This week we had the pleasure of getting to know another NaNoWriMo winner, Henriette C. Rigel, a passionate writer from Germany. We asked her everything from tips for first-timers to managing the tight timeframe of the 30-day challenge.
A Little Bit About Henriette C. Rigel
I am a private tutor, and I am waiting to study psychology at university!
I am from Germany.
Besides writing and reading stories, I also love listening to music, and I play the violin and piano myself. I also take great pleasure in gardening!
“When we begin to live, what is so sweet is so sweet to us, and what is bitter so bitter, that we inevitably direct all our desires towards pleasures […] ignorant all the while that we may really be starving the soul.“
– Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
1. Congratulations on your NaNoWriMo success! How did it feel when you found out you were a winner?
It was very overwhelming, a little bit like the adrenaline rush after riding the rollercoaster for the first time. I was proud and happy I did it, could hardly believe it, and mostly I was relieved and sad that it was over.
2. This is the first time you participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge; is it also the first full novel you have written?
It is actually my second full novel! Though writing the first one took me two years and it was a totally different experience.
3. How long had you been planning your winning novel?
I found out about NaNoWriMo on the 1st November on the @paperblanks Instagram account, so I didn’t plan at all! I just started writing but instantly got stuck, so I completely started over on the 4th. It is based on one of my short stories, so I didn’t have to do much worldbuilding. I didn’t have a real plan for the plot until I finished it though – I just went with it!
4. You are very passionate about writing and have your own blog. Have you always been drawn to the craft? What do you like most about writing?
I began writing as soon as I was able to, but back then those stories barely filled a page. I started to pick it up as a serious hobby after I graduated school. No matter if a story fits the fantasy genre or general fiction, it is always an escape into another world. This is also what fascinates me most about writing. To see my dreams and imaginations written down makes all those fictional stories real to me.
5. Can you describe your writing process? Has your story turned out differently than you thought it would?
When I started writing my story, I had no outline or summary to work with – just a basic idea what I wanted it to be about. I spent a lot of time working on my characters and their motivations, so the plot built itself around them on its own. One thing I was sure of, however, was that I wanted it to have a closed ending. But since the plot had a life on its own, I didn’t manage that.
6. Where do you like to write? What environment works best for you?
Most importantly, I like to write alone (with my cat). My favourite place is the armchair in my room, but a public place will do too when I have music and my notebook.
7. NaNoWriMo is a tight timeframe. How strict were you with yourself? Did you create a schedule to stick to?
I didn’t have a schedule but I managed to write every day. Even when I knew that I wouldn’t be able to write much, I planned to write some words at least. I just used every second I had.
8. What advice would you give to a first-timer?
Don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice! The whole NaNoWrMo community is very kind and friendly. Always have a notebook and pen with you, the best thoughts and lines may come in the weirdest moments. And don’t let yourself be intimidated by the word bar in the first week. It is supposed to be empty in the beginning, but it fills up every day, so don’t give up!
9. What did you enjoy the most about doing the NaNoWriMo challenge?
Growing as a writer. To actually write through the difficult parts of a story, learning to think outside the box to come up with the plot, dealing with the inner critic; those are all things I had to learn during NaNoWriMo. I know that I still have to train and learn a lot until I become a professional writer, but this challenge has made me more confident about my own writing.
10. Is there an author/writer you admire?
Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors; I love reading her work! I also admire Oscar Wilde’s plays very much!
11. Do you have any plans for a second novel?
Right now I am editing my NaNoWriMo novel and will go back to writing short stories. But I’d love to participate in the challenge again next November!
About Paperblanks: When creating our Paperblanks line, we were driven by a desire to keep the beauty of books alive. By drawing inspiration from great artists and craftspeople, our aim is to help you feel inspired and creative every day and to help you create your own personal pieces of art. For more about Paperblanks and our journals, visit our website at paperblanks.com.