First of all, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Jane Lebak. I write books and I knit socks. Not at the same time. I’m also one of the bloggers for Querytracker.net, a resource for writers seeking agents.
How many times have you attempted NaNoWriMo? Have you succeeded in the past?
I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo twice before this year and after both experiences I swore not to do it again. I was able to get my 50,000 words in November, but at the expense of being able to complete the book at all. I’ve learned I need to take a “literary pause” every so often to gather my emotional strength to keep writing, and if I can’t do that, I’ll hit my word count but will start to burn out. I did it in 2005 and 2006 but didn’t finish either of those books until this year. (They’re both published now.) While I have no problems doing 100K in 90 days, 50K in 30 days was just too quick for me. This year, though, something changed.
What can you tell us about your current work in progress for this year’s NaNoWriMo?
My WIP for Nano this year is a book in the Seven Archangels series. It takes place about twenty years after the events in Sacred Cups, but it stands alone if you didn’t read the previous books. The archangels have learned that the demons are developing a new weapon, so they infiltrate Hell to find out what it is. They end up accidentally setting it off, leaving two of the angels and one of the demons disabled. Now they need to figure out what that weapon was and what it did in order to reverse the process, and to prevent the enemy from setting it off again.
How are you keeping yourself focused and on track for NaNoWriMo? What advice would you offer to someone else who wanted to attempt it?
What’s different this year about Nanowrimo is that I’m now a full-time writer with all my kids in school during the daytime. I’ve given myself permission not to hit my word count on the days where I need to do that “literary pause” thing. What I’m doing now is making sure I enter at least some words every day, but on days when I need to relax, I’ll do only a couple hundred. On other days, though, I’ll go to 2500 or 3000 in order to give myself the cushion so I can take those days off when I need them. So far, it’s working. I couldn’t have done this before when I had children on top of me all day long, so that just goes to show that writing has seasons and sometimes we need to lower our expectations based on our life duties.
If you want to do NaNoWriMo, I think you need to know what your own limits are and figure out in advance how to work around them. Build them into your actual writing plan as needs rather than blithely hoping everything will just line up. Budget for your own weaknesses, whatever they are. If you’ve never written a book before, and you don’t know what your writing weaknesses might be, then just focus on putting words down. They don’t have to be good: they just have to be written. You can clean up that draft afterward.
If our readers wanted to follow you and your work, what would be the best way to do that?
I’ve got a neglected website at http://www.janelebak.com, but my books are available at http://amazon.com/author/janelebak. I’m on twitter at http://twitter.com/janelebak and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/JaneLebakAuthor
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Be gentle on yourself and remember that NaNoWriMo is an arbitrary goal. There’s nothing magical about 50K in 30 days. If you have to slow down or back off in order to protect your story, remember that your story is more valuable than hitting a goal that doesn’t matter anyhow. Give yourself permission to fail, keeping in mind that 30,000 words or 20,000 words is hardly a failure. It’s a great start, and you just need to find your own ideal pace to finish your novel.