National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just a few weeks away! Are you among the many writers from all over the world planning to crank out 50,000 words in thirty days?

What to Do NOW to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Completing the NaNoWriMo challenge is no small feat—it can take years to complete a novel, and yet those who step up for NaNoWriMo each year complete an entire first draft in just a month. It averages out to 1,667 words each day of November (download and print our official NaNoWriMo calendar here).

The official rules for NaNoWriMo state that writers are not permitted to begin drafting until November 1. But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit and wait.

There are actually several things you are allowed to do to prepare for NaNoWriMo before it starts. Taking advantage of this time to prepare could make a big difference in how hard it is for you to cross that finish line to word 50,000.

4 Steps To Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Here are four ways you can give yourself a jumpstart for NaNoWriMo success next month:

1. Get to know your characters

Characters are what drive plots forward. The better you understand your characters’ motives, histories, and personalities, the more naturally the story will grow once it’s time to write.

Take a little time to get to know each of your story’s key characters before November to make your writing go more smoothly.

2. Explore your world

Whether you’re creating an entire fantasy universe or just a small Midwestern town, the setting of your story can be powerful.

Take a walk through the streets (or fly through the galaxies) and make sure you know the history, major landmarks, and secrets behind your world.

3. Plan your plot

Outliner’s have an advantage here, as you can break down your plot points as much as you want before NaNoWriMo starts. But for writers who are more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, it can help to at least know the major tentpole moments.

Having at least a rough idea of where your story is headed can help stave off writers block.

4. Clear your schedule

Once November 1 hits, getting those 50,000 words in is going to keep you busy, no matter how much planning you do.

If there’s anything you can take care of in October to clear your schedule later, do it. The fewer distractions and commitments on your plate while you write, the better.

Writing is a marathon

Remember, writing a novel is a marathon… and taking on the challenge of NaNoWriMo is like trying to sprint the full distance. Help yourself along by doing what you can to prepare, pacing yourself, and taking advantage of the supportive NaNoWriMo community.

Get more tips to complete NaNoWriMo here »

How about you? What have you done so far to prepare for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments.


Pick your poison—character, setting or plot? Start planning this element of your NaNoWriMo story, and take at least fifteen minutes to get those thoughts fleshed out on paper.

Then, share your plans in the comments!

Emily Wenstrom
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.
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