Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NaNoWriMo November: Get Inspired with NaNo Veteran Chanda Stafford


It's that time of year again. No, I'm not talking about rampant consumerism, over-indulgence in all things chocolate and fat-filled, and houses that look like the Vegas strip. 

I'm talking about that crazy writer thing that happens every November: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The month when lots of folks say "This time I'm going to do it!" and commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2011. I'd just published my first book, Emily's House, and was geared up to write book two. It took me three years to write the first one and I was determined to go much faster with the second. I "won" NaNo that year writing Emily's Trial and indeed wrote closer to 60,000 words that month. The novel wasn't finished, but I had a great start on it.

I wrote a large chunk of my third novel, Emily's Heart, the next year during NaNo and "won" again (though the 50,000 words was sort of a down payment on a 108,000 word novel ;-).

I'm not participating in NaNo this year but support those of you who are. And to help me cheer you on, I have lots of fabulous guest authors lined up this month to share their NaNo experiences or to provide writer encouragement all month long.

Even if you're not a NaNo participant, the posts will entertain and inspire you. And many of the guest writers are donating books to the November Mega-Giveaway (see the link at the end).

Without further ado, my guest today is Chanda Stafford:

A Crazy Little Thing Called NaNoWriMo

By Chanda Stafford

A little over a decade ago, I was a sophomore in college when I heard about this month-long writing adventure called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I didn’t know anyone else participating, and my family and friends thought I was crazy, but I decided to try it anyway. Those thirty days passed in a flurry of typing, all-nighters, and many, many trips to the local coffee shop.  It was terrifying, awe-inspiring, overwhelming, and agonizing at times, but it was worth it.

Even though I crossed the 50k line, my first attempt at NaNo was terrible. It was so bad in fact, that I still glance at the old .doc file now and then and shudder. I knew what I wanted to say, but the words weren’t there yet. The second was better, but barely. The third was almost readable, and the fourth could actually be called a story. Not a very good one, mind you, but it had an actual plot with a beginning, middle, and end. The characters were awful though, and I ended up killing my protagonist because I was sick of listening to her whine.

As the years progressed, my writing got better and better, until one November I typed “The End,” and thought, “This is it. This one doesn’t stink as much as the rest. This one people might actually want to read.” Eight-five rewrites and three years later, First was published by Red Adept Publishing.

It took seven years of NaNo-insanity to write my first publishable book. Some might accomplish that sooner, some later, and some might not be interested in getting published at all, and that’s okay. I needed every one of those other novels to help me become the writer I am today. Yes, they all had problems, plot holes, and characters so cardboard you could use them for kindling, but they were learning experiences, and I got something important out of each one of them.

You see, NaNoWriMo is a great teacher. During this month long craziness, you learn to plumb the depths of your imagination, your perseverance, and your will to survive in order to generate something truly awesome: confidence. Yeah, you read that right. I think NaNo is only half about actually writing a novel, and the other half is about building the confidence in yourself that you can do this great and incredible thing. You can persevere. All you have to is keep writing, because every time you type “The End” you get better, and that is what helps you become the writer you were meant to be.

About First

Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.

When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.

With time running out, Mira must decide between the boy she left behind, the boy who wants her to live, or the man who wants her dead.

Chanda Stafford
Chanda Stafford is a writer and a teacher. When she's not corralling her rambunctious students, she's thinking up fiendish ways to torture her characters. She has two published books, including one of her NaNo novels, First, and is eagerly anticipating the release of her third novel, Burning Bright, which is coming out early 2016.

You can find Chanda here:

Twitter: @chanda_stafford

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