Monday, October 12, 2015

Need a Nudge? Try NaNoWriMo

Have you started a book which you’ve never had time to finish? You are not alone. I had ideas galore. But getting them down and finishing that first draft? Let me say it took me a year and an half, a commitment to my critique group and a lot of personal nagging to finish a first draft of a middle grade book.  Then I discovered NaNoWriMo.

National Write a Novel Month takes place in November. It began in 1999, when Chris Baty and a group of friends got together and challenged each other to write a novel of 50,000 words of more in ONE MONTH. Why? Who knows? Crazy!

But seven people completed the challenge. They did it again the next year with more people… This will be the sixteenth year of the marathon. It has become an international event with more than 100,000 [R1] participants. 
This blurb from their website: 
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.
In 2014:
  • 325,142 participants, including 81,311 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
  • 849 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
  • 55,774 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.
Sound interesting to you? My first thought was 50,000 words in one month? No way!!! The longest piece I’d ever written was that mid grade novel – about 16,000 words. But what if I could? I explored the NaNoWriMo website and decided to give it a shot.
It was an amazing experience. What I had given myself was a huge gift – a deadline.
In November 2004, I sat down at the PC without an idea in my head, just a determination to do a daily stint of 2000 words. (I belong to the Pantser school of writers. The plot emerges from my subconscious as I write.)
The first sentence was “I am beginning. I don’t know how I got here and the world is full of strangers..” Horrible sentence, but I kept on writing.
Often my inner critic would look at what I wrote and say, “This is awful!” But my looming deadline gave me the courage to silence my inner snarker with these words. “Never mind, it is word count. Keep writing.”

Another joy of NaNo? Getting a pep talk from a well known author in your mail box every week in November. Here are a few SCBWI members gave: Kate DiCamillo, John Green, Tamora Pierce, Walter Dean Myers Here’s is a link to all the previous SCBWI author pep talks.

I kept writing. I attended local NaNo write-ins. I powered through sticky awkward sentences to scenes I was proud of, and on November 30, 2004, I had a 50,000 word first draft of a first person YA novel called Missing. Frabjous joy!!
(Slight problem: After I read it through, I realized I had used Robert Heinlein’s Mars stories as a model and that science is no longer valid. Someday I will figure out how to overcome that and revise the novel.)
In 2006 I gave NaNo another shot and didn’t finish. I hated what I’d written. No one yelled at me except my inner critic.

In 2009 I tried again. This time I came up with a first draft I knew I could revise into a better story.
Many drafts later, Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for Second Chances, which was reborn as Time and Forever and published in 2014.

Hilde’s making cookies for me to attract people to my table. The cookies alone are worth your visit.

I’ve written two more novels during NaNo, I am on revision number 7.5 of Kate’s Hero which I wrote during the 2013 NaNoWriMo. The third is still waiting my attention.

Biggest pieces of advice:
Be like Dory in the movie Finding Nemo. “Just keep writing, just keep writing. Do. Not. Edit. As author Sarah MacLean says, “That’s for future you to worry about.”
Name your inner critic (I call mine Ethel), and tell her/him to take a vacation till the end of November. If you keep your fingers moving and write through the junk, a beautiful something will emerge.
Go ahead! Give yourself an adventure.
You have no idea what is possible till you try it.
Have fun! And if you're around, stop by Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library on Saturday between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM

1 comment:

  1. I regret I will miss the signing at the Buena Vista Library. I am attending an SCBWI conference in Oakland.
    (Fiend for Hilde's Cookies)


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