Preparing for NaNoWriMo

With less than a fortnight until NaNoWriMo begins I’m going through a list in my mind of things I need to prepare before the 1st of November rolls around (and oh boy is it coming around quickly!). Here is a helpful checklist to make sure you’re prepared:

1. Write an Outline of Your Novel.

I talked about this one in-depth in my last blog post. It’s a basic road map with your plot idea, including the conflict and resolution, as well as some of the major plot points you want to cover.

2. Character bios.

This is an outline of your major characters (and maybe even some of your minor characters too). I found writing up character bios helps get me inside my characters’ heads before I start writing. Usually my character bios consist of three main elements:

– A character sheet, including name, age, physical description, personality, strengths, weaknesses and other important notes.

– A character interview answered in the character’s voice. The interview asks in-depth questions about religion, school, family, likes, dislikes, what they would grab if their house burned down, what are their goals/dreams.

– A picture. Sometimes I just search celebrities to find a picture of someone who looks similar to the idea I have for my character. I tend to use Sims to create my characters since I can choose hair/eye/skin colour and dress them how I picture them dressing. I then print screen and save it. I also like to do character collages. I search through magazines for pictures representing my character (both personality and physical appearance).

3. Research.

This will depend on what kind of novel you’re writing. Last year I wrote a fantasy, so I didn’t need to do much research since everything was in my head. I did draw up a diagram of the labyrinth in my story though so I’d have it straight in my head when I wrote those scenes. This year I’m doing a time travel novel, so there’s a lot of research involved in regards to historical accuracy. I don’t want to start writing in November and get sidetracked looking up dates and facts when I could be writing, so I’m doing all the research I can now and saving relevant facts in a document to refer back to as I’m writing.

4. Put Your Affairs in Order.

I just realised today that it may be a good idea to prepare my blog posts for November ahead of time, otherwise I’ll be faced with either ignoring my blog for a whole month or  writing blog posts when I could be trying to reach my daily word count on my novel. I’m also trying to finish up edits on my current #wip so I’ll be able to put it aside during NaNoWriMo and not feel guilty about leaving it unfinished to start something new.

5. Stock Up on Supplies.

Trust me, you’ll most likely need A LOT of chocolate and caffeine during November, so make sure you stock up. Notepads and pens are always handy to carry around for those times when you must leave the dank dark dungeon (aka the room where your computer resides) or to have beside your bed if you wake up in the middle of the night struck by inspiration. If you’re really prepared you may even do a bulk grocery shop with enough groceries to last a month to save yourself time on grocery shopping during November. Don’t forget to have take-away delivery service numbers handy too in case you get so involved in your story you forget to cook dinner (just don’t do this too often though, or your partner may unplug the computer).

Is there anything else you’re doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo?

6 thoughts on “Preparing for NaNoWriMo”

  1. You’re so right about blog posts Jo. I’m going to commit to just doing the top three post on Fridays, and anything else is a bonus. I can easily do the top 3 in advance, there are loads of excellent posts out there. I’m now going to go and scatter my notepads about the house. I’m always thinking of doing it but never actually do it.


  2. Catherine – Notepads are always handy to have around when sudden inspiration hits. Good luck with your preparations!

    Julie – Thank-you! I’m in for a busy month.


  3. I admire how organized in thought and deed you all are! I haven’t achieved the ability to “plan” to write things. With me, it’s about the inspirational moment that runs amok. I enjoy reading of others’ work habits and preps for NaNoWriMo, tho. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I’m a big planner when it comes to novel writing. I sometimes go with an idea and just write for short stories, but for novels I need plot outlines and character outlines or I’d be lost. I enjoy reading how others prepare too.


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