Live, Love, Create!

Ep 11 NaNoWriMo Interview With Julie Artz

October 21, 2021 Stephanie Bourbon Episode 11
Live, Love, Create!
Ep 11 NaNoWriMo Interview With Julie Artz
Show Notes Transcript

This week, I'm talking with fellow book coach and author, Julie Artz. We are discussing NaNoWriMo to sign up
How we approach it and how we have slightly different styles that will help you win.

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Hey, this is Stephanie Bourbon. Welcome back to my podcast this week I am talking about NaNoWriMo with Julie arns. And I'm super excited that she is here we are both going to talk about our processes for prepping and writing NaNoWriMo and being successful with your novel. I'm Stephanie Bourbon. And this is the live love creative podcast for female writers with a focus on fiction, screenwriting and television writing come back every week for new episodes. Hi, this is Stephanie Bourbon, and I am back today speaking with writer and fellow book coach Julie arts, I will let her introduce herself. Hey, thanks for having me here. It's exciting to talk nano with other people who love it as much as I do. So I'm really happy to be here. Just on the verge of of November, you know, it's coming up fast. And I have just been a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. Since I first found out about it in 2012. I'm coming up on 10 years of doing nano, and I've had some that I've won and some that I haven't won. And I think I have a lot of tips and tricks to talk about that I use in my own writing. But also in my book coaching business. I love that I am similar to I found out about NaNoWriMo 2006. And I've done it every year since because I am a huge fan of that. I it's the way that I write and also the way that I coach. I just passed my million words. Recently, I think it was last. I don't know I was looking to see how many was on this profile cuz I suppose profiles and I said I was over a million words. I was like, Oh my God. And so congratulations. It's It's amazing, right? And I can't believe it's been over, you know, 10 years or whatever, that you've been doing it. And for me, I guess I'm like 15. Now, I where does the time go? So I would love to hear about your process. So I'm just gonna tell everybody who's watching or listening. Julian I kind of have different approaches. Now Remo, I am a full blown pantser. I do plot a little bit more now than I used to, but not for NaNoWriMo. I do for other things. And I do it for revisions, I find that plotting is invaluable for revising a novel. But for NaNoWriMo I usually only know a couple of things. Couple of things I'll get to after Julie tells us how she does hers. Yeah, well, I'm basically you when I first did that one in 2012, I finally got my kids off to school. And I was like, this is it. The little ones are in school, I finally have some time to myself, I am going to write a book, I had just moved in quit my job. And I have been wanting to write a book and had written one in my 20s. But really, really wanted to jump back in with both feet. So I sat down to write a book and I had this idea that I hadn't really spent much time thinking about I came up with it probably like October 31 or something like that. And I wrote 25,000 words, and I just the story. It wasn't it didn't have enough meat behind it to just stand up to the whole book. So I ran out of gas about halfway through and really just was like, there's nothing else for me to tell about the story. I've already worked it all out. It's not a novel. It's not even a short story. And it's definitely not good. At one point, my main character was, you know, cross country skiing across the Arctic, looking for the Northern Lights. And I was like there's no more story that does. So I did not win my first year. So then my when 2013 came around, I came up with an idea in July. And I was like what can I do within the bounds of nano where you're not supposed to actually start writing until November 1, but that will help me prepare. And what I ended up coming up with was a five beat outline that I actually still use today as a first step in my own planning process, and I use it with my clients. So it's really based on I write primarily middle grade and YA fantasy, although I do write some adult fantasy as well and literary, but I basically took the fairy tale model to make that five feet outline and the cool thing about the five feet outline is then you can just divide your 50,000 words up into five. Yeah, right, like five short story length pieces of, of story and to me chunking out the information in that way was really, really helpful. So I sat down in 2013 I had my five beat outline that was really like once upon a time and then this happened and then this happened. Until the climax, and then they all lived happily ever after. That was like the basis of the of the five beats. And it and it worked. I won in 2013. And now I usually do either November nano or one of the camp Nanos. In April, July, almost every year and I love it. Yeah, that's amazing. I actually, I'm sorry, my dog is doing something. Okay. Um, so I pants, but I do always know three things, who the story is about what happens in the story like what it's about, like, you know, Harry Potter, it's about a boy finds out he's a wizard. That's what the story is about. And then I know the ending. And when I start with those three things in mind, then it gives me a roadmap, knowing how a story ends, helps me so much. Last year, I was completely unprepared. I did it the way that I did the first nano. And the book was terrible. And I did find around the 15th of the month, I was like, I have no idea what's happening. This is so boring, but I pushed through because that's just who I am. And it just, it's not good. It's convoluted I because I write contemporary romance and romantic comedies, I tend to have like my seven beat outline, because that's sort of the constraints of the genre. And I find so I do it very similar to you, I guess, even it's funny because you're a plotter, and I'm a Panther. But I do sort of know those seven beats now going in. But I'm happy to just start with who and what's the story about, but they're always in my head I've been writing for years. My first novel was published in 2003. And I was also an actress when I was a little kid. So story and story beats and character, they just, it's like, ingrained in who I am, which is a gift. In a way. When I did my first nano, I only knew a title. And I just I had no idea what it was about. And I sat down and just started writing. And I think that I got lucky. But I also wasn't working at the time and I met a writing friend who I met on Myspace who we met at Starbucks every day and we talked about the stories and we talked about where they were going and we sort of hash things out by discussing it so I think if you have no plan at all, you should at least have somebody like that that you can bounce ideas off of. But everybody definitely approaches it in a different way and I do find for me if I have too much outline because I did want to do prep tober and I had a full blown outline and then my character went a different way and then I was like well my outline says I should do this and then I started overthinking things which slowed me down but again everybody's process is different. So with your five step thing do you do that during like prep tober and write down so you know your beginning and you know your beats? Or do you just have an idea? Yeah, absolutely i i did that in 2013 I definitely had the five the five feet outline written I will say that in recent years I've definitely added some of the character work from Lisa Kron story genius because a big big fan understanding the character motivation that's actually what went wrong with that 2012 manuscript the first time that I tried to write nano was that I didn't have a good character motivation I had an okay setup, attention filled setup but I just didn't have two characters. It was a it was a while on anti romance because that's sort of how I was feeling at the time but yeah, but I just the to the to the love interests, just didn't have any sort of motivation, they had a plenty of conflict. But there was nothing that they really wanted that was driving the story forward. So I think that has been a really really good addition to me to spend some time working on the characters and what they want not just the main character, but the antagonists the the love interest if there is one, the sidekick all of those characters and really thinking about what's motivating them, and what's going to bring them into conflict. Because those are the scenes that you can just know that you're when you're stuck, you sit down, I don't know what I'm going to write, go to one of those conflict scenes and bang it out. You'll get your workout in for the day, right? Yes. Those scenes are always the easiest ones to write. So the more like low hanging fruit of those good conflict scenes that you have to write. I think the easier it is to make it make it through nano. Yeah, I agree. And so that's when I say knowing the character it's not just like know her name and what she does, like, you know, Samantha, who works at a bakery, it's like, I know the characters before I start, like I know who they are. I know their wants, needs and desire and I know their misbeliefs that also goes back to Lisa Kron like because she is amazing. I talked about her all the time and everything that I do, both wired for story and story genius. Just like Julie mentioned, wired for story it's, or no story genius. It's so important to know who your characters are. And I actually will do not like what's in the top shelf of my character's closet because I know that's an exercise that a lot of people do. I don't Don't do that. But I really dig deep to like, how does she feel about the world? I am writing female leads now. So that's why I'm using shave, but like, how does she feel about the world? What does she want? And what's standing in her way? Usually it's herself because of the type of books I'm writing. Sometimes there is, you know, she lost her job, or like the book I wrote last year, which I will probably fix at some point, she had to move across country to another state, the type of book that I wrote. And then when I write do a point of view for contemporary romance, I do the same thing for the male characters. Because I find if you don't have that one need desire and misbelief and character flaw, then it's flat, because then each scene goes through. And there's no, there's no way for them to show who they are. Because you don't know what they want in the scene. It's just like, wouldn't it be cool for Wouldn't it be funny for Wouldn't it be romantic? And that doesn't work? Steve Kaplan has a workshop where he talks about the power of premise. And I think when you know, your premise, which is knowing what your story is about, this stuff starts to fall into place automatically, at least it does for me, which is why I tell people, they have to know what story they're telling somebody. But also I don't write fantasy. And in general, I don't coach a lot of fantasy or sci fi, I believe that those are a bit harder advice I can give for those typewriters. And I'm going to ask Julie, what she thinks too, would be to, to know a little bit more before you go into it. You'd have to know your world and sort of the rules of the world and what you're building, otherwise, you just have characters, and it could be a big old mess. Yeah, absolutely. Although I would say that, that world building should really be built around the character struggle so that it can be really intentional. It shouldn't just be like, oh, here's some cool magic. I mean, yes, trust me. I know. It's one of the fun things about writing fantasy and sci fi is like, What? How can I put some weird tech into the story? How can I have a really intricate magic system, but you've got to make it intentional, make it related back to the character, because that's what's going to make people come back and and, and want to read more your characters. So back to character, this character, again, can't fit. Right, right. It's so funny, because I knew I suspected when we were first talking, and we were like, Oh, we have totally different approaches to nano, that we'd start talking and realize that we really kind of have the same approach to now. You call yourself a pantser. I call myself a reformed pantser. Because I definitely pants my first couple of novels, but, but ultimately, the goal of nano is to just keep the creative juices flowing, right? And whatever ways that you can do that. And going back to a really detailed outline, or trying to force yourself to stick to what you planned in October is a creativity killer. Massively, right? So I think flexibility is really the key, like, do all this work. Now, come up with your characters, and then when they throw a monkey wrench, just follow it. Just follow it? Yes. And keep writing keep writing for it. I actually wrote a middle grade sci fi in 2010. I don't know it was pouring rain. And I was listening. I was listening Charles Dickens on like audio. And I live in Los Angeles. So it doesn't rain that often. So bear in mind, and it was really rainy. It was cold. And I had this idea for this kid who is this alien. But he didn't know he was an alien, when he finds out he actually doesn't want it. Unlike Harry Potter. That's cool. I'm a wizard and goes off and does this thing. My kid didn't want this. And there was so much that I had to think about but it's like you just said there like I made sure that everything that he could do was intentional. Every because he did have abilities that he didn't want. They often got him in trouble. But when it started happening, it unfolded in a natural way. And at the end of it, I did realize that technically, I think it was more of a fantasy, like Star Wars because he had those abilities. Even though there's other planets involved. It was that crossover. The book is not published yet. I love that book. It's actually why I joined the SC BWI the Society of children's book writers and illustrators, and I just haven't gone forward with it. I revised it. But it's just one of those things. It's, it's kind of stuck. But it was really fun to do. And it's a good way to see another genre as well. In my opinion, it's always good to kind of cross things up if you can. And I I have this weird nano thing where I try to finish by Thanksgiving. This year. I think Thanksgiving is I think you have almost a full week after it I think it's on the 25th or something early some years it's later and then it's a little scarier. That's just me, I sort of coach people or you know, I suggest to try to get it done because then you have a little breathing room if life comes up and you can't finish it, but it's really about the math the way that I coach it's and suggest to people and do it myself. I just break down how much do I want to hit. I always aim for 72,000 words nano is 50,000 words, but 72,000 words it's like a nice even like 1800 a day or something, it's very doable in my head and then I sit down and I hit that word count and sometimes the stuff is complete crap and that's why I always push forward and I might make like a note on it or I might bold it or something so I just know immediately I gotta fix that but I really don't think about revisions until January but I know that they have to be done. Yeah, that is an important message for everyone who's gonna sit down and do nano please do not send your words that are hot off the press to anyone on December 1 a little while read back through call out some of the junk Yeah, I love to do the the nano Sprint's that they do on the the official nano Sprint's yeah Twitter account, but there'll be things like put up a Nana in your, in your scene. And so you'll have this random You know, you're in space, right? Like you're your middle grade characters in space and all of a sudden there's a banana like it doesn't make sense but it can just kick some things loose and but you have to go back and edit the banana out because it doesn't make sense to yeah story. Well, it's I love that they do those Sprint's because it gives you if you're stuck, it gives you something to build off of, and a lot of people do get stuck, especially people who don't outline anything. I mean, you could, I guess I haven't done it. But I guess you could potentially outline what you're going to write every day, you could sit down in prep tober and be like I'm gonna write this scene in this you know, if you say there's 60 scenes in a book, on average, you could say I'm gonna write these two scenes these. To me, that's it's too convoluted. But you know, I've worked in television and film and you have to do that for television and film. You can't be like, I'm gonna pass this screenplay and then hand it in, or, you know, this episode of Grey's Anatomy, I'll see you on Friday with a finished script, it doesn't go that way. You have to beat it out they have to see it, they have to know every single scene that you're even attempting to write. So there are you know, different ways to think about um, I don't want to make this too long because people have to get prepping as we are in the third week of October, I can't believe NaNoWriMo is in two weeks. I'm so excited. It's not even two weeks. It's like a week in a day. I know. Yeah, by Tuesday, more planning that I need to be doing. Yeah, and I will so Julie and I are both book coaches and we're both certified through author accelerator which is run by Jenny Nash and I when I went through the certification I actually learned a bit more about plotting that helps me so I still will hold on until I die to my pantser status but the plotting even thinking about it more has will help me in general and for this novel that I'm going to write in NaNoWriMo I already know who the characters are and I know what happens and I know a lot more of the beats than I have in past year so hopefully it's not a big old mess like the one I wrote last year my husband was like are you gonna send that to you know homework or anybody it's like oh no, no, that was it was just bad and so sometimes you will have it done but at least you wrote it and then you can make that decision for me I always suggest January like just let December be December you know and decide is this worth saving or is it not you can write good ones my first NaNoWriMo that book did get published it was a small publishing house, but it did get published so that was the first one I ever did and it was my most successful one probably because I didn't know how hard it was and I just did it. And one of my all time favorite books, Erin Morgan distance the night circuit started out as a nano project right so it can happen but I think it can really free you up to see the work that you're doing in November as pre work your writing as zero draft that you know you're going to go back in January and start to revise and that will free you up to to just get the words on the page and then you can really start to shape them into a story in revision I really am a person that believes that revision is where the magic happens. So for me in November, I just want to put all of my ideas on the page and get that those characters voices get them talking to me and then I can shape that into an actual story using all kinds of craft stuff once I've got once I've got that draft down. Yeah so we have learned that you and me are really a lot of life. Buddy I really thought that might happen. might happen to Yeah, it's really funny. I'm the same way revision is where everything happens and I love actually revising. I also really love first dress like you write first dress for a living I probably would but I'm not afraid of the blank page. But revision is really where everything happens and it's really really important to you know, know your craft and know and have a plan like having a revision plan is is really important. I will drop into the show notes and or the about section below for the video. People are watching the video, Julie's information. Do you have anything special going on This year for nano that you're doing or anything that you want to share with people that you'd like to talk about really fast before we so I'm just about halfway through a nano prep course 12 week course that I did this year for the first time that really kind of captures some of the things that I've learned. But I am going to be kicking off a revision session January so it'll be worth checking out my my website and my mailing list to find out more about that revision. Once you win your nano badge at the end of November. Let it sit I always recommend reading during the month of December because it's such a hectic month anyway I refill that cup and then come back in January ready to revise. Yes, I agree with that. I run letters for NaNoWriMo where if you sign up for my email list you can get a letter every day of November encouraging you it's not writing prompts for that I really do suggest you join the you know NaNoWriMo writing sprints whatever might put a property in there but last year the way I did it was just really giving you inspiration and like being your cheerleader. I was a cheerleader in high school and college so maybe that's my I can I cheer you on for it because because I do it every year and I love it so much. It's just so inspiring. And one other thing I say is if you're even thinking about doing work for hire as a writer, it is good to know that you can get drafts out fast it's something that a lot of people are so afraid of. But if you let go of trying to be a good writer and you really focus on story you can absolutely get your nano draft done and learn how to write fast should you need to in your life you might not need to depends on your genre and your life and your goals but I think it is really important I will drop links to my website and Julie's website both our coaching and everything that you will need in the show notes or in the YouTube video below it and I guess that's the last thing I'm going to say except for you know I I'm Stephanie York if you want to buddy up I buddy up with lots of people Julie Do you have like a call that you use every year your name on nano? I you know what i'm just going to change mine so I'm sure that it's going to be Julie art something I'll get it to you. I used to have a name that was just out there but now I'd like people to actually be able to find me under Juilliard so funny yeah mine is because I have an email that Stephanie York it's really not to Brian it's you know, there was an I you know, I love New York and I grew up on the East Coast so that's why and I probably should do a Stephanie Bourbon one. But last time I switched I lost a bunch of books and I couldn't remember all the ones I wrote. It doesn't matter though. It's just to do it and have fun. Well let's say goodbye to Julie Thank you for listening and thank you for watching and I am super excited that you are all going to do NaNoWriMo I hope that you all do NaNoWriMo