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It’s NaNoWriMo time! National Novel Writing Month, that is. Are you in or out? If you’re considering doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, don’t go it alone. Click here to learn more about NaNo and to gain access to loads of resources to help you survive.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m participating this year, but I thought it would be good to share how I successfully get through the process.

  1. Resources. The NaNoWriMo website is chock full of helpful resources to get you started. It will even provide information on local writing groups in your area that host and sponsor NaNo events for participants. This is an excellent starting point for newcomers interested in writing their first novel and using NaNo to do it.
  2. Support is everything! There is no way I would ever conquer NaNo without my local writers’ support group. Connecting with other writers can (I feel) be essential to your success. Everything from writing workshops to help you prepare for NaNo to write-ins, and gatherings to help you ease the stress of making it to the finish line – a local writing group can offer the help, support, and encouragement you need to get through those final stages.
  3. Preparation. This looks different for every writer. Some writers work better when they map everything out. They may spend hours or days outlining their novel and including details for each chapter within the outline. Other writers just fly by the seat of their pants and write whatever moves them. And still others prepare by doing a combination of both. If this is your first novel, you may have no idea what method of preparation works best for you, but now is a good time to find out. Don’t worry if you’re uncertain, just jot down your ideas, try to develop a story concept from that point, and be ready to start writing your first few pages on November 1st. Also, consider that preparation extends beyond just preparing to write. There can be a lot that goes into it. For example, if you have a family, preparation for November may include planning out family meals for the next month, or carving out a tiny little writing space where you can shut out the kids, the cats, the dog, and the spouse so you can steal a couple of hours each day to devote to your writing. Preparation could include coordinating your calendar to make sure you don’t have any potential conflicts that may interfere with writing. And lets not forget to factor in Thanksgiving. You may need to adjust your daily word count so that you finish before Turkey Day, or make sure you will be able to have time to devote to writing throughout the holiday. Whatever preparing for November means to you, now is the time to do it.
  4. Unplug. This is a tough one, but necessary. When you finally sit down to work on your masterpiece from day-to-day, silence your devices, unsync your tablet/phone/computer,  mute the phone, do whatever you need to do so that someone else can’t hijack your time. You and only you are accountable for your time dedication when it comes to writing. And only you can allow yourself to be distracted from getting it done. Turn off your notifications and allow yourself the time it will take for you to get your daily word count in for your novel.
  5. The survival kit. If you’ve done your research on NaNo already then you’ve heard about having your writer’s “survival kit”. And if this is new to you, you will learn all about having your survival kit for NaNo. This can seem confusing and a little weird all at the same time, but it is an important element to have, especially if you’re easily distracted – as I am.  No two kits are the same. Just remember that your “kit” should be in your writing space within arm’s reach. Here is my survival kit to help give you some ideas.
  • Writing instruments. I use Frixion Erasable pens. My favorites.
  • Food/snacks/drinks (chocolate, coffee/tea, popcorn, finger snacks, nuts, etc.)
  • Notebook/journal – I sometimes handwrite my work, then transfer it. I often make notes on it or scribble down a new idea about the work. The notebook/journal comes in pretty handy for this.
  • Fidgets – I use them when I get stuck. Sometimes I just need something for my fingers to do and to take my mind off of the work for a moment. Fidgets can include putty, stress ball, or a textured object you like to rub, etc.)
  • Computer & charger
  • Music/earbuds/playlist – There are times when the dead silence kills me. Music often inspires me while I’m writing and I tend to be more focused.
  • TIME
  • Timer/time keeping app or device – This is great when you have a limited amount of time to write and you really want to stay focused.
  • Outlines/prewrites/drafts

Writing a novel in a month’s time is in no way an easy feat. But there are ways you can get it done. If I do decide to participate I’ll obviously be flying by the seat of my pants, and I won’t do it without having these other key elements in place.

Don’t be intimidated by the way it sounds. NaNo is an excellent way to get your first novel written. Some writers only write during this time. Others use it as a personal challenge. And still others just participate for fun. Many people write their first novel without any type of support. At least you will have all the resources and support you will need to get it done. You’ve always wanted to write a novel. . . so do it!

Good luck fellow NaNoWriMoers. Write on!

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