NaNo Planning … Not the Kind You’re Thinking

Every year I give what I believe is the best advice for NaNoWriMo. Sadly, I also see the results of those who either ignored the advice or didn’t hear it. It’s actually quite simple.

NaNo Cover: CA Hawthorne

Plan. No, not that kind.

There were probably gasps upon reading that word from those who thought I was telling them not to pants their novel. Not at all. What I mean is to plan your life.

Each year, some drop out of NaNo, an event they’ve looked forward to for months, because they didn’t plan. Life has a way of dishing up more than our share of the unexpected so plan for everything you can before November.

I’m looking at you, 2016. I was so sick after the 10th of the month that year that it took a pulmonologist six months to help me regain my health. The caregiver I had at the time who fought giving me a referral is no longer my caregiver. Still, even that year, I’d planned ahead so I was able to make it through.

Of course, some parts of the novel were a bit incoherent, but that’s what editing is for.

Yes, I know you’re reading this on October 31st, but a little extra time devoted this weekend could reap huge benefits. Too, some of what follows here pertains to what might come up later in the month.

So, family emergencies and catastrophic illnesses aside, you need to try and plan the rest…

Taking a vacation during the month? Up your daily goal above the recommended. Have relatives coming? Have holidays to celebrate, like Thanksgiving in the United States? The same advice applies.

*In the US, Thanksgiving is extremely late this year, which means for those with families the end of the month could be a virtual writing wasteland. Keep that in mind if you’re thinking you can sprint at the end.

I’m serious when I say I’ve heard the following (paraphrased): “I was doing great, but I have to drop out. I forgot we’re going to Disney World for a week at the end of the month.”

I’ve been to Disney World. I wouldn’t forget if I was going.

The other part of planning is making your life easier, especially if you have children or work in an industry that’s busier in November.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Have meals that are easy to make. Make big meals early and freeze portions. Have other members of the family pitch in more. Make your home spotless early so you can slide a bit through the month. Cleaning is another place where others can help you out. Stock up on food and typical household goods before the month begins.

Of course, a month is a long time so there’ll be trips to the store. Be extra organized and try to limit them or have someone else go for through the month.

For my part, I live alone so all of this is easier for me, but I also don’t have help. I’m taking Friday the 1st off to create a 3-day weekend so I can make a strong start. Also on Friday, I’ll be making mass quantities of lasagna, my go-to sustenance during NaNo.

Great … now I’m hungry for it and have to wait two more days (I’m writing this on Wednesday). At least there’ll be lots of leftover chocolate from Halloween.

I truly believe all this planning helps. Through 5 NaNos I’ve written 554,549 words and won all five times, including in 2016 when I limped to the finish line with over 89K. Ill planning brings with it worry and distractions and a writer has enough of those. If ever there was something you were going to plan let it be your life during NaNoWriMo.

At least, as much as you can.

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