Start Preparing for NaNoWriMo Now

Even under normal circumstances, early planning for large events is critical to their success. This year, of course, we are far from normal circumstances, which makes it far more important for writers to start planning for National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, for short, NaNo, even shorter) right now.

A couple of years (decades?) Ago, a wonderful colleague laid out a game plan to succeed in the challenge of writing a 50,000 word draft novel during November. But, as with most structured plans, it takes time to get into the habit and form the habit correctly . NaNoWriMo cannot be treated otherwise. This may sound simple to some – you’re just writing 1,667 words a day, not training for a marathon – but take that from someone who has done both: the training involved with both is much the same.

And there’s one big difference coming at NaNo 2020 – a big one – as the nonprofit announced this week:

NaNoWriMo works year round to make creative writing more accessible to people, including in partnership with over 900 volunteers who host writing events in regions around the world. After speaking with our incredible volunteers over the past few weeks, our organizational position is that there will be no official NaNoWriMo in-person events in 2020.

NaNo has always had a virtual element, anchored by message boards, motivational videos, newsletters, and online subscriptions, but moving to an all- virtual space could be a radical change for those who rely on a personal community to help them meet the daily word norm every November. I have often participated in live events in the past, whether I ‘competed’ at NaNo or not, simply because of the tacit camaraderie, responsibility, and support that comes from being surrounded by a group of like-minded writers.

With that in mind, here are some ways to start planning right now to be successful in November:

Find your virtual community now

Expect to participate in more virtual recordings with Zoom, Google Meet, Discord, and other virtual meeting platforms. Create an account on the popular platforms you intend to use (you probably had to do this back at the beginning of the pandemic) and have an opinion on which platforms you prefer. Find your local NaNo branch to make announcements via the NaNoWriMo website about where and when the official virtual events will take place (you can find your region here ; you just need to create an account first if you don’t already have one), or get started plan informal events with friends. Personal events are not just canceled, but actively opposed:

No personal events will be promoted on our website or forums. The organizers of any “unauthorized recordings” (which we strongly discourage) take full responsibility and liability for any such collection.

Experiment with different writing times

Are you a morning or evening writer? Can you write for hours, or do you work best with short bursts of concentration? If you’re unsure, now is a great time to start figuring it out. You can do it alone, but you may want to consider combining your experimentation with virtual meetings to see what time is best for you, your community, and your creativity.

Check your writing environment

Time is important, but location is equally important. As NaNo’s official blog suggests, check your writing environment to discover the perfect atmosphere for effective writing. Just like your writing time needs to be personalized, your writing space needs to be personalized too. Do you prefer to write publicly or privately? Would you help me find a new writing-only place in your home? Looking for noise canceling headphones? You can adapt as needed and try new things to create the environment that’s right for you. By November, you’ll be ready to get started.

Make plans for your kids focused on NaNo

Parents may face an additional challenge this year, as the pandemic could mean your kids will be back to distance learning by November , and full-time in your life. Consider customizing their specific study space with your own writing purpose in mind and perhaps providing them with a private study area nearby (or far, far away) from your writing area. Whatever your personal written plan, start thinking ahead of time about how to achieve your goals if your children are always there.

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