What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
Nov., 2011 and again in June, 2012 for Camp NaNo
Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
I participated in the November NaNoWriMo, won and loved it so much that I also did Camp NaNo in June. I made the 50,000 words that time, too. My third attempt will be this November.
NaNo sparked my writing. Prior to NaNoWriMo I had only written articles for magazines, online sites and scholarly assignments at university. I did not believe I could try fiction. Some teachers started a NaNo club in their high schools. As a consultant in the school district, I volunteered to help but found myself in a dilemna. If I was encouraging these kids to go for it, how could I not put myself on the line beside them? So, I began out of a sense of duty, prepared to show the kids that trying is all right, even if you don’t quite reach that lofty goal.
But once I began, what fun! NaNo gave me three-quarters of a first draft. Even the editing and polishing later was not a horrid chore, because the bones of the story was there. The novel was listed on Amazon.com in late spring. By summer it ranked #1 in two categories with reviews averaging 4.7 out of 5. Take a peek at (http://www.amazon.com/School-Daze-Autism-Goes-ebook/dp/B0085HN9HQ/).
What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo?
Just do it. Turn off your internal editor and let the words fly out your fingers. As Chris Baty, in his book “No Plot, No Problem” says about NaNo, all words count – good words and bad words, they all add up.
Think of NaNo as fun and the goal is not to create a stellar literary masterpiece. The more you write, the better you get and NaNo offers plenty of opportunity to practice.
If you’re scared stiff to try, as I was, read Lazette Gifford’s free ebook called NaNo for the New and the Insane. You can take a look at it here: http://lazette.net/free%20stuff/NaNoBook.pdf. It’s an excellent short book that will make 50,000 words in a month seem like something you actually just might be able to do.
And, if you try and don’t make the 50K word count, so what? Likely the sun will still rise Dec. 1st. You will have had fun, gained experience and become a better writer through your efforts.
In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
If writing even an email is hard and you struggle to put your thoughts onto paper, then NaNo may not be fun for you. Although there are other ways. Perhaps you’re a person who can speak his/her thoughts well, even if you don’t like the act of writing. Then word recognition software might be a way for you to do NaNo.
Dragon Dictation by the Nuance company has a marvelous, free app for iPad and iPhone that eliminates all the challenges of tediously training the software to recognize your voice. Many people have success with it when they’ve not had luck with other products. Plus, it’s free! (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8).
If you’re a perfectionist, NaNo might not suit you. There simply is not time in just a month to critically edit and revise your work as you go. Instead, that’s what December and January are for. Get the bare bones down during NaNo then begin your revisions later.
Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell has worked as teacher, counselor, psychologist and consultant for several decades. Her Masters and Ph.D. degrees focussed on autism spectrum disorders and helping kids to reach as high a level of independence as possible.
In a March 2012 announcement, the Centers for Disease control released their latest statistics on autism. One in eighty-six American children has an autism spectrum disorder and one in every fifty-four boys. Every teacher will have a child with autism in their classroom. Every coach will meet a child with autism. If autism has not touched your family, it will affect your friends or neighbours.
When parents, especially mothers, receive the news that their child has autism, they spend countless hours researching the subject, usually at night, after an exhausting day. There is a lot of information out there, much of it by competent authorities. But after a hard day of work and family responsibilities, who wants to read a textbook?
Writers are admonished to show, don’t tell. Kids with autism learn best when shown rather than “talked at”. Why not write a book that shows how a family and a school help a little boy with autism? Does a book have to be hard slugging for the reader to learn new things? Does learning have to be tedious? What if you could just read a good story and still gain ideas to try?
So, the novel “School Daze” was born – a light read aimed at a general audience. Yes, life with autism has it’s struggles, but there are strengths as well and the fun parts that any family experiences. The book’s full of the challenges inherent in autism plus strategies that make life easier for all concerned. It’s a story about a single dad doing the best he can.