It may be a little while still, but writers around the world will likely be very aware NaNoWriMo is getting closer by the day. NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – takes place in November. It’s often seen as the ultimate challenge for aspiring and professional writers alike. Starting on November 1, the aim is to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight, November 30.

During NaNoWriMo, it’s not about quality but quantity. It’s all about getting the story out there instead of getting stuck on technicalities. The novel can be edited and rewritten later, but first it has to be written! It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s perfectly fine to write words you’re likely to take out at a later stage, so long as you’re getting the idea for your novel onto paper or saved onto your computer.

Some people think that writing 50,000 words isn’t that much. Past participants will know that it’s a challenge. It’s an endurance test. It takes perseverance and determination and a whole load of creativity to succeed.

So how do you prepare yourself for NaNoWriMo? How can you fit such a task in with a busy life, a family and other obligations? Well, each writer goes about it in their own way, but here’s my advice:

  • The novel doesn’t have to be written in a week. It’s natural to want to write as much as possible early on, but you may wear yourself out. Take your time.
  • It can be helpful to calculate how many words a day you’d need to write to complete the project, and aim towards that. If you happen to write more on a certain day, it’s great! If you happen to write a bit less, there’s nothing to worry about. It tends to balance out in the end and, if needs be, you can recalculate to see where you’re at.
  • Most people have busy lives. This doesn’t need to stop you from taking part, though. Try to set aside some “me-time” each day to do your writing. If you speak with your family, they’re very likely to understand! And you can write anywhere – during your lunch hour, on the train, whenever you feel creative and part of your story enters your head. It’s good to take a little notepad and pen with you so that you can scribble down your thoughts.
  • In the time leading up to NaNoWriMo, you can work on your basic outline. If you already have ideas about the events and timeline of your story, write them down. They will be helpful later. Character names, personalities, background stories, significant scenes, the mood you want to set with your opening paragraph – all will come in handy for when you sit down to write your novel.
  • Prepare your preferred workspace for your writing sessions. Many authors love a clean, tidy desk in a peaceful space. Try to set it up the way you like it the most. Strange as it may sound, it does help.
  • Seek encouragement. There’s an official NaNoWriMo website with loads of advice and lots of other writers who will be going through the same experience. You can make it a shared adventure to tackle this challenge.
  • If you have friends who’ll take part, it’s fun to compare word counts. However, don’t feel upset if they’ve written more than you have. NaNoWriMo is not a competition against others. It’s a personal achievement. So, whilst encouragement can work wonders, it’s important to work at your own pace.
  • Above all – have fun!