Pressing In For the Win

My guest today Tara Seaks is not a stranger to NaNO.   I like her approach,  her persistence and strategy.  I think you’ll find some valuable insights from her as well.  

Please welcome Ms Tara Seaks!! 

  1. Are you a nano newbie? Seasoned veteran? Old timer?

Do I have the privilege of calling myself a newbie veteran? This is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo.

  1. Have you finished and/or won nano in the past?

I did manage a win last year. Though, this was only after validating at 49,997 and quickly adding a line or two to get over the hump.

  1. How do you prepare for nano? Or if this is your first time, how have you prepared?

Once I’ve got an idea that excites me, I run with it. First, I strive to solidify that idea. Rarely does it stay the same from its initial conception. It seems to morph little by little as I start researching. My research comes in many forms: TV shows and movies, books, Google searches, random conversations, etc. I keep a pen and notebook handy for anything that might be relevant to my story. Once I’ve got a better formulated story concept, I create an outline for chapter structure as well as character profiles. All of this preparation helps me stay on task through November. However, I always keep it flexible. If the story takes me on an unforeseen path, I’ll let it flow wherever it wants to.

  1. How many hours do you see that you will be able to write each day?

Last year, I allowed myself around two hours each day. It worked out very well for me, as I also had a goal of 2000 words per day. That way I was able to get ahead in case I needed to miss a day for some reason. This year, my life is much more hectic. So, I’m going to try to maintain the same system, though probably not in a solid two-hour time slot each day.

  1. Tell me briefly your nano book idea, and what inspired it.

My idea was initially inspired by the Ebola scare as well as my (somewhat) obsession with survival tactics. I started contemplating government conspiracies of experimentation and the kinds of repercussions that could follow from such experiments. Somehow, throwing this stuff together in my wild imagination has excited me enough to write a novel.

  1. Everyone loves a conspiracy theory! Do you have a routine or ritual that you go through before you begin writing?

I guess you could say I do. I like to write while consuming nectar of the gods (coffee, of course, which I cannot function without). So, I typically start by making a rather large cup and warming a rice-filled heat wrap to rest my wrists on during the writing process. Carpal tunnel kills the spirit big time. I also switch on some mood music suitable to the scenes I’ll be working on.

  1. What do you use for your writing? Word? Scrivener? Pen and paper?

I actually use a software program called Q10 for the first draft. Someone mentioned it in a forum last year. So, I tried it and absolutely loved it. I like that it shoves everything else off the screen, leaving less room for distraction. It also shows the word count at the bottom of the screen, which helps to keep me motivated and wastes less time if I want to check my progress. When I finish the draft, I send it to Scriviner to be split into sections and edited.

  1. Do you find free writing during nano liberating or do you struggle to not edit as you go?

I have always found free writing to be liberating. So, it isn’t very difficult for me to let the writing flow without editing. However, I do find it rather frustrating to edit later. Apparently, when I write without any form of editing, I am left with a ton of work to do later, including some of the most ridiculous mistakes possible. Not that I think anyone should edit as they go. The goal of NaNo is, afterall, word count. It is much easier to reach that 50k goal if the urge to edit can be subdued.

  1. Do you write chronologically or when you hit a tight spot, do you jump to another scene and come back?

I’m definitely a chronological writer. I find it difficult to jump around and still keep the whole thing together. One thing that kept me from getting stuck last year was the outline I had created. Every day, when my session was over, I would pull out my outline to see where I’d be heading the next day. This gave me time to consider the next scene and play it all out in my mind before sitting down to write it.

  1. How long do you let it sit before you go back and edit and revise?

The wait really depends on the story. It could be anywhere from two weeks to three months. Any longer than that removes me from the story too much. Any sooner and I’d be too attached. I think it’s important to find that balance where you can look at the novel objectively and still be in love with it.

  1. Share author bio, photo if you like, buy links for other books, and any place you want to be found

Tara Seaks is a writer and musician from southern Pennsylvania. Her work can be found in the form of published poetry, self-improvement blogging and the album “Balance In Transformation” by Shattered Beneath The Shade. She resides in a small town with her fiance’ and son. Other life passions include reading, video games, learning, and spending time with her loved ones.


“Growing Wings” Blog: