Success is All About Preparation
(This is a two prong article. If you are already familiar with Nano and would like some prep help, please skip the first half and scroll down.)
If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, its name stands for National Novel Writing Month, or more affectionately known as Nano. More accurately, it should be InNoWriMo, as it has truly become an international on-line event.
The objective of this exercise is to set aside a month of the year where you can prioritise writing your book over your family and social events and complete a fifty thousand word first draft in thirty days.
If that breaks you out in a sweat, you wouldn't be the first -- there are many writers out there who abhor the idea of being forced to write at such a speed and believe it to sacrifice all they have learned about good writing. However, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as it does provide some advantages.
The primary thing to remember here is that its purpose is to bash out a completed first draft. That is to say, your story has a beginning a middle and some kind of conclusion, but it might need some scenes and chapters filling in later down the line when redrafting. 50k words is better than no words and a head full of dreams, right? And even if you don't make the 50k, 30 or 40k are still better than blank pages, yes?
A common misconception is that participants complete their 50k words and then that's the end of it, skimmying around in search of a publisher. This is NOT how Nano works. It's simply the first stage of drafting a novel.
If you want to become a published writer one day, you're going to need to meet deadlines. Yes, I know there are these romantic notions of authors holing up in a cabin in the woods, torturing themselves for years over their 'art' and keeping their publishers waiting until they get through their writer's block or mid-life crisis - or just take a shower - but in reality publishers do not appreciate a missed launch date.
If you are yet to prove yourself able to sit down with a regular writing routine to complete a lengthy project, NaNoWriMo might well be the training you need. If nothing else, it will teach you something about yourself. You might even make so