For the April edition of our #BBchat Twitter chat, we asked a few of our authors and literary friends from around the world, including Grant Faulkner (Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month) for his thoughts on the Camp NaNoWriMo experience and how to stay motivated as a writer. We prefaced this month’s BookBaby Twitter chat with some initial pointers to get the conversation started, as well as a brief biography of Grant, which you can check out here.
While we know that plenty of our authors love writing alone at home alongside a furry friend, there is much to be said about the power of writing with a group of like-minded peers. In Grant’s opinion, “NaNoWriMo dispels the mythology of the solitary writer. Creativity flourishes within a community… Encouragement is key to creative success.” What is your preferred writing environment?
A number of interesting time-management ideas and inspiration tips were also shared; we hope you find them to be useful! To view the entire chat transcript, please visit this link. Below is a selection of questions and answers from our discussion.
How would you explain the purpose or goals of NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo to someone who is unfamiliar with the organization?
Our goal is to help people realize their dreams—to see themselves as creators who can accomplish audacious feats. So many people say they want to write a novel someday. We help them write a novel TODAY … with a simple challenge …Write 50,000 words in 30 days with the help of a rollicking community of support. Encouragement is key to creative success. NaNoWriMo dispels the mythology of the solitary writer. Creativity flourishes within a community.
What do you recommend to writers who need help focusing their efforts in terms of time-management?
Focus. Audacious goals. Accountability. Fun. Crazy challenges. Creativity. Coffee. It’s all NaNoWriMo. So many people say they can’t do NaNoWriMo because they’re too busy. We’re all busy, though, right? Being creative is all about priorities. Unfortunately, creativity often falls down on our to-do list, despite its importance! I recommend going on a “time hunt”. Track how you spend your time for a week—social media, Dr. Who re-runs, everything. Then ask yourself what you can give up to fit in an hour or two of writing?
How does the laid back tone of Camp NaNoWriMo and the cabins affect success rate compared to November’s main NaNoWriMo event?
I recently heard Camp described as a “follow-up to NaNoWriMo”. It’s a good time to finish your novel or revise it. In some ways, Camp is more intimate because you’ve got a cabin of writing mates to talk with directly & have deeper conversations. Camp’s success rate is similar to NaNoWriMo, but a bit higher.
What are the best writing traits and habits of NaNoWriMo winners?
Perhaps the number one lesson of NaNoWriMo is that you have to show up and write, on good days and bad days. Persistence pays. In pursuing any big goal, setbacks happen. So, you have to plan to overcome them. Whether you use a carrot or a stick. Most winners also take part in our community, whether in local write-ins or the online forums. NaNoWriMo’s brand of creative encouragement is a powerful, contagious, wondrous force. Everyone has a different approach re: “planning/pantsing” spectrum, but I think it pays to brainstorm your novel ahead of time.
What are your most common editing suggestions for NaNoWriMo grads? Copy, proof, developmental, etc.?
Each year during January and February, we host “I wrote a novel, now what?” to help people with editing and publishing. We’ve gathered an a wealth of #NowWhat tips from writers and editors. No matter what, it’s important to revise your NaNoWriMo novel. To fully realize it’s gift, it’s good to see it through.
Do you find that many writers use April’s Camp NaNoWriMo to edit work done last November, and use July’s Camp to plan ahead for next November’s event?
Many revise … and many start new novels. I like the rhythm of writing a novel in November, and then revising it in Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp is also great for writing other forms–short stories, scripts, haikus, drabbles. Anything goes!
How does a writer know when to stop revising their manuscript?
Ah, that’s a tough question. Every author is different. In some ways, a novel is never truly finished. If you reach the stage where you’re just noodling with things and not truly improving it, it’s time for the next stage.And … if you don’t know if you need to work on it more or not, it’s probably a good time for a beta reader. It can be hard to find the right beta reader. But that’s why the NaNoWriMo community is good. Being part of a supportive community is the best place to find a good beta reader. Check out the NaNoWriMo forums.
What would you say to writers who have a fear of putting their writing out into the world?
I think all writers—on some level—have a fear of putting their writing out into the world. It’s only by having the courage to be vulnerable that we truly connect with others. That’s why we’re writers: to tell our story. I experience a degree of fear every time I share my writing. But every time I do, it’s been a good experience. I learn something. Showing your writing to others can build your sense of yourself as a writer. It can charge you up, make you believe in yourself.
What tools or resources do recommend to writers after the completion of their manuscript?
I’d advise authors to educate themselves on each step of the process, from editing to cover design to book promotion. A writer has to be savvy in every part of things these days. You don’t just write the novel. You write the media kit. And more. There are so many great tools online for next steps. We cover a lot of these topics during #NowWhat.
What are your thoughts on the self-publishing versus traditional publishing routes for NaNoWriMo grads?
Writing a novel is a gift, and its publication should be an extension of the creative act. Everyone has a different vision for putting their novel into the world, so it’s worth researching all options. Self-publishing is certainly a great way to fully realize your vision of your work because you have complete control. I’ve self-published and traditionally published and been happy with the outcome of each work. It just depends on what you want.