Almost everyone wants to write the Great American Novel at some point in their lives. There are even psuedo-contests like National Novel Writing Month to help them do exactly that. Far too many people get intimidated by the fifty thousand words required by the event, not realizing that it is actually relatively easy to do. There are some easy steps in order to make that challenge seem a lot easier, and make it something anyone can do.
It is just a matter of getting organized, preferably before the event. There are two things you need to get organized: your cast, your story, and your support. You will probably need to create an outline for your plot. You should either start with your plot idea and then populate it as you go, or start with your characters. Either way, you will need a hero or heroine, the person who challenges him or her, and a supporting cast for each of them. All told, you will probably need at least six to eight characters to start, but keep in mind that your core cast will probably end up being a dozen or more characters.
Your plot will need to be divided into the main plot and several subplots. In order to make the fifty thousand words, you will need approximately sixty-eighty individual scenes, spread out between the various threads. Your main plot will take the most scenes, about forty or so, and your various subplots will share the rest. Your best bet is to write a brief description of each scene, even if it is just a few words. Brevity is your best friend here, as you do not want to start writing your novel early.
You may also want to start setting up some sort of support system. Although writing is an individual event, it can help having someone you can ask for advice or words of encouragement. By having someone to talk to about the event, you can keep working on your novel even when you do not feel like it. For most people this means finding local writers that are involved in the event, and hooking up with them using some sort of social media, e-mail, or other instant messaging system. Some people even get together at a local restaurant so that they can combine socializing with support, making this a lot easier.
Once you are organized, you are ready to start. One additional bit of advice: Do not look at it as the full fifty thousand words. If you do then you may actually freak yourself out. You only need to average 1667 words a day in order to succeed, and that the rough equivalent of about two or three pages a day. If you are well organized, you will have a plan, and it is just a matter of following that plan. Do not worry if you decide to deviate from your plan, just adapt as needed, and remember that it’s an average, not a law. It’s not as hard as it looks; you have just made it a lot easier on yourself.