The Awesome-ist Trip You’ll Ever Take (because making up words is okay during NaNo)

Official NaNo name/region: bhoney, Dayton
Title of 2016 NaNo project and genre: Breakout, YA horror
How many years have you participated? I have done NaNo 5 times and Camp NaNo 8 times.
How did you find out about writing for NaNo? I’d heard other writers talking about NaNo, but didn’t really know what it was. I finally decided to look it up and see what all the fuss was about and knew I had to give it a try. Of course, that was like 2 days before NaNo started so I didn’t have much time to prepare, but I decided just to dive in and hope for the best! LOL

I get asked a lot what advice I would give aspiring writers. My biggest advice is to find out what method works for you, whether you’re a plotter (someone who outlines and plans it all out before starting) or a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants and discovers what’s going to happen as it goes) or a mixture of the two. Either way, I find the most motivating thing for actually finishing a project—whether it’s flash fiction, a short story, or a novel—is to have a deadline and accountability.

NaNoWriMo is one of the best resources I’ve found for this, and it’s one that I recommend to all aspiring writers. Not only is it a great motivator that provides accountability and a deadline, but it provides companionship with other authors and turns the novel-writing experience into a wild, crazy roller coaster of writing fun. If nothing else, it’s nice to hang out with other people who won’t look at you funny if you say something like, “I just found the coolest way to kill someone!” And if you’re competitive, like I am, you can turn that to your advantage through things like word wars—you get the thrill of winning and it pushes you to write on your novel at the same time. Win win!

Seriously, though, NaNo is the tool that enabled me to finally finish a novel for the first time. I’d tried for years to write a novel, only to stall out midway through. For me, the push to get the first draft down as quickly as possible without stopping to edit is key. I tend to be a perfectionist, so once I get started editing and revising, it really drains my energy for writing the rest of the draft. I always remind myself of what NaNo founder Chris Baty says—you can polish crap, but you can’t polish what’s only in your head. Getting down that first draft, no matter how rough it is, is a HUGE step.

I know a lot of people who want to write a novel, but who never manage it. Starting is the easy part—it’s always fun to start a new project! It’s finishing that’s hard. By establishing a word count and a deadline and knowing people are going to ask me how my progress is going, it’s just the pressure I need to stick with it and get it done, no matter how many other distractions or cool ideas may present themselves (and there are always a lot!).

For this reason, my true goal for NaNo is actually to finish the first draft of the novel I’m writing, however long that ends up being. I push myself to go beyond the 50,000 word goal so by the end of the month, I have a complete novel. I do this because I know that once the deadline’s passed and the pressure is off, my motivation to finish the book will drop off, too, and I just can’t bear to have another unfinished novel on my hard drive. LOL Luckily, I write YA instead of epic fantasy, so I normally just have to hit 70,000 words or so to finish my first draft—though I did have one that was 110,000 words (trying to get that done in a month nearly killed me, LOL).

NaNo has really changed my life. It’s allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of finishing a novel, a lifelong dream of seeing that novel published, and it’s provided friendships that still encourage and support my writing to this day. It’s one of the best journeys I’ve ever taken and I hope it will be for you, too. Good luck!





Comments

  1. Thank you for the inspiration. You rock, my dear. Happy writing!

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    1. Thanks, Darla, I appreciate that! Happy writing to you, too!

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  2. What Chris Baty says is true. Just working to get that first draft out of your head is imperative. I love Nano's challenge and the friendships I've made. I'm glad we met! Thank you for inspiring us with your story. Happy Writing!

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    1. Thanks for inviting me to write a post for NaNo, Rochelle. I'm so glad getting involved with NaNo brought me such a great friend. *hug*

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  3. This is the same for me; getting that first draft all typed out is such a challenge because I want to constantly edit and then get fed up and give up. Nano lets me silence the inner editor and just flat out write. Thank you for your inspirational story.

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    1. That's exactly my problem, too, Shari! *stuffs inner editor into a box and shoves them in the closet* Thanks for your comment!

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