For those who don’t know about NaNoWriMo, is one month, 30 days, of sitting in front of your computer and writing. The goal is 50,000 words, unedited, and completely insane writing. In its 13th year, NaNoWriMo has been the culprit for sleepless nights, over-indulgence of caffeine, and a layer of dust on the stove. It’s madness, I tell you, but don’t take my word for it.
I’ve asked Stephanie Ingram, a fellow NaNo inmate, to stop by and answer a few questions that may or may not prompt you to join the insanity.
Stephanie, When was the first time you sat down and joined NaNoWriMo, and WHY?
November 2008 was my first year. Before then, I’d never heard of it before. I came across a small blurb about it in a magazine and thought wow, that sounds crazy but kind of fun. I’m always up for a challenge, although at the time I didn’t think there was any way I’d actually complete it. I signed up just days before it started and sat down with much fear and anticipation on day one. I’d always wanted to write a novel but didn’t think this was probably the best way to go about it. Boy, was I in for a fun surprise. ;-)
Aside from Chris Baty—the creator of this craziness—who was your inspiration to keep on the path of 50,000+?
I found the forums on the Nanowrimo site to be a wealth of support and information. I came across a posting for Nanowrimo participants on Twitter and promptly created my own Twitter account where I could connect with other like-minded people. As silly as it may sound, that sense of camaraderie is what kept me going even when I felt like giving up. I posted my word count every day and shared the triumphs and despair with many others across the globe enduring the same seemingly impossible enterprise as me. It gave me a sense of accountability and made me feel less alone in the journey.
We all, as in the NaNo inmates, know that the word count average per day is 1667, what was the largest number of word you’ve written in one sitting? And why couldn’t you just get up and shower?
Actually, I always plan to write at least 1725 words per day so that I can allow myself the day off for Thanksgiving if I don’t happen to finish my 50k before then. I’m not sure what my greatest word count for a single day has been but I know there were many instances when I went well over 3,000 words. Usually those were the moments that I’d almost given up but kept plugging along until I got into a really intense part of my story that surprised even me and I just couldn’t let it go for anything!
After November 30, what was the first thing you did?
How many years have you checked in to the NaNo asylum, and how many years did you escape with your hair intact?
I’ve participated three years and won all three years. The second year was the most challenging because I had a three month old baby in addition to my older two sons so I was already sleep-deprived as it was. Every year I start out by convincing myself that because of x, y, or z, I’ll never manage to complete the challenge but every year I keep writing and moving forward and I reach ‘the end’. My writing goals have changed over the years and (hopefully) my writing has even improved because of exercises like Nanowrimo. I always manage to surprise myself and I always manage to escape with all my hair intact. J
Has any of your NaNo Novels been published? If so, would you like to share a little about your work? (web-site, buy link, cover art)
In 2010 I expanded a short story into a novel with the help of Nanowrimo. I spent seven months rewriting and editing but earlier this month, I published it and it’s now available in both print and ebook form.
Have you already planned what you’ll write this year? Or, in the case that we’re already knee deep in the insanity, what’s your word count to date?
Planning would probably make life easier but I’m going out of my way not to plan for Nanowrimo. It makes the adventure more interesting. I might come up with an idea I want to play around with but when I sit down on November 1st, I won’t have much idea where that idea will take me. I write year-round so really, November is just my time to play and have fun with it.
Any last words to someone just pondering stepping into the NaNo Pool?
Don’t think, just jump! The water is warm and the people are friendly. If you’ve always wanted to write a novel then this is the perfect opportunity to sit your butt in the chair and get writing. Just have fun with it! You can always edit later.