Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

How to Prep Yourself for NaNo WriMo


A woman stretching her leg before a run.Maybe you’re one of those people who can prepare your novel before you start writing, or maybe you’re one of those people who prefer to write by the seat of your pants. Either way, knowing you intend to knuckle down and do some serious writing next month, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself.

Note Down Your Ideas

We’ve already mentioned some things you can do to prepare your novel. However, even if you don’t have the time or the inclination to go to that extent, chances are you still have ideas floating around in your head.

The problem is ideas can be elusive little things. They’re there in the front of your mind when you’re having a shower or trying to sleep, but when you want to put them down on paper – well, they’re off somewhere else for the day and will check back in with you later.

So why not get yourself a notebook or piece of scrap paper and jot down the thoughts while they’re hanging around. Then, if you get stuck during November, you have something to refer back to.

Having ideas down on paper also helps when you start to get that nerve-wracking feeling that you may just have plunged in over your head. ‘What craziness is this I have got myself into? What on earth am I going to do with myself for 50,000 words?’ Look at the paper/notebook and know you’ve already got some things to start on.

Decide When You’re Going to Write

Set aside writing time!

‘It’s okay,’ you might say. ‘I’m motivated. I’ll find the time.’

Perhaps you will, or perhaps you’ll get distracted/overwhelmed by all the other things clamouring for your attention. Now it’s true that life must go on during November and there are things which must be done. However, with any goal that you set, it’s a good idea to put together a schedule of some kind to outline how you’re going to achieve it.

First of all, work out what time of day is your best writing time. Morning? Lunch break? Late afternoon? 10pm? See if you can align your writing with your best time of day. This will make it easier for you to get going with your daily word count.

Once you’ve picked your time, then think of specific ways you can use it. Can you get up earlier to write before you head off on your day? Can you find a quite place during your lunch break to jot down some lines? Can you get to work earlier, or work through your lunch break to give yourself some writing time in the late afternoon? What bed time things can you get done before 10pm so you can have an hour or so of private time with your novel?

Declare an Embargo

Make a pact with yourself now that your writing time is sacred. No checking your e-mail. No twittering. Just writing!

Perhaps, if you’re getting up early to write, decide that you’re not going to check your e-mail until you’ve written a set number of words.

Be strict! This is important to you! Make it happen!

Try Out Your Routine Before November

Why not get into a good writing routine now? Instead of starting a brand new routine on November 1, ease yourself into it over the next week so you’re already in the swing of things before the starter’s gun.

If you’ve decided on a specific time of day when you’re going to write, try it out for a couple of days. Does it work? Should you try another time?

Tell Others

Tell your family, friends and work mates about your goal for November .

Some of them will get excited and might even join up too! They may show an interest in your progress throughout the month, encouraging you to keep going.

It will also help them understand why you might be vague and out of contact for a couple of hours a day. If they understand that this is because you’re working towards a goal, rather than just ignoring them, they’re more likely to be supportive.

When others know what you’re trying to achieve, it provides you with extra incentive to keep going. After all, when they ask you how your day went you want to be able to tell them something.

Get Ahead on Your Odd Jobs

If you have a little extra time this month, why not get ahead on some of the things you’d normally be doing next month? For example, can you write a couple of extra blog posts to give yourself some more writing time?

What about that outcrop of mould in the corner of the shower that you’ve been eyeing off for ages? Get it cleaned up now so it’s not plaguing your conscience while you write.

Maybe there’s that button which needs sewing onto your shirt sometime in the next couple of weeks. Do it now!

Or that e-mail you were supposed to write to your friend which is a month overdue already…

You get the idea. Get some of these jobs done now so they don’t impinge on your precious writing time next month. 

Get Excited

Most importantly, get excited about what you’re planning to do.

Why not try:

  • Buying a new pen especially for November.
  • Clearing your writing desk.
  • Making a motivational poster.
  • Designing a cover page for your novel.
  • Envisioning yourself with a 50,000 word manuscript in your hand at the end of November and the elation you’ll feel on completing it – or even just having given it a go.

Gear yourself up mentally for what you’re going to do. This is a great goal. You’re going to have fun!


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

9 thoughts on “How to Prep Yourself for NaNo WriMo

  1. Hi Jessica,
    Great advice in this post; I especially like the ‘Declare an Embargo’ idea!

    I’ve felt the strong pull to try NaNo WriMo for a few years now, but haven’t taken the plunge. Last year I was stressed to the max in the throes of setting up my first website. This year, I’m coping with more stress with two family members in medical crisis over the last few months. Still, I have a strong urge to join in the writing frenzy this year, regardless of whatever else is happening; it seems there may always be ‘something’. So I’m seriously considering doing this, because (as you say) it’s a great goal.

    • I’m dreadful at ‘declaring an embargo’ so that’s what I’m especially working on this year!

      Even if you don’t make the word count, it’s so nice to be working along with others to a common goal and watching everyone’s progress – including your own.

  2. The only way I can make Nanowrimo work for me is to declare my writing time to be first thing in the morning. And I’m trying out my schedule by writing about my novel every day this week. Excited to be embarking on this adventure again.

  3. Pingback: How to Write By the Seat of Your Pants Through NaNo WriMo « Creativity's Workshop

  4. Perhaps it would be useful to have prepared a few frozen meals? This way, you and/or your family won’t suffer. Nor will you feel like you’re doing penance for some evil when you sit down to yet another meal of baked beans straight from the tin…
    Besides, a few meals prepared in advance will not only save you prep and cooking time, it may even save you grocery shopping time or a few dollars – cos take-away/order-in meals may be easy, but they are not cheap!!!

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave a reply below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s