Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

JANO 2014 Wrap-Up

NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) is great, but if you’re a writer and you’re not doing Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers’ JANO writing challenge, you’re missing out. It’s not just for mystery writers, or just for people who live near Springfield, Missouri, or just for people who want to write a novel in a month. It’s for anyone who wants to be challenged to push themselves while enjoying the camaraderie of other authors. And prizes. Did I mention prizes?

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A fabulous prize basket including V. J. Schultz’s book, DEATH OF BIGFOOT.

I had been hoping to have book two fully researched and plotted and be ready to dig into the first draft during JANO. Instead, I was still finishing revisions on book one and just beginning to plot book two. It worked out, though. One of the great things about JANO this year was the ability to include more than one work in progress, so my efforts on both books counted toward the 12,000 words I collected.

That was enough to allow me to join the reindeer games at the wrap-up party last weekend. I love the fun contest categories the organizers of JANO come up with—best title, most unusual setting, most unique character name, etc. I took home prizes for best blurb, author’s favorite line and best cliffhanger sentence. I still need to dig into those prize baskets and see what all is in there. I know I have two bottles of wine, lots of chocolate and, to mitigate the damage, a workout video. Plus some great books to relax with.

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My haul from the JANO 2014 wrap-up party.

Like last year (see post here), I once again “lost” JANO, yet made good progress and had a great time. That’s a win in my book!

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Slaying the Demons

January’s over, and so is the JANO 2013 Writing Challenge sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers. How did I do? Well, that’s a matter of perspective. Isn’t it always?

I wrote more than 20,000 new words—my biggest writing month ever, by far.

I worked through a sticky plot problem, researched the Egyptian underworld, outlined a whole series of new obstacles for my young heroes and spent a lot of time imagining scenes for the final act—all necessary steps for me before I’m ready to actually write.

Since JANO wanted us to submit our first pages, I faced my fear of coming up with a compelling opening and wrote a first page—which placed third in the Best First Page competition.

I also wrote a 100-word story description that won the prize for Best Blurb.

All in all, I’d say January was an outstanding month for my writing. And yet, technically, I failed.

Like National Novel Writing Month, NaNo for short, the goal of JANO was to produce 50,000 words in one month. As the challenge began, people offered advice on how to produce so many words so quickly—don’t think, don’t edit, don’t research, just write something even if it’s bad, use more words than you need to beef up your word count, etc.

Now there are as many ways to produce a manuscript as there are writers, and I know this method works beautifully for many people. This is the antithesis of how I write, however. I plot everything out carefully ahead of time. I research during every stage of my story planning, then research some more. I don’t begin writing until the scene is playing out in vivid detail in my head. I edit as I write, removing unnecessary words when I spot them. You get the idea.

So does a speed-writing challenge like JANO have any value for a slow-and-careful writer like myself? You bet! True, I will probably never “win” NaNo or JANO, but who cares? I’m 20,000 words closer to my goal of producing a publication-worthy manuscript. JANO helped me do that by giving me ammunition against my twin demons of Perfectionism and Procrastination.

Every writer—every human, for that matter—has their demons, and right now, those are mine. Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinated plenty. (Just look at my Twitter following—it ballooned from under a hundred to more than eight hundred in January. Not a terrible use of time, but writing my book would have been better.) But JANO gave me a reason to write the best story I’m capable of, even if it’s not perfect, and to do it right now. That was enough to help me have my best writing month ever.

So now that JANO’s over, how do I use these lessons moving forward? Obviously, I need deadlines and accountability—those are the weapons I need to fight my demons. JANO provided that for a few weeks, but what now? Oh, lovely critique partners, I think I have a job for you!