Procrastinator’s guide to NaNoWriMo

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It’s nearly the end of October, which means preparation for this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is well under way!

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org

NaNoWriMo

Writers all over the world will challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of a story before the end of November. This event has been going on since 1999 and this year is its 25th anniversary. With an average of 1,667 words per day, for the entire thirty of them in November, this is a totally achievable goal, and one we here at the Guild want to help you achieve.

The Motley Writers Guild was actually created as a NaNoWriMo group, where we supported and encouraged each other to reach our word count goals.

We already published a post about preparing for NaNoWriMo earlier this month. Check out the Guild Guide to NaNoWriMo 2023! It goes into much deeper detail about how to start, plan, and continue your NaNoWriMo journey.

But let’s say you didn’t see that post…or maybe you’ve only decided at the last minute to embark on your NaNo journey…or maybe you’re just a procrastinator (like me!) and you put things off till the last minute…

Whatever the reason, here’s the…

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Motley Writers Guild’s Quick Procrastinators Guide to NaNoWriMo!

First:

Take a deep breath. There’s a week to go before November, but that’s more than enough time. You can do this. We believe in you!

Second:

Prepare accordingly. Open up a new blank document, piece of paper, or whatever notebook you happen to have handy. Get your typing fingers ready, or your pen, and let’s do this!

Since you only have a week to go, you want to decide whether you’re going to write something for a project you’ve already planned/outlined, or whether you’re going to start something fresh. You can make a list of all the projects you’ve been wanting to do, and pick from those. Or you can begin at zero and work your way up from there.

Because we’ve already established you’ve procrastinated your way through Preptober (the month prior to NaNoWriMo where writer’s “prep” during October, thus the name: “Preptober”) we’re going to have to work on the bare bones. There are many different types of writers but most land somewhere within the Plotter/Pantser spectrum (Check out our blog post to find out where you land: HERE). Wherever you fall on that spectrum might help you determine what kind of preparation you’ll need to do to be ready to start writing in November. Why? Because, even if you’re a pantser, you’re going to want to do some preparation.

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Start with the basics…

Character:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they want?

Conflict:

  • What’s their barrier to getting what they want?

Stakes:

  • What will happen if they don’t get it (stakes)?

Plot:

  • Act 1: Beginning, inciting incident, reconsider, and climax of Act 1
  • Act 2: (ascending action) Conflict, obstacles, midpoint party/big twist, obstacle, disaster, crisis, climax of Act 2
  • Act 3: (resolution) Climax of act 3, descending action, obstacles, denouement, final images/ending.

If you want all of this in a printable worksheet, you can download our “Motley Writers Guild Basic Novel Writing Worksheet” HERE!

It goes over the basics of starting your novel, then the next one helps you hash out the details of your plot…

And finally there’s an Emergency Preparedness Sheet for you to refer to if you get stuck!

Download the 3-page PRINTABLE “Motley Writers Guild Basic Novel Writing Worksheet” HERE!

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org

Or you could start with a…

I personally like to try and write a 1 – 2 sentence log line before I do any project. I recommend you consider trying this too. It’s a great way to distill your ideas into the absolute bare minimum of words, and then you can build out from there. Note: Because a lot of agents/publishers request loglines/taglines if you query them, it works in your favor to already have one honed and ready!

The general equation to writing a logline is:

protagonist + protagonist’s goal + barrier/conflict

Start with that. Keep it in mind as you do the rest.

Try to omit names, focus on the occupations and events, as that will all be fleshed out when you go back to your worksheet or plot breakdown. Maybe you don’t know who your character really is yet or what your plot will contain. No worries, you can get the basics down then almost certainly procrastinate your way through NaNoWriMo

For example: “A twelve-year-old sole survivor of a plane crash struggles to find a place in a world without his family.” Dear Edward, by Ann Napolitano.

You don’t necessarily need to write out the whole thing, but start with the basic idea, and then expand upon it. Protagonist (A twelve-year old) + goal (find a place in the world without his family) + barrier/conflict (sole survivor of a plane crash).

Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list to be notified of future blog posts where we will actually teach you (in a full post) how to write a logline from scratch!

Image by ANDRI TEGAR MAHARDIKA via Pixabay

As you embark on your NaNoWriMo journey…

Try starting with the very basics (a log line or rough story outline) and build from there. You don’t need to know absolutely everything about your project before November starts, but as long as you’re inspired and you have the foundation of your story then you’ve got a good chance of “winning” NaNoWriMo!

We here at the Motley Writers Guild want to wish you all the best this November!

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences with NaNoWriMo! Have you ever done it before? is this your first time? Did you find our Guild Guide helpful? Did you “win”? Tell us in the comments below, or tag us on social media #MotleyWritersGuild or via our individual author handles (mine is @EmVanMoore on all socials).

The Motley Writers Guild’s – Em Van Moore

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