Happy October! For those of you in the know, the start of October means commencing a countdown to November and NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo encourages writers to write quickly, turn off their internal editor, and just pour that down-and-dirty draft onto the page. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words (or more) in a month, and receive encouragement in the way of fellow writers with whom to trade stories, plot points, and frustrations; a website where they can track words written, get writing tips from professional authors, gather in forums by area or genre, and purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs proclaiming themselves NaNo writers; local area meet-ups where they can write with other like-minded souls; a colorful badge for their website should they achieve their word count by November 30th and more.
Anyone who has signed up for NaNoWriMo previously is aware of the challenge involved. A prolific writer might feel the word count is easy, but the truth is that it’s hard to show up and write every single day, and the pressure of producing some 1,700-odd words daily can be wearing. It just takes a couple of missed days to get quite a bit behind goal. And for newbie writers, the entire project can sound daunting.
So how can you prepare for NaNoWriMo? What might give you an edge toward completing your task? This month I’m going to offer up some suggestions and tips that will help get you on your way.
There are many ways to start a novel, but I’m going to begin here with character. Who will be your protagonist? Male or female? Young or old? Human or other? Figure out who your main character will be and start learning a bit about them. Background, family, education, relationship status, occupation, etc. You might not use it all; in fact, you probably won’t. But getting to know your character is the first step to following them through the course of your NaNo novel. Happy writing!