NaNoWriMo: Some Advice

There are approximately one bazillion NaNoWriMo advice posts out there. But, here’s mine.

  1. Don’t let numbers stress you out. New words still equal new words. Whether you hit your daily goal or not.
  2. Find the joy in it. If you aren’t happy writing that scene, write another. I’m writing the scenes I WANT to write this NaNo. I’ll add in connective tissue later.
  3. Walk, exercise, drive around, stare out a window. Something to let your brain breathe. I know that when I give my brain a break for a bit that I can focus better and write more.
  4. Drink tea. Or coffee. Or Diet Coke. Whatever it is that makes you happy.
  5. Plot or pants. Outline or not. Just write.
  7. DO NOT IMMEDIATELY QUERY AGENTS WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR DRAFT. That one needed repeating because it’s one of the most important. I started a NaNo novel in 2011. Now, I took some time off (sometimes a couple of years) but I am still revising that novel. Take some time away from the draft. Let it sit in your brain and percolate there. But, DO NOT QUERY THIS DRAFT RIGHT NOW.
  8. And this one I stole from Mary Kole who wrote the book Writing Irresistible Kidlit. “Write for your reader self and not your writer self.”

You can friend me if you’re doing NaNo:

Let’s Just Talk

Imposter Syndrome.

That feeling that you’re just playing at something, that you’re not REALLY something. I sit at my computer some mornings and think to myself, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS??? I’ve been looking at my own words and my stories and wondering what in the world I was thinking that I could be someone who others would want to read.

It’s a real struggle and something my brain constantly churns with. Something I have to try and push out and aside on those few hours I reserve for writing. I sit. And I stare. And sometimes the words come and I feel good about it. Good about what I’ve done and will do.

Because here’s the thing guys, I love to write. I love to tell stories. And on the days that I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it (because, it’s not that I can’t, it’s that I shouldn’t) because I’m not some great wondrous talent, I remember how much I love it. That when I first sat down that afternoon while waiting for a faculty meeting to start and I began my very first manuscript, that it was just because I had a scene in my head. Because I wanted to write.

So, to my fellow Imposters. Let’s write. Let’s write because we enjoy it and because it fills something in our soul. Let’s just write.


The Truth

Before I started college my Mama asked me a very simple questions, “Kati, why aren’t you majoring in English?”

I brushed her off, reminded her my scholarships were dependent on my degree in theater, and that I didn’t like analyzing literary works for their hidden meanings.

“But, you love to write.”

And that was true. On days that I wasn’t in rehearsal, or even when I was, I was always scratching away at a new General Hospital FanFic (Liz and Lucky 4ever) or writing something for a friend. Sometimes I’d attempt my own stuff, my own characters, my own settings, but they never went very far. But, I was always writing.

And the truth? The reason I didn’t major in English? I didn’t feel like I was smart enough. I understood how theater worked. I understood auditions and stage management. I didn’t always understand when to use a semicolon or the difference between the direct object and indirect object. I was afraid that the little romance stories I liked to tell weren’t “real” enough for an academic major.

And there are days, still, that I don’t feel smart enough. Sometimes it’s because I spend a lot of time asking my children very rudimentary questions (Do you need to potty? Are you hungry? How many bats do you see?). Sometimes it’s because I’m short on sleep and too much caffeine. And sometimes it’s because I don’t feel like my little stories are good enough.

But, I write anyway.


The Process- Or How It Takes Me A Lot of Phone Calls to Write.

What my writing process looks like….

Well, sometimes it looks like that.

But, mostly it looks like this…

I’ll then spend some time looking at Twitter and seeing how everyone out there is much more productive than I am. I’ll get frustrated and slam my laptop shut (then apologize profusely because I love Molly the Macbook).

I’ll call my Mom and Heather and make them listen to me talk about these characters like they are real people.

And after I’ve done this about twelve times I’ll sit down with some post-its and do this.

2015-08-05 23.03.43 2015-08-05 19.21.28

These are timelines and chapter synopsis. I know that I can do this all on my computer with Scrivener. And I typically do once I’m happy with what I’ve hand written, but there’s something about sitting down with my paper and pens and putting things all over my wall. I enjoy those things.

I learned this process from a writing class I took with the amazing Jackson Pearce back in 2012. I was about 3/4th of the way done with what would later become the book that helped me realize I was an actual writer. Jackson talked about using a hallway in her house and just posting these notes and how you can move them, take them down, make new ones. And I never need an excuse to buy pens and post-its. Seriously, two of my favorite things.

I have a pretty bare wall in our library/formal living room (we are so not that fancy, it’s mostly the room the dog destroys things in) so I use it. When you’re dealing with potentially six characters with different stories you need to see where they intersect. I visually needed to see where the characters were at and when, this was the best way for me to do it.

Once I’ve got a good timeline and chapter synopsis (sort of) I sit down and put it all in Scrivener. Then I write. Or stare at the screen until it’s time for me to pick up my Smallest Child from preschool.