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Doing The NaNo: Guest Post by Sandra Sookoo

December 1, 2010

So, you did the NaNoWriMo thing this year, huh?  Did you get your creative juices and get those fingers flying over your keyboard?  Hope you made new friends that have held you accountable.  Maybe they can do this for you in the future, too.

My first year doing NaNo was in 2008.  I had no idea what to expect—had never heard of it before.  At that time I was unpublished, just a writer with a dream and a bunch of half-baked manuscripts that are now contributing to the landfill crisis.  So I signed up.  And it was awesome!  Think of it, a whole network of people coming together in the same place on the web to do the same thing—write.  I met a lot of local folks as well but could never bring myself to attend any of the live write-ins.

At the end of November that year, I had a certificate in hand that stated I’d written a 50K word novel in 30 days or less.  This was huge news!  Wow, an actual book.  Now what to do with it?  Ah, here’s the crux of the matter.

Just because you’ve dashed off fifty thousand words does not mean you’ve written a book.  What you’ve essentially done is made a detailed outline of a book.  Chances are high you haven’t fleshed out your characters, you haven’t thought out an intricate plot (oh, you don’t have a firm plot?) Better start revising now!  I’m even willing to bet you have so many loose ends in this NaNo book you can drive a bunch of cats crazy.

My point?  Don’t turn around on December first and try submitting your “book” to agents and editors.  Oh those poor industry professionals.  I feel sorry for them because of all these craptaculous books coming their way.

Now that NaNo is over, please set your “novel” aside, if possible for three weeks or so.  Get your groove on during the holidays.  Enjoy yourself.  January first, come back to it and start the real heavy duty lifting you’ll need to whip this manuscript into shape.  There will be ruthless word slicing involved.  Heck, you’ll probably cut whole scenes, those globs of prose you were so in love with during the NaNo high.  Yeah, you’ll need to ditch them.

Trust me on this.  My NaNo novel was sad.  I used to be one of you, the shiny new writers.  I sent that sucker out to contests wherein the judges told me “this book needs lots of TLC”. LOL  Lesson learned.  So, I spent months revising the book, changing things, making it gel much better than it did coming out of NaNo.  Huge passages were added.  Others were pulled.  Characters had to be deepened.  Motivation needed to be found.

Is it the next Great American Novel?  Not by far.  It is a first novel by a new author and was published in May of 2009.  Yes, that’s right.  My first published novel by a small press publisher.  But the point is, I learned an invaluable lesson.  NaNo novels are NOT novels.

As I look back on the experience, I can laugh.  Oh how naïve!  Oh how puffed up on pride!  Trust me, you’ve all either been there or will be there shortly.  And also trust me, pride does go before a fall LOL

The book you slaved over during NaNo is not publishing worthy unless you’ve prepared well on the front side.  I can’t stress this enough.

Fast forward two years.  The knowledge I’ve learned from NaNo ’08 to this point is huge and invaluable.  Have I written a book in 30 days since then?  Yes, several times and a couple of those books have been around the 90K mark (okay in 45 days) The key to not making a fool of yourself?  Channel your inner Emeril Lagasse.  “prior planning prevents poor performance.”  Seriously.  Then clean up the mess afterward with self-editing.

There are tons of outlets on the web to help you be a better writer.  Still need help?  Stuck for ideas?  Dial into the Indie Book Collective.  They post a wide range of topics to help writers become authors and how to help navigate the promo process.

Wanna see how I did?  Pop into my blog (you’ll find links on all the social networking sites) I partnered with another author and we held each other accountable.  Now the real work begins! Hope to see you on the other side.



Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction.  Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, sci-fi and paranormal romances.  She loves to blend genres and spice them up and often times will add humor as well.

After catching the writing bug at the young age of ten, she’s gone on to grow her unique writing style.  She’s a regular contributor for the Paranormal Romantic’s blog and has a great time keeping things interesting at the Believing is Seeing blog.

When not immersed in creating new worlds and interesting characters, Sandra likes to read, bake and travel.  Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World.  It’s where dreams come true and the soul can play.  That suits her just fine.

Writing is her ultimate dream job.

You can write to Sandra at, visit her website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook.



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