Tag Archives | writing goals

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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What’s Your New Year’s Resolution for Writing in 2015?

Ukulele1_HiResGood morning.

It's 6:35 AM and I should be writing.  My main character, though, is in the middle of a somewhat dicey scene during which she not only sees an unpleasant side of her love interest but she must also confront him about it.  And I don't do confrontation well.  So I thought I'd leave her for awhile and head on over here and write a blog post instead.

Yes, I'm avoiding.  But at least its better than combing the internet for useless stories.  Which I was doing a couple minutes ago, in truth.  And in all that uselessness (Kate and William in New York! Big storms to hit both coasts! Asteroids!) I found something of value–a story on Writer Unboxed about New Year's resolutions for writers.  I've been thinking a lot about how I want to approach 2015 and so I stole the idea to write my own post.  (Happily enough, #3 on Keith Cronin's list is "steal something." Do go read the rest of it, the post is worth some time.)

As usual, I have tons of ideas about resolutions for my life beyond writing.  Such as lose weight, walk a lot, do yoga, learn to play the ukulele, cook more, finish all the half-done knitting projects I've started, and on and on and on.  But this year, I have two goals for writing.  I think of them as underlying goals, or themes, if you will.  Because I do terribly when I give myself specific goals.  So, here we go:

1.  Write Fast.  I experimented with this last fall, taking a class called Book in a Month, wherein you were supposed to write a book in two weeks and then revise it the last two weeks of the month.  I got on an airplane to Paris in the middle of the class and that pretty much ended my participation.  But I loved the idea.  Its the same idea that propels Nanowrimo.  You quit kvetching, quit moaning and groaning, and just write.  Throw freaking words at the page.  Get the draft done already.  The most productive writers I know do this.  And I want to get better at it.  I still find myself sitting at my computer staring off into space too often.  I want my hands to be worn out by the end of the day.  (I figure it will also be good exercise for my ukulele playing.  I had my first lesson yesterday.  TOO MUCH FUN.)

I'm curently in the middle of rewriting a novel that I'm greatly enamored of (during which I'm also doing my best not to get bogged down, this morning nonwithstanding) and once that is done by the end of January, I'm going to return to the mystery series I started for the Book in a Month class and finish it fast.  It is now going to be more romance-ish, because I'm not good at killing people.  Oops, I just realized I committed to a specific goal, finishing this rewrite by the end of January, and worse, wrote about it. Well, you guys will just have to hold me to it.

2. Quit Hiding.  Now, most of you would not think that I hide.  But sometimes I do.  There are degrees of hiding.  I'm quite visible on the interwebs, for instance, but not as willing to put myself out in real life.  I'm better known in Nashville then my home town of Portland as another for instance. (Though this is not that unusual–sometimes you just aren't appreciated until you go away.) This tendency is so ingrained in me that often I don't even realize I'm doing it.  So I'm making a list of ways I can Not Hide.  Suggestions are welcomed. 

(And, I do have a couple of in-person events scheduled for 2015.  Besides the writing workshop in France, which you really should come to, I'm going to be doing a workshop in Nashville on May 1st and 2nd, at Scarritt-Bennett Center.  Details to follow soon.)

Next week, I'll write my three words of the year post.

But for now, I've written enough about me.  It's time to go practice the ukulele (I've mastered the C chord! Don't laugh.) Or knit.  Or perhaps rescue my protagonist from her predicament.

What are your goals for 2015?

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How Are You Doing on 2013 Goals?

Marquette_Sugarloaf_beautiful_249786_lI'm working on a post for Thursday that will appear here and go out in my newsletter as well.  It's about the advent of autumn and ways to jumpstart your creativity and writing for the remaining months of the year.

As I wrote, I realized something:  we've got a little more than three months until 2014.  101 days (I asked the Google).

So let me ask you this: how are your writing
goals for 2013 coming along?  What would you like to accomplish the rest
of this year?

I'm a gentle, supportive, type of writing coach and teacher (just ask the participants at our French retreat, who referred to my biz partner Debbie as the "bad cop" and me as the "good cop") so I don't usually rag people about goals.  But counting down the days to a new year seems like a good excuse to look at what you wanted to accomplish this year.

Taking a look at my own year, I've had two huge highlights: the publication of my novel, and the success of the retreat in France.  I've also had two fantastic ghostwriting jobs and enjoyed working with a ton of writers and their manuscripts. But, and this is a big but, I'm not as far along on writing my next novel as I'd like to be.

So, here's my goal for the rest of this year:

To finish a draft of the novel, which just yesterday I titled Lost Causes

Now that I've announced it publicly, I expect y'all to hold me to it.

And, perhaps you would like to share what exciting things have happened to you so far as well as what you want to finish in the time you have left this year?  I'd love to hear about it–leave a comment.

(And come back on Thursday for the blog post on 10 Ways to Welcome Autumn and Awaken Your Creativity.)

Photo by Marquette 3.

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Free Book Offering: Going To A Place Far, Far Away

Well, its not that far, really.  I'm heading up to the Washington coast to visit my Nashville friend Sue at her father's place.  What makes it feel far, far away is that there is no internet service and no cell phone service.   No blogging!  No Twitter!  No text messaging! 

However, I'm only going to be gone until tomorrow.   I'm taking my camera and since my new end-of-the-year resolution is to snap lots of photos, I'm hoping to come back with many of them to share.  In the meantime, here's a photo I took last night of the Christmas train at Oaks Park:

Steam Engine & Self Portraits 009

Not quite sure how to get that date stamp off it.  Words are my forte, not photos. 

Which brings me to the point of this post.

I'm feeling a bit tired of it all and in need of some inspiration, which is where you come in.  I want to know what you want to read about in terms of writing, and what you need to know.  If you feel so inclined, pop me an email at wordstrumpet@gmail.com with answers to the following questions and in return I'll send you a free beta bcopy of my Ebook, Set the Words Free.  (But bear in mind that I'm going to be out of wireless range for a few days and thus will not be getting back to you with it until the end of the week.)

1. Do you write:
fiction
screenplays
nonfiction
poetry

2. What is your biggest writing problem?

3.  Do you struggle more with finding time and motivation to write or issues with craft?

4.  Are you a published writer?

5.  If not, do you aspire to be a published writer?

6.  If yes, what do you aspire to publish (ie, novel, short story, get a screenplay optioned, poetry, etc.)

7.  Do you aspire to make money writing?  If so, in what area?

8.  What kinds of posts are most helpful?

9.   What kinds of posts do you enjoy the most?  (ie, life of a writer or craft)

10.  What is your biggest writing goal for 2009?

11.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, what brings you back to it?

If you only want to answer a couple of questions, that's cool, I'll take any and all feedback.  Thank you so much and I'll be back with photos at the end of the week.

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