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How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Lesson 2 of 3

Interview: Sophie Littlefield & Rachael Herron with Grant Faulkner

Grant Faulkner

How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Grant Faulkner

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Lesson Info

2. Interview: Sophie Littlefield & Rachael Herron with Grant Faulkner

Lesson Info

Interview: Sophie Littlefield & Rachael Herron with Grant Faulkner

We are here to talk about tips, to get ready to do nanowrimo and to be successful. But I want everybody to kind of think of. This is like Nanowrimo was started as a creative experiment. I view it is a creative, my own personal, creative experiment Every year. It's a great way to to explore your creative process, try new things and just see what works for you. So we're not giving you the kind of 10 Commandments of Nanowrimo. It's more like we're gonna discuss different approaches and hopefully, you know you out there would, like take a few of them and then they'll be helpful. So, like Jim said, there's, Ah, a bunch of great classes on the creative live website. We also have under our Nano prep section on on the Nanowrimo website. We have a bunch of great resource is there and we've been We've been holding this conversation throughout October, so check check us out on the Web site or on social media, but I'm excited to talk to these two wonderful writers today. Every time I talk to you g...

uys, I always learn something, so I know I'm gonna come out with my own technique. I'm gonna leave here with a new technique. I guarantee you get to you. And so But I want to start off because I know some of our viewers are new to nanowrimo. Or some people were like, What is that crazy weird acronym that actually stands for National novel Writing month? I don't think we've said that yet, but I'm curious. If you were to meet someone who didn't know what nanogram awas, how would you describe it to them? And why should they do it? I'll start with you, Rachel. So for me, national novel Writing Month is when I explain it to people who are curious, and I do tend to explain it to students and people. Quite often, I say, and I don't know if this is actually right, but what I call it is an online lark. It's this creative, um, leap into the unknown where you attempt to write a novel of 50,000 words in the month of November, and I emphasize it does not have to be, ah, good novel. It does not have to be a smart novel. It doesn't have to be a well plotted novel. It just has to be, Ah, lot of words that have come out of your brain. November is not the time to make a gorgeous book. November is the time to just write a novel to get up down on the page. Get in the sandbox, exact. Stick your hands in the finger paints way on the wheel, throw it on there. It's just it's blobs is not about the time of being a perfectionist, and I would love to talk about perfectionism later, but this is just the time to play, because I know for me, um, I was really, really blocked for a long time, and Nanowrimo was personally what broke me from my block and continues to keep breaking me from writer's block. If that, you know, that's great to hear, because I think sometimes people from thinking of writing a novel, they think a lot about the anguish that goes into it. Instead of you know, writers could be playful to like. Playfulness is good for your creativity, and I do think that that's a valuable thing. The matter. I was seven years trying to write the great American novel, you know, and trying to be literarily great literally like that was the word of, and words come out of the animal. Absolutely inflation. That's a good long one. Um, and and it wasn't until I gave myself permission to play that I started writing, actually, Good work. That's great. It wasn't trying to hit the literary heights. Yeah, yeah, because everyone writes a crappy rough draft, right? It doesn't matter if you Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote crappy rough drafts also. So how about you? So I was just sitting here thinking, I think I did my first Nano in 2008 if I'm remembering right or maybe 2007 and what I did, I was not published yet yet at that time, but he had already written, I think, five or six novels that have never found a publisher. So that year I decided to do something a little different, and I wrote a very undisciplined novel. And that was also the only year that I actually followed. The Nantel and I'm using air quotes rules in the sense that I wrote the 50,000 words that year. Every other time I've done it. I've been a nano rebel, and I am definitely here to encourage people. Teoh, remember that you have the freedom to use. Nano is the tool that you need, rather than that told someone else needs. So part of that is because I'm a full time writer now, and so often when November rolls around, I'm not starting a novel. I may be finishing it. I may be in revisions. I may be. I could be anywhere in the process. I have to kind of make my own rules for Nano. But I dio have a community that supports me, just like so many other people that do nano. And I just do whatever it is that I've chosen to make my rules for that month. And I still feel like a winner when I'm done, even though I mean after 2000 words, I you know, I think there's hardly a month that I don't write. Say that, you know, we do nano every month. We do it because you have. We have. I personally have just embraces as a way of life, a way of writing, because I need to get those crappy first draft stuff. But we have to remember that when we started, I think it was a lot harder for us, like now where we do this full time is our job. But we were back there. We were the people that had trouble, you know, sitting down to the computer and thinking, What am I going to do for 1000 words? 2000 words like Do I have 2000 words or have writing that first paragraph? That is so terrible that you want to stop So I tuned is great on the third and the middle and the end, right? All those parts? Well, you know, I think I think of nanowrimo. It is one part writing boot camp. So when you were saying that he didn't have that capability or it was tough to write that 50,000 words, I think it's tough no matter where you are, is a writer to do that every month? But But I think developing that discipline in nanowrimo it helps you beyond down around two. You're creating 1/2 exactly when you were throwing numbers around for people who are brand new to this. What that breaks down to is 1667 words. Yeah, good. My math is off. 10 words I always go further. That's that point. Because, you know, if you can get a 2000 word day, you're gonna need those extra 300 words. But I just want to say for people who don't get to 1000 or so, what was that is that happens to I mean, I have days. I've had days when I've written 11,000 words, but I have days where I can't get 1000 down and you have to. That's part of the gift of Nano is giving yourself permission to do that. So I think you're right now. Well, thank you for that. I just two things that are important and around the principles that a goal and a deadline. We view that as a creative midwife. You know, Nana, right? There's so many people who want to say I want to write a novel someday, like we're really don't wait Someday never happens, right? You got to do it today. And so November is the time to do that. Onda, The other thing you guys both preferred to community and Nanowrimo is a novel writing event. It's the largest novel writing event in the world, but it's also this huge, encouraging, vibrant community and it takes place on the forums on social media are like all over the place in different ways. And we have 1000 volunteers that we call municipal liaisons who organized, like in person writing gatherings, because I think too often we think of writing is a solitary thing. But so much great creativity is sparked by collaboration with others or just being in the presence of others. You know, Jim, read your bios. I always feel like the bio of an author really doesn't tell the publisher. I'm really intrigued by people's writing journeys. I want to know who they are, is writer is how they decided that they were writers and how they pursued it. And I know you spoke a little bit about your first nanowrimo. But Rachel, can you start like, just a little bit of who you are as a writer and how you got going on? I was that person who always wanted to be a writer since I was five years old. Since I knew that there was a person behind the book, I wanted to be that person. When I found out it was a job. I was like, That is the gig for me. I want to be that person. Um And then I went through college. I got my master of fine arts and creative writing, and it crushed my spirit. It was one of those MFK programs that was a lot of critique on a lot of writing by committee. Andi. I came out with not much motivations, a big inner editor. It's like they feed your inner editor and it becomes this this ghoul, like before it was just a little voice on your shoulder, and now she's this big monster monster following you wherever you go. That's what I got from my M F A program. That's not university, but that does happen. So I spent the next seven years working my day job and trying to write the Great American novel and their own a couple of terrible, terrible books. I wrote a 500 page manuscript that was basically a character sketch. When I got done with that, I realized there was no plot. I don't really even finished it about that foot To the Horrible is just the worst on then. In 2006 in October, my sister Christie told me. There's this thing called National Novel Writing Month and you write 50, words in the month of November. And I told her what a bad idea that Waas kind. I told her that I was a serious writer and I'm serious Writer would ever writer would ever attempt such a thing on. I was, I'm sure, a total jerk. And I owe her basically my career. Um, and she left my house and I went and Googled it, and I was This is ridiculous. And I thought, Well, how many words have you written? Last month it was probably 10. So I signed up. I knew that if I was gonna do nanowrimo, I had to write about things that I love because I wouldn't have time to really make up. Ah, lot of stuff. So I love love. I love romance, and I love knitting a lot. So I wrote a knitting romance. Exactly. Knit lit was not a genre yet. No, it was It was coming around, and I wrote 50,000 words in the month of November, and I thought that was the best thing that had ever happened. And then I put that book aside and I don't really think about it again for at least six or eight months, and I pulled it out and I looked at it and I was expecting to find a ton of crap, and there was a lot of craft in it. A lot of a lot of I go from It was awful in places, but then in other places, it was the best writing it ever done. And it was completely shocking to me that I hadn't known that when I was writing and it was clean up a ble, and I put another another new word. It cleans up a bill. Yes, there any words as we can get up feeling that I added another 15 or 20, words to it, and I shop that around. That was the book that got my agent. And then it got three book deal at auction to HarperCollins, and since then I've written in five genres five or six genres trying to catch him earlier. I have 23 books published and breaking into Thriller next year with A with a book with Penguin, which was actually it was a nanowrimo novel last year. Oh, cool that I that I use that motivation to start and get the 1st 50,000 words off. There's a lot of things things I love about your answer. But I love the quantity can lead to quality. Sometimes we think qualities only when you're reading really slowly, really ponderous. We don't believe in that. No. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Well, how about you, Sophie? Tell us a little about your, Like, Rachel. I wanted to write from an early age for me. It was when I first realized that books have chapters, so I think I was, like, six years old, and I wish a year older than Rachel. Yeah. It doesn't me a little longer. I've done everything after Rachel, but, um, yeah, well, so I knew then that I wanted to be a writer, and so I tried I It's kind of funny because I was convinced I was brilliant when I was younger. Sure, my are concerned like a lot, but by the time I was 11 I wrote my first book and it was apocalyptic novel, which I find ironic, cause I later didn't know that. I'll tell you about it sometime. It was fabulous and then on. And then I wrote like I submitted to 17. I think by the age of 17 I was submitting to The New Yorker, and I was always surprised to get rejections. It's always like, did you even read it? But, um, life goes on. I was a homemaker for a stay home mom for many, many years, and I kept writing, and I actually my first ever published piece was in True Confession magazine, which some of you may remember from that day. Yes, I used to write for them, and then I wrote That was like when you first I your words in print were getting off the subject. But can I tell this story? Sure. Okay, My most exciting. My most exciting righting moment was when I walked into a 7 11 and I saw my piece in True Confessions magazine. And it was they don't have a byline because they're true. Oh, yeah? Yeah. So, yeah, I had my kids were babies, said so is carrying one, and the other was a toddler, and I bought all the copies and I took him up to the check out and I laid them down, and I just wanted to be asked, Why are you buying these? That I could say, Well, because I wrote a piece that's in there. Well, they had. They didn't ask, didn't urinating. 20 copies, a true confessions, like, even curious. Clearly, he wasn't an author anyway, but I got off on the topic there. But by the time as I said, by the time I had done my first Nano, I had been writing full length novels. I just wasn't selling them, and, um, I gotten maybe a little discouraged. And so what? I used the we used it for that year with sort of a kick in the pants, which I kind of needed, and I needed some and even not that discipline so much. But I needed the reminder that I could write really ugly pros on that it was expected, and I had permission, and I did that. And sad to say, Unfortunately, that book is also in a drawer. I did not have your moment of genius, probably. But since then, um, yeah, I use it every year. It's not so much a motivator anymore, because I'm pretty disciplined now, but it's I think It's a return to that energy of being new to this field because that's something that is its special. That's a good point. I think the Eneramo oftentimes reminds me of how the writer I was when I first started writing, which is a very valuable thing to remember being surrounded by all those you mentioned. The multiple the municipal liaisons and writing out side your house in cafes with other people. Like, If you're thinking about doing this somewhere, probably in your town, there will be a write up. It might be just two or three people in a cafe. Exactly. But yeah, sorry, didn't recognize that I didn't tell people how toe do that on the Web site. But once you sign up for an animal, which is free, by the way, uh, go to you can home, you can find your region. And you can say I'm from San Francisco, where I'm from Tuscaloosa and we have 1000 volunteers around the world. So it's highly likely that there will be someone in your vicinity who will organize thes like in person writing gatherings. And the wonderful thing is that some of them in some locations go year round, you know. So it's a way to really nurture your writing community, which I cannot underestimate the value of writing community, no matter what level of writer you are also emphasize. So we're talking to two published writers, but, um, Nanowrimo is also a lot of people like to just do nanowrimo and write with friends they have no cool to like published their novel really and like share it. So I want to emphasize that that's part of the spirit as well. I think that might even be more fun. Honestly, it's, you know, it's actually I know somebody who, uh, she did it like that. She's like, I just need to rediscover the playfulness of writer writing And she's an accomplished writer And she did that just for fun. She'd nothing. She didn't have any goals for her work at all, and then it led to this wonderful book that was has been nominated for every award in the world. So you never know what's gonna come out of just a playful spirit. You know, it would be fun to do. As you know, a writer is a professional author to just it would be an interesting challenge to write a book which you do not plan to show your agent publish ourselves. She didn't know she was just writing. If I could say something about the community organizer's, um, I've been going to the same community for I don't know, several years now, and it is a good friend of ours who organizes it. And so I do have friends that go, But, um, last year I took my daughter. So when I did my first Nano, she was 12 years old. Well, she's a young woman with her first job now, So she came with me and I thought it was great and I was really enjoying the mother daughter time. But she found her community there, and by the end of it, she's like, You sit over there. My group is over here, and it's it's what my daughter does drop out of school. I really mean it with sort of, Ah, it was. It was a little startling to see her, like not only eclipse me, but then take it and move it forward. But I just saw, like her finding her first writing group, and that was really, really special to see, That's amazing. I love those stories, and I've heard of stories were whole families will do. Nanowrimo Teoh There's your whole family way. Have way. Haven't all been writing in the same room together. Very dispersed, but we have. Yeah, well, I want to dive into some of our Nana prep questions, and this first question is one of my favorite questions of old times. So the wonderful novelist Somerset Mom said there three secrets to reading a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are. So let's pretend you know at least one secret what is like one secret to write a novel and let's start with Sophie. Okay, just a mix it up a bit. So something that I didn't know when I started, but which is been proven true by every book I've ever written is that theme emerges from your draft. So I think that when I first started writing, I also was trying to write a great novel, and I thought, Well, I have to start with an important theme, and then my prose should serve that theme. But when I found over the course of writing all these books is that when you draft and especially when you draft nano style, which is basically bring the page like, Don't, well, heart to page. Really? Yeah. Two pages. Is that your theme? Will it reveal itself to you? Your book will introduce itself to you, and we'll show you what it wants to be. So that's I think, that sometimes people too much put too much pressure on that rough draft because they feel like it needs to be meticulously worked out ahead of yes. And that is that is not our experiences. And it's more like the sandbox. I think that you were mentioning initially that it's a place to play an explorer, and it's amazing what will reveal itself to you. And you confined your story like, Well, our Founders book is called No plot, No problem. You'll find your story in the writing of it. Yeah. There you go. There's the plug. There's the plug. Yeah. How about you, Rachel? Your one secret, My one secret is something. That's what, Somerset. Mom. No, I will write the dead man a letter. I I believe there is a rule that says that 99% and I think this I don't know if you agree with me, but this is a high high percentage. But 99% of people are people who should be drafting in the nano way, which is a fast draft. So many people, so many, I would say 80% of writers believe that they're perfectionists on that. They must get chapter 800.1 done before they do Chapter two. And then chapter one has to look pretty before they do have two and three. And and my rule is that I've discovered is that that is your process. Only if you are writing that way and you are completing books. Yes, ma'am, If you are writing that way as a perfectionist and not completing books, then you're then trying nanowrimo try the fast draft model because most people do not have that experience if you get off track and chapter eight because of something you did wrong and Chapter three. But Chapter three is beautiful and perfect. And it's so where you're never gonna be able to throw that chapter out, what to do fast and hard and and so that when you get up here, you can throw out what you need to do on like you were saying? I don't know what a book wants to be until I'm really knew the end. I don't know who the characters are. A good thing like your intuitively just you know what I mean is there is a mystery. There there is. The interesting thing is, I'm I'm now a planner, So I plan on my books and I'm still always wrong. Yeah, I get at the end of the book. I'm like, Well, that didn't turn out at all like the outline that I drafted. But that's okay. And then I could go back and revise it to match the book that finally came out at the ending. I always quote Joyce Carol Oates. He said you don't know the first sentence until you've written the last sentence favorites. Because I was one of those really ponderous, precious plotting writers who would just I could spend years on that first chapter, you know, and and until it was absolutely perfect, I wouldn't move on, but yeah, like you said, I wasn't reaching the end. You know, where I was giving so much attention to that first part of the book that the later parts of the book. We're getting less attention, and I think we we know a lot of people who, unfortunately have written that first beautiful chapter, and then they just stay there and it literally is years way or per the joys killer. It's question once you revise, if you want to advise your novel, that first chapter might just get cut. I actually spend almost zero time planning out. My first line are my first chapter because it always goes away. There's nothing precious that there's a great two. Don't just after that, first just jumping on the first sentence. Don't worry about it. Keep going. Focus on, You know, from from that jumping on the second sentence if you want. You know the first sentence has to be perfect and ignore it and jumping with second sentence later. You can also write your seems out of order. I did that, Um, I don't remember which nano I did that for, but I that's insane. I have never I do that every nanowrimo if I'm so lucky. Oh, jump! I had to something. I know it was so fun free times that gives you the path for work, how to get from a to B like crazy. Then you're like, Oh, all these things happened. Yeah, great answers. Now Somerset Mom can rest in his grave to know that the three secrets have been revealed. Only ask for two of them, but I think we got a lot more than three. So I think, What's what's the day? October 24th is about a week until nanowrimo. A lot of people, including me, are still kind of wondering what what should I write about or like. Some people have a lot of different ideas. They're deciding between them. Eso Stephen King said. I believe stories. Air found things like fossils in the ground. This is a tough question, but I think most writers don't like to be asked where they get their ideas or advice on how people should choose their ideas. Find you get Yeah, what advice would you give to somebody right now? They I want to do nanowrimo, but there still kind of blocked on that idea. Well, I think there's that. There's there's a lot of weight to put on the choice, you know, if I don't choose write, the book is going to not work. It's gonna be hard. The book is not gonna work, and it's gonna be hard no matter what s so I mean and it's gonna be fun and joyful, but it's gonna I don't think you can choose wrong. That's the thing I like to remind people of By making a choice to write book A. You are necessarily rejecting books B through Z. I don't think about them. Another think about them. Because once you finish book A, then you can write a book f go back to be and then right E But you can't do anything until you make a choice. But it doesn't. It's an us almost arbitrary. Don't you feel like if you had a book contract and he came to me and said, Rachel, I I don't know what book to write, and I could give you one logline and you'd be able to write a book about it. Oh, yeah, make it your book with your meaning. Well, but I also feel like, um, if I came to you and ask you that question, you would tell me you should write that book you were so excited about last week. And that would be my guidance on this is just right. The one that grabs you hardest. Because every time that I've done that, that has been a book that succeeded both in this in the sense of my own opinion about it and actually commercially too. So, yeah, I think that's the thing. I always tell people What's calling you? What stories really calling you. What? Like, Yeah. Are you obsessed by But also like what you were saying, Rachel, like, if you have certain kind of like there's for me, for instance, Right now, there are three ideas. They're all equivalent. They're all yelling with the same volume. Okay, but I think what I was thinking about when you were saying is that, you know, choose choose book A. It's only days. You're just testing that idea. And then if you don't like it, you can go to book Be reason. Yeah, good reason. Well, that sucked. Exactly. So I also have the feeling that the stories that we need to tell not to get all well here, but they will come out. You can't keep them down. And I've always believed that I don't really see what I was really writing. about until two years later. It's medicals. Two years. So you're not gonna be able to stop yourself from writing the book that wants to claw its way out? Whether you're writing a space Western or romance, it's gonna get. It's going to get itself told. It doesn't matter what plot is. You have the same yearning. Yeah, that you were going to bring to any book at that point in your life. Love this. I love this. So really, we've been able to look back at her books and like that was your divorce was your boots on? And I think everyone who read it probably know anyway, he had that can't wait just, like, analyze all my stories and books. A little scary. My first true romance was called I Was a Priest. Love toy. No, I never tell you that. I never knew the title. Oh yeah, that's that's what it was. And people out there could use that title for their own right. Teoh, right, A title. You good, right? Well, I want to get into the guts of writing here. And, of course, the ultimate question. I think it is the ultimate question for a lot of people starting Nanowrimo is how much to plan or plot and how much to just wing it. And so we have. For those of you out there, we have these terms pantsing versus plotting. And so pantsing is writing where the seat of your pants like there are people who start Panorama. They don't even know what they're going to write about until they put their hands on the keyboard. You know? And there is a whole spectrum. Some people might have a smidgen of that idea, or they might have daydream for a while, but they haven't truly plotted it. On the other hand, there, people, I just found out that James Patterson writes a 25 page outline for his books. So there are meticulous and extravagant planners. And then we have something called Planters. And I'm a plant. Sir, I'm sorry. I'm right kind of in the middle. Although I veer towards pants in. And so you said your plants there. I'm a planter with a veer towards planning, but the planning is always wrong. Yeah, but you've been doing a lot of but tell us a little bit because about about the planning, like How do you plan and how do you give yourself permission to go off off script? Because when I plan, sometimes I feel like it backs me into a corner. So this is this is a really good question, because we're also different. I know Sophie and I are really different on this, but I like to know, um, how the book opens with its hook. I like to know the first inciting incident that gets our character out of status quo and into the challenge of the book. I like to know the contact shifting midpoint where what she thought she was fighting for become something else. And I like to know what I think the dark moment might be. E never ever know how to fix from the dark moment, which for me works really well because if I backed my characters into a corner that is so dark that I can't fix, then it's going to be organically and the fix, meaning the ending resolution. You know, they've lost everything. The dark moments happened, and if I can't get them out of there, that's fine. And then my process is always to write kind of to those markers, those vague mile markers on. By the time I get to the dark moment, I usually can't go forward. Um, for a while I beat my head against a wall, and that's just my process. But to your question about what happens when my writing goes off the off the rails and starts following its own, that's a good thing for E. I think it's a great thing. Generally, what I do at that point is a zai. Let my writing take the lead for a while, and then I get out my outline on. I see if I conjecture the new stuff in it like a bigger it in, and make it mean something and have a good story structure that I keep it. If I usually, though, if you've lost your mind and gone somewhere, that won't work for the book. That's when a lot of people stop being able to write their like, because your body knows your brain knows that those is gonna quite work. Eso It's about trusting your heart, too. But so I do that much planning what? You don't do too much planning, right? Well, I've done it every every way. There is because, um let's see. Yeah, I think my first Nano book, My 1st 5 novels I did plan. Not very well, Um, and then for seven. Yeah. And then I had that with my Freedom book where I just kind of meandered with me and it wasn't undisciplined novel. I think it end up being like 100 20,000 words. And, you know, there are many reasons why that never saw the light of day. But, um, after that, I had to be more disciplined because we were at that point writing for, you know, on proposal in all of that stuff. And then I've actually had the experience where he had to turn in, probably a 25 page outline because the project demanded it. So I've really been able to try it all different ways. That's greatly prefer. Well, I think at this point I think there are places for all of it. But like you, well, I also do this thing sometimes where I get an idea or two in my mind, and I am obsessed with it. And you know this because I will keep at asking different editors until they let me write the book, and this has happened twice. Where I was obsessed with an idea. Right engine is good and one of my probably my most successful books so far has been I really wanted to write about Japanese internment, but at the same time, I had become really interested in taxidermy, and I know that sounds really unworkable, but that is my both successful novelist. Beautiful. It's called Garden of Stone. It is a beautiful book. Well, thank you, but I guess what I was thinking. But what I was trying to say there is that I was these these ideas wouldn't leave me. And so I think I had a I think I know who the characters were. I obviously knew what the conflict was because we have the story of internment. But then everything else just made itself happen. As I wrote, you know, plotting a problem. You can trust your mind to generate the story we have. We're storytelling creatures, by definition. Exactly. Nanowrimo attempt was 100% pants. There was no plot whatsoever. And that ended up, you know, being a real book. My my seventh book, which is, I think, one of my favorites is called Pack Up the Moon and I always like to say this that there was no plot. There was no problem. And then I had when I rewrote the book, There is a lot that went in the trash, but I had to do that first draft to even figure out what I was trying to say. I was gonna say, like, This is This is not for a Nano prep Webcast. It's more for a revision Webcast, but I write my outline. I like to write it after I do that. Also, Dr we do it again. Yeah, that's when I really want to think about structures. I'm fine with a rough draft, not having structure, you know, don't rely on letting the team emerge. Like like So he was saying earlier. You know, actually, I just remembered something every time that you start a new novel and we sit down and have lunch You I say, I really want to write about and you don't have a plot. You are. You know you don't and you never have Unending. I don't have a premise. You have a premise. Right now I have a promise and I'll I'll share it with already. As I believe we could all write the same book with same logline. It would be different. But right now I want to write a story of a very famous professional organizer, huh? Like Marie condo, you know, very famous, very well organized, like a household organizer. Who does this for the stars, you know, organizes Oprah's house, but is secret hoarder on Has a whole extra house. Is that's a good way there. There's no story. Didn't even have that. When the first time we talked about it, you said I think I'm gonna do a hoarding book and I'm secretly obsessed with hoarding. I'm not so secretly and I know, Okay, we're totally out there with our hoarding obsession. But the minute you tell me that I knew that I wanted to read that book, So I wanted to ask you what was there. But you were just at the point. We just had hoarding, and I knew a book would come from it. And obviously, you've made a little headway on cricket order. Yeah, that's a good one. I consent many plots emerging from You'll find one. I'm gonna skip Teoh research and I don't know if you guys do research for your novels. You do research for your dio. I had to kind of back into it when I started. I was not a fan of researcher. I was undiagnosed d. I got diagnosed at the age of 55 this year and, um so that has helped me. I've definitely learned some techniques for for dealing with that, but, um, I never want to do research because I didn't have the focus. But then when I got interested in writing historical and it turns out you actually have Teoh, you can still make stuff up of the right. Absolutely. Well, I'll just put it if you don't like research, do what I did and write a post apocalyptic novel because nobody knows what it's gonna be like after the apocalypse. It's all up here anyway, but you can't always do that. So I started writing historical, and I discovered that I really love research and for me, I think that because I'm writing in an age where all kinds of media are available to me in my chair, um, I discovered that probably the most driving piece of research in My first novel was WP a photography, and it just it became. It was very visual, obviously, and it really I mean their stories in every photo. And now, of course, every book demands different research stuff. So the one I'm working on now is actually much more traditional on dry archival stuff, and that's also fine and fun. But I never dreamed that I would love research as much as I dio. I will say this though I have, we have a dear friend, Lynn Coddington Highland. Um who, uh, research is her novels to death. And she will admit that I'm not telling, speaking out of turn. And so Lynn, If she were here, she would caution you that eventually you have to stop researching start writing. And I would caution for Nano prep. I mean, Nana Prep. Now is the time for you guys to be diving into research. Oh yeah, now, between now and November 1st and then after November 1st, we cause about turn the Internet off. It's a great premise reading, I think, a historical novel or novel that requires research because just as you're saying, you do the research ahead of time so so often people are so hung up on the research, they don't know it doesn't allow their imagination to get out or doesn't allow them to, like Actually, start like you were saying people can research their whole lives and it's a tool for procrastination. Use the asterisk, I thought the asterisk when I I really just write a lot of sentences that say And then he picked up the asterisk and, well, you know of our most important to us you think you never stop. We believe that you never stop while you're writing. If you're If you're having a 45 minute sprint, do not stop. Just put in all those asterisks and then when you're writing is done. When you've written your 1667 words for that day, then go down the rabbit, the hills, and then bring the information that you learned over to the Nano forums and share them. That's great advice, because I think in this social media world, I've trained my mind. If I do something for five or 10 minutes, I'm like looking for a way to stop on. It's amazing how many times like there's no way that Google's going to deliver my next chapter. But although looking for it, it's not on the Internet. I have to come up with it. Yes, I love what you said about research because it seemed like the way you use research is almost like writing prompts. Like you were looking at photos and getting stories from those photos rather than necessarily getting. I mean, I'm sure you were observant of all the facts and everything, but sometimes I think you can get to kind of Oh, yeah. I don't know. Um, actual. Well, I'm just using a sample from a book. I'm, um that I just turned in and of the part of the plot hinges on a complex financial transaction. And because I know love research, I research the hell out of it. I know all about how this works. And I was quite proud of myself, and I turned it in. And my editor, you knew this was coming, right? I couldn't see it coming. X. And she's like warriors. Nobody cares. So, like, offer all of the sentence thing. This is unfortunately, Moby Dick would not be published. Thing is there, right, because when you read, I love I love to mention this. I wrote I read a book once about, uh, race car driving. I don't care. I have no interest in that. But because this author very cleverly used just the right amount of information, I and because he wrote a hell of a book, I was able to stay with it. And the right amount of information is just enough to set the scene. Yeah, exactly. Just the right amount. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think most of us read for character. We love getting inside a character, seeing the world through that characters eyes F. Scott Fitzgerald said character is plot plot his character and I've always thought of it like that. Simple formula for plot. Uh, do you have a method of characterization? How do you find the heart of your character? I'll start with you, Sophie. Oh, well, if my agent were here, she would toe tell you that I should learn to write a plot. So I don't really have a problem with character. My character all day long on Barbara. One of these days, I will learn to write a plot. But if I think in character and honestly, I read that way to like a deftly prop plotted novel is really not the novel for me, because I'm always looking for characters. That one just comes to me. Naturally. It does not come to me naturally. And it was something I really had to learn because all my characters, if I don't work on it, tend to be different aspects of myself, and I need to get out of my own head. So I use, um, Michael Hague's version. And if anybody knows my take, he's a screenwriter extraordinaire and he just real briefly, I'll run it down. He talks about the wound. A character has a wound that they usually obtain an early childhood. The wound informs the mistaken belief that they hold about themselves, so he always uses the example. Shrek, Shrek swooned was that people called him ugly. His mistaken belief from that wound is that he's not worthy of love. And then you have an exterior identity that you present to the world because of that mistaken belief and Shrek six identity that he pretended to the world was I don't need you. Then I'm gonna live in a swamp. I am all alone. I don't need anybody. But the fourth part is the true essence that is always generally the true essence is always about the same, which is I'm worthy of love. I am worthy of there's Bank s Oh, I do like to look at the wound, mistaken belief, the exterior identity they present and how by the end of the book, they get to that true essence. And I do write that out Those four steps for every character, every major character that I dio that is super smart. It's It's so helpful. And you know what happens is I write the book and I 100% forget unadjusted this Yesterday I went back and looked at my old wounds for this book. I'm just finishing right now. I'm like, Oh, I just forgot all about this. So I wrote new wounds and I rewrite. I'm making it all hit what these people actually turned into. So I have an idea of character on, and then I go off the rails. I love that because I'm actually not a big fan of the whole character background worksheets. I don't think I mean every time. I always think they should help. May But but but knowing my main characters, the name of my main characters dog what they like you like for breakfast. It doesn't really help me, but I love that because it's such a a kind of quick and understandable shorthand in terms of getting into that emotional depth. And that's what we read for really, although I will put a plug in for that. I don't use those techniques myself, but I think they could be really useful, especially if, okay, we're doing a really intensive month where we're just living in our books. And what if you go through your day and try to think about how your character would would your character picked this mug here, That mug and why and if you can, it's like with the called Method acting its method writing like Go around and be your character as much as you can unless you're writing a serial unless you're well, even if that's true, a lot about in relation to method acting, because I have talked to a lot of writers who they tried to get into that actor mindset, you know, and kind of really inhabit their character skin. I believe I think I do that without I don't do any formal exercises, but I think I do that. And if I were writing a serial killer, I would try to get into their head and I would try to sit there and think, Why would I? What what I choose to put on the more really good with character. You're really good character. And why emotion drives what we dio. It's your superpower. A superpower? Definitely. Yeah, no, I think that's a great point, because, uh, Raymond Carver, when he was a riding instructor, his method of teaching was always too help The student, like, be aware of their strengths because he viewed that being a good writer is identifying your strengths, not necessarily focusing on, you know? Yeah, exactly. So it's good. Good thing to do is a writer and leaves into this next question, because what generally happens to so many nanowrimo novelists happens to me every year with every novel. Whether I'm writing in November or not, there's this long, expansive swamp land called the Money Middle. And it's just many novels have gone into the money middle and they just going to die there. And so I think part of succeeding in an aroma is developing a creative mindset to get through the whole month. Get through that money middle. Some curious how, What would you tell people? How would you advise them to get through that swamp land? I do like to read all these craft books and then I steal from them and I always say where I step steal things from. But Larry Brooks wrote a book called Story Engineering, and he breaks plot into four acts, which works really well for Nanowrimo. We've got a traditional three instead of the very act is still the same three axes. Just that that middle act is broken into two with two different uses on that second act in the four AC structure, which is that second week where things start to get a little slaw G. Your your hero is reacting to things. They're running their hiding. They're denying. They're they're trying anything to get out of what they're in. But then that third act in the for a structure of the second half of that middle act is where they're acting. That's where something has changed right in the middle, and now they are the hero of their journey, and they're trying and still failing to get out of things. But they're they're proactive instead of reactive. So for the first time, so I like to have a week to as reactive like Oh, God, Make this not happen on week three as wait. Now I'm going to use agency, huh? So that's what I use in nanowrimo. You're looking like you are so smart. And I'm sitting here thinking that what I have to say what's really not nearly as well. So Rachel's your go to gal for the smart and all I can tell you is like the emotional piece when you're feeling person very valuable. Okay, so for this, we used to call it the sagging middle. I hadn't heard Muddy Middle. I like that way also have other names we call it which I can't repeat, cause I've been told I can't have been prospering to the middle far win. If you're like me, you get to the computer and you're like I can't cut. So I can't even share with you how you feel. But, um, you you low that you fear it. It's it's the worst thing you've ever done. You want to clean the bathroom? I often do clean the bathroom instead. Good. And what about other people's ideo? Our friend's houses like I What I emotionally feel about this is that you have Teoh. And I'm sorry. You really must start out. What you will write is the worst. It's so bad you won't even let your best friend in the world read. It causes that bad and you probably are making a mistake. I'm sorry, but you are. But what you're going to do is you're gonna keep taking these branches because one of them is the right one. And I almost don't want to tell you how much of this you're gonna end up cutting, but it has to happen. You know that old saying about the only way out is through that applies to everything in life. It applies here. The only thing you can do is write your way through this. So your way. Yeah. So think about Rachel. Smart must first. Yeah, like I have to thank you for positive reinforcement, which he also need a lot of this month. But you just got I'm sorry, but you really must make yourself write those words and it doesn't really tell matter. Little thing we dio every once a while we will write a really bad paragraph, and then we send it to the other one. Just so they're amusing and hers are crazy bad there, so bad, really do their wonderful don't get here right the sentences says um, She sat down in a sitting way city. Sitting later, he sat next to her, sitting, sitting fantastically, They're terrible, but there is something amusing when you have this community. Yeah, pace and say, Like, she's got to say that a lot of nanowrimo writers love to share their worst sentences. You have that as that sense of playfulness. And that sense of playfulness, I think, helps you get through that money middle right to like just say this is a funny funds only thing that's actually really soon. I think in the in the money middle, you need your community. Most of all, that is not the time to isolate. That's the time that makes him popcorn and pour a Scotch and find your people and see where people are having a right in and eat a lot of can be I think it is like the moment I mean part of the reason novels go to die there. It's because it's not only because people would get the wall and don't know what to write next. It's that they actually start. They stopped trusting their idea for the novel. They start questioning that this is no good because I can't go further And there's again. It's like I think the moment that's the toughest is always the moment not to stop but to go forward, because that's the moment where tomorrow you might have that beautiful epiphany if you decide to keep writing and I call that the Who cares moment. Uh, because you realize that now not only was the idea that was the best thing you ever thought of, now it's the worst idea you've ever thought anything. Who's gonna care about this? Nobody cares about this, which is true. Nobody cares about your book and you don't care about your book at that point. And that's just what happens. And I'm saying that directly so that when you realize you don't care about this book that you're in the exact right spot, you have to keep pushing forward because until you get that book into some semblance of shape, no one will care. I think the idea of a confident writer is like a happy teenager there. Just Yeah, that's that's good to know, because I think a lot of writers, especially beginning writers, think that once you're published that it's all cool. You have to you never have to worry about. I didn't mean it quite that way. What I mean is, I love my job. It's a privilege to my job. I love to write. I wouldn't have the right than anything. But I'm not happy with my story, and I mean, I think it's inevitable. I don't I don't believe yeah. If there are authors out there who say that they don't I don't believe them. I don't I think that we always have an Internet. Her right? Yeah, you're only will always believe that the book I'm writing is the worst book I've ever written. Not about the 3/4 mark. I know I say that I would say it and my wife knows it. I go home and I tell her that she's like, Yes way. I got about four more weeks So listen to this. She knows the timeline. Yeah, just happens. Yeah. So just for people out there who might not know what an inner editor is, so I use that term all the time. How would you define in inter each of your own and editors? I guess. Who is? You're gonna drown like Oh, gosh, I wasn't prepared Way. Tell our young writers program we have a workbook and we say teachers will will have their kids draw a picture of the an editor and then warmed up and then throw it away for the month. And so it is this kind of physical act like, Here's this monster You said a monster or girl earlier. So what it up put in the trash can? That's not to say that it can't jump out of the trash can in the money. Middle record is the way through. Oh, yeah, it's hard to shake that. That's you think my inner editor at this point is probably comprised of everyone who told me I did it wrong or I can't or I'm not literary enough or I'm too literary or him to done so. I don't know how to write a plot except for you. Barbara. You can tell me that any day. Um and I think that s Oh, yeah. The buying aerator at this point is all the negative feedback I got. And honestly, I'm getting pretty good at it, because I know when I've done well, but yeah, so I think that I turn to community again If I went to you and said, um, I just got a review that said my plot doesn't move quickly enough because I get that one all the time. Every time I say that, you will say something that makes me feel good enough to go back to the book. Yep. I don't remember what you say. I probably, I ask you, is that you and your plots are exactly the right pacing that everyone's memory. But you're not gonna shoot everybody, right? That's true. I think that that Inter editor does turn into that maybe preemptive bad review. I think that's where my interest interest that says you're not good enough at this. You're not worthy of having this job. Um, and then always in her editor says you have fooled them up until now. Yeah, you know, and then you write that sitting, sitting Lee, sentenced on the inner editor starts to laugh thing. This is who you are. You are sitting sitting Lee. My Angela has a wonderful quote. It's not wonderful. It's exactly wonderful, but it's very insightful. She said that this is after she read the poem and Obama's like inauguration. She was wonderfully celebrated Poet had won every award in the world. And she said, I still think I'm pulling the wool over people's, you know? Yeah, somebody like that can say that, you know, just just goes the show. I mean, I think writing we make ourselves vulnerable when we write a matter for just writing for ourselves, right? You? Yeah, and that. Do you have to make yourself vulnerable? That's the good thing. You want to search for that vulnerability. But the more you go, the deeper you go into that vulnerability, the more likely you are to, like, raised your hackles of your eye. I noticed recently that we teach together a lot, and I noticed recently that every power point we put together, like every new class we do has that same side in it knows yeah, free zone, because I think writing and stick where the muddy middle of the shame Freeze on. Yeah, yeah, but I think you the shame is part of it. Like the more you are rubbing your skin with a cheese grater Whatever, Theun thumb You know, the more that you are reaching into your shame, the better the work is going to be. But that's another reason I think the middle is difficult. Eso that. I mean, we can't fix that one, That is ah, hard project. But I think starting to think about shame and that it's so damaging. And that s ou like shame is your inner editor. And so if you can visualize, you know, getting rid of that Uh uh, yeah, help, Tom, What you were saying when you when you said, uh, you should be vulnerable and that that's a good thing. I actually think that the people, all the craft books in the world will not produce a great novel, but writing with vulnerability that the officers who were able to open up their heart on the page those are the novels that really resonated, going through the darkest parts of their soul and living it up into the light and show it to somebody else on offer that exactly That's the gift. That is the gift. And that is what gets people to respond to you. Yes, and it's the most dangerous thing to do. So I was like to remember to remind people that your book is not accidentally going to wind up on the bookstore shelf just because you wrote a book like, If you need to password, protect your computer for the month of November and you need to tell your husband looking computers never password protected, but it is this month. If you can't manage that, then password protect the document and you don't have to explain it to anybody. But this is the month where you get to be as vulnerable as you can be on the page and screw anybody who tries to mess with that dance like no one's watching, right. Whoever said that fans like no one's watching and draw the shades and lock them at the mod Um, if you need to unlock your Children out and, you know, get the space to dance on. The interesting thing about that is that when I have been brave enough to reveal something about myself. What happens? Not disaster, Never disaster. It's always met with empathy, empathy, admitting that killing people in things like a lot of the things we think are shameful are no, because because what it is, is it shared experience? You know, I, um it yet And that's you know, that's how people connect that we connect. So it belongs in the story. Good. Totally switch directions here. Just Yes, Jim. Directions. It's just about that time we were going to hand out a t a pin assignment. So let's let's tee up that assignment and I will do that and they know let you continue. Well, we have two assignments that people can choose from. Yeah, um, and their character. A character? Yeah. And these air assignments that people that you can start them now if you want to. We'll have to. We'll have time to share. Or or you can write them. Do them after this, right? Yeah. Can you imagine? People can post them in our chat rooms? Yeah, we're gonna We're gonna make a recommendation that you that you write for five minutes. We, you know, make set a timer on your on your phone and these are both for character. But we have two different takes on it and right hard and fast. Don't try notto sensor your writing. Try not to edit it just right hard and fast. Whatever medium that you write in and mine is take the character that you're thinking about writing. Um, you can't. You don't have to commit to a character right now, but take the character you think you're gonna be writing about and fill in the blank after this. What he or she couldn't remember waas and then go What your character couldn't remember Waas Fill it in. What, you There's your novel. So that's a deeper third person exercise and I'll recommend doing one in first person. Even if you're not writing a first person novel, I find this is a good exercise to do in first person and minus the very same structure. So I'm gonna my prompt ISS I'm your character right now. Do anything you want to me, but just don't do. And that s so the analog is like, uh oh, I was get this wrong. The Raiders of the Lost Ark is afraid of. It's either spiders, snakes, so it's do anything you want to meet. You don't William Pit of snakes and that that's your writing prompt. That's great, because it's triggering because it's gonna be there. Your book. It's mistakes. Your has to be the snake. So that anyway, it's just a good way for you to find out what your character's wound is. Do the worst. Do the words here. Yeah, whatever they can't lose. Take it away from by The end of our little thing, they say, is if they're hanging on by a cliff, go over with your boots and stomp on him. I've heard so many great novelists just say Punish your characters, You You're the evil god Hard because it's generally all the writers I know are really nice people like no very nice wear, very nice to each other. And it is hard to be cruel, truly ruled to the characters because we love them. We have to be reminded to do it. I talked to a novelist who have this problem, and she said she would write, you know, 70 to pages and you know, it was kind of like your agent saying There's no plot there. She was being too nice toe over characters. You know, you have to be mean to them in a way to get that story moving. Because that's what we're reading for his conflict. Those are great exercises. Yeah, that's great. I hope, people, uh, if you if you feel like writing what we're talking, we'd love to for you to share, um, you're writing are or how how it worked for you. Yeah. Cool. Uh, I'm gonna look back to my my weird little question here. That's a little bit different than the process questions we've had. But I read that being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet. Yeah, And that is growing more, more, more true for May. Because, like, I have a very distractible mind to start with, and I allow that to happen a lot. Wait too much. So how do you guys turn off distractions? How do you even you mentioned that you write for 45. I think you both said that, right? Yeah, that's what My favorite. Yeah. That's a really good one. So how do you go for 45 minutes? without being You can do anything for 45 minutes. And I You know, if you think you can, you can. And 45 seems to be a pretty magical number, because at the end of 45 minutes we call him 45 15 because you actually earned 15 minutes to do what everyone. So you write for 45 minutes. Sometimes it seems like hours until your timer goes off and then and then you take a little time off. 45 minutes is just the right amount of time to fight with yourself for 10 minutes and then go pretty deep. Yeah, by the time I hit been at 43 I'm just scratching to get out and check Twitter and let the dogs out. And if you do feel like going longer, you can. I mean, I have to say my other trick is, since I was just diagnosed with a d. D. Now I have Adderall and I can write longer than 45 minutes, but I certainly remember what it was like not to be able to keep the focus. But if you need tools to help you really, really focus there Are there are APS out there that air? Wonderful. There's freedom. I think it's freedom dot t o Whose insight I think you have to pay Rescue time is a nanogram, a sponsor, and focus Focus. Me is a nanowrimo spot rescue time and focus in an effort for whatever like the time that you need. And then what I really like to do is get out of the house. I believe the house because if I'm in the house, I'll do laundry. I'll do the dishes. Everything is more important to me at than words is, can you mention right or die? Writer Diet is a great program that will keep your fingers moving. I have dedicated to books to write or die, and it will do bad things to you. If you stop writing to blow up your words right, it'll either turn your screen read or it'll drop spiders on your screen or at the very worst level. It'll start erasing them, and there's no way to get them back. The only way to keep them from being erased is to keep your fingers moving. And we have a friend who does that, yes, and she does it on that setting because she did. Our friend Adrian Bell always says he's not called right or annoy. Talk about having skin in the game. Absolutely. Yeah, well, it's interesting you mention that 45 minute writing exercise because a friend of mine does that. Ellen Sussman and John Ellison. They call it the Unit technique. I think it might even have an official name, but but the way that the Jan has described it to me, and I think that this is what makes also the way you guys described it makes it really relevant. But she says that what happens with her is that you know, writers. It is that, like, minute moment for me, where I'm gonna go Google Chapter two, you know, whatever. But instead of that, you know it the 10 or 20 minute mark that you've only got another half hour to go, right? And so that's very manageable. Keeps you focused to do it. And then I love like the 15 minutes like that because, like what? I think that's a great creative principles that you get up. You get away from the page, you go wash the dishes, walk the dog. Whatever your novels still doing something in your brain. And then when you come back, it's like you're replenished and you should be getting up anyway because, you know, sitting in the chair is not all that good for you. So you got to get up and move a little bit, which I like ours better than the Pomodoro technique, which is 25 minutes and five minute break. Do anything in Wales? No, I need the 15. Yeah, cheat on the 15 Sometimes everyone's and I'm 45. Is the warming up to you know? So it really is getting back into it. I would say a couple other things about that, though, is that if you know what your creative time of day is, honor that if you can Obviously, if you have a job, then then we've been there. We know what that's like. So But if you can preserve your creative time of day for you and I would echo what you said about going out of the house, but find the place that for you, that will be most. That pushes you the most to work. So for me, coffee shops are great, but on days When I really can't focus, I go to my library and I put my meeting white noise on because then there isn't they won't let me clean the bathroom at the library. Think todo todo You can't go up and get another. So yeah, that's my makers. Be hard on yourself when you need to go to the library and you turn off the Internet and you make yourself sit in the chair and not pick up any other books, you will get bored enough to, right? Yeah, and there's nothing else to Dio. Yeah, use that, actually. Right? Yeah, I do that to myself. I do that now. Hey, E, I think I started off saying that the biggest novel writing question was whether the plot or pants. But I actually think it's something else. Uh, I think the most frequent writer question is, How do you get over writer's block? And I actually happened to not truly believe in right. And I think the reason I don't believe in it for me is that because I've led like hundreds of words, prints with writers and, in a word, sprint. For those of you who don't know, it's just like giving a simple prompt and saying right for five minutes fast. You can just what you guys did with your exercises and eso. I've never seen anyone not be able to write and usually people right at least like 100 words and maybe five or 600 words in just five minutes. If somebody had a condition where they put the pen on the page and as soon as they tried to write a word they passed out like narcolepsy, that would be right. That would be That's the only way I would actually see any validity that we would always make up words, even if it's not words for exactly. That's why I think our brains or storytelling cauldrons. There's just amazing things in that, like you don't those people who do words prince or when we do them. Nothing is planned for your pin on the page, and stuff happens and magic happens. Magic prints and I think we don't do ourselves any favours when we try to pretend that there is something, um, mystical about the process. I mean, well, there is, and that magic happens magic. There's not something mystical that we need to do to put we don't need to like I don't speak inspiration from the heaven. Exactly. Amuse my muse shows up every day. When I sit down. I also I feel strongly that we should unpressured CIF I writing and just this morning nothing. Another word. I like that one. A lot of syllables when when we're in the upper and are over, Driver asked us. She was lovely and we really loved you. I forget your name. But she said, Well, don't you need to get into What is? I remember she said, Well, it's not like going to a regular job. You need to be in the mood to write a book on. We were asked if we were doing that. We're passing a construction site and there was a guy whose job it was to turn the stop sign. Rachel says No way. Show up with our stop sign and we do the job and we feel strongly about that. She was a friend of mine who is a writer, and her father is a truck driver. He makes fun of writer's block. He's like, I don't have truck driving. Construction worker doesn't have same way. We've made a lot of enemies saying that, but I don't know. I'll stand by it. Stand by. Good. Good. Now I've lost my thread here. About what? You're getting the thread back that people when they really get blocked in their book. Um, you know, when they sit down on the page on the like, I just don't know what happens next in the scene. I've I've done this and I have seen a lot of people talk about it. Look at the scene right before. Just for a minute. We're not revising during November. We're not reminding. But see if maybe you made a wrong turn. Oh, and this is a great tip. If you think you've made a wrong turn and you realize suddenly that your main character needs a twin sister, then this is what I dio one in November and basically it all in my bosom. I just write in all caps and I pretend that the book that is behind me has been fixed. I have revised it. I say. Now she has a twin sister. I'm gonna keep writing forward. As if the rest of the book were perfectly like that. And the reason I do that is that I could get to the end of the book and realize, Oh, that was a bad idea. Yeah, she doesn't need a twin sister, But if I wears a revised or trying to make a perfect, I would have gone through And added the twin sister for 40,000 page 40,000 words. Eso used that all caps block and and just pretend like you've done the work and keep going. Yeah, and what you're saying? You know, I actually do sometimes revise a little bit just to kind of get me back into the novel and warm up before you feel some of you don't want to get, like, totally entangled. But I think it's fine to read it through. I think it's fine to change a couple of misspellings, but give yourself five minutes, but be disciplined and move on. Yeah, it's like sometimes I walk into my house. I just needed to be a little bit tighty a little bit of like mental equilibrium and to get you back in the flow of being in your house or build on that particular page, and my house is particularly messy. So that's the reason I say that like like my novel. So I'm curious because, you know, nanowrimo, as I mentioned, um, one thing I want to mention I forgot when we're talking about words Prints just so people out there we have, ah Twitter account, an award sprints. And during the month of November, we're running wordsmiths literally around the clock. We have people around the world who are giving prompts and word sprints. And we also the meanest plays ons who organized in person writing events in their communities, their often holding word sprints for people. Way towards tool on the website, where you can invite your friends to do the word Spence with you. So there many different ways to do word sprints during down in my mom. So, yeah, just vanished. That writer's block. Um, and this gets into Speaking of words, prints and community, um, people share their writing. People love sharing like their their most ridiculous sentence or their bad. There were sentence. How does like do you guys share? It seems like you do right. You've already said that you share like bad sentences, but in terms of like sharing writing as you're writing it in general, But what you're really don't call what I'm writing that fast track called Zero Draft. That's just the way I look at it, cause it's not even really draft yet. But once I've done my first draft, So I've written by zero draft in the month of November. Then I go back and revise it a little bit, you know? And then I would show it to Sophie and another friend of ours. And basically, I don't show anybody else. I tend to be pretty private about it. What about you? Well, I think that's true, But we've often said that the way that we do create a critique group now is very different, cause we're so many years into it. And when I think about when I first started, I was a member of several critique groups much more formal than what we're talking about here. But yeah, I think that sometimes I shared my pros at that time because I needed someone to tell me I was on the right track. You know, I did. I did need some encouragement on it was really useful. I don't need encouragement anymore because I've done it so much. The other thing about a community is that, um, you I'm not suggesting that you take your nano draft that you're halfway through and ask someone to Kortrijk it. That would be a terrible idea. But I think that to hear some of your own words echoed back to you a little bit may give you a little juice to keep going. So if they say I think it's fascinating the right about hoarding, you know, I can't believe you chose that guy to be your main character. I think it can get kind of keeping also want, like, encouraged guarding. Oh, yeah, because, yeah, the wrong person. Like, if your husband is not a reader Oh, yeah. And then you show him a chapter that you're really product. He can say he can do a shrug of the shoulder and your crossed for the next 70. Yes, absolutely. You know, you can kill the whole marvel, strangely enough for just the wrong Lincoln. And I didn't even mean it. You know, Maybe he was thinking about the next thing I was gonna do. But be careful. Well, and this is not original to me. A lot of people have said this. But when you do again not during Nano but afterwards when you think you might start wanting to have a read, Do not pick someone dear to you pick someone you do not know because that if you ask your sister she my sister is a great supporter of me. But she knows me really, really well. And so it would take one offhand comment like all of us would have to say is, Oh, purple again. And I'd be like, Oh, you s so they can get right and right again. So just if you if you feel like you want to do that, just pick us. It's a delicate thing, definitely. I've I've had friends. When I was first started as a writer, like I gave a friend the story, he never responded. One day I asked him if he actually had a great response was it sounds kind of cruel, but But when I said what did you think of the story? He said, I'm your friend. I didn't ask to be your critic, you know, that's a great response. Pretty good response, because I understood that I totally understood where he's coming from and you guys might be wondering where you find these people that you might share your work with the nano forums. You will become friends with some of these people under the national forms after you've done your words, preferably because otherwise it could be 11 o'clock at night. But those are the people that you can ask at the end of November and, like, Do you want to keep in touch? Do you want to Foreman Online critique And I do want to mention to like If you go to a nanowrimo, write in people. Well, it's the sharing is a fantastic part of those people who like to share, and sometimes people will be writing silently and they'll be like, OK, I've got I've got a waitress in Laramie, Wyoming. What should it? What's your name be? And people crowd source that either in person or on the forms to on the forms people have. Like, how fast does a lawnmower go? I've got a chase scene on. You'll get 100 responses. My uncle one time was racing his long a good ideas. Yeah, so it's Superfund. So yeah, I'm glad you mentioned the forums. We literally in the month of November. There are more than a 1,000,000. I know that sounds overwhelming, but there there there's every writing topic under the sun is discussed. So, yeah, we have a nanowrimo group on Facebook as well, which is really vibrant getting Let's get back to the Nana Rebel. You can do what you want. You don't. We were talking about before we went on air like feel free to break rules. CERN are there nanowrimo police. There are no natural police on that we know about, so rules can be broken. You can make your own rules. We say that every story matters. You've got to write it your way. So I'm writing a memoir this this November. I know. I know that's a big rebel big rebel way have, ah whole section in the forums for nanowrimo doubles, too. So there's a place for everybody. We just want people to write. Um, well, here's a very discouraging comment on writing Just on that note of Flannery O, Connor said writing a novel is a terrible experience during which the hair often falls out in the teeth decay. I have not read that one. I was irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It was a plunge into reality, and it's very shocking to the system. That's an excellent close. I'm just curious. What is your take on that? Can writing be fun? Oh, my God. Yes. Yeah, I love it. How do you maintain your dental health? Well, I mean, in all seriousness, get out out of your terror. I'm you know, I'm because I am not 25 anymore. I'm more aware of it. But we writers need to do two things we need to not isolate all the time. And we need to take care of our bodies. So it is really important that you get up and, um but having said that, I I love my job. I hate it 0 30% of the time, but I think that's pretty good. Honestly, in the rest of time, I love to hate it when I'm in that 30% of the time I love I love to hate it. But another thing about getting up is if you are having a hard time, if it's if it's hard that day, change positions. Take your notebook out onto the back porch. Those words count. Get in your car and go to the nearest body of water and right on your keyboard with your eyes closed. You know, try different things that are playful with. This is a time for creativity in time for place and dance like no one's looking on and just, you know, right upside down right in the bathtub. On that, those awkward notes that air waterproof just have a good time. Because what way Don't really often talk about the privilege that we have, but the privilege that we have to spend this time I remember there's something that we can't take for granted, you know, as a fact that everybody doing nanowrimo is carving this really valuable time out of their lives. Yeah, spend it Well, yeah, especially in regard. Bananarama, because part of my reason why people should do nanowrimo is that especially as we get older, creativity falls lower and lower on our to do list until it's not even Ahmed list, right? Yeah. Our life is just full of all these should Exactly The older I get, the more November is this wonderful time to put creativity is number one on the world for a lot of frozen pizza. After that, I want to confess to you, though in the first time I did Nano, I was still a homemaker, and I still I think I was having 40 people to Thanksgiving dinner and I looked at all like I was Martha Stewart on the job. And so I remember thinking that Chris Beatty was an idiot. I remember saying that I, Chris and I were friends now, and I love him. But I remember me like that man is not serving Thanksgiving dinner to 40 people. And I was so there, he put it in the month of I don't know that has served Thanksgiving. There's gonna be a follow up question. I'm gonna ask. You think we're gonna require him to do Thanksgiving? What I should have taken out of that is what's on my kids. I'm an empty nester now. I'm no longer married, you know. So, um, Thanksgiving dinner might be a pizza, you know? But I think that if I could go back to my old old self, I'd say, Well, why are you serving Thanksgiving dinner to 40 people this year? I mean, don't Doesn't this matter to you? I mean, I think I could have easily toned that down in. Somebody could've made my husband do it. Group. You have asked people to bring more dishes that our you would have saved that hour and 1/2 or two saved. You were in your That's my office, E. I mean, that's a great Segway. And I didn't have this question on my script here, but, um, I think coming up like like the month is full of choices, right? Like any month and your choice and signing up Fernando Ramos to make novel writing a priority, which means that you have to alter some aspects of your other Yeah, of your regular life, right? It has to matter. Enough. Teoh. Yeah, it is really good to get buy in from family. It is not necessary, but you can get buy in from spouses and kids. Um, it's it's really helpful. Are there other sort of time management strategies, routine strategies that you guys used to get to make sure that you're writing that much? Especially in the beginning. I used to watch more TV now, watch almost no TV because I used that time for writing. But yeah, you think you can get through the month of November? You know you'll watch TV again in December. Way had ah webcast earlier this month with a time management guru, and essentially, what came out of that whole hour long conversation and all of her research and all the book she's written is cut out TV and social media. Basically, that's those are the things that well, they're easy to cut out everything. Take a lot of time. And every time I need more time in my life and I feel like I have known none. I take Twitter on my phone and I suddenly found Find another 45 minutes. I don't I don't have a TV and I don't use social. Me, I mean, I started. I don't use social media, and so I think I'm reclaiming a lot of time that way, and you do get a lot of books. E O. It's important cause I think I mean, that's why we're having these discussions did because I think the more kind of prepared you are not necessarily meaning the 25 page outline, but, you know, just mentally prepared to reach that 50,000 word goal. You know, it is a little bit like a marathon. Rachel started while she was work. How? But I don't remember how many hours you were working as the like, 80 hours a week? Yeah. Three. Our community, our commute each day. And she still got it done. And I did it last year. I was like, What, 10 books done under that schedule. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. And last year I was I had bought a duplex and I was rehabbing it in the month of November and I still got done. I mean, you can get it done, have a lot of superhero powers. Both you. I don't think I could do this way. That's the thing. You Can we really? We believe anyone can. On the other thing, I will say, Is that something that we never say? And I would like to say is that instead of watching TV, perhaps and you feel like you do need a break, you feel like you need some well feeling. I'm not saying you can't watch TV. You can absolutely to be if you have the time, But but read And remember, I feel like I've always felt like this. And the more words and putting on the page and the faster I'm writing, the more I have to read to fill that well up, which is probably is problematic sometimes because we're spending so much time writing and we need to be spending so much time reading, but it is so fun and so enjoyable. So the readings were finishing your writing easier. And I have a theory that I have run by a few people who agree with me that you should probably not right in what? You're the space that you're writing in what you should read. In this case, it s so if I'm writing, like writing apocalypse, I'm reading romance. And if I'm writing historical, I'm probably reading a zombie novel. I mean, it's about that inner editor. If I'm if I'm writing, um, you know, memoir and I'm reading memoir the Inter editors saying, Look how great this book is. This was probably her first draft, you know? Yeah, that's why I'm just shut them. I'm gonna give a little bit of a counterpoint, actually, when I'm writing a novel, I like to read a lot of very similar novels and it just because it keeps my head in that space keeps me in this mood. And certain books are written with certain kinds of towns on. So I just I just like exploring that, you know, and just seeing how other people have approached this type, I know how that would work, right? My comparison itis comes e I can see it shutting you down. Like, if you're if you like. Oh, this this book is so wonderful. Beautiful. That is road the worst it's ever. Yeah. Good. Um, we're almost a time here, so I'm gonna I'm just gonna ask you each to give your best motivational advice for people heading into nanowrimo. What would you tell people? I guess today. Right. You got We have seven days like today, or I would say that if this is your first time and you feel like you can't do it, you are in exactly the right spot. That is the way you should feel. And you are wrong. You can do it. We all all all all felt that way. Yeah, that was really good during it. I would say that if you are, if you are having the day where you can't do it. I think about the end of the month when you have a puddle of words and maybe it won't be 50,000. Maybe it's 11,000. That's more words than you have right now. And it's probably more than you wrote last month. And it's probably more than you wrote last year. I would say so. Um, don't get too hung up on not meeting the magic number 1600 or whatever it waas. Just keep going with the process. And remember that whatever you're doing, there's value to it and there's merit to it. And you don't know what it's gonna look like in the end. And that's kind of part of the magic of it. Yeah, magic, Great advice, great assignments. I'm gonna take both those prompts home and my own sort of five minute words Sprint And yeah, Jim, do you have any including remarks? Final thought so. First of all, Rachel So V. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for joining us today. Absolutely wonderful. Can you let us know where folks can follow you online? Favorite places to follow you online. I met Rachel haren dot com. There's a writer's section on my website. I'm Rachel spelled like Michael R A C H E l and I have I spent a lot of time on Twitter, and I like Instagram. I am also on Facebook, but you shut all those down while you're writing. 00 yes, where they don't exist while I'm writing seriously, So I do have a right under two names. So Sophie littlefield dot com and say via grant dot com. Um, I am on all the platforms, and in the month of November, you probably won't find me. They're very much unfortunately good.

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.

Class Materials

Free Bonus Material

Your Deep Level Why - PDF

Your Deep Level Why - DOCX

Jacket Copy - PDF

Jacket Copy - DOCX

The One Page Book Summary - PDF

The One Page Book Summary - DOCX

Two-Tier Outline - PDF

Two-Tier Outline - DOCX

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


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.