The first time I heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month), I was both intrigued and petrified. Write a 50,000-word novel in a month? Write every day? Track my progress online, where everyone can see it? Tell me more while I slowly back into the hedges à la Homer Simpson.

Don’t get me wrong – not only is NaNoWriMo totally doable, it’s totally fun. The first two times I did it, I literally just sat down at my computer and started typing, letting the capricious muse take me where she willed. And I had a blast.

But I’ve found that NaNoWriMo is even more of a blast if you do a little bit of prep work ahead of time. I think this is what they call “setting yourself up for success.” Personally, I call it “an excellent way to get out of doing chores for the month because you’re clearly in the throes of artistic agony.”

How to plan for NaNoWriMo:

Alert everyone around you. “ATTENTION, EVERYONE,” I call into my megaphone. “I WILL BE WRITING A NOVEL IN NOVEMBER. ALL SERVICES WILL BE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED DURING THIS PERIOD. YOU WILL HAVE TO FEED YOURSELVES.”

Pre-plan everything. And I’m not just talking about planning your novel. Plan your meals. Plan your rewards. Plan to make someone else do the laundry.

Stockpile snacks. You do not want to be faced with a popcorn shortage mid-fight scene.

Make a playlist for your novel. Nothing is more motivating than some sweet tunes. Nothing.

How to survive NaNoWriMo:

Find some people who understand. Buddy up with everyone on NaNoWriMo. Join an Instagram challenge. Yell about your novel on Twitter. (My DMs are always open, so don’t be shy!)

Do a little work every day. The words you write, no matter how few or dumb, are infinitely better than the words you don’t write at all.

Avoid editing. Just accept that your first draft will be bad. It will be awful. You are seeing your novel at its very worst. But everyone’s first draft is like that, and no one expects you to turn out a good story in one go. Don’t ask yourself to do the impossible.

Write at the same time every day, and eliminate distractions. Obviously, if you have any children, they will have to go.


What I’m doing for NaNoWriMo this year:

I told myself that if I finished editing Lady of Daemons before November 2018, I could write my next novel. And since Lady of Daemons is done (bliss! Joy! Rapture!), I can now proudly unveil my new project:

THE FINAL DAYS

Short introduction: Queer sky pirates seek bloody revenge, are progressively crippled by emotions.

Longer introduction: Five young sky pirates swear revenge on the Coral Snake, the indomitable pirate skyship that took everything from them. Their first task: to find the mysterious Spider, who will either gift them the information they need to destroy their enemy once and for all – or kill them. And to make matters worse, it seems that no one on the tiny crew can be trusted, because no one is without a secret…

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? What’s your novel about?