Denise Jaden, author of the 2010 debut Losing Faith (Simon Pulse). Denise is a member of the Class of 2k10 and lives in British Columbia, Canada. I asked her about her experience with NaNoWriMo and this is what she had to say:
Back in 2007 I had heard of NaNoWriMo a few times, but didn’t really understand what it was until my critique partner explained it to me. She pretty much insisted we attempt it together, since she’d had great success with it the year before. I was excited, and at her suggestion, I worked on my first outline in anticipation.
I knew from the start that I didn’t want to get too absorbed in the social aspects of NaNo. I barely thought I had the time to write the book, let alone spend anytime online talking about it. I generally just checked in each day and updated my word count. Sometimes my critique partner and I would email and congratulate each other on big milestones.
I’m an extremely goal-driven person (just ask my husband, who lives in our hurricane of a house each November). The daily word count updates, and that nifty little bar that showed me how far I had gone and how far I had yet to go were the things that kept me going. I needed to complete it. It’s just how I am.
I believe my first draft of my 2007 novel, Losing Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2010), came in at around 48,000 words complete. I could not bear to leave the goal undone, so I went back and fleshed out a few of the bare scenes (there were lots to choose from, as I am an under-writer). I was truly ecstatic when I hit (and surpassed by a couple thousand words) the 50k mark. It felt like such an unbelievable accomplishment, and even though I knew the story had some holes, I felt so incredibly capable. If I could write a draft in thirty days (twenty-one actually) then I felt like I could do anything!
I’d been trying to get published prior to NaNo, so I definitely had hopes of get this novel published, but really, I was amazed at how quickly the process happened. I’d spent several years on each of my first two novels, but with my NaNo novel, I revised it and had an agent representing it within just under a year. And I had an offer after having it out on submission for only about six weeks.
I can’t say that every NaNo project will go this way, and in fact I still have novels from the last couple of years that are nowhere near ready for publishing. But it only took a month of my life to write each one of them! And I know if I spend the time, there is some good stuff there to work with. Which is more than I can say for a blank page.
I LOVE NaNo and encourage all writers to give it a try. People need to find their own system that works for them—some may need a lot of the camaraderie in the forums to keep them going. For me though, all I need is the goal, and it works every time.
Thanks for stopping by, Denise!