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Grace Chandler Baldwin is an AI writer, marketer, and blogger.

How to Prepare for #NaNoWriMo in 18 Weeks

Hello, internet!

Welcome to the start of a brand new blog. I've decided that it's time to stop dilly-dallying when it comes to starting this.

In the past I've started—and killed—multiple blogs, mostly because I don't know what I want to write about. Yes I love content marketing, and yes I love traveling, but to be honest, I don't enjoy writing about these subjects that much. 

In fact, I hate writing about content marketing. It's my day job, and I don't want to work on it after I come home. 

So it's been a wild ride the last few years to figure out what I want to say to the world. However, in the past few months, I think I've found it. I want to write about...writing! In particular, I want to use this blog as an accountability measure to help me prepare for the TERRIFYING #NaNoWriMo this coming November. 

Thanks for joining along on my journey!

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a shitty conglomerate of "National Novel Writing Month."

It is a 30-day challenge during November where writers challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word draft of their manuscript. 

If you think that sounds intense, its because it is. It boils down to an average of roughly 1,600 words per day. 

Often writers get frustrated with their manuscripts and abandon them halfway through. We struggle to finish what we start, and our stories lie dormant for years. 

NaNoWriMo is an attempt to overcome that. The whole point of the challenge is to get the words on paper and complete the first draft of your book. The draft doesn't have to be good...but it will exist!

 My desk by the end of NaNoWriMo

My desk by the end of NaNoWriMo

 

What I hope to get from NaNoWriMo

I work best under pressure, and I think NaNoWriMo will help kick my ass into gear and get serious about writing a novel. 

I'm not expecting this first novel to be any good.

In fact, I'm expecting it to be horrendous. I haven't written fiction in over ten years, and by no means am I that great of a writer. 

However, I am expecting to learn a bit about fiction writing and storytelling along the way. By working towards a complete book, I'll be able to study the different aspects of writing in depth. 

Plus, you never know what you don't know until you try it. 

Ultimately, I just want to practice writing a book. If I want to have a real thing published by the time I'm 30, I need to start mastering my craft. NaNoWriMo is a great way to do this. 

My NaNoWriMo Game Plan

My NaNoWriMo game plan is pretty simple: I'm starting sort of fucking early. 

I've realized that I can't write a rough draft during November if I don't have anything to write about. 

So now's the time to start doing that. 

I have 18 weeks before I need to start writing my manuscript, and a ton of work to do to prepare for it. 

This blog, in part, is an effort to do that. 

I'm going to follow an accelerated version of this timeline to prepare myself for NaNoWriMo. I have to shove 22 weeks worth of work into 18, but I think that I should be able to do it since I already have a basic idea of what my story will look like. 

And you know what? Next year I know to start earlier! As I said, this year's novel won't be spectacular, and if I want I can continue the story next year!

Weeks 1-2: developing a story outline

I have a basic idea of what I want my story to look like, but I don't have a "plot" exactly. 

At the moment, I just have a couple of scenes floating around in my head. 

But the first three weeks of this journey are an attempt to solve that problem. 

While I've ordered Ready Set Novel to help me with this process, the book won't come for another week or so. 

So as a result, I need to rely on Youtube and other online tutorials to help me between now and then. I'm planning on following this structure as much as possible

Week 3-4: Character Basics

After figuring out WHAT is going to happen in the story, it's time to start populating it. Week 4 is all about figuring out the very basics about my characters, including how many there are, who they are, and what their role is. 

One week for this is definitely a short sprint. That's why this week will be focused exclusively on the basics: age, gender, and maybe some physical or emotional characteristics.

The real development will happen in the coming weeks. For now, I just want to have a basic idea of who will be living in my head for the next five months. 

Weeks 5-8: Plot Development

Since this story is going to be character-driven, I have to craft the plot around their decisions. 

This stage will probably be where the characters shape their personalities a bit. By giving them different challenges, it will likely shape their development. 

Weeks 9-13: Character Development

This sprint will be similar to the previous Plot Development sprint, but with more of a focus on the characters. 

Since all stories are inherently about people, it makes sense that I should take the full five weeks to work through the humans in my story. 

Weeks 14-18: Locations and Scene Blocking

Frankly, I think this is the step I am most intimidated by because it forces me to get technical. I've never blocked scenes or done anything even close to establishing a location, so I'm kind of nervous. 

At this point, I have no idea how many scenes I am going to have. According to this post, however, I should expect about 50 scenes for a 50,000-word book. As a result, that's what I'm going to plan out, and something I'm going to keep in mind as I'm storyboarding.

If I want to spend three weeks of this five-week period doing the actual blocking, I will need to block more than two scenes per day (21x2=42 scenes). 

Holy shit, I'm writing a book!

Overall this is exciting, and I can't wait to start to dive into it. Keep reading every week to join me on this wild journey.