Pep Talk Week 4: 5 Creative Habits to Leverage Your JuNoWriMo Success

In this final stretch, boost your creativity for success with these five tips from Judy Lee Dunn.

For years, I thought that creative people had been blessed with a special gene. That they were sprinkled with magic dust from the patron saint of imaginative thinking. Though some people try to make it complicated, it’s really not that hard. Because while creativity is part ability and part attitude, mostly, it’s a habit. Now that you are in Week 4 of JuNoWriMo, you are probably noticing how much easier it’s getting to hit your word count with each passing day.

You’ve been showing up every day and coming up with new ideas has become a habit.

One thing I learned as a teacher of lower primary school kids is that we all have it, this creativity thing. My students came to school ready to explore, to try new things. They were imaginative, full of wonder and curiosity. They taught me so much about writing and blogging and the joy of seeing the world through a child’s eyes.

How can we as writers nurture our creative sides so our idea banks are always full? Here are a few starters: Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 4: 5 Creative Habits to Leverage Your JuNoWriMo Success”

Pep Talk Week 3: Friend or Foe?

Dan Wells helps you soldier on even when you feel like writing your book is a chore.

You made it to week three! Woot woot! You’re over the hump, and it’s all downhill from here, and ha ha ha ha I can’t even finish that sentence.

Real talk: this is where it sucks. Week three is the worst week of all, and I’m sorry. Don’t worry, though, we can get through this together.

Week one was about getting started, and everything was kind of new and intriguing. Week two was about finding your groove, and week four will about sprinting to the finish line. They’re all awesome, in their own way. Week three has nothing. Week three is about keeping your head down and getting the work done; it’s about pushing forward when all the novelty has disappeared, and the finish line is still too far away to see. There’s nothing sexy or easy or exciting. You’ll get to the end of the week and hate your entire book, along with maybe everything you’ve ever written.

Depressed now? Don’t be. Because here’s the good news: week three is my favorite one.

Week three is the work horse. It’s where the thing you started because it was fun turns into a thing you keep doing because it matters. It’s where the words you were writing because they were easy give way to the words you keep writing because they’re worth the effort. It’s where your investments start to pay off; where the threads you placed start coming together and the whole thing finally starts to look like “a story” instead of just “a bunch of stuff that happens.” The mid point is where, more often than not, your characters stop reacting to the plot and start acively driving it: they’re sick of this crap and it’s time to take matters into their own hands. Enough running from the Nazgul: let’s take this ring to Mordor and destroy it. Enough waiting around for Dumbledore: let’s break into the dungeon and protect the Sorcerer’s Stone ourselves. And the great thing about it is that we, as the authors, get to do the same thing. No more relying on the outline/the writing group/the inertia/the emails from random authors on the Internet. It’s time for you to pick up your sword and/or laptop and finally become the kind of hero your story needs.

Week three isn’t finished. It’s not the home stretch, and it’s not the polish, and it’s not a finished bicycle that you built yourself and can ride around on. It’s something better: it’s that beautiful moment where you’ve put together enough of the bike that the gears start to turn each other; you can push one part and another part spins, and you know in that moment that you’re not wasting your time. You really can do this, and it really can work, and it might not be done or pretty or even recognizable by doggonit but it WORKS. It’s a THING, and you made it YOURSELF, and it WORKS. And sure it’s going to need a lot of work before it’s done, but that’s okay because you can do it. You’ve gotten this far, haven’t you? Do you think that’s easy? Only amazing people can do what you just did, and that means you’re amazing, and the second half of the process is going to be…well, not easy. But doable. Reachable. Accomplishable. Those aren’t even real words, and they’re still true. That’s how amazing you are.

So write! Write until your fingers bleed and your eyes burn and your butt gets sore and your back curls into a permanent hunch. Write until you wish you’d never started this stupid book and no one’s going to want to read it anyway and why am I even doing this? Because you’re a hero, and that’s what heroes do, and even though you can’t see it yet, you’re going to win. You’re going to slay this dragon or save this world or solve this mystery or unite these lovers. You’re going to get to that home stretch and it’s going to be thrilling and you’re going to be victorious. And week three is the only thing that’s going to get you there. See? It’s not a monster. Week three is your best friend.

Let’s do this.

Dan Wells writes a little bit of everything, but he is best known for the Partials Sequence and the John Cleaver series, the first book of which is now a Major Motion Picture. He is a co-host of the educational podcast Writing Excuses, for which he won a Hugo and now helps run a yearly, week-long writing conference. In addition to novels, novellas, and shorts, he has also written and produced a stage play, called “A Night of Blacker Darkness,” and works as a staff writer on the TV show “Extinct.” He has lived in the US, Mexico, and Germany, and currently resides in Utah with his wife, six children, and 439 boardgames.

Twitter: @TheDanWells

Tumblr: @thedanwells

Pep Talk Week 2: The Dreaded Week Two Blues

This week, Becca Campbell gives you some tangible tricks to beating the monster of Resistance, the big bad boss of week two.

Congratulations You made it to Week Two. Yay! Now, can I rain on your parade? No? Well, here I go anyway…

The Monster

I’m going to be bluntly honest with you. Week two is the worst week of this challenge. It’s the week your story hits its halfway point—that slogging, muddy middle where you have no idea how you’ll make it to the end.

Week two is when you lose your buffer of surplus words (if you even had a buffer). It’s when you run out of ideas. It’s the point where you realize that everything you’ve written is total garbage. It’s where your story suddenly derails because your plot-train jumped the tracks and ended up at the edge of a cliff, barreling ahead over nothing but thin air at a hundred miles an hour.

And should I even mention the outside forces trying to pummel you off track? Your boyfriend starts asking why you’re too busy to answer his texts. Your friends remark that you’ve gone AWOL. Your neighbors complain that the grass in your yard is a foot high. Your wife asks when you’re going to get groceries because the fridge is empty, and oh, by the way, have you fed the kids today?

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls these forces “Resistance.” Week two is when all these forces of Resistance come to a head. Suddenly, it feels like every living creature in your world does not want you to write that book.

Week two is when most writers quit.

There’s only one way to make it through week two. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 2: The Dreaded Week Two Blues”

Pep Talk Week 1: Exuberant Imperfection

Becca Campbell offers sage advice on perfection…and the importance of letting it go.

I’ve been a serious writer for eight years now. I have a dozen novels under my belt. You’d think I have this WriMo thing down.

But coming up with an outline has been more difficult this year than normal. I wasn’t quite sure why until I picked up No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, and a simple truth made itself clear:

I had slipped into the mindset of aiming for perfection.

This is a very, very bad thing for a writer. It’s not healthy for anyone, but when you’re sitting down to begin a novel, that blank page can be crippling.

You aren’t good enough, it says. You haven’t figured out all the details. You don’t even know how the story will end! And how are you going to write that one scene—the one that terrifies you to even think about?

Even when you start writing, this fear doesn’t go away. Look, you spelled that word wrong. Your grammar’s atrocious. And those lines of dialog don’t make any sense!

For me, this year the self-doubt began before I even started writing. I’ve written four stories in my current series and have four more to write. I stand on this precipice in the very middle, plagued with fear that I will take a wrong move. That I’ll write myself into a corner. That I’ll break the entire plot and won’t be able to pull off a satisfying ending. That I’ll finish the series and discover I need to completely rewrite the first four books. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 1: Exuberant Imperfection”

That One Last Push: Victory and What Lies Beyond – Pep Talk Week 4

Just write button

We’re in the home stretch. Check out this pep talk by our own Eden Mabee, and recharge yourself to finish big!

Congratulations JuNoWriMo Winner!

I don’t know where you are in your JuNoWriMo progress.  I don’t need to know–really!  I already know you’ve won.

You see, you started a challenge that pushed you to write even when you weren’t as ready as you hoped you would be, even when you felt sick or the kids were now out of school on summer vacation, or the boss needed you to cover a few extra hours because your co-workers had left for a cruise…

You started JuNoWriMo, and you’re still here, still writing.  No matter how close you’ve gotten to that magical 50K, whether you aimed for that exactly or declared yourself a JuNoWriMo Rebel and set your own word count… you wrote.

Hopefully you’re still writing.  After all, you still have a few more days to get those words in, and a story doesn’t stop on a number.  Keep those fingers limber, your caffeinated beverages topped off, and the inspirational music playing.  If you’ve run out of story–start another. Continue reading “That One Last Push: Victory and What Lies Beyond – Pep Talk Week 4”

#JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Brittany Tenpenny

Meet some of your fellow June WriMo’s in our Featured Author series each Saturday and Thursday through June.

My name is Brittany Tenpenny and I’ve been a New York Brittany TenpennyYankees fan for as long as I could remember. About a year ago, I had an epiphany after leaving Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won every home game I attended. And I mean every game, even the ones where the odds were stacked against them. It was then, as I descended the swirling concrete steps of the stadium, that my imagination concocted a story of a girl who became the good luck charm for her favorite team. What started out as a simple idea swelled into the first novel of a New Adult trilogy, The Wild Card.

Since the day she was born, Bobbie Jean Lewis has been lucky. She was blessed with a loving father and a baseball-obsessed mother who taught her everything about the New York Emperors, the greatest team in MLB. But what Bobbie never learned was that life–just like baseball–can hit back hard and luck is as fleeting as a two run lead. Stuck in a perpetual slump, Bobbie spends her teenage years riding the bench. Just when she is about to give up, the ghost of Emperors’ legend, Bobby Knight, recruits Bobbie and her friends to save a historic stadium and reverse the curse of the Emperors. Suddenly, Bobbie finds herself, and her team, on the fast track to the World Series–and into the arms of the man who could ruin it all.

I am hoping to spend JuNoWriMo hammering out a first draft. Writing a novel is, in a lot of ways, like playing baseball. Crafting a first draft is the training phase, revision is practice and the finished product is stepping up to the plate. I’m hoping that, for JuNoWriMo, I can knock it out of the park!

Connect with Brittany:

Blog | Twitter | Goodreads 

#JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Rea Harris

Meet some of your fellow June WriMo’s in our Featured Author series each Saturday and Thursday through June.

Hello! My name is Tabitha, but I go by my middle name, Rea (pronounced “REE”). I’m married to my HS sweetheart, and between the two of us, we share 5 kids. We have a Dachshund and two cats that keep us on our toes quite a bit!

I started wordslinging pretty young.  My love for pen and paper began when I was 5 years old. In 2011, I came down with a nasty bout of creative laryngitis — about 8 months ago, my voice came back full force. So now I want to write ALL THE THINGS! So, for JuNoWriMo, I’m going to be writing an anthology of short stories.  I’m a bit of a pantser, but I did a small bit of planning by going online and finding prompts to use for my book. ^_^ I cannot wait.  I’m sure I’m driving my non-writing friends completely mad with my constant talk about this upcoming project!

Genre isn’t really something I’ve narrowed down. The book will be called “Chaotic Things,” because  I’m always thinking about the most random topics. It’s fun, but it can be a bit frustrating.  I’m not sure which one I’m going to start with, but that’s part of the fun of writing, is exploring all possible outcomes!

Writing has always been an outlet for me, a place  to process things that happen or a dream I had that left me laying there wondering, “What on earth was that?” but even more, I love to make things up and sharing with the world. I’m an avid reader, so it only seems right that if I’ve got something to say, to share it with others, too. Sort of giving back, you know?

On 1st June, I will be starting “Chaotic Things,” and making a sincere attempt at the goal of 50K words.  I do like adventure, and I do enjoy the freedom of flexibility, so even if it only comes out to 40k or over 60k, I’m all for it.  Ultimately, my goal is ten stories of 5k words each, with the end goal of getting it published on Amazon’s KDP site.

I plan to participate in the JuNoWriMo for many years to come! I’m normally incredibly shy about my brain children, but I think this can be fun and it’s time for me to just do it.

Connect with Rea on social media:

Facebook | Twitter | Her New Blog

Be Braver Than You Ever Thought Possible: Pep Talk Week 3

We welcome writing coach and bestselling author Angela Ackerman for this week’s pep talk. Grab these tips and be encouraged for your third week of JuNoWriMo!

If our path has one guidepost of truth, it is this: writing isn’t easy. Not by a mile.

It’s not the craft of writing we must learn or the publishing waters we must navigate. Yes, so much effort will go into these things, but the hardest part? The thing that causes our hands to sweat, and our fingers to hesitate on the keys?

It’s ourselves. Our own self-doubt, our worries that our words won’t be good enough, that we’ll never be able to transcribe the story that vibrates our skull with the desire to get out.

Here’s a second truth, one we sometimes forget: creating is big. Taking something unformed, a scattered collection of ideas and emotions that exist inside us and then attempting to set it loose as a cohesive story? Not for the faint of heart. It takes incredible courage. Boldness. And, more than anything else, passion.

A third truth? The fact that you’re here, fingers poised, is amazing. We all know someone (usually multiple someones) who say they want to write a story, that they have ideas, notes even, snippets written…and yet that’s as far as they ever go. Others we know can’t even voice their desire to write. They can’t let the truth out. The dream is just too big for them.

You, however, are different. You’re here, you’re ready, and you’ve embraced the dream. So whatever you do this JuNoWriMo, don’t let doubt sabotage the greatness inside of you—not ten words in, not ten thousand words in. Be a warrior.

Should uncertainty hit at any point, here are some strategies to help you move past it and write. Continue reading “Be Braver Than You Ever Thought Possible: Pep Talk Week 3”

#JuNoWriMo Featured Author – Shan Jeniah Burton

Meet some of your fellow June WriMo’s in our Featured Author series each Saturday and Thursday through June.

Shan Jeniah Burton: The Far Shore (Kifo Island Chroincles #5)

Photo by Sylvia Woodman

Hi, I’m Shan!

My life overflows with lovely chaos. It’s a crazy quilt I share with my chef husband, two endlessly fascinating homeschooled children who gobsmack me on a daily basis, and a cast of furry companions. I’ve lived and worked at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Everglades, and driven across the country three times. Now I’m settled on the same sleepy road in upstate New York where I grew up.

I’m particularly fond of language, dreams, photography, nature, history, music,storytelling, and fictional people with green blood and pointed ears. Combining several of these loves in my writing delights me.

For JuNoWriMo, I’ll be drafting The Far Shore, the fifth novel in my Kifo Island Chronicles an alternate near-future fantasy series in development.  Each volume explores the interwoven lives of three main characters on the island-wide, no-cost, private hospice resort.

I’m excited about completing this novel draft during JuNoWriMo , and seeing what it adds to the emerging tapestry of this series.

In this volume, a young girl with a secret; a young woman with an eating disorder; and a young woman who’s seen far more than her years suggest will attempt to find purpose and healing. Will they succeed, or will their demons destroy them?

Several real life story threads coalesced to create the basic premise for this novel including:

  • Several friends who’ve dealt with/are dealing with eating disorders.
  • Reading a novel about the child sex trade.
  • Personal experience with a volatile, abusive home environment.
  • A child of the 70s, I was intrigued by the anything-can-happen nature of Fantasy Island.
  • A passion for the ocean.

My goal is to explore the strength, adaptability, and grace of the human soul – its capacity for healing, for kindness, for selflessness, and for moments of transcendent beauty even in the midst of ugliness.

I don’t believe in happy endings, because that’s not how life really works. I’m a strong believer in growth, change, and better choices, and those will be major focuses of this novel. I tend to leave my characters in a better place than they began from, but it’s seldom a perfect place.

I’m excited to get writing, and see what will happen…

You can find me here:

Facebook: Shan Jeniah Burton, Writer https://www.facebook.com/Shan-Jeniah-Burton-Writer-120792371340651/

Twitter: @shanjeniah https://twitter.com/ShanJeniah

Blog: https://shanjeniah.com/my-prime-directives/

And, on my brand-new website:http://shanjeniahslovelychaos.com/

#JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Rebecca Odum

Meet some of your fellow June WriMo’s in our Featured Author series each Saturday and Thursday through June.

Hello all!

Rebecca OdumRebecca here or, if you prefer, you can call me by my pen name, RA Odum. Let’s start with the basics, shall we? I grew up and still reside in a small town in Georgia. I was born at 24 weeks and was the smallest of triplets. I have what’s called Retinopathy of Prematurity. I have no vision in my right eye and some in my left, but I haven’t let that stop me from living life.  Yes, I can’t drive, and school was very difficult,. But these challenges have made me the person that I am, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

I like to say that my writing career started in my grandma’s attic at age five. I would spend the night with her, and she would tell me stories (but I was always the boss of these stories). I’ve always loved watching movies and TV  with characters that I connected with.  In fact, my current book, titled, Lightning Proof, was inspired by the movie Frozen. When I was younger, I read everything from Sweet Valley High to Christy and Nancy Drew. But as I got older, I started looking for books with characters that I relate to—characters that overcome challenges. I also read books that inspire me and make me see the world in a way that I never have before. These are the books that I strive to write.

I recently fell in love with urban fantasy and Lightening Proof mixes fantasy, futuristic and real world elements together. I love the idea of putting fantasy in an ordinary world.

Lightning Proof is  set in the fictional country of Caldwell. There two groups with magical abilities fight for acceptance against fear and hatred.  Victoria Thompson and Lindsey Cooper have been friends since they were twelve.  Then laws against their people started being passed. Victoria is a Lighter. She can shoot lightning from her fingers and can communicate via telepathy. Lindsey is an Invisible. Invisibles can teleport and can also communicate telepathically. They can also control minds but most Invisibles aren’t taught that skill. For ten years, they’ve watched the laws strip away their rights, and now, as teachers of the next generation of Lighters and Invisibles, Victoria and Lindsey must fight to keep their hope alive as they fight to save their people.

This book is the first in a series. I am very much excited to introduce my characters to the world.

Social media links:

Twitter| Facebook