NaNoWriMo Interview: Jon Strother
Jon Strother (“jstro” on NaNoWriMo’s site) is a government employee who writes across several genres – science fiction, fantasy, romance, as well as non-fiction science papers and technical writing. He has participated in NaNoWriMo once, successfully completing his 50,000 words. To date, he remains unpublished, aside from some technical papers and his manual for the Wings 3D modeling software (available online at Wikibooks), but says “Hope springs eternal.” In the meantime, his work can be found on his page at The Omnivore’s Digest, the website of his local writing group.
Why do you do NaNoWriMo?
I did NaNoWriMo last year on a whim. A couple of friends on a forum I frequent were doing it, so I decided to give it a try too. I had not been writing much as of late, and I thought it might be the kick in the pants I needed. It worked out so well that I decided to do it again this year.
What benefits have you gotten from your participation?
I was right, it was the kick in the pants I needed. I already had a story idea, and NaNo both got me started, and kept me going.
How did you keep yourself inspired and motivated during NaNoWriMo?
I had the luxury of having well developed characters from previous stories I had written. I already had a seed of a story in mind. So, once I decided I was going to do it I sat down and developed a detailed outline and a detailed setting, complete with maps. With those in hand, the story almost wrote itself.
What sort of planning, if any, are you doing this year before you start writing?
I am doing another mystery this year, but not with the same detective or area. Last year’s story was with a private detective in South Carolina, a guy I had written a lot about. This year I’m using a Police Detective in St. Louis. So I have to do a lot of research in just how the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department works, and how it interacts with the Major Case Squad. I am working up my outline now, so I hope to be ready to go at the starting gun. I’m from St. Louis, so at least this time I won’t have to do a lot of geographic research.
What are some of the tools you use to keep yourself organized and on-track during NaNoWriMo? How do you use them?
I don’t know that I use a lot of tools, other than the outline, maps, and the Internet. Of course, I have my favorite bookmarks.
How do you manage your time during NaNoWriMo to make time for writing?
I generally write at night, after dinner. If I’m in the flow, I just lose track of time until I realize it’s time for bed. I have a day job, so I can’t ignore that. When I’m writing, my family generally leaves me to it, so I have very few distractions.
What advice do you have for other writers doing NaNoWriMo for the first time?
Start out with a plot, not just a vague idea of a story. In other words, know where you are going and why you (your characters) are going there. Some people don’t like outlines, but if you can work with one, develop a detailed outline before the start date. But don’t be afraid to deviate from the outline. Sometimes good stuff just happens.