Tag Archives | Nanowrimo

Otherwhere: Grateful It’s Over

LT on chairYeah, so I know I wrote a whole post about being grateful and I am, truly and all.  But today, two days after I wore myself out cooking for 14 people and a baby, I have one more thing to be grateful about–and that is that Thanksgiving is over.  At about noon on Thursday, after being up since 5:30 working in the kitchen, I said, to nobody in particular, “I’m done.  Not doing this again.”

I’ll let you know how that works out next year at this time.

The thing is, turkey day has totally messed with my NaNoWriMo word count.  Last week, on which exact day I can’t remember because my brain is fogged, I figured I had about 10,000 words to go.  At my usual rate of 2,000 words a day, that seemed like a breeze to accomplish. EXCEPT I FAILED TO FACTOR IN COOKING FOR 14 PEOPLE ON THANKSGIVING.  And also, at least in my world, there’s not only cooking but cleaning, and lots of it, as well. So now, all these days later, I still have 10,000 words to go and oh, let’s see, three days to finish.  So I’m not going to make it.  But I’ll probably finish with about 42,000 words.  And that’s 42K more than I had on October 31.  And I wasn’t really doing it anyway, since I already had around 17,000 words.

Okay, enough about me.  Let’s head out and see what happened in other places on the internet this week.  It’s a short-ish list because lots of what was happening on the internet this week was Black Friday related.  But here we go:

How Long Should Your Legs Be?  A funny title but a good post from novelist Eleanor Brown.  I’ll let you figure out what she means.

Why I Left My Agent.  A guest post on Jane Friedman’s site, I read this one with avid interest.  Because, I love my agent and I love feeling like I have someone in my corner to help me with my career.  But, as we know, there’s a lot of changes in the publishing world these days and so I’m interested in all viewpoints.  You probably should be, too.

Why You Should Commit to Continuous Practice. I follow the author of this post, Saundra Goldman, on Instagram, and often like her snapshots of her writing practice.  Finally it occurred to me to go check out her website. Turns out she teaches with Natalie Goldberg and has a cool site.  Check it out.

A Literary Gift Guide: Top 15 Paris Books.  Because, Paris.  Always and forever.

Say No to Say Yes.  From Barbara O’Neal, one of my favorite writers.

Okay, that’s it for me.  That’s all I got.  I’m going to go eat leftover turkey and maybe sneak in a piece of pie for dessert.  How about you? How was your Thanksgiving?  (Or if you live overseas, what lovely non-turkey related things did you do this week?)

(Photo of my cat sleeping on my office chair, since I wasn’t using it.)

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Otherwhere: S*&^ Happens Edition

objects-stationery-draw-10141-lI started this new blog series a little over a week ago, on Halloween, with the intention to publish a new post every Saturday. And, well, as the title says, s%# happened over the weekend.  Like Wordstock, for instance, our local book and author fair (more on that in a post later this week).  And the fact that Saturday was a major backyard clean-up day, even though it was pouring down rain.  (Let me be clear that I did not have to get my delicate hands dirty. I left the work to my hub and son-in-law, God love them.)  But anyway, better late than never, right? And I’ve been diligently gathering links for you all week so here you go:

  • For those of you doing Nanowrimo (and those who just want to write a lot) here’s a list of helpful titles (my own included) that you can download for free.
  • And if you are doing Nanowrimo, why not get a whole chunk of your 50K words done in one day? My friend Milli runs 10K for Writer days every month. Join in the fun here.
  • Here’s a nice post about one writer’s journey to publication.  Nicole and are are Twitter friends and she’s a fellow Oregonian.
  • A bit of fun from Stephen Pressfield.
  • And some insight into nurturing yourself as you write from Janice Hardy.
  • Should you write for online markets? Answers here.
  • From Kristen Lamb, advice about how fast drafting is actually good for your writing.
  • And finally, did you know there’s going to be an American Writer’s Museum?

And, please note, I have learned how to insert photos into posts!  Woot woot! This one happens to be by danzo08, from everystockphoto.

ALSO I think we’ve gotten the comments sorted out.  So please leave one.  And remember, the giveaway for the J.D. Frost novel runs through next week–so you still have time to leave a comment there for a chance to win!

Okay one more thing, I’m still not certain that old blog subscribers got transferred over to the new site–so you might want to check the little subscribe box when you’re leaving a comment.

Thank you!

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Why Every Writer Should Do Nanowrimo

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this Sunday November 1st?   Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes

Why yes, yes it is, Charlotte.

Thank you.  So you know what that means:

Drumroll, please….

It's time for Nanowrimo!

What's that you say? You just crawled out from your writing cave and you haven't heard of Nanowrimo?  Well, let me clue you in. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, wherein participants write a novel during the month of November.  Yeah, the month with Thanksgiving and Black Friday in it.  Uh-huh.

For the purposes of Nanowrimo, a novel is considered to be 50,000 word,s which usually isn't a full-length novel, but its darn close. And to get 50K words done in a month is incredible.  You can finish the rest of it later.

I know.  Sounds like madness.  But its really pretty fun, in a masochistic kind of way.  And even if you only make it part way through, I believe it will benefit your writing.  Here's why:

1.  It will kick start you into a regular writing habit.  In order to complete Nanowrimo, you've got to write every day.  It's just too easy to get behind otherwise.  Yeah, some people may do it all in a few crazy-ass huge word count sessions, but for most people, the challenge will get accomplished a day at a time.  This is how all writing gets done over the long haul, and so even if you don't get to 50K words, you'll have gone a long way to cement a good habit.

2.  It will get you in the mindset of attaining daily writing goals.  When I've done the challenge (I actually completed it one year, have gone about half way in other years) I set myself a daily page count goal of 2,000 words to allow for days off and emergencies.  At other times of the year, I go for less than that, say in the 1K to 1,500 K range.  If I start to complain that such word counts are just too much, I remind myself of Nanowrimo and the 2,000 words a day.  And I keep writing.   Nanowrimo is the ultimate marathon.  Once you've completed it, you know you can do it again and you can't be a slacker!

3.  You can take advantage of the collection energy.  I'm not sure how many people do Nanowrimo each year, but it's in the millions, world-wide.  (It started out in 2000 with 21 people.)  Just think of the energy of all those people holed up in their writing caves, working away! It is astounding.  Plus, there are local meet-ups all over the world, which you can find out about on the site.

4.  You can get encouragement and advice from other writers.  There's tons of it on their website, and they generally send out helpful and motivating emails throughout the month as well.  But you do have to sign up for all this.

5.  It's the best training to write fast.  More and more in my old age, I'm convinced that just throwing words on the page is the way to go.  We too often let the inner critic or the inner roommate take over and rule us while we are writing, and that just slows us down.  Am I always able to write fast? No.  But its my goal. And writing 2K words a day helps.

6.  It gives you bragging rights.  Let's face it, we writers don't get a lot to crow about.  We pretty much do the same thing day after day, and then when we are finished we send our work out into the world and endure rejections.  So why not take advantage of something that actually let's you win–and give you something to brag about?

7.  It gives you an ironclad excuse to write.  When I was an MFA student, my favorite thing was to say, "Sorry, I can't, I'm a student and I've got an assignment due." For some reason people took this much more seriously than when I said, "Sorry I can't, I need to work on my novel."  Nanowrimo gives you an excuse!  You can now say, with grave authority "Sorry, I can't, I'm on deadline." Booyah!

Bonus reason:  It's fun!!!!!  Yeah, a non-writer hearing about writing 2K words a day and calling it fun would think we're nuts.  But you write because you love it.  You write because its fun.  So let yourself in on the party.

So, do tell: are you up for Nanowrimo? Have you done it before? Do you plan to do it again? 

(For other posts related to Nanowrimo, go here.)

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

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From The Archives: Why Writing a Novel is a Good Thing–Even If You Never Get it Published

And here's one final offering from the archives, back in September of 2012.

Yeah, so, you want to write a novel.  And you're even thinking of doing Nanowrimo this year. (Nanowrimo = National Novel Writing Month, just in case you don't know, and it's in November.) 

But then the voices begin:                             

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The dreaded blank page.
The dreaded blank page.

You'll never get published.

Why bother?

It's a waste of time.

You could be doing other things.  Worthy things.

You think you can write?

Who do you think you are to write a novel?

And so on.  I'm sure you know the variations.

But I'm here to tell you otherwise.  To inform you that writing a novel, in and of itself, for no other reason than to do it, is a worthy activity.  It is.  Even if you never get published.  (Which, with all the publishing options we've got these days, you probably will, one way or another.) And here's why:

1.  It's a creative act.  And the world needs as many of these as we can get. Creativity breeds creativity, just as energy breeds energy.  Who knows what spending time writing this novel might lead to?  It might lead to a best-selling novel, or an amazing idea in another area.  And, it doesn't matter if that doesn't happen because the simple act of sitting down to create is important.

2.  Novels change the world, in big ways and in little ways.  Novels deliver stories, which we're hard-wired to accept, and stories change us.  Think of novels with grand, culture-baring themes.  Or remember how you felt the last time you read a small, intimate novel.  It changed you a little, didn't it?  And that's how changing the world happens–one person at a time.

3. Novel writing makes you happy.  At least it makes me happy.  I love it.  And I presume that it will make you happy, too.  Lest you think that happiness is an unworthy goal, remember that none other than the Dalai Lama says that happiness is the point of life.

4.  Writing a novel is an accomplishment.  The first time I finished a novel (it's the one sitting in my office cupboard)I was so amazed at how much oomph it took that I vowed to respect every single book ever written, even the crappiest romance novel.  And I do.  You should too–especially the one you're writing now.

5.  Writing a novel hones your skills.  And remember, getting better at one thing affects the way you do everything.  Improving your novel writing will impact your blog posts.  And your articles.  And your diet.  As the ancients used to say, as above, so below.

6.  Writing a novel helps you understand the world.  To write a novel, you must populate it with characters, and to create characters, you must understand people.  And, guess what?  People are what make our world go around.  Writing a novel helps you understand them.

7. It's your deepest, most heartfelt desire.  Don't let that desire go unanswered.  Go do it already. 

Here's what I recommend: create your own list of reasons to write a novel.  Name it the Novel-Writing Manifesto, or something a bit less grandiose.  Post it next to your computer.  Read it often–especially after something has shaken your confidence.  It'll snap you right back into a novel-writing space.

What are your reasons for writing a novel (or any project)? Do you use them to steer yourself back on course?

And if you'd like help with your novel-writing effort, remember my Get Your Novel Written Now Class begins in October!

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Links Round-Up: Nanowrimo

While I am out, I'm posting link round-ups of various sorts.  I looked at the calendar and realized, Nanowrimo is a little over a month away! (If you don't know what Nanowrimo is, you probably won't be interested in these links.  But for the record, it is National Novel Writing Month, wherein you write at 50,000 word novel in a month.)

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Here are some articles I'm published on the topic through the years:

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Nanowrimo

Writing Beginnings: Nanowrimo, Day One, A Story About Sometimes

Nanowrimo Prep

Writing Inspiration, Whether You Are Nanowrimo-ing Or Not

There's a Reason Nanowrimo is Held in November

8 Essential Tools for Book Writing (Just in Time for Nanowrimo)

Writing Every Morning

And hey, if you feel like you'd like a little support for the novel writing, and some help prepping for Nanowrimo, consider my Get Your Novel Written Now Class, coming up in October.

Image by ktylerconk.  It's a quote from Henry David Thoreau, on a plaque at the New York City public library.

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My Writing Life

So, as we all know, it is Nanowrimo, with many of us smack in the middle of scratching out 50,000 words this month.  (I'm not doing it because I'm rewriting my novel but I'm cheering on everyone else who is writing!)  The lovely people at Webeducator asked me a few questions about writing–in celebration of Nanowrimo, they are posting interviews with various writers on their website.  So here are my answers:

  • What were your goals when you started writing?  Just to find a way to make writing a regular part of my life.  I love writing–have since I was a little girl.  It is something that I absolutely need to do, I get antsy and anxious when I don't write.  So I really wanted to find a way to make writing my vocation and my avocation.
  • What are your goals now? To write my next novel and for it to be as successful as it possibly can be.  I'm also looking to fill my writing workshop/retreat in France in September of 2015.  And to be the best teacher and coach that I possibly can be.
  • What pays the bills now?  My teaching, coaching, and related activities.
  • Assuming writing doesn't pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?  Because I love it so much.  Writing novels and short stories is how I make sense of the world, what gives it meaning to me.  Without it, I'm not sure what I'd do.
  • And optionally, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing? Write because you love it first.  Work at your craft and constantly strive to improve.  If you're open to finding creative ways to make a career out of writing, you can do it!

I think my favorite question of all of these is the last–what advice would you give to young writers? So I will turn it around and ask you, my beloved readers, the same thing.  What advice would you give to young writers?  Tell us in the comments, please.

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Nanowrimo Support and Encouragement

Sigh.  Heavy sigh.  Slumped shoulders.  Glazed eyes.

Nanowrimo-plotting-1430933-h

This, according to the photographer, is the "Plot Dog." Hope he helps you, too!

That's me, because I'm not doing Nanowrimo and I miss it.  I miss the flat-out gonzo nuttiness of hurling words at the page and the feeling you get after nailing 1K or 2K or more words.   The last time I wrote like this was the first two weeks of September, when I participating in a class devoted to fast drafting. (You can read more about my experience below.)

But I'm deep into the first rewrite of my novel and I've got a lot of other stuff going on, too.  (Like wonderful clients.  And other novels to promote.  A live workshop in Nashville in February to plan. Next year's France retreat to dream about. Things to knit.  And a ukelele to learn how to play.) And so I thought it best to focus my efforts on revision, even though I keep getting wonderful ideas for the half-finished mystery I did in September.  (Dutifully, I am noting said ideas in the little notebook I keep for that purpose, just as I advise my clients to do.)

I do, however, want to support all of you out there who are chugging along at Nanowrimo.  So rather than regurgitate stuff I've written before, I offer you links that I hope will be of help.  Enjoy!

Here are posts from my blog:

Fast Drafting Fiction (Or Any Kind of Writing)

This Series on Writing Fast Will Blow Your Creative Mind–And Inspire You

Shhh! Here's the Secret to Prolific Writing

How I Wrote (Almost) 10K Words Yesterday

The Magic Formula for Getting Lots of Writing Done

And here are a couple from other sites:

NaNoWriMo Inspiration (from the wonderful Rachael Herron, on whom I have a huge girl crush)

10K Day for Writers  (Milli's site is alas inactive at the moment, but there's tons of good stuff on writing a lot on it, so have a look around)

Nanowrimo Inspiration (A Tumblr blog I just found which seems to be a wonderful mish-mash of ideas and yes, inspiration

Inventive Writing Prompts (My own Tumblr blog with a prompt every day, over 100 now.)

A Pinterest board!

Five Links for Nanowrimo Inspiration (An article on Forbes–yes, Forbes!–from a couple of years ago with good stuff in it.

Okay, I would say that is quite enough reading material for you, especially because you are going to be spending so much time writing over the next month.  Right? And do tell: are you doing Nanowrimo this year?  Is it your first year or are you a seasoned pro?

Plot Dog photo by gothick_matt.

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Inventive Writing Post Round-up #14

Here is my weekly collection of prompts from my Tumblr blog.  You can also always find prompts here.

#96 Identify three turning points in your character’s life (or yours).  Look for “road not taken” times.  How did these experiences affect the person your character (or you) are today?

#97  "There are three things that scare me," she said.  "Spiders, clowns, and jack-o-lanterns."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because when I was a little girl…….."

#98  "Pie or cake, which do you prefer?" Mandy asked the dinner table.

"Pie!"

"Cake!"

One by one they went around the table and told which they preferred and why.  The best story was the one told about the time that….

#99 Write about the most recent time your character (or you) saw his mother. Doesn’t matter if it was years ago, or yesterday.  What does she look like? How do you feel about her? What happened during this visit?

#100 Never say never, because as soon as you do, the universe will slap you in the face.  What has your character said she would never do that she later ended up doing?

#101  Write about your best Halloween and your worst Halloween.  Do this for yourself—and your main character.

#102  All Soul’s Day.  Day of the Dead.  A day to honor one’s ancestors.  Who is the most influential of your ancestor?  The most colorful?  The most scandalous? The most fun?  The most famous?  The richest? The poorest? The happiest?

Write a little bit about each one and then select an ancestor to write more about.

 How is your writing going?

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The Magic Formula For Getting Tons of Writing Done

Okay, guys, Nanowrimo is on the horizon, swiftly approaching…just four more days!  I know many of you like to torture yourself with the task of writing a 50,000-word novel in a month.  And even those of you not participating this year (I'm sitting it out) still would like to know the magic formula for getting tons of writing done.

Amiright? Crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafb

I thought so.

I shall share it with you, and bear in mind there is good news and bad news that comes along with it. The good news being that a magic formula exists.  The bad news being that magic formulas don't work unless you use them.

So, here it is: 

Commitment + Consistency + Courage = Creativity

And guess what? Creativity equals words on the page and words on the page result in a finished book. So let's look at each element in turn.

1. Commitment.  For most people, this is likely the hardest part of the formula.  I know it is for me. You tell yourself you're going to get up at 5:30 and get those words written….and then you see something interesting on Facebook (Or CNN if you're a newshound like me). And instead of writing, you're browsing the internet.  If this happens once or twice, give yourself a break, maybe your brain needs a rest.  But if it is a regular occurrence, take a look at yourself.  Where's your integrity? Ouch.  I hate calling you (and myself) on the carpet.  But, sometimes it is necessary.  So, do yourself a big favor. If you say you're going to write, by God, go write.  Integrity feeds on integrity.  And procrastination feeds on procrastination. (As in, I've blown it now, why bother? This is the same sentiment that derails diets.  Don't ask me how I know this, just trust me, okay?)

2. Consistency.  Another difficult one.  If you're anything like me, you get a good momentum going and then rebel against it.  A little rebellion is okay–it allows your ego to thing its in charge.  But only a little! Because consistently showing up at the page, day after day after day is how you get tons of writing done.  I knew a writer who scheduled writing days once a month.  Didn't work, because in the vast distance between writing dates he lost the threads of his project and it took hours to get caught up again.  Last I heard, he wasn't writing any more.  Don't be him!  Write as often as you can!

3. Courage.  You need it.  Period.  You need it for when you dredge up those old dormant emotions in order to inject realism into your characters.  And you need it for when your kids want your attention and you just need to finish a paragraph.  Or for when your spouse tells you he misses you sitting next to him on the couch at night, watching TV.  Or for when your mother makes a snide remark about how much time you're spending on that dumb-novel-that's-not-going-anywhere.  You need it to persevere, to commit and be consistent.

Put those three elements together and you get:

Creativity.  The mad delight of putting words on the page.  The feeling that all is right with the world.  The joy of being so in the moment that you don't even realize time has passed.  The satisfaction of meeting your word count.  Yeah, some days it is hard to convince yourself to get to the page, but oh my goodness, it is worth it!

So dive in!  The words and sentences don't have to be perfect, they just have to be.  Get them out of you and onto the computer, or typewriter, or spiral or whatever you write in.

(By the way, this magic formula is taken from a little Ebook I wrote called Set the Words Free, which I will be releasing soon.) 

Do you have a magic formula for getting your writing done?  Please share in the comments!

I snitched the image from the Nanowrimo website.  I don't think they'll mind too much.

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Book Review: Fast Fiction

I was asked to review  this book by the publisher.  I received no money, though I did get a copy of the book.  The opinions offered are mine alone.

Fast Fiction          FastFiction_cvr_hires

by Denise Jaden

When I was offered the chance to review this book, I leapt at it.   I have a lot of story ideas that I'm working on (a novel, several short stories, another novel all lined up and ready to go when I finish the first one) and then there are other things (like making a living) that take up my time.

So, fast fiction?  I'm there.

The full title of this book is Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days.  The author, Denise Jaden, was inspired by her experiences writing a novel during Nanowrimo, helped along by the fact that the novel she wrote the first time she participated eventually got published. She's such an enthusiast of the process that she offers her own Thirty Day Writing Challenge on her blog.

I'm good with Nanowrimo–I've participated in it and I know a lot of other writers who have, too. But what mostly appealed to me about this book was learning Jaden's techniques for writing fiction fast.

Before I tell you more about the book, let's dispel one notion right off the bat–just because something is done quickly, that doesn't mean it is bad, okay?  I'm not sure how this idea got started, but it is prevalent.  For my money, writing a first draft as fast as you can often means you get your deep true voice on the page better than when you labor over a draft.   Of course, after completing said first draft  you then go on to rewrite, revise and polish it in future drafts–that is a given.

Back to the book.  So many writing books get me enthused at the beginning and then I get bored. But I've actually been working with the ideas in this one.  As those of you have taken my novel-writing class or read many of my posts know, I'm a big believer in doing prep work before you start the writing. (In other words, I am not a pantser, but a proud plotter.)  And this method is essentially Jaden's technique for writing fast.  In Part One: Before the Draft, she takes you through all the prep work pieces that will enable you to write a fast draft.  She includes tons of questions and prompts about character, setting, and plot that will help you lay out ideas for the novel. 

In Jaden's world, after you've done all of the afore-mentioned exercises, you are then ready to create a story plan which you will follow in order to fast draft.  I'm a sucker for anything with the word "plan" in it, so I decided to apply this to a novella I'm writing (it used to be a story but recently grew to a novella).  I had some sketchy notes and a first scene written for this novella.  I applied the 11 steps in Jaden's story plan(they include things like identifying what your main character wants and lining out each scene) to it, et voila, fast drafting is indeed much easier.  (I've said it before and I'll say it again, not only to you, but to myself–writing works ever so much better when you know where you're going.)

Part Two of the book is a day-by-day guide for the actual thirty day drafting process.  It's full of more ideas and prompts, the gist of it being that you refer to each page as you go along.  I'm not doing the thirty day drafting thing, so I'm mining this section of the book for inspiration in a more random way.  And Part Three of the book has some good thoughts on revision.

So, I give this book an enthusiastic thumbs up.  Even if you aren't a believer in fast drafting, or if you are, gasp, a pantser, I think you'll find a lot of value in it.

What's your favorite book on writing?  Do you have one that you go back to over and over or do you find yourself seeking out a new one?

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