Sonja Faust is a romance writer living in North Carolina. This year she’ll do NaNoWriMo for the fifth time, after completing the challenge successfully twice. She’s published two short stories, “Love in Shadow” and “Cat in the Mist” with WildRosePress and is currently enjoying publisher interest in her first novel, completed during NaNoWriMo last year.
Sonja finds the camaraderie of NaNoWriMo a powerful motivator for writing, and can be found on the NaNoWriMo forums as “streetmouse”. You can read her advice for NaNoWriMo participants on her blog, White Picket Fences. For more information about Sonja, check out her website.
Why do you do NaNoWriMo? What benefits have you gotten from your participation?
My first year doing NaNoWriMo, I just wanted to see if I could write a novel. At all… in a month or in however long it took. As it turned out, I managed to win my first year, and that gave me the confidence to try to become a novelist. Now I do NaNoWriMo to keep proving to myself that I can finish novels. I don’t think novels get easier to write, I think you just have to know you’ve done it before and can do it again. I’ve finished two novels because of NaNoWriMo and gotten a confidence boost every year, knowing I can bang out a lot of words really fast.
How did you keep yourself inspired and motivated during NaNoWriMo?
I participate a lot in the forums, and especially in the chat room. I love getting egged on and I love to egg on my friends. I do a lot of word wars and a lot of complaining about novel writing being HAAAARD. The social aspects keep me going. And, I won’t lie, the competition helps too.
What sort of planning, if any, are you doing this year before you start writing?
I’ve got an outline and (shh!) the first little bit of a story done this year, so I’m ahead of the game. I always do outlines before I start writing. I am definitely NOT a seat-of-the-pants writer.
What are some of the tools you use to keep yourself organized and on-track during NaNoWriMo? How do you use them?
I love love love NaNoWriMo’s new tracking tools that let you compulsively check your wordcount and percentage and targets and all that good statistical stuff. I actually keep my own spreadsheet on non-NaNo months so I can do the same thing. It’s the competition thing again: I want to be ahead of the curve! My outline also keeps me going, especially when I sit down to write a scene. If I have an outline, at least I have some vague idea of what to write.
How do you manage your time during NaNoWriMo to make time for writing?
I write in the spare moments I can get, like lunch. I used to write for an hour every day on the bus. Sadly, I drive to work now, so that’s a no-go. I’ve been known to sneak in a few sentences at work, but I find that cutting out evening TV time is the best method for me. I sit next to my husband on the couch, pop in my headphones, and tap away while he watches his favorite shows or surfs the web.
What advice do you have for other writers doing NaNoWriMo for the first time?
Participate! Play with all the toys, use all the stuff on the website, buy the t-shirt, OWN it! The more you invest, the more you’ll get out.
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