NaNoWriMo Preparation

It’s already October 18th and only 13 days left in this month. Then ….. NaNoWriMo begins. You can start writing at one minute past midnight on November 1st if you want to. Are you wondering how to get ready for this crazy rush to write the first draft of a novel – 50,000 words or more in 30 days?

Answer: 1620.9 words a day will get you there!

How to get ready?

Go online to the National Novel Writing Month website and sign up for free. I’ve you’ve participated before then just go in and put your new information for this year.

You can find people in your area who are also participating and each area has a volunteer coordinator. Some of the participants get together for a kickoff party and then meet periodically to have a “write in” and work on their manuscripts as a group.

Decide on the subject. Write a basic outline for the book. Decide on a working title. Do some character development charts for the major characters.

Don’t be intimidated by the number of words required. Even if you don’t make it within the 30 day challenge continue writing until you’re finished. Look at it this way. How far along will you be on your novel if you don’t give it a try? I’ve participated off and on for the past several years and made it all the way to my goal of 50,000 words for the first time last year. I promise that it is an exhilarating feeling when you type “The End.” I hope you’ll join me this year. Let me know if you sign up.

What to Write About

We’re nearing the end of September and Fall is definitely in the air. If you’re planning on taking part in National Novel Writing Month in November then you may need to make a decision about just what subject you plan on writing about.

As you all know, I’m a history buff and love historical novels – writing as well as reading them. One answer to the question “What should I write about?” is to look for historical anniversaries. We are currently at the beginning of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial. We are also approaching the Centennial of World War I.

April of 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

May 2012 is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

These can get you started.

August – Writing Goals

I always think of August as a transitional month. This month in Texas is always hot, but 2011 has been a year like no other that I can remember and I’ve been here a long time. My mom doesn’t remember one like this either and she’s been here a lot longer than I have. We’ve only had about 1.5 inches of rain in the Panhandle of Texas all year. The thermometer reads 100+ more days than not. Thank you God for air conditioning.

August is the month everyone purchases school supplies and new clothes – Back to School season. Teachers go back to work in preparation of the first day of school, which for us is August 22. College students head for campus, purchase dorm stuff, text books, and pay tuition for the coming Fall Semester. Working moms look forward to fewer calls during the day from her children asking if they can go to the pool or reporting on a sibling’s behavior.

Most people seem to settle into a routine that follows the school year. If you’re a stay at home mom or dad, then you have more time during the day to set aside for writing. For more mature writers, for me at least, there is a sense of change and schedules. People are back from summer vacations or taking their last trip before school.

Our thoughts, as writers and readers change. There were some great summer reads, but excitement for new releases in the fall and all those great holiday releases will expand the pile of books by your favorite chair or expand your files on your Kindle or Nook.

Writers are setting goals to accomplish before the end of the year. We have  five months left – almost half of the year before us. Make your goals reachable but challenging. Myself, I can get overly ambitious sometimes and then as the writing process takes place I shift my self-made deadlines with an eye on reality.  One goal I encourage writers to prepare for is to participate in National Novel Writing Month, November. The challenge is to write a novel draft in 30 days – 50,000 words. The NaNoWriMo website gives you sign up and tells how to officially participate. Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words in 30 days, think about how far you will have progressed during that time and just keep on writing. It comes out to about 1,600 words per day and you can take Sundays off.

Upcoming Writer Workshops

The following is a partial schedule of upcoming writers’ workshops or conferences I have on my schedule so far. If you’re book club or writers group would be interested in booking me, then leave a comment with your email address or url where I can get back to you.

Scheduled presentations and workshops:

Developing Plot & Character Arcs

Basic Editing of Your Own Manuscript – Friona Public Library – April 16, 2011

10:00 – 3:00

All day session: Arcs workshop in the morning

Editing in the afternoon

For Friona area writers group

Friona, TX

Frontiers in Writing Conference – Amarillo, TX – June 24 – 25, 2011

Finding Balance: Time Management for Prolific Writers workshop

Also, Preliminary Judge for Memoir contest

Basic Novel Writing Class – Amarillo, TX – November 2011

Sponsored by the Amarillo Public Library and YMCA

5 week class covering basic novel writing skills

Participants encouraged to participate simultaneously in National Novel Writing Month

If you have upcoming book releases or presentations, then let me know and I’d be glad to post an interview with you and help promote your efforts.

November is NaNoWriMo

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo, then you are where I was until a few years ago. It is National Novel Writing Month. Every November since about 1999, participants have engaged in writing abandon by writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. At first, I thought that was impossible, but learned it can indeed be done.

This November 2010 I’m signed up and ready to go on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm. I’ll also be facilitating a Basic Novel Writing class during November on Tuesday evenings where I live in Amarillo, Texas. The class is at the East Branch Library on 26th near Sam’s Club on Ross-Osage. We start this coming Tuesday at 6:30 for an hour and a half of writing fun.

You can sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo from home or where ever you are. Sign up at NaNoWriMo. Even if you only get part way through and don’t finish within the 30 days, it is an exciting experience and you’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you can accomplish and how your way of looking at writing can change. Most of all have fun.

Here’s a few words from the staff at NaNoWriMo:

When you registered for your account, you had the opportunity to affiliate with a NaNoWriMo region. You can affiliate with more than one NaNoWriMo region, and choose one region to make your Home Region. Many towns have Municipal Liaisons (MLs) to organize NaNo write-ins and get-togethers in October and November, and affiliating with a region will automatically add you to the regional email list for updates about local events. Every region has a special message board called a Regional Lounge that becomes visible to affiliates of that region on the Forums page.

To affiliate with any region, just sign in to the site and click the My Regions link in the left-hand menu on your profile page. When you click that, you’ll see three tabs. The Regions tab lets you affiliate with any of NaNoWriMo regions around the world. Once you’ve affiliated with the region (or regions—you can pick a bunch if you like), you should pick one of them to be your Home Region on that beautiful Home Region tab.”

Before you head off to begin training those typing fingers, we wanted to offer a few bits of advice. You’ll find many great tips in the forums, and we’ll be sending pep talks directly to your inbox during November. But for now, here’s a quick overview of the three-and-a-half things we wish we had known for our first NaNoWriMo.

1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do so. But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

And we’re talking the good kind of yodeling here.

A final word before you head off! NaNoWriMo is a grassroots nonprofit, funded almost entirely by participant donations. If you get something out of NaNoWriMo, we ask that you come by our secure online Donation Station and Store and make a small donation to help keep the program going strong. Even $10 makes a world of difference! http://store.lettersandlight.org

With great well wishes on the noveling month ahead,

The NaNoWriMo Team