Day 1 Prep: Countdown to NaNoWriMo

With only 10 days left until NaNoWriMo 2014 starts, it is time to prepare, get organised, kiss your loved ones goodbye and think of that plot that will take over your life at 0.01am on November 1.

Here’s Study. Read. Write’s NaNoWriMo Prep Countdown to get you ready for your novelling adventure!


  • NaNoWriMo – An Overview
  • Have you signed up yet?
  • Things you’ll need
  • Coming up with a story idea

NaNoWriMo – What’s that all about?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is usually the month of November, and by now it should be called International Novel Writing Month.

The idea is to write a story of 50,000 words or more between 0.01am on November 1 and 23.59pm on November 31.

You should start your word count on November 1 and work on your story. 50,000 words in 30 days works out at 1,667 words per day, which is an achievable goal.

NaNoWriMo gave a lot of authors their start. At the moment, the most famous NaNoWriMo novels are probably Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus as well as Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

At the end of NaNoWriMo, you should have the first draft of a novel in front of you. Obviously, you can still add words, but at the very least you should have a good starting point for second (third, fourth, tenth) drafts, revisions, edits.

Obviously you can write all year, but NaNoWriMo gives you deadlines and focus, as well as a community either online on the NaNo website and forum, or on FB, Twitter and even in person (although the latter is mainly for US-based participants).

Sign up for NaNoWriMo

In order to officially verify your word count (by uploading your document to the word count widget on the official NaNo website – it won’t get stored anywhere) you need a free account at

There, you track your word count progress (just by entering the new count each day), make writing buddies and participate in the forums.

As a verified NaNo Winner you’ll receive all sorts of offers and discounts from NaNo’s sponsors. You’ll also get a certificate saying you completed NaNoWriMo. Participants who didn’t make the 50k word target might still be eligible for special discounts which can range from writing software to free books.

There are many events (at least in the US) at which fellow writers can socialise, such as Write-Ins, regional meetings and the San Francisco “Night of Writing Dangerously“, which this year will take place on November 16. It’s a great way to meet other authors, exchange ideas, brainstorm and even get character inspiration.

Thing’s you’ll need to survive NaNoWriMo

To be honest, you don’t need much. A writing instrument of your choice (computer, typewriter, iPad, pen & paper…), food for thought like coffee, tea, water, nuts, fruit and nibbles, a place to write and a wild imagination. Oh, and some quiet time without distractions.

If you like to plot your story, a notebook is recommended, in which you can keep research and picture inspiration. Templates for setting and characters can also come in useful, but are not a must.

Come up with a story idea

This is the tricky part for most aspiring authors.

Some already know what they want to write. Say for example, you’ve always been fascinated by your gran’s life story and want to write it down while she can still give you all that first-hand info – that’s a story right there.

Maybe you’ve had that one story idea that you always wanted to write down.

But even if you don’t have any of that, you can still write! There are lots of writing prompt website that either have lists of scenarios or photo prompts. Maybe they inspire a setting or a character. Groups and Pages on Facebook like Writers Write do daily prompts as well to get you going!

Pinterest is a great website to collect your writing prompts in one place. Whether it’s story prompts, character photos or pictures of settings that inspire you.

Whether these prompts inspire a short story, a poem or a novel doesn’t matter. Any creative writing is a good thing!


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