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5 Tips to a Successful NANOWRIMO for Memoir Writers

Last week I wrote about how National Novel Writing Month 2012 (NANOWRIMO) changed my life.

It can change yours too!

No, I didn't write a novel or a memoir in 30 days—in fact I ended up with a tangle of 50,000 words that were largely a stream of consciousness (see below for how you can avoid the same).

But I did develop the habit of putting my butt in the chair and writing—which is the big difference between wannabe writers from real writers.

Most of the LGBTQ+ folx & allies I work with have never written a book before, let alone taken on the challenge of writing a memoir.

NANOWRIMO is a great place to start.

Here's how you can have a successful NANOWRIMO & end up with 50,000 words that you can shape into a meaningful manuscript.

Step 1: Block Out Time

Block out time on your calendar every day to write and set a daily goal. 50,000 words divided by 30=1,667 words a day. The equivalent of 6 to 7 pages double-spaced every day.

If you know...

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How Writing for My First NANOWRIMO Changed the Course of My Life

I've always been fascinated by the idea that a single moment can change the entire trajectory of a life.

Sometimes that moment feels out of our hands and controlled by "fate"—you catch the train or you don't, like in the movie Sliding Doors.

And sometimes it feels more like "agency"—you're at a crossroads and you make a choice to go one way or the other.

And you know what fascinates me the most? Those choices that seem insignificant but later you realize, they changed your life.

Here's one of my life-altering moments:

“I’m knee-deep in NANOWRIMO,” my friend Lisa said to me in early November, 2012.

“What’s that?” It sounded like a secret society.

“It stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ You pledge to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days.”

I was an empty nester who felt a bit lost.

My youngest had just gone off to college, and I was trying to figure out my next chapter (pun intended).

...

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Why It Makes Sense to Plan Your Book First

There's value in building your book’s foundation first, even if your preferred style is to just “get the words out on the page.” Planning doesn't have to squelch creativity. 

Two different styles of writers: Pantsers & Plotters

Pantsers comes from “fly by seat of pants”—just getting your words onto the page.Freewriting: the proverbial "shitty first draft," memorialized by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird . Some writers do find their story, their message by writing first.

Plotters plan out the PLOT or the trajectory of their book. Some  like to plan out every detail in advance. They like to know exactly where going before they write a single word so then they just have to execute.

In my experience, the style of writer usually mimics their personality style. If you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, take a look at the fourth set of personality pairs: “Js” & Ps—judging and...

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