What Was NaNoWriMo To Me?

Most of you already know What NaNoWriMo is, but I’m going to tell you anyway. The word NaNoWritMo stands for “National November Write Month” (even though it is international).   It’s this crazy thing we writers do (some of us anyway) every November. In short, it is a word race to write a 50K novel in the month of November! There is no prize except for the pure satisfaction that one has reached their personal goal by the end of the month.

The trick is to write with wild abandon for the entire month, forgoing all editing, until one reaches or passes the goal of 50K words.  Believe it or not there were quite a few who nearly wrote twice that amount. . . . . 
Many have won by making the 50K limit by November 31, 2011, and getting their winners stamp. There are others who even though they did not make the stated goal, who won by just participating. Not everyone would dare to take on such a task, even though they are writers. Some would even dear to call us nuts. Well, so be it!
Why did I do NaNoWriMo2011? I had a personal goal to finish it.  Back in 2008 I started out with a bang and flopped when my internet connection went down at home, and was out of commission for two months after. Since then I had resolved the issue, and had a new determination to complete my goal.  
Only now, what was I going to write about? Should I continue the old story I had started out with? I looked at my online profile (at Writing.com) and the beginnings of a couple of stories I had left on the back burner.  I wasn’t inspired at all. Those poor stories were dry as  bones to me.  If they were dry as a bone to me, I could just imagine what they would be to the readers. . . . . . . .

So I chose something that was totally out of my element. A Vampire story. Well, it started out that way, through the course of the story it turned out to be a Vampire and Detective story.
Hints for First Time or Repeat NaNoWriMo Participants.
1. Have a plan. Some people have elaborate story planning software, like “Scrivner”.  I’ve tried it and became even more confused. To me, it was better to write it out on paper. Despite what many think, it takes planning to pour things out of one’s mind onto paper or type on a computer keyboard. Thus you must have a plan. Answer the questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why. At least have that organized and down pat before you start.  You will not have time to run around and be befuddled once the contest starts.  You’ll be far too busy trying to beat the deadline.
2. Which is really a tie for number one, one MUST have a computer. Either a Laptop, I-Pad, or NetBook! Why?  Because you must keep track of your own daily writing totals, and you must upload those daily totals on your NaNo page to see your progress.
3. Save! Save! Save! Save your writing on your computer, on an external hard drive, on a memory stick, on a cloud back up, or an auto back up like Carbonite, or the old fashioned way by writing! There is nothing more devastating to find out you have just lost 3 or 4,000 words like I did! Saved stuff can easily be restored. But to restore lost chapters from memory, not so good. This is where Carbonite came to my rescue. I nearly quit because of that loss, it was so horrible. . . .
4. Set a personal goal. In order to write 50K words in 31 days (I say 30 days because of Thanksgiving)  you on must average about 3,000 words per day. Remember if you skip a day or two, you’ve gotta run (what’s called “Sprints” in NaNo jargon) to catch up.  Stress is an automatic creativity killer. . . . .
5. You must set aside time to write. For me, that meant carrying my NetBook, named PINKY around with me everywhere I went. I work at midnight and after a certain time all work was done and it was really quiet. So I was able to fire PINKY up and type away. Of course my co-workers thought I was mad/crazy/insane because I had become the “Mad Bomber” of writing!
6. A word about programs. Now when I started out I used Open Office. It’s FREE and I’ve used it for years and thus thought it was reliable. Que: Wrong Answer Buzzer! Of course when you are working an a massive project like NaNoWriMo, you need a reliable program which has “word counting” abilities. I thought Open Office had that. However, to my chagrin, I found out from many fellow NaNo participants that Open Office has a glitch with causes it to count “Punctuation Marks” as words! So every , & * % ^ * @ # ( ) + . ? ! were counted as a word(s)! OMG! Another horrifying discovery that would’ve knocked me out of the race!
The Solution:
It was suggested (by fellow NaNo’s – they are a very helpful community, you know) that I transfer (cut and paste) all of my writing there on to Microsoft Word. I did that and promptly lost 2,000 words . . . . . .  Holy horse feathers, Batman!!! Fortunately this happened AFTER I had finished NaNo and entered my official total. For some reason I had continued writing and had exceeded my goal enough to cover this flub, but can you imagine if I had not? 
7. After NaNo, what’s next? NaNoWriMo has a contract with Create Space, which in turn has a contract with Amazon.com.  Create Space gave all NaNo winners a FREE opportunity to e-publish their NaNo books with them. But, you are responsible for your own editing, cover art, uploading in PDF format, etc.  
What am I doing?
As a winner I started a Create Space account, thus holding my spot till I get my scattered marbles together.  I’m currently cooling my jets while I edit. I’m also trying to get people to read some of my story: “The Night Riders” and give me some honest feedback on it. I’m in the process of getting some friends who are in law enforcement to critique it. I want to sound as authentic as possible.  In the meantime I plan to go forth and publish anyway, feedback or no feedback.  
Please feel free to take a look at the first 8 chapters of “The Night Riders” and comment. I have a page on here called Writer’s Fanfare” where links are posted to Part 1 and Part 2, or you can go there directly:http://thestoryhour.wordpress.com/

PS. Shaharazod is my pen name.
Thank you.

PS:  Yes, I would suffer the complete madness and do it all over again this year!  


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