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1. NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Use Strong Metaphors

Writers are often advised to “show, not tell.” That’s why metaphors can be so very helpful.

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “The Art of The Metaphor.” When it comes to crafting a strong metaphor, keep in mind that “a metaphor isn’t true or untrue in any ordinary sense; metaphors are art, not science.”

This is our eighteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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2. My NaNoWriMo Must-Have List


Here we are--the last few days of NaNoWriMo: time to face the music, finish or else, or maybe just be Thanksgiving-Thankful for whatever words we did manage to get on paper. I've still got a few thousand words to go before Sunday, but I'll get there (I can! I can!).

One of the ways I've kept myself energized these last weeks has been by ensuring I always have ready access to my favorite writing "must-have's." These include:
  1. Fountain Pen. I couldn't write (or live) without a great fountain pen. Over the years I've gone through all different sorts, from disposable (a mistake I won't repeat) to pricey and too precious to use (another bad idea). Right now I'm very comfortable with a black-barreled Retro 1951 Tornado model. It's a good weight and size for my hand and so far (about a year) has been problem-free, i.e. no ink leakage, etc.
  2. Colorful ink. Right now I'm alternating between violet and ebony brown.
  3. Uniball BLX gel pens. A great back-up to my fountain pen. I always keep a few of these gems in my purse, on my desk, clipped to my manuscript . . . I love them. The secret is the ink: the usual blue, violet, brown, etc. is infused with black, giving the various colors a mysterious, gothic appearance that fits my storyline perfectly.
  4. White legal pads. I can't get enough of these. I admit to stockpiling them in the dozens, just in case, you know, Office Max closes or it's the end of the world or something . . .
  5. Alphasmart. My trusty little portable word processor. Oh, how I love my Alphasmart!
  6. Plot Journal. Every manuscript I work on has an accompanying journal filled with notes, character sketches, and plot-lines all based on my:
  7. Magazine cut-outs. I don't think I could write without my very extensive visual references. The weirder, more obscure the photo, the happier I am. I keep my cut-outs in plastic sleeves inside my journals and play with them like paper dolls whenever I need some extra inspiration.
  8. A Writer's Book of Days, by Judy Reeves. This is my favorite book of writing prompts. There's a prompt for each day of the year plus a few extras tacked on to the end of each month just for fun. The prompts can be used over and over and over and never become stale. The book also has tons of super writing advice.
  9. The Voice of the Muse, by Mark David Gerson. I bought this book over the summer and saved it especially for NaNoWriMo. I'm so glad I did. I like to read a paragraph or two before starting my day's work and the message stays with me every step of the way. Reading it before my writing sessions gives me a gentle reminder to trust, to breathe, to stay grateful for the process, and enjoy my writing without judgment.
  10. Padfolio. Another new addition to my writing life. I bought this as a reward for exceeding my daily word goal last week. It's red and shiny and makes me feel very productive. It's the perfect way to carry around my beloved legal pads. Not sure how I ever managed without one.
  11. Salty snacks. I like to eat while I write--which can be a very bad habit. This year I've discovered popcorn chips--virtually calorie-free, with just enough snap, crackle, and pop to make me feel like I'm getting a real treat. They also keep me from roaming the kitchen in search of more food and distraction.
  12. Cuppa. Lattes when I'm at a bookstore cafe, Earl Grey or Jasmine Green tea when I'm at home or in my office. In fact, I could use one right now. Catch you later!
Tip of the Day: Writing can be a lonely, frustrating process, one that can make you wish you were anywhere but plonked in front of your laptop or Alphasmart. So why not make it fun with small (or big) rewards? Start planning today what you're going to give yourself for finishing NaNoWriMo '14 or any other creative project completed by the end of the year. After all, you deserve it! Happy Thanksgiving!

    0 Comments on My NaNoWriMo Must-Have List as of 11/26/2014 2:54:00 PM
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    3. NaNoWriMo Tip #17: 3 Skills to Help With Writing Dialogue

    What helps to bring characters to life? Dialogue!

    The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “Three Anti-Social Skills to Improve Your Writing.” Educator Nadia Kalman prescribes the following skills:

    (1) Eavesdropping.

    (2) Treat fake people (a.k.a. your characters) as though they were real human beings.

    (3) Mutter to yourself.

    This is our seventeenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    4. NaNoWriMo Tip #16: Write What You Don’t Know

    Do you want to take your NaNoWriMo story in an unfamiliar direction? Back in 2013, Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz headlined a “Live From the NYPL” event.

    The video embedded above features the entire conversation. During the discussion, Morrison shared this thought:

    “I tell my students; I tell everybody this. When I begin a creative writing class I say, I know you’ve heard all your life, ‘Write what you know.’ Well I am here to tell you, You don’t know nothing. So do not write what you know. Think up something else. Write about a young Mexican woman working in a restaurant and can’t speak English. Or write about a famous mistress in Paris who’s down on her luck.”

    This is our sixteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    5. One More Week: Staying Motivated at the End of NaNoWriMo

    Let’s face it, writing is hard. Trying to focus and write a novel in a month? It sounds impossible. And exhausting. Here’s the good news, though: If you’ve stuck with your schedule during National Novel Writing Month, you’ve only got a week left.

    Hitting the word count at this point should just be a formality. You’ve come this far, you can’t quit now. The hardest part over this final week is fighting the exhaustion (and the post-Turkey food coma you might hit on Thursday).

    So what is keeping you motivated to finish? Is it how close you are to word count goal? Is it finishing NaNoWriMo for the first time? The excitement of turning to editing your work? Share how you are making it through this final week in the comments below!

    Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

    Question: What are you doing to not pass out from writing exhaustion this week? What’s keeping you motivated for the final push?


    Natania Barron: Scheduling. Planning. Understanding that this isn’t about barfing out words on the page. It’s about re-igniting passion for a project, getting into the mindset where the book becomes everything. It’s sort of like falling in love. Except NaNo is a formula for falling in love—if you do it right.


    Rachael Herron: Keeping me motivated for the final push is the knowledge that I know exactly how awesome it is making that blue bar change to a brilliant purple. I’m about 7k away from winning, and the thing that feels great is the knowledge that I could write all those words and finish today. But I don’t have to. To win, I can still amble forward and get there, and it’s going to taste sweet to do so. 


    Nikki Hyson: Closing my eyes when I have to. Being so far behind has forced me into several marathon sessions which is really hard on my eyes, shoulders and writing hand. It’s tempting to turn a break into an internet surfing session that sucks away an hour of precious time. Getting burned out? I close my eyes for half hour, then put on a couple high tempo songs and dance around the living room. Follow it up with a big glass of juice (dehydration from all that coffee is an energy killer), pop a couple B vitamins (lasts longer than a caffeine pill), put on the tea kettle, and get back to it. What’s keeping me motivated? I pre-ordered the NaNo Winner Tee in October and just got the email that it is on its way. Yikes! Gotta keep going. Can’t wear it if I don’t earn it (and it really is a wicked cool tee).


    Regina Kammer: Well, my ballet classes are on hiatus for Thanksgiving week, so there’s an extra 5 hours…to sleep. LOL.

    Other than that? Well, I do have some outlined points I have to cover and I have to remind myself I still have story yet to writei.e., I’m not without plot or motivation or conclusion. The biggest writing motivation comes from my character Charles who has yet to find his Happily-Ever-After. I really need to get him to that satisfying conclusion. Right now, he’s still in the midst of evaluating the options set before him, and I’m in the midst of discovering who he really is.

    I am also motivated to get to the end of the story, and I mean literally get to the end of the story, not just to the goal of 50,000 words. I’ve discovered over the years of doing NaNoWriMo that revising and editing is so much easier when there is a complete story to work with. Plus, I’d like to get this story published next year, so that’s pretty motivating!


     

    November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

     The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
    is packed full of the kinds of expert advice you need to
    finish off NaNoWriMo strong.


    Kathy Kitts: I’m now in the homestretch. Breaking 40k is the moment when I know I can make it. I’ve been doing this for three weeks and have developed the habit of writing. I brush my teeth without a big production. I do the same with writing. I just sit down and do it.


    Kristen Rudd: Who says I haven’t passed out from exhaustion? Oh, it is hard to stay motivated right now. Fatigue has definitely set in. I didn’t write for three days during Week Three, and I’m grateful that I’ve managed to not fall behind. My husband started some new, seven-minute workout program this month, and he keeps asking me to join him. Ha. Ha. Ha. Right. Like I’m going to work out in November. I’m beginning to think I should write him in and kill him off.

    I had planned out over 20 scenes at the beginning of the month that I thought would be the daily scenes I would write, setting me up for most of the month. So far, I’ve written four of those 20. The rest of what I’ve written has been a complete surprise. Knowing I’ve still got stuff to get to, that I haven’t run out of things to write, and that I am going to win NaNo this year, dammit, are keeping me focused. And I have to say, knocking out these surprise scenes is kind of satisfying. Like Whack-A-Mole.


    EJ Runyon: It’s boring but, really All I Did  to not feel exhausted this week was to just come back. Every week of NaNoWriMo hits you with new emotions about your work. So really, coming back to a new week of writing is like a reboot, emotions-wise. Nothing exhausting about it. I feel like each week brings a new dimension of “writer” out of me. I kind of look forward to each one’s seven-day span.


    Jessica Schley: Spending more time with friends. I have a great NaNoWriMo community where I live, and I find the closer we get to the final push, the more I head off to write-ins and gatherings to stay motivated. It’s more fun to spend time with people that way rather than be locked up in front of my own computer trying to crank out the words.

    The other thing I do is spread my writing time out. Sometimes this is a necessity—I just can’t find two solid hours in the day. But other times, it’s just so that I get up and do something else in between sessions. So I’ll write for 30 minutes four times throughout the day rather than try to pack one long session into my day. 

    *     *     *     *     *

    First Draft in 30 DaysSay goodbye to writing and rewriting with no results. Starting—and finishing—your novel has never been easier! First Draft in 30 Days provides you with a sure-fire system to reduce time-intensive rewrites and avoid writing detours. Award-winning author Karen S. Wiesner’s 30-day method shows you how to create an outline so detailed and complete that it actually doubles as your first draft. Flexible and customizable, this revolutionary system can be modified to fit any writer’s approach and style. Plus, comprehensive and interactive worksheets make the process seem less like work and more like a game.


    Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

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    6. If you’re writing for #NaNoWriMo (or any time) keep going!

    writing-20141124_111949

    If you’re writing a novel, you have something you want–or maybe need–to say. Something that’s important to you. Keep going! Keep writing, listening to your heart and letting the words flow from your heart to your fingertips, and out into your pen or your keyboard.

    When you’re writing a first draft (or editing a second or fifth or tenth draft), there’s often a point about mid-way or three-quarters of the way through when you start to feel exhaustion from working so hard, or you may even start doubting your work. But don’t listen to that. You have something you need to say. Something that will matter to other people. So keep writing. Keep letting the words spill out onto the page. Someday, that novel may reach other people and change their lives for the better. Someday, your words may help others know that they’re not alone, or things can get better, or they may just help someone else escape from something painful in their life for a while and gain a little good feeling.

    So keep going. Don’t stop now. You can do it!

    Love from a fellow book lover and writer.

    PS

    This was my first year taking part in #NaNoWriMo (though I’ve written and published 6 books), and I LOVED it.

    I love writing quickly. I always write first drafts of my books quickly; I think it keeps me firmly in my writing mode, where I’m deeply connected to my creativity, inner voice, and what I need to say, rather than my editor mode, where I’m looking at the language and content and picking it apart to make it stronger and better. I think first drafts are meant to be written quickly, so we stay in the hearts and minds of our characters and the writing. At least, that’s what works best for me.

    So whether you normally write quickly or not, #NaNoWriMo may be the perfect time to jump into writing flat-out fast, getting all the words out on the page before the editor in your head chimes in. The perfect time to keep the words flowing forward.

    Write what you want, what you need. Enjoy it! And if you reach your 50,000-word goal for #NaNoWriMo this year, take heart in seeing “winner” pop up after you validate your manuscript, or watching the video of other writers cheering and clapping you on. Writing can be such a solitary endeavor; I wish we always had “winner” pop up and a cheering crowd for every new book and every new draft we completed. But we can imagine our own cheerleaders, or let our friends know and celebrate with them.

    Keep writing. Enjoy the process. You can do this!

    And then take a well-deserved break. I know I am. (smiling)

    0 Comments on If you’re writing for #NaNoWriMo (or any time) keep going! as of 1/1/1900
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    7. NaNoWriMo - Do You Love It Or Hate It?

    Those of you who follow my blog will know that this year has been a little patchy for me so I thought a good way of giving myself a kick up my creative backside was by taking part in NaNoWriMo - yes, I really thought that writing 50,000 words in one month would be a good idea... Emma from NaNoEssex asked me to write a post for her blog and I thought it would be nice to share with you.  So here we go - this is my NaNo blog, I hope you enjoy it!


    NANOWRIMO – DO YOU LOVE IT OR HATE IT?

    A couple of days ago an author friend of mine wrote this simple statement on Facebook: “I don’t understand NaNo”.  He just threw it out there and I read the comments first with interest and then with an open mouth because I couldn’t believe the ferocity of feeling it generated – it appears that you either love NaNo or you hate it, there’s no middle ground.  None at all.  Nada.  Nothing.  And there was me thinking authors were a balanced bunch who could see other people’s point of view.  Tsk.  Silly me.

    The comment which surprised me the most was this from an indie author:  “I always think if you can write that much, just do it all the time.  Plus a lot of people turn out garbage to keep up the word count. Just my opinion, but I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous?!  At least with Marmite if people say they don’t like it then the chances are they’ve tried it.  How can anyone say it’s ridiculous without ever having tried it?  My hackles were raised I have to say, so I feel I have to stand up and explain to the doubters why NaNo is not ridiculous and, in the process, also explain why it’s not always possible to ‘just do it all the time’.  In a balanced way of course.

    I happen to love Marmite and I love NaNo (although there are times when I’m struggling I could cheerfully smack the creator of NaNoWriMo with a large wooden spoon for having devised such a torturous event…).   My good friend Stuart Wakefield introduced me to NaNo in 2010.  From that one small initial NaNo meeting in Nero we met Brigit and Jane and the four of us started Writebulb, a writing group, in Chelmsford.  Our very first speaker was Penelope Fletcher, a young indie author, who spoke to us about self-publishing.  Heavens above, what a revelation that was!  As Penelope talked I just knew it was something I wanted to do and as soon as I left the meeting I started self-publishing – me, who barely knew what a Kindle was!  Here I am four years later – over 190,000 of my books have been downloaded and I’ve loved every step of the journey.  Yes, that meeting in Nero’s four years ago was a catalyst like no other!  Way to go Nano.

    There is another reason why I like NaNo so much, but it’s more personal. This year has been very been busy and sometimes difficult.  I’ve moved house, leaving the home I’d lived in for 24 years, into a house that needs a lot of work done to it.  In addition, my father’s Alzheimers has deteriorated rapidly; he still lives in his own home but I am responsible for him and most evenings after work (I commute to London) I go and check on him and see how he is.  I’ve tried to write, to keep up on social media but have failed miserably throughout the year – by the time I get home, unpack yet another box or paint (or even knock down) another wall, go to help my dad find whatever he’s lost, and then have some supper I’m usually too tired to do anything other than go to bed!  When Emma contacted me to see if I would contribute to the blog it was like a ray of light shining through the dark (thank you Emma!) but then I thought hold on, I’d better sign up to NaNo if I’m going to write about it and immediately I did that panic set in.  How would I cope?  When would I find the time?  Would stress finally overwhelm me?  Nuhuh.  Not one bit.  The only feeling that’s overwhelming me is that I’m finally back doing something I love.  I’m not stressed by trying to write 50,000 words because if I don’t make it the target, I don’t make it.  That feeling of creating something has made me feel happy.  Simple.  

    So – do you love NaNo or do you hate it?

    If you still think you hate it then I’d ask you read this blog again because what I’m saying in a nutshell is that NaNo will give you the opportunity to go on a journey, to meet interesting people, to find support and encouragement, to learn new things, to spark that creative fire inside you and to give you a sense of achievement.  It’s pretty damn good stuff.

    If you already love it then hold fast – you’re now just over half way through and we will all celebrate together when it’s over.  I’ll bring the toast and Marmite!  Good luck everyone J

    0 Comments on NaNoWriMo - Do You Love It Or Hate It? as of 11/23/2014 3:28:00 PM
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    8. Yay or nay

    By now you either have given up on NaNoWriMo or know you stand a good chance of “winning” ten days from now.

    If you’re in he first camp, I understand, I’ve been there before. For a number of reasons - lack of time, other commitments, stalling of story, loss of confidence, seemingly insurmountable odds of completing it - the wind has been taken out of your sails. You started November enthused and with a killer story idea, but the thing beat you down. That is the nature of this beast. 

    However, one not need feel like a failure. Take solace in knowing you’ve got the start of something great. Maybe not the complete first draft, ready to be fine-tuned, you had hoped for, but a beginning. That spark of an idea that once held such promise, though now stalled, still has potential. It had potential then, it holds it now. Give yourself a little time away from it, allow it to stew in the subconscious, then come back to it in January and try again. 

    If you’re in the second group, I’m pleased to finally be among you. At least I will have 50K words by then. It doesn’t feel like the story will have been completed. As this is different territory for me, I’m not sure what is required to receive that treasured prize of being allowed to print my own “I Did It” certificate, or a new car, or free trip to Disneyland, or whatever it is they do to reward winners. Again, I’m new here and am not sure the procedure for officially completing the marathon. Something from the NaNoWriMo site tells how to validate and “win.” I personally have promised myself a massage once “the end” is reached. 

    There still is a week and a weekend to go, so keep writing. And if NaNo got the best of you, go get your massage anyway. You’ve earned it, too.


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

    0 Comments on Yay or nay as of 11/22/2014 9:58:00 AM
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    9. NaNoWriMo Tip #15: Consult Cheat Sheets

    blue color

    NaNoWriMo participants can use all the help they can get! That’s why we encourage consulting with cheat sheets—check out these three links:

    (1) Author’s Craft cheat sheet from the Hello Literacy blog (via Shannon Ford’s pinterest board)

    (2) The Hero’s Journey map from Storyboard That

    (3) Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus

    This is our fifteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    10. The NaNoWriMo Progress Report: How Are You Feeling?

    Just about three weeks of participating in National Novel Writing Month can leave even the best, consistently faithful writer sleep-deprived, ornery, and a little nonsensical. But if you’ve made it this far, that’s something worth celebrating.

    The question becomes, are you writing now just to hit your goal of 50,000 words? Are you simply trying to meet a word count to say you did it? Or are you trying to construct something meaningful and worthwhile, even if it’s something that you won’t let see the light of day for quite some time?

    In short, how do you feel about your writing right now? Are you satisfied with how NaNoWriMo forces you to work? Do you enjoy the quickened pace and constricted guidelines, forcing your inner-critic and inner-editor to take a backseat (until December)? Or do you wish you could plot along more, fine-tuning and tweaking?

    What’s your plan for the final stretch? Share it with us in the comments!

    Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

    Question: Have you been disappointed or pleased with your NaNo efforts thus far? What has made it so? How do you plan on improving or keeping it up over the final 2+ weeks?


    Natania Barron: I’ve honestly been really pleased. I don’t want to say it’s the easiest NaNo, but it’s a different kind of NaNo. Part of it is having a responsibility to another writer. Part of it is being in a different place, writing for a different reason. I had enough of a slow gain leading up to the weekend that I didn’t have to write much at all—it was my 10th anniversary—but I still wanted to, and I was still thinking about the story a great deal. It’s compressed creativity, but this time around it doesn’t feel like so much work.


    Rachel Herron: Oh, boy, I’m always disappointed by my NaNo words. I think it’s healthy and normal to be that way. We’re sprinting here, folks. Remember: the only goal is TO MAKE WORDS. Awful, terrible, furiously bad words are par for the course. Everything can be fixed, but we don’t do that in November. We write the worst things we’ve ever written in November, and then we brag about how badly we’re writing. Here’s an excellent example, straight out of my manuscript: “Fern was even paler now, if that was possible, but her eyes were twin blackened marks of heat WEARS A LOT OF EYELINER.” (I make myself notes in all caps, wherever the idea occurs to me. This keeps me from going backward.) And no, I’m not going to try to write better words. I’m just aiming for that 50,000 mark. Better words are what we make out of crappy words, later. I aim for quantity, not quality. And man, am I good at it. 


    Nikki Hyson: Until a couple days ago I was very disappointed. I didn’t feel like I’d taken care of my time management very well during the first week and my word count suffered in major ways (okay, so I was exhausted and sleeping through alarms, but still!) Then, this weekend, I hit my 2nd (or maybe my 3rd) wind and powered through 9,600 words in about 33 hours. I just crested the 20k on the evening of the 15th which is (kinda) close to the middle. To maintain momentum I think it’s time to take my novel on the road: to work, to doctor appointments, to the coffee shop, anywhere and everywhere. Just jotting words in whatever chunks of time I can find will keep me from needing a full-on marathon at the end. Although those are seriously a lot of fun.


     

    November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

     With resources, tips, and advice from a bevy of experts the
    November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest is a surefire
    way to help you finish your goal of 50,000 words during November.


    Regina Kammer: I’m befuddled, really. Two of my characters are darker than I had originally intended. Another is surprisingly heroic for a minor character. So maybe this means I’m pleased because the magic of NaNoWriMo is happening.

    On the other hand, I have a target publisher , so I’m spending way too much time ignoring my own advice of just writing and suppressing the inner-editor. I’m worried that the work might not be what they’re looking for. I need to stop that.

    All I can do for the final two weeks is keep writing. I still have the pivotal scene and the climax to write, so those are like proverbial carrots on a stick. I need to take my own advice and just write the parts of the story I’m sure about!


    Kathy Kitts: Here is a great anecdote that helps me get through the tough slog that is the 30 thousands. Ray Bradbury had just given a lecture and was taking questions. An undergraduate asked him how he could be so prolific. How he could write when he wasn’t in the mood? He replied that writing took care of those moods.


    Kristen Rudd: My novel took a turn that I was completely unprepared for, and I’ve spent the better part of several days trying to get it back on track. So, on the one hand, I’m pleased that it seems to be its own living, breathing beast. On the other hand, I’m bummed because it seems to be its own living, breathing beast. It all happened from what I thought was an innocuous line of dialogue. I followed it where it led, and I’m worried I may have written myself into a corner. When I vented, a friend asked me, “But is the corner defensible? Does it have a nice view?”

    I am determined to let the story lead me and hope that it knows what it’s doing. So, yes. We are in a committed relationship, my novel and I. I have plenty of originally planned scenes I can always switch over to if I need. I am all of the prepareds. I will just keep writing, trusting that writing will solve all of my problems.


    EJ Runyon: What’s pleased me is that I’m using excerpts from past NaNo’er for this book. That’s a great feeling, seeing work from a few years ago. And what’s disappointing is that it looks like 30K+ words will leave me with a finished How-to-Guide, and that leaves 20K +/- still to write on one of my WIP novels. Good thing this is a Rebel year. Maybe Ill turn that disappointment into a stab at more than one WIP, and touch three of them. Make the time count in a big way, instead of trying to just fill the time & word count


    Jessica Schley: I’m behind schedule, but I’m actually very pleased with how this NaNo is going. This has been one of the first where more days than not, I’m hitting the word count and pushing my story forward. It also is shaking out pretty close to my outline—one thing I’ve discovered in revising my NaNo novels is that the pacing is usually WAY off in my finished draft, because while the fun of NaNo is that secondary characters and plot twists tend to show up ad hoc, that often means that a lot of explaining goes into them and they come in at the wrong point, making my novels out of whack. So I was hoping that this time, I could write something that was more evenly paced if I outlined a slightly more rigid 3-act structure.  The Act I turn happened right where I wanted it to, and the midpoint of the novel is on track to hit when I hit that word count. I’m very pleased with that.

    How do I plan on improving? Just keeping on keeping on. I went to a great write-in this week with my NaNo community (we have a wonderful group here in the nation’s capital) and I’m going to hit up more of those to keep me going. Plus, I’ve won two NaNos with 10,000+ word counts on the final day (one was 20), and with half the month left to go, I still have a very reasonable daily word count to hit. So, I’ll just hit that. :) Easier said than done, I suppose, but as I said in the last post … it’s really hard not to finish once you cross 35K. Even if you cross 35K in the morning of the 30th of November!


    Brian Schwarz: I have been happy with my efforts. I had lofty goals prior to NaNo that included finishing the first book in my series prior to November (I had 3 months) and then the second book during Nano, but instead I ended up with 10k words on the first one in 3 months. Given that I’m at 18k more in 16 days, I have to be pretty satisfied with that. If NaNo ended tomorrow, I could accept my progress as is. But, being that I’m a driven over-achiever, I do not plan on relenting. I am going to increase my word count, trying to furiously catch up (one day last week i actually wrote 8k words in a day) and I’m going to be happy when I make it. I have a rhythm now, which isn’t exactly one I was hoping for. I spend my weekends pretty much forgetting about writing while I spend my work-week going into work an hour early and writing furiously to make up for the two days lost as well as the previous days missed. I won’t question my flow, and I’ll just try to be more productive in it. For some reason writing before bed or in the morning hasn’t been as productive or effective this time round (whereas last year I did a vast majority of my book at night before sleeping), but I don’t mind how it happens. I just know I will find a way to make it happen.

    *     *     *     *     *

    Question: What is one weird word to describe your novel so far?


    Natania Barron: Spiderpunk.


    Rachael Herron: Erratic.


    Writer's Market Deluxe Edition“The Writer’s Market book is an incredible resource on its own, just as the WritersMarket.com website is a wonderful resource. Combine the two, and a 60-mintue webinar on freelancing, and you get the power-packed combo of the Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition. It’s the same Writer’s Market print book, but it comes with an activation code good for a one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com, which houses more listings and more updates throughout the year.”

    -Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Market Content Editor


    Nikki Hyson: Unpredictable. At least while writing it. I don’t know. I may reread it in a month and realize you can see every plot twist a mile off. Right now my characters are toying with me.


    Regina Kammer: Compost.

    (Layers of rich well-developed material with a bunch of rough and green bits thrown in.)


    Kathy Kitts: Sidestepping.


    Kristen Rudd: Alive. My novel is like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s no longer under my control and is going wherever it damn well pleases, apparently. I’m just chasing after it at this point, trying to keep up.


    EJ Runyon: “Simple”—that’s it. I’m rebelling this month, and revising a How-to-Write book on Revisions. Like my Tell Me (How To Write) A Story, (NaNo 2008, published 2014) this one also shows simple ways of looking at your work. Novembers come to a close, and in the time that follows, something simple is needed to keep a writer going. Hopefully this “simple” guide will be one of those things.


    Jessica Schley: Convoluted. I don’t know if that’s a very weird word. But every scene I write introduces a new twist. So it is turning out very twisty. I hope I can bring all these threads together in Act III! 


    Brian Schwarz:  I’d go with “Barmicide”. Look it up! :) God knows I did.

    *     *     *     *     *

    Write-A-ThonFind 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.

     

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    11. NaNoWriMo Tip #14: Pare Down the Districtions

    lifehackNaNoWriMo participants have 10 more days to complete their projects. To give writers that extra edge, we suggest paring down distractions.

    According to lifehack.org, some methods that can help with reducing distractions include: cleaning up one’s workspace, arranging some alone time, and setting a timer for both writing and breaks. Do you have any further suggestions to add?

    This is our fourteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    12. Toughest Part of NaNoWriMo… So Far

    You're beginning to falter. Tearing your hair out and your story apart. Looking for reasons to procrastinate rather than write. Sighing often. Telling yourself why bother.

    Don't worry. It's not you. You're at the Crisis point in the month-long quest to write a story with a plot from beginning to end. Nearly 3 weeks in makes for the 3/4 mark of the month and as you know, the 3/4 mark of anything, according to the Universal Story is the Dark Night -- a time of breakdown for a possible break through.

    You're being tested. Writing is not for the faint-hearted. Go for a walk. Meditate. Chant affirmations. Do whatever you need to keep your energy and spirit high. Slog through this time, knowing you're nearly there.

    You've heard about people who give up right before something amazing would have happened. Don't let this be you. Persevere! You can do this.

    This is also a time filled with great emotion and the need for courage to keep at your passion. Whether you have gathered together with other writers for NaNoWriMo or are persevering alone, the biggest test this month is staying passionately loyal to your goal and not giving up when challenged.

    Today I write!

    For plot prompts to move your writing everyday and reach each major turning point: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. To complete write your story in a month, complete 4 prompts everyday. (As one writer proclaims: The PW Book of Prompts is my lighted path…)

    For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

    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 (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
    •  
    • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
     ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

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    13. NaNoWriMo Tip #13: Practice Positive Psychology

    How well one maintains a positive outlook could make or break a NaNoWriMo project. Shawn Achor, a positive psychology expert, gave a TED talk called “The Happy Secret to Better Work.”

    In the video embedded above, Achor recommends setting aside at least 20 minutes every day for the following five activities: identifying three reasons for gratitude, exercise, meditation, writing in a journal, and performing acts of kindness. What methods do you use to cultivate happiness?

    This is our thirteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    14. Interview with Webucator: Staying Motivated

    <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->

    In honor of National Novel Writing Month, the folks at Webucator have asked me to respond to a few questions about writing. Although I don't participate in NaNoWriMo (November is a terrible month for me to try squeeze in extra writing time!), I thought it would be fun to answer their questions. You can read the interview below:

    What were your goals when you started writing? I can't remember not writing. From the time I was old enough to read, I wrote vignettes, observations about life, snippets of overheard dialogue that intrigued me, and short stories. I wrote plays with parts for all of my stuffed animals. In the beginning, I think my primary desire was to give voice to the ideas that captured my imagination. As I grew older, my goals shifted to writing something important that people would read and remember. In high school, I became aware that words matter, that a good writer could sway opinions and touch people's emotions.

    What are your goals now? My goals really changed when I became a young adult. As an undergraduate, I was an English major, and the work I read inspired me to think about writing short stories. I began submitting my work for publication in my early twenties, where I encountered a lot of rejection. But I did publish two pieces early on, an op-ed piece and a short story, and that motivated me to keep going. Later, I started work on a novel, which generated some interest from a publisher, but I never finished the book, and the project was dropped. After that, I concentrated on writing shorter pieces and have since published over 50 short stories, essays, and poems. My goals now are more evolved and complex. My debut novel, Blood of a Stone, is forthcoming from Tuscany Press in January 2015. Downloads of an Advanced Reading Copy of my novel are currently available to registered members of NetGalley for review. For years, my primary goal was to publish a novel. Now I'm working on a new novel, as well as a collection of short stories. I'm also actively pursuing awards and fellowships. 

    What pays the bills now? My writing has never paid the bills, but my income from writing has continued to grow and is a nice supplement to our household income. Alas, art is not highly valued in today's society, so few authors actually earn a living income from their writing. I'm fortunate to have a supportive partner who has paid the bulk of our bills while I pursued my passion. In addition to my writing, I also work part-time as a creative writing instructor and as a freelance editor. 

    Assuming writing doesn't pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing? It's really about the writing, isn't it? Fame and fortune can be fleeting, but the joy of creating something imaginative and wonderful can carry you forever. I write because I love what I do. I love making the words dance on the page. I love creating interesting characters with complicated lives. My readers motivate me, too. Just last week, I received a lovely email from someone who had read my flash memoir, "My Mother's Hands," in Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie. I walked on a cloud for days. It's truly humbling to discover that your stories have touched someone and made a difference.

    And optionally, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing? Read. Read everything in the genre you like to write and read outside of your genre. Read the classics. Read National Book Award winners, the stories in Best American Short Stories, or the essays in Best American Essays. Immerse yourself in good writing and good literature. You will learn much via osmosis. And write, write, write. Keep a journal. Write short stories, essays, poems, novels. Experiment with form and craft. Study the writers you admire and take notes: How does this one write dialogue that sounds so natural? How does that writer use metaphor and description to bring the setting to life? If you have a passion for writing, nothing will stop you from continuing to write. If you want to make a career out of writing, you need to apply the theory of P's: Practice. Persistence. Patience. Professionalism. The career will follow.

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    15. NaNoWriMo Tip #11: 3 Ways to Use Dramatic Irony

    Is your National Novel Writing Month plot stuck? Maybe you need to add in a little irony.

    The TED-Ed team partnered with educator Christopher Warner to create videos about both verbal irony and dramatic irony (embedded above). Below, we’ve rounded up three tips on how to incorporate dramatic irony into a story.

    (more…)

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    16. Halfway There: Finishing NaNoWriMo Strong

    You’re almost there; you’re halfway through National Novel Writing Month, at least based on the calendar. Whether or not you’re halfway through your goal to 50,000 words (or whatever your goal this month is) may be another story.

    These next two weeks now become as or more critical than the first two and a half weeks that you’ve spent writing. If you’ve made it this far (and presumably even if you aren’t exactly half way to your goal, you still have a decent chunk of words), then there’s no way you can throw in the towel.

    So how are you going to motivate yourself to finish what you’ve started? Have you been through a deadline like this previously? How did you survive? Be sure to share any tips or thoughts on getting through the rest of NaNoWriMo in the comments below.

    Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

    Question: Now that we’re at the halfway point, what’s your number one tip or suggestion to help other writers get through the rest of NaNoWriMo?


    Natania Barron: Make it an incremental change. Don’t go crazy and type 10,000 words a day. I did that once. Sure, I got my word count in. But most of it was terrible. Not to mention my whole body hurt afterward. As a writer that struggles with repetitive stress injuries every day, it’s no laughing matter.

    But incremental word countskeeping it under 2,000 a dayI find are more attainable in the long run. I find that the writing is better, too. And I find that the sanity factor is sincerely less an issue when you’re not scrambling to catch up and panicked. If you’re in this to get into the habit of writing, don’t get into the habit of binge writing. Get into the habit of writing well, writing focused, and writing sustainably.

    Also bring wine. This isn’t easy.


    Rachael Herron: My number one tip? Sugar. After that, some coffee. And then some more sugar. In normal life, I don’t let myself eat sugar very often, but in November? This is my favorite month of the year (because of the writing) and I let myself go there. Other people let themselves get a little out of control in December, but for me, November is the month to binge on Twinkies and Reese’s. And when I’m flagging, when I just can’t get that extra thousand words I need to reach my goal, a Twizzler appetizer followed by a hot chocolate chaser will get me the words I need (especially if I have the reward of a sugary aperitif to look forward to after I’ve done my words). 


    Nikki Hyson: Just DO NOT quit. Even if you feel you won’t hit 50k; that you’ll never get to the end of it. Keep writing. Every day. As much as you can until midnight of November 30th. You’ll mine magic if you do. An odd twist of words. The coolest of names will spring out of nowhere. A side character might take charge and inspire you. You made a promise to yourself to write for 30 days and I promise you, if you stick it out, you won’t regret it. 


    Regina Kammer: Plot got you down? Concentrate on the parts of your story you are sure about and ignore the parts that are giving you headaches. That is, get down on paper (or up on the screen) all the parts of the story you know need to be written, even if there are huge plot holes. That will keep up your word count, with the added benefit that sometimes plot holes get filled in while you’re writing other parts of the story.

    Another bit of advice is to read some posted excerpts on the NaNoWriMo site. What you’ll find might inspire you, motivate you, and make you realize you’re right on track.


     

    November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

     The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
    has all of the resources, tips and tricks you need to finish
    off your goal of writing a novel in a month.


    Kathy Kitts: Keep on keepin’ on. I’ve had an absolutely exhausting weekend and I had fallen about two days behind in word count. All I wanted to do was go to bed, but I told myself, just 250 words. Just write 250 and then go to bed. I didn’t want to break the chain. It’s hokey, but I have a calendar, and I put a star on each day that I write. I didn’t want to miss my star for today. So, I wrote my 250 and then got inspired and wrote 1750 more. Words beget words.


    Kristen Rudd: Just keep writing. It’s all downhill from here. If you’ve made it this far, then you can finish this. I find I have one of two problems around this time in the month. It’s either “Oh, crap, I have too many things to write, and I’m not going to finish” or it’s “Oh, crap, I don’t have enough material to see me through until the 30th.” Really, neither of these is a problem. The first one just means I’ll have plenty of stuff to work on, and the second means I need to start killing people off.

    There is a third problem, which is, “Oh, crap, I’m totally in over my head/I hate my story/I don’t know what I’m doing.” This one may or may not be my problem this year. But I just keep writing. Writing solves all of these problems.


    EJ Runyon: All I did to get me to the mid-point in this month of writing is to do it daily. I didn’t miss a day of writing. Sometimes I made my word count goal, other days I exceeded it a bit. So the tip is: Work at it consistently.

    You can enjoy all the fun in NaNo’s playground of forums, and FB feeds, sure camaraderie is wonderful. But writing is what this is all about. Three of my NaNo titles were accepted for publication, and this year’s been picked up too, because I did the work. During the NaNo Months and out of them.

    Just sit and do the work.


    Jessica Schley: Years ago, there was no detailed stats bar that told you how many words you were behind or how many you wrote that day, or how many words per day you needed to finish on time. The only motivator you had was the blue bar, going further and further until you hit 50 and it turned purple. Personally, I found it more usefulit wasn’t easy to quantify if you were falling behind short of getting out a calculator and doing the math. You’d just push yourself to keep going every day.

    So if you find yourself behind, a) you’re in good company (I’m not even going to talk about how many days I’m behind right now!) but b) don’t focus on the count relative to where you “should” be. Focus on pushing that blue bar forward as far as you can push it each day.

    And two, it is almost a NaNoWriMo impossibility to not finish once your book hits 35,000 words. As you turn into the fourth week, words tend to start tumbling out. So if you feel like quitting, just stick with it no matter what is going on right now, and get to 35k. When you get to 35k, then you have my permission to quit. Because you won’t be able to.


    Brian Schwarz: When I was in high school, I subjected myself to a “sport” known as cross country, which was really just another form of torture. I remember every race began the same way, with me and my fellow torturee’s saying “I will never run another race again after this.” We always told ourselves that we were finished, that we would cease to volunteer, but all of us were always there a month later for the next race. We found comradarie in the whole ordeal. On one particular race, I found myself struggling through the last leg of the race and repeating in my head over and over again, “No one has ever died from running.” I found the thought comforting, and this was a common thing I would say to myself to press onward, to keep running despite how much I wanted to stop. Unfortunately for me on this particular race, it was hot enough out that one student had literally passed out while running. I saw the ambulance while I repeated my phrase over and over in my head, and the thought crossed my mind—did someone actually just die from running?

    I guess my point, and my advice, are to lie to yourself. Lie early and lie often and lie over and over again, because I’m pretty sure that someone somewhere has died from running, just like I’m pretty sure some person has died from a lack of sleep caused by an excess of writing. But NaNoWriMo has a lot in common with cross country, because at the end of the day it isn’t about a battle of you and another person. It’s you versus you. Of all the paralyzing frustrations and disappointments that happen during Nanowrimo, none is worse than this—getting discouraged. Because the only person that can stop you from finishing NaNoWriMo with 50,000 wonderful new words is—frankly—you. I mean, you’ll end up blaming it on your cat getting sick, or your favorite television show starting up, or that thing you had to do for work or school that you weren’t expecting—but at the end of the day its all on you.

    So whether you have 25,000 words written today or 25 words written (mind you I’m at 18,000 and still very much plan to finish at 50k), don’t limit yourself by telling yourself all of those bad lies, and tell yourself some good ones. Tell yourself that writing 5,000 words a day for 15 days is WAY easier than writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Tell yourself that you’ve got all the time in the world even when you don’t, just to calm your nerves. Tell yourself that everyone is as far behind or as far ahead as you. Be convincing. Believe it. No one has ever died from writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and neither will you. Forget sleep. Sleep is for the weak. Write something that takes your mind off sleep. Just don’t let yourself be the reason you didn’t finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words, or with 25,000 words, or with 750 words. Readjust. Change your goal if you must but I would recommend just convincing yourself that you’re not in bad shape. That’s what I’ll be doing. 

    *     *     *     *     *

    Write Your Novel in a MonthEveryone thinks about doing it, yet most people who do start a novel end up stalling out after a few chapters. Where do these would-be novelists go wrong? Are the characters dull and clichéd? Did the story arc collapse? Did they succumb to a dreaded bout of “writer’s block”? Or maybe it was all just taking too long?

    These problems used to stop writers in their tracks, but nothing will get in your way after reading Write Your Novel in a Month. Author and instructor Jeff Gerke has created the perfect tool to show you how to prepare yourself to write your first draft in as little as 30 days. With Jeff’s help, you will learn how to organize your ideas, create dynamic stories, develop believable characters, and flesh out the ideal narrative for your novel—and not just for that rapid-fire first draft. Jeff walks you through the entire process, from initial idea to the important revision stage, and even explains what to do with your novel once you’re finished.


    Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

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    17. Keep On Writing

    I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this month. It’s a mad-sprint to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month, and we just reached the half-way mark. This means we’re wading through the murky middle of our novels when it feels like nothing is happening and it’s hard to keep our momentum.

    If you’re like me and you need a little internet inspiration, I’m happy to provide these pep-talks of writing wisdom:

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    Keep calm and write on

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    Why are you still here?

    I thought all that was pretty clear.

    Get to your keyboard, and remember…

    being-a-good-writer

    Happy writing everyone.


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    18. The wall

    It’s funny how things change in a week. NaNoWriMo started exceedingly well. Week two came along and it has became a chore.

    The wall, the murky middle, the notorious hardest week of NaNo has arrived. Allow me to re-post tidbits and tips to help us all through. 

    The first is from Monday’s NaNoWriMo site. I can’t locate the article to credit the author but I believe it came from the local Salt Lake chapter who advised: back up your work. Right now. If you’re on track with 25,000 words or only a tenth of that, it is too much to loose. Back it up now, back it up every other day hereafter.

    Gwen Hicks, also from a NaNoWriMo email offered these points:
    --Not every thing you write this month will be good, some  of it even bad. The key is to accept that you may disappoint yourself and not live up to your own standards, but the time to nitpick is after its finished. 
    -A sign above Ray Bradbury’s writing office advises: “You must never think at the typewriter. You must feel.”
    -Stuck? Start talking to yourself - ad-lib dialog, even record it on a sound recorder
    -Trapped in a scene? Do a choose your own adventure with several possible outcome based on a charter’s actions.

    My operating procedure has been to set a timer and write for an hour, repeating as many times as I can manage. I record the number of minutes for each hour. If I first devote five minutes to figuring out what needs to happen in a scene, my word count goes way up. Know what you’re to write before you write.

    Know when to write (and when not to). My word count goes way down at night when I am tired. Some people fight through it and struggle on. I merely waste time when I should have given up and gone to bed. Know when you are most productive and when you are not, then plan accordingly. 

    In different font color, I drop remarks in the middle of my text. Notes to self such as “fix that” or “thesaurus” is my signal where something wasn’t right, or a more precise word is called for. This keeps the internal editor at bay, yet gives him something to go on when I let him out of his cage. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t in erupt the flow of thought. 

    Lastly, Julie Daines on Monday posted tips on this blog that are so good, they bear repeating. They are:
    -Let go of perfection.
    -Chip away at the story using spare moments of time rather that waiting for a huge chunk of time.
    -Keep fingers moving - you need to read what she says about that.
    -Be all in - again, Julie says it better than I can summarize here, so follow the link for the complete idea.

    It’s half-time. Don’t give up. We’ve still got sixteen days to get our stories to finished. Good luck.


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

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    19. NaNoWriMo Tip #8: Follow The Hero’s Journey

    How does one craft a hero? Scholar Joseph Campbell studied thousands of myths and found that a number of them follow a pattern that he calls the “hero’s journey.”

    In the animated video above, educator Matthew Winkler explains this concept in detail. This TED-Ed lesson provides examples of famous characters whose stories follow the “hero’s journey” including Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, and Frodo Baggins.

    This is our eighth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    20. My NaNoWriMo Tip: Stop Writing and Start Seeing (at Chronicle Books)

    Truth? I haven't written anything remotely bookish for a while because, well, I've been busy. That harried woman running from place to place, topic to topic, responsibility to responsibility, and only sometimes to her own kitchen? That would be me. There's wind in my hair.

    But I've been thinking about writing and when the good folks at Chronicle asked me to offer writers a NaNoWriMo tip, I knew exactly what inspiration I wanted to offer.

    It's all here, along with a few of my photographs. And one silly picture of me. What I wouldn't give to be pretty. What I wouldn't give.

    Wait. I'm off topic. I'm also off again, and running —

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    21. Adapt Your Writing: How NaNoWriMo Changes Your Daily Writing Routine

    National Novel Writing Month isn’t just a test of your writing prowess. In many ways, it’s more of a test of your determination, will power, and ability to hold yourself accountable. Are you going to stick to your 50,000 word goal? What are your daily goals? How do you handle potentially falling behind?

    Most importantly, NaNoWriMo will teach you how to adapt as a writer. For the most part, your daily (weekly?) routines of writing will get thrown out the window during this month. You’ll have to learn how to accept bad writing and edit later. For some (myself included), that’s tough to do. The thought that there could potentially be bad writing in what I’m working on is cringe-worthy.

    Learn to accept it. Write through the bad parts until you get to the good stuff. You can worry about the edits on December 1. Put the critic away until then. If need be, when it’s all done, check out Writer’s Digest’s Critique Services. But, for now, it’s only about the writing.

    How have you modified your writing habits to make it through NaNoWriMo? Are you finding that it works for you? Please share in the comments, because you never know if your methods can help out another struggling writer!

    Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

    Question: How does NaNoWriMo affect your writing, versus your normal writing pattern? (Besides the obvious word count in a day… For example: Do you find yourself editing less as you write? Are you skimping out on detail and just writing the bare bones?) Do you think this process works for you? 


    Natania Barron: I’ve always written at something of a fever pace. When an idea for a novel really crystallizes in my head, it takes over a huge part of my brain power. What’s been hard over the last few years with kids and a full time job is that I just don’t have the brain space I used to. NaNoWriMo makes me schedule the time in. It’s a lot less just waiting for the Muse (Muses are crap anyway) and a lot more just making it happen.

    Having Jonathan be part of this whole process helps light a fire under me more than ever before. That sense of accountability. Much of the spine of this novel is Jonathan’s idea, but I like to think that the flourishes are mine. The whole beast of the matter is very much a collaboration, and I’ve got to hold my part of the bargain up. Life is insanely chaotic at the moment, but there’s something rather precious in behind beholden (in a good way) to a friend and collaborator. I’m finding I’m really looking forward to my NaNo time.

    Getting in the writing habit is hard. And NaNoWriMo is really hard, whether you’re a novice or an expert. I hate NaNo naysayers who criticize people for doing it, and just making a “part of a novel” instead of a whole novel. That’s certainly not the point of NaNo. Writing is the hardest part. Getting it done. Even if no one ever sees the story, it’s still the hardest part. And it helps develop those habitual practices, even when you’ve done it before. Because it’s easy to lose it. And more than anything I’m appreciating being wrapped up in the process and learning ways to more easily integrate it into my very busy life.


    Rachael Herron: NaNoWriMo does affect my day-to-day writing in that I let it get really rough in November, and it ain’t pretty. In my normal writing, I try to be somewhat conscious of the fact that someday people will read my sentences. I owe a book to my editor—I probably shouldn’t just flat-out make up words like scirvel and whishumptic. During NaNo, I allow myself to forget that. I’m back to just writing as fast and as badly as I possibly can, and it’s SO liberating. When I write fast, I do throw out a lot later. That said, I manage to save a lot more than I ever think I will. 


    Nikki Hyson: I can’t honestly say my writing pattern is any different in “NaNo mode” or out of it. I’ve always had the notion, in the back of my mind, that no one was ever going to read my first draft anyway. So, if I wanted to skip a difficult part, or hash out some detail later, it didn’t matter. NaNoWriMo has, however, affected my writing in one very profound way. If I start it in November, I finish it. I have a knee-high pile of notebooks under my desk—all projects that were gasp worthy and I couldn’t wait to start. None of them finished. That isn’t to say that I never finished a novel before NaNoWriMo, but my batting average has improved since November of ’10. I’ve also created more novels from NaNoWriMo that I wanted to take “to the next level.” Before NaNo, the novels I finished went into a box, never to be heard from again. My first NaNo novel I spent a year reworking, editing, and polishing before I put it in the box. My second NaNo Novel went into the box on December 1st, only to be remembered as a win. My third NaNo novel I just finished up the editing, revision, polishing, and final line edit. That was 2 years in the making, and I’m now querying agents. So how has NaNo changed me? I know I can do what I set in my heart to do. 


    Regina Kammer: While I’m doing NaNoWriMo 2014, I’m also under deadline for a short story so I’m feeling the effects of NaNoWriMo instantaneously. I have no word count goal for the short, just the goal of producing a good story. It’s freeing just writing what pops in my head without a whole lot of planning, which is the effect of NaNoWriMo’s pantser philosophy. At the same time it’s freeing just writing and not concerning myself with how many words I need to pump out that day. So I get the best of both worlds: squelching the inner-editor while writing as much as I need.

    On the other side of this, my usual writing strategy is to be a bit of a plotter and think in terms of scenes (or actions if a short story is one big scene). So during NaNoWriMo, I find it helpful to think in terms of scenes instead of words. Focusing on getting the plot or characters from point A to point B rather than dwelling on the daily word count, is very motivating and actually produces all the words I needand then someeach day!


     

    November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

     The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
    is the go-to resource to help you reach your goal of
    50,000 words during the month of November.


    Kathy Kitts: I can write a novel in 30-days or one short story in six weeks. Why? Inner critic. NaNoWriMo helps me to banish him.

    Without the critic, I write more freely and with less censorship. This allows me to describe things more fully and not worry whether a particular detail is necessary. I don’t know whether having the MC wear a blue sweater is important until later. If the sweater is unimportant, then I cut it during revision. But if the murderer was seen in a blue sweater, then maybe not!

    In contrast, when I write a short piece, I have the entire arc plotted out. I start crafting immediately because I know where the story’s going. However, in a novel, characters quite often take on lives of their own and to fight that is counterproductive. I am forced to be looser and am less likely to worry about crafting the perfect sentence. After all, why perfect something only to delete it later?


    Kristen Rudd: This is totally embarrassing, but I haven’t been a consistent writer year-round. Especially the past year or so. As my kids have gotten older, their extracurricular activity level has ramped up. I had to drop out of my writing group, and then I had to drop out of my critique group. Without those sources of positive peer pressure, my writing tapered off to nothing. I haven’t even been reading as much, and I’m a pretty avid reader.

    I’ve been away from stories and telling stories, and boy, is it showing in my output. I’ve never been so thankful for sucking, because NaNo’s getting me to do it again. Writing, I mean. Not sucking. (Well, maybe sucking. I guess that’s for others to decide.)

    I think of NaNoWriMo like a great reset for people like mepeople who aren’t published, people for whom it may be a little while before they’re ready to be published, or people who may not ever publish. If you’re not consistent, NaNo is a good way to get consistent. Don’t have a normal writing pattern? NaNo will give you one.

    Since this story in particular is one I’ve been working on, off and on, for a few years, I have found that I’m approaching it very differently than normal. I will usually go back over a passage the next day and add detail that’s missing or flesh it out more, which is also great for word count, and I’m not doing that this year. I’m just moving on, trying to get to as many scenes as possible in order to finish the draft and tell the whole story. It’s a little uncomfortable, but clearly, I need to be kicked out of my comfort zone a little. It’s also making my inner outliner ridiculously cranky.

    Is it working? I don’t know yet. I hope so.


    EJ Runyon: Because I’ve done this since 2001, I’ve kind of brought my normal writing patterns into my NaNo stuff. When I write, in or out of my NaNo months, I always write out a first draft without a lot of editing. I always bring things to the page “in scene,” my pattern is to not plot so much that I’m in a straightjacket, but instead I pants more, and that lets me follow my characters so their choices are what’s creating those plot points. And that frees me a bit.

    I really think writing ‘in scene’ (Scrivener helps tons in this) allows me to write even more than you’d expect. Each scene comes from answering a “What if…?” question. Not editing during a first draft isn’t about needed to edit. It might be possible you overwritewhich is so the opposite of skimping or bare bones.

    [This process has] worked really well for me. I’ve written a creative writing website, and an entire writing guide on the ways I write. And I teach from that book too. As a process, it’s let me write a novel each November, and start one or two during camp months. This year it’s another writer’s guide. It all comes down to riding the revved up speed when you have it, forgiving yourself when things slow down, and revving back up instead of giving up when you think it’s over. It’s never over.


    Jessica Schley: I definitely edit less, but I’ve learned over the years that I can’t utterly not edit. If I feel a sentence is cruddy, I will get blocked on the next section. One thing I do is that I don’t delete (obviously!). If I feel I need to rewrite a scene, I rewrite it—and both go toward my word count. One trap I fall into in NaNo is writing exposition instead of really writing the scene—the latter produces words faster than really getting in-scene with your character. I’ve learned, though, that when I feel myself doing that, it’s time to look for the five senses—what’s my character feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling? That gets me right back on the mat with them. I try to produce something that’s not too too different than what I’d produce if I weren’t doing NaNo—if my NaNo novel is too big of a mess, I won’t want to revise it! So it’s got to be reasonably close to what I’d otherwise come up with. 


    Brian Schwarz: My writing pattern is totally different during Nano than any other time. Normally I like to write a page or two a day and go back to review it, change it, polish it, and then move forward. During NaNo, none of that is possible. I spend most of my days spilling my depleted plot line onto the page, writing every scene I can conjure and then what connects them, while I stare at an ocean of self-loathing and terrible writing mixed in with a few gems. I tend to go through heavy rhythms of describing scenery, internal monologue, shallow and deep dialogue, and mostly just a skeleton of what is supposed to happen eventually. Honestly Nano for me is less about writing a finished novel and more about writing enough words that I can revise and fix and figure out later. That’s my method.

    *     *     *     *     *

    Write-A-ThonFind 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.

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    22. NaNoWriMo 2014, SCBWI Conference, and Me

    Balancing Act, Pastel Pencil on Toned Paper;
    Hello, Everyone! Happy NaNoWriMo! Hope those word counts are adding up and that you are finding plenty to write about. This year, thanks to a busy day-job and starting a new drawing class on Saturday mornings (sample above), I decided to go slow and steady, sticking to around 2000 words a day, with no weekend marathons. A more-sane approach is helping me to stay calm and positive about the process, and so far I haven't reached any dead-ends or resistance to my story (yet, LOL!). In other words, I'm hanging in there.

    The other good thing I'm loving about this year's NaNoWriMo is that it's giving me a solid month of quiet focus to a) recover from finishing my WIP, The Abyssal Plain, and b) gather my strength to market the book, and c) contemplate everything I learned at the SCBWI Handsprings 2014 Conference here in Albuquerque at the end of October. 

    I haven't written a book for young readers for several years, and it's a field I've been missing, especially as I've had an idea for a picture book rattling around in my head for the last eighteen months. So I could hardly pass up a conference so close to home I even went home for an hour to eat my lunch.

    The Friday night and all-day Saturday event featured a fantastic line-up of guest speakers and workshop leaders: Julie Ham Bliven, editor from Charlesbridge; Liz Baker and Patti Ann Harris, editor and art director from Scholastic; and agent Sara Megibow. We also had the excellent input of our local members adding their experience and wisdom to the mix, and I came away with pages and pages of notes and good advice.

    Some of my favorites:
    • Children's books are big again (yay!). As in REALLY big. If you've ever wanted to write a book for younger readers, this is the time to make that dream a reality.
    • When you go to write, however, don't just fall back on the books you enjoyed reading as a child. Take yourself to the library, the bookstore, and read online publishing lists and catalogs. In other words, research. Study what kinds of books are being published today. You might be surprised at how different they are . . .
    • . . . as well as being very close to what you loved, too. One of these similarities revolves around the idea of "perennial themes"; subjects that will always be popular, especially in picture books, e.g. bedtime, new sibling, holidays, counting and alphabet books. Study modern approaches to these themes and see how you can add your own personal twist.
    • Look for creative ways to layer those themes: e.g., can a bedtime book also be a counting book? (One little lamb put on his pajamas, two little lambs turned out the lights . . . )
    • Don't be afraid to explore the "dark side" of your theme/subject. Children need to express and explore negative feelings in a safe and open way.
    • Titles are super-important. In fact, they are so important they can determine where your book will be placed in the bookstore!
    • This is because many children's books buyers rarely remember the name of the writer or the illustrator (Sad, I know.) But book buyers do remember titles like Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.
    • If you're writing a picture book, make a "dummy" to ensure that your words and line breaks flow from page to page. (Easy dummy method: take 8 pieces of paper; fold them in half for a standard 32-page book that includes title and copyright pages.)
    • Picture book writers: Always think of your illustrator, even when you have no idea who that will be. Make sure your words inspire LOTS of pictures. There's nothing worse than having an illustrator receive your manuscript and say, "I don't know what to draw."
    • Editors can be open to a "reasonable" amount of art notes included with your text, so don't be too inhibited with your suggestions for pictures or a particular style of art.
    • Nonfiction writers: editors are looking for NF that reads like fiction. This goes for all age groups; picture books, too.
    • Books DO come from the slush pile. Keep submitting, don't give up.
    • Editors and agents take your membership in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators very seriously--so if you haven't signed up, think about joining.
    • Read. Read. READ.
    • Books in verse for all age groups do well. Rhyming isn't as taboo as you might think. Just be sure to rhyme well.
    Yes, I was inspired! The week before the conference I wrote a very rough draft of my picture book manuscript, and have since cut it up and laid it out line-by-line in dummy format. Currently it's "resting" in its own lovely folder, ready for rewriting as soon as NaNoWriMo is finished. And you know what? I'm actually looking forward to revisions--630 words is a whole lot better than 50K.

    Tip of the Day: Joining a professional writer's organization, even if you have never been published, is one of the best ways I know to gain both confidence and inside information. If you're interested in writing for a younger audience, consider joining the SCBWI--the networking is excellent, and the constantly-updated marketing and publishing information they provide is invaluable.

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      23. NaNoWriMo Tip #9: Banish Away Self-Doubt

      tiny buddhaThe Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, a London-based company, asked 25 authors to describe their writing habits. Journalist Adrian Addison confesses that he has to constantly battle “that voice in my head, that bastard who tells me…Who the f’k you think you are, Shakespeare?”

      Many human beings claim to share Addison’s plight with their own internal “Debbie Downer.” For the writers who are working away at their NaNoWriMo projects, this judgmental voice can be a great hindrance. We’ve rounded up three recommendations from Tiny Buddha on how to cast away self-doubt:

      (1) Identify and ease your doubts.

      (2) Trust and love yourself.

      (3) Give yourself permission to try…and try again.

      This is our ninth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

      New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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      24. We'll See Where I Go With This

      Today my new author talk, Preparing for National Novel Writing Month, Elementary School Edition, made its debut. Things went very well. This photo of the Smart Board I used in a fourth grade classroom doesn't begin to do justice to the slides Computer Guy made for me.

      This program grew out of the time management for writers work I've been doing for this blog for several years. My reading on doing more with the time you have, in particular, as well as the studying I've done on plotting over the years (Hmm. I've done a lot of writing about that here.)
      became my material for this presentation.

      Now, authors give public talks for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's for straight promotion--talking at book fairs, for instance, or building up a presence among groups (say, museum goers) that might be interested in your work. Sometimes it's for straight income. For children's writers, most school appearances fall into that category.

      Writer Joanna Penn is well-known on the Internet where she writes about and is interviewed about writing, self-publishing, speaking, the writing business, and all variations thereof. Penn is a speaker and sometimes discusses public speaking as an income stream for writers. (See the preceding paragraph and children's writers in schools.) But I've also either heard her talk or read her writing on using speaking as a way to support writing in less tangible ways. "...being a speaker," she has said, "really helps being known as a thought leader..." I have little ambition to the thought leader title. Close to none, actually. But I do realize that "being known" makes a writer more marketable and more desirable to agents and publishers.

      I am between books right now. While I continue to write and submit, it would be very useful if I could also maintain a presence in the childlit world, even if only locally/regionally. Speaking could be a way to do that. A children's writer who doesn't have print books available for book sales isn't going to get traditional speaking engagements at schools and libraries. What kind of speaking could I do that would keep me known among teachers and librarians? I realized this summer that I had the Situational Time Management Workshop I ran for the NESCBWI last year that came about because of my Time Management work here and that some of the work I've done here would also apply to National Novel Writing Month.

      So the blog may lead to speaking, which could lead to promotional/income opportunities. I will keep you posted.


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      25. NaNoWriMo Tip #10: 3 Ways to Tackle Writer’s Block

      Murakami QuoteEven the most seasoned authors tangle with writer’s block. We’ve collected five methods to help with this affliction so that NaNoWriMo participants can continue to progress with the projects.

      (1) iPad users can try out the “Unstuck” app to access digital tools and encouragement from an empathetic community.

      (2) Grammy Award winner Sting was able to beat his writer’s block by drawing inspiration from other people’s stories. The memory of the the shipyard workers he knew from his youth lead him to write the songs for The Last Ship musical.

      (3) American Born Chinese graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang forces himself to write “horrible, amateurish, grammatically incorrect, barely comprehensible sentences.” At some point, “ the decent sentences start coming out.”

      This is our tenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

      New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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