NaNoWriMo 2017: Meet The Writers

by Gurpreet Sihat

One of the things that terrified me about doing my first NaNoWriMo was not knowing if I was ‘doing it right’. Sounds silly, right? Or can you secretly relate?

It took me a whole year to realise that there isn’t actually a right or wrong way to participate in NaNoWriMo. Every writer is different. They’re all different ages and at different stages of their careers. They’re all on different work schedules and plan in different ways (if at all). There are only three real things that they have in common:

  1. They all get writers block;
  2. They all procrastinate; and
  3. They’re all participating in NaNoWriMo (obviously)!

So, to help you get over your pre-NaNoWriMo-jitters, here’s part one in the ‘Meet The Writers’, where I’ll be interviewing writers participating in one of the most anticipated events of the writing world.

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Author Name: Megan Evans
Twitter Handle: @missmegius

Q: How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

A: This is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. I write screenplays above everything else, but really want to expand my writing skills into other forms. Spending November experimenting with this will be a big help to my world building and characterisation, and coming out with something that even vaguely resembles a novel will be a bonus. Having at least part of a final product, that doesn’t have to go through varying stages of production, will be so freeing and exciting. I’m hoping this will really help my creativity and motivation.

Q: Are you a panster or a plotter?

A: A plotter. With my background in scripts, my approaches to writing are quite formulaic. This may change over the course of November as I adapt to the style of prose, but in terms of initial writing I’ll be the one with the piles of timelines, lists and profiles.

Q: Have you got any pre-writing rituals?

A: I’m pretty sure this is mostly procrastination, but I need a clean environment. I’ll normally tidy my desk and make lots of space, let in some natural light and burn a candle! I also like to make lists of what I want to achieve in the next couple of hours to keep me focussed (a.k.a, more procrastination).

Q: What’s your writing routine?

A: Something I’ve recently adopted is getting up and making a list before I’m even fully awake. This will outline the writing sessions throughout the day among the other things I must do. Then I’ll hit the gym to get some endorphins going, come back and get sorted, then sit down to write. It makes me feel so good when I get to lunchtime having done so much already, plus having a clear head from working out guarantees a good session.

Q: Do you stick to the recommended 1,666 words per day or do you set your own goals?

A: As I’m a little rusty when it comes to prose writing, I think that goal is going to be a bit ambitious for my first year in the game, especially with my university assignments coming in thick and fast. I’m going to set my own goals this month to at least plan, then maybe start my first novel.

Q: How do you catch up in you fall behind?

I’ve found a very methodical approach helps me. I’ve been known to intricately plan my entire week so there’s no hesitation when I wonder what I need to do next. This also allows me to balance out all projects/parts of a project and allocate the right amount of time for each. Being strict with myself is the only way to get back on track. Also, having an edible reward as motivation helps even more.

Q: How do you beat writer’s block?

A: When I get to the point where my brain is coming up with nothing/absolute trash, I’ll normally do something as far away from writing as possible. Heading out to the cinema, sticking on Netflix or playing a video game feels like a waste of time at first, but it always picks my mood up and gets me thinking again. My advice would be to consume what you’re trying to create, it’ll inspire you!

Q: Why should writers participate in NaNoWriMo?

A: I think writers should always take the opportunity to throw themselves into the deep end and commit to a project, especially if the territory is unfamiliar. Even if you come out with a large amount that’s unusable, you’ll learn something useful along the way. That might just be timekeeping, or it’s a great character that you know will work somewhere! Spending a month working hard on anything will always reap rewards.

Q: What are the top three pieces of NaNoWriMo advice you’ve been given?

A: The top piece of advice I’ve been given for starting NaNo is to plan my writing sessions for the month. I’ll be doing this on a weekly basis so I can adjust to life throughout November, but I think making time is vital. Another top tip I discovered is to not get hung up something that’s not working – it’s okay to adjust halfway through, as I’m still writing after all. Finally, it’s the journey. I don’t think my final product, no matter how long, is going to be decent if I’m not enjoying writing it. I need to remember to have fun experimenting with my new ideas!

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