What’s even scarier than Halloween? A NaNoWriMo Survival Post

Hey all. I hope you had an extra spooky Halloween! I spent it on my broom flying from Savannah, GA home to California. There was a devil working at Starbucks and I got lots of stares walking through the airport with my super-fierce mask that Adam Kunz made for all of us Paranormal Plumes…a creepy, sparkling skull with purple teeth topped with a big purple plume, of course! And it came in handy too, because when I boarded the plane in LA the flight attendant said, “Now boarding all our First Class passengers and anyone in costume.” hee-hee. That was me. I was the only one in costume.

So much to share about The Haunted Book Tour in Savannah, GA with my amazingly talented Plumes. I’ll be posting about it all in the weeks to come. But today I wanted to reach out to those of you crazies who are about to start your sugar-infused, caffeine-filled literary journey, NaNoWriMo. This will be my eighth year participating. Every year it’s EPIC. Full of ups and downs and most of all friends. And the best part? Unlike writing a book on a “normal” schedule––what is that really––on this fast-track ride to “The End” you have LOTS of help. If you aren’t participating but are a writer I think the most amazing thing you can do is check out the NaNoWriMo Forums and see oh, I don’t know…the best way a crooked-undertaker would bury a body. That kind of thing. No joke. The boards are packed with real-world experts. Everything from cops to doctors to vets to trapeze artists, who will help you get your facts straight and add so many layers to your story.

But, NaNoWriMo isn’t for the faint of heart. You thought Zombies were bad? Just wait until you’ve written yourself into a place that you can’t get out of. Better known as week 3. But, don’t worry. When you’re backed into a literary corner, it’s fun to do some challenges. Throw a monkey in your story. See what happens. Ok, maybe even a Zombie. Or, if you are really desperate you can turn to some of these incredible books I use to help boost my spirits, and keep from eating all the japlepeno chips on the planet.

Art & Fear Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland

My very good friend, Edna told me about this book years ago, when I was absorbed in the five year journey that was the writing of Winnemucca. Full of doubts and not certain of the outcome of my dedication to my craft, Edna told me to give this a read. I re-read it every year. I think November is a good month to re-read Art & Fear. Especially in week 3 of NaNoWriMo.

Teach yourself: Body Language by Gordon Wainright

When the word count gets tough, I’m not above a little word padding, right? Body language is an excellent way to show feelings instead of telling them. But, heck, who cares how much telling is going on. Just get those words down! This book is fun and fascinating. If your characters glower a lot or if you use the word akimbo too often, check this out. It might point the way to a mannerism that’s just perfect for your character and a way for you to get out of your telling rut and monopoly on certain fall-back literary habits.

No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty [I miss him!]

Every day there are funny and inspiring words of wisdom from Chris, who has been our fearless leader and will be going on to other things. I’ll miss you, Chris!

Here’s a few other things to try:

Jokes––Call your funny uncle and insert when the going gets tough.

Go to your favorite cafe [or wine bar]––Write down a conversation you hear and incorporate it into the story.

Well, after eight years I don’t pretend to know anything. Every year is different. Every year it’s an odyssey into my imagination. And I love it. Every year it’s hard to find the time to pound out the word count. I’ve been known to write on a train on my commute to work, dictate into a voice recorder on other commutes, hide in closets to write some dialogue, write by hand because of various technical and logistical problems, and regale my poor family with the thrill of murdering my characters. It’s all good. And when I cross the finish line on Nov 30th, the champagne always tastes better than the year before as I’m already drunk on the accomplishment of putting another literary puzzle together. And always, every year, on Dec. 1 I miss my book.

This year I’m back at it. I haven’t written word one yet and none of these words go to my word count. Now, that’s love y’all. This is my first NaNoWriMo where I’ll be participating in as an Indie Author. I’ve been blown away by the Indie talent that is out there. NaNoWriMo is an amazing exercise into your imagination. One I think every writer should try, at least once, just to experience this kind of jet-fueled literary abandon. But do know that on Dec. 1 you have a lot of work ahead of you before it’s ready for prime time. But you can’t edit something that doesn’t exist, right. So good luck to you crazy NaNoWriMos! Good luck:)

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4 Comments on “What’s even scarier than Halloween? A NaNoWriMo Survival Post

  1. Congratulations on beginning NaNoWriMo! I hope it goes smoothly for you.
    Also, did you get to board on the red carpet? I love getting to walk down the red carpet.

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