Millions of writers all over the world are penning their novels during NaNoWriMo month. If you think writing 50K words in one month is an uphill task what would you say about a writer who has challenged herself to write 12 novels in 12 months? Meet romance author Dakota Madison who could well be the Poster Girl for NaNoWriMo. I chatted her up to find out what keeps her motivated and how she manages to be so productive.
NaNoWriMo is in progress right now. A lot of writers are intimidated at the prospect of writing a 50K novel in one month. However, you have been doing a novel a month for a year and at the end of this year you would have completed 12 novels. Why did you take on such a daunting challenge?
I had so much fun last year during National Novel Writing Month that I didn’t want it to end! I had also established a habit of writing every day and I wanted to continue with it. Plus, I had so many ideas I wanted to write, I had to keep going.
Did you have ideas for 12 different novels right at the beginning? Or did some of them emerge on the way?
I had ideas for more than 12 novels but I also came up with more ideas along the way. So I still have a bank of ideas yet to be written. I just added two more ideas to the bank today!
Did you feel like giving up on the challenge? And who/what motivated you to stay the course?
I’m the type of person that once I make my mind up to do something it is extremely difficult to stop me. So, I never felt like giving up on the challenge. The most difficult part, however, was to try and do all of the rewriting and editing on a completed novel while I was writing the next one. I also own my own publishing company, so along with writing I also spend time marketing and promoting my published work. And did I mention that I also work a full-time job. I’ve learned to survive on a lot less sleep!
Wow, that’s pretty amazing. What is your writing process? Do you have a kind of schedule…wherein you do x number of words every day, come what may? And do you ever take a day off from writing?
I write every day and I never take a day off from writing. I even write on Christmas day! I get up every morning at about 4:30am and write for about two hours until I have to get ready for work. I also drag my laptop to work with me and write on my lunch hour. My daily goal is about 1800 words.
Are all the novels that you are writing in one genre? Or are you writing in different genres? And how easy/difficult is it to switch genres?
I’ve written in a number of different genres in the past. But for my 12 novels in 12 months, I wrote all romance novels. I find it difficult to switch genres so I’m planning on keeping with the romance genre for a while.
I tend to get myself into all kinds of trouble when I’m writing! For example, I made the decision to have the main character of my Fire on Ice series play hockey professionally. I don’t know a lot about hockey, so I had to do a lot of research and also rely on my husband, who is a huge hockey fan, to provide me with information. For Community Service, the novel I just finished in October, when my main character appeared, he was in a wheelchair. I knew absolutely nothing about spinal cord injury so once again I had to do a tremendous amount of research. I was also extremely fortunate to find a spinal cord injury consultant, who was a great help.
You have set up your own self-publishing company. It must be a great thrill to see your novel put up for sale quickly and see the revenues ticking in. How have the sales of your books been so far?
I feel extremely fortunate that I’ve had great sales so far, especially for a small press. But I’m still very much “midlist” so there’s a lot of room for growth!
You are also a screenwriter. Has screenwriting taken a backseat because of your novel writing?
I’m an award-winning/optioned screenwriter and I’ve written 10 screenplays. But I find novel writing much more fulfilling. As an author, I’ve found the rewards more immediate than I did with screenwriting and I have a lot more control over my artistic product and my career.
I tend to panic more over the things that are not in my control. For example, before I release a book, I usually panic when I wonder if readers will like it. As an author, I have to be willing to put my “baby” out into the world knowing that people could love it or hate it. And readers are not shy about telling authors everything they don’t like about their work. These are the things that keep me up at night!
After 12-novels-in-12-months is done and dusted, what next for Dakota Madison?
I wrote my 12 novels in 12 months as Dakota Madison. Next year, I will continue to write adult romances as Dakota Madison but I will also be releasing a line of Young Adult paranormal/scifi romance novels as Cheyenne Nicholson Kelly.
Any tips for writers who find it difficult to finish their work?
Never start something new until you finish the project you’re working on. Write every day, even if it’s just a few words. It’s important to establish a habit. Give yourself permission to write junk. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect in the first draft. You can always fix the junk later when you rewrite.
Thank you, Dakota, for being such an inspiration. Good luck with all your writing endeavours!
Dakota Madison has been writing since she learned to read and fell in love with books. When she’s not at her computer creating spicy new romances, she’s traveling to exotic locales or spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.