October again! And has this been a year, or what? I would argue that, whether you’re feeling creatively drained or energized, NaNoWriMo is going to be even more incredible than usual. 🍁 Whether this is your first shot or you’re a veteran at marathon Novembers, there are systems you can set up to increase your chances of victory next month. So what’s the best way to make the most of NaNoWriMo Preptober?
(Pssst! If you’d like a free, printable Preptober Planner, click the button below!)
There are some big roadblocks that are obvious and others that are a little more–shall we say–nuanced. For example, your busy, busy daily schedule is an obvious impediment. How can you possibly squeeze one more thing, let alone 1,667 words, into each day?! (We’ll get to that later.)
But other obstacles are more difficult to pinpoint. Think of the things that might sneak up on you in November–birthdays, events, and the little things that need taken care of before the big things, like shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.
Try to write down all the big and little hurdles. November 2020 has a whole different flavor of uncertainty, I know. But it might actually make you feel a little less anxiety to list what’s ahead. It will seem more manageable on paper than it does swirling in your head. Try it.
Set Up a Winning System
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that everything that works for me is going to work for you–we’re all different.
That’s why it has to be YOU who designs your best writing system.
Are you clearer and more energetic in the early mornings, or late at night, after everyone has gone to bed? Can you beg off carpool duty this month, with the promise to cover for someone else in December? What about finishing your holiday shopping during October, using online delivery services? (I mean…most of us will have to do that in 2020–why not get it done early before the rush?)
I know it feels like every responsibility is necessary. But what if you delegated? Just try this: take out your calendar and read each task aloud, asking, “Can someone else do this?” Your sleepy subconscious mind will seize on the suggestion and start to work out alternatives. Don’t be surprised if you get an idea in a few hours’ time, or maybe even days later. It’s a little spooky.
But here’s the important part: allow yourself to accept help. Letting go of responsibilities can sometimes be even harder than managing them all. Give yourself the grace of an unforgettable NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t make you selfish. In fact, bringing your ideas to life will make you a better friend, partner, and parent. It’s never a selfish thing to be more of who you’re meant to be… Try it and see if it doesn’t bring other aspects of your life into alignment, too.
Outline Your Novel
Pantsers, relax. This doesn’t have to be uptight or restrictive. But, the truth is, you can waste a ton of time writing down a rabbit path when you should be sticking to the main thread of your novel’s plot.
If you think the plot is something that emerges as you write, like the seashell in a child’s handful of sand dunked in the waves, may I delicately offer a suggestion? That rush you feel as you write into the unknown–that miraculous sense of discovery? You can make an outline and still feel that wonder. You just change the timing. Instead of slogging through thousands of words to find the truth of your novel, you can string together the novel’s major plot points and dig for gold in the scenes between. It’s still the Muse, and it’s still magic. Trust me.
Use the button below to download free novel planning worksheets. It will be painless; in fact, I think you’ll find plotting to be a creative, fun exercise!
I hope your NaNoWriMo Preptober is a landmark experience for you, and that it teaches you and lifts you during this difficult year. I’m so excited to be a part of this community, and to write alongside you, friend. Good luck! I hope you’ll share your progress in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram. Write your big heart out.
NOW YOU: How do you make the most of NaNoWriMo Preptober?
Have you participated before or are you a newbie?
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