No, I've joined the NaNoWriMo madness four times and "won" twice, although the NaNoWriMo site seems to have
you decide this was the year?
If no, how many times have you done it and have you won?
This will be my fourth time, and even though the NaNoWriMo site is being a stingy old moo and telling the whole entire world that I only won once, I actually won twice. Yes, that's right, NaNoWriMo, TWICE. I had the badges to prove it, too, but I don't have the energy or patience to dig them out of my old laptop. Last year I hit 47,753 words and then fell asleep about an hour or so before midnight on November 30th. Imagine my woe when I woke up hunched over my computer with a killer crick in my neck at 1 a.m. on the morning of December 1. Go on. Imagine it. Yeah. It was woe-ish alright.
If no, what is the best tip you can give to a first-time NaNo'er?
The best tip I have for first-timers is to just keep plugging away and hitting that word count day after day, and to trust that your story is prowling around inside your panic-ing brain searching for a safe way out. The point of NaNoWriMo for me isn't to come out the other end with the perfect (or even remotely good) novel. It's to shut that infernal internal critic up and let loose that shy little wallflower of creative spark that longs to hold centre stage but runs and hides under the bed at the least provocation. NaNoWriMo sets her free because the only way to succeed at NaNo is to gag that internal critic, lock her in the basement, and clear a welcome path for that spark.
How much preparation do you plan to do before November 1st?
I've been percolating this story for quite a while now--several years, in fact, but not in any organized way until a couple of months ago. I'll be starting with a bare-bones outline, a solid feel for the main characters and the setting, and a few picture boards to provide visual inspiration when the words won't flow. My preference is to plan out scenes as I go, either at the beginning or end of each writing session, using the skeletal outline as a guide.
Got anything you'd like to tell us about this years project?
The only thing I'll say about this year's project, and every other year's project, is that I am super secretive about all of them. I discuss my WIPs with my sister and my closest writing buddies, but otherwise I maintain strict radio silence.
Anything else you'd like to share?
The only other thing I'd like to share is that this is the first year I've done NaNoWriMo in such a connected way. In the past, it's been an entirely solitary pursuit, just me in my room with my laptop and my head full of characters. This year I'm surrounded by the writers I've met on Twitter, Facebook and through blogging, and I've never felt so supported or encouraged. I have to say, it's really pretty darned awesome!