What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
I did win, but just barely. I finished my 50,000 words around noon on 11/30/11. Winning was significant for me because it meant I could control my inner critic long enough to right something that was very flow-of-consciousness. In many ways it’s made me a better writer because I don’t sit and agonize over the right word anymore. I just choose something workable and go on. Perfection is for drafts 2 – whatever.
What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo ?
1. Keep to a schedule. It’s much easier to write a little every day than to find yourself 10,000 words down on 11/29 (like I did last time).
2. Have fun with it. Play with characters and situations. Use your imagination. Your goal isn’t to write the next Great American Novel, it’s to ramp your imagination up to high gear and see what flies out of your subconscious mind.
3. Don’t delete anything, even if it’s horrible, even if it’s a subplot you’ve decided is a non-starter. EVERY word counts!
4. Bribe yourself. I’m a shameless choco-holic, and I allowed myself two pieces of my favorite candy every day I hit my word count.
5. Don’t give up. Around the middle of November, you’re going to start to feel as if everything you’ve written is pure crap with no value whatsoever. Those feelings, however, do not reflect reality. They’re a natural part of the process, of the inner critic fighting back against something that feels so wildly different from what he or she is used to. Just keep writing. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
National Novel Writing Month is a great fit for someone who isn’t afraid to step outside of what feels comfortable. If you can just let the words flow without judgment, you may be surprised at the characters and plot lines and perfect pieces of prose that come flying out of your mind.
If you’re a very rigid, by-the-book writer who edits each word as you go, NaNoWriMo may be a source of anxiety rather than fun. Even so, it may still be worth giving it a shot. Just remember that the world doesn’t come to an end if you don’t reach 50,000 words and that there’s something to be said for occasionally hog-tying your inner critic.
I’ve been writing stories practically ever since I learned the alphabet, although I didn’t become a professional freelance writer and editor until 2001. I’m also a medical social worker. I have two books published. Visiting Grandma is a young adult story about a gay teen coming to terms with sexual abuse. Hospital Tails is a collection of true stories about hospice patients and their pets.
My work has appeared in travel journals, multiple online sites, and Profiles in Diversity. I’ve also ghost-written several books and articles about the healthcare field.
I’m currently working on a book about my days as an emergency room social worker. And of course, I’m preparing for NaNo 2012!