Happy October, writers! Can you believe it’s already autumn again? Actually, can you believe it’s almost time for NaNoWriMo again?
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about planning for NaNoWriMo, and it’s what I was planning during my recent writing retreat (which you can see more of on my instagram, @btleditorial). I love productivity, and NaNoWriMo is the ultimate challenge in time management and creativity.
Today, let’s talk about how you can plan for NaNoWriMo with maximum efficiency.
// Some level of planning is helpful
I know there’s a divide on plotting, pantsing, and plantsing. I think that conversation is as old as creative writing itself. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to plan your project.
If you get along just fine without a rigid plot to follow, great! If you want a 30-page outline that has everything laid out for you, perfect! Somewhere in between? No problem!
But, most people need some level of planning to stay on track during NaNoWriMo. I mean, how could you not when you’re trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days?
With different planning styles in mind, here’s how you can stay on track:
For the plotter: You may need to spend October writing a detailed outline. You can even take it beyond plotting and figure out how much of your first draft will be in those 50k words, then plan out the rest of your draft for December.
You might even consider downloading this story bible template to get started on your organization!
For the pantser: You can create a very simple plan that doesn’t go against your more free-flowing creativity. Develop your general premise, including your beginning, middle, and end. This will help you find your way while still giving you the flexibility you like.
For the plantser: You should utilize October to plan out the most important aspects of your novel and at least take notes on the parts you prefer to pants. Yup, best of both worlds!
I’m very much a plotter, and I’ve been working on my outline and first 25k in September. I’ll write another 25k in October, and wrap up my draft with 50k in November.
// Already plan for the days you won’t be writing
Not every day is a day for putting words on paper and increasing your word count. That’s okay! But it’s especially frustrating when you’re trying to win NaNoWriMo.
In the United States, we have our Thanksgiving holiday in November. This year (2019), it’s the very last weekend of November, which means traveling, hosting family and friends, and generally less writing time.
I think one of the biggest keys to productivity is knowing when you can’t work. That’s just as important as knowing when you do have writing time!
For example, I know what days I’m traveling in November. While I might sneak in a little bit of writing time at the airport, I’m already counting these days as “non-writing days” so I don’t get my hopes up or have unrealistic expectations for my month of rapid drafting.
Knowing what days I can’t write has helped me figure out what my rough daily word count should be on other days. I decided to spread out those words over the whole month so that my total daily word count stays even and achievable.
Days you should take into account as potential “non-writing” days include:
- Travel/family visiting for holidays
- Exams you need to study for
- Days you work long shifts
I know I said it before, but I’ll say it again. It’s okay to not write every day! The challenge is to write 50k in a single month, but if you don’t hit a daily word count or don’t hit 50k, it’s OKAY!
Your worth as a person and status as a writer are not determined by how much you write.
// Consider past years and use that to help you figure things out
If you’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo before, this section won’t really help you with our 2019 plan.
However, if you have participated before, reflect back on previous years. Acknowledge what you did well and what helped you win the challenge, and don’t forget to reflect on what didn’t go well.
In 2016, I wanted to participate but a giant work project came up and I didn’t know how to balance my day job with my writing. I think I managed to write about 10k that month.
In 2017, I had a great NaNo plan but I got really sick and just couldn’t get back on the proverbial horse.
In 2018, I didn’t have my plot outlined (which I need) and quit halfway through.
Look back at your past NaNos and look for any patterns. It might be wise to take these into consideration and give yourself some “vacation days” like at a job so that you can take breaks and NOT worry about being off schedule if something unforeseen comes up.
// Other Resources
If you want to read more on productivity, click here to see the full list of productivity posts.
If you’re interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo to track your progress on their website and even find local writers participating in the challenge, visit the official NaNoWriMo website.
If want more information about productivity for creative writers or you find yourself struggling to plan, check out my book Productivity for Creative Writers: Refining Your Process and Building a System That Works for You on Amazon, available in ebook, paperback, and KU.
// Your Next Steps
Now that you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, I’m challenging you to map out your NaNoWriMo plan! Whether you need a full plot or just your premise, use October to prepare for one of the most fun writing challenges out there.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.