November is Coming: 5 Steps to Prep for NaNoWriMo (and Write Something Good)

National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a lot like speed dating. For a month, writers pour their time and hearts into relationships with their manuscripts. Once the month ends, they’re left with a (sometimes not so great) novel and the feeling of accomplishment (and failure, if they’re not able to rewrite and edit the book).

Writing is an intimate process. I usually spend six months crafting a rough draft of a novel. To cram the creative process into four weeks (and not write something awful) is almost impossible.


If you’re like me, you don’t want to experience the heartbreak of having a breakup with your NaNoWriMo novel. By following these five steps, you’ll have a successful NaNoWriMo experience.

Steps to Prepare for NaNoWriMo:

1.     Write a Strategic Plan for Your Novel.

Pinpoint your book’s message, tone and audience. Knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it will help you craft a meaningful, intentional plotline.

2.     Create a Storyboard.

Before mapping out the book’s plot, compile a collection of images that capture your vision for the NaNoWriMo project. Include color swatches, pictures of possible sets, character references and quotes.


Storyboarding will form a foundational aesthetic for your writing.

3.     Outline the Book.

Write a detailed description of your book’s plotline and map out each chapter. Planning will help you stay on track when November comes.

4.     Develop Your Characters.

Fill a notebook with character profiles and character voice samples. The goal of prepping is to build a foundation for your novel before NaNoWriMo begins. Characters are key cornerstones of novel construction, so invest time in building them.

5.     Schedule writing time now!

The main reason writers do not complete NaNoWriMo is their lack of time management. To ensure you don’t make the same mistake, set aside time to write each day and implement the schedule now. Forming the habit in October will help you adjust to November’s more rigorous writing schedule.

Do you have any suggested ways to prep for NaNoWriMo?

Happy writing, NaNoWriMo Novelists!