NaNoWriMo Day 1: How to prepare when you’re behind

The day is here and you are feeling unprepared. You had good intentions to have your story outlined and mapped out on your calendar, but life happened and so here we are. No plan in the horizon but with ambitious wordcount goals.

If you already have your novel outlined and prepped, great job! You can skip this part. But if not, read on…

It’s not too late to prepare to write 50,000 words. Not just words either, but good ones. So that when you’re done with your 50K, you don’t have to spend a ton of time making sense of your story.

I am a huge proponent of sprinting with other writers, especially this month. Everyone is churning out words and keeping each other accountable. The energy is infectious. So work that to your advantage.

Find a supportive writing sprint group to join. For me, the FB group Writing Sprints has been consistently great. Sprint for one or two 20-minute intervals and write down an outline. No writing sprint group? Set a timer and sprint against yourself. The key is to not overthink this exercise.

Just sprint-write the barebones plot of your story. Get into the heads of your characters and write the plot points from their perspective. Start capturing their personality.

Keep your reader guessing. Zig and zag with pivot points in the story. For example, in my last draft, an heiress comes to a bed and breakfast penniless and asks for a cleaning job. I could have done the stereotypical rich-girl-can’t-clean act but I didn’t…and as a result my plot took a more interesting turn.

Here are other ways to keep the plot constantly pivoting: if a character is expected to do A, make him/her do B. Try to keep the action consistent with their character.

Don’t worry about the outline killing that adventuresome writing spirit as you draft your 50K words. I have yet to follow an outline to a T. Its usefulness lies in giving you confidence that if all else fails, YOU HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY. This story can actually see the light of day because your outline gives you some options.

If your creative mind deviates from your plot, let it. That is also the fun thing about NaNoWriMo. There are no rules. You need to get from 0 to 50K and if it means you need to have your heiress do something that has firefighters coming to her rescue and it wasn’t in the outline, do it!

Letting your mind explore all sorts of possibilities makes for a richer, exciting, and fun writing experience. Get yourself mapped out, take your writing vehicle out on the road and enjoy the unplanned diversions along the way. ❤