The Why and How of NaNoWriMo

By Ron Estrada

For those of you living off the grid,
NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writers Month (writers are horrible
with acronyms), kicked off this week. Every November, nearly half a million
participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month.
There is no cash prize.
There is no guarantee of publication.
There is not even a guarantee that it
will be good.
So why should you, a serious author
type, join an event that will do nothing to further your writing career?
Especially one that demands you draft your novel in the month of November,
whether or not you are ready to draft and whether or not you want to set a
1,667 word per day pace.
Because, my friends, that’s where your
readers may be hanging out. It is no secret that writers are hard-core readers.
It is also no secret that readers who writer are those that will be the most
enthusiastic about leaving reviews and promoting your books.
Last year NaNoWriMo drew 431,626
participants, including 80,137 students and educators in the Young Writers Program.
What you need to understand about these impressive numbers is this: NaNoWriMo is
more than writing a 50k novel in a month, it is a social media event.
Are you listening?
There are 430,000 avid readers, at this
moment, hashtagging their brains out with #nanowrimo or #nanowrimo2016 on every
single social media platform.
And where might you be?
How
to #NaNoWriMo
Just like any other post about social
networking, you have to go to where your readers hang out. Generally, adult
readers hang out on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. My readers, those between
the ages of 10 and 17, are more likely to be found on Instagram, Tumblr, and
Wattpad (yes, Wattpad is a social media site).
So I use Wattpad and Instagram for my
NaNo postings (I find Tumblr to lacking in oversight, so I’d rather not join in
and I encourage parents to keep their kids off of it).
Wattpad, of course, is a good starting
point. I joined in the NaNoWriMO conversations in the Wattpad “clubs,” which
are simply message boards. You’ll find mostly young, new writers here, so offer
lots of advice and encouragement. I designed a book cover in Canva and started
my new novel on Wattpad. Yes, I will be posting my rough draft daily as I
write. Don’t worry, these are understanding readers.
I then post my daily and total word
counts to Instagram using, of course, the appropriate hashtags. I’ll also use
my one profile link to take my followers back to my Wattpad novel.
The goal here is to accumulate more
followers on both Wattpad and Instagram, followers who are writers and very
avid readers.
For those of you with an older
audience, I suggest using Facebook to post your daily word counts. If you want
to be brave, post your rough draft to your blog, then post that link with your
word count. Post it to Twitter as well (because it’s easy).
Graphics
and Video
Wanna kick it up a notch? Use a fun
graphic to post your word count every day, like this one that I’m using on
Instagram:
Or, if you really want to have fun,
take advantage of the numerous video options on Facebook, Instagram, or your
blog to talk about your progress. And be sure to talk about your new novel!
That’s what it’s all about. Faceboook’s live video feed is a good way to really
connect on a personal level with your readers. They can comment as you video.
Facebook also saves the video for those who wish to watch it later.
The
Goal
Naturally, you’re not going to sell a
rough draft, and by the time you get this thing cleaned up and published, your
followers will have forgotten about it. But you can use the NaNo rush to
promote your current books. Or, if you have nothing to offer yet, just gain
followers. In this new age of publishing, a big online following is essential.
And what better way to build your
following than by ensuring it’s filled with readers who love reading so much
that they’ll tackle a 50k novel in one month?
So let’s get cracking! It’s not too
late to start. Go to NaNoWriMo.org to register. That’s where you’ll post your
word count as well. And be sure to look me up on Wattpad! You can critique me
as I post (with Christian love).
That’s it. I’m done blogging until
December.

Have a Happy National Novel Writers
Month!

TWEETABLES
The Why and How of NaNoWriMo by Ron Estrada (Click to Tweet)

NaNoWriMo is more than writing a 50k novel in a month, it is a social media event~ Ron Estrada (Click to Tweet)

Ron Estrada has multiple published magazine articles, including a regular column in the bi-monthly Women2Women Michigan. He also freelances as a technical writer, specializing in white papers for manufacturing and consumer products. He writes spec fiction, hovering somewhere between post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction (he prefers the term pre-Last Days), but has also dabbled in Mystery and Suspense. Turn-ons include long walks to Frosty Boy and dinner by Kindle light. His real-writer’s blog can be found at RonEstradaBooks.com.  You can e-mail him at rmestrada@ameritech.net or catch him (at pretty much any time) on Facebook. Twitter handle is @RonEstrada. CB handle is God’s Gift.

The Doors Every #Writer Must Choose Between

The Doors Every
Writer Must Choose Between
by Allen Arnold
Every writer enters into their creative
gifting through one of two doors.
Door #1 is With God.
Door #2 is Without God.
If this were a multiple-choice test, the
answer would be pretty simple. 100% of us would check the box labeled Door #1.
The problem is – Door #2 draws an enormous
amount of actual traffic. I believe that’s because humans like formulas,
techniques, and measurable goals they can set, control and achieve. And Door #2
thrives on those aspects.
The only way to enter Door #2 is through self-effort.
This door focuses almost exclusively on tangible, external performance metrics
such as hitting a daily word count or increasing social media buzz. Validation
comes through what is achieved – awards, number of books sold, ranking on
Amazon, or growth of one’s tribe. Yet God never confines himself to formulas or
human expectations.
None of Door #2’s external measurements are
inherently wrong. But let’s be honest, people can achieve them without God. In
fact, sometimes we get so busy with all the things associated with Door #2  because we believe they are the keys to our
success. And in those moments, it’s hard to tell when God has left the building
because our eyes are no longer on him.
A sure sign of spending too much time at Door
#2 is you regularly find yourself overwhelmed, disheartened, or burnt-out as a
writer. You either are consumed by your desire for success or feel like a complete
failure…sometimes both in the same hour. Unfortunately, those are the fruits
of self-effort.
On the other hand, the only way to enter Door
#1 is with God. It involves the
internal, mysterious, unpredictable path of entering the creative playground
with him. Signs of spending most of your time at Door #1 is that you take your
cues from God more than the market, you savor the writing time with him each
day, and you sense his purpose and pleasure in what you are doing.
Door #1 doesn’t always lead to commercial
success. In fact, that’s not even the focus of this door. But it does lead to
your transformation as you spend time creating with the Creator. And it is the
only way your writing will ever have eternal value. Remember – the reason God
gave you the gift of writing wasn’t so you could write books about him or for
him. It’s so you could write books with
him.
And here’s a secret. If you start each day
walking through Door #1, you can always visit Door #2. But if you start at Door
#2, it’s extremely hard to find much meaningful time in Door #1. That is
because God wants to be your primary focus as you pursue the calling he gave
you – not an add-on or enhancement. He’s the Creator who loves to reveal
himself through story and art and imagination and ideas. But only to those who hunger
and thirst for his presence over their own productivity.

If you aren’t sure which is your door of
choice, here are some questions that will help bring clarity:

  • What
    does writing with God look like for you? Describe it in tangible terms. I’m not
    asking whether you say a prayer before
    you write but rather how you engage with God actively as you write. 
  • In Scripture, Moses was so dependent on God
    that he once said he’d call the entire trip off if God didn’t show up (Exodus
    33:12 – 18). If you don’t sense God’s presence when you sit down to create, do
    you push forward on your own or do you wait on him? Does waiting like Moses did
    seem realistic for your schedule as a writer? 
  • What determines if you have a good or bad day
    as a writer? Is it mostly based on external or eternal issues? 
  • What does God think of your writing? Have you
    ever asked him this question and listened to his thoughts? 
  • What do you spend the most time as a writer
    talking and thinking about? Are they things that draw you closer to God and his
    desires for your creativity or more the metrics, industry, and craft aspects of
    the business? Why is that? 
At the end of the day, we spend more time in either Door #1 or Door #2. The right door makes all the difference. Choose
wisely. 
Allen Arnold loves the epic adventure God has set before him. From the mountains of Colorado, he leads Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). Before that, he spent 20 years in Christian Publishing – overseeing  the development of more than 500 novels as founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction. He was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. But that doesn’t really describe the man. Allen savors time with his family, craves the beach, drinks salsa by the glass, is hooked on the TV series “Once Upon a Time” and is passionate about helping storytellers tell better stories from an awakened heart.