So you’ve been thinking about doing NaNoWriMo? Well now’s the time to start planning if you want to try and maximise your success of hitting 50k words.
I’m assuming that everyone knows about National Novel Writing Month and how for one month, people put everything aside and try and write a 50,000 word novel in just those 30 days. It’s a fun experience, and despite the silliness of it, I know more than a few authors whose published novels came out of NaNo.

For me, NaNo is all about experimentation. It’s a month where you try something different and see whether it works or not. I don’t think there’s any shame in failing NaNoWriMo as long as you gain some insight into your creative process along the way.
This year, I’m playing it safe. I have a novel I want to get to beta readers for the new year and so will be doing that through the month of November. But also it gives me a little room to try and do some blog posts to help people out.
With only a month to go, you should be starting to gather your ideas. Too many people fail because they turn up to day one with no idea what they are going to write. For some, that’s just part of their process, but if your goal is to maximise your chances of success I say this: Do your thinking now, so you only have to worry about your writing in November.
So, if you’re still unsure of what to write, what I want you to do is to open a word file or something of its ilk, and start pasting bits of text and images into the document. A still from a TV show, something funny a friend said, a picture of a cowboy, a description of an invented location, a cat meme, a name you came up with. Anything and everything you think is cool, add to the document. This is going to be your ideas board and there has to be no linking theme or connection between the items other than you think they are cool.
I’d give the document an important sounding title like “the document of awesomeness”.
For the next couple of weeks, that’s pretty much all you need to do. You’ll probably find some weird patterns emerging. You might find there’s a lot of pictures of cowboys as well as a lot of pictures of fairies and German U-boats.
The next trick is to start putting things together and seeing whether they stick: Cowboys on U-boats? Fairies on U-boats? Cowboy Fairies?
There’s likely to be one idea that makes you go ‘Ooooo’. There may be several.
Continue to do this until you have several, maybe even conflicting, ideas.
Allow these ideas to seep into your daydreaming. If need be, even turn off the computer, lie on your bed one afternoon and just think away. We’re not expecting a full plot at this time but maybe a scene or bit of dialogue, trying to build the ideas into something a little more solid.
Don’t feel guilty about thinking about competing ideas, or merging them together or breaking them apart at a later stage. Everything is fair game in this ‘thinking time’.
Hopefully after a couple of weeks, you’ll have some strong ideas about what your NaNoWriMo masterpiece should be, and we can then turn attention to character.