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Pep Talk Week 2: 4 Tips to Succeed this June

Robert Chazz Chute offers his tips on how to succeed this June!

So, you’ve decided to commit to writing 50,000 words or more this month. Blood oaths have been sworn. You promised yourself, as God is your witness, you shall be a novelist! Heroes will sing your praises in Valhalla this night. As it was foretold in the prophecy, you shall write and you will finish to great acclaim. Beer, Cherry Cokes and champagne for everybody!

Good. Now that we’ve got the drama, grand pronouncements and the first flush of enthusiasm out of the way, let’s settle some priorities and expectations so you, too, can win JuNoWriMo and the love of your cold, aloof parents.

  1. You have made your writing a high priority this month. You matter and what you want is of value. We’re talking hopes and dreams here! No shame in such selfishness.

That affirmed, know that you will have to tell someone no this month. You’ll probably have to defend your writing time against the onslaught of several someones repeatedly. Fine. Do so. Your family, friends and enemies will still be around to suck the life out of you when you’re done your word count for the day. Put your writing session on your calendar just like you would an appointment for a colonoscopy. You probably wouldn’t look forward to a such a procedure, but you definitely would not miss such an important appointment.

Yes, your writing is just as important as meeting a doctor with a startlingly long air hose, a camera and a penchant for proctology.

  1. You are here for the writing and this will be fun. Not always, of course. If scratching out words were an easy  and endless gigglefest, everyone would be a novelist. There is a trick that will help you through the rough spots: just as with a bad movie, you can always fix your manuscript in post.

Write confidently. Write swiftly. Don’t look back. Push through to the end. Editing and worry is for later. The key to a great book is to start with a crappy one. There will be plot holes. You can fill those in another time. Too often, writers compare the wretchedness of their first draft to some genius’s finished work. Trust me, that so-called genius looks like half an idiot in his or her first draft, just like you and me. Relax into the inevitability of disappointment with your first attempt.

This isn’t baseball. In writing, you can take as many swings as you like until you hit a home run. Writing is a sport for cheaters. We keep our lousy attempts in locked drawers and the fans only see our triumphs in highlight reels.

  1. I guarantee you will have a ton of fun with this challenge if you resolve to stop being so precious about writing. We fetishize the act like some dudes dig the smell of leather when they’re naked. We talk instead of write. We develop elaborate rituals, light candles and demand everything be perfect before we can begin. We think too much about how hard writing can be. But wait! Remember physical labor? Remember that sunburnt summer you got a job as a roofer pouring hot tar and day after airless day was a heatwave full shimmering punishment? Or what about that summer retail job that was so bad you studied harder in September so you would never have to work that counter at the mall again?

The quiet solitude of writing combined with the social support of JuNoWriMo is heaven compared to those mundane horrors. Writing is play. Look around. Writing is everywhere. You can already write so don’t make too big deal of it. If you want to be a novelist, be a novelist and be grateful. Storytelling looks just like typing at first. After we learn more craft, we call it writing. Eventually, we call ourselves writers and it doesn’t even sound weird when spoken aloud. Your parents will remain fretful and unsupportive, sure. But hey, you knew Mom and Dad weren’t going to change.

  1. I know you probably think writing should be hard. I had a lot of false starts thinking that way. When I got into traditional publishing, I had a romantic view of the profession. Then I drove authors to signings where no customers showed up and the author blamed me. I attended literary parties hoping for witty repartee with great minds. Sadly, the number of geniuses in the publishing industry is no more nor less than what you’ll find among any random clutch of accountants, plumbers or dentists. Elite publishing parties are more about bon bons than bon mots. You’ll find ego, avarice and envy at those cocktail soirees, but surprisingly little material for your next book.

Freedom came when I let go of all those trappings and got to the core of what you and I do. We write. Creative writing is a meditative, hopeful act of faith. When the words are coming fast, a neural engine chugs along that changes the way you think and feel. You won’t know where the ideas are coming from but it feels magical. Writing is the only magic I believe in.

This is a great thing you are attempting. If you hold on to that, you’ll persevere. Congratulations on getting started. I hope you discover a great story along the way and end up with something you’ll love. Remember, you don’t have to love it all the time. Sometimes the only virtue in the exercise is that you made your daily word count so you don’t have to write more today. Fix it in post. Tomorrow, find the fun again. Repeat until complete. Write so much and so freely that you stumble upon the magic.

Throwing down words to build stories is addictive. Let’s get high on this wonderful drug. Once you crush this goal, you’ll probably find that 50,000 words was a great start. Most serious writers I know write at least 50,000 words every month. That’s how you know you must be victorious in JuNoWriMo. If mere mortals can complete this task or something like it twelve times a year, surely you can do it once. As your confidence grows, what once seemed difficult will become easier. This might even turn out to be your new day job.

But you don’t have time to read this. Write now right now.

Robert Chazz ChuteA former journalist full of self-loathing, Robert Chazz Chute is now an award winning suspense novelist (still full of self-loathing.) He writes assorted apocalyptic epics, SFF and crime thrillers that would make your momma pee the bed. Learn more at AllThatChazz.com and love him, dammit! Since you’re climbing JuNoWriMo, you might especially like Crack the Indie Author Code.

How to Have a Successful JuNoWriMo, No Matter What!

Honorée Corder, author of twenty books (and counting!) kicks off our series of JuNoWriMo 2016 pep talks with a plan to make this month a successful one.

HonoreeCorderHeadshotCongratulations on your decision to embark on JuNoWriMo! Right now I am sure you are filled with the excitement that can only come with a shiny new project. Executed well, in 30 days you will be the proud owner of a completed manuscript. And right now, you might be feeling invincible… as though not a thing or person could possibly stand in your way or take you off course.

I do hope that is the case, but I know better than almost anyone that just about the moment I 100% commit to something, at almost exactly that same moment the universe conspires to test me. (How rude!)

I want to help you get from June 1 to June 30 with finesse, style, and ease. Let’s go ahead and set you up for super success so that no matter what happens you will crush it!

Number one: the goal. If you’re like me the goal isn’t just 50,000 words, you have a story or outline already percolating in the back of your mind that comes with a title or even an ending. But on the off-chance you don’t have a specific goal, go ahead and set one. Something like: Complete 50,000 words toward my manuscript by June 30th, or, Finish Game On! The Ultimate Guide to Getting All You Want from Your Life and Your Work (my current WIP).

Write your goal on a 3×5 card and look at it twice a day: right when you wake up, and right before you go to sleep.

Signed Up, Bought the T-Shirt… Now What?

Hm, now what…

junowrimo facebook picThat’s a good question.  Since this is a writing challenge, based mostly on the classic NaNoWriMo, you probably can guess the first thing to do would be write… and you’d be correct.  But we have so much more to offer our members beyond a dramatically increased word count and super-cool t-shirts.

JuNo volunteers offer sprints all through the month to get you inspired.  We’ll mostly be sprinting via Twitter @JuNoWriMo, but we have a dynamic Facebook group too for ideas, prompts, and even the occasional coffee clutch discussions we all need between bouts of word-frenzy.  If you want, there is a word count tracker here and here (older format for people without the latest Office).

We are a community that shares successes and failures and keeps going.

And we write.

So now that you’re here, what do you say?  Think it’s time?  Then…

Just write button

Pep Talk Week 4: Brain Drain? Take a Hike by Rayne Hall

When you’ve worked on your novel intensely for three weeks, your brain may feel like it’s been boil-washed and tumble-dried. However hard you wring it, you can’t squeeze another drop of creative juice from the shrunken, crumpled rag.

Here’s an instant fix: go for a walk.

I find walking does miracles – and I’m not alone. Many writers observe that the steady rhythmic movement clears stress from the brain and makes room for creative ideas.

After twenty minutes, ideas pour into my mind: solutions to plot problems, insights about my characters, and little details to flesh out the current scene.

The thoughts flow faster and faster, and after forty-five minutes of walking I need to pause and write them down lest I forget. For this, I always carry a hardback notebook and a supply of pens (and sometimes an Alphasmart) in my backpack. Then I sit on a park bench, on the sandy beach or in a coffeeshop, and write for a while until it’s time to walk again.

On sunny days, I walk and write for hours. My favourite routes are through fields and meadows from the village of Newenden to Bodiam Castle along the meandering River Rother, and from Hastings to Bexhill along the seafront – the latter has the advantage of several nice cafés along the way, and in summer the chance to swim and sunbathe on the beach.

When it rains – which happens often here in England – my walks tend to be shorter, though I still walk half an hour at least.

If you’ve reached a point where the creativity has dried up, where the fun has evaporated, when you’re bored with your writing or you’re stuck with a plot problem, put on comfortable shoes and the right clothes for the weather, and just walk.  Don’t think consciously about your novel at first, and don’t torment your brain with demands. Wait for the dam to burst naturally, which for you may be earlier or later than the twenty-minute mark.

Once it happens, direct your creativity to the book. Don’t waste it on designing the quilt you may make next year, or mentally redecorating your bathroom. A gentle prod in the direction of your story is all your subconscious needs, and the creative thoughts will come gushing.

The rhythmic exercise of walking also eases the tightness in your shoulders and the stiffness in your neck, and at the same time, it burns up calories.

The only time it doesn’t work so well is immediately after a meal, because the digestive process reduces the brain’s activity. However, walking can help with the digestion, so if you plan to write after dinner, consider going for a short walk first.

If the weather is too awful to go out, or if you simply don’t fancy walking, try some other steady rhythmic exercise instead: aerobics with music, spinning, a spell on the climber or the cross-trainer, or low-intensity cardio. Your brain will reward you with refreshed creativity.

Try it and see how it works for you. I’d love to hear about your experiences, and also if you have other techniques to share. Leave a comment, and I’ll reply.

Rayne Hall

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RayneHall - Fantasy Horror Author - Portrait by Fawnheart

Rayne Hall has published more than forty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), 13 British Horror Stories, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2, 3, 4 (creepy horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes, The World-Loss Diet, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic and Writing Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).
She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Currently, she edits the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies: Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, Spells: Ten Tales of Magic, Undead: Ten Tales of Zombies and more.
Find her at: Rayne Hall’s Dark Fantasy Fiction

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JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Christen Krumm

Meet some of your fellow JuNo WriMos in our Featured Author series each Monday and Wednesday during June.

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Christen Krumm

Christen Krumm

My name is Christen, and I’m a dreamer. I’ve always been a dreamer, and I could never decide what I wanted to be when I “grew-up”. For a while it was a doctor, then an actress (which is funny since I can’t act, or preform in front of crowds), and there was a short stint I wanted to be a tornado chaser. All the while I was writing. I remember at six years old writing my first book about a dollhouse and the dolls that lived in it.  Eventually everything else faded away, but writing stayed—that and being a mommy and I figured I could do both.

My current project, working title The Black Knight, is a YA Fiction semi-dystopian? I’m not quite sure how to categorize it, but it’s set in the not too far future. The United States has been fracture between New America (the majority of the East coast) and Southern Republic (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana). There are car chases, damsels in distress, and romance.

The Black Knight was originally going to be one book, adult fiction, and somehow it was based off of the movie Speed (but is nothing like Speed, so I’m not sure what Speed has to do with it — maybe I was just watching it while I came up with the story line), but I quickly realized I’m not cut out to write adult fiction and my story somehow morphed into a trilogy.

I’ve been working on this story in some way or another since I was about thirteen. Now, being twenty-seven and with a goal of having something, anything, finished by the time I’m thirty, I’m really feeling the fire under me. It’s currently about half written—I’ve been writing on it seriously since January/February of this year and I’m hoping to finish it up during JuNo.

I blog about writing and life at ChristenKrumm.com, Tweet at @ChristenKrumm, and Instagram under KrummCake. I love meeting new people and would be thrilled if you stopped by and said hello!

Bio: Christen is a  book lover by default. She solemnly swears to always have a pile of books or two (or four) around her  house for you to trip over. She graduated from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith with a BA in English in 2007. She’s a coffee drinking, stay-at-home mom and Nester at Litfuse Publicity Group by day and a writer by night. She currently resides in a semi-small Arkansas town, with her rock star, super-hero husband, daughter E and son D.

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Enjoying JuNoWriMo? Help us make it bigger and better for next year! Donate, and you’ll receive personal fanfare from our Facebook page.

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