Monday 5 October 2015

Preparing for NaNo

by Jeanette O'Hagan

Part Three of NaNoWriMo series

Are you playing with the idea of signing up for NaNoWriMo this November? 

For the first time or maybe for the tenth? Perhaps you are cycling through all the reasons why it won’t work but, admit it, there’s a part of you that’s tempted – just a little. You wonder, what might I achieve? Maybe …

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been doing a series on NaNo – first explaining what it is (here) and then exploring the pros and cons (here). By now you’ve probably worked out that I’m a NaNo convert—I’ve done three November 50,000 word challenges and two Camp Julys and it’s been exhilarating and productive, ending on a NaNo high each time.

But, perhaps 50,000 words sounds a daunting, almost impossible, challenge. So okay, you may only manage 30,000 or 10,000 or 5,000— but you’ll still have written more words than you probably would have done otherwise. And if you usually write poetry or children’s books, or really need to edit your current first draft, you can still join as a NaNo Rebel (see here, here & here) with no loss of face.

So, what have you got to lose?

If you are thinking about signing up –it's a great idea to start preparing now. The more prepared you are, the more you will get out of November.

The first step in preparing for NaNoWriMo — is to make the decision to join & tell someone about it J

Post it up on Facebook, tweet it, tell the world or just tell your best friend or writing partner — you will be doing NaNo this year! Round of applause.

The second step is to sign up. 

Officially the sign up for 2015 NaNo starts 5 October (or possibly 6 October in Australasia) – perfect timing J  

And the third is to find a NaNo community

Enlist friends who will cheer you on, commiserate with you when things get tough, urge you on when you feel like giving up, engage in some friendly rivalry and celebrate your triumphs along the way.

The NaNoWriMo community provides a number of avenues for camaraderie, from connecting up with friends as NaNo writing buddies, to forums, to social media, to local events (including camps and write-ins). 

This year, ACW is forming our own NaNoWriMo Facebook group to provide a fun place to encourage each other as we do NaNo together—the ACW NaNo-nauts

The fourth step is to clear your schedule in November and make writing a priority.

Well, okay, that may not be possible. My November is already cluttered with camps, family activities, deadlines and projects, just like previous years. Despite this, each year I’ve been able to make NaNo a priority, with the goal to write each day. I’ve had to miss some days, but then written more to make-up on other days. 

The fifth step — work out what helps you to be most productive.

What preparations help you best may well depend on whether you are a plotter, a punster or a tweener; a NaNo regular or rebel.

Some thoughts:

Plotter and Tweeners

Decide which project you want to work on.
Start preparing your plot outlines, timelines, character sheets, setting and do necessary research.
Maybe invest in writing programs like Scrivener or Novel Factory.

The less you have to work out where you are going with your novel or what scene you need to write next, the more productive you will be.

Don’t despair if you don’t get time to fully plan everything. You can still write out synopses or summaries of the scenes as you go. And, unless the research is crucial to the plot, you can leave a placeholder and come back to fill in the details later.


Perhaps you prefer to start with a blank page come November 1st —willing to follow wherever the muse leads you.

Even so, you could start banking up those creative coals—reading, looking at images, activities or exploring places that inspire. You may also want to set up your writing space, clear your desk, stock up on food, prepare a writing playlist, and get tasks like household chores that are likely to distract you from writing out of the way as much as possible.


Think about what goals you wish to achieve and how. How will you measure your achievements (perhaps with word equivalents) and what planning may be necessary before hand.

The NaNoWriMo site has an extensive resources to help in preparation—so check it out here.

In just under 4 weeks the fun begins. Whose in? I’m really looking forward to doing NaNo with you J

Next blog post, we look at getting the most out of November. And remember, we’d love you to join us in ACW NaNo-nauts — for camaraderie, encouragement and a touch of friendly rivalry along the way.

Part Three: Preparing for NaNo   5 October 2015 (That’s this one) 
Part Four: Ready, Set, Go  2 November 2015
Part Five:  Is there life after NaNo?  30 November 2015

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at

Jeanette O’Hagan enjoys writing fantasy fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. She is currently writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series – a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. She has short stories and poems published in Tied in Pink romance anthology (December 2014) and Poetica Christi’s Inner Child (July 2015), in several upcoming anthologies, and on her website Jeanette O'Hagan Writes

She has a medical degree, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Theology and has completed her Master of Arts (Writing) with Swinburne University of Technology in June 2015. Jeanette loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends and pondering on the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with husband, two school-aged children and two cats.

Tied in Pink (Romance anthology for Breast Cancer Research)
You can find her


  1. Thanks, Jeanette! I'm looking forward to it. Now to begin some preparation ...

  2. Hi Jeanette, I've signed up on the Nano site for my first ever NaNoWriMo, I've joined the ACW Nano-nauts Facebook group, and I have two novellas to write ASAP! Thanks so much for organising us :)

    1. You're welcome Narelle :) Glad you're on board :)

    2. Been thinking about it for 2 years. Now I'm desperate for a re-start on my novel and I'm hoping NaNo will do it for me. Where do I sign!

    3. Fantastic Rhonda. Sign up officially here and then join our ACW group here


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