Monday, 27 October 2014

NaNo Talk: Pre-NaNo Prep

November is known around the world as National Novel Writing Month, a time of the year when hundreds and thousands of people try to get 50,000 words down on paper in just thirty days. There’s something quite compelling about it and once you’ve taken part once it has a habit of drawing you back in, year after year.

This year while I’m taking part I’m also sharing some of my thoughts on the various stages of the month.


This week marks the very last chance we have for NaNo planning, the final push before the kick off on Saturday. Now the site has been reset (though they’ve done something new with the boards this year so they never went completely blank, a bit of a bone of contention between some people) this is the time to fill in those bits and pieces of information that you already know about your novel.

One of the first things it asks you for is a title for your novel. I like to have a title. Sometimes it’s little more than a placeholder (I can’t think how many of mine have been called ‘NaNovel [year]’) but I do feel like I’m more inspired if I have an actual title to work with.

Considering the general theme of my novel this year is New Beginnings I’ve gone for Life After after posting for help in the Appellation Station forum. I’d been going with New Beginnings but it just didn’t give me that spark of inspiration that I got from Life After. It works well because for Tabitha it’s Life After HOPE and for Matt it’s Life After Daisy. I like titles with multiple meanings.

I had to come up with a synopsis as well, which proved tricky considering I’m still not entirely sure how it’ll end. I’ve fudged together something there but I might revisit it in the coming week to polish it up a little bit before we get started. But working out what your story might actually be about is kind of useful for planning in terms of writing an outline.

And you’ve got the option to upload a cover as well now. It’s not something I tended to do in the past. I’m somewhat graphically challenged so aside from the odd banner I don’t normally bother. But this year I decided to request one in the NaNo Artisans forum. A lovely designer came through for me and designed something that I’m pleased with, it’s definitely inspired me.

Thanks Jen Hen!
Having a title and a cover help because it makes your story feel like a real thing. If it’s got a cover and a title you have to get it written, don’t you. Whenever I get a little bit stuck during November I’m going to pull up my book cover and pretend its real to help motivate me towards the end.

My other favourite thing to do before I start NaNo is to organise my desktop backgrounds. I love that Windows 7 lets the background change every so many seconds. It means I don’t have to pick a favourite any more, I can download them all and then just switch between them. I especially like the ones with quotes or reminders because just looking at one of those for a moment is sometimes just enough to give me a prompt to keep going.

Oh, and you might want to think about getting a spreadsheet organised to keep track of your progress as you go through the month. There are loads of different ones depending on what programme you’re using, how you want your results to display and any other goals you’re working towards for the month. It’s just a question of downloading them all and seeing which suits.


And now I’ve got my background, my spreadsheet, my cover and my title, I’m almost ready to begin. It’s just a question of staying up until midnight at Halloween, then starting to throw words at the page and hoping that some of them make sense when I get to the end of the month.

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Let me know what you think. :-)