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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gearing up for #NaNo

It's September. Practically the end of September. For me, this is very late to start thinking about NaNoWriMo, but that's just the way things have gone this year.

I thought I'd share a bit of my process of preparation for those of you who may be thinking of getting involved with NaNoWriMo this year.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a time where hundreds of thousands of writers cheer each other on to write a novel in a month. My first attempt at this was in 2007, and you can now see that book on the bookstore shelves.

I wrote the first draft of Losing Faith in 21 days, but it took me almost another year to revise the book, find and agent, and then sell it to Simon & Schuster. And even that year doesn't fully cover the time I spent on it. I believe I started brainstorming that book during the summer prior to NaNo. By the time NaNo rolled around, I had a pretty good idea of what the book was going to be about.

My aim is always to start with a logline - or a one-line pitch for the book. For Losing Faith, the original logline was probably something like this: A rebellious teen girl finds out dark secrets about her older perfect religious sister after her death.

Not terribly eloquent, but I started talking to friends about it, and I got the ooh/aahhh response I was looking for. Even more so when I added the word "cult" to the logline.

From there, I worked at developing a fairly thorough outline of where I expected the book to start and where I expected it to go. You see, writing a book in a month is not the hard part. At least not for me. Coming up with the ideas AND writing the book in a month - now that would be hard!

My idea/advice is to not start November 1st with a blank page. At least come up with your idea. And then find out what kind of a reaction you get from it. You'll go into November with more confidence to boot.

Through the next month, I'll be blogging about my own process, plus offering a few tips and tricks to get you ready and excited for NaNo. Are you planning to NaNo this year? Have you done it before? How do YOU plan to prepare?


  1. I've done it before, and can't decide if I am this year. So far I haven't written anything since I've been pregnant, and I don't know if I can manage moving, a toddler, and being 8 months preggo trying to write a book... But that said, I REALLY want to.

  2. I do Nano with my students (Gr 8 and 9). I don't know if many people know this but they have a great program for youth (as young as Grade One!). They can set their own goals, too. Last year I had eight students write 25K or more. 3 achieved the adult goal.

    I will be doing it...writing the text of my humour book (parenting) before I forget it. It's well outlined, and I'm getting Scrivener set up this month.

    Actually, there is a chance my whole family might do it. My husband did it last year, and I'm thinking of challenging my Grade 2 twins to do a story (small though it may be - especially for my son).

    Great to hear your process!


  3. I'd love to do NaNo again, but this year the timing may not work for me. I'm finishing up revisions on my current wip over the next week or two, but I doubt I'll have the next idea fleshed out enough to start writing by Nov 1.

    Happy NaNoing to you! :)

  4. I haven't attempted NaNo yet, but I've thought about it the past few years. Looking forward to your tips!

  5. Best of luck! One of these days I will do this. I guess it's not too late to start now, huh?

  6. Yes, I am going to do NaNo, for the first time this year! And I was going to do just what you say not to, namely not do anything until Nov. 1st and then dive in headfirst, planning and all. But now that I've got your good advice, I shall mend my ways and start planning. Thank you!

  7. I plan on writing again this year. I "won" last year. Great feeling. I started with just a tag line and wrote from there. Now to revise it!!!!