How to... · Writing

The Road to NaNoWriMo [1/6]

Guys! Guys! Guys!

Guess what’s coming? Can you guess?

It’s NaNoWriMo!

What is a NaNoWriMo?


NaNoWriMo seems to be the only time of the year that I can really write, and I mean more than 5,000 words across a month. NaNo is a month long event where you go all out with your writing and aim to write at least 50,000 words!

Sounds impossible.

Actually really really fun!

This starts November 1st and continues throughout the entire month of November, meaning that every day you aim to write at least 1667 words. I say ‘at least’ because last year is managed to write over 130,000 words in the month of November and that was alongside writing a dissertation and studying for my final exams.

So what, that’s November and it isn’t even end of September?

Agh, but here’s the thing. Not everyone can just sit down on day 001 and start a novel without giving it any forethought. Trust me, I have tried it for PeNaNo and it so didn’t work.

Here’s a helpful image from the NaNo masters themselves explaining what a planner is and what a pantser is!


I am, in all shapes and forms, a planner. I gave pantsing a go but fell short after three days of blundering around a plot that just didn’t know where it was going.

If you are a pantser, let me know in the comments below because I would love to know how you prepare for an event like NaNo?! But this short series will mainly be surrounding the planners of the population; the ones who love to know what is going on and why. The ones that have folders full of detailed plans and character breakdowns.

This series:

So like I said, this is a short series consisting of a six-week programme to prepare for NaNo. Each week focuses on one element of the preparation process, in the order that I complete them.

To Fail to Prepare is to Prepare to Fail!

So let’s get on with week 1!

There are six weeks until November 1st and our creative juices are starting to flow. We need to get started because planning takes some serious time and we have other things to do between now and then; you know, like being an active member of the society. Because when November hits, we all know that we will have to be forced from our writing!

Week is all about that mind mapping!

Oh, I can hear you groaning.

I used to really hate this part of the process because I would stare at my blank page for hours and hours, question every thought that ever told me I could write, then decide to go do some random studying. But now I sort of enjoy this, because I never seem to come up with something stupid.

Okay, there are a lot of stupid ideas that go down on to that big piece of paper, but on that piece of paper there is also a lot of re-worked ideas. Ideas are manipulated and forged into a half decent concept to write a novel about.

For example;

‘Superhero has an evil mastermind as a headmistress at school.’

Was soon manipulated into…

The School is on the rift between the magic lands and earth, the people working at the school are cursed in one way or another doomed to reflect their worst personality characteristics until somone comes and shows them true kindness. When [name] comes and defeats the dragon tormenting the headmistress (her undefeatable and untouchable personality led to her being tested everyday) and she changed back into a Princess from the Magic Lands, [name] discovers the truth about the school and the reason for his mysterious invitation to the school.’

So, my planning friends, get those big pieces of paper and start jotting down ideas for the type of story you want to write in November. Whether you end up with sentences like above, or just keywords (magic, romance, assassins, villians, death…) you have spent some serious time this week thinking about the story and as the weeks progress it will become clearer and clearer!

Helen x


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