For me, October has ceased to be the month of spooks and scares and has been all about brainstorming and preparing for what is likely the world’s biggest writing event – NaNoWriMo. Every November since 1999, hundreds (and now tens of thousands) of writers set a goal of writing 50 thousand words in 30 days.
Naturally, October, as the month before NaNo, it is customary to begin your preparations (to go into NaNoWriMo with no sort of survival kit is not advised), and the month has been affectionately renamed by many in the Nano-community. I am, of course, referring to Preptober.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo for many years now; I’ve won a few times and I know firsthand how important it is to come prepared.
Getting Prepared in October
If you have no idea what you’re going to be writing this November, then I have some helpful tools to get you started. First and foremost, if you want to write a fantasy novel, definitely check out these 11 websites with story generators to see if there is anything there that sparks an idea for you.
If you have an idea but you aren’t sure how to turn it into an actual plot, I would check out Bonnie Johnston’s course at Write Smarter Not Harder: From Idea to Premise. It’s free and honestly amazing if you need help regarding how to brainstorm a larger plot from a single idea. Highly recommend. She also has a 30-day Novel video series which you can check out as well. Technically it’s for NaNoWriMo proper, but it can certainly be used as a guide for your prep in October.
I’ve gushed about Notion before, but there are also plenty of Notion templates to help you outline and organize your novel. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Story Dashboard, Story Outline, and Book Drafting Template from Red Gregory
- New Novel Template from Lisaxreads
- NaNoWriMo Template from Hardback Hoarder
- Book Template from Words and Nocturnes
- NaNoWriMo Template from E.A. Deverell
Natalia Leigh and Sarra Cannon over on Youtube have also created Preptober workbooks that you can use to help you get ready. Sarra Cannon’s is more focused on creating sustainable schedules and preparing yourself mentally for NaNoWriMo and you can get her workbook for free if you sign up for her newsletter here.
Natalia Leigh’s workbook is more focused on actually developing your idea and finishing your outline so you’re ready to write in November. This workbook is donation based, so if money is tight you technically don’t have to pay anything, but I have purchased this myself and it is a thorough and well-made workbook and definitely worth money. If you’d like to check out that workbook you can get it here.
If you need even more help, I have a few Pinterest boards full of resources to help you get ready in all the various ways you might want to prepare for a month-long writing event. I have one board dedicated to NaNoWriMo with worksheets and tips, and another full of resources for every aspect of writing a novel. If you aren’t sure what you might need to prepare, I have a post for that, too – check out these 25 ways you can prepare for NaNoWriMo!
Are you going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Tell me about your writing projects in the comments below!
How I’m Preparing For NaNoWriMo
It’ll surprise no one that I am starting a new project in November. I’m not sure if it’s the cozy energy of the fall after a hot and draining summer, but I always want to start something new this time of year – there’s nothing like writing a completely new project during NaNoWriMo.
I also really want to have fun while writing this year. 2020 was a stressful year, especially at work, and I ended up skipping NaNo and breaking my eight-year streak. It was a frustrating choice, but I was not in the right place for such an intense month of writing and I figured it best to prioritize my mental health where I could.
I’ve done a lot of non-fiction writing since then, but I’ve barely touched my fiction since last summer when I finished a short story. I don’t want to pressure myself to write something amazing after such a long break – I just want to write something fun and remember what it was like when I first joined NaNoWriMo back in 2012.
I am currently plotting a novella that I’m going to write by hand this month as a sort of experiment, and it’ll be the prequel to the novel that I’m writing this November.
It should make for a good warm-up, and help me get the basics of the world, the characters, and the voice. I’ll also be fine-tuning my Notion as I have been doing all year. All of my worldbuilding notes and my outline are on my dedicated Notion project page (you can learn more about how I use Notion to organize my writing by checking out this post), and I’ll be drafting as usual in my favourite writing program – Scrivener. I’m also considering writing some pieces by hand when I want to take a break from the screen – we’ll see how well the novella writing goes!
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