The winner of Write-A-Thon is Na. Congrats!
I welcome Rochelle Melander to my blog today. She will be answering questions about her new book, Write-A-Thon, which was published this month by Writer's Digest Books.
I will also be giving away a copy of Write-A-Thon. Please leave a comment and your email to be entered into the drawing. If you SUBSCRIBE to my blog this week, via Feedburner, and let me know in your comment, I will enter your name TWICE. The last day to leave a comment will be next Monday, November 7.
1. Rochelle, what is a Write-A-Thon?
A write-a-thon is a writing marathon such as National Novel Writing Month, when participants try to write a 50,000-word book in a month! I created write-a-thon to give writers an opportunity to write their books fast whenever and however they wanted to do them!
2. Your book is divided into three sections: Training, Write-A-Thon and Recovery. You spend the bulk of the book on training. Why is this so important?
I cannot imagine someone running a marathon without having trained. But, with appropriate training, many people can accomplish this amazing athletic feat. It’s the same with writing. When we have properly trained and prepared, we can write a book marathon style. When it comes to training for the write-a-thon, I review several aspects of the training process.
First, writers need to train their lives. This means clarifying their writing goals and creating a life that supports their writing. This may take some work, especially for people who are new to writing and have not yet made it a daily or weekly priority.
Second, writers need to train their writing muscles—practicing their craft as much as they can. Most runners do not start out running marathons. Instead, they run a few 5Ks until they get the hang of it. When we are beginning our careers, it is helpful to start by writing articles and short stories. Then, when we have some practice under our belt, we are better able to start and complete a book quickly.
Finally, writers need to plan their books. Most runners spend some time studying various races and choosing one that fits them. After they choose, they study the course for difficult terrain. They learn where the bathroom and water stops will be. They learn as much as possible so that the day of the race goes well. Writers who plan their books will have a much easier time writing marathon style. This might mean sketching characters, designing the plot, and creating a believable setting. Writers might want to put all of this into a document or a folder that they can consult during the writing marathon.
3. Until I got into the book, I always thought I had to carve out 26 consecutive days for a write-a-thon, but you give options to that scenario. Could you mention some of those?
I believe that writers will succeed if they create a writing marathon that suits their schedule. For some writers, that will be a straight shot of 26 days. For others, it will be over the course of 26 Saturdays, 13 weekends, or 26 days within a longer period, like a summer. In the book, I encourage writers to examine their lives and give them tools to discover when they write best and what type of writing marathon would work best for them.
4. You noted that you wrote the rough draft of this book a couple of years ago during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which starts tomorrow! Talk about your specific scheduling for writing this book.
I went in to 2009’s NaNoWriMo with a pretty decent outline and a whole binder full of research. I’d been compiling notes on this book since 2006. I set aside every weekday morning to write. I always tried to meet the daily word count goal of about 1700 words. If possible, I also tried to write a bit extra each day, especially in the beginning. Anything extra I wrote became words in the bank. Once I had 1700 words, I could take a day off. I tried to write enough so that I could take a whole weekend off. Sometimes that meant putting in a few double word count days, when I would amass 3400 words in a morning. Before I left my desk each day, I would decide what I wanted to write the next morning. That way, my subconscious was able to work on the ideas while I worked, exercised, and took care of the kids!
5. You talk about Plan A and Plan B, with Plan A being our ideal writing conditions. Could you talk a little bit about Plan B and how it can help us accomplish our writing goals?
Plan A is the ideal—what I described above in my recollection of NaNoWriMo 2009. Of course, ideal does not always work. Kids get sick, stuff happens at work and home, and we experience fatigue. But, just because stuff happens does not mean our deadline changes. We still have to finish on time. Sometimes, we need to find and use a Plan B! Several years ago, I had my gall bladder removed two weeks before a deadline for a big writing project I was doing with my husband. I woke up from surgery and heard my husband asking me questions about how to proceed with the project. That was using a Plan B—we needed to finish the project and that meant working from the hospital!
It can help to create a Plan B before stuff happens. That might mean imagining what interruptions might derail us and then coming up with some ideas for overcoming the obstacles. So, a writer expecting a house filled with company during Thanksgiving week might just plan to write at a coffee shop during that week. Another writer with small children might expect that someone will get sick during the month and decide ahead of time how she or he will cope with that. All of us might benefit by scheduling extra writing time for the month just in case our regular writing time gets bumped by other stuff. Having a Plan B means we can write and meet our deadlines no matter what catastrophe hits!
6. Why do we need to have a time of recovery after a Write-A-Thon?
All writers need to recover physically and mentally from the work of the write-a-thon. Writing is hard work! Before we can edit or even reread our book, we need to rest and clear our minds. Once we have rested, we can begin the hard work of reading and revising our book. Because we have rested, we are better able to review our book with fresh eyes. And that is part of the recovery, too. During the recovery we reread our book, revise it, and get it ready for publication. We might even hire an editor to help us with this! After that comes the hard work of creating and submitting query letters and book proposals. Once the book gets accepted, we will probably need to revise it again. And no doubt, most of us will be starting a new project at the same time as we are wrapping up this one! That is the beauty of the writing life!
7. Is there anything you would like to add about your book?
I hope it will help writers of all types—nonfiction, playwrights, poets, and novelists—write their work. I meet so many writers who are putting of their dreams of writing because they are too busy or too fearful. I wrote Write-A-Thon to show writers how they can manage their crazy lives and write their books as well!
Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach and the author of 10 books, including a new book to help fiction and nonfiction writers write fast: Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) (October 2011). Melander teaches professionals how to get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. In 2006, Rochelle founded Dream Keepers Writing Group, a program that teaches writing to at-risk tweens and teens. Visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com. She will be blogging about NaNoWriMo all month at http://www.writenowcoach.com/blog/.
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