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How to Start a Novel: 6 Passion Planner Ideas to Win NaNoWriMo

How to Start a Novel: 6 Passion Planner Ideas to Win NaNoWriMo

As November creeps closer, writers are gearing up for the best event of the year: National Novel Writing Month! When I first discovered this writing challenge, I had no idea how to start a novel or even how to effectively write a story, but I put my head down and got to work because it looked like fun. Over my three years of participating, I’ve learned what it takes to plan a novel, make time for writing, and develop new ideas. From absolute beginner to 3-time winner, National Novel Writing Month helped me launch my writing career and become a published author.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo, as we affectionately call it, is when many in the writing community take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days. Some writers plan their novels while others prefer to 'pants' (or, not plan), but all of them go in with the idea of finishing a book during the month. It's a time where writers join together, cheer each other on, and try to build a daily writing habit so we can finish our novels.

If you're ready to write that novel that has been building in your head, and you're just a little bit crazy after a long year of uncertainty, Passion Planner is ready to help you dominate that daily word count (that's 1,667 words per day for you planners) to help you knock out a brand new novel.

Here are 6 tips and planner ideas to help you win NaNoWriMo this year.

1. Schedule Writing Time 

Passion Planner Digital Daily Layout for Writing a Novel

Above: Passion Planner Digital (Daily Undated), Stickers from Passion Planner Digital Sticker Books 

Nothing crushes a first-timer like realizing you don't have enough hours in the day to hit your word counts. The most important thing you can do is make time for writing by scheduling writing time into your day. Whether you prefer the Daily or Weekly Passion Planner, block off that chunk in your day to dedicate to writing.  Set a timer to maintain your productivity and protect your writing time from distractions.

If you're not sure where you can fit writing into your daily schedule, take a week to track everything you do during the day. How long are you spending on social media? Is there a part of your commute that isn't used? Can you meal prep over the weekend and not have to spend time cooking dinner every night? To schedule writing time, you might have to move your other activities around. Think about what you can give up for a month, like social media or TV, and use that time to focus on hitting your word count goals.

2. Solidify Your Intentions

This Month's GameChanger Goal Passion Planner Daily Page How to Write a Novel

Above: Passion Planner Digital (Daily Undated), Stickers from Passion Planner Digital Sticker Books 

Every new month, Passion Planner gives you a chance to name your GameChanger goal. This is the space where you turn your monthly goal into actionable steps to follow so you can win the month. There's no better place to plan out your habits to help you dominate your NaNoWriMo experience. Make a mindmap of the habits you're going to adopt, or even bad habits you'll eliminate for the month, visualize what it would be like to finish your novel, and write in a great celebration activity for when you reach that 50,000-word finish line.

To win NaNoWriMo, you need a bit of internal motivation along with the wonderful writing community cheering you on. Reflect on your “why” to remind yourself why you're wanting to take on this challenge. The reason can be as simple as wanting to challenge yourself or as complex as wanting to one day become a published author. No matter why you've chosen to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge, use it to motivate you through the end.

3. Track Word Counts

Passion Planner Digital Daily Monthly Overview Page with Writing Word Counts

Above: Passion Planner Digital (Daily Undated), Stickers from Passion Planner Digital Sticker Books 

All Passion Planners come with enough space to build your own word count tracker in whatever style you choose. You can use the monthly spread to track your goals each day, use the weekly layout to compare your progress to the NaNoWriMo baseline (how many words you should have written that day to stay on target), or use the Space of Infinite Possibility to create your own graph and monitor your word count progress. There are also great boxes, such as the Self Maintenance section, that are already printed in the Daily planner that you can repurpose for the month of November, especially if you don't usually utilize the space.

4. Use a Habit Tracker

Passion Planner Habit Tracker Inside Digital Daily Space of Infinite Possibility

Above: Passion Planner Digital (Daily Undated), Stickers from Passion Planner Digital Sticker BooksHabit Tracker 

If you need a little extra help maintaining your new writing habit for NaNoWriMo, nothing helps you keep momentum like printing out the free Habit Tracker from Passion Planner. You'll see that streak of writing days and be more motivated to sit down and knock out those words. You don't want that empty box to haunt you on the last day of NaNoWriMo when you try to make up for missing word counts.

5. Utilize Back Pages

Passion Planner Digital Dotted Back Page with Plotting Methods and Vision Board

Above: Passion Planner Digital (Daily Undated), Stickers from Passion Planner Digital Sticker Books

Every Passion Planner comes with extra pages in the back that are perfect for NaNoWriMo. You can use the blank or dotted pages for different kinds of novel-writing prep. Plot out your main novel points in the back or take notes for where you want your story to go. Plan out your novel using different plotting methods or even visualize your novel with a vision board by printing out photos or pasting in inspirational quotes to keep you going. When the writing block hits and you feel like you're never going to make it, a vision board is a great way to give yourself the kick in the butt you need.

6. Don’t Forget the Self Care

Passion Planner Digital Daily Undated Self-Check In with Digital Stickers

Above: Passion Planner Digital (Daily Undated), Stickers from Passion Planner Digital Sticker Books

Writing 50,000 words in a month is a challenge, and when you're adding in a new habit to your schedule, it can get overwhelming. That's why it's important to pay attention to self-care. When the word counts just aren't adding up, you've hit a writer's block, or you just feel bogged down by the day, don't forget to take some time for yourself. Make a point to schedule some kind of self-care activity before or after your writing time. You'll look forward to reaching the finish line and you'll be relaxed and ready to write.

Are you ready to write your novel? Think you're ready to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge? Passion Planner is designed to help you reach your goals. Just think - on December 1 you get to tell all of your friends that you wrote a book.

Author Bio

Laura Winter launched her writing career with a 10-day trial NaNoWriMo win in August of 2018 and hasn’t stopped writing since. With over ten titles published in 2020 and a new series currently releasing, you can follow along on her fiction journey on Amazon or by joining her tribe.

Interested in becoming a Guest Writer for Passion Planner? Visit our Write for Us page to learn more!

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