How to Make Preptober Work for You
Are you wondering what Preptober is and/or looking for ideas to help this year end strong? Maybe you’ve recently looked at your list of goals you made for this year and realized how many things you have left to do. Perhaps you recently started your own business and are still trying to figure out what direction you want to go. Or, you’re a seasoned pro regarding Preptober and are getting ready for NaNoWriMo. Whatever the case may be, read on to pick up some tips to kill it these last few months of the year.
What is Preptober and why is it important?
If you’re a writer or friends with anyone in the writing community, then there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of Preptober and NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t, here’s a quick summary. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, happens every November with the goal of writing 50k words, or a novel, in a month. Preptober, Preparation October, began as a way to help writers prepare for NaNoWriMo. It’s a month of planning and getting ready for a month-long stint of writing 50k words in a story. Some writers spend the entire month of October prepping their novels, while others wait until closer to the start of November—either by design or not.
Either way, many writers understand the importance of Preptober and make their prepping time sacred. They know that if they don’t take a sufficient amount of time learning about their characters, researching their world, and building their story, they’ll regret it come November. Without the proper time spent on developing the story and the plan, writers can spend valuable writing time doing research or world-building. Even worse, a writer can write themselves into a corner and have to scrap thousands of words to get back on track. That’s why Preptober was born, to help writers prepare for the month(s) ahead.Writers understand the importance of Preptober and make their prepping time sacred. They know that if they don’t take a sufficient amount of time learning about their characters, researching their world, and building their story,… Click To Tweet
Preptober isn’t just for writers
Now, you might be thinking, “Sydney, this is great and all. It really is. What does this have to do with me, though? Why should I care about a month writers use to prepare for a month of writing?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Preptober isn’t just for writers. It may have been created as a tool for writers, but that doesn’t mean it only belongs to us. Let’s take another look at why Preptober is important. Writers use Preptober as a time to plan for their story. So, when the time comes to write, they’ll have far fewer pitfalls preventing them from finishing their story. You can do the same for your business. October is the beginning of the last quarter of the year. It’s a time to prepare for the year to come and the last push to achieve goals that you may have forgotten about. In other words, October is a great month to take the time to plan for what’s ahead, so you won’t have to stop creating in the future when you discover something you could’ve already done.Preptober isn’t just for writers. Click To Tweet
How to make Preptober work for you
If you’re on board with Preptober, or still on the fence, you may be looking for some tips on how to make this successful for you. Well, worry not, young Padawan. Just like we’re borrowing Preptober from the writing community, we can borrow some of their key tips too. After all, it’s one thing to know you want to try to plan out the holiday season/the beginning of the new year, it’s something else entirely to know how to do just that. And, if you are a writer, or are interested in trying out NaNoWriMo this year, you’ll find some awesome advice to help make your writing in November a success. Check out the tips below.
Know your big picture
The most important thing to discover during Preptober is your big picture. What do you want potential customers and clients to know about your business and get from your content? Do you want them to know what your mission statement is? How you’re taking steps to be responsible for the environment? The number of people you’ve helped reach their own goals? Sit down and write out everything important about your business to you. From there, determine which item(s) you want your audience to know the most about. While throwing spaghetti at the wall can work for some it’s definitely easier to create content when you know what you want to share. If you’re a writer, then you’ll want to know the basics of your story above all else. I’m not saying you need to outline your novel completely, but consider jotting out some key plot points within your story and working on character sheets for your main character(s). Having a destination in mind makes it possible to get where you’re going even if you don’t want to use a map.The most important thing to discover during Preptober is your big picture… While throwing spaghetti at the wall can work for some it’s definitely easier to create content when you know what you want to share. Click To Tweet
Don’t feel you need to work every day
It’s easy to feel like you should work every day, especially when you’re using Preptober to plan the rest of your year and the beginning of next year. After all, for those of us who own our own business, if we don’t work we won’t get paid. However, you need to take breaks too. There’s a reason that writers use writing sprints to churn out the words. Setting a timer to focus solely on a task and then taking a break to recollect thoughts for the next session can help you be more productive when actively working. In fact, there have been studies in Psychology Today that prove taking breaks helps with productivity. That being said, you want to make sure your breaks are not only actual breaks but that they don’t last too long. I’m sure we’ve all had those “breaks” that end up lasting for the rest of the day. To prevent that from happening, consider setting a timer and making sure whatever you’re doing on your break is something you know you can stop. For example, if you know playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is something you won’t be able to stop once you start, then perhaps you should save BotW for after you’re finished for the day. Regardless, make sure you schedule breaks to increase the amount of work you get done overall.I’m sure we’ve all had those “breaks” that end up lasting for the rest of the day. To prevent that from happening, consider setting a timer and making sure whatever you’re doing on your break is something you know you can stop. Click To Tweet
Plan for off days
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. There’s no way we can work every day of our lives. And, even if we tried, it wouldn’t be productive work. Instead, we should purposely plan some time off into our schedule, be that for the time during Preptober or the rest of the year. Pull out a calendar and mark down important dates throughout the upcoming months, ones that, if you’re honest with yourself, you know you won’t get any work or writing done. Examples of such days include weekends, birthdays, holidays, vacations, days filled with meetings/appointments, and more. You should now have a number of days you can devote to working. From there, I recommend setting aside a few more days as mental health days. I like to have one to two days set aside for every ten days of work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take those days off, but you never know when something may come up or you may not be feeling your best. If you don’t have to take those days off, then you’ll finish your tasks earlier. If you do, then you’re not worrying about falling behind.
In my experience, if I don’t schedule regular breaks into my days, I’ll be more likely to need to take those extra days off. Also, don’t feel like you need to make up for lost work time all at once, either. For writers, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50k words in November, or roughly 1,667 words a day. That may not sound like too much until they miss a day or two and they find themselves several thousand words behind the recommended goal. Instead of writing 3,334 or 5,001 words at once when a day is missed, some writers increase their daily word count to 1,725 or 1,876 words a day instead. Spread the work out when you can to make it more manageable. Or, even better, if you feel like you can do more work once you’ve finished your daily quota/tasks, then consider doing more. That way you’ll have a buffer instead of having to catch up if something comes up.
Use your motivators
As I mentioned in my last post, using motivators is a great way to help you get your work done. Since we’re talking about Preptober, you can break your preparations into smaller tasks. For example, maybe you need to spend a week organizing your social media content for the next quarter. Take that task and break it into different categories or time periods. Then, if you choose to focus on, let’s say, creating content one month at a time, you can reward yourself with something—an iced coffee or a new nail polish—once you’ve finished. The idea is for you to have something to help push yourself to complete the task when the satisfaction of finishing it isn’t enough. You know yourself best, so break up your tasks into whatever size works best for you. Maybe you prefer larger projects with bigger rewards. Or, you have a lot of YouTube videos in your “watch later” list, so smaller tasks are better. I prefer having a mix of larger and smaller motivators depending on my day and how I’m feeling. Many writers will break down the 50k words into smaller bites: 5k, 10k, 25k, 40k, and 50k. They’ll then choose different writerly goodies, like notebooks or a NaNoWriMo mug as their rewards. NaNoWriMo winner t-shirts are the most common rewards for 50k words.You know yourself best, so break up your tasks into whatever size works best for you. Maybe you prefer larger projects with bigger rewards. Or, you have a lot of YouTube videos in your “watch later” list, so smaller tasks are better. Click To Tweet
What are my Preptober and NaNoWriMo plans?
My Preptober and NaNoWriMo plans fall into two categories: business plans and writing plans. My business plans include posting to social media, getting my blog posts out on time, finishing my editing series, gaining more editing clients, and a secret project I plan to release around Black Friday. My writing plans are a little less straightforward. I have a few different projects up my sleeve and I’m going to spend Preptober planning for them. Then, come November, my goal is to continue working on both projects—#NaNoRebel—and strive for 100k words. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but why not shoot for something wild? Even if I don’t make it to 100k, there’s a very good chance I’ll be better off word-wise than if I hadn’t.
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So, what now?
Now that you know what Preptober is and how to make it work for you, I want to hear your thoughts. Are you planning on trying to use Preptober for your business or to prepare for NaNoWriMo? Have you picked up any tips from this article? What are you currently working on? Leave me a comment, reach out to me on social media, or share this with a friend. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, I’m always happy to talk about any and all things writing and editing. You can also check out my debut novel Well of Vengeance if you’re a fan of YA dark fantasy.