‘Tis the Season #NaNoPrep

I offer unsolicited advice about NaNo all the time. As a Municipal Liaison, it’s kind of my job, though I admittedly did this before officially becoming one.

There are 3 things to prepare: workspace, headspace, freezerspace.

1. Workspace.

You have one, right? It’s that spot you have to wade through clutter to reach, where you’re usually interrupted every ten minutes by kids, cheesecake, outside noise, hunger, SQUIRREL! For NaNo, you need to make sure the path is clear and unobstructed so you can leap from your bed, refreshed from 2 hours of sleep, and dash in to pound out your 1667 words before work.

Go find the power or charging cord for your typing device of choice now and set it in plain view where the kids, squirrels, or gremlins will be able to find it. If you’re lucky, they’ll take it right away so you can buy a new one before NaNo starts instead of waiting until the 2nd to do that.

Backing up your work as you go is essential, so make sure you have a flash drive or SD card packed in your bag for write-ins. It’ll only take 15 minutes to find it each time, but at least you’ll have it!

2. Headspace

One stumbling block many people face is the blinking cursor on the blank page. It stares at you. It taunts you. It wants to make you its bitch. And you will be if you can’t get past the idea that you just need to write words, lots of words. The first word is the hardest word. How do I begin this novel in a way that’s so totally awesome and perfect?

The secret is that awesome and perfect don’t happen en masse in the first draft. Face facts: your first draft will suck. Accept that you will fail in terms of poesy, depth, grammar, plot construction, character development, and cheesecake content. That’s what revision is for. No matter how many stories you write and how excellent they are when you release them into the wild, the first draft will have problems. I know someone who’s published over a hundred books. He’s super successful. He does 4-10 revisions of every single one. That doesn’t mean he’s a lousy author, it means he knows his initial draft is only the first step.

I’ve rewritten a single ending fifteen times. I’ve trashed entire chapters. I’ve ripped out the magic system and redone it. I’ve added scenes, moved plot points around, and introduced new characters, all after the first draft was done. Every successful writer does some of that.

Your goal now, like it or not, is to get through the first draft so you can do all that other stuff. Because all that other stuff is fun too, just in a different way.

3. Freezerspace.

Make meals ahead, freeze them, and eat them during NaNo. Because there’s nothing less awesome than spending time you could be writing on chopping onions. Sometimes, it may be the only break you take on a given day is to cook and you need it. That’s great, but be prepared for those days when that break is unneeded.

Besides, I like cheesecake, and I prefer to make my own, and I’m not going to stop during NaNo to whip one up.

Did you know that cheesecake freezes really well?
Did you know that cheesecake freezes really well?

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