Tips from a NaNoWriMo Evangelist

Al card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, c.1701-1715. Source: Wikipedia
A card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, c.1701-1715. Source: Wikipedia

Once again, I have embarked on the journey of invention and self-discovery that is NaNoWriMo.

This will be my third National Novel Writing Month attempt. It also marks my first year as a Municipal Liaison (for the Austin/Central Texas region), a position I volunteered for because I love NaNoWriMo so very much.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned from my first two “wins” (successful NaNoWriMo challenges):

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Belatedly late update

I’ve been up to a lot lately, and sadly, blogging hasn’t been as high on my list as I’d like.

The important thing is that I’ve been writing a lot. Between my professional copywriting gigs and my novels, I generate a lot of extra vowels each day. I’ve also submitted two different short stories to contests, and I hope to do a few more of those in the next few months.

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My journey to become a novelist

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I started my first novel as a senior in high school.

It began as a short story about two characters in a fantasy world, and as I recall was inspired by the 1980s Robin Hood television show. Before I began my novel, I had completed a beast of a project, a 20-page short story. It was for one of my classes, and until that point had been the longest thing I had ever written. After that challenge, I would have been scandalized if someone told me I could write an entire novel.

So I wasn’t writing a novel that day. I just had an image, a scene in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone.

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Just past the halfway mark…

It’s November 17th, and the month is a little more than half over. For a writer that can only mean one thing… NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), also known as the month in which writers nearly go insane, is also half over. We have willingly accepted the challenge to craft a new novel of at least 50,000 words, and it’s all downhill from here. This is my second year participating in NaNo, and this time it should be a lot easier, right? No, it doesn’t get easier. Sure, you learn some techniques and tricks during your virgin NaNo experience that make the mechanics easier the second time around. The writing, though… the stringing together of words in some sort of (semi) logical fashion, and constantly moving forward with a story? That never really gets easier. There may be times when you can spit out 3000 words without breaking a sweat… and times when putting together a complete sentence almost is … Read more…

Zero to Cicero and Back Again

I always encourage people to fall down the rabbit hole. If you find yourself with sudden inspiration to research something, you should do it. Whether it’s going to IMDB to look up the actor you think you recognize from a guest role on a tv show, or searching on Facebook for your grade school classmates, or looking for a book that’s been out of print for decades, sometimes the very act of searching will teach you something or send you on a path you weren’t expecting. I’ve spent hours following random thoughts through Wikipedia, Spotify and Amazon.com, discovering publications or recordings I didn’t know existed, or finding out tidbits about former acquaintences that were surprising and sometimes shocking. This time around, I was watching tv when the name of a character reminded me of someone I used to know. Wondering what had happened to this person, I jumped on Google. I was wholly unprepared for Google to lead me to a moviestar fandom blog, as … Read more…