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How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Lesson 1 of 3

Interview: Jennie Nash with Grant Faulkner

Grant Faulkner

How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Grant Faulkner

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Lesson Info

1. Interview: Jennie Nash with Grant Faulkner

Lesson Info

Interview: Jennie Nash with Grant Faulkner

Welcome. Welcome. Jenny was to snatch a Raimo Ryan. It's almost here and around with seasons here. Prep season is definitely here. You need to drink from my guess way. Go. Good. Drink of water. Um, it's October 22nd. I promised myself that I would have my novel idea fully decided in September. Yeah, I wanted to have two months to just daydream. Think about it. Let thoughts marinate, Take notes. Plan. I just want to have this all figured out before November 1st, but I didn't decide. I did decide once and then I thought of another novel idea, and now I've thought of 1/3. It's like I'm juggling them every day. Like which novel idea will I write? Is there still time for me? Can I still trapped and get ready and right? Absolutely. There's plenty of time, and there's plenty of things that you can dio on. I love that you do this every year. You shared with us this with me before you write a novel in Nanowrimo every year. And I love that You said that you really want to know what it's like for...

the writers, for a busy person, people to do it. Excuse I hear most often is I don't have time to write a novel, and I oftentimes don't feel like I have time to write a novel, either. But but the thing is that it's a choice, and it's about like examining your life and making time to make creativity a priority. So I'm just like anyone else. There's no exception just because I work at Nanowrimo e still got I got still show up for work, Take care, my kids and right, you know, absolutely. And now there's time to prep in. And I always say, Any prep you can do is better. Better than no, no prep. You can certainly show up and just do this. But the cropping is better, definitely. And I want to emphasize that like like this is, we're gonna talk about some approaches to getting ready to write right during nanowrimo. But some people pants and some people love showing up at midnight on October 31st and they don't know what they're gonna write until their hands at the keyboard. Yeah, and that's fine, too, because nanowrimo can just be like a fun writing activity to write with your friends Yeah, What I love about it is that it conserves so many kinds of writers. So that kind of writer, super serious writers who use this in their routine people in the middle, first timers, everyone, it's It's the whole spectrum of people who want to write novels, so it's genius that way. It better be the whole spectrum because they can't be 400,000 people or more. A lot of different types of writers. That's amazing. And on this note, So I know we have a lot of people who are tuning in who maybe don't know anything about nanowrimo this crazy acronym that stands for national novel Writing Month. And I'm sure if we said that yet eso I leg to ask people. I'd like to hear what? How people describe nanowrimo. So if you met somebody today and they'd never heard of nanowrimo, what would you tell them? What is it and why should they do it? I would say it's a novel writing sprint. It's one month, there's a whole bunch of people doing it, so you have a creative energy of a whole community and that the goal is to write a rough draft of your novel. Yeah, emphasis. Rough draft. Yeah, that's what I want. Yeah, because I think so many people in One of the reasons we exist is that people will look at their favorite authors and then they'll start writing and they'll be like, Wow, my writing isn't as good as my favorite authors and they'll be like an obstacle we're inviting in their inner editor in to judge them, right? And so we're all about banishing that intern editor, right? And we say right with abandoned for a month and write with abandon really does mean right with abandoned just right, you know, explore your your novel idea. Every rough draft in the history of the world has been It's been rough, crappy, rough draft by definition. Even that novelist you so admire his or her first draft was probably just as rough as your first draft. So I think of Nanowrimo. That's one part boot camp, one part rollicking party, so you have to show up every day. It's intense. It's like climbing a mountain or running a marathon like writing 1700 words. A day is not for the faint of heart, but everybody can do it um, but the part I also love is that community part. So I always the party part. If people listen to the first thing I say, the second thing I say is you know, like when Oprah does that thing where it's like meditation and five million people tune in to meditate with her and I say that it's like that. It's like, you know that somewhere in the world somebody else is doing exactly what you're doing there, trying to meet that word count. They're trying to meet that goal, and it's that that's sort of collective creative energy that I think is so great because writings lonely do it alone. By definition, you're you're alone in a room, even if in your coffee shop you're alone in your head and just knowing that there's all those people out there and on the Manorama s that you can see where they are, you can see how they're doing. It can measure yourself against that. And I think that boost of community is what's huge. It's huge, is so galvanizing. I hear that from so many writers. And on that note, I just want to mention to viewers that when you sign up for nanowrimo on nanowrimo dot org's, You can identify your home region as we call them, and we have volunteers called municipal liaison work, late liaisons who organized in person, writing gatherings for people right alongside each other and get that kind of like theory. And then beyond that, though on online it's a powerful tool. We have a great Facebook group. We get about a 1,000,000 forums, posts on every reading topic under the sun every November in our forums. And, you know, hashtag nanowrimo is trending on Twitter generally throughout November and October. So a lot of different ways to feel that community energy. Um, But before we start, so Jenny is gonna offer, she's got, like, jumping on the community energy. Okay, Okay. So jumping in on community energy jumped me energy. And guys, Speaking of community energy, these classes, as I talked about earlier today, we have, you know, the classes that we're showing this week mostly have been previously filmed. But this week, Grant is coming in at noon every day and doing about an hour and minutes of live segments. So how does that? What does that mean to you? guys. It means that you guys could be in our chat rooms. So go ahead on that video player. Click the chat rooms and go ahead and join and feel free to ask your questions today at noon Wednesday at noon and Friday at noon. So if you have any questions, you really bring him in this week delivering to me, and I'll get them to Jenny and to grant so back to you guys. Yeah. Thanks so much, Jim. Yeah, definitely depressed with questions throughout this 90 minute segment. We want we want to answer your questions. And that just makes it more fun. Yeah. And Grant. And one more thing. Yes. Facebook live. Welcome to everybody out there on Facebook as well. So same thing for you guys. You're able to watch live on Facebook right now, So go ahead and put those questions in, and we will do our best to get as many answers as we possibly can. Cool. Thank you so much. Well, before we get into the exercises that you are going to talk about, uh, Jenny, I want to know just so people could know a little bit about about Maura, about you tell us a little bit about your journey as a writer. When did you first decide you're a brighter and what was what was kind of speaking to you? Yeah, I really felt called to writing When I was in high school, my parents were actually going through a pretty messy divorce, and I found that writing stories was a way to make sense of that. And process that and just for my own self, kind of make a world that was somehow more coherent and were made more sense to me than the real world did. And then I found a great deal of comfort in sharing those stories, even if it was just with a friend or a teacher. Just to have that communication was somebody else around my thoughts and my ideas. And I found that it was really a profound way for me just to be in the world. And Teoh, you know, the world's is hard to escape it, though, and right now the world is really hard. There's a lot out there and and writing for me. He has an escape. It was a comfort. It was, um, an intellectual exercise. There's so many things. And that's where I first got called to to write. And I think, Ah, lot of people you know are similar. They feel they feel pulled to story. I mean, somebody who spends their time writing is a different sort of person or mindset or sensibility than somebody who spent their time cooking or playing tennis, or you know, any other way you might spend your time. And I think there is that that sensibility of trying to make sense of a confusing world. Andi, that's that's where he began for me. Yeah, Writing is thinking. Somebody said so. Absolutely. Yeah. Kind of pinned down your thoughts and explore them. I'm curious. So you went from the high school writer escape and comfort in words. Yeah, and stories. And then you became a professional writer. So tell us a little bit more about that journey. And what kind of challenges did you face? Any challenge has just been smooth sailing. Just the words come out perfect. Rough drafts there just perfectly refined your straight to the publisher. Yes. Good. Good for you. Uh, actually, I had an unusually smooth path to publication and to a professional writing career, but I'll get to the challenge in a minute so that you don't think I'm lying. I did My first job out of college was at Random House, and I was immersed in the publishing industry right from the start. I sold my first book and got an agent last 25 years old, so it was sort of ridiculously smooth and easy. But for me, the challenge was 100% in the mindset of thinking of myself as a writer, thinking of myself as a professional writer, thinking that this was going to be my career, thinking that this wasn't just an accident and the more successes I had and the more deeper into it I got that might sit, didn't get better. It was It's that it's that giving yourself permission right? I'm getting over that self doubt and and I find in the work I do now it's a writing coach that's a huge part of what I'm helping with, Like anybody can really you teach you how to structure a novel? How toe, you know, make a good plot. What sort of married narrative structure is gonna work? How do you develop a character? All these things are skills that you can learn. But the that mindset shift for me was, was what was so huge, and I actually still struggle with it a lot. I'm no longer writing is no longer my career, But I'm in the business of helping writers, and I struggle a lot still with whom I Teoh helped them. Who am I to know what my to tell someone? They can do it. So it's, I think the big challenge is mindset. Yeah, it's a really interesting thing. I mean, one would think that publication would be that kind of certification that you need, that you can say I'm a real brighter now Think of this quote from Robin Williams, he said. He said that once you get the Oscar, you have about three really good days, you know, and like you're super happy, feel really loved and really important. But then after about three days, you returned to your You have to deal with your yourself and I have heard writers who far more successful than I am, say that it does in fact, get worse. The more accolades you get there, people nominated for Pulitzers or making the new York trans bestseller list have the hardest time because you think I'll never do this again. Or maybe that was a fluke are actually don't know what I'm really doing. So we're gonna shift from the super successful writers who are doubting that they're writers. Come back to NaNoWriMo. Yeah, because I'm thinking that a lot of people out there are in a similar situation than I am. It's in October 22nd 9 more days. I'm juggling three different ideas, and I always give people this advice because I hear this all the time. People ask me, What should I write about? And I'm always like, you know, really listen to your stories and choose the one that's calling you, you know, don't think about what you should write or people have told you is A is just a great story, maybe, or something that you think might be publishable. Whatever your goals are, um, just to really listen to that call. And yet here I am, and they're all calling me kind of in the same way. So can you help with that? Absolutely. So on me. Um, Page, you'll see a download that that's called your Deep level. Why? So this is a worksheet that I used to help people in this exact same situation. And people writers always air in this situation because usually when you're a creative soul and your love writing and you're doing this thing, it's usually not just one thing that comes to you. It's a 1,000,000 things. It's an idea Minute. It's a number. That would be a great story. That would be a great story. You can't turn it off. And so choosing that idea becomes hugely important. And with nanowrimo coming up, you gotta pick. You can't go into it with a bunch of different ideas. You gotta pick and I don't know well, and you and I have talked a little bit about how some some writers start nanowrimo very excited, and then they get a weekend that may start thinking, Oh, maybe this isn't gonna work or I'm not sure and being sure about your idea is going to really help you get over that hump and get through that roadblock. So this exercise that I have is it's totally cribbed from the Simon Sanick. Start with why, but which is a book for businesses? That's about No. The reason that you're in business know the reason that you're doing what you do. And for writers, it's equally important to know why do you care? And so this is what this worksheet is all about and curing beyond about an individual story. Just caring to start with caring about writing in general is totally so. We start by. Yeah. Why do you care about books? Why do you care about reading? Why do you care about writing? Why does this matter to you? And I really like to ask people to just stop and spend a little time thinking about that and thinking about what books have had an impact on you in your life and what books have you loved and what books have gotten you through a difficult time or a difficult phase in your life? Or maybe just brought you joy or resonated with you. You know, I hear people all the time who say they read the same book every year as a Touchstone of the right I do to you do what you read. I shuffle through ah variety of books that I've loved in the past. I don't read the same book every year. Yeah, I have talked authors who do that, but I'll just go in and make sure really at least one book again. So I just go through my bookshelves and pick out one right? And it's so you know, we all have books that have meant a lot to us at any given time and returning to them and remembering who you were when you read that book. That just taking a minute a minute Teoh to remember what other writers have given to you and what the world of writing is given to you. I think that's a really good grounding place to start because because it's hard writing a book is really hard. It's hard. It takes a lot of time. I mean, look what Nana Romero is. It's a month, but you're you're in order to get those 50,000 words. You've got to do this every day, or you've got to do it in some sort of pattern over the week where you're really devoting a significant amount of time to sitting down and writing these words. It's not. You cannot do it fast. Yeah, it definitely have 50, words in a month. Every every year I do it. I actually do have this moment. I'm like It's amazing, E. I know from all the thousands of stories that it is possible, including my own. So right. And you know, even if you're not keeping in the constraint of one month, writing a novel is a long and hard and difficult road and process. And so just understanding, why are you even engaged in this? And again we talked before about, you know, as opposed Teoh learning to play the guitar or learning to gulf. There's there's so many things that a human can devote themselves to. And I think knowing why are you choosing this? Why do you care about this? Really, really helps. And I suggest that people actually write their answer down. Don't. Can I ask people? So if you out there in the watching and you're thinking about this, why you write or why you're writing the specific story you're gonna write in November? Police share those online, and Jim will share them with us. It's always fun. T share that, and to hear why other people right? Because I think it could set off your own Yeah, I love that. I would love that. So yeah, I say, actually, write it down to know why. Why you care? Because other good people are going to see this really actually does mean a lot to them and other people. I always like to think about the writers, and I love they were just like anybody, right? They didn't know if what their idea was any good. They didn't know if they could do it. They didn't like. You have to write it to know. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They're amazing ideas in the world for novels, but tell you, right, them they're just ideas. Yeah, absolutely. And so I like to think about those writers as people at the beginning, wondering, Should I bother? And then you think What if they hadn't bothered? My wouldn't have had this relationship to this book or the story, So everyone should write their story. Don't just be an idea. You got to get it down. Yeah, even just for yourself. It's a gift to yourself to Yeah, just to start. And so that that's where I like to start. And then on the deep level, why worksheet the next level? Why is Okay, you've got all these ideas. Why do you care about these ideas? That's that's the next thing. So you mentioned that you have three. What I would suggest people do is for any idea they have to actually write down. Why do I care about this on? And it's sometimes people, um, push back against this recommendation cause they think we'll tell you like Jenny and just want to write this middle grade novel about dragons. I just have this dragon and in my mind, like Why don't have toe tell you why I care about it. But if you let yourself do it, if you take the time to do it, you're gonna find I can guarantee that it's not really just about dragons. There's something in that that's that's really meaningful to that's pulling you that like you talked about being called. There's something in your idea that's that's really meaningful to you somewhere in your gut. And we're going to talk throughout this this time about trusting your gut and trusting your instinct and and following that and this is where it starts is knowing. Okay, why do we care about those dragons that can I ask a follow up question because you do give this great study or case study of this person to buy us and and his He wanted to write about the plight of people that he'd worked with or knew you were going to be a very serious novel, and that was his deep level wise that he wanted to. It was in, you know, generous act to tell these people's stories and put them in the world. But now I'm thinking per per the dragon story or maybe some other stories to can the Why? Just because I want to have fun and write with friends? We'll for sure. And I think particularly for nanowrimo if if that's the intention we talked before about that. The NANOWRIMO contains all these writers and gives the space for all these writers t do what they wanted to do, what they need to do. So if that's what somebody is feeling, they're called just to have fun, and maybe they're going to get together every day with a group at lunch and sit down and do this like that's awesome. I'm really big on knowing knowing what your intention is, and if that's your intention. That's excellent. But to carry you through that story all the way through knowing that's why is so big and you're right in the worksheet the guy talk about has a has. I would call it a very serious social justice sort of mandate. And what if you have a story that a lot of people have a story that's just a fun thing or a clever situation? Or, um, I'll give you an example? I was working with the writer recently who is writing a novel about two competing fried chicken restaurants. And it's this sort of fun romp through, um, family and the sort of dynasty. And this and this very fun premise about, um, like the whole organic food movement. And it's just it's just fun there is. You know, nobody's gonna gonna look at that story idea and say, Well, that's a deep social justice meaningful thing. And but the why that I am trying to get people to get at is for this writer. Why are you going to spend at least a month for Nanowrimo? Probably a year after that, getting it together, probably another year after that, Getting it in shape to publish. What you gonna spend all that time on a book about chicken, you know, like why? And if you can articulate it and if you can figure out what in that is speaking to you, even if it's just well, I think it's clever and fun, and I like to spend my day thinking about these chain restaurants rather than thinking about whatever is going on here in your own life. If that's if that's it, I think that's a really good and it's really just know what your connection is to it, you know? Yeah, I think, um, I always say that knowing why you want to write your story or the more deep you deeply, you kind of think about that connection. It also just the month of November, like people run out of gas. Oftentimes after the first or the second week, like those those words, I can feel very excited. Initially, words gush. Everything seems kind of easy, but But I think like that moment always advise people to, like go back and reflect on the why they signed up to do this percent that can help them get through just the month itself. actually 100%. So if you write down your why why do we care about writing and books? Why do we care about the stories that are calling to me and the one that they picked? I put on a post it note and put it right near where you right, So that when you when you get to that place cause you're gonna get to that place you will get to that place many, many times, either in the month of November or beyond. You can look at it and say, Oh, right, right. I have found great comfort in books that helped me escape my own life. I love rollicking mysteries, whatever the whatever the thing that you love books about. And then for your own story. Oh, right. I wanted to write about this because whatever the thing is, just that that knowing will connect you to yourself and your motivation, anything. It's just huge to get you through. Can I mention our founder of Nanowrimo Chris Beatty? I wrote this book. No plot, no problem. So if you don't have a plot yet, just no problem. Don't worry about it. It will happen. You will find your plot in writing your updraft. Um, but I just want to say he answers this question in a very similar way. But he also I think, to what you were saying earlier. He well, he calls in the Magna Cartas, and he he says, to go through, and so I don't know why I'm showing this year because no one can read it online, but I can see it, but yeah, What? What? What he ask is to think about the things you read, what you mentioned and identify what you like in those stories, you know? So he has things like he likes first person narration, quirky characters, true love, found objects, disappointment, vice steel people, strong, charismatic protagonists, improbable romances. So just make a big, long list. And this is like guiding you are should guide you to your story because you want to write something that you actually want to read. You would love to find that book on the bookshelf because it would excite you so much. So write what you want to write. And then, conversely, he has something called the evil Magna Carta, which is making a list of things you don't like or novels you don't like. And so on. His list includes irredeemably malicious main characters, books set on farms like that, chicken food or eating as a central theme. Dysfunctional sibling dramas, anyway, that those air Chris's lift Chris's list eso And so I think sometimes we are attempted to write, like about something that doesn't excite it so that it would don't like to read. And so that's why that's the evil mind Magna Carta. So things not to write about or just to identify and being right. And sometimes people do this thing. You alluded to this earlier. They do this thing where they're like, Well, I'm really called right about dragons for middle grade. But I hear that what selling is vampire stories for young adult or mysteries for, you know, whatever. Like they they get these outside ideas or, um, I hear this a lot. Somebody told me it was like somebody told me that first person novels don't sell anymore, and you're like, Well, first of all, who told you that? And second of all, why are you listening to that? And and third of all, it's not true, you know that, and that's not why you should write. So it's why is about what sells the wise about what speaking to you. So right, So that's what we're talking about when getting to your deep level, why and what you want to write and what's speaking to you. That's the whole gig. And if you can do that, then will you? We started by talking about someone who has three ideas or five or 10 ideas. And how is this gonna help? Well, if you write these down, if you actually write them down, you're gonna look at them and just take a step back and you're going to be able to see that one has much more heat than the others. Some you probably won't even be able to put the y on. So you know, once you do this looking at them and seeing Oh, that's why this idea stuck in my head. It means something to me. It's connected in some way to something I really care about, or something that's keeping me up at night or just something and keep returning to, and it lets you define that sort of heat and recognize and say, OK, that's the one I want to take Go one step further now? Yeah. Yes. Wondering if you interested in some wise from the Internet. Let's read some wise. Okay, So first of all, Internet. Thank you for your engagement. Like dirt going crazy in here. So we have tons of things, lots of good questions. So this is from Jasmine, my wise. I'm writing a story of female trauma and how survivors are not only up against their abusers, but society. I know so many people who have struggled against what has happened to them and letting people know what happened. And the invalidating of their own suffering is hard to deal with. So are right off the bat we have when that's that's pretty deep level. OK, Jasmine, that's amazing. That is a really deep level. Why? And I've been hearing a lot of this lately, bubbling up just cause where we are in our culture right now. And that's exactly the kind of thing you want to tap into, is why Why would you spend all this time on a novel? That's amazing. I love that. I love the clarity that you're speaking with. We could talk for weeks about what to do after you get your wife, because I just I would caution. And this is just me, the book coach. A novel is not, uh, newspaper headlines, and it's not You're not on a soapbox. Every novel should be an argument for something or carry some sort of meaning. Your message. But you don't wanna have I've been the reason I'm saying this is I've seen a lot of agents lately, saying, Don't send me message driven novels. When you still have to write a story, you have to write a good story. We're gonna talk a little bit later about how to do that. How do you turn these ideas and this why, into a good story that people want to be engaged in and and part of. And so that that starting with the why it's so important. But you've got to move on from it, and we're gonna talk about how to do that. But I I would just say to Jasmine and to anyone thinking about this topic or these ideas, that's that's fantastic. And that's what we were talking about before one of those big wise I would love to. Also here is there anybody out there with the, um a different kind of why? Yeah, and I'm gonna make a comment and then on then a different kind of a wide. Alright. So here's a comment from Zahid from that just came from Facebook. He says I'm a creative writer. This conversation is really helpful. It feels amazing when you see your mentors talking, teaching and sharing experiences. Writing a surviving writers are true survivors. I thought that was really, really meant really, really powerful and kind of got me. Here s so here's a little different wife from Sherry Milligan. As for my why I'm writing, I'm getting ready to retire. And I know I need something to Dio. I've written for work, blog's magazine articles, workbooks, and I will miss that. So I figured, Why not try something new and novel during my retirement years? Even if it's only for me? I love that you talk about that. Yeah, I love that. Even if it's only for me, you know. I mean, it's fun to go out dancing with your friends on a Friday night or singing karaoke songs. I mean art, for art's sake, like give yourself permission to do that because the why can be writing a novel for yourself and you'll find meaning it will be a gift to yourself, no matter if anyone reads it. Yeah, and what I love about that, one is is the knowing of your own self, knowing that this writer love to write and love to connect to it. And she'll jump into nanowrimo and have this new thing in this new habit. That's what's great about the month of a nanowrimo is you can absolutely form a new habit in that month of writing and getting up every day or whenever in the day you do it and and making it part of your life. And this is going to transform this writer's life, and she's gonna prove to herself that she can do it, that she's good at it, that it's fun. And I can see the thing I love about writing. I mean, I love a lot of things about it, but it it's great as you get older. I think you get better as you get older. So I love that this is a person retiring coming to this and be called to this. Yeah, and what better way to spend your retirement years. I gonna write Mawr. Yeah, so good during those years. Yeah, anymore, Jim way have, like, 20 more. But I'm gonna do what way do one more cause. This one is pretty cool from Megan, who says my wife and this is all in caps because it's hard. I want to do hard things and grow. I want my kids to see me doing hard things because often hard things are the most worthwhile journeys. I agree. I think sometimes I joke that writers are just a little bit Massa kissed IQ. They love the pain of writing and writing does have an ingredient of pain. It's, I think, so. Many writers have talked about this. But remember this one Philip Roth quote where he said writing is mostly failure. You know, it's like baseball baseball players. If they hit the ball 30% of time, that's like gazing. Yeah, yeah, I think the same statistic might apply for writing. You know, that's part of the reason we say, Don't get hung up on those Mrs during during nanowrimo because you can you can hit the ball more, I guess in revision. Yeah, that's left us the working analogy, but I think there is something because I mean part of the the hardness of it that's being addressed is, is finding just the right words to to match the thoughts in your head. And there's just such a chasm between what's on the words on the page and the images in your mind. It's really hard, Teoh put them into words. And but that's like a wonderful challenge. That's That's the kind of challenge that deepens your thought, deepens your attunement to the world you know, deepens your story. You know, it's like a good type of pain, I think. And Megan, thank you for sharing that I love. I love this so much, I I actually think that's my all time favorite answer to Why? Because if anybody could do this, it wouldn't be quite as satisfying. And that's true. And if you know that's what Manorama Oh, it's so hard, and that's why people are drawn to it and writing a novel. It's so hard, it's so hard to get it right to your point. It's so hard to match what's in your head and when you really think about the number of decisions and choices that go into writing a full length novel. It's a lot. There's a lot of of processing. There's a lot of creativity. There's a lot of everything. It's it's a very complex emotional undertaking. On the hardness of it, I find is what is most satisfying. That's the path when people do it. They're like I did this hard thing and I It's very much like somebody committing Teoh do an iron Man or, you know, these things that are out there that are hard. The hardness is what makes it great. So I make it. I'm so glad you share that. I love that and and I I hope it's really hard for you. And I hope you're no member is really hard that you have occasional moments where you're the float. It's going over. I coach writers every day, and a lot of what they get hung up on is this is so hard. Maybe I should quit because it's so hard on. I'm every day I say No, that's why you shouldn't quit because it's hard. Well, it's always think to sometimes when it's hardest, that's the moment you're just about ready to have a wonderful breakthrough. So, um Well, that's great. Thanks for sharing all those, Jim. And thanks for everyone for contributing those online. We're going to dive into some or kind of meaty novel prep exercises. And, um, this one is is probably good for me right now. I think I could do it for all three novels, but I was wondering if you could explain this dust jacket. I've never heard of this from anybody else I heard about. Somebody told me about your concept for this a few months ago. So yeah, I made up this exercise and I do it with writers, no matter where they are in the process. So if they're right at the start of Nano and they have their idea and they haven't really don't really know where to go or if they do have an idea, But they're sort of feeling lost. People come to me and they're stuck there in the middle of their stuck. This is the first thing I'll ask them to do. And even if they come and they're finished and they're wondering, what should I do when I start revising? I have them do this and the reason why is well, first of all, explain what it is. Um, book jacket copy is the words on the back of a book so we can pick up grants book here pep talk for writers and is a non fiction book. But the words on the back that's jacket copy on the jacket of a book. It's the words that explain the book. And as anybody who's ever read a book or purchased the book or gone to the library knows that's what you do right, you pick it up and you, you, you gives, you see what it's about, and you just give it a little little read. Well, standing back and doing this for a book that you haven't even written, which is what we're talking about here. It's just amazing way, Teoh. Hold it in your hands and see it. And by it I mean, who is your main character? What's this about? Just the very basic level of what a book is and making people's write this down and really do this work lets them again just see it. And I think there's a huge mindset shift that has toe happen with writing a novel which is You go from this idea and it's up here and it's all in your head and you got to bring it down to the page. And here's a way to do it in 250 words. Can you just encapsulate your idea in in this little exercise and being able to do it and see it is so profoundly powerful? So how do you How do you write it? It's not. It's not just a summary like this happened then this happened. Then this happened, right? That's right, like they're they're elements that go into it or some techniques that's right on the worksheet. I walk through what these are and and the basic idea is you. You absolutely don't want to just say this happened. And then this happened and this happened. The idea is again when you and I suggest that you start by going toe. Look at books on your bookshelf. Just go pick. Put five novels that you like five novels that maybe some of those ones you return to again and again. What do they say that calls to you? What are they doing that makes you want to read that as opposed to this other one. Or go to the bookstore and spend 20 minutes standing in front of the shelf. I just love to do this from time to time. Just you pull books off. I'm not. I'm not in any way an artist or a cover designer, but you can also do this if you're looking to do that sort of work. What speaks to you just in that minute? Just in that second, and if you read the jacket copy, you'll start saying, Uh, no, I don't like that or Oh, I really want to read this. And what's the one that grabs you? And you'll see that what's in that is it's usually about a person or a situation that you care about that has some meaning to you that's speaking to you in some way that is related in some way to something in your own life or something you care about, or something you've been turning over in your head. So it's getting that really big picture of what's What's this about not not what happens, but what is this about? And it actually is very connected to what we just talked about. The why there's going to be a sense of the why in these on that Why should I care? As a reader, why should I pay my $12.25 dollars for this book and take it home and spend all my time on it? So breaking down the jacket copy for a book you haven't yet written is just a very, um, it makes it tangible. So you're able to say, Okay, this is my character. This is what they're encountering. This what is about this is the take away or the why. So do you need to identify that character conflict or need and have that expressed in the jacket? Copy if you can, and that's the challenge. So this this exercise is challenging on purpose, just like writing a novel. Can you, in 250 words, tell me who this is about what's happening to them, that that is, what do they want? What's their conflict with standing in their way? What's gonna happen when they, when they have this journey toward it or away from it? And then what's the take away from it? What are we gonna learn? Is a reader. What are we gonna get from it. Why are we going to care if you can get that all into 250 words? And you know it can take you quite a long time to get this right. If you start doing it, people are like, I can't possibly do that. In 250 words, I don't even know what this novel is, right? I haven't even written a page I don't even know. I just have an idea. You can't ask me to, right the thing that the you know professionals would right when it's time for publishing. But if you try and you and you go through several drafts of it and you've got that, it's just so amazing because you can put that down with your other post it note on wire writing. Put this down right next to where you're writing and when. Every day when you get up to do your nana work, look at it and just remind yourself Oh, right, that's what this is about. That's what I'm trying to capture. That's who my character is. It's like a Touchstone. It's and and the reason it works is because it's so short. Yeah, you know. Now here's a question. So I boys say I part of the reason I don't really outline novels is sometimes I don't I want to know too much about where they're heading, and I especially don't like to know the end. I like to write for the mystery of this story on I always I'm writing in pursuit of the story like I'm just getting these little whiffs of the story as I go along. So does the Jack Copy doesn't have to reveal the end. Or can you, like, preserve that sense of mystery for you might be writing for That is a really good question, and you and I would probably disagree on that. Methodology and disagreeing is perfect because with those 400,000 writers doing Nano, they all have their own way. And that way there's not. There's no nanowrimo is. It was founded as a creative experiment. He has an ongoing creative experiment on the reason I say that is when people do it. It's a chance for them to explore their own creative process. So whether you outline or you pants or anything else, it's all on exploration. And so I always advise people to do different things every year. Different elements like so try the dust jacket. Copy. Right. Experiment. Just see how it works for you, right? Well, And when I always tell people is if what you're doing is working for you, keep doing it. Doesn't matter what anybody is saying or telling you to do or teaching you If it's working for you, you should do it. And I agree. Try different things. Try different processes, try different methods. What? You're fine. Trying to find is your own way. And this is a great Nana Is a great time to try something. So when I say that I would disagree, I, um I think knowing where you're headed, even in a vague way having a target to aim for is helpful. So I do like to know kind of directionally where I'm headed. Yeah, I'm heading north. Not so not heading north. Yeah, I just don't know exactly what North. Yeah. So when I am teaching this exercise, I do suggest to people that they give away the farm, they give away the whole thing. And this comes from my own teaching, um, pet peeve. Which we probably don't have time to get into, but I see a lot of writers and this is down the road, right? So Nanowrimo is about a rough draft and getting it done down the road. When you're looking at polishing a work for publication, I see a lot of writers holding back. It's like they're holding their their cards back and they don't capture the reader early enough and and that my problem with that is they're not gonna lose the reader. We live in a busy, fast paced world, and if you don't capture reader in 30 pages or 50 pages, they're out there watching Netflix. So you've got a capture, your reader, and many times it means giving away things you don't want to give away. And writers will argue and they'll say, But it gets so good on Page 92 or, you know, in Chapter 17 it's so awesome. But if they're your reader isn't going to get there, that's that's no good. So I usually when I teach this exercise, I advise people to give it away for their own sake in the in the jacket copy. But But again, if you're writing to find your way and you're using Nano to explore. Then don't put it in. Put Make a jacket copy. That's that's the premise. Where starts head north North young man stars gets go west. Um, yeah, use it in the way that's going to be effective for you. If you don't know or you don't want to know, then just give us. Yeah, give us the direction and then that can guide. Um, one thing about this exercise is you can change it as you go. So halfway through November, you could go back to it and you could go, Oh, I actually know a little bit more about this character in this story. In this situation, I'm gonna tune this up as a way to just keep my, um, keep myself on track. You could do that five times in November, and what's great about this is then, at the end of the month, you'd have this, you know, true representation of your story as it moved through time. So I think that's great, that flexibility because I hear a lot from people who, because the first draft is an exploratory draft, you are finding your story in so many ways I've heard people say that they realize the story should be told from another point of view. Another character, you know, or that they should have Mawr characters like oh, ensemble of characters instead of one. So I think the act of writing a rough draft is it's so exploratory that you're going to change and you've got to give yourself permission to change. And even if you were in that dust jacket, yeah, back will change too well, and I want to bring something up. Also about that is I have worked with a lot of writers who have done nanowrimo, and they didn't win. So there is Ah, there is, ah, process by which you write the 50,000 words and you and you win and that's awesome. And it's tough and it's amazing. But there's also place, and then if you don't win, you're completely ostracized, right? Right in community, the not winning. So let's say you are writing a novel, and what happens is what you just described. You get to November 15 and you think, Oh my gosh, the wrong character is narrating this story. It's actually not this person's story. All it's this other person's story. What am I gonna dio? And if you think I have to throw the whole thing out, that means I'm not gonna win. That means I quit. Don't do that. What? What I suggest you do is say OK, I trust my gut. Go back to that. I would go back to my wife and I go back to my jacket. Copy. I'm gonna tweak everything. I'm gonna change it. And I'm gonna start writing on November 16 in this new way on, Maybe I'm not gonna win. Maybe I'm not going to get the 50,000 words. Maybe actually throw out the 1st 2 weeks of work. I think that's a huge victory as a writer. Really accomplished Writers throw stuff out. Absolutely. And I mean I mean, this goes to more to revision. But Karen Russell said that only 10% of her rough draft ever makes it into the final draft. And I think that's a kind of common equation. And that's why I think like like don't don't worry about if you decide, like your example that there's a different character who should be telling this story on November 16th and you've already written the 25, words. Yes. Keep those words on your word count and have that new character right the next. Now be in charge of the next 25,000. Yeah, or I. I was working with the writer last year in Nanowrimo who had planned everything out and and started in on it and realized about two weeks in that she wasn't going to hit 50,000 words and she thought about just dropping out, right? Don't rule to drop out right on. But what was great was she actually ended up with about 32,000 words. Did not win. She did not finish the 50 but she was grilled and she got this rough draft. Um, half away done, you know, was just happy with a habit she built. Happy with the being part of the community. Where is nothing to sniff out seriously? 10,000 words. Nothing to sniff at. Just keep writing. You know, the main that's the main main purpose is to write. You know, we want you to hit 50,000 words or beyond, but if you like, November 15th you get the flu and you've only written 5000 words. Don't drop out. Yeah, you'll be. You'll be over the flu in a few days. Four days, Let's say and you can keep writing and maybe you'll hit 10,000. 20,000. Or maybe you'll go crazy. We've had people write 30 40, words in the last weekend. Eso trust your powers of heroism? Well, and I I always say to people, If nothing else, right, Ah, 100 words a day, you know, Just keep the habit, keep doing it. Allow yourself permission to do it. You don't have to. There's no there's no you know, Overlord, who's gonna come say you're doing a bad job? I think I know you agree? No. Ever learned any writing is good? Writing any any progress is good progress. So the the book jacket exercises meant to guide you, it's meant to help you. It's meant to come along with you while you while you move through the the tasks. And I think I think it can be really helpful. No, I want to add one of your one. Yeah, there's another exercise on the Web page that's called the one page book summary, and this would be the next step. If somebody's got that jacket copy down. They could do this one page book summary takes it just a one step further and it helps you envision on the whole thing. Ah, little bit more deeply, where you get a little bit more into who this character is, what they were. Conflict is what they want, What's gonna happen? It kind of stretches out a bit, and, um, this worksheet is really helpful as well. My favorite part of it is at the bottom. There's a minds for your, um, dream book review What somebody would say about this book in your dreams and then your nightmare book review. And I often find out what people right in their nightmare Book review is very helpful and revealing because though they'll say things like, um oh, I recently had somebody do this exercise and they said, I'm worried that people would say that the negative the nightmare review would be well, this is just a horrible privilege person that we don't care about that That's the nightmare book review. So then I say, OK, good. Make sure your character is not Ah, horrible privilege. Personally O s o it. Knowing what? Your Night Mary's is actually very helpful in knowing how to frame out what you want to write. So that's just an extra piece if somebody wants to go a little deeper. Yeah, I love that on. It actually leads into my next question here because I think I think for me where I am right now, if I got the dust jacket copy exercise, I might be like, Whoa, I need to think a little bit more. I need to like, maybe outlined this novel idea little bit mawr in order to get into that mode of writing the dust jacket. Is that the case? Do you think that needs to be preparation before during the dust jacket? Yeah, I dio And I think that if you sit down to do this dust jacket, um, we should say something about terms. So you're saying dust jacket? I'm saying book jackets. Sometimes people say flap, copy. Sometimes people say blurb there. So many words for these, you know, and those of us in publishing, we have all these words and people say, Well, what's up flap? Because the hardback books used to have covers with, you know, slaps on them and a lot of them don't anymore on DSO. You know, there's all these terms, but it's all the same thing. It's the words on the back of the book. So if you sit down to write those words and you can't do it or you think I don't know are high, this is harder. I can't I don't know enough for I'm not sure or to your point, And he didn't know this character to kind of know what they're up against. That's great. So then you can pull back, do some of that work on your on your character, and I'm a huge fan of, um, bullet points. So just take a page to a bunch of bullet points on that character who they are. What did they want? What's standing in their way? Um, don't pay attention so much to the color of their hair or what There were dog when they were seven years old. No, no elementary school. They want what their favorite book you really want to get into. Why are we paying attention to this person in this story? What are they struggling with? Who are they and really get into that and just slugged that out in bullet points and then try the book jacket copy and see if it's easier. And if it's still not easy, go back and maybe try your you've got a villain. Do do a bullet points for the villain. Or if, if you're not sure what's gonna happen to this character, just kind of rough out that. But you know that fluidity and that flexibility in that back and forth to to know your story. We talked at the beginning. There's a week before Manorama starts. Is there time to prep? I mean, you can do all this in a week. Easy. Yeah, absolutely. It's It's the intention. It's the sitting down. It's a saying. I'm going to just take a little time so that on November 1 you can start. You don't after. Then on overwhelming number November 1. Be like I don't know. You know, maybe I don't two minutes. I think everybody, you can treat it as casually as you want to. Really, I was gonna say for your bullet points. I think that both points or some other form that's not writing sentences on a page on your computer is something that feels more casual. like what I do is I just take a piece of paper and I write What if at the top. And I don't even do bullet points anymore? Because all this right ideas and circle them and just create this whole kind of mind map. Yeah, but what it does, is it especially that inception stage? It frees me up. Yeah, like what if I mean, what if can be anything? It doesn't have my mind. I think sometimes I get too grounded in reality. You know, how does things really logically work on? And I think so much about novel is up being surprised by what your character does and led by your character in this story. So that's where whatever kind of liberates things for May, I think that's really a really great idea. And I know a lot of people who will make vision boards like with papers, or they'll make you're talking about a mind map like they'll get a big posted on the big giant poster size post it note and male mind map that or it's gonna rip stuff out of a magazine. There's a really great book by Rachel Aaron called 2000 to 10,000. The numbers 2000 to 10, about increasing your word count productivity. And it's more for professional writers who are on deadlines. But she talks about the concept You just did. I think it's so important, she says. Five minutes, thinking about what you're gonna write or thinking about your character thinking about a scene the five minutes not trying to figure it out while you're doing the thing writing the thing. But just taking that moment pays off enormously. So doing what you're talking about, letting letting your mind think or whatever format you like. But to not be so stricter. Rigid, Um, I think is very important. And then you can go back to some of these tools and try to refine them and see if you if you learned more in doing that, I like that cause she I think you told me that, she says. Do the what if exercise essentially for five minutes before you, right? Yeah, So it's like you're preparing your warming up. You're getting your body, whatever your cardio going. Yeah, yes. Oh, to what you said you dio The same thing is you spend five minutes actually writing but not writing sentences that make sense necessarily. Not writing anything logical. Just does. What I want to do in this scene is what I'm thinking. It's what this character is gonna think about our happened. This is what I want to accomplish. Yeah, a little, a little mini warm up. But that can just have huge dividends, Teoh. Because oftentimes what happens is you sit down to write, you write 10 pages and you're like, Oh, yeah, I know what I'm what I'm trying to do now. There's nothing wrong with that. I I'm a big fan of throwing pages out. It's how you move forward. But if you could just spend five minutes, that's that's going to make you more official. I love that. I love that. Well, we're gonna keep digging in deeper here. Yeah, we are. Way. We've got book jacket. I just call it the book jacket. Copy. Ah, Now we're dig. Going to dig into this this scary thing if your pants, sir. Or a plant, sir? On a plant, sir. Which means you're somewhere between pantsing at reading by the seedier pants or plotting or planning. So, yeah, I'm a plants whose teeters towards being a panther. And so the word outline just holds a whole assortment of connotations. Oh, yeah, most of them not positive for person like me. Like I think if I have, like a like a one and then an A, then I need to be and then a two and then a b one. I needed that all the sink of the Roman numeral that's in Roman numerals. This is the way I was taught to outline. And I don't know if that's the reason I like outlining or I just like to have that mystery I was talking about. But tell me about this. You got a two tier outline. I do before I get to that. I just want to make sure for people listening who might not know the terms, plotter and pants. Or maybe we should define those out because you talked about yourself in the middle. So do you want to define this so absolute chancers? They are like improv actors, you know? And I think I think for any writer you need just like outlining can be good. Improv writing skills can be good. And so when I said earlier, like chancers. They're people who literally do not know anything they don't have. They don't know the story idea. And when Nanowrimo starts, they put their hands on the keyboard, and they just right, you know? And that's the pure pants, Er, but I think there are probably gradations of chancers like the seat of your pants. Your feet? Yeah. Yeah. So you're just You're just winging it. Yeah, you know, and winging it, I think has gradations. You know, you might have an idea. You might have been dating me about it, but you still sit down. You don't have anything on paper. You go whereas plotters and again they come. There's a whole spectrum of plotters, planners and some people. I think you said that James Patterson writes a 25 page outline right before he writes a novel, you know, so that I would call him an extreme plotter planner. And there are other people who might, you know, might do your your one page outline or that 22 dot lines something a little bit more casual or however you define an outline, right? So, yeah, or some people might have, you know, their whole house covered in multi colored notes, Excel, spreadsheets and timelines and, you know, right And what we were saying before is, if what you're doing is working for you, keep doing that. And and if you found a method that seems like it will work for you, keep doing that. And whatever you find that works for you is is what you should do. The two tier outline that that I have developed is designed to help both pants, stirs and plotters and is designed to not be that scary thing. And I wish somebody would do a study on why people are so averse toe outlines. And I think I have an idea why, Um, there's so there's like engineering, right. There's logic. There's there's the underlying mechanics of a thing. And then there's the design of it. Anything. People whose brains naturally don't go to the engineering way of thinking just do not have outlined. I didn't play with Erector sets. That's maybe that's it. But I, um I, um, have found that a lot of people really hate outlines for the reason that you've talked about. There might have been a whole era of schooling because I did that Roman numeral thing, too. And I remember I actually remember. I don't think it was. I don't think I was that young, I think was like Junior High, where you had to do those type of those. I'm sure that they don't teach this way anymore because it was sort of deadly. And you had still in these third of the third level down and you're like, I don't know and and what do they want for me? That's what I remember thinking that they were. The world doesn't flow like that. I'm neither just stories, right? For May. Yeah, but there's other ways outlined. Definitely right. And so the This two tier outline is designed to capture more of that flow, and I designed it. I actually riffed off of an exercise that was designed by the writer. Um, I am absolutely blanking on her name, which is so embarrassing. Abigail Thomas, who wrote a Three dog life. She's a memoir writer, beautiful memoir, writer and I taught memoir for years at U. C. L. A. In the writer's program, and I used her exercise in my classes, and her exercise was designed for memoir writers because memoir writers have to take a whole life and figure out what am I gonna pick out to make this story? What am I gonna have? All this raw material? What am I gonna use? Because you have to leave things out. So her exercise was was It was actually three words on the line. You could only have three words, and you could only have one page. And it was a way of capturing what you really wanted to say. I loved this exercise. I thought it was so powerful. Abigail Thomas. I always blank her name. And then it comes to, um So what I designed was a way to do this for a novel and that there's a constraint on it. There's a boundary on it on purpose. It can't be more than two pages and the reason for that, So that you don't have to do that thing you and I are talking about like this. Massive. Yeah. Horrible. What are the layers? I don't know, but the goal of the two tier outline is to capture your whole story in a little bit more detail and to capture the way that the scenes air going to move and flow. So the arc of your story and you break it down the to tears. Tier one is the plot. What happens? So that's just the straight up. What are we gonna see happen? What are the events of this story? And you want to set them up toe have that underlying tear, Which is why does this matter to the character what's happening within the character in that moment of of the action. So there's the action or the plot, and then the second tier is the character and what they're feeling and thinking and knowing. And if you marry those two together, you have what a story really is. So a lot of a lot of outlines our plot only focused, so plot only would be. This happens and then this happens, and then the other thing happens, which can be useful and could be good to know. But I really like to teach marrying the what happens to why Why should we care what's going on in that moment? What is his character? You know, story is about change in something changes. That's it. That is what a story is. So a person goes from a to B and the A to be arc of change can be very small. It could be. They just see the world in a slightly different way. It can be massively big, like they fall in love and that transforms their whole life or they fall out of love. It can be that they save the world, and they went from a person who couldn't save the world to a person who could save the world. It doesn't matter what the arc of changes, but something has to change. And you walk into a room. Something happens. You walk out of the room, you're a different person. Yeah, your old frame is frame of reference is different, even if it's just a little subtle. You know? Absolutely. So if you think about story, as as a person changing over time, the two tier outlined just captures that change, so it captures the plot. So the walking into the room and then it captures how are they different? What is happening in that moment? And it's just two pages long, and you take the big moments of your story. So the the tent pole moments of your story that hold the whole thing up. And you you tie them together in this chain that's linked on it. It allows you then to see Now, this is for we're talking about a more seasoned writer or a more sophisticated writer. I think if somebody is thinking I'm gonna do Nano, I want to write a novel. I'm gonna just do it. I got an idea. This probably is going Teoh, then Yeah, yeah, that's what you want for sure. And also this one. Also this one. Um, the ready set novel right is get, you know, kind of get your feet wet. The two tier outline is a little bit more, um, sort of hard core planning because you're getting the arc of change or locking it in your trying to see it every major moment. What is really happening here? And can I see the movement and just two pages? And the exercise that people can download on the website walks you through what to do and how to do it and how what it looks like. But the the two tier outline is very much like what we were talking about before with the book jacket copy. It can grow and change as you write forward. So you've got these two pages and maybe you sit down to start writing on Compass? Yeah, your compass. And you're And you're like, I'm in a right. It's November 1. I'm gonna start my right, Seen one. I'm gonna move through that and I know what it's about cause it's got that second tier. And then next day I'm gonna write that next year it could be your guide, and you can change it as you go forward. And that's why having it be, only two pages don't cheat. People always try to cheat. They make like, little tiny font or like little tiny margins because they're like, 02 pages. They can download the three page outline it's got to be to take. I always say that creativity thrives within boundaries. Nana is a perfect example of that. 30 days. 50,000 words. That's the constraint, right? And that's why it's so good. That's why it's so good is because people think I want to write a novel. They're like, I don't know what to Dio. I don't know where to start. I don't know when to start. I don't know what you know, And this nano gives them a container, uh, waited. Contain it in their hands, and And the two tier outline is is the same thing. We're putting a boundary on your outline. We're putting a way for you to bring it down so you can really see it, and you can really use it on, and it's not going to just be this scary thing that gets gets away from you. But speaking of boundaries and containers, like usually, I like these words in terms of creative constraints. Yeah, um, I'm getting a little bit fearful because because when you mentioned, like, 10 pulls a story or different scenes thinking about the way I write, sometimes I have to write the whole scene to just kind of even know what the point of it is, right? You know, sometimes it will be a scene that I don't know. The two characters big go someplace right, Paris or whatever. But I have to have them in Paris and write about them in Paris to figure out like what's actually happening here. And sometimes it's just a lot of walking around Paris, and I'm like that Well, that was fun. to write to explore Paris. But I'll, you know, know that that's not gonna be any like useful material. But sometimes it'll bury bring this wonderful dramatic moment or character changed a light night again. This is like my pantsing plants inside. Yeah, I need to write it to find out well, and a lot of people are like that, and if you're like that, that's how you got to be. But I would point Teoh. I recently had a conversation with the writer Alison Hammer, who's a huge Nano fan. She just recently got a bit brighter. Yeah, a Big Three book deal. You can follow her on Twitter at this hammer, just like the tool Alison Hammer. But she has done Nano every year to write a new novel, and she's using it this year for a book she has under contract with a publisher and that a lot of writers do that as well. So you've got your brand new, never ever writers, and you've got super seasoned professionals who are using Nano to kick start their next book. And I worked with Alison on the two tier outline, and she was just like you. She was Ah Ah. I just have this idea. I'm gonna just wing it. That's what she uses. Nano four. And I begged her. Just do a two tier outline. Just we just did it in the last couple weeks. Just do it and see if it won't help you. Andi, She was like, I don't wanna I can't. You know, I think she had that Roman newer metal thing and junior, but she did it and she just it, like, made her head explode because she just helped so much in it, didn't it wasn't as hard as she thought. It wasn't constraining. And now she's ready to start now. No, with this book, that's she's got delivered to her publisher. And And she's using this to Guider. And she's gonna, you know, kick it out according to this outline. So I think sometimes we tell ourselves that don't constrain me. I'm a writer. I gotta find a way. Think we tell ourselves that I don't know why we tell ourselves that, but oftentimes I don't think it's actually true. Yeah, I think again, I think it's all about experimenting with your creative process on what I just said. I didn't mean it Teoh value to tear out at all because, like, I think for me when I said It's like a compass and that's really what I look for in my planning is something toe Help me again. I'm heading north. I want to keep heading north, Yeah, and what what direction on my going. So I think I could use the t tear outline for that. But but also knowing that a lot of those scenes that I'm gonna write, I will be testing that outlined seven. They kind of in constant revision. It will be constantly revised and iterated upon. You know, that's my favorite word. Is is literate Ivo about the writing process and about all the tools that I use. The two tier outline. When I am working with the writer all the way through and coaching them, we use it as this living growing thing. As the novel changes and as the writer finds their way, we come back and we say, Oh, I'm gonna have to revise this outline to contain the new direction My story's going No, it's a It's a way to sort of hold it in in place. I I mean I I come from a place that is, um, probably on the other end of the spectrum from from the people just tryingto start their novel, get their creative juices flowing Have have fun I am I'm on the site in my work life where I help people who are super serious about publishing and getting readers. And that's a different story. So I would recommend the ball to do the have the playful fun. Yeah, part like to keep that intact. No matter where you are as a writer, you know, go back to the Y know when you get to be a professional, you can't have any more, even if you're, ah, meticulous, fine art artists. I think it's good every once in a lot of go finger paint. Yeah, you know, totally on. And I do think I think the two tier outline like why it would work for somebody more like a plant. So, like me is, it's easier to have it as a directional aid that I can constantly revising tweak, as opposed to the 25 page outline that James Patterson has, which which would be I feel like it would I would know way too much about my novel before writing it, you know, and I would probably feel like when I've done an outline on more than a T page outline. What I find is that I feel like I get backed into a corner and it's keeping me on the path. And that's great sometimes. But a lot of the time I think, getting off the path it's where some of the best supporters find some of the best stories, you know, definitely. And when I'm writing 1700 words a day, I almost have to get off the path by by nature of that word count pressure, you know, like like what happens to me as I have, like happy accidents like, So it's a little bit messy. But after that, novels done look at, like, 10 of those, you know, whatever tangents I went on, it was good. Maybe seven or eight of them are just absolutely horrible. Yeah, but one or two of them will be precious, you know. So one secret about the two tier outline is you can actually use it. Teoh work on a scene to you can take the beats of the scene. What's gonna happen in that scene and just make sure, um, I recently was working with the writer that was really struggling with getting getting a story on the page, really getting the emotion on the page and getting it out of her head. And and And she she came up with this on her own and everything that she wrote. She she highlighted. And she said, Why is this here? So, like the wandering around Paris, there's There's probably a reason your characters were there, what they're looking for, what they what they're wandering was about. And to try to look at that and say, Why didn't put that there? What did that mean? And often times, you'll you'll have an idea. And that's the second tier of outline. And if you don't have an idea, if you can't understand why it was there like, well, it was super fun to write about the Eiffel Tower, you might acts it. It might not have a place in the novel, so it's It's also awaited measure and test, Um, what, what's in there? After Nana was done, I love that. That's actually when I outlined yeah, I write the referee at first and then I. That's when I'm molding it into the structure and thinking about points and all those things. Yeah, so that's when those 7 to 8 bad ideas Skip thrown out on the 2 to 3 are hopefully identify. Well, I wonder if we should see if we've got any questions. We've talked about so many different concepts and ideas and ways of moving through Nanowrimo, and hopefully we've inspired some folks out there. What? So to sign up, we decided to sign up and give it a world and commit to your grandma dot org's. It's free. It's all free novelist free. It's good, great guys. Thank you. We have about 10 minutes left five or 10 minutes left. So we do have some questions. We had a question that I wanted to throw your way. That was basically one of our students wanted to know. Actually, I'm combining two questions. Is it okay to write Children's books on Nanowrimo? Or it doesn't have to be adult novels? And what about poetry? What about other genre? So, yes, you definitely write Children's books. Um, in fact, our whole premises, we just we want people to write you know we would. We would not say no to anyone. And so we have a separate section of in nanowrimo on early start forms. We call them Nano Rebels. So we've had people write Ph. D dissertations during, down around. We've had tons of memoirs. I'm sure we've had some epic poetry. Eso If you're writing in a different form, there's a place for you. We say, if you call it a novel, we call it a novel. Um, probably about 97% of the people who do nanowrimo are are writing novels. But again, we would never say no. The main thing is like to use this kind of great creative premise like a goal and a deadline is a creative midwife, as we say. So if you want to write 50,000 words of whatever interests you like, do it, Yeah, that's awesome. Great. And then, um ah had a question that came from Facebook. Let me take a peek. Nope. You already answered that. So a lot of discussion in the chat rooms today about using scrivener or writing software's Google docks. What for? You both. What is? What do you recommend? Hello, Jenny. Start well first of all, I want I'm glad you brought up Scrivener because they actually have a brand new product. That's a mind mapping product, and I can't remember the name of it. Sorry, Scrivener and Scrivener fans, but I'm sure its super easy to find if you just look them up. I was recently shown this by by writers Really cool. It's exactly what you're talking about, but they make a really easy mind maps software. You might check that out. Um, I again it's like everything else we've talked about. Whatever works for you is what you should dio. I I don't use scrivener in in my writing, and I don't allow my clients to use it because the publishing is built on Word and Editor still edit in word and word is the best editing tool. But I know that a lot of writers are moving over to Scrivener because of the organizational capabilities of it, and they love it. So I am exporters. Word you can export his word. Yeah, this is a bit of ah struggle in in my universe just because so many people love it and and I just, um, an old fashioned word fan, but I also I know people who draft novels in Google. Um, you know, document management is a big part of being a writer and having a system in a structure I think is really important. And while we're talking about tools, I would say Please have a backup system of some persuasion because you don't want to get halfway through November and and some happens and you lose your words and it happens. I'm sure, right? Oh, yeah. Every year. Nothing. No worse stories in the world. Somebody losing their novel. Yeah, I know nothing about. So have a backup plan. I happen to use Dropbox just because it's automatic and I work in Dropbox and then automatically saves. There's a 1,000,000 different things you can do. You can use a hard, hard drive backup, a backup, your work. And, um, if you're writing in Google, Doc sets especially important because it's out there in the cloud. So you want to download it, get it off into something worth on your system and your computer. But again, it's finding, finding what works for you. I I do know that what people really like about scrivener I know a lot about it. For someone who doesn't use it is it was developed by a nanowrimo writers. Really, story is stuffed. Where was a swell on their many others, like nanowrimo writers who didn't like word or whatever they're reading in, They said that needs to be something better and they got in and they developed well. And what's good about it is you can move things around so you can take a scene. You could move it here. You could move it there for organization of ideas and scenes and concepts. I think, in fact, somebody showed me the mind map software from Skinner saying, Be perfect for a two tier outline. So if that's the power of it and and I think that that's huge and actually I think I'm being a stick in the mud about not coming over to it. So but find a system that that works for you. Some people write by hand. I was gonna say, Don't forget that the magic of writing by hand when I'm stuck during nanowrimo, I often start writing by hand because it's a whole different process. Yeah, tactile, you write more slowly. There's just something that happens in that left that whatever. However, your thoughts transfer to your hands. And I know some people are even getting back to typewriters, which, which is I love the sound of a typewriter Just because I grew up with that and anything that works for you, there are so many writing. Software is out there, and there's so many tools, like typewriters or type like technologically enhanced typewriters, they died. C. I tell people just to experiment and find what works for you. Great. Two more questions. I think we can squeeze them in from Ingrid. How do you get past the point of paralysis from all the possibilities? When a story starts to evolve? Such a good question, that's a good place to. Well, the paralysis part isn't necessarily good, but the possibilities part is good. I think like so. So it sounds like Ingrid has a great idea for a novel because it's going in so many different directions and eso, I guess. I guess I can't ask. Answer these questions specifically because I need to know more like are those directions are kind of with one kind of guiding through line or themes, or they are related Or are they a lot of different tangents? Like I have heard of people who they might they might have seven novels in one instance, you know? So I think, you know, kind of like some of the exercises that you just talked about like the like. The jacket copy exercise would be really good to test like this one idea. But otherwise I would say, You know, if you've got, like, a bunch of ideas for scenes and directions of your novel urine, urine, a rich place, you know, And so I would I would probably and again like, I'm not a technical out liner. But I do actually write down a lot of scenes that I like to write. And so So I have an idea of where the novel's going and it's possibility. So I would say Ingrid could probably kind of map her novel in a way, at least in whatever. However, she wants to map it and right? Yeah, how about you, Jenny? Let me just add. I mean, I agree with all that. I would add to Ingrid that writing novels is about making a lot of decisions on a lot of choices. Then You have to leave some things out and you have to let some things go on, and you may have to decide that's for another story or another day and sticking to the main point. Usually talk about a tree trunk or a spine that there's a, uh, the through line. There's a There's a main thing that your story is about, that it's tracking this following. You want to keep your eye on that? You want to focus on that? There could be massive branches. There can be leaves. There could be all kinds of things, but that tree trunk you really gotta know what that is. Hone in on that. Make your choice is to to serve that. And and I would say some sort of a mapping tool will be very helpful for Ingrid. I would hope she might try the two to outline, see if that works for her. But I would say not to be afraid of letting things go and not not to be afraid of, of choosing and, um, leaving things for for another day, most of the time having to, you know, paralysis sport. That's the paralysis. Yeah, is how am I gonna How am I gonna fiddle this in or do all this? And a lot of people get stuck in novel writing. A lot of people can have a good idea. A lot of people can start, but you talk about the two weeks into nano kind of problem. That's that's when you're hitting the big in the middle of the novel, when you maybe you may know what happened the beginning. You may sort of know a little bit where you're headed, but now you're in that murky like I don't know like this could happen. This could happen. The other thing that happened, what I would suggest. Also, let's go study the genre So most novels are gonna fall into a very specific genre and you can go toe good reads. You can go to Amazon. You can look up big, big sellers in the genre and just sort of see what the what. The tropes are what the readers expect, what that genre is about, Ah, lot of novels breaking genre conventions or mashed them up, which is great. But just knowing what, what the university or writing in sort of his expects or sort of you know, sometimes I see people get paralyzed because they're actually, they're not just writing 2 to 2 or three different novels there, actually writing in a whole bunch of different genres. They've got, you know, romance. But they've also got I don't know, uh, you know, all different things happening in one and just going to pay attention to, um what the successful writers in the genre are doing will help you, I think Get your head a little clear like, Oh, right. That's what I want to dio. And then also, I would say, Go back to your Why? Why are you connected to this story? And if you can And hold that in your hand, then a writer like Ingrid should be able to say, All right, I'm lost because I got a little off track of that. That thing. I'm gonna bring it back to that. Yeah, I was going to say that if you want it to be a genre mash up, that could be great. Yeah, but if you want to write in particular genre, then maybe you want to think for about that. Yeah, definitely. Grant. Whoa! What a great start to the week. Thank you so much. I'm gonna wrap up. But, Jenny, can you let folks know where they can find you online? Absolutely. They can find me at author accelerator dot com, which is my book coaching company. We help people with feedback, support and accountability while they write and specifically while they revise. If you finish nanowrimo, you feel that you need some support and you can also check out my class on creative life. Um, I'm sure we've got it linked up here. There's so many great classes being offered and the, um, the free coupons. So check out my right, your book course. And it's a six hour meaty, um, process for there's 12 steps I take you through in planning your novel if you have a marathon in you before the start of nanowrimo. Would be great to do that before November 1st. But if not, you can save that. Maybe for your second draft. Great grant. Of course, people confined you at nanowrimo correct nanowrimo dot org's that site where you go to sign up for free. We also have a young writers program. So So if you are under 18 you can sign up for that you can sign up for the nanowrimo site. That's well, a lot of people cross over. Or if you're an educator, we we work with tent up 10,000 classroom, 100, kids every year. Um, and we have ah, naturally, a bunch of social media. We're on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr, our main presences. So check us out there.

Class Description

With Grant Faulkner, Jennie Nash, Sophie Littlefield, Rachael Herron, and Aya De Leon

No matter who you are, where you live, how old you are, or what your background is, your story matters. National Novel Writing Month encourages people to explore the meanderings of their imagination so they can transform a blank page into a launching pad for the discovery of new universes.

About our Guest Authors:

Jennie Nash coaches you to success with executive director of National Writing Month, Grant Faulkner.

About Jennie Nash:

Jennie Nash is the founder of Author Accelerator, a strategic book coaching service that offers the sustained editorial support writers need to complete their projects and make a powerful impact on their target audience.

Sophie Littlefield & Rachael Herron, sit down and talk NaNoWriMo writing strategy to help you get it done!

About Sophie Littlefield:

Called a "writing machine" by the New York Times and a "master storyteller" by the Midwest Book Review, Sophie Littlefield has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under her own name and the pen name Sofia Grant. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar®, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards.

About Rachael Herron

Rachael Herron is the bestselling author of the novel The Ones Who Matter Most (named an Editor’s Pick by Library Journal), as well as more than twenty other novels and memoirs. Her latest non-fiction is Fast-Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours and her debut thriller, Stolen Things, will be coming out from Penguin in 2019 under the name R.H. Herron. 

Aya de Leon, poet, spoken word artist and Uptown Thief author chats with Grant.

About Aya de Leon:

Aya de Leon is an acclaimed writer of prose and poetry. Of particular note, she's the author of the “Justice Hustlers” series, which includes UPTOWN THIEF, a Latina Robin Hood heist story on New York’s Lower East Side, THE BOSS, and THE ACCIDENTAL MISTRESS. Aya is the Director of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, teaching poetry and spoken word at UC Berkeley. 

NaNoWriMo expects more than 400,000 people to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. The goal is to get participants to exercise their creative muscles, cultivate meaning with their stories, and experience the thrill of bringing characters to life.

In this series of conversations with celebrated authors, including Jennie Nash, Sophie Littlefield and Aya De Leon, Grant Faulkner, executive director of NaNoWriMo, will break down the novel writing process. While there’s no one way to prepare for NaNoWriMo, this class will introduce you to a few approaches so you can be inspired to develop your own.


Ann Thornton

I'm currently enjoying the class. Lots of great information.


re-affirms that I'm not doing anything wrong in my own process. I am new to nanowrimo. Started in 2018. I never really understood what it was exactly even though I've tried the last few years. This helped to clarify what it is. For me getting to listen to other people and their process was helpful. I am a planner to the extreme and I write out my Chapter/settings/plot and in this setup it allows me to focus on a summary and a feeling for the chapter. How I want it to be in terms of visuals, language, and story. Sometimes I used descriptor words in my outlines for each scene to help me to remember to use variations or similar language or ways of describing the setting. I like to also jump around when I get stuck. I don't always write in a linear way, sometimes if I am stuck on a scene I jump to another one and write the easier one first. Sometimes doing this, or even writing the scene after the one you are struggling with helps re-prime you for the areas you struggle with. For me I'm struggling to be consistent in my writing and finish my work. I've only finished one manuscript but I am not yet ready to edit it. I feel its best to put it away until I get better at writing. I know its garbage.