Is this your first year doing NaNoWriMo? If no, how many times have you done it and have you won?
This is actually my third year of NaNoWriMo. Though life has become increasingly busy, it is something I've deliberately made time for in the past, and will continue to do so for as long as I can. Why? Because NaNo is more than a month-long head rush of "Writer's High." It is the way by which I finally made habit that elusive quality of the Daily Writer's Mindset.
I’ve participated the last two years and, remarkably, won both. As for this year – my biggest fear is that my multiple jobs (I have three or five, depending on how you divvy it up) will swallow my writing time. I'm actually doing some serious overtime now with my daily responsibilites, in hopes that when November 1st comes I will have "cleared the air" enough to minimize any encroachments upon NaNo.
What is the best tip you can give to a first-time NaNo'er?
My best advice to any new NaNo-er – and this may sound a little harsh, but I speak from experience - is to get over yourself and keep writing. I found that I had to "get over" my notions of "easy writing" early on in the manuscript game, and especially to resist the temptation to edit as I go. (NOTE: DON'T DO THAT.) When I first started to write seriously, I had the typical rosy notion that my favorite character was SO perfect, the idea would come together SO neatly...and when it didn't (it never does on a rough draft), I’d beat myself up by thinking I had my ideas all wrong and – in consequence – that I couldn’t write.
That sort of mindset is poison. Always remind yourself: it's a rough draft. Give yourself permission to suck and keep writing. The funny thing is that usually those mistakes that DESPERATELY need fixing don't have clear solutions till you're closer to the end of the novel. THEN those elements that eluded you in chapter three are perfectly clear and it makes edits that much easier.
How much preparation do you plan to do before November 1st?
Preparation before November 1st...? WELL. I'm doing it a bit differently this year. Up till my current NaNo project (more on that in a second), I have always been a linear writer – that is to say, I always started religiously at the beginning of a tale and wrote my way to the end.
Got anything you'd like to tell us about this years project?
Then along came Welsan – a quirky soul-reaper who just popped out of my head during a spontaneous bit of flash fiction. The response to him was overwhelmingly positive, with many people asking me to tell more of his story. So I started playing around with the idea of a grim reaper who was more businessman than gate-guardian, who harvested souls as a matter of drawing a paycheck, not because he it was part of his eternal responsibility.
Based on reader feedback, I started writing what I called “floating scenes” – scenes not necessarily in chronological order, but which I knew had to happen if Welsan was going to work. I turned to Pinterest to help me find great visual references for characters, locations, clothing, etc. I have avidly used Donna’s Write For Ten prompts as springboards into writing scenes or parts of scenes – usually because she picks great settings or textural details that help me dream up unusual ways to communicate classic myth or fantasy themes.
The result is that I now have loads of notes, and 17,000 words (as of this typing) in “floating scenes” for Welsan. But don’t worry, fellow NaNo-ers – I won’t cheat; whatever the word count is on October 31st, that will be my “zero” word count and I will build 50K from there.
My hope is that during NaNo I can rapidly flesh out the “gaps” in Welsan and maybe even work through some plot ideas for the second book, since this is looking to be a nicely dark trilogy. And when December hits – well, let’s just say I’m hoping for cold weather worthy of snuggling at home with a hot cup of tea and all my Welsan detritus, and hammering it into query-worthy shape. We shall see!
Angela Goff is whirling dervish of many hats, which include but are not limited to: potter, history teacher, tutor, office clerk, and studio assistant. She has five complete manuscripts under her belt, most of which will probably never see the light of day. She lives in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area where she poses as a respectable member society whenever she can (though whether she is successful at it is another story). You can follow her blog (including her progress on Welsan) at: anonymouslegacy.blogspot.com, or follower her on Twitter: @Angela_Goff.