NaNoWriMo is like a game of golf – Prem Rao
(Prem Rao’s debut novel “It Can’t Be You” is a NaNoNovel and so is the next one, “Lucky For Some, 13” which was launched in December 2012.
Posted here is a quick chat with Prem Rao about his Nano experiences and insights, which took place in the last week of NaNoWriMo 2012).
Sonia Rao: Prem, this is your fourth NaNo and judging by your current word count, this year too seems to be a winning one for you. Heartiest Congratulations. Tell us, when and how did you hear of NaNoWriMo?
Prem Rao: Thank you, Sonia. This year will make it 4/4 for me and I am very excited about it. I knew of NaNoWriMo since 2004 or so, mentioned to me by a friend in the US. I didn’t have the time till 2009 to give it a shot. Also, I had the wrong impression, because of its name, that it was only for folk in the US.
Sonia Rao: What were your personal circumstances (job, retirement…) when you first attempted NaNo?
Prem Rao: I was still running my business in 2009. I retired post my heart surgery in July 2010. NaNo 2010 was that much easier for me, as were the ones to follow. By then I had been there, done that; learnt from the experience essentially, what to do and what to avoid and so on.
Sonia Rao: What does NaNoWriMo mean to you?
Prem Rao: I owe so much to NaNo. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that whatever I have achieved as a writer till date is primarily because of NaNoWriMo. I have often said that dreams remain dreams until an event comes along that acts like a catalyst to move those idle dreams to purposeful actions. For me, NaNoWriMo was that catalyst. In November 2009, I wrote the first 50,000 words of a psychological thriller, “It Can’t Be You” which went on to become my debut novel when it was published in November 2010. This made me arguably the first person from out of India to have a debut novel published from a debut effort at NaNo. Likewise, in November 2010, I wrote the first 50,000 words of “Lucky For Some, 13” and guess what? On December 1, 2012 that book is being launched.
Sonia Rao: 4 years of NaNo must have offered you many insights about how to successfully tackle it. Could you share some of them with us?
Prem Rao: I have identified the following key points which I feel are instrumental in getting success in NaNoWriMo. They are:
- Do what works best for you? Write in the mornings, evenings, nights whenever it suits you, but write you must, every single day.
- Don’t fall too much behind the asking rate of 1667 words per day. If you are ahead of the game, so much the better. I always try to be ahead of the curve because there are some days when it is difficult to achieve your daily target.
- Don’t try to edit as you write. That slows you down. At least, it does for me. My mantra:“write at speed, edit at leisure.” You can edit to your heart’s content, as you will need to do, of course, after November ends.
- Learn from others and share. Participate in the NaNo forums. I learnt so much from interactions there. You will meet so many people who are helpful with ideas and experiences. We are truly a great global community.
- Be positive. It’s fun to compete with others. There are some who are miles ahead of you, but don’t lose heart. Heck, there are thousands who are behind you. Look at it like a game of golf, where you are really competing against yourself. The targets are known. There is no ambiguity at all about this. Where you are is known, virtually on a minute to minute basis. What else do you need to finish the course?
- End strongly. Don’t lose your momentum towards the end, whatever your wordcount.
Sonia Rao: There are seven days left of NaNoWriMo. Any tips for those wrimos who are lagging behind with their word counts and/ or having second thoughts?
Prem Rao: There is some magic in the NaNoWriMo month which seems to make time whiz by faster than usual. Believe me, the thrill of successfully completing NaNoWriMo is the same, whether it is the first year for you or the fourth. It’s a test of your interest and your skill. Go for it and get the satisfaction of being one amongst a small percentage which ends up as winners. The biggest mistake you can make is to allow all the hard work to go waste by slackening towards the end. There is time left till November 30. Go for it. Finish strongly. The last burst makes the difference between victory and defeat.
Sonia Rao: This is stupendous encouragement for all wrimos, Prem. And now, time for us all to go back to writing. Thank you and wishing you more and more successful NaNoWriMos and more and more successful novels, in the future.
Prem Rao: Thank you, Sonia.
You can read more about Prem and his books at: