NaNo Planning

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

I know that NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short) is kicking off in just five days, but better late than never when it comes to planning, right?

And this time, for once, I’m not joking around. Planning is crucial if you’re jumping into this annual November writing challenge. 

So for those new to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo/NaNo), let me explain what it is (or just borrow from their website as they put it so well):

 “NaNoWriMo is a non-profit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.” 

Which in practical terms means this: 

Every November, writers from across the globe hunker down to write a novel, with the goal being 50,000 words completed by the end of the month. This roughly translates to 1667 words per day, and while these writers are putting in the work, they’re also able to network and gain support online and in-person. 

I’m a fan of NaNo and generally participate because I’m motivated by a challenge. But I have never completed 50,000 words, and I’m fine with that because I have achieved the goals I’ve set for me

Well, most of the time. And that’s why planning is so important. 

Before starting NaNo, I recommend taking the time to think about your writing goals. Because here’s the beauty of this challenge: it can be about writing whatever you want but it works best if you know what you want. 

Do you have a completed novel that needs serious revision? NaNo can help you do that. 

Do you have 25,000 words of a novel you’ve been working on all year and want to push yourself to get to 35,000 words by the end of November? NaNo to the rescue!

Do you want to write 10 poems, or three articles, or five essays in 30 days? Yep, NaNo can help you with those goals, too. 

And of course, it can help you write 50,000 words of that novel that’s been stuck in your head forever. It’s a writing challenge, and you get to choose what and how you need help. 

Now, because it is all about novels, you’ll find a ton of information specific to novel-writing but that doesn’t mean it won’t translate in some way to what you’re writing. Check out all the writer’s resources, starting with NaNo Prep (and yes, it’s modeled on starting in September but you only have five days. Read fast!). Not only does NaNo Prep give you a calendar, outlines, exercises, and other tools, but it also gives you more in-depth information about how you can get involved and get that accountability that you might crave. 

But if that’s too overwhelming, check out a couple of Pep Talks, guaranteed to get your writer motor running. 

Finally, I know that some writers like to just sign up for NaNo and write by the seat of their pants. “Words on the page!” is their motto. And though I heartily agree that one must have words on the page, I’m not keen on wasting my time. If I’m going to challenge myself to write every day or thereabouts in November, I want the finished product to be a decent effort. 

But that’s me. I think about what I want to accomplish during NaNo and plan how I can get ‘er done. Sometimes I succeed mightily; sometimes, not so much. And like I said, I’m fine with that. As for you, dear writer, you do you. And good luck!

~Cathy C. Hall (who coincidentally has about 25,000 words in her latest WIP and would REALLY like to get to 35,000 by the end of November)


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Good luck achieving your goal. I agree. NaNoWriMo can help a writer, no matter what their goal.

I am torn. I have started a script, but I also wrote the beginning of a manuscript in a NaNoWriMo several years ago. It's been started and restarted and morphed into something else. Which one should I work on?

I have a few days to decide... ;)

Cathy C. Hall said...

To decide AND make a plan, Sioux. (Which one is calling your heart? I find that I get more accomplished when I work on something that excites me. Good luck!)

Renee Roberson said...

Thanks for sharing that NaNo prep resource. I'll check it out here in a minute, because I've been waffling on participating this year. It did help me crank out a 50K YA novel, but I've never gotten around to the final revisions! However, I would need to get reacquainted with the manuscript so I don't think I have time this year. I do have a full fleshed out beat sheet for a suspense novel, so I'm toying with the idea of trying to get that dumped out on paper. Good luck, Cathy! You can do it!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Go Cathy! I need to get back into my novel. I'm half way there. Maybe just maybe this is the nudge I need.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Renee, YOU can do it! Or you can at least start that suspense novel. I'm using an abbreviated beat sheet for this novel I'm working on now...just enough space to add those detours along the way of my beats.

Go Sue B! Is this the sci-fi? Halfway there is almost there in my book. :-)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Yay Cath!! :) I actually have 2 beat sheets for memoirs, but this year I'm working on essays, memoir, and short stories, so instead, I've been writing out a list of scenes and writing prompts. I don't know why, but if it's one project, my editor brain seems to want to structure it so it all flows, and then I get tripped up halfway through. But if I look at it as just writing a piece that's not connected to anything else, I have no problem. Then after NaNo, I'm going to pick and choose the best scenes and braid them together in essays. That's the plan, anyway! :)

Are you on the NaNo site? I searched under your name (and you too, Renee) but couldn't find you. If anyone wants to buddy, my pen name is Andrea Mackall. And Sioux, I sent you a buddy request last year! But I don't think you ever accepted it. Lol. I agree with Cathy, go with the project that's exciting you most right now. :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Your memoir writing is so powerful, Ang! I just read something of yours that wrung me out so I can see how writing stand-alone scenes (and weaving them together later) could be a great strategy. Yay for plans!

I thought I was on the Nano site but that would have been years ago when I signed up. I don't get as involved in the buddy system comings and goings as I do with the actual writing. And I'm lucky to get the actual writing done! :-)

Good luck, Ang! Lots of good NaNo stuff in the newsletter, btw, hope everyone takes a minute to read all the advice and encouragement. Maybe we should have a check-in post midway through the month for any Muffin bloggers AND editors doing Nano?! ;-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Yes, it is the science fiction. I just need to get back into it. I think I can, I think I can, I think . . .

Tina Cho said...

Well, in my mind, I'm joining. My editor is asking for the next novel. Just need TIME to plan & get it written. We'll see... Good luck on yours!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Thanks, Tina! And I'm sure you'll come up with something brilliant; your books are always so interesting!

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