Umm…how is it November? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were at the beach, reading the twenty books we’d been dying to read, just hanging out with family and bemoaning the fact that school was just a few short weeks away?
Oh, wait. That was ME.
But, seriously. November?!
Anyway, I don’t know about you, but November always makes me think of fall and Thanksgiving and family and WRITING because *ahem* it’s National Novel Writing Month!
Last year, Cambria posted about teens and NaNoWriMo (super awesome—you should totally check it out here) and so this year, I decided to go to our teen spies and analysts, see if they were participating. Turns out, some of them are. And here’s what they had to say about it.
Is this your first year doing NaNo or did you participate in previous years?
RANDI: The first year I did NaNo was last year. I'm so excited to do it again!
LENNON: This is my third year doing NaNoWriMo.
MADDIE: This is my second year doing NaNo, but I did it last summer and this past summer (and won in June!)
LISSA: I did NaNo in 2009 and finished it with days to spare and a couple thousand extra. I haven't had time in previous years - rather, motivation - but I've decided to attempt the project this year, though I'm still not at all planned out.
CHIHUAHUA ZERO: This is my 2nd year, with my first time being during 2011
RIV: This will be my third year NaNoing!
Anxious? Excited? Overwhelmed? Happy?
MADDIE: I am so incredibly psyched! I'm actually writing two (TWO!) books in November...because I obviously WANT to lose my mind. I told my friends that if I randomly burst into tears or start rocking back and forward in the corner- just let me be. It's probably from the sleep deprivation.
LENNON: I'm still nervous, about the word goal, when I'm going to write, WHAT I'm going to write about. I'm nervous every year I do this but this year, like my first year and unlike my second year, some of my friends are participating in NaNoWriMo so I will have a support system.
RIV: I'm kind of excited, though I'm approaching it differently than usual, working on the second draft of a novel, instead of starting anew, like past years.
RANDI: I'm a little nervous, but I think I have my basic outline for my story down, so hopefully all goes well.
LISSA: I'm not really thinking about it, honestly, and I guess that just proves I'll probably end up participating half-assed-ly. Still, I'm excited to get writing again and about my idea, which I hope eventually will lead to something great.
CHIHUAHUA ZERO: I'm just hoping that I'll make it again. My writing ethic has been down, with me wasting time online when I could be doing something useful. I'm hoping that NaNoWriMo will give me the jolt to put me back in the groove. It's fly-or-die.
Also, I'm hoping that the "w" key on my laptop will get fixed before Thursday. It's working now, but I'm expecting it to die on me again. I'm using a program called SharpKeys to repurpose the almost useless F1 key as the "w" key, but games aren't regonzing it, and the key's distant location might throw off my writing.
(God. So many w's.)
How was NaNo in the past for you? Did you meet your goal? Was it fun? Is there anything you plan to do differently? Any advice?
LENNON: I love NaNoWriMo. It is so much fun and it's extremely rewarding, knowing you can write a novel, or, in my case, a novella, in month. I have had to lower my word goal in the past so I am aiming at around 30,000 words this year, rather than 70,000 like last year. Some advice, is to prepare!!! And also, don't change your idea halfway through the month and have to change it. It's difficult to restart.
MADDIE: Yes, I met my goal, and it was the best November I have ever had. I love it- even if you're not a writer, this is an amazing experience. You learn that no matter how large and daunting a task is, if you really push yourself, you can make it.
Advice? Turn off your inner editor. He's a no-no in November. Also- the backspace key is NOT YOUR FRIEND!!! And coffee helps. A lot.
KATIE: I'm not doing NaNo this year but I've done it in the past and absolutely loved it! My school had a club that met once a week to do write offs ( to see who could write the most in an hour the winner would always get awesome cheesy prizes related to writing) we also got shirts which was a blast! But since I'm so busy this year with college class I am sad to say I can't do it this year.
CHIHUAHUA ZERO: Yes, I did meet my goal. On the way to a Thanksgiving family reunion in fact, on my laptop, while listening to the same album I'm listening right now, creepy enough (Rihanna's Talk That Talk). It was fun, I guess. I took a lot of opportunity to get alone and type, type, type.
Advice to everyone: Back-up your writing! You probably have read many horror stories by now, but in my case, I lost my flash drive at a party, and I lost the first ten days. It's fortunate I've lost interest in the project--and that's another tip: don't pick a throwaway project.
LISSA: I met my goal the first time I did it, and I had a ton of fun doing it! This year, I'm going to attempt to just throw myself into the story and the characters and not think of all the problems, as that's a nasty habit I've caught when it comes to first drafts.
Still, I should probably mention that my manuscript from 2009 never came of anything and is sitting half-finished on my desktop untouched for, like, a year.
RANDI: I haven't ever hit 50,000 words. I got to about 30,000 last year. It was a long and glorious battle...that I lost. Anyway, it was really fun, and the community is really supportive. Definitely don't be afraid to just go for it. Nobody's judging you. It's a lovely and crazy thing.
RIV: I have never met my goal, though it's great fun meeting other writers. I'm kind of a passive WriMo, just putting in a bit more effort than usual, but not striving for that 50k like others. My life is incredibly crazy in November. I would advise new WriMos to stop procrastinating. Or to procrastinate procrastinating (ie, I'll put together that model train set after I write 2k words). I love sites like Written? Kitten! and Write or Die, for instant reward or punishment, and you have to force yourself to never look back, because that'll disrupt your flow and make you want to edit. If you need to, shut off your internet completely, so you have no distractions. For the internet overly-friendly, I recommend keeping a Pinterest board for inspiration, or a DeviantArt account, though this is a bad idea for some people. Know yourself, and don't blame me when you get caught in time-sucks. (Speaking of time-sucks, avoid TV Tropes.) But, above all, I can say only one thing: Just Write.
Are you doing anything to prep for NaNo (outlines, character sketches, random notebook jibberish) or will you just write, write, write when Thursday hits?!
LISSA: I do a basic outline when I wrote anything, and sort of layout who the characters are. Still, it's very basic, and I never have a complete plan or event-list set-out.
RANDI: I have my basic story outlined. It's going to be a sort of action/thriller/sci-fi type deal. Time travel may or may not be involved.
LENNON: I am doing some mental and literal planning for plot structure and characters but I can't decide on a concrete idea for NaNo, so I'm working on that too.
RIV: So, like I said, my NaNovel is a second draft of my WiP. So I definitely have an outline this year. Though two years ago I came into it with a concept, and last year a slightly better formed plotline.
CHIHUAHUA ZERO: I already outlined, although I'll probably tweak it to fill in the holes and scrub the corniness. Like any other writer, I'm critical about my craft.
But I'm hoping I'll be motivated enough to write at least one character sketch. I want to make sure I'm excited for my protagonist. If that fails...there's always that other project.
MADDIE: I tried pantsing (writing with no outline) last year, and it was a lot of fun. But since I had no outline, I had to spend time trying to come up with things to happen next in th plot, which wasted writing time. But in June, I wrote with a quickly sketched outline and I found it was much easier to hit my goal. I always thought I never needed outlines. NaNo has taught me so much about myself not only as a writer, but also as a person.
Finally, when DO you write? Will you write at school? Late at night? During dinner?
CHIHUAHUA ZERO: First of all, I'll start waking up earlier, and using the 20-30 minutes before school to type. And then the 15 minutes at school before first period.
I might use school-wide study hall for homework, but if not, that's about 25-30 more minutes. Lunch is more iffy, but that's 5-10 more minutes.
Then there's afterschool. I need to start training myself to get all homework done before then. Then after dinner...
Yeah. I have far than enough time for NaNoWriMo. The question is: will I use it well?
LENNON: I write when I get home from school, that night, and all the time during the weekend.
RIV: Anywhere and everywhere. When you're a student without your own computer, juggling schoolwork and a million other things, you can't afford to be picky about your writing place. I just....write.
LISSA: I hate writing at school, and actually have a really hard time doing it - I feel like people look over my shoulders 24/7. So probably at home.
MADDIE: All of the above, of course! During NaNo, any free time is considered writing time. You have to grab any minute you can, because that's already 20-50 words! I always get up thirty mintues earlier (5:30) and go to bed at least an hour later than I normally do all through November so I can log extra words before a.m. swim practice or at night before I pass out. Again, I say- coffee helps. A lot.
I also find math class to be an inspiring writing period. But don't tell my mom I said that ;) (OR AGENT A!!!)
RANDI: I'm probably going to end up writing a lot at school. They really should not have integrated laptops into the school system. I do a lot at home as well though. Maybe I'll finish this year, muahahahahaha!
Some pretty amazing advice! Good luck to all our teens Nano-ing it this November! We are definitely cheering for you at YA CONFIDENTIAL! WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!!
Do you know any teens participating in NaNo? Are YOU?