If the banner above hasn’t given away what I’m about to write in this post, then let me clarify it for you:
Yes, I am participating in NaNoWriMo 2017.
This shouldn’t be very surprising, since I have talked about how I wrote my debut novel, 3 (Tiga) as a NaNoWriMo project.
In case you didn’t know already, NaNoWriMo is an event in which writers from all around the globe attempt a very grand challenge of finishing a 50,000 words novel in the month of November. This year would be the fifth time I’m participating. So far, I have only won one of them—so clearly I have to step up my game in order to even dream of completing a new manuscript.
But what do I have to do in order to step up my game?
For the most part, NaNoWriMo involves a lot of sitting in front of a desk and typing a heck lot of words onto your word processor using a keyboard. Some might write their next masterpiece longhand, but I have yet to meet that kind of writer in person. However, a lot of the NaNoWriMo process everyone has been talking about focuses on the writing itself.
And for the most part, it kinda is. You can’t finish your novel just by sitting idly in front of your computer screen, dreaming that it would type itself to completion. Don’t get me wrong; NaNoWriMo has always been about power drafting. It involves gallons of caffeine, and hours and hours of writing.
But how do you ensure that you know what to write when it is time to start drafting your manuscript?
November is a busy month, just like every other month in a year. You will have to go to school, your day job will get in the way, and your family and friends just wouldn’t understand that you need to hole yourself up in your room to type another thousand words (trust me, I know this by experience).
It is so busy, in fact, that you couldn’t afford to do anything aside from writing. There would be no time to hesitate; no time to wonder whether your character should fall in love with Love Interest #1 or Love Interest #2. There would be hardly any time to think about what scene comes next after writing an epic battle scene in your next fantasy masterpiece.
For every time you stop writing to think about what you should write, remember that you are wasting precious time that you could have used to squeeze another hundred words into your manuscript.
To avoid the frightening writer’s block during NaNoWriMo, you have to come fully prepared. Just like how your protagonist would never beat the evil dragon with a wooden stick, you have to ensure he comes equipped with the legendary dragon slaying blade and flame resistant armor to up the chance of him winning.
The same goes for writers: in order to write as fast and as uninterrupted as we can, we have to come prepared.
This is where Preptober comes in.
Preptober is a term NaNoWriMo veterans use to call the month leading up to NaNoWriMo—October.
Usually, writers who are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo would start thinking about what to write in this month. Albeit unofficial, October has always been the month when writers start thinking about their story premise, building up their characters, and even start outlining their manuscript before the main show, which is NaNoWriMo.
Because a lot of writers use the month of October to prepare themselves for NaNoWriMo, we began to call it as Preptober.
Okay, cool! But what should you prepare during Preptober?
Now unfortunately there is no correct way of doing this. Every writer is born different. I might be comfortable outlining every scenes of my novel, but others might find it restrictive. Some might like to have their characters fully fleshed out, and let them lead the story. Others might come up with the plot first, and then characters last.
There are no “right” way of preparing for NaNoWriMo. The bad news is, that there isn’t really any surefire advice that would guarantee you come prepared on November 1st. But the good news is, you are free to experiment anything that could suit your writing style.
Now I am not going to cover how a plotter vs pantser usually approach NaNoWriMo and Preptober in this blog post. But I would like to share my checklist of things I have to do so I will come prepared on November 1st.
In other words, my Preptober checklist.
- [Week 1] Come up with a story premise.
- [Week 1] Set up my NaNoWriMo account and profile.
- [Week 1] Announce I am participating so there is no turning back.
- [Week 2] Purchase a dedicated notebook for my upcoming NaNoWriMo project—I always seem to run out of space for my writing notes these days.
- [Week 2] Decide on the protagonist / main casts (if possible) and flesh them out as much as possible.
- [Week 3] Write down all the scenes I would want to write with those characters in it.
- [Week 3] Create a rough outline for the story using the scenes I have came up with on #6.
- [Week 3] Add necessary scenes in order to make one cohesive storyline.
- [Week 4] Purchase a lot of snacks so i don’t have to leave my desk in order to eat during November.
- [Week 4] Create a writing playlist that will hopefully help me get in the mood to write / in the correct mood for the story
As you can see, the list above is not very extensive. I always try to keep my list to a bare minimum so I won’t get overwhelmed by it. Again, this is what works for me—you might not even like having lists in the first place, and that’s totally cool.
The idea of Preptober is to load yourself with as much preparations as you think you’d need for the main event. There are no rules to doing this.
On a side note, getting as much inspiration as you possibly can is always a good idea during Preptober. Having said that, I recently released a story booklet based on a short story I wrote several months ago. You can check out the store page here. I hope that if anything, the booklet would give you a spark of inspiration during your writing process.
I might write another post listing my NaNoWriMo Survival Kit, which is basically an exhaustive list of essential items I believe would help make my NaNoWriMo journey less miserable and more productive. Or I might even go for a creative writing retreat, just to clear my mind and prepare for November, but that’s for another story.
But since this is still the first week of Preptober, I suppose this blog post has checked one task from my list above:
Announcing my participation.
Yes, it is official: I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2017.
Of course, NaNoWriMo is always more fun with friends who share the same sentiment, the same excitement over torturing ourselves with vomiting words for one month, so feel free to add me as a writing buddy on NaNoWriMo website here.
I would definitely love to hear out from you, how you’re using Preptober to brace yourselves for what’s to come, and whether or not you think you could win NaNo this year.
Lastly, good luck if you are planning to participate in this month of literary abandon. I might not be able to help you finish your novel, but I wish you the best of luck and the least amount of frustration should you get stuck with a writer’s block despite all the preparations you did during Preptober. (Oh trust me, you will.)
Happy Preptober, everyone!
Alicia Lidwina 2017