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Preptober Tips For Getting NaNoWriMo-Ready


There is something about autumn that feels perfect for writers. It's the time of year we retrieve the cozy sweaters stashed away for the summer, fill our mugs with our hot beverages of choice, and enjoy the crispness of the season while embracing the sentimental feeling of change.


And, of course, the fun yet formidable NaNoWriMo.


National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, takes place throughout the month of November and challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel over the course of thirty days; this amounts to approximately 1,667 words per day. NaNoWriMo is not just about getting a certain number of words on the page, but finding enjoyment in the creative process and confronting habits of procrastination. Editing and all the fine-tuning can be saved for later. NaNo is about writing in the moment, as the words come, and embracing the flow.


The time constrictions of NaNoWriMo cater to Panters, those who prefer to jump into a story and figure it out as they go, but what about the Planners and Plantsers who prefer to do more outlining ahead of starting a new WIP?


That, friends, is what Preptober is all about!


Preptober is something of a NaNoWriMo pre-game. Participants are encouraged to use the month of October to prepare for writing their story in November. This can include anything from research and plotting exercises to setting goals and getting into a steady writing routine so the intensity of November's challenge does not come as a shock to their system. It's a way to ensure the smoothest NaNo experience and bolster your chance of winning by writing 50,000 words.


Let's go over some tips for getting the most out of Preptober ahead of NaNoWriMo!


Define Your Preptober Plans

While NaNoWriMo has a universal goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, Preptober will look a little different for everyone.


Some writers may use this time to write chapter-by-chapter outlines, fill out character profiles that spare no detail, lay out the map of their setting, assemble a playlist, stock up on their favorite pens, and anything else they need to do to sort out the nitty-gritty of their story. Others might prefer to have only the basics plotted and instead use Preptober to connect with fellow NaNoWriMo participants to form accountability and supportive groups, and maybe only need a week or two to get this established.


And some may choose to skip Preptober altogether.


Preptober can be adapted to your individual needs and writing style. There is no one right method or approach. Instead, focus on what would best enable you have a successful NaNoWriMo.


Research Now, Thank Yourself Later

Research is an integral piece of writing, and it can also be one of the most time-consuming. One internet search can send you plummeting down rabbit holes for hours.


And time is something NaNoWriMo participants do not have much of.


Researching as you're drafting can slow things down or lead to distraction so if you're participating in NaNoWriMo, you may find it beneficial to dedicate some of Preptober to research.


It's easy to get wrapped up in getting the details right, and you shouldn't skip this step. But when you're writing with a time constraint, research needs to be done in advance or saved for December and onward.


Do you need to know absolutely everything there is about a story-relevant subject to write during NaNoWriMo? Absolutely not!


However, you should do enough research to get you through those thirty days. With NaNoWriMo's unrelenting deadlines, the last thing you want is to get stuck or fall down research rabbit holes instead of writing.


Get In The Zone

Having the details of your WIP squared away will make writing during NaNoWriMo smoother. And the same goes for your space.

Whether you have a whole room devoted to your writing or are working on your living room couch, having a designated spot for your writing can help you get in the zone faster and stay focused longer.


Preptober can be used to tidy up that space and get it ready for NaNoWriMo. Take the time to straighten things up. Go out and get your favorite kind of notebooks and pens. Get some scented candles or incense if that's your vibe. Replenish your stash of writing snacks and teas. Seek out music or background ambiance reminiscent of your setting to transport you into the world of your story.


Find ways to make your space feel like yours!


On a similar note, if you're fortunate to have cafes in your region, consider venturing out to them now and then. A change of setting can reinvigorate one's creativity (and there is something to be said for a bit of caffeine and a pastry!). Preptober can be a great chance to visit your local coffee shops to see if they would be suitable for writerly "field trips" during NaNoWriMo!


And if you don't have any indie cafes, use it as a chance to test out the various Dunkin' and Starbucks locations to see which feel best for you.


Find (And Make) The Time

The demand of NaNoWriMo takes time to meet, and you may find it’s easier to carve out that time in advance.


Preptober can be a great time to get into a writing routine before NaNoWriMo. For example, you might start writing two hours after coming home from the day job, starting with thirty-minute sessions and building up to an hour or more. Consistency, after all, is crucial to achieving the daily wordcount.


Some use Preptober to take care of things that lessen the time they would have available for NaNoWriMo in November. Taking care of major household projects so you’ve only small chores to do and meal-prepping are just some of the ways to give yourself more time for NaNoWriMo.


In my case, this also includes getting ahead on blog content since I know I’ll be wanting to focus my writing attention on my new WIP. It’s not a lot, but a little goes a long way.


You don’t have to cut out everything from your calendar in November if you plan to participate in NaNoWriMo (trying to can actually be unrealistic and kind of stressful). However, it is something you’ll need to make time for–especially towards the end of the month when Thanksgiving rolls around for American NaNoWriMo participants.


Also, as a side not really quick, it’s also a good idea to schedule half-days or days off of NaNo to give yourself time to rest and reset, and to accommodate major and unavoidable things like Thanksgiving if you’re in the States!





NaNoWriMo is a lot of fun, but it can also become overwhelming. Much of that stress can come from not preparing sufficiently beforehand or getting stuck in your story.


Preptober is a valuable asset for anyone joining NaNoWriMo regardless of their writing process. Whether you're using it to outline and get to know your characters or as a way to make your writing process easier, taking the time to prepare now can build a foundation for your creativity to flourish and will have your way to a successful and enjoyable NaNoWriMo experience next month!


Happy writing and best of luck to everyone braving NaNoWriMo this year! I'll be sharing more details on my own project in a few weeks, so stay tuned.


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