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.

Pep Talk Week 4: Do you ever get stuck?

Stacy Claflin, author of four book series, shares with us her advice on what to do when you get stuck in the midst of your novel–just the Pep Talk we need for the middle of JuNoWriMo!

InspirationDo you ever get stuck at some point when writing a novel? Sometimes that middle-ish point can be the most challenging. The beginning is fun because you come in with all these ideas, and it’s exciting. The end is full action, and the writing sometimes seems to happen by itself.

Really, though, any point of the story can give the writer problems.

Feeling stuck

When you’re in the thick of it and things slow down, a lot of different variables can leave you feeling stumped. Maybe the story has gone in a different direction than you planned. You’re not sure if you need to map out a different ending or maybe look for a new path to the end you have in mind.

Or it could be that the story is right where it should be, but doubt has crept in. You know what I mean. Do I have enough material to get to the end and have it long enough? Is this as good as it could be? What if it sucks and I just can’t see it? Or maybe you feel like it is horrible, and you don’t know whether to go on or not.

That valley between the exciting peaks can feel like a wasteland. 

The good news is that it doesn’t need to stay that way. There are a lot of things you can do to turn everything around and get excited about writing again. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 4: Do you ever get stuck?”

Pep Talk Week 3: Breeze Through the Middle of Your Novel

Ruth Long addresses how to work through the middle of your book and how to tackle the rest of this challenge. 

My first attempts at novel length stories were exhilarating and demoralizing.

Exhilarating because I could so clearly envision the beginning and end of the story.

Demoralizing because I could never quite manage to bridge the gap between the two.

Why is it that middles so often become baffling, exhausting, and tedious to get through?

I’ve been actively seeking the answer to that question and here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

There are no hard and fast rules for writing a novel.

There are, however, a handful of techniques that make the process easier.

The first technique we’re going to reference is the Three Act Plot.

The general breakdown of the Three Act Plot looks like this:

Setup = 25% of story

Middle = 50% of story

Resolution = 25% of story

Whoa! No wonder the middle seems like a monkey on our backs. It’s half the story.

We need to cut that sucker down to size but where do we start?

By employing a middle-of-the-novel-tedium-busting technique I like to call “Lemony Snickett’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events.’”

This is the technique we’re going to focus on. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 3: Breeze Through the Middle of Your Novel”

Pep Talk Week 2: Seven Things to Do When Your WIP is a Hot Mess

This week, Katharine Grubb offers advice on how to rescue your work in progress (WIP). Katharine’s blog is about the “Confessions of a Busy Mom Who Became an Independent Novelist.”

So it’s JuNoWriMo and you’ve hit the second week!

You’re like um, I have how many words to go?

You thought you could do this. You had ideas! You had characters! You had a plot! I mean you kind of have a plot but now it kind of feels like a plod. You had a vision for the perfect story in this genre! But then you realize that maybe this contemporary romance might do better on Mars? Maybe your heroine needs fangs? Maybe you could kill everyone off, call it a dystopian and be done with it?

What do you do?

1. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing can calm you down. They don’t tell you this in writing classes but breathing when you write is as important as the kind of mug you use for your hot beverage. Take another deep breath. No one ever died from JuNoWriMo. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 2: Seven Things to Do When Your WIP is a Hot Mess”

Pep Talk Week 1: The Dancer and the Nag

Mat Morris comes to us as a veteran of the 30-day novel challenge–and not only a veteran, but a wizard, having completed 50,000 words in 24 hours. Enjoy his Pep Talk; we know it’ll fire you up for the challenge ahead!

 

Greetings, fellow Dream Warriors. Welcome to the beginning of the end.

Most of you don’t know me, and that’s fine. This isn’t about me. It’s about you.

You see, you’re about to embark on a journey that will change your life. You’re about to do something that most only fantasize about. You’re going to take that little voice whispering in your ear, and you’re going to set it free. And I’m going to share with you a dirty little secret that will let you do it.

Everyone has a story to tell.

Now, you might be wondering why I called you a Dream Warrior. And we’ll come back to that. Promise.

More importantly, you might be wondering why someone you’ve never heard of was asked to impress upon you some words of inspiration. Honestly, as I sit here on the night of my deadline, writing what amounts to my third attempt at arranging my thoughts into something coherent, I’m wondering the very same thing.

So, a short bit about me—the current voice in your head.

You see, I was asked to write this because of my past successes in completing these little word challenges. Technically, I’ve completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a single month on more occasions than I’ve actually counted. But what seems to impress (read: stupefy) people the most is that, on four occasions, I’ve completed it within a 24 hour period.

Yes. You read that correctly. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 1: The Dancer and the Nag”

Pep Talk Week 4: Don’t Give Up

This week’s pep talk is written by novelist and interactive fiction writer, Alana Joli Abbott.

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There are few things that make me more stressed than being late. Whether this is being behind on a writing deadline or just running late to drop off my daughter at school, the result is the same. I feel frustrated that I can’t move things along faster, or that I made the choice to check the weather (or worse, Facebook) online instead of getting stuff done. And I’ve discovered that sometimes I have the absolutely worst coping mechanism for dealing with being late.

Ready? Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 4: Don’t Give Up”

Pep Talk Week 3: Bribe and Bludgeon Yourself into Winning

This week’s pep talk is by JuNoWriMo co-founder Becca Campbell.

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Chocolate fondueHowdy, hard-working overachievers and unmotivated procrastinators! Whichever of the two you are, you are awesome—did you know that? You’re writing a book, and that’s no small thing! Whether you’re ahead or behind on word count, the point is, you are out there getting it done—something that many will never even attempt, let alone try to do in thirty days. Give yourself a pat on the back: you deserve it.

Plan a Sweet Reward

Right now I want you to stop worrying about schedules and whether or not you’ll be able to hit 50K by the end of the month. Put that out of your mind and instead dwell on something more pleasant for a moment: how will you reward yourself when you do win?

Not if, but when. Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 3: Bribe and Bludgeon Yourself into Winning”

Pep Talk Week 1: Three Ways to Win by Margaret McNellis

This week’s pep talk is brought to you by JuNoWriMo crew member Margaret McNellis.

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When you feel like 50,000 words is an impossible goal, follow these three methods for building word count in mind and in practice.

Word Wars for the Win

Word wars saved me during my first novel challenge, and again during each and every novel challenge I’ve taken on since. A word war is when, given a pre-set amount of time, you write against the clock and fellow challengers–in a cafe, online, or anywhere you put pen to paper or fingers to keys. Word wars are immensely useful in that they provide support and friendly competition. There’s something about racing against the clock that keeps the words pouring out onto the page.

Keep a Writing Schedule

Your novel is important, or else you wouldn’t bother writing it–so make sure you give yourself the time to write. For some people, the morning is best–others are night owls. If you’re having trouble writing, try switching to a different time of day. Give yourself 15-30 minutes (or more) of uninterrupted writing time each day. Schedule it into your tablet if you must; enable the “do not disturb” on your smartphone, and breathe life into your story. Maximize your word processor or avoid electronics and other distractions if you like to write by hand.

Set Realistic Goals

If this is your first novel-writing challenge, don’t promise yourself that you’re going to write 200,000 words. The goal of 50,000 words is suggested because it means you only have to write 1,667 words each day to stay on track. That’s only a little more than 1,500, or about 4 pages single-spaced in most word processors. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to write 10,000 words in the first day–you may find yourself burnt out by June 15th. The true success of a novel-writing challenge isn’t to create a perfectly polished manuscript ready for a publisher in 30 days. The true success is to break the barriers set by the inner editor, self-doubt, and sometimes, writer’s block. The true success is to develop consistent writing habits that can eventually lead to a beautifully polished manuscript ready to share with the world. Slow and steady wins the race.

Of course, nothing horrible will happen to you if you don’t reach the 50,000 word mark by midnight on June 30. Your computer won’t turn into a pumpkin. Your notebook(s) won’t self-destruct. If and when writer’s block does settle upon your shoulders, skip to a different part of your story, write a foil character for your protagonist, or jump head first into a word war.

In addition to being a writer, I’m a martial artist. Winning a novel-writing challenge is much like a black belt test–it’s all about attitude and perseverance. When a student tests for his/her black belt, the rank is there for the taking. They just have to finish the test with a good attitude–an attitude that’s unwilling to quit just because something is difficult. If you write daily, whether you write 1,667 words per day or 200, at the end of the month you will have a product you can be proud of. You will have developed the habit of writing every day, and you will have started the process of writing a complete novel.

People often talk about when they can go from being aspiring writers to writers. When I was new to writing fiction, I had the pleasure of meeting Carol Higgins Clark. I asked her this question–this equivalent of “What is the meaning of life?” for writers–she smiled and succinctly replied, “Writers write, so start writing.”

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Margaret & NekoMargaret McNellis first participated in a novel-writing challenge in 2008. In 2010, she became a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo–a post she held for three years. In 2013, Margaret joined the JuNoWriMo team, helping to run word wars and sprints via Twitter. Margaret began writing fiction in 2006 and, after completing coursework with the Long Ridge Writers Group, Margaret enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University, where she is currently pursuing her Masters in English and Creative Writing with a Concentration in Fiction. Her story “A King’s Life” appeared in the premier issue of Fictitious Magazine, and she has published articles in regional magazines and news sources. For seven years following her graduation from Southern Connecticut State University with a BA in Art History, she worked as a freelance writer, covering art shows, literary events, book releases and more. You can find Margaret online here.

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