In November, there is one word that sums up my entire month’s writing goal – NaNoWriMo.
Trying to write 50,000 words in a month is crazy, fun, feverish, exciting, motivating, troubling. Just thinking about it makes me want to take an afternoon nap, but also to bounce of the walls and encourage others to do it too. Spending all my free time in front of a computer drives me to drink – lots of soda and hot cocoa – and eat lots of candy and chocolate as I struggle with all the different ways to say “say” as in she says, she replies, she answers, she responds, she questions, she jokes… You get it.
The novel writing process is no joke. Sure there are authors like Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon and Stephen King who’ve sold lots and lots of novels but Isaac Asimov is still one of the authors I admire most. Asimov was a Biochemist but he also found time to write and edit over 500 books! True, his stories were shorter, but to come up with all those IDEAS is nothing short of inspired. That’s the kind of writer I want to be – original, lots of ideas, integrating all my talents and impacting the world with my gifts.
NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge to motivate writers. “Winning” only means that you’ve done what you said you’d do – write. I’ve done it before and I’m doing it again. But what’s it really about for me? Here goes.
How many times have you done NaNoWriMo?
This is my fifth year participating but I’ve only completed the challenge twice.
How did you first find out about NaNoWriMo?
I honestly can’t remember who it was but I heard someone talking about it and I thought “that sounds like something I’d like to do.” I was in college with lots of other things to do (like study for finals), and the challenge had already started but I signed up and tried. I didn’t finish but I wrote a lot more than I would have otherwise so every year after that, I just kept trying again. 2 years after that, I finally wrote 50,000 words in a single month and it was an awesome feeling.
What was the name of your first NaNo novel?
The first attempt? I can’t remember. But the first one I finished was called Letters Home. I never published it but someday, I’ll edit and share some of it.
Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.
Justina has lots of pen pals but she has a lot to learn about friendship.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Probably Just write! I have a tendency to stop and reread what I’ve written and rethink plot ideas and change tenses and voices and character names – all things that can be changed later. The best advice I can share with you is the same thing – Just Write it down! Even if you think you hate it halfway through. Your characters have a way of surprising you later. For now, don’t think about whether it’s boring or cliched. Just write it down!
Did you ever take a year off from NaNo? Why?
No. Not since I started. Even if I don’t finish, I try to take advantage of all the motivation, and use it to push myself to write even if it’s just a pages or chapters.
What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?
I have a lot of stories to tell so for me, the struggle is restraining myself. Sometimes an idea will just hit me and I’ll write a short outline and put it in a journal for months or years before I can come back to it.
Read us the first sentence from one of your novels.
First paragraph from last year’s novel:
It wasn’t until I sat back and leaned on the glass and felt my back muscles release that I realized I had been hunched forward, my hand now almost scalded from gripping the cup of hot liquid, the cardboard sleeve shredded on the table. That was what I did when I was tense – I destroyed something. I wasn’t worried about the disposable coffee cup sleeve but I knew that this conversation might destroy something else.
Why do you love writing?
I love writing everything – lists, letters, notes, poetry, notices to stick on the door telling the UPS man I’m away. I just love writing. But novel-writing is in a category by itself. For me, I get to incorporate facts I’ve learned, characters I imagine and experiences I have had and intertwine them into my fiction. Kids have imaginary friends; Adults write novels.
Check out other bloggers who are doing NaNoWriMo like Kari Parker