It’s that time of the year again, as the Northern hemisphere slips into the burnt orange hues of autumn and the Southern hemisphere whips out its sparkly hot pants ready for spring, writers around the world receive their annual knicker-twitch. It’s time to dig deep, feel the burn, polish off the whiskey in brazen midnight flurries of word vomit and author tears. NaNoWriMo is back bitches. But how to prepare? NaNoWriMo is a towering Everest. A giant fire breathing dragon. How the hell does one write 50,000 words in a month anyway? Fear not young wordsmith, I am here to help. This is 6 ways to prepare for NaNoWriMo.
Way 1: Up the Ante with your Craft Learning
Hear ye, hear ye, there’s never been a better time to brush up your craft skills. We all know NaNoWriMo is fueled by the food poisoning of writing. It’s a race to see who can purge their author-guts the fastest and get as many words down as possible. There’s no time to stop and edit, no time to polish. So then, it makes sense to brush up before you start NaNo, to ensure your craft —even when you’re churning out the words—is as good as it can be.
I have the perfect polisher for you.
I’ve just launched The Anatomy of Prose The Senses course. The first in an on going series of craft courses designed to help you write better stories, characters and descriptions.
What will you learn?
- You’ll discover the pillars of all good sensory writing and how to implement them in your own work.
- You’ll learn the psychology behind sensory descriptions, how to use psychology to your advantage and the impact it has on the reader.
- You’ll receive a detailed breakdown of how to create rich descriptions for each individual sense.
- You’ll learn when you should and shouldn’t use each sense.
- You’ll get a raft of tools, tips, tricks and techniques to help you improve all five senses.
- You’ll identify why published examples of sensory description work and how to use the same techniques in your own work.
- You’ll understand the mistakes many writers make with the senses and how to fix them.
- You’ll receive course exercises to put lessons into practice.
Way 2: Sprint Those Words, Baby!
NaNoWriMo Bootcamp hosted by Daniel Willcocks is a team effort. Don’t be alone this NaNoWriMo. Work in a virtual office with other fellow NaNoers. Together you’ll set the timer, sprint till your fingers bleed and then go at it all over again. NaNoWriMo Bootcamp is a twice-weekly gathering of fired-up writers all with one singular goal: to SMASH 50,000 words in 30 days.
Guided by international bestselling author, Daniel Willcocks, this 30-day Boot Camp guarantees to hold your feet to the fire and get that book written in time for NaNoWriMo—at least the first draft, anyway.
Way 3: Connect with NaNo Buddies
No one will deny that doing NaNoWriMo is fifty shades of brutal. It’s one thing to write a book, but to write it in 30 days is quite the feat. Support is vital if you want to reach the finish line. Having friends, fellow writers and NaNoers to help you celebrate and push you on during those tricky days can be the difference between hitting 5 words and 50,000 words.
Ask your friends to connect with you, to “buddy” up and invite them to join you on the NaNoWriMo website.
You can find my profile here.
Way 4: Top up Your Craft Book Collection
Kevin J Anderson has curated an ENORMOUS bundle of craft, marketing and business books. In fact, this StoryBundle has a whopping 17 books in it and a course worth $150.
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
- The 5 Day Novel by Scott King
- Stop Worrying; Start Writing by Sarah Painter
- The Well-Presented Manuscript by Mike Reeves-McMillan
- Simply Synopsis by Michelle Somers
- Business for Breakfast Vol. 13: NaNoWriMo for the Rest of Us by Leah Cutter
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $20, you get all five of the regular books, plus ELEVEN more books and a $150 video class!
- WMG Publishing Presents: How Can Your Business Survive the Downturn? by Dean Wesley Smith
- Turning Setbacks into Opportunity by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Essoe’s Guides to Writing Action Sequences and Sex Scenes by Joshua Essoe (two books in one!)
- Audio for Authors by Joanna Penn
- The In(s) and Out(s) of Series and Story Guides by C. Michelle Jefferies
- Mastering Amazon Descriptions by Brian D. Meeks
- Writing Better Fiction by Brent Nichols
- Killer Subject Lines by Andrea Pearson
- 13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains by Sacha Black
- 10 Steps to Hero: How to Craft a Kickass Protagonist by Sacha Black
- The Nifty 15 by Honorée Corder and Brian D. Meeks
If you only want one or two books, then here are four of the craft books that have had the biggest impact on my writing.
The Emotion Thesaurus and The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
These thesauri are exceptional. They give you ideas and suggestions for how to show rather than tell emotions. Ways to connect theme to your hero’s wounds and flaws. Methods of digging deeper and looking at body language and long term effects of sustained emotions. They are truly phenomenal.
The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass
This book changed the way I look at emotion in fiction. The thesauri are fantastic for showing emotion, but this book took my emotional writing to a deeper level. It gave me insight into humanity’s relationship with emotions and how to push characterization to a deeper level using emotion.
The Anatomy of Prose by Sacha Black
This book I wrote, but the learnings inside changed the way I write forever. The book focuses on sentence level craft, giving you a raft of tips and tricks to help you improve your descriptions, dialogue, characterization and more. If you like dark humor, learning through examples and want to create perfect prose, then you’ll love this book.
Way 5: For the Outliners
Look, I know everyone gets stroppy over the great plot-pants debate. But guys, it really doesn’t matter whether you plot, pants or stumble like a bumbling drunk through the weeds of your novel. What matters is that you get to the end. That said, I’ve got some useful tips for both camps.
For the outliners, I love Libbie Hawker’s method of outlining. If you don’t want to buy the book, then start with this cracking and mind-blowing episode of The Rebel Author podcast where I grill Libbie all about how to outline better.
She has some fantastic tips that help you outline more effectively. She also dishes out some tasty tricks to help those who, like me, get stuck part way through their outlines.
If you’re not an audio girl, then try reading K.M. Weiland’s 10-part blog series on outlining or her 12-part series on structuring your novel. She has some fantastic graphics and timelines that help you plot out that story to perfection.
Way 6: For the Writer Who Writes into the Dark
For those that don’t like to outline but trip off the high of “who the fuck knows” while they write, I recommend a couple of things. First up, there’s a great book I read by Dean Wesley Smith a few years ago called Write into The Dark. It gives you some home truths and some great tips for when you hit stumbling blocks.
Next, if you don’t fancy reading, then my biggest tip is to create an inspiration bucket. For example, I often create playlists to write to. You can find a playlist of music I wrote my first book, Keepers, to on Apple Music. The reason I did it is because sometimes having music can help jog your ideas. It helps keep you in the “mood” and mindset of your story.
If you’re not into music, then how about making some aesthetics to remind you of the mood and feeling of your story? I use Canva and choose two colors I want to represent my story. Then I find images that best suit or match the feeling, atmosphere, locations and characters. I sometimes print them and hang them up or use them as phone or computer backgrounds and go back to them anytime I’m stuck.
The aesthetic on the left is from the novel I’m currently working on, The Scent of Death.
Please note, I do use affiliate links. This means that should you choose to purchase something based off my recommendations, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These things help feed my coffee addiction! Also note I only recommend things I personally use and love.