JL Sarchet NaNoWriMo Interview

First of all, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the moment, I’m living in South Korea and teaching English as a Foreign Language to middle school students. During the day, I teach academic writing, but my passion is storytelling. In my spare time I write speculative fiction novels.

How many times have you attempted NaNoWriMo? Have you succeeded in the past?

I have done NaNoWriMo every year since 2006 and have managed to cross that 50,000 word mark each time. Each year I start strong, get distracted by life for most of the month, and then spend a hellish weekend pounding out the rest of the novel. This is my tenth attempt and I hope it will be my tenth win.

What can you tell us about your current work in progress for this year’s NaNoWriMo?

Although I am not new to NaNo, I am new to writing science fiction and especially cyberpunk. I’m pantsing my way through the first draft of a novel about cyborg boxers who take on a fight against the corrupt corporation that sponsors them (after they stumble across a deep, dark secret, of course!) and I’m having a great time learning more about boxing.

How are you keeping yourself focused and on track for NaNoWriMo? What advice would you offer to someone else who wanted to attempt it?

My job keeps me a bit too busy during the week to hit the recommended 1667 on a daily basis. In fact, most years I would let several days go by without writing a word, but often had trouble getting back into the flow of the story. I would say that this year, my focus can be attributed to two things: I set a minimum word count of 100 words a day. That’s it. I usually tapped it out on my morning bus ride using Evernote on my phone. It kept the story fresh and moving forward AND it gave me a sense of accomplishment. And even if I didn’t write another word that day, I had reached my personal goal. I can silence my inner editor. Believe me when I say as an English teacher, it can be difficult look at a passage filled with typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mishaps, and missing quotation marks. For the pace required to finish NaNoWriMo, I have to be able to ignore it. When I write I literally mutter to myself, “You can fix it. Later.” That ‘later’ part is the key. On December 1st, I can switch into search and destroy mode. If I could offer any advice to someone attempting NaNo it would mirror the two things I mentioned above. 1) Find a way to keep your story moving forward, no matter how slowly. Chip away at it. And 2) DO. NOT. EDIT. Turn off the inner editor and just get the story on the page. You don’t have time to doubt yourself. Write.

If our readers wanted to follow you and your work, what would be the best way to do that?

Right now, the best way to track me down is via the Writerpunk facebook group. I’m currently working on a few submissions for the anthologies produced by Writerpunk Press, all of which are classic stories reimagined with cyberpunk elements.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. If there is anyone out there who has taken on the challenge and thinks that they can’t make a huge comeback in a short amount of time, just know that it is possible. I’m in the final weekend of NaNoWriMo. I have over 22,000 words to write but only 50 hours (at the time of this writing) to do it in. Normally this amount of work and this deadline should cause panic. And if I didn’t already know I can close the gap and cross the finish line, I would really be freaking out right now.

You’ve got to keep fighting for it. Pour another cup of coffee and keep writing. You can sleep in December. Or, if you’re as caffeinated as I am, January.


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