Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
November is (somehow) just around the corner and for a lot of people in the writing community it’s that magical time of year: NaNoWriMo! In this episode, we talk about all aspects of this highly anticipated month. What is NaNoWriMo? How and when did it start? What do you have to do to participate and what should you have when you are finished? Rekka and Kaelyn take a deep dive into what to expect during NaNoWriMo, plus offer some important Thanksgiving-while-writing tips.
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and tell us if you are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo so we can cheer you on!
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
Kaelyn: 00:03 Hey everyone, welcome back. Another episode of the, we make books podcast to show about writing, publishing and everything in between. I'm Kaelyn Considine and I am the Acquisitions Editor for Parvus Press.
Rekka: 00:12 And I'm Rekka. I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.
Kaelyn: 00:21 And today is a learning episode for me. We're talking about NaNoWriMo today or national novel writing month. And this is a little embarrassing for me to admit, but I did not actually know a whole lot about this. I knew it was a thing that happened. I knew it was a massive community event. There's, you know, November my Twitter feed is just covered in hashtag NaNoWriMo and I knew what the, the goal was. I know what was kind of going on here, but outside of that, I really did not know too much about the ins and outs. So, um, Rekka has some expertise in this -
Rekka: 00:51 I am a municipal liaison for my NaNoWriMo region, um, which if you don't even know what that means, we'll go into a little bit in episode. And, uh, so yeah, I, I, you know, I pitched to Kaelyn like, Hey, last episode of October, people are going to be looking forward to NaNoWriMo, but there are also people who have no idea what it is and they're seeing everyone in a flurry talking about it right now.
Kaelyn: 01:17 And then I raised my hand and said, yes, I'm one of those people.
Rekka: 01:19 Yes, exactly. So yeah, we, um, we decided, we covered this, uh, this will be like an evergreen episode unless something major changes with the NaNoWriMo program. But, um, yeah, it happened.
Kaelyn: 01:31 You never know.
Rekka: 01:31 It could happen. So this will probably be our one NaNoWriMo episode, um, unless we decide to come back in maybe in, uh, December of another year and saying, okay, now what do you do with your NaNoWriMo project? We'll talk about that more in this episode, but yeah, this is a definition, uh, pros and cons. Uh, then what do you do kind of conversation. And, um, hopefully if you are excited about NaNoWriMo, you will just enjoy hearing somebody else talking about it. And if you don't even know what NaNoWriMo is, then I'm, hopefully you'll learn. And maybe, you know, by planning your own project.
Kaelyn: 02:06 So by the end of the episode, you'll know, so, um, everyone take a listen, uh, hope you as always, hopefully educational and informative.
Rekka: 02:12 Don't tell them it's educational, thy'll stop listening.
Kaelyn: 02:17 That's a good point. Yeah. No, no, nothing, nothing of value in terms of -
Rekka: 02:21 Fun and games, frivolity and skullduggery throughout the entire episode.
Kaelyn: 02:26 Exactly. So I'm take a listen. We, uh, hope you enjoy
Speaker 3: 02:39 [inaudible]
Kaelyn: 02:50 NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo. [inaudible] so we're talking about, yeah.
Rekka: 02:55 Do you want to start? Yeah, give us the whole background.
Kaelyn: 03:00 Oh, I no, because I'm, I, uh, don't know too much about this. I know kind of the, the basics of it. I know what the goal is. I know, you know, it's a big sort of writing community event. Um, but even just from some of the things you've been telling me now, I had no idea it was so extensively organized.
Rekka: 03:19 It's a whole thing.
Kaelyn: 03:19 Um, there's this whole underground going on and -
Rekka: 03:23 It's not that underground.
Kaelyn: 03:24 No, it's not. It's not. And it's funny because you know, obviously like this time of year, Twitter blows up with all of this stuff and like I, you know, very aware that it's happening. I've just never really looked into it that much. I just know that I get the product of it typically.
Rekka: 03:42 Okay, well we'll get to that. So NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and unlike national talk like a pirate day, this is not just like, Oh ha ha how cute for a lot of people this is like their big holiday season.
Kaelyn: 03:57 Yeah. This is, I didn't like, again, I knew this was a very serious thing that people took very seriously. I did not realize the organization and planning that goes into this.
Rekka: 04:08 Right. So to give it a little bit of background, it was begun by a few friends who lived in California and they decided that they would, um, just try writing a novel in a month. That was kind of the, the concept that kicked it all off. And so it started with 21 people in San Francisco Bay area in 1999. And then, um,
Kaelyn: 04:37 Oh, so this is the 20th anniversary of this.
Rekka: 04:40 Oh yeah, it is, isn't it?
Kaelyn: 04:41 How appropriate that this is Episode 20.
Rekka: 04:44 Oh.
Kaelyn: 04:44 We did that on purpose. Absolutely.
Rekka: 04:46 Okay. Did you feel that? I think I just felt like the universe tear a little. Um, so yeah. Yeah, I guess it's, it's the 20th anniversary of the very start of it. Um, it didn't go national until the following year when they put up a website for it. So in 2000 they um, they not only put up a website, but they moved it to November. So the first year was a July.
Kaelyn: 05:12 Okay.
Rekka: 05:13 So, um, they were in California. They don't even notice the difference between July and November.
Kaelyn: 05:17 Well, certainly not in, in San Francisco.
Rekka: 05:19 San Francisco. Yeah. So I'm a nice balmy, probably 72 degrees throughout the year and um, they didn't even notice, but they moved it to November because they figured for most people who are, at least in the Northern hemisphere, they will be looking for a way to avoid like gloomy, rainy, shorter days and stuff like that.
Kaelyn: 05:41 November's a brutal month, November and February.
Rekka: 05:42 The funny thing is they, they chose it on a month where typically people have at least a week of travel or holiday planning to deal with.
Kaelyn: 05:54 Yeah, I was wondering about that actually.
Rekka: 05:58 So I find that, well, one my family doesn't travel for Thanksgiving. Um, so I find that it's not really an interruption for me. If anything, there's usually a couple extra days off work during that week. And so I can take advantage of that. Um, people who have family come into town probably have a harder time of it because their life is disrupted, but for whatever reason, they felt that November the month of gloom amd Turkey would be Turkey for those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving in the U S they've felt it would be the, uh, the proper month to choose. So the second year they had 140 participants.
Kaelyn: 06:41 Okay.
Rekka: 06:42 So not bad growth from 21.
Kaelyn: 06:44 No it's pretty good.
Rekka: 06:45 But, um, yeah, by a few years ago they had about half a million people. So it's been growing. And then of course by word of mouth, as everyone gets excited and talks about it, they um, they draw more people in. I think it's probably the best organic marketing campaign that anyone could have. Um, ironically it's a 5013- C nonprofit organization, but they do help, um, kids in schools get interested in writing through their young writers program.
Kaelyn: 07:18 Yeah.
Rekka: 07:18 The NaNoWriMo itself is free to participate in, they collect donations, so if you donate to them through their website, your avatar on that site has a halo slung over one corner. So in theory, anyone with internet access can participate in the community. I've heard of plenty of people who do NaNoWriMo without ever logging onto the website as well.
Kaelyn: 07:41 Yeah. Because it's not, well, and we'll get into this a little bit, but it's something that can just be done entirely independently. You just declare, I am doing NaNoWriMo and then you do NaNoWriMo.
Rekka: 07:53 And then you sit down and you figure out how you're going to do it. You figure out how you're going to do your word count. I mean, I know people who handwrite in a notebook, their 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, which makes my wrist scream in agony at the thought. But for some people still have limber carpal tunnel ligaments then.
Kaelyn: 08:09 Well, yeah, because they're writing everything. They're not typing. Yeah. We haven't destroyed all of their -
Rekka: 08:16 Well, yeah. And mousing. You can participate through the website, you can choose not to. Um, but one of the advantages that I love about NaNoWriMo and why I think it's so successful is that, you know, so many people online who are participating. So people who are good friends of yours in person may show up and write with you in person at write-ins, uh, at libraries, cafes, you know, wherever people take over to sit and write for a while. And then, um, you know, you might have friends that you've never met but are also participating in NaNoWriMo online that you can, uh, do community challenges through the NaNoWriMo or through Twitter or Facebook, Slack groups, discord, you know, whatever. And then, um, you have people that you meet by doing NaNoWriMo. So it's community reinforcing, but also community building. And I think that's the power of NaNoWriMo is one, just the general excitement that you are not alone in attempting this feat.
Rekka: 09:20 And the support I think is probably incredibly important. The other half is that it's community building as well. So you meet people who have similar passions to you. You know, writing, you meet other people who write in your genre. You might even meet people who beta read your novel for you when, when your draft is done and help you refine it and move it toward completion. So it's a great resource to motivate yourself, but it also can be a great resource for finishing your manuscript once your draft is done. So NaNoWriMo started, as I said, with one month that moved to November. And then what about the rest of the year? Or for people in other hemispheres who, um, you know, their dreary month is, you know, July or April, you know, so there is also camp NaNoWriMo, which of course belies the fact that it's four people in another year by making it sound like a summer event.
Rekka: 10:18 But, um, essentially, you know, this is a very, um, Northern hemisphere Western hemisphere centric event and it probably always will be. Um, it's been better about recognizing that people are all over the world. They've got regions all over the world, but it's, it's definitely still got a us centric mindset. And um, so in April when you used to have script frenzy, you know, have the first Camp NaNoWriMo, so this is 30 days, um, in which you set your own goal. It's, it's a much more casual NaNoWriMo project. In theory, in November you were writing at least 50,000 words, but for camp NaNoWriMo, you can go as low as 10,000.
Kaelyn: 11:00 Okay.
Rekka: 11:00 So if you just wanted to write some poetry or short stories and you wanted to do it at a slower pace, you could say, I'm going to write a, you know, a 3,500 word short story every week for April.
Kaelyn: 11:15 That's still a pretty steep undertaking.
Rekka: 11:16 That's still a pretty decent undertaking, um, and that would land you with something. I'm doing the math in my head poorly, like 17,000 words or something like that. At the end of the month.
Kaelyn: 11:26 14.
Rekka: 11:26 Yeah. See I told you before that I went to art school and I'm a writer so that I can avoid these number things.
Kaelyn: 11:32 Yeah. Yeah.
Rekka: 11:33 Um, so you a can set your own goal. You go to the website, it's definitely not as active, like there's little cute stuff on the website throughout the month, but it's, the community is a lot quieter on social media where you might have experienced tons of sprints on Twitter and a word Wars, whatever you'd like to call them. Um, and then you know, your friends on Facebook are talking about how they're doing their, um, talking in your discord, chat room server, whatever the term is about the progress they're doing and you're all rooting for each other.
Rekka: 12:12 Camp NaNoWriMo in April for 30 days and in July for 31 days is a lot more low key. So you pretty much on your own, I've found you might have a friend or two that are doing it. And I've seen a lot of people release themselves from the deadline pretty early in the month.
Kaelyn: 12:30 It's not as organized and community driven from what I've seen as NaNoWriMo.
Rekka: 12:37 Yeah. I mean all the functions are there on the website so that you can track it. But, um, I'm very curious to see how this goes because their new website that they just rolled out allows you to track projects throughout the year so you can go in and set a goal. And they started to do this on the last version after, I think last year. But you can start tracking goals throughout the year and you can set them, you can add your word counts to them, you can set deadlines and it will show you, you know, how you're progressing towards your deadline throughout the calendar year.
Rekka: 13:09 So I wonder if camp NaNoWriMo is actually going to fade as a result of that or maybe be combined into one other, I mean, this is me just speculating.
Kaelyn: 13:17 Yeah.
Rekka: 13:18 I mean by keeping, you know, keep your eyes peeled because I think there will probably be some changes to the, the events throughout the year. But as of this moment, you have three NaNoWriMo events, two camps and one big national. You know, um, everyone has a project that they've been keeping in their back pocket for this. Some people start to plan and outline ahead of it so that they're ready to go. People are telling their friends and family, they do not exist in November, um, that they will, uh, you know, come downstairs for the Turkey dinner at 2:00 PM on, on Thanksgiving day and then they will go back to upstairs to the room.
Kaelyn: 13:55 I retreat to my cave or my attic.
Rekka: 13:57 And so, um, so yeah, so November really if you want to participate and feel the full blast of the furnace, that is the NaNoWriMo experience. Um, I definitely recommend participating in November and find a local writing group because, uh, showing up in person really does make a difference for your productivity. I used to not go to the events because like I said, I'd have to drive an hour or more to get to the event. The event was two or three hours, I think it was two. And then, um, I would drive an hour or more to get home and I was like, well, in those six hours I could be writing more words, except I wouldn't because life would get in the way. So, um, so it really does help to just go and it's also, there is nothing that compares with the feeling of writing in a room where everyone is writing and, um, there's just like this buzz of everybody focused on the same task, that really is incredible.
Rekka: 14:47 Um, I'm sure it's the, the theory behind the open working space, a bullpen environment.
Kaelyn: 14:55 Oh not that.
Rekka: 14:55 But let's, let's not, don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging that. But um, if everyone is silently writing, then yes, maybe that works. Um, one thing I will mention is that for people who have to write in nontraditional ways for health reasons or, or other productivity reasons, um, it's not going to be a friendly environment. If you are a dictation writer, you know, and it's not going to be a friendly environment. Um, if you need, you know, audio output from your computer as you work, um, or you know, that sort of thing. Um, hopefully all your writings, I know I always try to make them as accessible as possible. Um, I've stopped going to cafes where you had to go up a little staircase to a really cute little loft because it means that people who have, you know, um, crutches or wheelchairs can't attend and stuff. So, um, hopefully all the municipal liaisons around your area take the same efforts to make sure that everyone can come.
Kaelyn: 15:51 What typically is the goal at the end of NaNoWriMo when you have done all of this, what quote unquote should you walk away with?
Rekka: 16:00 Uh, so the thought is that you can write a book in a month. I mean, a novel in a month. That's national novel writing, not national, write a bunch month. It's national novel writing month. So the goal is to complete a novel in a month, start to finish. In theory, you would not have a draft that you've already begun. Um, and in theory you would write the end on November 30th.
Kaelyn: 16:27 Okay.
Rekka: 16:28 The metric they use is word count. So the goal of the month to quote unquote, when NaNoWriMo, um, you would have 50,000 words at the end of the month, the goal of 50,000 words is attainable, if you write 1,667 words per day.
Kaelyn: 16:50 Okay.
Rekka: 16:50 So that will get you to 50,000 in 30 days. So there is a pace that's set by that and there are bar charts and um, estimators that will tell you like at this pace you'll finish on kind of thing.
Kaelyn: 17:08 Yeah.
Rekka: 17:09 You can sort of see how you're doing, see if you're falling behind, all that kind of stuff. And the number that they came up with is based on literary, uh, great American literary novels, Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men, so on and so forth. Um, so if you've ever been handed one of those books in a classroom or picked it up in the library and read it for summer reading, because that's typically where all these novels exist in your life, is in some sort of educational format. Um, you know that these are not the same size as the trade paperbacks you pick up at the store.
Kaelyn: 17:44 Yes.
Rekka: 17:45 And I think that's an important thing to note is that if you follow the letter of the, you know, goal for NaNoWriMo, you are probably not going to end up with what most people would consider a full size book.
Kaelyn: 17:59 You are going to end up 10,000 words short of what my publishing company accepts for novels.
Rekka: 18:06 For genre fiction.
Kaelyn: 18:08 Yes. So yeah, so 50,000 words is 10,000 words shy of the 60,000 minimum. That a lot, not just Parvus of us but a lot of publishing -
Rekka: 18:16 That's pretty standard.
Rekka: 18:17 Um, yeah, it's about 200 pages provided that the story is done. When you have your 50,000 words, you are going to have to trunk it or expand it if you want to submit it.
Kaelyn: 18:31 With something like NaNoWriMo, um, one of the things I would imagine can be very stressful for people participating in it is, is a lot of pressure and it's, some people don't write well under a deadline, right?
Rekka: 18:47 Some people Excel at it. And I think those are the people who tend to love NaNoWriMo and love what it can do for their productivity.
Kaelyn: 18:54 Some people, I would imagine this would be an incredibly stressful.
Rekka: 18:58 Oh yeah.
Kaelyn: 18:58 Thing for them that is not necessarily going to produce the best possible version of what they want to write.
Rekka: 19:05 1,667 words a day takes discipline, but it also takes rearranging your schedule.
Kaelyn: 19:12 Yes.
Rekka: 19:12 For some people, um, it's not just, Oh, I will sit down and write those words with this copious amount of free time I have.
Kaelyn: 19:19 There's unseen hours that go into this, of thinking about what you're going to write. A lot of people don't just sit down and magically have these words pour out of them.
Rekka: 19:28 So if you don't have the time in your life to think about what you're going to write in your next writing session, chances are part of your writing session is going to be given over to switching from your, like Bruce Wayne mode into your Batman mode.
Kaelyn: 19:40 Mmmhmm.
Rekka: 19:41 And so that's not necessarily going to be something that you can maintain after November. So that's another criticism I've heard is like, people wear themselves out to get these 50,000 words and then that's it. And they write once a year for 30 days in extreme dash and then they don't write for the rest of the year, which is not a fantastic way to strengthen your skills as a writer. Like writing every day is not something that everyone can do 100%. It's exhausting and just like working out the rest of the process.
Kaelyn: 20:21 Your time, your schedule.
Rekka: 20:21 You need to take a break so you can come back fresh and um, and write, well if you write every day, every day, every day, and that's all your spare time, then you become a husk of human being in a way. And you know, you're writing probably suffers because you don't have any inspiration in your life. You just have output and you need time for input as well.
Kaelyn: 20:41 Right.
Rekka: 20:43 So writing under extreme deadline means that you don't have time to take that rest between, um, you know, writing sessions if you need to. Uh, it does mean that you have an expectation of finishing something and maybe that kind of drains the joy out of just being present in the moment of the words you're writing. Now, if you are focused on your word count and say you start off great, like day one, day two, maybe you hit your quotas, no problem. Maybe you're ahead of them. And then day three, you know, you have dinner with family so you're not even home when you would normally be writing. And then day four you're like, okay, well I've just got to make up double quota and I, it wasn't so bad this first two days, so I'll just make up.
Rekka: 21:28 And then day four, something else happens. And then day five, maybe it's a Monday and you're back at work and you were hoping that you might, might be able to hit your regular quota only now you've got like a couple of days on top of that so you can start to really pile up and add to the anxiety of things. Honestly, the best time I ever had writing for NaNoWriMo was, um, when I was 100% ahead of my quota every day. And it's just not a situation that happens for 100% of the people and there's no way to control it, really. The reason that I was ahead, that particular NaNoWriMo was because I was the, became that year the municipal liaison for my NaNoWriMo region because now that it's so big, they break it up into regions and then they have local people who lead in person write-ins wrangle the people in that area, encourage them, send out messages to them to, you know, inspire them, remind them of events and all this.
Rekka: 22:27 So when I was municipal liaison for the first year, it was also the first year that I attended every single writing and I was encouraging people online and I really thought that your was going to actually make it harder for me to hit my goals because I thought that I'm writing the newsletters to the people and I'm driving to the write ins was going to take away from the time I would otherwise be writing. But instead what it did was like, give me a motivated, like, like super powered focus. And so when I got there, I was leading writing sprints, which are timed sessions, kind of like Pomodoro method except you know, it can be a little bit of friendly competition. You just write, you know, fingers ablaze or whatever keyboard, whatever your method of writing is. Um, you just do that for whatever the time are set for you.
Rekka: 23:24 Usually 20 to 30 minutes seems to be pretty comfortable for people. And then like, you know, when you get to the end of your right and sometimes you have like spare change minutes, so you'd do like five minutes or 15 minutes or whatever you can fit in. And then at the end everybody calls out, you know, how many words they wrote. And um, you know, that Pomodoro technique for some people works really, really well. And then you also get built in breaks to like stretch your fingers, get up as opposed to staring at the keyboard and saying, I'm writing for three hours, which is a lot.
Kaelyn: 23:55 It is, well doing anything for three hours, is uh.
Rekka: 23:58 Yeah, it's tough. I mean there's a reason that, you know, school classes in high school were like, what, 40 minutes for a class because that was about all you, the teacher was going to get out of you before you needed to get up and walk around to your next class, go to lockers.
Kaelyn: 24:11 Actually in high school we had block scheduling. So our classes were an hour and 40 minutes each and it was brutal. So yeah, I mean even doing something for like two hours nonstop without a break that can, that's very mentally fatiguing.
Rekka: 24:27 Yes, yes. So that's the, the idea is that the um, you know, the write-ins give you not just the community but also like some structure and it really worked for me and I live in a very strange, narrow is North, South, you know, column of a region where it's, you can't just drive directly across one corner to the other because of Connecticut roads. You know, you have to take a highway in the wrong direction for a while and, and make the next one and, and, and make a 90 degree turn. And I really thought that all this commuting was going to cut into my writing time. But what I found was that having set scheduled writing time was really, really helpful and kept me motivated. And then when I did have 10 or 20 minutes throughout the rest of the day, even if I wasn't at a write in, I was already in the mode of writing for this because I was thinking about it daily as opposed to just on the weekends.
Rekka: 25:20 So that's another warning is don't save all your quota and just do it on the weekends because that's a lot of words to make up for. That's a lot of pressure and it's a lot of pressure. And then if your weekend goes a little bit awry, like mine always do, you know-
Kaelyn: 25:31 The candle thing goes wonky, that'll do ya.
Rekka: 25:33 You end up out running errands for three hours in the middle of the day when you were supposed to be writing. So, um, that's tough. But for some people it's um, also tough to just get that time away from their family.
Kaelyn: 25:47 How polished is what you're writing during this going to be, because my, I'm kind of looking at this thinking like, alright, you've written 50,000 words. These are probably not the best 50,000 words you're ever going to write. They're going to probably need some revisions, some work, some addition.
Rekka: 26:05 That's kind of where I think a lot of folks split on their opinion of NaNoWriMo. Some folks love NaNoWriMo because it helps them get the words on the page. Some folks hate, loath, detestsNaNoWriMo because of the words that end up on the page and the quality thereof.
Kaelyn: 26:30 Well, yeah, and that probably has a lot to do with just how you work. Is it a matter of, it doesn't have to be pretty, I just need to get it done
Rekka: 26:38 Right.
Kaelyn: 26:38 Because this is how I'm going to make myself get it done.
New Speaker: 26:41 Yes. So when NaNoWriMo on the word count, because the idea is to prove to you that you can write that many words if you sit down everyday and do it, um, or if you budget out how you're going to do it through the month. Um, if you hit 1,667 words per day and you get to the 50,000, at the end of the month, the quality is entirely dependent on you. It's probably safe to say that the average NaNoWriMo 50,000 word draft is uh, one probably not done. You know, that person probably didn't get to the end of the story. Um, some of this is pacing yourself in terms of like how much to write proceed and how much to write per chapter. A lot of people do a discovery writing, so they just kind of sit down and they might have a character in mind or general plot arc, but they don't have a, a, an outline or a writing plan.
Kaelyn: 27:42 So in this case then what their goal is is I have a character, I have an idea of a story. Let me see where this goes. I'm going to sit down and write about 1700 words a day and see how this.
Rekka: 27:56 See how this ends up, right. Maybe freewriting is a, is a good term. I mean, most creative drafting is probably free writing once you get into it. It's just a matter of like, do you have a goal in mind to like, am I writing a scene where the character has to get to the bus stop? Because if they don't make this bus, they're not going to see their mother before she passes. Sorry everyone, that was pretty downer, but you know those kinds of tense moments or is this like my character works at a coffee shop and so I'm going to describe her day and you know, and all of those things are valid for your first draft. I suspect that the reason that those people who do not care for NaNoWriMo, I don't even know what to suspect. I can confirm that the reason that people don't like NaNoWriMo when they feel that way and when they feel strongly about it is because in December there are half a million people who have some form of a first draft of something that they now want to share.
Kaelyn: 29:02 Yep.
Rekka: 29:03 Some of these people choose to go ahead and self publish it right there. Okay, I do not recommend this.
Kaelyn: 29:09 No. I would say go back and listen to all of our submissions, September episodes where we talk about is this ready to show to other people?
Rekka: 29:18 Not only do people sometimes self-publish these books
Kaelyn: 29:22 So wait, real quick, people actually sit down, write the 50,000 words through this, then take that in its exact form.
Rekka: 29:31 Yup.
Kaelyn: 29:32 And self-publish it.
Rekka: 29:35 Yup. I think people are starting to get a little bit better about that now. Um, but it was definitely, and a NaNoWriMo has some sponsors and some of them are the companies through which you can self publish. I think create space before Amazon eight create space. Um, used to have a link on the winner's page, like com upload your draft, which is fine if you want to see it and hold it and read it and go over it again. But please don't list it for sale at this point.
Kaelyn: 30:03 Well, who, um who is participating in NaNoWriMo? Because I kind of always understood it to be people very active in writing communities and um, I would think people who are very active in writing communities would know that this first thing that you've done is not ready to be seen by anyone.
Rekka: 30:26 Right. So that is part of it. Um, yeah, we have, we have writers who are writers the rest of the year who participate in NaNoWriMo just because they know all their friends are working on it and you hear a lot, even through the rest of the year, like, Oh, I'm saving that for November, you know, like that's a, that's a novel I want to start in November, so I want to finish this other stuff first.
Kaelyn: 30:49 Yeah.
Rekka: 30:50 So that definitely is true. There are definitely people who are professionally or amateur and I don't mean amateur in the sense of not very good, but I mean amateur in the sense of does it for the love of it.
Kaelyn: 31:01 Yeah. The actual literal definition of amateur.
Rekka: 31:05 There are people who know what it is to write a book and they know what a book looks like when it's ready to be seen by other people. And they know about the process of editing and revising. There are also people who hear about NaNoWriMo on Facebook or whatever and they think, Oh, that's cute. I've always wanted to write a book. And it's, I think, and I do not mean to disparage any group of people,
Kaelyn: 31:28 No, of course not.
Rekka: 31:28 But I think it's that group of the, I've always wanted to write a book, people, um -
Kaelyn: 31:34 Who are kind of coming into this without exposure to, well, pretty much anything that this podcast is about. The writing and publishing. Yeah.
Rekka: 31:42 Right. So they may be enthusiastic readers, um, of any genre. Um, people participate in NaNoWriMo for any genre as well. Um, some people write poetry, some people write blog posts for their website and just use the word count, you know, to measure how they're doing. Um, if you wanna call that a work of, you know, collected articles, you can, you know, NaNoWriMo has gotten a little bit fuzzy. And I don't mean this in a negative way, but they have, they really started originally where you're writing a novel and it's fiction and it may or may not have, You know, speculative elements or fantasy, but generally it is a plot that you come up with, with characters that you come up with. Now there are people who write biographies and, and whatever. And the, the genres that you could choose from the dropdown menu on their website when you're setting up your project to track, um, has gotten a lot longer than it needs to be.
Rekka: 32:47 It used to be like five or six things. Um, now, you know, screenplay is one of them where, you know, that's a very different kind of writing experience from writing a novel. And also it used to be separated out into its own event called script frenzy, which they no longer have. They've just absorbed scripts and other comic books and, and that sort of thing into their main events. Um, and they hold three a year.
Kaelyn: 33:12 Okay.
Rekka: 33:13 Um, so not only are there people who are self publishing these books, um, just releasing them into the wild and sticking -
Kaelyn: 33:21 Go books! Be free!
Rekka: 33:23 But no, not free. People are charging for their NaNoWriMo draft one. So I think that contributes to the very negative opinions some people have of the um, the community event because they see a plethora of unedited, unrevised unproofed un-beta, you know,
Kaelyn: 33:46 Checked, anything.
Rekka: 33:46 Um, just, it doesn't necessarily even have a illustration on the cover. It might just have the title, the title. Um, if you've ever seen like the, um, covers where there's like a couple of blocks of, of colors and then the, uh, um, the, the title across it in times new Roman or whatever. Um, so there are, there are usually a flood of those and people who work very hard to try and lift the, the, uh, reputation of self-publishing by putting in the effort are often very frustrated by this wave public -
Kaelyn: 34:26 Well that's understandable, you know you never want to see, you know especially something that's a community that's trying to establish and build its reputation more. And then you get this, a flurry of people coming in and going, See I did the same thing you did and you're going, no, you didn't.
Rekka: 34:39 Yeah. And I think maybe that's one of the criticisms or the lead, the root of the criticism is somebody who participates in NaNoWriMo throws mud against a wall in terms of the words that they put on the page. They hit the quota and then they say, I've written a book too.
Kaelyn: 34:57 Yeah.
Rekka: 34:57 When you know that's the tip of the iceberg. That's the, that's the outside impression of what it takes to write a book. It's the revisions and the editing and you know, going through the process of producing the book that is the unseen 90% of the iceberg. And you know -
Kaelyn: 35:18 You know, because it's, you know, and as you said, not to disparage anyone in what they're doing, but someone who does NaNoWriMo writes the 50,000 words and says, okay, I'm done, is not doing the same thing as someone who says, okay, I've done NaNoWriMo. I've written a 50,000 words. I'm just getting started.
Rekka: 35:34 Yeah. And so check that off. That's step one.
Kaelyn: 35:38 Yeah.
Rekka: 35:39 I've got almost a full manuscript that I will then reread on my own, try to improve as best I can, involve some beta readers at the very least a really clean it up and maybe query to an agent, start the, the entire process that is years in the making, not 30 days. So, um, you know, to that point, I think NaNoWriMo caught on a national novel writing month. The organization caught on that this was a negative aspect in a lot of people's minds about the event. So almost immediately after you finished NaNoWriMo, you are invited to participate in what they call the Now What Months.
Kaelyn: 36:24 Great.
Rekka: 36:24 And no, but it's a good thing.
Kaelyn: 36:26 It's a very good thing.
Rekka: 36:27 And there are plenty of editors and writers out there who have courses and guides for editing what you've written in your NaNoWriMo month and they're out there. They're free on people's blogs. Some people have, um, paid content and webinars and all this kind of stuff. Like people realize that there's a need for, for guidance of a new writer and what to do with these words that they've written. How to know if they're good, how to know if they can be salvaged or if they need to be tossed and just, you know, considered acute experiment or something like that. Um, so the now what months are they begin advertising them in December, but they don't really kick off until the new year, which is a good thing because it gives people to take the space to rest from the, um, madcap dash that they just participated in.
Kaelyn: 37:20 Well and also, December in a chaotic month for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.
Rekka: 37:24 And your family is already mad at you for skipping out on Thanksgiving.
Kaelyn: 37:26 You already went and sat and wrote in the middle of Thanksgiving.
Rekka: 37:29 So, or you know, ignored your, your aunt and uncle who you only see this time of year to write this thing. So December, December is your month off, which is a good thing, I think in the process of writing a book. It's good to step away from it after you've finished the draft so you can come back to it with fresh eyes and then begin the process of editing and revising it. But that's not NaNoWriMo itself. It's just what you should do with your book when you're done with NaNoWriMo, whether you realize it or not. So if you create this drivel of a draft and it's 50,000 words that you should probably set on fire, why, why do people do NaNoWriMo is the question that usually comes up next like, okay, so you don't want to publish what you did. Why do it?
Kaelyn: 38:15 Well, I mean I would just, you know, from my having never participated in this side of things, think of that it is getting you to sit down and just do the thing.
Rekka: 38:28 And I think that's the intent is just to prove to people that you can write a thing.
Kaelyn: 38:32 It's to prove to yourself even.
Rekka: 38:33 Yes. I'm sorry. Like for people use to prove to themselves that they can write a thing.
Kaelyn: 38:38 Um, there is, you know, we, we talked about earlier, there is this mentality of like if everyone is doing it, it's a motivating factor. It helps you kind of stay on track, stay involved, feel like you're not drifting alone out there doing this. And it's um, it's a big community building event as well.
Rekka: 39:04 Yeah. As we listed like you can meet people, you can hang out with people you don't normally get to see, at least not this much and you can um, just participate in this. Um, you know that same thing I was talking about earlier with everyone focusing in one room, everyone focusing on the internet is also pretty thrilling.
Kaelyn: 39:22 But you even, I think you kind of hit the nail on the head earlier. You called it like if this is like a holiday, people plan for this, they say like, I have a project that I'm saving for November and I think having a specific time where I'm going to do this at this time, one gives you a deadline to prepare for.
Rekka: 39:42 Right.
Kaelyn: 39:42 And I don't mean the deadline at the end of the month, I mean the deadline or the beginning of the month where it's like, okay, I kind of need to have this stuff figured out before I dive into this. I need to have plans setups so that I can dive into this. I need to have a schedule in place. And I think even just having that motivating factor is very important for getting started.
Rekka: 40:06 You know, I talk about being a municipal liason on and having write-ins throughout the month, but we start earlier than that. Um, we have a, it, it hasn't even happened yet. So, um, you know, if you're listening to this on the 22nd, you're going, Oh, I've never heard of this, or I have heard of this, but I've never dared to enter. But I think this year's, I really wish I could, but it's October 22nd. It's too late. I've got to wait until next year.
Kaelyn: 40:28 It's not too late.
Rekka: 40:29 It's absolutely not too late. Um, if you don't mind a bit of discovery writing in your drafting process, you can just start on November 1st with, uh, you know, what if question and let everything unfold from there. Um, if you like an outline, it's still not too late as long as you can set aside like a day or two and maybe not even consecutively. Um, that's just my recommendation to write an outline, a quick outline. It doesn't have to be a fully fledged, you know, Rekka-style outline, which is what 500 words.
Kaelyn: 41:05 Those are notorious.
Rekka: 41:06 Um, so the, um, you know, you, if you can set aside a day to come up with your story plot and then set aside a day, a few days later to revisit it and see how it sounds, if you have any more ideas cause you've been thinking about it for a couple of days. So, um, what we do in my writing, uh, community, my local writing community is, uh, this one hour plot workshop and we're holding it on the 27th. So, you know, the 22nd is not too late to start this.
Kaelyn: 41:35 No, definitely not.
Rekka: 41:38 Yeah. There's, there's really no time that it's too late to start writing. Even if you come in halfway through a NaNoWriMo event, um, you may not hit the word count without, you know, breaking your brain over it. But, um, you know, creating this habit or participating is never a bad idea. No. But yeah, so we create this, um, or we have this one hour, a plot workshop, which is actually like two or three hours for the setup and chatting about it and answering questions and doing things, following, you know, a person who's leading you through this. But it is based on a book called The Busy Writer's one hour plot that's by Marge McAllister, which is an ebook that you can still find on Amazon. Um, and you know, you just go through and you, you start with the character, you start with one or however many you have and it just basically asks you like, okay, what do they want, what are their obstacles?
Rekka: 42:31 Um, and what are three obstacles that they have to go through throughout the plot, you know, assuming a four X structure. And, um, and then at the end of going through that little plot program, you've got a loose, but you've structured, yeah, you've got a structure of a story that you can start writing. So, you know, at 25,000 words through your 50,000, you should be at that second obstacle. You know, things that you can sort of use to pace yourself at the very least and discovery, right, all the rest. Um, they welcome plot plotters as well as pantsers NaNoWriMo. Um, and there's even a book by, um, one of the founders of national novel writing month called no plot, no problem. So you can, you can definitely get started with just the barest idea of the story and um, and succeed from there. And you know, assuming that success is a 50,000 word draft and again, that you will take and develop further.
Kaelyn: 43:30 So on my end, um, Parvus typically opens for submissions in the beginning of the year and -
Rekka: 43:39 Which may be a mistake.
Kaelyn: 43:41 Well, you know, the thing is that we, we usually open for submissions twice a year and we always get a lot more in the beginning of the year because everyone has just finished NaNoWriMo and not every one takes off December. Some people go straight into revising and editing.
Rekka: 43:59 Um, and we love those people who revise and edit rather than just wait until January to dump it on your doors.
Kaelyn: 44:03 Yes, yes. But, so we talked about this. Now what, here's the thing, your 50,000 word, NaNoWriMo writing project, that's not a book that's not ready to get submitted or sent in as we talked about, you know, that's 10,000 words shy of what a lot of places want for a minimum.
Rekka: 44:25 A minimum, yeah.
Kaelyn: 44:26 Right off the bat. So is this ready to show to anyone? Here's the thing, probably not. Um -
Rekka: 44:33 Be very proud of it.
Kaelyn: 44:34 Yeah!
Rekka: 44:34 Like, don't, don't think that you should be ashamed of what you've just accomplished and -
Kaelyn: 44:38 You absolutely should be proud of it. This is a, this is a feat. You have accomplished a feat.
Rekka: 44:44 And you've proven to yourself that you can do this. Hopefully you haven't overtaxed yourself to the point where you feel like you need to collapse until next November to write again. Um, because you know, and that's just one of the criticisms that you get and they get some pretty nasty heated conversations about how if you only write once a year, you're not a writer. Um, those are judgments that we're not passing here, but we do suggest that your writing, um, skill will improve if you do it throughout the year as opposed to waiting once per year. So be proud that you have started.
Kaelyn: 45:17 Absolutely be proud of what you've done.
Rekka: 45:17 If this is your first, you've done projects, you have started, you know, hopefully you love it, hopefully you discovered your passion. If not, that's also an important thing to learn. If you found who are writing a draft kind of sucks. And I don't like doing this and like, you know what, and just you can just keep being a reader and feel no shame about it. You've discovered something about yourself and your, you know, where it's worth investing your time. So, um, you know, that's also a good thing. You can learn a lot about yourself in NaNoWriMo. You can also create a draft that maybe has a spark of something that you feel could develop into a full manuscript that you can send out on query or submission, but you don't do it right away. So, uh, yeah, 50,000 words too short to submit, at least to genre fiction.
Kaelyn: 46:03 Most places aren't even -
Rekka: 46:04 And almost definitely a need of some revising and attention. So, you know, you probably needed 1,667 words one day. And so you wrote about some coffee shop scene that doesn't even develop character.
Kaelyn: 46:17 Rekka, do you need coffee?
Rekka: 46:19 I always need coffee.
Kaelyn: 46:20 It's a lot of, there's a lot of coffee shops, scenes here. I feel like you're trying to tell me something. It's fine.
Rekka: 46:27 I'm trying to tell you that I always need coffee.
Kaelyn: 46:29 It's fine. We'll get you coffee.
Rekka: 46:30 For the record, I always want more coffee.
Kaelyn: 46:33 So, um, well on that note, maybe we should go get you some more coffee.
Rekka: 46:38 Okay, fair. But yeah, just to wrap it up, you know, like what is national novel writing month. It is a fully worthwhile community event that takes place online and in local writing groups. And there's probably a, you know, a region near you that you can, you know, go lump yourself onto and participate this year if you haven't before. If you don't have a region near you, you are absolutely invited to my region as like an expat or something or something like that.
Kaelyn: 47:05 [laughs] An expat?
Rekka: 47:05 Um, you can come find the region, you know, USA, Connecticut, Fairfield County. Okay. And you are totally welcome to come join and right remotely in my, you know, NaNoWriMo.
Kaelyn: 47:17 I mean Rekka is doing it this year.
Rekka: 47:19 So you know, if you're like, if you're unsure anm hey if it's your first time and you're inspired by this episode, let us know. We'd, we'd love to hear that.
Kaelyn: 47:26 Especially if you end up joining a Rekka's writing community.
Rekka: 47:29 Yeah. If I have an influx of people, yeah I will, that would love to know which ones are people who came in from the, from the podcast. You can tweet at us too, all through November. Let us know how you're doing if you were listening to this and inspired this.
Kaelyn: 47:43 I think uh, Rekka will certainly be tweeting about this and how she's she's doing.
Rekka: 47:47 Oh, so I should just touch on this real quick. Um, there is a category of NaNoWriMo participant called the nano rebel.
Kaelyn: 47:52 Oh boy.
Rekka: 47:53 And that's kind of what I technically am because this year I am trying to work on a manuscript that I already started earlier this year.
Kaelyn: 48:02 [gasps]
Rekka: 48:03 So I have 30,000 words of a novel, but I am going to write 50,000 more okay. Through the month. Um, heck if I can finish my draft in the month. So here's, here's my, my personal experience that month that I told you that was my first as a municipal liaison and I had no trouble staying ahead of my quota. And I, I didn't even say this, but I finished early. I finished six days early with 85,000 words of a.
Kaelyn: 48:32 For those of you listening who haven't figured this out already Rekka's, not a person in the strictest sense of the word. We're pretty sure -
Rekka: 48:42 I might just be a floating ball of plasma.
Kaelyn: 48:45 We're pretty sure she's not carbon based.
Rekka: 48:47 So, um, yeah, so I finished that draft 25 days, you know, 85,000 words, Chi-ching, aren't I awesome. I also rewrote that entire thing like four times and that became Salvage.
Kaelyn: 48:59 Yup.
Rekka: 48:59 So, um, so your over achievement in NaNoWriMo does not instantly, you know, spell success for your story. You, you, even if you are a writer all year round, and if even if you're a writer all year round, you probably will end up revising this thing a heck of a lot before you want to show it to anybody. So, yes, um Salvage was my 2016 NaNoWriMo project. It was 85,000 words after 25 days. And then it was revised several whopping times that probably took years off my life and came in at 163,000 words when it was done. So neither of those were 50,000 and a as complete stories. And I'd started with outlines and I, um, you know, saved this project for that month kind of thing. Great. Well I think that's really fantastic thing to do. So it's all about the community. Honestly. That's my exact part of NaNoWriMo and my use of it has changed since 2016 I write year round now trying to create new drafts of things.
Rekka: 50:10 And very frequently I find that my scheduling just doesn't let me set aside like one specific month as determined by other people. Um, but I'm still the municipal liaison. I still love it. I still love going and working on whatever I'm working on with people doing, you know, 12 write-ins a month instead of the usual two that my, my community does. So it's so much fun. If you don't hinge your future writing career success upon your ability to write a Submittable draft in one month, then it's just hanging out with a bunch of people who love writing just as much as you do. And I definitely recommend it. Yeah. So, um, you know, I, I've learned a lot this episode. Um, hopefully you did too. And if you're, you know, if you're going to take part of, let us know, we'd be very interested to uh, to follow and cheer you on.
Kaelyn: 50:57 Yeah. Cheer you on and see what, see what you come up with.
Rekka: 51:00 And fold you into my community.
Kaelyn: 51:02 Yes.
Rekka: 51:02 Yeah. So this has been another episode of We Make Books, a show about writing, publishing and everything in between. You can find us on Twitter at WMB cast. We are also on Instagram at WMB cast. You can find our old email@example.com and if you have a buck or two to chip in to help us manage this podcast and uh thank us for our time. If you, especially if you find this, uh, as a very valuable resource, please come to patreon.com/WMB cast. And if you do not have financial support that you can grant us, you can still help us out a lot by sharing episodes that you enjoy with a friend who would also enjoy them. And, um, the easiest thing is just retweet our episodes when you see them pop up on Twitter.
Kaelyn: 51:46 And, uh, also leave us a rating and review.
Rekka: 51:48 Oh yes, yes. Probably the most important part.
Kaelyn: 51:51 That's the most important.
Rekka: 51:52 Which it always feels like the biggest ask of people. Like, could you please go say a nice thing.
Kaelyn: 51:57 It doesn't have to be long.
Rekka: 51:58 Just say what you like, you know, say like Kaelyn's voice.
Kaelyn: 52:02 God, I hate my voice.
Rekka: 52:03 Say you also like coffee. Say you're going to join a NaNoWriMo with us this year. So yeah. Um, ratings and reviews on iTunes. Help Apple. Find other listeners for our podcast, which is what we want. We want to talk to everybody.
Kaelyn: 52:14 Everyone.
Rekka: 52:15 Because we're extroverts somehow.
Kaelyn: 52:17 Eh.
Rekka: 52:18 All right, everybody, we'll talk to you in two weeks.