Monday, 5 October 2015

NaNo

Today I'm interviewing my friend, editing guru Anne Rainbow, to learn more about the madness which is NaNo.

Anne, rumour has it that you, and loads of other people, are going to try to write a novel in November - not just start it, but actually write it. Is this true?
Spot on, Patsy. Hundreds of thousands of Wrimos – writers from all over the world – take part in this annual extravaganza called NaNoWriMo. I can’t wait!

I know you can write and I’m sure lots of the other participants can too, but if you write a whole novel in just one month, isn’t it going to be a bit … um… rubbish?
By the end of November, I'll have 50K words – maybe as many as 100K – and that’s a great start. During those thirty days, I’ll have writing lows but I know from experience that these will be eclipsed by many more writing highs. When I'm in the 'zone’ - which comes from writing every day and having a daily target - my mind races and my fingers fly. For me, no matter how many words I accumulate, it’s never a finished-perfect-polished novel. It’s the best I can manage though, in those 30 days.

Why the heck would anyone do it then?
NANO is the perfect motivator. It’s like doing a marathon. If you’ve never run one before, taking the first step is the challenge: signing up for it. Committing yourself to the journey takes more courage than putting one foot after the other. Same with NANO. Step 1, Register. Before you know, you’re being swept along! Step 2: join a region. Step 3: turn up at a Kick Off meeting. Step 4: start planning. Come midnight on 31 October – yes, we start as soon as the clock finishes chiming midnight and it’s officially 1 November - bang goes the gun and you’re off.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
For me, the thirty days of November are more fun than Christmas or my birthday or any holiday jaunt. Normally, I fit my writing in around other responsibilities: running a house, new husband, family and friends. During NANO, I turn my world upside down. It’s the annual opportunity to express myself in novel form – and to give my creative writing priority over everything else. Everything!

Have you started any planning or anything like that?
Usually, I’m what’s called a pantser; the big day arrives and I pray for inspiration. Earlier this year, I discovered Scrivener and realised how writing with this magnificent software tool would result in a better organised draft. Everything in one place. Easier to write in November. Easier to edit, whenever that happens! So, I am adopting a different approach for NANO 2015. I already have a story idea and I’m all geared up to writing my 'Safari Supper' novel, using Scrivener. My ScrivenerVirgin blog reports on my progress. Anyone else new to Scrivener, or to NANO is welcome to tag along. No charge!

What tips do you have for anyone who’s tempted to join in with NaNo?
Go for it! Nothing to lose. Although perhaps I should add a health warning. NANO is addictive; I have the T-shirt, literally  - and I’m hooked on doing NANO each year. I first took part in 2009. Having burst through the 50K barrier with that draft novel, I then wore the mantle of  ML for Devon and Cornwall for a while. MLs – that’s short for Municipal Liaison - look after a region. This year, I’m not an ML, but I am supporting fellow Wrimos through free online webinars. You don’t need to live near me; you could be anywhere in the world and it’ll cost nothing but your time. My KickOff Webinar will be on 26 October – and other webinars will be scheduled during November and early December.

And afterwards? Do we just delete the whole thing, or is there any chance it could become a book worth reading?
Delete? Never! My advice is to spend December chilling out and reconnecting with your world, outside of writing. For me, January is all about completing my tax return and then the year slips by. At some point, May, June, July, I make myself a cup of coffee and read my NANO draft. Having created distance through time, I can look at it objectively. Then, the editing starts. Out with my Red Pen!

I know you and your Red Pen - you don’t just mean a biro of that colour, do you?
No, although there’s nothing to stop anyone using one for the purpose! No, Red Pen is the editing system I devised some ten years ago. Anyone can sign up for the free weekly Red Pen newsletter for editing tips, and there’s also an option to invest in training opportunities and mentoring.

Where do people go for all that?

Check out my ScrivenerVirgin blog at www.scrivenervirgin.com … where you can sign up for all the webinars and newsletters mentioned. The ScrivenerVirgin blog posting which is coming soon, will have all the details for NANO.

Anne's talked me into having a go (though I may 'cheat' and work on a novel I've already started). Anyone else tempted?

22 comments:

  1. My heart is racing just thinking about it. I will observe from afar!

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  2. I could have done with reading your Scrivener Virgin blog when I was struggling to get to grips with it last year (I gave up and wrote my novel on Word in the end). I've never done NANO (it's not for me) but have much respect for those who do. Hope you enjoy NANO 2015.

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    1. Anne hasn't converted me to Scrivener, Wendy. It seems too organised for me!

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  3. Hi Patsy - I don't think I could do NaNo .. and won't be trying this year ... but some people love it. Good luck with getting involved this year ... and Scrivener has lots of good recommendations - I need to use mine ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm not at all sure I'll manage it, Hilary. I do like the buzz of being involved in it and sharing the experience with other writers though.

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  4. Great post, Patsy. I've already checked out Anne's website and it's filled with useful advice. A must see!! Wishing Anne lots of fun with NaNo. I'm still pondering whether to give it a try or not. Have a lovely week.

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    1. Go on, try it! You could join me in doing a low key version.

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  5. I can't imagine going into NaNo with no plan.
    Never chuck the stories. I wrote my second book during NaNo and my third during BuMo.

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  6. This should inspire people! Patsy and Anne, you almost made a writer out of me, the failure was all mine. Why did I fail? Time, dedication and devotion to that red pen process. I am almost tempted.....almost! I'm sure many will be and good luck to all of you!

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    1. Go on, give in to that temptation, Patrick! It's only a month ...

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  7. I don't plan to NaNo this year or ever, but good luck to those who do.

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    1. I'll take a slice of that luck, Oscar - I'll be needing it.

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  8. I did a sort of hiding behind the sofa NaNo a couple of years ago - I wasn't brave enough to register, but I did get more than 50k words written and the daft thing is, I've never done anything with them! Maybe one day. I'm tempted to try it again this year xx

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    1. I don't think it matters too much whether you register or not - it's the writing which is important.

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  9. I did it once, and now the novel is complete and out with editors. I may do Teresa's version but when I signed up it became quite painful on the neck and back. Good luck to everyone who does it.

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    1. Taking a few minutes to perform stretches is probably a good idea, Suzy.

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  10. NaNo is my idea of a total nightmare, but I admire all those who do it. I have a horror of deadlines of any kind.

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    1. It certaily isn't for everyone, Frances.

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  11. Good luck to everyone who joins in this year. I was tempted, but (fortunately?) I'm going away in November!

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    1. You could take your novel with you, Susan! (But I do see you might not want to)

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Thanks so much for commenting!