Preptober: Setting Yourself Up for NaNoWriMo Success

As we inch ever closer to the start of NaNoWriMo 2020, you might be feeling anxious about the start of this year’s event. It can be especially nerve-wracking if this is your first year attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge.

I already shared twelve steps to prepare for NaNoWriMo, but I’d like to share a few more tips before November.

And these tips aren’t just for NaNoWriMo! Whether you simply aren’t participating this year or whether you’re reading this blog post in March 2021, these steps are great practice before any writing project.

Want more posts about NaNoWriMo? Click here!

Reflect on past success

Think back to a time you met a writing goal or were pleased with how you worked with a draft. If you’re preparing for NaNoWriMo and participated in a prior year, imagine that time, too. Then, run through that scenario and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What goal did you meet?
  • Was it difficult? Easy? In the middle?
  • What behaviors served you well? (Plotting, for example)
  • What behaviors didn’t serve you well? (Hours spent cleaning your room instead of writing, for example)
  • Did you have a specific writing ritual that helped you? 

Knowing what behavior and actions have both worked well and not served you in past writing projects will make your planning for this new project more efficient.

Set a goal

With any writing project, having a goal to work toward will help guide your project.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, do you want to write 50,000 new words? If this is a different project, what word count resonates with you?

If you find word counts daunting, you can frame your goal a different way. Maybe it’s writing for 10 minutes every day, or writing at least three days each week.

There is no wrong goal for you to set. Just check in with yourself to make sure it’s a reasonable goal for the month ahead. 

Hold yourself accountable

Accountability is important for a major event like NaNoWriMo, but you don’t have to do this alone!

You can join your regional NaNoWriMo group, but you can also join virtual communities. Maybe undertaking an Instagram challenge is more your style! Whatever it is, connecting with other writers who are pursuing a similar goal can help keep you motivated and give you some support.

Strategize how you can make the most of your time

No matter what project you’re planning, you’ll want to think ahead about how you can set yourself up for success.

That might be hosting or joining writing sprints with your friends or online community. It definitely includes setting aside time in your day for writing! 

But it also includes accounting for days when you won’t write. Maybe you know Fridays are busy, or maybe you know you get sick every November. Think about these factors and how they’ll impact your word count goal. Then, think about ways to mitigate them, like increasing your word count on other days.

Be aware of your mindset

Winning NaNoWriMo is great. I won’t say it isn’t.

But it’s also important to recognize that winning isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo. Really, it’s about engaging with a writing community and building the habit of writing every day (or regularly)! 

If you start to feel pressure to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo, try to take a step back. Reaching that 50k number is fine, but you should also be proud of sticking with the habit even if you don’t write that many words in November.

Want to read more about the writing mindset? Check out this blog post.

Go write!

If you’re looking for more information about NaNoWriMo, you can check out these posts.

Now go forth and tell your story!


Preptober: Setting Yourself Up for NaNoWriMo Success