In preparation for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I have invited Suzan Isik, one of the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liason for my area, to share some of her wisdom and experience with us.
Let's Get to know Suzan!
First of all, thank you, Suzan, for taking a minute to chat with me. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
No, thank you for inviting me. So, a little about me… I've been writing for many years, since my first Peter Pan fanfic as a child. But I've been doing it professionally and with the intent to publish since 2007, when I joined my first writing community. As for genre, that's a loaded question. I've written every genre except horror, but I've recently found that I'm best at Steampunk, fantasy, and erotic romance.
What has your NaNo experience been like in the past? What are you looking forward to this year?
I did NaNo unofficially for several years before I actually signed up on the website. And then when I did my first official one, in 2009, where I ventured out of my house to meet others, I made friends with and found Team Awesome, my current writing and critique group. So I got lucky with that. I'm really looking forward to meeting the new Rhinos at the write-ins and having a good time. Last year was all about quantity, but this year, I really would like to stop and say hi to other writers in my area, so I guess this year is the Year of Socialization for me.
So, you are the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, what does that entail and how did you decide to take on that role?
I'm actually one of four MLs for the DFW area this year. I usually describe the job as head cheerleader for writers. We organize fundraisers for the region, host write-ins, and maintain a regional calendar so people know what's going on. We serve as volunteer NaNo representatives and handle disputes and try to make sure we do what we can to help participants reach their 50,000 word goal, all while trying to make that 50k mark ourselves.
What are "write-ins"? If one has never been to a write-in, what should they expect? Is there any particular "group writing" etiquette that should be observed?
Write-ins are the social aspect of NaNo. We pack up our notebooks, our laptops, Alphasmarts and whatever else people write with and go to a local place, like a coffee shop, a restaurant, library, wherever we can find the space and write. We'll have writing games, sprints, and sometimes we'll have prizes for the person who writes the most. It's a lot of fun. As for etiquette, all we ask for is common courtesy. If everyone is writing and being productive word-wise, then be quiet and allow them to do so. I recommend going to at least one write-in during NaNo and talking to other WriMos that are going through the same things, and having the same issues that you are having trying to reach their goals.
What tips do you have for a first time NaNoer?
Find out what is going on in your local region. My region is pretty good about getting write-ins hosted by our WriMos on the calendar pretty fast, and we tend to show up at as many as we can. I haven't met an ML yet that didn't do what they could for their region. Also, stick to a schedule and have a weekly goal. I don't write every day, even during NaNo, but I do have a weekly goal I have to hit or I don't get to take Sunday off. It's important to tell people what you're doing as well, so that they understand when you vanish for hours at a time and appear later, starving and red-eyed.
What tips do you have for a veteran?
Keep at it, plug away, even when you want to quit. I recommend setting a regular schedule, and sitting down with the family and talking to them about expectations for November. You never know. You may find that your family will be your biggest supporter. Even if you're struggling, make sure you take some time off each week. Like I take Sundays off, but only as long as I make my word count during the week. If I don't, I work on Sunday. Make friends with other writers, if you haven't already. Writers, especially ones who know what you're going through, make the best support buddies, and they can help keep you accountable to yourself and your goals.
Have you decided what you are going to write this year?
Not a clue. Okay, I have a few ideas, but I haven't nailed a single idea down yet. I'm a discovery writer, meaning I write without outlines, so I probably won't have it down until a few days before NaNo stars. I'm not worried… much.
What is the significance of the Rhino?
I actually wasn't around when they took on the Rhino mascot, so I'm unsure of the details. What I've been told is that one year, the OLL asked all the regions to pick an animal as their mascot. The Rhino was ours. We even have a stuffed little rhino that comes to all the official events.
Where can we find out more about you?
Man, I am all over the place on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus. I do maintain a writer-oriented website and blog at suzanisik.com. As for the others:
· Twitter: @SuzanIsik
· Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorSuzanIsik.
· Google Plus: gplus.to/SuzanIsik
NaNoWriMo website: sisik (hopefully, the writing buddies will be back soon.) I'm mostly in the DFW regional forums, but on occasion, I venture out to the main forum as well.
My pen name is Suzan Butler, and she can be found at all the same places under her name. Mostly she's on Twitter and tweets about hockey, food, and naughty stories, and maintains a website at suzanbutler.com
I also own and operate a new online writing academy at www.novelistsatwork.com, in which I have several wonderful people teaching different types of classes for writers of all kinds. I'm doing a character workshop in January, and I'm toying with offering a revision class in March to coincide with National Novel Editing Month, which is also sponsored by the Office of Letters and Light, but we'll see.
Thank you, Dawn, for having me visit your blog. It's been so much fun!
So, do you NaNo? If you do, what has your experience been like? If you don't, why not? Just not your thing? Can't imagine writing that many words in 30 days?
Any other questions for Suzan?