A guide to writing the first draft of a novel in just 30 days. This part will focus on preparation.
November is NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month. Every year thousands of brave souls attempt to write a novel in just 30 days. If you are thinking of taking the plunge this year or just want to write a novel and don’t have much spare time then this guide is for you.
The only way to fit a novel into just 30 days is to prioratise and prioratising takes planning. For a month the novel will be the most important thing in your life and you need to know which parts of your life you will still have to fit in and which can fall by the wayside for a while and be picked up later.
Make a list of everything you absolutely have to do while writing your novel. I do mean everything. You have to eat. You have to sleep. If you have children then you have to feed them and keep them in clean clothes and get them out to school or nursery. You don’t have to entertain your children. 30 days of you being busy will not permanently scar them and it may do them good to tidy their own rooms and make their own entertainment.
If you have a job then you can’t really call in sick for a whole month but perhaps you can write during your lunch break or actually leave on time. If you are a student then you can’t ignore all your studying but you can clear the decks before the month starts and cut back on the partying.
Negotiate with everyone in your life. If you live with someone then warn them that you are going to be busy for 30 days. They may be willing to cover your chores in exchange for something. Warn your friends that you wont be available for a while. It will save hurt feelings and they may be supportive and offer to come round with beer or cake if you are having a bad day. Your Boss or Tutor probably wont understand why you’re dong this but they may be willing to reschedule important work or essays. Talk to your family. Even if you don’t live with them they may be able to help. Your parents might relish the chance to take your children out for the day. You don’t know till you ask.
Adjust your list accordingly.
Use your list to work out what you can do now to save time next month. Make sure you have plenty of food in the freezer. You might want to freeze some home cooked meals since you wont have time for cooking. Child size underwear doesn’t cost much so you could buy a month’s supply and save yourself some time. If you can afford it you might want to do the same for yourself.
Treat yourself to some good quality coffee or tea. You’re going to need a lot of caffeine. While you are buying convenience foods and staples by some healthy snacks. Dried fruit and nuts will do you more good than crisps and chocolate but chocolate does have it’s place. Buy some of your favourite chocolate or sweets and lable them with the word count you have to achieve before you can eat them.
Do not buy alcohol. The time for that is at the end of the month. If you have any alcohol already then get rid of it by throwing a ‘For those about to write’ party. If you have alchol in the house then you will be tempted to drink it when you run out of inspiration. You are not Hemingway.
Come back for part two where we’ll talk about inspiration.