During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.
Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Geoff Le Pard, a published indie author whose multiple projects began with NaNoWriMo challenges.
Thank you for joining us, Geoff!
How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? I’ve done three and a half years!
How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? When I started blogging, I read about it and heard people praise it so decided to give it a go.
Three of your books began as NaNoWriMo projects. Can you tell us more about how you got started? The first book was the second book in a series. It followed my hero on his hapless journey and was set in 1981. Having finished the first book (set in 1976), I knew I wanted to continue, but I kept putting it off. Having heard about Nano, I saw it as the perfect way to kick-start book two. It worked.
The second book was a challenge I set myself the following year. I took the Nano concept—a challenge to write 1667 words a day through out November—and gave it a twist. I asked friends, family, fellow writers and followers of my blog to send me any prompt for short stories that appealed to them. By the time Nano began, I had thirty possible short story prompts and structures. Each day I committed to write a new short self-contained story of 1667 words exactly and post it on my blog. Eventually, I turned it into my first anthology of short stories, entitled Life, In A Grain of Sand.
The third book, like the first needed a kick-start and while this one proved more difficult to bring to fruition I did complete the 50,000 words for Nano. The half book was a disappointment at the time (I only managed about 32,000 words) but I left it alone for a year and came back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
Where are your books and stories set? The first book is set in the West End of London in 1981, following the adventures of Harry Spittle, a character loosely based on me, or at least on my life’s trajectory—in this instalment he is training to be a lawyer, as I was in 1981. His adventures are nothing like my own! The second, as I explained is a set of shorts, so pretty much everywhere! The third is a modern comic fantasy set about now in a city much like London but not as you’d know it.
What has been your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscripts for publication? It is no different to any other book, really. For me, that first draft is like chiseling a few lumps off a piece of rock for a sculptor. It needs a heck of a lot of work. I usually leave anything I’ve written for a minimum of three and sometimes up to six months before I look at it again. After that it’s edit, edit, edit. If I can, I will try and persuade someone who will give me honest comments (and not just ‘nice’) to read it. Eventually I pay an editor to read it through, point out any obvious nonsenses with plot, character, dialogue etc and a second pass to clean up typos etc. Then I self-publish. I have a designer I use for the covers.
What is your favorite method of writing—pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Computer; I can’t read my own writing.
What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? A comfortable seat, good lighting and no chores making me feel guilty… I don’t really hear the music playing while writing; for me, it’s like the stuff you get in a lift—wallpaper music. Therefore, it can be anything, usually some compilation on Spotify.
Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? Both. More a night owl, I suppose. I’m most productive when there’s nothing else to do that day than write.
Are you a pantser or a planner? I used to say a pantser, but I’ve realized I’m a hybrid. All my novels, so far, have started with an idea and I’ve started writing with no end in mind. I may have one or two characters, but they develop as I write. However, I’m constantly revising my plot in my head, often taking it a long way forward. I plan a lot, I just don’t write the plot down.
What challenges have you faced as a writer? Time, time, time. And an over use of the word ‘so’. And a disinclination to tell my readers where my characters are – I struggle with locations, no idea why. I love editing and rewriting as much as the first write.
What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? The discipline of the challenge and knowing there are lot of others out there in their metaphorical garrets, toiling away to crack the 50K barrier.
What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Sue Townsend, AA Milne, Herge, Patrick Hamilton, Iain Banks, Ann Cleeve, Michael Bond… it’s pretty endless really.
Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? It is a marathon and as such do not think about the finish line; break it down into bite sized chunks. You can catch up if you miss a day. Try not to worry that you’ve changed a character, forgotten their name, put them in a different location, left a plot hole with its own event horizon—none of that matters as much as getting the 50k written. It doesn’t have to be linear either; if you write a chapter but aren’t sure where it will fit, it still counts and the exact insertion can follow. DO NOT LOOK BACK but keep moving forward, just writing.
Geoff Le Pard has been writing creatively since 2006 when, at a summer school with his family he wrote a short radio play. That led to a novel, some more courses, more novels, each better than the last until he took an MA in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam, graduating in 2013. His published works include Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Life, in a Grain of Sand. A retired lawyer, he mixes writing with a range of activities, including walking his dog to find inspiration, wrestling his lawn into a chequerboard pattern and watching sports. You can find him on WordPress at Tangental.
National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.
NaNoWriMo Programs and Links from Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch.
In the midst of your NaNoWriMo project? Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.