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Nano Prep – Planning for NaNoWriMo

This entry is part 17 of 20 in the series Nanowrimo

Nano Prep readies you for NaNoWriMo

Nano prep helps create a successful NaNoWriMo event.Nano prep definitely helps prepare writers for the approaching annual writing marathon known as NaNoWriMo. With hundreds of thousands of writers signed up for this year’s event, you can bet many are busy developing strategies and battle plans to help them get through the daily word-generation needed to reach the magical number of 50,000 words.

You may be under the misunderstanding that NaNoWriMo demands that you wait until November 1st before you begin. Yes and no. While the actual writing of the manuscript is not start until November, all manner of preparations can and should be done in order to have a successful event.

Some writers begin their Nano prep a month or more before the event. Others wait until the last week before they spring into action. Here are some of my tried-and-true Nano prep actions.

Set up a writing station

A little bit of clutter goes a long way. Make sure your writing area is the right environment for you to be productive. Some people write at tables and prefer to have everything they need visible; others require clutter-free desktops. Get this done ahead of time so you’re not wasting precious writing time clearing counters and stacking papers on November 1st when you should be writing.

Choose alternative writing locations

Nano prep can be as simple as having a standing desk on stand-by.

Standing desk

Nano prep can help with alternatives when the writing gets tough and the brain gives up. Often a simple change of scenery will have those synapses firing. Figure out what works best for you and then create a list of potential sites. These may include a local Panera’s or Starbucks or even a quick change of place such as a table set up outside. Some writers like to alternate between sitting and standing. There are terrific standing desks available when the back starts giving you fits.

Stock up on food and supplies

Nano prep includes having good brain food like blueberries on hand.

Great Nano snack – Blueberries

Having the necessary food on hand is essential. Stock up on quality food items such as blueberries. Studies have shown that the little blue berries power up the brain’s memory and learning centers. For many, it’s massive urns of coffee and stacks of 5 Hour Energy Bottles. An essential aid for coffee drinkers is the coffee mug warmer. I have one and love it.

Mix and mingle with your fellow Nano writers

Nano prep not only includes registering for the event but checking out the regional events and groups that makeup the vast community that comes together each year. Various cities and regions host writing events such as kick-off parties, midnight write-ins, and community word wars.

One important aspect of community that helps create a successful NaNoWriMo is to have an accountability partner or writing buddy. Your writing partner inspires and encourages you to move forward each day and you do the same for them. You hold one another accountable for the daily word counts, too.

Choose a variety of simple physical and mental exercises

Writers use time bombs in their stories, plan to use one as a timer for a little Nano prep.

Time bomb timer for writers

Sitting all day and staring at a computer screen isn’t the best thing for your body. It’s good to do a little nano prep and bank in some easy and quick exercises to help your body go the distance.

Pushing away from the computer and doing a neck roll or shoulder roll will help ease the tension that creeps into your muscles. Getting up and walking around or, better yet, taking the dog out for a quick potty break will not only give your body a break but also provide for a quick change of scenery.

I find simple timers to be great reminders. I set a timer for 45 minutes and allow myself a 10-15 minute break each hour. There are many novelty timers that can add a bit of fun to your day. I also like to use the oven timer because it forces me to get up and walk to the kitchen to turn it off. Read more on using kitchen timers to boost productivity.

Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally

It’s good to give some thought to how you’re going to keep yourself mentally and emotionally up for the duration of the writing marathon. What are the things you require to stay interested, challenged, and productive?

If you need a certain amount of community, take advantage of the local NaNoWriMo groups who meet and during the month to share their ups and downs and support one another throughout the month. If competition fuels your writing, take part in the various word wars or set up a daily word war with your writing buddy. Whatever you need, make sure you include that in your Nano preparations.

Nano prep is like planning for a battle.

What’s your Nano battle plan?

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Choose a writing project

Don’t wait until November 1st to think about your writing project. Plan ahead and come up with a story idea so that you’re ready to push that word count on the first day. You’ll feel better and more prepared if you do.

Gather your thoughts

Once you have the story idea, feel free to do all the story planning and outlining ahead of time. NaNoWriMo is about actual writing of the manuscript and not story prep. Your Nano prep should include the development of plot lines, characters, and settings. You can do as much or as little of this type of story prep as you want.

Sketch out a roadmap

Let’s face it. Every writer has their own way of writing a story. Some people start from page one and push through the story chronologically until the final page. Others are pretty much scene developers and like to write whatever scene pops into their head on any particular day. Whether you are a beginning-to-end writer or a scene and moment-to-moment style writer, it’s still helpful to do a little Nano prep. One way is to write out a quick list of potential scenes. Check for built-in conflict and rising action. Doing that will help lower the daily dithering threshold.

Determine a a realistic and do-able writing schedule

This is a big one and something you should think about ahead of time. While a little competition fuels a writer, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself and your word production to other writers. Not everyone writes at the same pace. Take into account your typing speed and how much actual writing time you have and come up with a realistic writing schedule. Remember, all it takes to get across the finish line is 1,677 words a day.

What are your plans for NaNoWrimo?  Do you have a plan or do you simply wing-it? Take a moment to check out the book below, too. I always enjoy hearing from readers, so do share your thoughts and comments below.

NaNoWriMo Books

  • IMAGES & AFFILIATE CREDITS: book covers. standing desk, time bomb timer and blueberries via affiliate program; NanoToons cartoon via; World War II Battle planning via

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