This week, I'm talking all about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo
My article on pantsing for Jane Friedman's blog can be found HERE
I also have a few YouTube videos on doing NaNoWriMo and you can find them HERE on my channel https://www.youtube.com/stephaniebourbon
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Get on the waitlist for my new novel writing course, RECIPE FOR A NOVEL
Join me on NaNoWriMo's official site, I'm StephOBourbon
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Hey, this is Stephanie bourbon. And this week, I am talking all about writing a novel during National Novel Writing Month. I'm super excited to do it again this year. And I hope that you will join me.
INTROI'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.
So I just want to talk a little bit about writing a novel during National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as we all call it, it is something that is super, super fun. And I personally love to do it in the show notes.
There is a link to an article I wrote for Jane Friedman's blog a couple of weeks ago, and it explains my theory, which I will go over a little bit here about not plotting, and or planning, but still finishing your novel in a month, because I know that you can do it.
How do I know that because I have done it many times myself, the key to NaNoWriMo really is being able to write forward, I will say that again, right forward. And what that means is not to edit your work as you go. The reason that I personally don't make outlines or plot before I start writing for National Novel Writing Month is because when I have an outline, there's something in my brain that tells me I have to stick to it.
And for me a true pantser it's better for me and easier for me to come up with a story. When I am not constricted by outlines, you'll hear some people say that the reason they pants instead of outline is because they want the muse to speak to them. And it frees them it for me, it's really not that it's just that if I spent a lot of time on an outline, I tend to really stick to it. So the way that I write and the way that I advise my clients, when I work with clients who are starting from the beginning, as in, they don't have a book written yet is to just right forward, it is better to barf out your rough draft than to not have a book done at all.
Now a lot of people can't write a book in a month. And that's totally understandable. The idea behind NaNoWriMo is just to get you in the habit of writing every single day, basically, for to quote unquote, win NaNoWriMo. Or to finish your novel in a month and get the badge and everything you have to write 50,000 words in a month. And that is about 1600 words a day. In the article that I mentioned before, I talked about how for the average writer, that's just over an hour, it's like an hour and a half or two hours. Now that's for the average writer who somebody is a writer who writes all the time. For me, I can easily write that. In that timeframe.
A couple people did point out that for them, they absolutely cannot write that much. I have another friend who she says that she writes about 500 words in an hour, everybody is different. So please understand, you might write slower than somebody else. But honestly, the actual physical act of typing as long as you know how to type does not take too long. What takes a long time is when you get into your own head and you start worrying about sentence structure and language and beautiful words and making these amazing sentences, which really, I want you to focus only on the story. And the way that you can do that is by knowing these three things before you start. The first one is to know who your story is about. Now, I am a huge fan of Lisa Cron's Wired for Story and Story Genius.
I believe that every character has a misbelief and Lisa explains it so much better than I can. So I highly recommend both those books. And the links are going to be in the show notes to her website so you can see what I'm talking about. But she talks about the misbelief every character every person has misbeliefs that they believe about themselves. That's probably not true. But the misbelief informs their main character flaw, and their character flaw informs how they act in every single situation.
You may your parents, your spouse, your sisters, your brothers, your children, they all have misbeliefs we all have misbeliefs and we all have flaws and we all act differently in every situation because of those things. So for example, if you know you are writing a book about a woman who is looking for love maybe that you know you're just that's that's your story. You're she's gonna get together with somebody you are writing a true love story. She has a misbelief that's holding In her back, she has a character flaw that's holding her back. Maybe she feels like she's not worthy of love.
And so she puts up defenses, and she dates tons of people. And she breaks up with people when they get serious. And that's her character flaw. And that's what's holding her back. So in every situation in that book, she's going to act a certain way based on that, if you think about all the characters, that we love the male characters in movies and romance novels and everything who are like that the womanizer, the the person who can't settle down all the time, it's because of a misbelief, that they actually are not going to be loved. So they've put up this defense, and that's their character flaw. So what I want you to do is know who you're writing about.
You don't have to spend hours or weeks or months digging in, but just take a little bit of time, and write down who your character is, their misbelief about themselves, and what their major character flaw once you know that it will definitely help you with your story. Number two is to know your story. Especially if you are writing commercial fiction with 10, which tends to be very plot-driven. Know your story. Obviously, if you are a pantser, like me, you are not going to know the entire story. But know what you're writing about. If you're writing that romance novel that I mentioned, how does it play out? Does she move from San Francisco to Vermont? Or does she moved to Seattle? Or is she you know, go to Alaska for two weeks? What is the story? How does the story unfold? What is the story about it's the story about her finding a long-lost love is about her getting married to the love of her life from high school?
it about her having an affair with somebody? What is the story, just have an idea and have a clear picture in your head of what story you want to tell. Again, if you're not outlining, you're not going to know every single detail, but if you know the story, you're trying to tell, it's going to help you get to the end.
This brings me to my next point. The third thing that I advise you to know when you start NaNoWriMo is where you want your story to end, having an idea where the story ends will help you get there.
Now, a lot of people who are true Panthers just say, Oh, it's just like getting in your car and driving on a road trip wherever the road takes where I'm going to end up. And that's totally fine. If that's how you want to work, that's fine. My suggestion is to sort of have an idea where it's going to end. So if I'm talking about that love story, we know that it's going to end with those characters together. That's enough.
That's enough to know when you are starting NaNoWriMo in my mind, in my opinion, that will be enough to get you going. And we are about four days out from NaNoWriMo starting so you have time if you want to sit down this weekend and make a plot arc. I like to use a combination of things. Some book coaches, and I were speaking about this just this morning, everybody likes something different, it really depends on who you are. So I don't want to tell you that you have to use save the cat or you have to use the plot whisper or you have to use the hero's journey.
That's entirely up to you. But if you really want to do it, just spend some time in the next four days and plot out what you think the major plot points of your story are going to be and just be open to the fact that they may change. Now I want to speak really fast to those of you who spent all of October prepping your book. If you have done that, that's totally fine. But please do not edit as you write, sit down every day. And maybe you've plotted out each chapter, maybe you know, the characters and things that are going to happen, you know, the middle, you know, your inciting incident. If you have all that plotted out, that's fine. Make a plan for yourself to sit down and write every day and sort of know where you're going every morning. Do not go back, always write forward, don't edit because you can fix a lot of this stuff and revisions.
Now a lot of people say that if you blast out a book in a month that you will spend years revising it, it really depends on who you are as a writer. For me, I like to get the story down. And then I can build it, I have this thing that I call the wedding cake method. And I have a new course that I am signing people up for the waitlist. It's called recipe for a novel and it's this theory that I have about writing a novel is like baking a cake. So NaNoWriMo is getting the flour and the eggs and the oil and the water, getting that base done. Knowing how much you need, knowing what you need. It's getting you're putting down the foundation to build the rest up. A lot of writers make the mistake. And I used to do this too at the beginning but then it held me back.
So I thought Screw this. I'm just going to get the story down. I'm not going to worry about the words. It's just sort of how I did it because I it was bogging me down. When I first started writing novels. A lot of people spend too much time on the words and the words are important. The language that you tell your story is how you tell your story. It's very specific to you and your voice. But if you don't have a story to tell you can't spend time on those words. It's like on a wedding cake, there's a little silver ball that's on the top of the rows that sits on top of it sits on top, like of a cup that sits on top of the, you know, the fondant or whatever it's called on top of the icing on top of the top layer of the cake.
There's all these layers. The words are really that and fixing the words right now or getting worried and bogged down about things that will hold you back because you don't have the whole picture in front of you is what slows people down. So if you write a couple chapters, and then the next day, you're like, oh, but I'm not sure if the continuity works, or I'm not sure if it was strong enough the motivation and maybe that that chapter didn't have a why or the character didn't, you know, move forward in a way that she should have, you will start going back and you're going to start screwing things up,
you're going to start adding things in that don't need to be there and it's going to hold you back. So please, please, please write forward. That is my biggest tip. But again, when you're starting, no, you're who and what and how, who the story is about what the story is about, and how does it end, or even just a rough idea, those three. So I hope this was helpful for you. I really hope that you join my free letters for NaNoWriMo where I am your personal
cheerleader, and encouragement person that sends you an email every single day of November.
It's absolutely free to join you will be on my email list. So you will also get about four emails for me during the month outside of this that it's just my regular newsletter that comes up on Mondays, but the letter so NaNoWriMo was really really fun. Last year, we had a blast doing it and there's absolutely nothing that you need to do except sign up on the list. The link is in the description in the show notes. Thank you for listening, and I will be back next week. I'm going to do an entire series on NaNoWriMo for the entire month of November because nano is my jam and I absolutely love it. So please subscribe to this podcast and come back next week. Meanwhile, have a great weekend and I can't wait to get started on Monday. Bye