Writing a novel isn’t easy. Does that really need to be said? In the case of NaNoWriMo, it really does.
I’ve seen people walk away from NaNoWriMo because they thought they could start a novel-length work from scratch on day one. If you don’t care about story structure or character development and are basically writing a stream of consciousness piece, it’s possible, but in most cases it’s not. If you don’t know the basics of novel writing, chances are you’re going to get frustrated and stop far short of your goal.
There’s no reason for this to happen. You don’t need a creative writing MFA to write a novel, even in 30 days. You do need to understand the basics and do some preparation.
There are some great online resources to help both newbies and experienced writers succeed at writing a novel in 30 days.
If you are a newbie, I strongly suggest checking out the novel writing workbooks provided by NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers program. The link I’m providing is for the high school level workbook. Though some of the language is for younger readers, the information on novel writing is solid. The book includes lots of useful worksheets. It’s available free online in PDF format.
For more experienced writers, the Writer’s Digest website had made freely available nine worksheets from their publication, “Write Your Novel in 30 Days.” These include a Story Idea Map, an At-A-Glance Outline and a Character Sketch worksheet. All worksheets are in PDF format.
These resources are meant to inspire your creativity. Don’t look at the worksheets as pieces of stone you’ve chiseled on. Print multiple copies. Write stuff down and scratch stuff out. Let your ideas flow freely. In other words, have fun!