With one week to go until all hell breaks loose, it’s time for some last-minute Nano prep. Still running around like a headless chicken, trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to survive the next five weeks? Fear not. I’ve set up a checklist to help even the worst procrastinators among us to get ready by November 1st.
1. What are you writing?
Wether you’re a planner or panster, you may want to figure out what you’ll be writing. Planners probably already know this, but if you haven’t decided yet, now’s the time. Pantsers may feel like they should skip this step (and maybe you can, what do I know, I’ve never pantsed in my life. Also, is pantsed a word?).
2. Bling out your project
Get creative, whilst having fun. Figure out a title, or at least a working title. Something to call it other than Nano Novel of Ultimate Doom 2017. Or call it that. It would be an awesome book title. If you do call it that, I want to read it when you’re done. Creating a cover can be tons of fun as well. Don’t have any fancy editing software available? Fear not. Canva is a great – and free – tool where you can make quite a few different graphics, covers included. A synopsis or blurb can also be fun to write down at this point. Doesn’t have to be very serious, or say much about the story, unless you want to take this seriously. In which case, go you!
3. Present your story to the world
Or at least to your Nano buddies. Create your Novel page on nano (here’s mine). All the stuff above are things you can now add to this page as well. See, if you’ve completed step one you’re all set!
4. Put yourself out there
Tell someone you’re doing this. Or, in my case, doing this again. Share the participation badge, wear it with honor. You’re about to take part in something amazing. Let people know about it.
5. Plot that novel (pantsers can skip this one)
If you haven’t already, this is when you outline your story. Figure out what’s going to happen along the way. Name your characters. Worldbuild if required. Know what you’re going to write, so that in a week, if you’re struggling to start at the beginning, you can jump ahead and write, instead of staring blankly at the screen while ripping your hair out.
6. Stock up on emergency dares
It can sometimes be hard to let go of your inner editor. Perhaps you’ve thought about this story for so long, you’re finding it hard to keep writing without everything being absolutely perfect. Having a good stock of emergency dares on hand, can help you out if you’re ever feeling stuck. Pull one out, and use it, even if you end up scrapping the entire thing in december. Nano is about writing as many words as possible, and if some of them happen to be a re-write of your last chapter from the POV of a yellow space flamingo, no ones going to know except you.
Hit up the forums, and gather up at least ten dares that could help your along the way. A little tip: some of the genre lounges usually have their own genre spesific dares as well. My own personal favorite is the Travelling Shovel of Death. Killing someone with a shovel is always fun, and sometimes it can even fit into your story.
7. Create your Nano playlist
I love writing to music. What I like to listen to often depends on what I’m writing. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. As you already know what you’re doing (unless you’re a pantser, in which case I have you covered in a bit), now is the time to figure out what you should be listening to. Then create a playlist. Or several playlists. They should be at least an hour-long, so you’ve not tempted to stop writing once you’ve listened to all the songs once.
Now, for pantsers, guess what. You need a playlist too. But since you have no idea what you’re writing, you get to wing it. Lucky bastards. Add songs you love, make it awesome, toss in a few songs you’ve never heard about before, and maybe even a few random ones you found on some obscure Spotify playlist shared by that one crazy uncle no one talks about.
8. Organize your calendar
There is always something else happening in November. For some it’ll be exams, for others, it’ll be an onslaught of birthdays and early Christmas Parties. Take the time to sit down and get organized. Figure out when you won’t have any time to write at all, and when you’ll be able to write for a few hours undisturbed. That way, once the frenzy starts, you’ll already be prepared when you’re 10k behind after a week of one birthday party after another.
9. Figure out how to track your progress
Ok, so you can do that on the Nanowrimo website. But maybe you want another tool as well? One you don’t need to be online to access? (Something that will come in handy in November when you may have to shut off the wi-fi in order to get anything done). Then downloading a spreadsheet may just be the way to go. You can find some for free on the Nano forums here and here.
10. Play in the Nano forums
There is so much to do in the Nano forums, and now is the time to do it. If it’s your first year, spend some time there and familiarize yourself with them. Check out the lounges, the forum for your genre, or the Nano Tech forum to find out how other people write their novel. Did you know there is even a thread for the Typewriter Brigade?!
Don’t forget to join your home region, and talk to other people in your area! Maybe you even have a chat where you can hang out and write. My own home region (Norway) even have chat write-ins each week during November, so you can hang out and write with people, without ever having to leave your home. It’s awesome!
11. Stock up on Nano foods and snacks
You’re gonna need fuel if you’re going to write a novel, and that fuel should be at least 50% sugar and/or caffeine. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, whatever you prefer, now is the time to buy a lot of it. I also like to have various types of candy around, as well as fruit when I’ve had enough sugar.
12. Marathon that TV show before November
Been thinking about checking out Supernatural, and figure you may as well since you’re writing a supernatural horror story? Now is the time to sit down and start marathoning. Though, that was a horrible example, as you’ll never watch all 12 seasons in a week, unless you’ve also discovered time travel. Though a season or three of any show you’ve been dying to watch, should be doable.
I’m re-watching The Expance myself, and will also watch the last seasons of Dark Matter and Killjoys before November 1st, to get ready for a month of epic science fiction writing.
13. Get excited
The most important step. November is almost here. The madness is about to begin. The most productive 30 days of the year is upon you. Get excited. Dance around. Go crazy! And most importantly, get ready to win this thing!!!