NaNoWriMo Webinar AKA How to Get Free Ice Cream and All the Pencils You Can Eat

Monday evening, I checked my email and found a message from NaNoWriMo announcing a webinar called From Rough Draft to Published Novel, hosted by NaNoWriMo, Maureen Johnson, and Lisi Harrison. As I’m about embark on my first major edit of a novel, I decided this webinar was just what I needed! I had to sign up!

So, 7:50pm Tuesday night, I grabbed my favorite notebook and purple pen and shut the door to my room so there’d be no distractions. At 8:00pm, I sat (virtually) in the chat room waiting with bated breath for the webinar to start. At 8:05pm the webinar tried to begin, but due to some technical difficulties it was another half hour before it officially began. That was ok, though, because Maureen Johnson (who was the only one who could be heard or seen consistently) kept me well entertained ad-libbing a thirty minute comedic monologue. Then she got serious and said, “It is just you and me,” and that the webinar was not real, just a way that she could communicate “a very dangerous mission” she needed me (and any other webinar attendee) to go on. According to her, “You probably won’t make it out alive. But you get free ice cream and all the pencils you can eat.” Needless to say, I accepted the mission, although still unsure of what it was, and I’m now sitting here, chewing on pencils and eating my free ice cream. 😉 Okay, okay, maybe I didn’t get any free ice cream or pencils, but I did have a great time, even if the webinar hadn’t officially started yet. Ms. Harrison eventually joined the fun, answering questions in the chat room instead of talking.

After the technical difficulties were worked out, the webinar really got started. It mainly consisted of the two ladies answering chat room questions, read and commented on by Grant, the “NaNoWriMo Guy,” which ranged from “How to deal with plot holes?” to “Recommended books for publishing and writing?” to “What is your agent like?” And wow, was it helpful! I learned a ton about editing, agents, and publishing.

I even asked a question that was answered by Ms. Johnson. My question was, “How do you know that the story you were writing was the one?” Ms. Johnson’s answer was that it is “the one you stick with” and that “something seems to come of it, and it seems to grow.” It is “the one you end up working the longest and you keep working on it ’cause you saw a glimmer of something there.” Ms. Johnson also said she likes to test out her story ideas beforehand and that she used to write practice novels when she started writing.

Screen print of my question.  I was so thrilled to have it read!

Screen print of my question. I was so thrilled to have it read!

Other topics covered in the webinar included:

Figuring out where your critiques are coming from

Not being attached to any part of your novel


Word counts (This was after all, hosted by the king of wordcounts, NaNoWriMo. 😉 )

Finding an Agent

At 9:30, the webinar finished. I was pretty disappointed it was already over, but I guess all good things have to come to an end. I learned a lot and had a great time. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, Ms. Johnson, and Ms. Harrison for hosting it! And if Ms. Johnson ever reads this blog post, next time I have computer issues, I’m definitely hiring you to come and fix my computer machines. 😉

You can find a recorded version of the webinar here, which means you, too, can find out how to get free ice cream and all the pencils you can eat. Oh, yeah, and how to edit that book you’ve been working on, too. 😉 I definitely recommend watching it!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla