month of November and dedicating it to writing a book, a novel, in a month. A novel in a month, some of you are saying. How? Well, it’s certainly not impossible. I’ve done it before, just not in November considering I’m always busy in the fall. So I won’t be participating this year, again, but I’ll be rooting for all those who are participating and gladly giving tips on how to speed up the writing process. So this week will be dedicated to how to get out a halfway decent manuscript out quickly… Well, between that and Halloween which is next week and although I don’t celebrate it really (I do love it though), I can’t not talk about all things associated with scary stories, the horror genre, Frankenstein and Dracula and how to recreate stories like it.

Anyway, back to NaNoWriMo. It seems intimidating, but it’s not that bad. We’re talking about two thousand words a day and if you’re lucky, you may be able to get seven thousand when you go out of town to an old relative’s house where there’s no internet to distract you during Thanksgiving. But alas, NaNoWriMo hasn’t started yet. So here are some tips to get you started before NaNoWriMo starts, things that helped me when I wrote a novel in a month and some things that didn’t, but might be of use to you.

1) Know what you’re going to write
   Know the story you’re going to write and have it in mind with a general idea of how it’s going to happen. To be honest, I hope you’ve been doing that for the past month if you’re reading this and plan on doing NaNoWri. If I were doing this, I would have been mulling over an idea from six months ago to now. That’s just how it works for me.

2) Have an outline
    Because I usually come up with my ideas six months before I ever write them and may even write out a few scenes, I skip this step. I do all my prewriting in my head. But for those of you who don’t have as good a memory like me or don’t work well on winging it, grab a sheet of paper and get to outlining. It doesn’t matter what kind of outline. It can just be a list of things that will happen, but have one so that you have a general idea of how you’re going to get to where you’re going. Doing this will focus your writing and make it easier.

3) Know your characters
  Nothing can slow a story down more than characters who won’t cooperate. So know who’s going to be in it before you ever start writing. Start with the MC, work your way around to all the supporting characters, antagonists, and grab your cameo characters. That way when you’re writing, just pull straight from what you’ve already created. These prewriting things are the things that waste you time and slow you down. Get them out of the way now.

4) Set your quota
   I mean it. Figure out the word count you’re going for. The rules say 50k, but if you have a feeling your story won’t be done until 60k (that would be my target) write to and determine that it has to be done by November 30th. That means figure out when, where, and how many words you’ll type in any given day.

5) Find a place to write
    I find I can get more work done when it’s quiet, no one is bothering me, and the internet and phone are off. Obviously, when there’s seven other people in the house who like the internet and text me from upstairs and like to bother me, that’s not going to happen at home. Find some place quiet like a library (I just go to the upstairs part of the library in my school). If that’s too quiet, try a bookstore and don’t take any friends. Go alone. It’s quiet enough to get some work done, but has a little noise in the background. Have your place in advance. Don’t try to decide where to go the Nov. 1st. Start finding where you write best now.

6) No pressure
   Relax. Get your mind ready to focus but it won’t be the end of the world if life gets in the way and you don’t meet your goal. Some days you won’t make your quota. Sometimes you’ll go over your quota. Some days you may not feel like writing at all, but who cares. This is about a writer showing themselves what they’re capable of, and it’s also a good time to experiment and find ways to get the most work done in limited time. Just have fun with it. Who knows what will come out of it? And if you finish, you get an internet badge and a certificate saying what you accomplished. It's not that big of a deal. So relax now!

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