Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2014

The other day I received and email from the good people at NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a novel in a month. Technically the minimum word count for a novel is fifty thousand words, and most standard novels are around eighty thousand words.
Last year I successfully completed NaNoWriMo writing my required 1667 words a day. However, despite being nearly a year since that triumph I have yet to look at these words, and I didn’t finish the story itself. This year I would like to write an entire story from beginning to end. Not an easy task and one there is a good chance I may not succeed in.

Personal Checklist

  • Sending Portal Quest to the editor
  • Planning the book.
  • Being ready for Christmas by beginning of November.
  • Organising family and household things.
  • Properly scheduling writing time.
  • Relaxing.

I am sharing my checklist in the hopes that it will help you get ready for NaNoWriMo and kickstart your writing habit. Its worth attempting NaNoWriMo just for the strange look, a combination of horror and amazement, that appears on the faces of those you tell.

Sending Portal Quest to the editor.

At the time of writing Portal Quest, is nearing completion. The current word count is just over my initial estimate of sixty thousand words with a handful of scenes left to write. Once completed I will then revise it, then send it off to my editor. Her feedback will lead to an intensive period of revision and hopefully it will only need one round of developmental editing. The next stage is copy editing and then finally publication.
I want Portal Quest to be the best book that I can write at the moment and that means not starting a new book until Portal Quest is sent away.

Planning the book.

There are two books that I am considering writing during November, the first is a historical book based around eighteenth century Cornwall, the other is a fantasy novel based on a piece of flash fiction on Wattpad. Both books will be written at some point its just a matter of scheduling.
At the moment I am edging towards the fantasy novel, simply because I don’t think I have time to do the research necessary for the Cornish book. There is a wonderful library near me that is a treasure trove of historical documents and artifacts. I will need to spend time there researching things for the second Portals book, so expect to combine the two research tasks.
I want to have the basic story outline written down, along with character profiles and a better idea what the world will look like. Much of this will probably change during the writing process but I think it will be easier if I have something to work from. Last year I literally just wrote, and although I had a vague idea where the story ended up I had no idea how I was to get there. At the end of the month I stopped writing, not knowing where the story was going and being aware that I wasn’t happy with the course of the book. When I finally return to this book, large chunks if not all of it will be deleted.
I used to go hiking, before children, money and living far away from mountains interfered. I would never dream of hiking without a map and appropriate clothing or equipment. A good map, and knowing how to read it, means that getting lost, falling into bogs, or being confronted by a impassible stream or river are less likely. I’m hoping that planning my novel will be like constructing my own map. Keeping me safe from the boot swallowing bogs of last year’s NaNoWriMo.

Being ready for Christmas before November.

After November comes December, and at the end of December comes Christmas and other holidays. My day job requires me to work over the Christmas and life is much less stressful if I am prepared in advance. Of course it never works but every year I try to get ready early.
Last year I tried to get much of my Christmas preparation done in advance and it worked fairly well. I did virtually nothing for Christmas during November but the work I put in during October paid dividends in December. I was still shopping at the last minute but I think that was because I didn’t do enough during October.
This year I want to have the vast majority of my presents purchased by the beginning of November. I can then post them all off to various corners of the world and then relax and bake Christmas things in December.

Organising family and household things.

Husband and I work full-time, if I stopped doing my share of the housework during November, three things would happen.
1) Husband would get annoyed at me, he does his share of the housework, but with his work getting busier doesn’t have time or energy to do more.
2) Our finances would suffer, mainly due to sneaky takeaways and bad food choices made at the end of a days work.
3) Our house would sink into a general state of untidiness, which is not conducive to writing.
If I plan our meals for November in advance then I can make use of our slow cooker on writing days, thus reliving the pressure on husband and our finances. Shopping can be done online, or at least in advance from the butchers and green grocers and meals can be made in bulk for easy cooking from the freezer.

Properly Scheduling Writing Time.

Unless I write dedicated writing time into my diary, my time will get swallowed up by other things. There is always overtime available at the day job, and my freelance work will be busier in the lead up to Christmas. So I will need to be very disciplined with my writing habits. In theory I can write 800 words an hour, I need peace, quiet, and mental energy for this to happen. Scheduling dedicated writing days and planning writing hours around shifts will be vitally important.


During this summer my work life balance has been wrong. I have spent too much time either at work or thinking about work and not enough spending time with my family or relaxing. If my writing is to be any good I need to have time and space to let my subconscious to work on writing ideas.
Relaxing will probably be the most important part of my NaNoWriMo preparation.

Will you be trying NaNoWriMo this year?
How will you be preparing?