NaNoWriMo: Week Zero

A week-by-week guide through National Novel Writing Month. This essay covers the week before November in the lead up to NaNoWriMo.

Image Credit: 
© 2019 Epytome / Used With Permission

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is pretty much what it says on the tin: it’s a month where you write a novel (or 50,000 words of one). It’s a relatively simple concept, but one that’s developed over the years into a whole community of writers, with groups, activities, websites, and even a certificate for finishing.

NaNoWriMo runs throughout November and getting involved is really simple. You start by deciding that you’re going to do it this year. There you go, you’re doing NaNoWriMo. To add to that, you can sign up to the official NaNoWriMo website, where you can track your progress and find motivation and tips. There are also Facebook groups of local writers you can join, who are all doing the same thing, but that’s an extra. The only thing you need in order to take part is yourself, a writing implement, and a commitment to do it.

Just before November starts, let’s take a look at what you should be doing to prepare yourself before you start the task of writing.

Create Your Plan

The majority of the month is writing, so you need to get yourself ready. You need to plan both your schedule for the coming weeks and what you will be writing about. On average you should be hitting a 1667 words a day, so you need to figure out when and how you’re going to be getting those words onto the page. Depending on your preferences, you could also start looking for a support network that you might need during the month.

Execute Your Plan

Before you put pen to paper (or finger to key) you should have some idea of what your book is going to be. You don’t have to have a detailed blow-by-blow of everything that’s going to happen, but you do need a starting point. Come up with a concept, then work out who your main character is, what kind of world they exist in, and what they want. Without that—as a bare minimum—you’re going to struggle. Once you have that, look at your schedule for November. Can you make time to write every day? Do you have any prior engagements that you need to plan around? How do work and/or family fit in? Look for ways in which you can do short bursts of writing. Perhaps buy some notebooks and a set of decent pens, maybe set up your phone so you can write on your lunch break or on public transport, or charge up your laptop each night. Then, find groups near you that can offer some kind of support. There are Facebook groups, there are local writing groups, and even there is the likelihood of NaNoWriMo events happening in your area. Usually, this information can be found on the NaNoWriMo website. Look them up, join them if you want to. It’s worth making a backup plan or two in case things don’t quite go as expected. Finally, prepare your writing schedule. It’s a very good idea to plan how much you’re going to get done, and when. Feel free to come up with your own, but this is my suggested plan:

Week 1: Write 5,000 words

Week 2: Write 20,000 words

Week 3: Write 15,000 words

Week 4: Write 15,000 words

That’s it for your prep. You’ve got everything in place to start what is set to be an arduous, draining, yet productive month. But something that is often forgotten about NaNoWriMo is that it’s not just about a word count. It’s also about setting up your writing discipline. Taking part in this is great for getting you to set aside writing time, and setting goals encourages you to stick to that, which is something that will help your writing career long-term. Good luck with all of this, it’s going to be an interesting month.


Next: Week One

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

Join the Discussion

Please ensure all comments abide by the Thanet Writers Comments Policy

Add a Comment