Hello September! Getting prepared for Nation Novel Writing Month November

Hello September! Getting prepared for Nation Novel Writing Month November

September 2, 2018 15 By Shan Ellis Williams

Yes I know I’m two months early! But I’m excited! And this month is the month to get my plans down on paper and prepare myself for the allotted 3,000 to 5,000 words I’ll be planning to write every day in November. Now those of you still reticent to pack up your flip-flops and hoping for an Indian summer in September I truly commend you. Personally I’m hoping for crisp dry evenings, which means I can go for my moonlight walks crackling in the browned and falling off leaves around my marsh to enthuse my muse. So I’m hoping to get a few of you on board with me to face the challenge of NaNoWriMo.

Writing a Novel

Many people read a book and think to themselves, oh my god that could have been so much better. Some will never think that they are capable of writing a novel. I always read book and thought how clever it was of the author to make me feel certain things. I completely understand that writing such a long story isn’t for everyone. The level of detail required to make the characters and stories and sub-plots believable is just astounding. I learnt very early on that I wasn’t the kind of writer who could sit by a computer and just type. Some authors can. They will sit and the story flows through them as if they’re possessed by a being from another world. THIS IS NOT ME. I don’t think it’s that common either!

This will be the fifth time I’ve taken part in NaNo. And the five times I’ve taken part has been like a marathon. Late nights, burn out. Kids coming down with bizarre illnesses which pull me away from my work. But there’s no getting away from this I’ve signed up! You can sign up to your region here. You are welcome to add me my user name is shanelliswilliams@me.com.

Once you sign up, you can see how many people are doing it with you.

Where do you start?

At the beginning. Start with an idea. Now as I’ve written previously my muse went on holiday, but I managed to crawl her back from wherever the hell she went and back into my fingertips. I hope she doesn’t desert me this time as has happened previously in an attempt to write a bestseller (YEA! Who am I kidding) for NaNo. So the idea, it doesn’t need to be original. I mean look at some of the novels published recently and they’re all based on something. But I would hope that you have a modicum of your own originality in the story. Mine was inspired this year.

So your genre will come from what you’re comfortable with. If you’re a corset ripper kind of person go for your Mills and boon kind of book. Mostly that original idea you have will guide you towards your genre. Go with your gut, write from the heart but do some prep first. I’m writing a horror this year. I’ve always tried to write what I’m comfortable with but this novel is pushing me right out of my comfort zone and requires a fair bit of research to get the plot right. Otherwise it’s not going to make much sense!

Preparation is key!

I find it easiest to sketch down with a pen and paper the outline of whatever story I’m working on. Flesh out the bones as I go on. At the end of the day you’re probably going to end up post-editing everything a million times anyway, but the aim on NaNo is not in the editing, it’s about what you can do with thirty days of pure unadulterated writing. Just you and the keyboard. I build all y characters with spider diagrams, and I probably know them better than their fictional mothers do when I commit to writing their personalities on paper. Having believable characters is HUGE.

Work on your narrative. Have an idea of what your characters will talk about, and try to keep it as natural as possible. Two strangers won’t have an hour-long conversation about quantum physic, and to be fair I don’t think most people would want to read it. But it’s the narrative voice, the voice that drives the story you need to make sure you have bang in place before you start working.

I know authors like George R.R. Martin and Steven King hand write notebooks upon notebooks of bullets and characters (well they are renowned for writing epics!) even family trees many centuries long. The level of detail you invest in your world, and your characters will not go unrewarded.


I can’t stress enough that you have to think about other things too. Where are you going to work? Have you got your own little personal space with a coffee machine and peace and quiet? If you enjoy music whilst you write have you thought about your playlists? I know they might sound mundane now, but all of this will have an effect on your productivity. In fact it could stress you out enough that you don’t get anything done. Writer’s block is such a strange beast, and to be fair I make myself a thousand hurdles before sitting down to write. Even doing the dishes and putting the hoover on become priority.

If you’re planning on writing 3000 words a day, ensure that you don’t make excuses and build your anxiety levels up for no reason by having a pot plant in the wrong place, or having the washing machine buzzing at you, or an ironing pile that needs seeing to! Also make sure that your allotted daily word count is doable for you. I type quickly. I’m at 950 words now and I’ve only been typing since ten to seven. But take into account your pace, and how much time it actually takes for you to write 1000 words. May try timing yourself before November.

All this to prevent burnout. Remember you have a life, take a breather, go out and have a walk, breathe, and return to it when you’re ready.

Write with friends

Keep yourself sane by getting to know people who are doing this month with you! There are loads of us on twitter. Search #NaNoWriMo, and get talking, or add novel writing buddies on the website. A problem shared is a problem halved and if you’re not happy with the way things are going ask for help! We’re all in the same boat, and no one wrote a killer novel in one sitting? Did they? Well probably someone did. But not me!

Join my clan and start prepping!

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