I don’t know about you, but October usually marks a frantic, excitable time in my writing calendar. The change in weather makes me pine for my laptop and a Pumpkin Spice Latte at all times of the day/night, the shift in scenery from Summer to Autumn inspires me with each changing leaf, and—of course—the knowledge that NaNoWriMo is on its way both excites and terrifies me. It’s a magical time of year, but how can you make the most of it?
It can be all too easy to lose the month in extensive NaNoWriMo planning or, on the other end, not doing any planning at all. For some, the knowledge that there’s still a whole 31 days until NaNoWriMo sweeps in and commandeers our lives is enough to kick that procrastination bug into overdrive; for others, realizing it’s only 31 days away is just what we need to set off an all-encompassing planning project. Since we thankfully still have a few days until October arrives, here’s how to find that elusive middle ground so you can both prepare for NaNo and still give much-needed attention to your other projects:
- Set a goal. Are you working on a few short stories or poems? Finishing the first draft of a novel? Making revisions to a completed one? Whatever your current situation is, come to terms with the fact that unless you’re using NaNoWriMo to chip away at a current work-in-progress, you’ll likely have to put your current project(s) aside for an entire month come November. This means making sure you’re able to finish what you’re working on or get to a logical stopping point before the month is over. Likewise, you’ll have to have some kind of plan to get through NaNoWriMo (unless you’re a true-blue discovery writer—in which case, we salute you), so you also have to determine what you need ready when the clock hits midnight on November first. Figure out what these goals are and write them down.
- Structure your time. It’s hard to tell when to stop yourself when you’re on a roll; there’s a fine line between putting a lid on your creativity and preventing yourself from going on a complete tangent. Only you can know your own writing process and habits, but to avoid getting carried away with either your current work or your planning, alot your time accordingly. If you write for an hour per day, for example, split that time up into sections that make sense for your current situation and do your best to stick to those time restrictions: for example, 45 minutes of writing and 15 minutes of NaNoWriMo planning per day, or 30/30, etc.
- Partake in a challenge. Last year, writers across Twitter took to #OctoWriMo to help them get into the habit for NaNoWriMo. If planning isn’t your concern, but the habit is, consider trying something like this out—it’ll get you into shape for NaNo while giving you an extra boost on your current projects! Either revive the old #OctoWriMo hashtag or create your own. Have fun with it! You’ll find that gathering some friends or writing buddies to try the challenge with you is always a great motivator. Likewise, you can always set a #WriteChain goal that encompasses both current and future work, such as “write one page of project X and work on one page of outlining for project Y per day,” and also gets you back into the habit of writing daily.
What are your writing plans for October? Does NaNoWriMo factor heavily into them? Let us know!