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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: NaNoWriMo, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. You’re Not Alone: NaNoWriMo Experts Share Their Stories & Experiences

We are only hours away from the month of November, which means many writers will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Whether you’re a veteran or a rookie at NaNoWriMo, tackling the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month is just a tad bit intimidating.

That’s why Writer’s Digest has brought together some NaNoWriMo experts who will be joining you in your quest this November. From a variety of different backgrounds and writing styles and genres, these folks are all attempting to write 50,000 words and will be reporting in on their progress twice per week. Currently, they’ve taken time out of their busy writing schedules to introduce themselves below. After you read their bios, be sure to check back in every Monday and Thursday during November for a progress update from our writers. They’ll have tips and thoughts on tackling stumbling blocks, hitting your goal, and more, throughout NaNoWriMo.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let us know! Give us your own bio and progress reports in the comments section!

*     *     *     *     *

Jonathan WoodNatania Barron and Jonathan Wood are, most of the time, speculative fiction writers. They share common affinity for video games, RPGs, action films, and caffeinated beverages. The rest of their lives is something of a study in contrast. Natania is a four-time participator, a two-time NaNoWriMo winner, while Jonathan’s never been daft enough to try it. Jonathan prefers an outline and a great deal of planning when writing novels. Natania prefers the “win and wait” model.

Natania BarronWhen it comes to influence, Natania often cites George R.R. Martin, but Jonathan “just doesn’t get those books”; Jonathan quite enjoys Robert Jordan, but Natania’s quite certain they’re best used as doorstops. While they’ve both published (separately) in Weird Tales and, collectively, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, Jonathan’s known for his No Hero Series, published by Titan Books, which includes the tagline, “What Would Kurt Russell Do?” Natania’s debut novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, had floating mansions, parallel worlds, and absolutely no sign of Mr. Russell. Either way, they’re hoping to cobble together a weird fantasy novel, or at least the bare bones of one, during NaNoWriMo 2014.

They will be chronicling this mad collaboration at their blog, Two Brain Space.


Rachael Herron

Rachael Herron is a NaNo success story: NaNoWriMo 2006 was her first NaNo attempt, her first win, and thatbook turned into her first published novel. She is the internationally bestselling author of the novel Pack Up the Moon, the Cypress Hollow series, and the memoir, A Life in Stitches. Her next mainstream standalone, Splinters of Light, will be out in March 2015 from Penguin.

She teaches people how to stop sabotaging their own writing practices, and can’t wait for this year’s NaNo, in which she’ll start her 2016 release. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, and when she’s not busy writing, she’s a 911 fire/medical dispatcher for a Bay Area fire department.

Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She’s a New Zealander as well as an American, and she’s been actively blogging since 2002.


Nikki HysonNikki Hyson writes modern fantasy with a classical twist. Currently unpublished, she’s in the process of querying agents while she second drafts a sequel. An avid support of NaNoWriMo, this will be her fifth year of literary abandon (and hopefully a 5th win). Also, for the past 2 years, she’s participated in Camp NaNo.

A confirmed “pantser,” she generally lets a question seed itself in her subconscious, germinating for weeks to determine if it has the goods to sprout. Usually, she’s just as surprised by her endings as any reader. Never satisfied with writing by accident, she loves “how-to-write” books. Some of her most used are: Tell Me (How to Write) a Story by EJ Runyon, On Writing by Stephen King, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, and No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty.

You can visit Nikki at her Facebook page.



November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

 

The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
is loaded with advice, tips, and strategies
to help you survive—and thrive—during NaNoWriMo.


Regina Kammer HeadshotRegina Kammer writes historical, contemporary, and Steampunk erotica and erotic romance. Her short storiesand novels have been published by Cleis Press, Go Deeper Press, Ellora’s Cave, House of Erotica, and her own imprint, Viridum Press. She began writing historical fiction with romantic elements during NaNoWriMo 2006, switching to historical erotica when all her characters suddenly demanded to have sex.

Regina has done—and won—NaNoWriMo eight times and has published four of those novels (with a fifth in her publisher’s editing queue): the Amazon best-selling Victorian erotic romances The Pleasure Device and Disobedience by Design; the award-nominated erotic romance The General’s Wife: An American Revolutionary Tale; and the erotic epic Hadrian and Sabina: A Love Story.

Regina approaches NaNoWriMo with an outline leaving enough room for character flights of fancy. She frequently gets lost in Thesaurus.com, the OED online, or historical clothing websites wondering what her characters are wearing before she can get them naked.

You can visit Regina at kammerotica.com, follow her on Twitter @Kammerotica, and like her on Facebook.


Kathy KittsKathy Kitts (AKA Apollo16) is a retired geology professor who served on the science team for NASA’s Genesis Mission. She had dozens of nonfiction publications, from professional papers to textbooks, but is no longer interested in “what is,” but rather, “what if.” Her latest publications include short literary fiction (Storyteller’s Anthology) and speculative fiction (Ad Astraas K. Eisert, and Mad Scientist, as K. Kitts). For more links and NaNoWriMo related goodies, visit her website.

She’s been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2003 and has volunteered as an ML, ML Mentor, Moderator, and site debugger. In 2014, she’s going for her 12th win. She’s done NaNo as a “pantser” and a “plotter.” Knowing what to write next is helpful, but Kathy enjoys the energy of making-it-up as she goes, too. Recently, she’s outlined one third of the novel, written like mad, yanked the gems from that section to plot the next third, then rinsed and repeated. It’s saved her a lot of time during revision.


 

Headshot_Tiffany LuckeyTiffany Luckey is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest whose freelance work has been published in Cincinnati magazine, Quill and on the entertainment website Starpulse.com. She’s also the founder of the humor/TV site AnotherTVBlog.com. Tiffany has participated in NaNoWriMo only once before three years ago (and has lived to tell about it!), and she’s eager to do a modified version of it this year by penning a series of short stories in November. Her favorite types of books are suspense and thriller novels, and her favorite writing-related website (besides WritersDigest.com, of course) is JungleRedWriters.com. Some fun random facts about Tiffany: She loves watching horror TV shows, but not horror movies; she has an unhealthy obsession with handbags and chocolate; if she could be anybody in the world, past or present, it would be 1990s’ Janet Jackson; the cheetah is her spirit animal; and she listens to trickling water sounds via YouTube when she writes.  


Kristen RuddKristen Rudd lives in Cary, NC, and is a homeschool mom by day. By night, she’s exhausted. She lovesNaNoWriMo. Loves it. This is her 8th year participating and her 4th as an ML (Municipal Liaison). She’s won four times.

Kristen writes YA and adult fiction, and has one complete, will-never-see-the-light-of-day novel and a whole passel of unfinished ones. Pretty much everyone in her life has told her to just finally finish something already, so she’s rebelling this year to work on something already in progress.

Somewhere in between a planner and a pantser, Kristen starts outlining her story, then November hits, so she panics for a little while and dives right in. Mostly, she tries to hit word count and then set up a few scenes for the next day.

A few of her favorite YA authors are Kristin Cashore, Patrick Ness, Maggie Stiefvater, and Melina Marchetta. She’s also a big fan of Rob Kroese and Wayne Franklin. You can visit her at kristenrudd.com.


EJ RunyonNaNoWriMo’s been very good to EJ Runyon. She began in 2001, and in 2006 she quit Software, sold her house, and went back to University. Now it’s writing and coaching daily. It’s her life and she loves it.

NaNoWriMo set her on the path to writer’s nirvana. In 2012, six short stories pulled from various NaNo novels became part of Claiming One, from Inspired Quill (UK). Then, in 2013, her ’08 NaNo became Tell Me (How to Write) A Story, a writer’s guide. This year, ’03 NaNo’s became a debut novel, A House of Light & Stone.

She’s a Scrivener pantser all the way, and even created a jumpstart template for coaching clients. Cheeky, she suggests her writing site, Bridge to Story, for 52 free lessons.

It’s been everything wonderful you’d possibly dream. 2016 & 2017 will see another how-to and a novel. She alternates literary fiction with how-to guides.

Wordspeed, WriMos!


Jessica-SchleyJessica Schley is a former book publishing company peon turned grad student, bookseller, and contemporary YA writer. Though her freelance writing has all been nonfiction and runs the gamut from bible studies to test prep materials, her fiction is all about the craziness of real life of being a teen. Now that she’s almost finished with grad school, you can find her hanging out on Twitter and on the boards at Absolute Write.

When it comes to creating, especially creating fast, she’s always a bit of a “gardener,” to borrow George R.R. Martin’s wonderful analogy, but lately has discovered her books benefit from a bit of an architectural hand, too. This NaNo, she’ll be trying both—a solid outline but with freedom to run another direction as needed to keep the words flowing. 2014 will be her 10th NaNoWriMo, in which she’ll be trying to defend a (very slightly) winning record. Here’s to 50,000!

You can visit Jessica at jessicaschley.com.


Brian SchwarzBrian Schwarz is an author/musician from Minneapolis, MN. Spending most of his young adult life touring in a modern rock band, he rarely had time for writing anything more than song lyrics, let alone novels as he had so aspired in grade school

In 2013 (finding he had time on his hands for the first time in ten years) he wrote his debut novel—Shades (view the trailer here)—a 120,000 word pre-apocalyptic thriller during NaNoWriMo. His book won the NaNoWriMo and Lulu sponsored Let’s Go Wrimos award, and was debuted at Book Expo America in NYC.

This will be his second year participating in NaNoWriMo, where he hopes to finish his next project, a Young Adult mystery with a science fiction tilt. He goes about his writing as haphazardly as he goes about his life, with a general idea of beginnings and endings—making the rest up as he goes.

Recently he’s been reading Veronica Roth, Gillian Flynn, and George R.R. Martin.

You can visit Brian at BrianRSchwarz.com.

*     *     *     *     *

Write-A-Thon

Find the focus, energy, and drive you need to start—and finish—your book in a month. Write-A-Thon gives you the tools, advice, and inspiration you need to succeed before, during, and after your writing race. With solid instruction, positive psychology, and inspiration from marathon runners, you’ll get the momentum to take each step from here to the finish line. You’ll learn how to: train your attitude, writing, and life—and plan your novel or nonfiction book; maintain your pace; and find the best ways to recover and move forward once the writing marathon is finished and you have a completed manuscript in hand!


Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books. He has never participated in NaNoWriMo, but has contemplated it at the prodding of his co-workers and writing friends. Whether he actually decides to try to write a novel during the month of November 2014 remains to be seen.

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2. Cats, Wives and Videotape: Survey Reveals What Really Distracts NaNoWriMo Participants

Gray tabby Lucy" by Andrei P on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreipapaz/)BY WILL LITTLE

The starting gun is set to go off for the race to 50,000 words. At an average of 1,667 words a day, NaNoWriMo participants don’t have time to waste if they’re to reach the finish line. Yet many writers do just that—waste time, and plenty of it. Distraction derails so many NaNoWriMo writers that blogging about their failure has turned into an act of mass distraction—just another activity that writers would rather do than actually write their novels.

Of course, distraction has always been the curse of the writer. The fear of filling the empty space with words that matter is enough to put even the most talented off their food. Even disciplinarian Ernest Hemingway defrosted the freezer to delay the inevitable pain of putting pen to paper. But we should especially pity contemporary writers because the 21st century has put distraction everywhere they lay their keyboards.

Our study of 1,500 writers across the U.S.—conducted anonymously to keep people honest—backs this up. Just about anything can get in the way of writing, from the Internet to pets to DVD box sets and even ice cream in November! While the need to distract may be caused by putting off the pain of creating quality work, there comes a point when the excuses have to end and the writing must begin. To begin with the best odds of writing 50,000 of your own words by November 30th, consider these survey results and tips:

Step away from the browser.
Our survey found that 52% of writers claimed to have not finished their masterpieces because they spent too much time browsing the Internet. Watching videos of parkour gone wrong or reading the daily headlines is preferable to creating beautiful prose … at least in the short term. Consider buying or renting an old-fashioned typewriter for a month and nailing shut the office door with the computer and Internet router on the other side. Alternatively, disconnect the internet with software, such as Stop Procrastinating, to write just like Hemingway. But make sure you defrost the freezer first.


 

wd1114_160

The November/December Writer’s Digest magazine 
is filled with advice for keeping the words coming. 
If you’re looking to increase your productivity or planning for NaNoWriMo, 
check out a preview in the Writer’s Digest Shop, or download it instantly.


Don’t feed the animals!
Or they’ll distract you. 7% of respondents claimed pets posed a risk to undermining their writing, with cats jumping on laps being the chief culprits. Consider hiring a petsitter for part of the month if your cat is especially fond of sitting on your keyboard.

Food, glorious food.
17% of writers surveyed said they’d eaten their word-count reward before they’d reached their day’s writing goal “at least once” during the month. That’s fine a time or two, but the habit of rewarding yourself for a goal you haven’t yet met can quickly spiral into marathon snacking sessions and very little writing. If you’re going to reward yourself with treats, here are some best practices for ensuring you stick to the goal: Put your treat into a container locked with a timer so you can’t access until you’ve worked your time. Enlist a friend or family member to withhold your goodies until you’ve completed the day’s work. Or consider that the real reward is reaching your daily writing goal—nothing more, nothing less will really satisfy you.

Honey, I’m home!
Partners, wives and husbands distracted 14% of respondents from laying down the lines. Netflix binges and leisurely cups of coffee were suggested as “creativity breaks”—a fancier term for “distractions.” If this sounds like something your significant other would do, there are solutions: Lock the door. Be clear about your goals. Set boundaries. And if those things fail, put a guard dog outside your writing room or have your partner sign a contract stating that he won’t disturb you while you’re writing—with a hefty fine to be paid if the contract is broken. Be creative about the fine; it doesn’t have to be financial. A massage every day for life would do nicely.

Work, party, work, party, work party …
22% of writers said they couldn’t summon up the creative muse because they were too tired from work or socializing. Try abstaining from partying for the month of November when possible (yes, we know it’s Thanksgiving) and look forward to celebrating with the mother of all parties on December 1st. If you’re tired from work, trying doing a half hour of exercise: it clears the mind and gives you energy to push through. Remember, it’s only for 30 days and it might just be worth it. You’re worth it!


Will Little is a writer and the creator of Stop Procrastinating, the app made by writers for writers to help beat procrastination. He also manages to write when his cat Moy isn’t sitting on his keyboard. Follow Will on Twitter at @stopprocras.

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3. Blurb Establishes the Coffee & Quill Society For NaNoWriMo Participants

NaNoWriMo CoverPrepping to take the NaNoWriMo challenge this November? Blurb, an independent book and magazine publishing platform, has established a partnership with National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo writers are invited to join Blurb’s newly launched Coffee & Quill Society to receive support as they work on their projects. During the 30-day marathon, participants will receive tips through webinars and emails to help with outlining the story of the novel and meeting daily writing goals. Follow this link to watch a webinar featuring Blurb senior content manager Forrest Bryant, NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty, and NaNoWriMo executive director Grant Faulkner.

Here’s more from the press release: “Blurb is such a believer in new and emerging writers that all Coffee & Quill Society members who complete the NaNoWriMo challenge will receive one copy of their novel in print and ebook form for free. Blurb is the only platform supporting the challenge that enables writers to upload their manuscript and create an ebook and print book from one file. Once writers have uploaded their book, they can utilize the Blurb Global Retail Network that, through a partnership with Ingram Content Group, will enable them to distribute their work to online retailers and bookstores around the world, helping global sales.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. Everything you need for NaNoWriMo

Na-No! *Clap Clap*

Wri-Mo! *Clap Clap*

Na-No! *Clap Clap*

Wri-Mo! *Clap Clap*

Yes, it's that time of year! Time for tens of thousands intrepid souls to ignore friends, family and pumpkin spice everything in order to write themselves a novel.

National Novel Writing Month!!

Some of you might be writing your first novel, some of you might be writing your tenth, but it will be a great experience for everybody.

Here are some resources that might help.

First and most importantly, all of my very best writing tips are contained in my guide to writing a novel: How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Ultimate Novel You Will Love Forever. The great James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner, said these kind words:
"In his 47 brilliant rules, Nathan Bransford has nailed everything I've always wanted to tell people about writing a book but never knew how. Wonderfully thought out with lots of practical examples, this is a must-read for anyone brave enough to try their hand at a novel. It's also a great review for experienced writers. Highly recommended."
Check it out!

However, if you prefer your advice for free you have also come to the right place! Here are some posts that will help you along the way:

How to write a novel (overview)
How to choose an idea for a novel
How to get started writing a novel
How to find a writing style that works for you
How to get over writer's block
Make sure your characters have goals and obstacles
All about conflict
Seven keys to writing good dialogue
What makes a great setting
Do you have a plot?
Five ways to stay motivated
The solution to every writing problem that has ever existed
Writing Advice Database

Good luck!!

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5. KidLit Events Ocotber 28-November 4

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With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) kicking off this weekend, there’s a lot of support opportunities for those of you (not me!) who are planning to tackle the challenge of writing a full 50K word novel in one month. I’ll cheer you on while I finish revisions on my current WIP. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other events going on this week. Please remember to check the sponsoring bookstore or organization’s website for full details.

October 28, Tuesday, 7:00 PM FROM SEA TO SHINGING SEA by Callista Gingrich; Illustrated by Susan Arcerio
Blue Willow Bookshop
Callista Gingrich, Children’s Author, with Newt Gingrich, Adult Nonfiction Author

In FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA, Callista Gingrich shares a new adventure into American history with Ellis the Elephant as he explores the untamed wilderness with Lewis and Clark! He learns about the Louisiana Purchase, the two explorers’ epic journey across the North American continent, and the amazing discoveries and innovation it sparked.

Appearing with Callista will be bestselling author Newt Gingrich with his new adult nonfiction title, BREAKOUT.

November 1, Saturday, 10:00 AM-Noon, & 1:30-4:30 PM Kathy Duval, PB Author
Writespace
Kathy Duval: Picture Book Workshop
PRICE: $ 85.00

Kathy Duval, author of TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ (DISNEY/HYPERION) will present a picture book workshop: Make It Shine!: Polish Your Picture Book Manuscript to Its Full Potential.
A successful picture book is an art form combining lyrical language and dynamic images, each dependent on the other.  To compete, your work must shine, as well as follow the conventions of today’s crowded market. This hands-on revision workshop will take a fresh look at your characters, setting, plot, and picture book language. Participants will complete exercises to polish their prose, as well as create a dummy to see how your text fits into a picture book format. Feedback in small groups will help you take your picture book to the next level.

November 1, Saturday, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM Read3Zero
Hilton Americas
Read3Zero 5th Anniversary Luncheon

Houston non-profit literacy organization, READ3Zero, will honor students nationwide at a memorable Luncheon and Book Signing event for this year’s winners of the I Write Short Stories For Kids By Kids contest and celebrate the organization’s 5th  anniversary. The event will feature the works of 55 published student authors and illustrators. The Keynote speaker will be Neil Bush, chairman to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, and the event will be emceed by Deborah Duncan of Great Day Houston. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

November 1, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Barbara Bush Library
CC Hunter, YA Author
Kickoff National Novel Writing Month with a talk by NYT bestseller C.C. Hunter!

November 2, Sunday, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM Matthew Salesses, Author
Writespace
Novel Workshop: The Three Inciting Incidents
COST: $10
NOTE: Register in this workshop and when you attend on Nov. 2nd, you will receive your 10$ back in a 10$ coupon for another Writespace workshop!

In this two-hour course, novelist Matthew Salesses will give a craft lecture on “the three inciting incidents” to support National Novel Writing Month writers, as well as NaNoWriMoall Houston writers seeking to start new projects. After Matthew’s one-hour lecture, each writer will bring his/her novel concept to the table and get some help with development.

November 2, 16, 30, Sundays, 2:00-5:00 PM
Writespace
NaNoWriMo Write-Ins
Cost: Free

Come write with us and keep on-track with your word count goals!

November 3, Monday, 7:00 PM IN THE AFTERLIGHT by Alexandra Bracken
Blue Willow Bookshop
Alexandra Bracken, YA Author

Alexandra Bracken will discuss and sign IN THE AFTERLIGHT, the finale in the DARKEST MINDS series for young adults.

Alexandra Bracken is the New York Times bestselling author of THE DARKEST MINDS and NEVER FADE. Ruby can’t look back. Having suffered an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Ruby tries to keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check, but with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby becomes a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them–revealing the government’s unspeakable abuses in the process–is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

November 4, Tuesday, 7:00 PM The Strange Maid: Book 2 of United States of Asgard, by Tessa Gratton
Blue Willow Bookshop
The Roadside YA Tour

The Roadside YA tour hits Houston when authors Tessa Gratton, Julie Murphy and Natalie Parker discuss and sign their newest novels for young adults.

Tessa Graton will present THE STRANGE MAID: BOOK 2 OF THE UNITED STATES OF ASGARD. Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphywar, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

Julie Murphy will present SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY. When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting Beware the Wild, by Natalie Parkerwrongs. So she convinces her best friend to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.

Natalie Parker will present BEWARE THE WILD. The swamp in Sterling’s small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who’s had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what–and who–the swamp has taken.

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6. NaNoWriMo Prep

TypewriterAre you participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year? It starts this Saturday (November 1st) and is a mad dash to write 50,000 words of a novel in one short month! I participated for the first time last year and loved it. It’s true, I was a big snob about NaNoWriMo before I tried it, but now I’m a complete convert.

If you’re taking the plunge and trying NaNoWriMo this year, I have a few quick suggestions that I learned from my experience last year. Hopefully these will help you stay on track and reach your 50,000 word goal.

1) Make an Outline

Make a list of scenes you want to write for your novel. This doesn’t need to be fully formed outline. All you need is a list of events or moments that you think might be a part of the book. The fun thing about NaNoWriMo is that you’re writing so fast that everything you try counts toward your 50,000 word! Even if you cut it later, you can try it now and it’s productive. You can pick a scene to write each day and see where it takes you. If it doesn’t go anywhere, try another scene on your list. You’d be surprised to see how many scenes will snowball into whole sequences, chapters, and eventually full novels! An outline gives you a place to start each day, and a new scene to jump to if the one your working on isn’t going anywhere.

2) Create Scene Cards

After you make your outline, create scene cards for each of your scenes. These cards outline the major action and emotional change of the scene. This will help you to make sure you have a plan and direction when you write. This way you won’t sit down and stare at a blank page. When I re-read my novel after NaNoWriMo, one of the big things I learned was that scenes I had a plan for were worth keeping. Scenes I didn’t use a scene card for often got cut. Read more about scene cards and see examples here: Scene Cards Blog Post.

3) Don’t Edit

I know it seems counter intuitive to not edit. Part of writing is choosing the right phrase and sentence to communicate your ideas. But when the end goal is word count, editing is your worst enemy. NaNoWriMo is about getting your ideas on the page and moving forward. It isn’t about writing a masterpiece in the first pass. That’s what revision is for. Who cares if you’ve added adverbs everywhere. Who cares if you spend half a page describing a character’s hair style. This draft is about creating the raw material that you can shape and mold later. It’s easier to revise a novel once you have that raw material to work with, rather than trying to come up with a brilliant and perfectly crafted page out of nothing. Yes, your NaNoWriMo novel isn’t going to be spun gold. That’s not the point. The point is to get material on the page that you can revise with.

nanowrimo-poster

4) Write the Fun Scenes First

We often think we have to write in linear order. We also think we have to finish scenes. I give you permission leave scenes half-finished and to write out of order! Write the scenes you’re most excited to write first. Those scenes are going to have the most energy and excitement behind them. They’re going to create inertia that gets you excited to get up and write again tomorrow. If a scene isn’t going well, don’t finish it. Leave yourself a big note that says: finish this scene later and move on. Don’t worry about it right now. There are going to big plot holes, sure, but you can fix them in revision. Focus on what is fun and keeps you excited to keep writing this project. That’s the trick to writing faster than you should. Have fun and forget all the rules you’ve made for yourself in the past. Create, enjoy, and fall in love with your story.

5) Write in the Morning

Not everyone is a morning writer. I understand that. But personally, I’ve have found that writing in the morning during NaNoWriMo keeps me motivated. It allows me to get through my 1600 words a day early on. This also means any additional words I write that day are a bonus and help get me closer to 50,000 words faster! If you get behind in NaNoWriMo it can be discouraging. So don’t wait. Write first thing and make it a habit. One of the great side effects of this exercise is the way it motivates you to work on your project every day.

Looking for more tips to help with National Novel Writing Month? Try these:


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7. Word count

Even though this is a writing blog, let’s do some math.

Fifty K words for the NaNo November works out to 1667 words a day, about 12,500 a week. The daily count means almost 7 pages of double-spaced text.

I’m in trouble. 

The method I’ve been regular with is a daily timed writing session, with no regard to word count. If I had to guess, I couldn’t. I’ll write on the story, then type notes to myself or scribble them in a notebook. I’m sure it wouldn’t be near a thousand, probably less than 500.

With NaNoWriMo looming, there have been some articles floating around on how to ramp up word count. Then I Googled for other ideas.

Jessica Strawser, in a recent Writer’s Digest article, initiated this query. Juggling work and toddlers, she says it is about finding ways to write in between the times she actually sits uninterrupted at her laptop. One thing she does is use a voice recording app on her smart phone to record ideas that randomly floats into her head.  Scene snippets, dialog, plot ideas, etc., can even be recorded with a hands free device on the drive home from work. Sometime during the day, she emails herself notes about the next scene so she doesn’t go into it cold when she sits to write.

Other articles list things like establishing a writing routine and never vary from that schedule. Some swear by writing in the morning, others must wait until the kiddies fall asleep at night. 

There is the Pomodoro Technique (Google it) in which you set a timer for 25 minutes and work interruption free, then take a 5 minute break, the repeat.

Most writing on the subject confirm Stawser’s idea of having a notion of what you will write about before you sit to type. Rachel Aaron devotes the first 5 minutes to jotting down a quick description of the scene she’s going to write. Aaron claims she has gone from two to ten thousand words a day with her three-tier approach. The first and most important is the knowledge phase. She always spends 5 minutes, never less, sometimes more, writing a stripped down version of the scene; no details, she simply notes what she will write when the time comes to actually write it. This step alone increased her daily 5K. 

Aaron took two other steps to increase her writing. She noted the time and places she was most efficient and built her writing time around those periods. Lastly, she says enthusiasm ups word count. The fun scenes fly by faster than the boring scenes that work up to it. Which leads to, if it’s dull for you to write, what expectations do you have of your reader? 

I am not doing the Rachel Aaron justice with this quick recap. The whole article can be reached following the link below and is pretentiously titled “How I Went From 2,000 Words a Day To 10,000 Words A Day.” 

I’m not sure I’m ready to jump in at that pace. I’d settle for 1667 words. 


(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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8. How to Write Even When You Feel Uninspired and Down

Every writer I know, it seems, is either preparing now to write a fast draft during NaNoWriMo, has a jump-start on November by speed-writing now to finish by the end of the year or has given up.

With novels anywhere from 50,000 (slight) to over 100,000 words, writing a fast draft gets you to the end faster. Problem at that point is knowing you're not finished -- not by a long-shot.

One of the biggest shocks for novelists just starting out is the realization they may have to write more than one draft -- several even. You get the end of draft 1 euphoric, only to understand how much work is still left to be done. You want it to be over. You want your story perfect in the next rewrite. You even work through all 30 exercises and 5.5 hours of video instruction during PlotWriMo, revision your entire story, only to rewrite again. And perhaps again and again.

Begin now by accepting that the fast draft you write now, you may have to rewrite all those thousands of words again later. Then put your head down and get to writing. Finish by the end of the year.

Writing a fast draft demands consistent and powerful writing.

Consistent writing is a tough one to achieve for writers who insist they can only write when they’re inspired to write. Consistent writing means showing up  to write whether you're inspired or dull, frightened or brave, energetic or lazy. You show up and write anyway.

A consistent writing regime is helpful, especially so writing a fast draft. A tight deadline of a month facilitates fast writing -- no time for procrastination, no time to wait for inspiration. Every spare moment must be devoted to writing or pre-plotting to succeed at completing a fast draft in a month.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:


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9. Holding Yourself Accountable & Staying Motivated

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by

Susan Dennard

I’ve talked about productivity in great detail before. I’ve discussed how BICHOK is a sure-fire way to get your writing where it needs to be, how endurance can be increased, and how fear can often hold back your writing.

But what about those times when it’s just plain ol’ laziness that’s keeping you from the productivity you want? What about those days where you spend four hours at the computer and write all of 4 words because OMG! Look at all the pretties and shinies on the internet? And ungh, I’m hungry…and hey, when did that squirrel move into the tree outside my window?

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

On those distraction-heavy days, my friend, it’s time to seek help elsewhere. It’s time to find SOMEONE ELSE to hold you accountable.

I mean, think about it: when you were in high school, you got your work done (or I hope you did…). Maybe it was at the last minute or maybe it wasn’t always your best work, but you finished. Why? Because someone else expected you to.

I’ve talked at great length about this with my author and solo-entrepreneur friends. We have no bosses! We have NO ONE to look over our shoulders and make sure we’re getting the work done.

Another thing we don’t have are people to validate us when we do make progress. So what if you had a great day writing–there’s no one there to be impressed or to pat you on the back or to say, “Great job! You deserve a raise.” We simply slog on, all alone.

But what if we put a dose of SOMEONE ELSE in our writing lives? What if we find (or start) a Twitter hashtag so we can make accountability partners? Or cheerleader/validation partners? Or what if we interact in forums or via email chains or Facebook groups? Writing is solitary, but it certainly doesn’t have to be.

I think camaraderie is one of the reasons that NaNoWriMo is SO successful for people! They’re all writing together, interacting, sharing, and keeping each other motivated.

So if you’re finding you need a bit more motivation in your life, I challenge you to find another writer who’ll hold you accountable and send you lots of smiley faces when you need ‘em. Heck, come join me in my forums–I’m definitely in need of some writing buddies!! Or add me as a friend for NaNoWriMo!

You tell me: Is this something you would ever do? Or do you already have someone like this in your writing life?

If you like what you read here, consider signing up for my newsletter, the Misfits & Daydreamers or swinging by my For Writers page!

SusanDennardBefore she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor, Susan Dennard traveled the world as marine biologist. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series (Tor, 2015), and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or practicing her tap dance shuffles. You can learn more about Susan on her blogTwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

 

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10. Pre-NaNoWriMo Pre-Plotting Tip for the Middle and End of the Novel

When thinking / pre-plotting your story for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that the middle is more than an exotic world of the antagonists and to create conflicts and challenges for the protagonist. Yes, the dilemmas and setbacks she endures in the middle provide drama and page-turnability.

The struggles to survive and go forward also hold the gifts of new skills and abilities that will serve her well at the climax as she begins to adapt her thinking to the demands of her new reality.

In resisting the changes required of her in the middle to succeed, she struggles. After the crisis / dark night around the 3/4 mark of the story, she becomes conscious of all that has come before. In that new light, she understands the strength and courage she's gained in her suffering and the freedom afforded her.

That way, in the middle of next month, when you're floundering for depth in your writing, you'll find these notes for scene expansion opportunities. And, by the end of the month, when you're exhausted and spent, you'll have scene ideas how best to show the integration of these new skills and beliefs.

For more tips and tricks to pre-plotting and writing a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 
1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:

0 Comments on Pre-NaNoWriMo Pre-Plotting Tip for the Middle and End of the Novel as of 1/1/1900
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11. Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

http://www.writersdigestshop.com/writers-digest-november-december-2014-groupedOne of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this special guide to Writing a Book in a Month arrives just in time for November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge. Regardless of whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, counting down 30 Days to Your Novel on your own schedule, or simply looking to write your next draft faster, this is an issue you won’t want to miss.

Find Writing Inspiration and Confidence

As a parent of both a baby and a toddler, I am surrounded by constant reminders that a lot can happen in a month. Still, it never fails to astonish me. A reliance on wriggling as a means of transportation turns into a full-speed crawl on all fours. A tearful transition to a new preschool becomes an over-the-shoulder wave in a rush to join new friends around the train table. Skills grow or are replaced by new ones, routines change, habits are formed or dropped.

As I compiled the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest, filled with stories of big triumphs over short periods of time, it occurred to me that as adults, we don’t lose that ability to transform ourselves or our work—but we do tend to forget that we have it. And what a shame that is. Know this: Deep down, we are capable of taking more than baby steps. If we set our minds to it, we can cross major milestones in leaps and bounds. And that goes for our writing, too.

Writing a book in a month might sound a little crazy. In a way, I think that’s part of its allure—because write-a-thon challenges are steadily gaining in popularity. Every November 1, National Novel Writing Month’s online hub at NaNoWriMo.org draws nearly half a million writers worldwide in an attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. As NaNoWriMo director Grant Faulkner shares in this issue’s article “What Makes NaNoWriMo Work,” that solidarity is a big part of what keeps the challenge growing every year. Because no matter how hard you have (or haven’t) trained to prepare for this marathon, once the starting pistol fires everyone is pretty much in the same pack, throwing caution to the wind and cheering one another in one big, messy sprint to the far-away finish.

Of course, you don’t need a worldwide event to take a book-in-a-month challenge. And you don’t need to be writing a novel. Solo writers, partners and groups of all stripes do word count marathons year-round. We reached out to these writers and asked them to share their most profound lessons learned, and you’ll find the best of their firsthand advice in “Plan Your Own Write-a-Thon.” (In fact, we got more great advice than we had space to print! Read more tips and tales from the writing community in our online-exclusive outtakes, Write a Book in a Month: More Writers Share Their Experience & Advice.)

Once all that inspiration has you writing up a frenzy, we wanted to make sure you have some roadside assistance ready to help when you start to run out of gas—and that’s where Elizabeth Sims’ “21 Fast Hacks to Fuel Your Story With Suspense” comes in.

Your book idea might be in its infancy now, but take it from me—with some extra attention on your part, soon it can be surprising and delighting you with its strength, determination and newfound ability to stand on its own two feet, grinning from ear to ear.

Conquer Your Word Count Goals

Are you planning to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo? Looking to up your daily word counts just a bit in solidarity with those who are? We’d love to hear about your writing goals–leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!

Get your copy of the Write a Book in a Month! issue on your favorite newsstand, or download the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest right now.

Happy Writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser.

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12. Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

http://www.writersdigestshop.com/writers-digest-november-december-2014-groupedOne of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this special guide to Writing a Book in a Month arrives just in time for November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge. Regardless of whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, counting down 30 Days to Your Novel on your own schedule, or simply looking to write your next draft faster, this is an issue you won’t want to miss.

Find Writing Inspiration and Confidence

As a parent of both a baby and a toddler, I am surrounded by constant reminders that a lot can happen in a month. Still, it never fails to astonish me. A reliance on wriggling as a means of transportation turns into a full-speed crawl on all fours. A tearful transition to a new preschool becomes an over-the-shoulder wave in a rush to join new friends around the train table. Skills grow or are replaced by new ones, routines change, habits are formed or dropped.

As I compiled the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest, filled with stories of big triumphs over short periods of time, it occurred to me that as adults, we don’t lose that ability to transform ourselves or our work—but we do tend to forget that we have it. And what a shame that is. Know this: Deep down, we are capable of taking more than baby steps. If we set our minds to it, we can cross major milestones in leaps and bounds. And that goes for our writing, too.

Writing a book in a month might sound a little crazy. In a way, I think that’s part of its allure—because write-a-thon challenges are steadily gaining in popularity. Every November 1, National Novel Writing Month’s online hub at NaNoWriMo.org draws nearly half a million writers worldwide in an attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. As NaNoWriMo director Grant Faulkner shares in this issue’s article “What Makes NaNoWriMo Work,” that solidarity is a big part of what keeps the challenge growing every year. Because no matter how hard you have (or haven’t) trained to prepare for this marathon, once the starting pistol fires everyone is pretty much in the same pack, throwing caution to the wind and cheering one another in one big, messy sprint to the far-away finish.

Of course, you don’t need a worldwide event to take a book-in-a-month challenge. And you don’t need to be writing a novel. Solo writers, partners and groups of all stripes do word count marathons year-round. We reached out to these writers and asked them to share their most profound lessons learned, and you’ll find the best of their firsthand advice in “Plan Your Own Write-a-Thon.” (In fact, we got more great advice than we had space to print! Read more tips and tales from the writing community in our online-exclusive outtakes, Write a Book in a Month: More Writers Share Their Experience & Advice.)

Once all that inspiration has you writing up a frenzy, we wanted to make sure you have some roadside assistance ready to help when you start to run out of gas—and that’s where Elizabeth Sims’ “21 Fast Hacks to Fuel Your Story With Suspense” comes in.

Your book idea might be in its infancy now, but take it from me—with some extra attention on your part, soon it can be surprising and delighting you with its strength, determination and newfound ability to stand on its own two feet, grinning from ear to ear.

Conquer Your Word Count Goals

Are you planning to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo? Looking to up your daily word counts just a bit in solidarity with those who are? We’d love to hear about your writing goals–leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!

Get your copy of the Write a Book in a Month! issue on your favorite newsstand, or download the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest right now.

Happy Writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser.

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13. NaNoWriMo Prep Work: To Edit or Not Edit While Writing First Draft

nanowrimoBY TED BOONE NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November) is a brilliant way to jumpstart an aspiring writer’s progress towards completing a novel manuscript. Its goals are clear and straightforward: 50,000 words in 30 days. That goal, while certainly challenging, is manageable for most participants, and the end result is twofold: a solid start to a novel, and the invaluable feeling of accomplishment for “winning” the NaNo challenge.

Given NaNoWriMo’s simple but stringent requirements, many participants adopt some fairly draconian methods to accomplishing their goal. Over the last decade of participation, I’ve observed self-imposed rules like: zero backspace usage, absolute “pantsing” (writing without an outline or plan), stream-of-consciousness-typing, no food/drink/television/whatever before daily word count is achieved (!), etc. The techniques NaNo participants employ to achieve their word-count goal are as diverse as the participants themselves. (For more great tips on National Novel Writing Month [NaNoWriMo], download the November/December issue of Writer’s Digest now!)

The most common technique that experienced WriMos will propose for newbies is the “zero editing” approach. That is, during the month of November, you must resist the urge to edit your novel. The advice is based upon the idea that NaNo participants should always be increasing their word count, regardless of the quality of the words that are appearing on the page.

It’s not a bad plan. Turning off your inner editor during the month of November is often what aspiring novelists need. Getting bogged down in editing can often result in never finishing the manuscript in the first place. Editing is the bane of momentum.

Except, of course, when it’s not.

My confession?

I edit during NaNoWriMo.

T1255Get prepared to write an entire novel in November with
a little help for our October 9 webinar: How to Pre-Plot & Complete
a Novel or Memoir in a Month (comes with a bonus ebook).
Register here
.

I edit every single day. Sometimes more than once. I probably spend as much time editing during November as I do writing. There. I said it. Now, let me explain.

I have tried, over the last nine years, to adhere to the mantra, “DO NOT EDIT.” The reasoning behind this mantra is that your inner editor always has its hand on the brake lever, ready at any moment to pull a Full Stop on your writing progress and, in the process, scream epithets in your ear about the utter uselessness of your writing efforts during November.

To wit: your inner editor is an asshole.

So, during NaNo, many writers make the conscious effort to lock their inner editors away, in deep vaults under heavy mountains on distant planets, and throw the keys into the fiery furnace of the local star.

No editing = no brakes, and no internal monologue of self-loathing.

Does this work? For many people: yes, absolutely.

For me? Nope. No way.

My stopping mechanism is different. It’s not a set of brakes being applied by a hypercritical inner child whose parents never showed any affection or approval. It’s the natural function of my rusty gears of thought, which need constant and lavish lubrication to allow the machine to even function, let alone move forward.

What’s my manuscript-writing-machine lubricant of choice? My WD-40?

During November, I write for a few minutes. Then I stop. I ponder. I reconsider. I go backwards. I tweak. I add words. I rearrange paragraphs. I interject conversations.

I edit. Line by line. And while, on occasion, that results in the deletion of words, the net effect is always, always, an increase in word count.

Unfortunately, this line-editing process does mean that I move slowly. Sometimes embarrassingly slowly. A few years ago (much to the perverse delight of my local Wrimos) I wrote 67 words during a 15-minute sprint. That’s… not fast. That’s the opposite of fast. Writing 1,667 words a day–words I’m willing to live with–takes me forever. So, when people say they’re busy during November, I tend to roll my eyes. Busy? You have no idea.

It’s my own fault, but every day of November is an exercise in iteration. I have no idea what “linear writing” means. I prefer loop-de-loops and spiralling detours. A self-inflicted molasses-slow meandering path to my daily word count.

And then, the next day, when I first open my manuscript? That’s when I get truly masochistic. Before I type a single new word, I reread my scenes from the previous day. I kickstart my complacent characters. Then I stand back and see how they react to my poking and prodding. If it’s boring, I go back in and do it again. With flair and panache. Rinse and repeat, until my re-re-re-read elicits a grin.

Once I’m happy with my new, revised scene, I rinse and repeat.

Write. Line edit. Sleep. Kickstart.

ted booneThe end result has been, historically, a manuscript that’s passable. Not necessarily a first draft, but not exactly a zero draft either. Zero point five. Zero point seven, if I let my ego speak its mind.

So, yeah. I edit. It’s part of my process, and for me, it works.

Don’t agree with me? Cool. Have your own process that works? More power to you. And if anyone tells you your approach is wrong?

Write them into your novel for a little prodding of their own.

-
Ted Boone was born in Wilmington, Delaware. An avid fan of National Novel Writer’s Month, Ted has authored numerous SF manuscripts during the month of November, but not yet pursued publication for his novels. Ted currently works as an Instructor for the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

 

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14. How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month

It's early October and already writers look to the future in anticipation of writing 50,000 words of their novel during the month of November.


Lots of writers will jump into the writing frenzy last minute and by-the-seat-of-their-pants with or without a plot idea. Other writers will spend this month dreaming. Writers who love to to organize their lives for the greatest efficiency and less stress will spend October pre-plotting. Then there are writers who take things slowly and methodically, needing to consider all their options and their willingness to subject themselves to the overstimulation, disliking conflict and even a bit shy about committing to the challenge.

I, for one, love pre-plotting. No writing required. Stand back and imagine the big picture thematically, dramatically and emotionally. Plot ideas on a Plot Planner. Add pictures of characters and settings and details that stimulate your senses and energy to write about them.

Pre-plotting feels like an artistic pursuit compared to the grueling challenge if you do decide to write 50,000 words next month. A warm-up and lovely way to ease into the creative process. Showing up without any pressure of word count or deadlines. Simply time spent with the muse and plotting out what comes to you.

Today I write, and I pre-plot.

If you'd like pre-plotting ideas and how to write a fast first draft:

1) Join me October 9th for How to Pre-Plot and Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month: The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End 

2) Re-read the The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book and follow the instructions how to pre-plot your story

3) Complete all the exercises and fill in all the templates (plot planners included) in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories 

4) Forget next month for now and enjoy this month writing or revising what you're currently working on and take with you into next month The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing for daily prompts to guide you how to write a story with a plot from beginning to end.
  ~~~~~~~~
If you simply want to continue writing and revising and are looking for plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

0 Comments on How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month as of 10/3/2014 8:45:00 PM
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15. NaNoWriMo Prep Work: How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Schedule

nanowrimoBY ABBY SCHREIBER Everyone has a different take on the writing process, from the classic rhythm of “Write, edit, revise, and repeat” to the scramble of mismatched scenes that eventually come together. As a young author, I find the writing process to be something stretchable, and easy to bend. The writer is the one who truly creates their own writing process out of the twenty-six letters that make up their basic materials.

At some point, though, you in your busy life might wonder, “How the heck am I going to fit this writing into my schedule?”

Well, there are two simple answers. The first is to become a hermit. The second, and possibly more effective solution, is proactive time management. NaNoWriMo, and its Camp NaNoWriMo events are all about managing time. How else could so many people write 50,000 words, or even more, in only a month? (For more great tips on National Novel Writing Month [NaNoWriMo], download the November/December issue of Writer’s Digest now!)

First of all: absolutely do not become a hermit, or remove yourself in any way from friends and family! They will play a major part in the things you achieve. Instead, daydream and seek inspiration whenever you have a moment where getting lost in your ideas won’t be a hazard (because planning a novel in your head during brain surgery doesn’t sound like a good idea, does it?).

Plan beforehand. Whether you write on your own, or solely during events like NaNoWriMo, planning makes things incredibly easier. I’ve found that planning can take many routes, too, but it boils down to this: you wrestle with what needs to happen to fulfill your story, then take note. Perhaps you are like me and string index cards all over your work area, or maybe you make a map of the world you have created.

T1255Get prepared to write an entire novel in November with
a little help for our October 9 webinar: How to Pre-Plot & Complete
a Novel or Memoir in a Month (comes with a bonus ebook).
Register here
.

When it comes to making the most of your writing time, there are ways to improve the amount you write, and still have time for your life. You sit down in your free time at your favorite place to write. Let’s say there is only one hour for you to get as much as you can done. What do you do?

First, shut off distractions. Tumblr, Facebook, it all has to go. Turn off the phone, hide away the book you’re reading (I know, it is hard). Once these things can’t be of distraction, you can get started, but with what? You have the characters and the world they belong to planned out, but where do you begin?

Well, with one word, followed by another. You begin writing with the words that may become the ending to the mystery or the introduction of a character. Steps turn to leaps. You leave this world behind to spend a small time somewhere else.

When it is time to get back to work, school, sleep, or whatever else you have to do, remember to never forget whatever it is you write with. Bring a notebook to continue in every spare moment, or your laptop to type during a lunch break. Wherever you go, inspiration follows, even if in the smallest ways.

Don’t write too long. Allow time to get snacks, and to give your mind a break. Writing, like anything, is a process that takes time to learn and improve upon.

nano_14_writers_digest_abby_schreiberDoing NaNo or anything similar is like entering a different world. Set the times when you can immerse yourself in the story that you have created. No one else can write the things you can. Even if you aren’t a writer, there are things that will never exist if you are not the one to create them. Embrace your ideas, establish goals to get where you want to go, and set off!

-
Abigail is a thirteen-year-old writer in Lafayette, Colorado, who has been told that she was practically an adult from birth. Over the past year, she’s written three novels, and hopes to eventually get at least one of them traditionally published. Most day she can be found tucked away in her room, watching Doctor Who, listening to her favorite music, and planning new books. Her first book, Millennium can be found here. Follow her on Twitter at @epikowl.

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16. NaNoWriMo Prep Work: Find Your Writing Niche

nanowrimoBY OWEN BONDONO In nature, all living things fill a specific role in their ecosystems. This is called their ecological niche, and organisms need this specific combination of factors to survive.

Similarly, every writer needs their own specific combination of factors to thrive creatively. Some people like quiet, while others like noise. Some write first thing in the morning, others write after everyone else has gone to bed. Finding your writing niche is key to upping your productivity.

Lists and charts have always made me happy. Even if you hate charts, taking notes on your writing habits can help clarify what factors work for you and which factors don’t.

Spend a few weeks setting aside writing time as often as you can. Record all the details of your writing session, including:

  • location,
  • the day and time,
  • how much time spent writing,
  • background noise,
  • what else you’re doing (eating, drinking, texting, etc),
  • words written, and
  • anything else you think may impact your writing productivity.

Make sure you switch up these factors during the few weeks you’re recording, so you get as much data as possible.

Sitting back to look at this information will show you trends that are hard to spot on their own, especially when you do the math to figure out how many words you wrote per hour. As the factors change, productivity can vary widely.

Study these numbers for patterns. These patterns of productivity are the factors that will describe your niche. For instance, my niche is in the evening, out of the house, somewhere with some background noise but with my music playing. That’s why you’ll find me in libraries and cafes with too much coffee and headphones that look too big for my head. Everyone has their own niche, and keeping track of your productivity can help you find yours.

T1255Get prepared to write an entire novel in November with
a little help for our October 9 webinar: How to Pre-Plot & Complete
a Novel or Memoir in a Month (comes with a bonus ebook).
Register here
.

Make Your Niche Into A Habitat

Once you’ve found your niche, it’s time to burrow in and make it your home. Habitats provide animals with everything important in their lives. They dictate the habits and routines of nature. As humans, we get to decide what is in our habitat.

Routine helps prevent writer’s block and gives you focus. If you always write after supper, then your brain will start shifting automatically into writing gear as you’re stacking your dishes in the sink.

Don’t think of writing time as stolen moments, but as planned time to give your creativity the room to stretch and play. Putting your writing time on your schedule – and sticking to it – helps you and those around you take it seriously. That’s when your niche becomes a habitat, when you settle down to live in the efficiency of routine.

To do this, lay out your schedule for a typical week. Index cards or sticky notes are great for this because you can move them around easily. On each card or note, write out one thing you must do in your day. Include everything: your job, your commute, your mealtimes, your sleep.

owen bondonoFigure out what you can rearrange. Some things you can’t move, like your commute. But with a little flexibility, many things can be moved. Showers can be taken in the morning or at night; the dishes can be washed any time. Rearrange your tasks so your butt is in  your preferred writing chair during your writing niche as often as possible.

Most of us can’t afford to spend hours every day writing. There are just too many other things that need our attention. By making writing in your niche a routine, we can be more productive in less time. We may not be professional writers who can dedicate hours of the day to writing, but 20 minutes of high efficiency writing is better than spending two hours unfocused.

-
Owen Bondono is a border-crossing educator who teaches in Detroit and lives in Canada. He has served as National Novel Writing Month’s Detroit Municipal Liaison for six years and is currently revising his first novel. To write with him this November, visit his NaNoWriMo author profile.

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17. Five Things I Learned From Doing NaNoWriMo

It’s been nine months since I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and wrote 50,000 words of a novel in under a month. It’s one thing to bask in the manic euphoria of pounding out 50,000 words like an intense sprint around a track. But it’s completely different thing to step back and look at what you’ve written and see if it’s worth anything. Yes, I braved reading my NaNoWriMo draft, and I’ve even begun to draft revisions. But what I’ve discovered in the post-NaNo-creation glow is pretty surprising…

First draft button

1) My First Draft Isn’t Shitty

First off, I’m not a fan of the term shitty first drafts. Yes, it was created to help us deal with our need for perfection in the first draft, but I also think it creates a cycle of negativity. The idea of telling ourselves our drafts are shitty, only reinforces the negative feelings we already fear about our work. Sure, a first draft may not be publishable, but honestly, I never think they’re shitty. However, if there was any instance where my theories on shitty first drafts would be overturned it would be NaNoWriMo … after all, I pumped out this draft in 2 ½ weeks. Only…

My NaNoWriMo Draft isn’t shitty!

Sure, it’s not polished gold, but there are so many important discoveries in it, explorations that led to new plot points, beautiful lines, sassy sections of dialogue, and even entire scenes that are good. Not scenes that are okay… but good!

My point is: we should trust our first drafts more. Trust the joy and the positive energy that can come from freeing yourself up and writing quickly. Trust the fact that you do know what you’re doing and your writing is better than you think it is!

female-empowerment2) Revisions are Empowering

Okay, so my first draft isn’t complete crap, but there’s still plenty of work to do. The second great discovery about writing a quick first draft is that when you approach revisions you immediately know what to do to make the book better. Revisions don’t become nail-biting, hair-pulling, exercises in frustration. Instead, revision become empowering!

For me, it can be the despair, the sense that I don’t know what to do, that makes writing so hard. But revising this novel has been invigorating and fun. There’s power and purpose in sitting down with raw material and knowing exactly what to do to shape it. It helps me to see how much I already know about crafting good stories, and that I’m able to do it with intention.  

old chronometer3) It Doesn’t Take as Long as I Think to Write a Novel

Looking back at my NaNoWriMo time sheets, I’ve discovered that I spent an average of 1½ hours writing per day. Yes, there were a few days where I put in 3 to 4 hours in a sitting. But mostly it was 1 ½ hours a day. As I’ve moved on to revision, I’ve also put in an average of 1 1/2 hours per day. By keeping a time sheet I’ve started to see how much I can accomplish in a short amount of time. In fact, I haven’t even put in a full month’s worth of work into this novel yet!

One of our big struggles with writing is finding the time to get it done. But I’ve been floored to discover how much I can accomplish with only 1 ½ hours a day! I bet most of you could find 1 or 2 hours in your day to write.

no_plan_road_sign4) Scenes That Went Nowhere…

Not every section of my NaNoWriMo draft works. But, I discoverd a pattern to the pages that fell flat or went nowhere. These scenes were searching for direction, and without it they floundered.

In my pre-planning stages I outlined and created scene-cards for the scenes I knew existed. I did, however, leave a few blank. I made the excuse that I’d figure it out later, while writing. It turns out that every scene I promised to figure out later on, didn’t go anywhere. Sometimes I’d know the general action of a scene, but the things that really killed my momentum were not knowing what my character wanted in the scene, or what his or her emotional change would be. All the scenes with a clear character goal and emotional change came alive on the page. Perhaps this is the through line I needed to guide me while writing really fast.

blinders5) Everything You Think You Know is Wrong! Or… Don’t Put On Writing Blinders.

I was certain that NaNoWriMo was going to be a huge failure. I had some snobby ideas about how a novel should be written. I was certain those participating in NaNoWriMo were wasting their time. But boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

I don’t think I will write every novel in my future this way. But I do think it will be a great way to write some of them. But man, if I’d stayed in my stuffy singular way of looking at things, I would have never discovered this amazing tool and these important lessons.

So get out there and try new things with your writing. Try things you’re certain will not work. Allow yourself to fail. We never know what will work until we put it into practice and give it a whirl.

What Did You Learn from NaNoWriMo?

Did anyone else participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you re-read your work? Started revisions? What discoveries have you made?


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18. Five Things I Learned From Doing NaNoWriMo

It’s been nine months since I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and wrote 50,000 words of a novel in under a month. It’s one thing to bask in the manic euphoria of pounding out 50,000 words like an intense sprint around a track. But it’s completely different thing to step back and look at what you’ve written and see if it’s worth anything. Yes, I braved reading my NaNoWriMo draft, and I’ve even begun to draft revisions. But what I’ve discovered in the post-NaNo-creation glow is pretty surprising…

First draft button

1) My First Draft Isn’t Shitty

First off, I’m not a fan of the term shitty first drafts. Yes, it was created to help us deal with our need for perfection in the first draft, but I also think it creates a cycle of negativity. The idea of telling ourselves our drafts are shitty, only reinforces the negative feelings we already fear about our work. Sure, a first draft may not be publishable, but honestly, I never think they’re shitty. However, if there was any instance where my theories on shitty first drafts would be overturned it would be NaNoWriMo … after all, I pumped out this draft in 2 ½ weeks. Only…

My NaNoWriMo Draft isn’t shitty!

Sure, it’s not polished gold, but there are so many important discoveries in it, explorations that led to new plot points, beautiful lines, sassy sections of dialogue, and even entire scenes that are good. Not scenes that are okay… but good!

My point is: we should trust our first drafts more. Trust the joy and the positive energy that can come from freeing yourself up and writing quickly. Trust the fact that you do know what you’re doing and your writing is better than you think it is!

female-empowerment2) Revisions are Empowering

Okay, so my first draft isn’t complete crap, but there’s still plenty of work to do. The second great discovery about writing a quick first draft is that when you approach revisions you immediately know what to do to make the book better. Revisions don’t become nail-biting, hair-pulling, exercises in frustration. Instead, revision become empowering!

For me, it can be the despair, the sense that I don’t know what to do, that makes writing so hard. But revising this novel has been invigorating and fun. There’s power and purpose in sitting down with raw material and knowing exactly what to do to shape it. It helps me to see how much I already know about crafting good stories, and that I’m able to do it with intention.  

old chronometer3) It Doesn’t Take as Long as I Think to Write a Novel

Looking back at my NaNoWriMo time sheets, I’ve discovered that I spent an average of 1½ hours writing per day. Yes, there were a few days where I put in 3 to 4 hours in a sitting. But mostly it was 1 ½ hours a day. As I’ve moved on to revision, I’ve also put in an average of 1 1/2 hours per day. By keeping a time sheet I’ve started to see how much I can accomplish in a short amount of time. In fact, I haven’t even put in a full month’s worth of work into this novel yet!

One of our big struggles with writing is finding the time to get it done. But I’ve been floored to discover how much I can accomplish with only 1 ½ hours a day! I bet most of you could find 1 or 2 hours in your day to write.

no_plan_road_sign4) Scenes That Went Nowhere…

Not every section of my NaNoWriMo draft works. But, I discoverd a pattern to the pages that fell flat or went nowhere. These scenes were searching for direction, and without it they floundered.

In my pre-planning stages I outlined and created scene-cards for the scenes I knew existed. I did, however, leave a few blank. I made the excuse that I’d figure it out later, while writing. It turns out that every scene I promised to figure out later on, didn’t go anywhere. Sometimes I’d know the general action of a scene, but the things that really killed my momentum were not knowing what my character wanted in the scene, or what his or her emotional change would be. All the scenes with a clear character goal and emotional change came alive on the page. Perhaps this is the through line I needed to guide me while writing really fast.

blinders5) Everything You Think You Know is Wrong! Or… Don’t Put On Writing Blinders.

I was certain that NaNoWriMo was going to be a huge failure. I had some snobby ideas about how a novel should be written. I was certain those participating in NaNoWriMo were wasting their time. But boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

I don’t think I will write every novel in my future this way. But I do think it will be a great way to write some of them. But man, if I’d stayed in my stuffy singular way of looking at things, I would have never discovered this amazing tool and these important lessons.

So get out there and try new things with your writing. Try things you’re certain will not work. Allow yourself to fail. We never know what will work until we put it into practice and give it a whirl.

What Did You Learn from NaNoWriMo?

Did anyone else participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you re-read your work? Started revisions? What discoveries have you made?


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19. NaNoWriMo Tip #5: Develop Your Novel’s Plot

nanowrimoNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) launched last week as writers around the globe try to write a 50,000-word novel draft in a single month.

To help the GalleyCat readers taking this challenge, we will be offering NaNoWriMo advice throughout the month. Last year, 341,375 participants wrote a novel in 30 days through the NaNoWriMo program. The writing marathon has generated more than 250 traditionally published novels, according to the organizers.

Our fifth tip is simple: Develop Your Novel’s Plot. Develop a plot outline that establishes how the story will get from point A to point Z. Make a checklist and add detours. MIT has a great collection of plot exercises specifically designed for different kinds of tales ranging from adventure and pursuit to forbidden love and discovery designed to help you develop your plot.

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20. NaNoWriMo 2013; Lost in the Woods

Yesterday I was ready to give up on NaNoWriMo, as in seriously QUIT. Why, why was I torturing myself to write these stupid 50,000 words? Am I so devoid of writing projects that I have to take on a task that wasn't even fun?

Fortunately, that was yesterday. Today I'm feeling a whole lot more positive and ready to keep going. The secret was in realizing several things:
  • First, nobody is making me do this. Nobody. There is no contract or deadline awaiting me with dire consequences if I don't write. I've won enough previous NaNoWriMo certificates to know I can write 50,000 words in a month. I have nothing to prove here.
  • If I don't reach the 50K mark, so what? I'll have 10 or 20K extra manuscript words to work with that I didn't have before November 1. And that's a good thing.
  • Lastly, I was taking my manuscript way too seriously. Demanding that it make perfect sense--right now. That all my characters be fully developed and action-oriented, intent on weaving their way through a brilliant plot line that was simply amazing, full of shocking twists and turns with a stunning conclusion. Except NaNoWriMo doesn't work like that, at least not most of the time. (Note to self: neither does any first draft. Sigh.) Asking that it do so was setting myself up for instant failure.

So here's what I did to beat the NaNoWriMo blues: I decided to be willing to get lost in the woods. Crazy plot line? Just follow where it does go, and if I don't like it, write "stuff happens here" and carry on writing a new and more interesting scene. Characters I can't stand? Get rid of them--send them to China or off on safari where they get eaten by lions. Bored with the whole process? Write about things that interest me, not what I think is "supposed" to go in the manuscript because I want it to fit a particular genre or style.

I'm not going to quit. How about you?

Tip of the Day:  One of my favorite ways to infuse any flagging manuscript with new life is to grab a handful of writing prompts from old magazines. Article titles and headlines are perfect. Get your scissors and start cutting; throw what you find in a jar and then pick one for every new page you start. Here's a sampling from my current collection: "Warm Kebabs for a Cool City." "The Human Face Behind the Makeup." "Last Stand in the Serengeti." (Uh-oh, I guess those lions really did get my unlikeable characters . . . ") Good luck; happy writing!

1 Comments on NaNoWriMo 2013; Lost in the Woods, last added: 11/14/2013
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21. Last Week of #NaNoWriMo 2013; Let's Get This Manuscript Finished

Here we are, the last week of NaNoWriMo! And yes, I know you'd rather go to Paris for the weekend, me too. But we need to get these manuscripts finished, so Paris will have to wait for a little while.

I don't know about you, but my word count isn't looking so great right now, something I want to change by Monday at the latest. To achieve that goal, I'm going to try something brand new: 10,000 words in one day! Yes, 10K, really. I'm all signed up to participate tomorrow 11-23-13 in a fun website writing party hosted by my Twitter friend Milli Thornton at @fearofwriting: 10kdayforwriters.com.

I only learned about Milli's site a couple of days ago, and just in the nick of time. In fact, the discovery was so fortuitous that I'm still reeling from one of those "how did that happen?" moments.

But despite my best intentions to write those 10K words, I also know that if I'm going to stay motivated I'll need some trusty writing prompts. Last night I brainstormed a list of 25; please feel free to borrow, steal, or add to the list by leaving a comment or two. All suggestions will be most welcome!

My 10K Prompt List:
  1. Write about my characters' goals: why are they so important?
  2. Write back story--lots of back story!
  3. Write a character's first memory and make it essential to a present scene.
  4. Describe my main character's place of work and how that influences the plot.
  5. Various characters' neighbors: what do they really think?
  6. Have one of the characters stuck in an elevator--with the villain.
  7. A mysterious package arrives: why and what's in it? How does this change everything?
  8. A death in the family.
  9. An invitation my main character can't refuse.
  10. Write about a recurring dream.
  11. Phobias--assign one to a secondary character and use it to keep them from helping my main character.
  12. Car trouble. At the very worst time possible.
  13. Illness. Ditto as above.
  14. Somebody witnesses a crime.
  15. And then is framed for it!
  16. A big lie and the unexpected consequences.
  17. Hobbies--pick one and make it important to the plot.
  18. An overheard conversation--and what happens because of it.
  19. A stolen identity.
  20. One of the characters finds (fill in the blank) and is devastated.
  21. Something observed in a window.
  22. A favorite item is broken. What, why, what happens because of it?
  23. A sudden storm.
  24. A creepy prophecy--that comes true.
  25. The three very worst outcomes that can happen if my characters don't reach their goals, and then have them happen.
So come on, join us on Saturday--I think you can even wear your pajamas all day, just as long as you promise to write.

Tip of the Day: In case you can't sign up for this Saturday's 10K session, be sure to check out 10kdayforwriters.com anyway for one of their future writing sessions; they're held twice a month regardless of NaNoWriMo or similar events. Whichever day you choose, 10K in one day will surely help you reach THE END, a very good place to be.

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22. M is for Masquerade in Venice

My favorite romance novel, Masquerade in Venice, written by Velda Johnston, copyright 1973,  is a keeper because it inspired me to join up and write my first NaNoWriMo manuscript. I still have that draft, and one day I might even clean it up and submit it somewhere, but for now it's fine "resting" in my filing cabinet. I'm not a romance writer, but it's nice to dream.

I first came across this sweet and lovely book one winter when I had the flu but was just well enough to go to the library for some much-needed reading material. I'd been in bed for days and had been too sick to read anyway, but I was at the point where the only thing I had energy for was reading, so off to the library I went. Except when I got there, nothing appealed to me. 

Rows and rows of new books and all I could say was, "Bleh." Then I saw an old-fashioned, plain blue "library bound" copy of Masquerade in Venice and knew this was exactly what I wanted. I took it home, read it, and loved every word. Then I had to give it back. (The big problem with library books, in my opinion!) A few months later, I wanted to read it again, and when I went to the library--it wasn't there! No one knew what had happened to it--it was gone. Stolen, lost, vanished into the ether. It no longer existed. Time passed and something worse happened: I forgot both the name of the author as well as the title, so I couldn't even buy a copy. I gave up.

Then one fortuitous day at a writer's group meeting, the group was holding a second-hand book sale, and bingo, there it was in paperback: Masquerade in Venice. My book! Mine, mine, mine. The original price printed on the cover was $1.25 and I got it for .25 cents. Good deal? You bet.

It had been a few years since I'd read it, and it was a joy to re-read. Then a good friend suggested we sign up for NaNoWriMo and I thought, if I could write a book like Masquerade in Venice, that would be time well-spent. And it was, even if the one thing I learned was that I'm not a romance writer. Which is okay. We can't write in every genre, but it's good to explore, learn, and discover what is, and is not, our true calling. The key is to have the courage to take the journey: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Seeing Masquerade in Venice on my keeper shelf reminds me of that maxim every day. 

How about you? What book(s) keep you on the journey? Let me know, and I'll see you tomorrow with the letter "N."

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23. Grammarly Writing Group Publishes NaNoWriMo Novel

grammarlyLast November a group of team members at Grammarly, the online site dedicated to proofreading, wrote a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

This week the group published their book The Lonely Wish-Giver: A Grammo WriMo Novel on Amazon. The eBook is available for $.99 and all of the proceeds will be donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

The book was written by around 300 writers from 27 countries. They called the project #GrammoWriMo. Collectively, the team wrote 130,927 unedited words, almost three times the goal of the challenge’s 50,000 words. Follow this link to read our interview with the group about their experience writing as a team.

 

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24. An A+ for Alphasmart




Hi, Everyone. I'm still in the middle of moving, renovating, revising . . . The middle space seems to be a very hazy place to be right now, finding me longing for the end, wondering how I ever got into this mess in the first place, and discovering my mind has gone utterly blank when it comes to writing blog posts. Which is why I'm going to go back to the alphabet for some inspiration.

When I first signed up for the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I didn't know what my theme would be. I thought I would concentrate on the business of writing, when I suddenly found myself drawn to my lovely keeper books, and all my pages and pages of brainstormed writing ideas went into my filing cabinet. That is, until today--

So . . . starting with the top of my list and another "A" topic, we have: I love my Alphasmart!

In case you've never heard of the NEO Alphasmart, it's a super-portable, super-basic word processor that's the closest thing I know to writing by hand without running out of ink or developing writer's cramp. 

I bought mine in 2008 after I attended a Land of Enchantment Romance Authors meeting and saw another member using hers to take notes. When I learned that you could simply download your typed text from the Alphasmart into any program such as Word, or simply into the body of an email for revision and professional formatting, I knew it was exactly what I needed for NaNoWriMo. 

Since then, I haven't looked back. Sadly, the company is no longer producing this basic model (although there are plenty of used Alphas out there) but the good news is they have come out with an upgrade, the NEO Dana, that seems to have all kinds of nifty features. That said, I'm still a big fan of the original, and Alpha and I (Teddy, too) have been on hundreds of exciting literary adventures together.

There's something about writing on my Alphasmart that keeps me focused like nothing else other than my fountain pen can. Maybe it's the size (small), the color (drab), or the fact that all I can really do on it is write that makes it so addictive. I can't use it to make phone calls, or to surf the Internet, or even snap a few pics. It's a baby dinosaur--and it's one of the most amazing things I've ever owned. 

My top reasons for being such a fan (and what will take me to the upgraded Dana if "Alphasmarty" should drop dead one awful day) are:
  1. It's so lightweight--2 lbs. 
  2. Has a full keyboard, and with a "tilt"to it just like a typewriter. Very comfortable for my wrists and fingers.
  3. I don't know about the Dana, but the beauty of the Alphasmart is it's designed for writing. Editing is kind of a secondary function. Of course, you CAN run a spell-check, cut and paste lines and paragraphs to new positions, find buzz words, etc., use an in-built thesaurus, and completely clean up your manuscript if that's what you really, really want to do. But why bother? That something for when you download your writing into your computer.
  4. And you can very easily download your work into your PC or laptop--approximately 50,000 words at a time! That's nearly a whole NaNoWriMo manuscript.
  5. The power is close to immortal. All it takes are three AA batteries which then last 700 hours. That is a very, very long time to write before you need to change to new ones. 
  6. It goes wherever you can take it. Want to write your novel in the middle of the rain forest or atop an ice floe? No problem. Just bring three AA batteries in case you're going to be there for a year or two.
Tip of the Day: Having a favorite tool for creativity can be an important part of the process and ritual of settling down to work. For me, my Alphasmart is the tool that does that best; just taking it out of its carrying case puts me in the mind-space of knowing it's "time to write."

What about you? If you own an Alphasmart, I'd love to hear how you use it. Or if you have some other cherished writing tool, drop me a line and let me know what it is. Thanks for visiting, and I wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend. See you next week.








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25. The Mobile Author, Part Seven: Managing Your Writing Life


Today,  I'll end the series with some tips for using your mobile office to help you manage your writing life. These ideas can help you work better so you can achieve your writing goals.

Make It a Habit

One common problem for those of us who try to work writing in with our busy lives is making the time to write. Unfortunately, nobody has made an app yet that adds a couple hours to the day or makes our day jobs go away or extends the kids' nap time. However, there is a class of apps that enforces good habits and helps to break bad habits. These can be used to remind us to write, and to check our progress against our goals.

Apps like HabitBull (Android, free) and Way of Life (iOS, free for three habits, $3.99 for more) let you set goals. These apps can be configured with whatever parameters you want. Use them to cut down your soda intake, or to spend more time doing something you love, like writing. For example, if you want to write three days a week, you can set a habit reminder that asks you every day if you have written. You wouldn't want to disappoint your tablet, right?

 The Habit Editor in HabitBull


In addition to yes/no goals like whether you wrote today, you can set number-based goals. Want to write 1,000 words a day? Set that up as a habit, then set a reminder each night that asks you how many words you wrote. 

Each habit app is a little different, so look for one that will suit your goals. 

Keeping Focused

To meet your goals, you need to stay focused.

One simple use for your tablet or, especially, your phone, whether you're mobile or stuck at the office is a timer. A timer can you keep you focused. Make a goal to write for a solid hour without checking Facebook or email or grabbing another root beer float at your favorite cafe, then set a timer and don't stop writing until it goes off.

There are tons of timer apps, and they all do what a timer does, so really it probably doesn't matter which one you use. Two I like on Android are Timers4Me+ and Timely Alarm Clock. Both support multiple timers, alarms, and include a stopwatch. Again, I'm not sure what to recommend for your iPad or iPhone, but it really doesn't matter much. A timer is a timer. You can make it pretty, give it fancy options, or whatever, but in the end, it keeps track of time and lets you know when time is up.


Track Your Progress

Anybody who has learned about goal-setting has learned that an important part of meeting your objectives is to make your goals measurable. The apps I've mentioned so far will help you do that. But another way to measure your goals is to track your progress.

The Writeometer app for Android helps you meet your goals. It includes a timer and a writing log, and gives you rewards (guavas) if you meet your goals. For every writing project, you can set your total word count goal and your daily writing goal, and you can set a deadline date. Then, you can set reminders to kick you in the pants. By gamifying your goal tracking, Writeometer keeps you more engaged, and helps you feel good when you accomplish what you set out to do.

Writeometer log


If your goals are fairly basic, such as writing 50,000 words in November, you might like an app like NaNoProgress, also for Android. The concept is simple: enter your wordcount for each session and the app displays a bar showing your progress toward 50,000 words.

Those apps are great for Android users, but what about authors who use an iPad or iPhone? They have options as well, such as Word Tracker. I didn't find anything quite as fancy or fun as Writometer, but all you need, really, is a place to enter your goals and measure your progress.

 Keep a Journal

Finally, many Utah writers come from a background where keeping a journal is encouraged. A writing journal (see "The Writer's Journal," a post on this blog from way back in 2009), helps you be accountable to yourself, and helps you vent those natural writing insecurities so they don't build up inside you. You can track your objectives, note ideas and problems that need to be fixed, and remind yourself where your next session is supposed to start. 

Writeometer includes simple journaling functionality, and the app stores include tons of journal apps. You can use one of those, or you can use the note apps or writing apps we've already talked about in this series. You don't need anything fancy. The only thing you need is something you like writing in so you are motivated to keep your journal.

And So...

There you have it, pretty much everything you need for the well-equipped mobile office. By choosing the approach that works best for you at each step of the writing process, you can easily break the chains of a desk and write wherever inspiration hits you best. Or, if you still do most of your writing in your office (I call my home office my Schreibwinkel), you have everything you need if an idea strikes while you are on the road. Your writing comes from your own brilliant mind, so doesn't it just make sense to have your office wherever that mind of yours happens to be? Even if you prefer the routine of writing in the same place every day, sometimes the best cure for writer's block is a simple change of scenery. If your computer screen becomes the intimidating monster that sucks your creative juices, get away from it for a while.

I hope you have enjoyed this series, and that it helps you to be more productive. The key to writing, it is said, is putting your butt in the chair. But nobody says it always has to be the same chair in the same place. It's 2014. You don't have to lash yourself to a desk anymore. Enjoy your freedom and let the words flow wherever they come to you.

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