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.
Mapping out your novel can help you avoid lulls in production. Check out tips from Larry Brooks on how to plan ahead and give your novel a “jump-start.”
According to the “rules” of National Novel Writing Month – no matter what month you undertake the work – there is nothing that prevents you from planning your novel out in advance. Doing so – solidifying your concept and premise, and laying out the narrative expositional sequence itself – is perhaps the most useful and functional NaNoWriMo tip you can find.
Can you believe that it’s already May? Before we even know it, it will be June 1st, and we’ll all be tucked away in our favorite writing corners with a vat of our beverage of choice. We’ll be tallying up our word counts and gathering momentum as we sprint with other writers and tweet encouragements.
One of the best parts of JuNoWriMo is being a part of a huge group of writers, all striving for the same goal. At almost anytime, day or night, you can find another writer working towards their word count. You can ask for help brainstorming the perfect name for a character and get several replies. Plus there’s all the accountability you could possibly want.
This year we want to build up our community so we have even more writers to connect with. In order to do that we are hosting a blog hop to spread the word and we would love it if you would join us!
Joining is easy.
1. Write a post.
You can copy and paste this post, create your own, or do a combo of the two. If you choose to write your own, have fun with it! Share a little bit about what you will be working on this June, talk about your favorite part of JuNoWriMo, share your favorite recipe for a late night snack on those nights when you need to stay up and write all the words, the sky is the limit. The only must is please include a link to the JuNoWriMo website.
2. Join the linky list.
Once your post is live, join the linky list below. That way everyone else participating can visit and help promote your post.
Visit a few of the other participant’s blogs. It’s a great way to meet some of the other writers before the event.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with JuNoWriMo, it’s a month long writing adventure in the style of NaNoWriMo, complete with word sprints and plenty of other writers to cheer you on. The goal is to write 50,000 in one month (1,667 words a day). You can write whatever you want. Fiction, non-fiction, the final 50k to something you started five years ago. Anything. We’d love to have you write with us!
This week’s pep talk is written by novelist and interactive fiction writer, Alana Joli Abbott.
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.
This week’s pep talk is brought to you by JuNoWriMo crew member Margaret McNellis.
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.”
Margaret 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.
Meet some of your fellow JuNo WriMos in our Featured Author series each Monday and Wednesday starting June 4. ~
My name is Debra Mauldin and this is my first JuNoWriMo. I started making up stories and writing them down, by age ten. I served as Editor of my high school newspaper for two years. I took creative writing classes throughout college.
My project for JuNoWriMo is a novel I started writing after the passing of my maternal grandmother. I wanted to show the twists and turns of her life; some fictional and some non-fiction. It was a time in my life when I became interested in the menstrual cycles of women and life.
I have begun writing this novel several times, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. During JuNoWriMo, I hope to finish this book. I have experienced twenty-plus years since the passing of my beloved grandmother. I feel ready to finish the book.
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 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
Enjoying JuNoWriMo? Help us make it bigger and better for next year! Donate, and you’ll receive personal fanfare from our Facebook page along with other goodies.
Meet some of your fellow JuNo WriMos in our Featured Author series each Monday and Wednesday during June.
I started to write as soon as I could hold a pen and pestered everyone around to have them read my stories. After high school I entered university and stopped writing as much as I used to, it seemed that I couldn’t find the inspiration anymore. It’s only when a friend told my about NaNoWriMo in 2009 at the end of my PhD that I decided to start writing again. I won NaNoWriMo that year in 20 days and started to accumulate the experience with that sort of contest until now. I wrote 6 finished novel drafts, two of them have been self-published and one vampire story still unfinished. I participated to script frenzy as well, I have a finished script but I’m not much of a script writer.
I haven’t decided yet on my JuNo novel. I’m still pondering between three possibilities: The first one is to start working again on “Vampire Heart” and to finish it. My recent blog post about it has been well received. The second possibility would be a sequel of my demon novels which would be called “Blue Angel” or “The rise of the angels”. This one doesn’t have a plan yet, only ideas flying around and waiting to be caught. The third one is called the “Bayard’s house”, I already have one or two parts for it but nothing consequent. I would use secondary wizard characters from the demon novels and from “Attic Mirror” as main characters. I seems to be lighter and more fun than the two others at least for the moment but it requires a lot of planning as well. All those are fantasy novels for young readers.
Backstory and Behind the Scenes
I’m interested in Magick and supernatural characters who are not human or are humans with powers. I like to scientifically analyze the possibilities. I also like to travel and my characters tend to travel a lot. In “Vampire Heart”, Viorel is taking an odyssey from Transylvania to western Europe (he is in Praha so far) and he should arrive in Russia and China.
My demon novels started with a love story and is continuing with mysterious ancient gods being reborn in the Demon World and people trying to stop them by all dirty means possible. The “Bayard’s house” is inspired of course by Harry Potter I want to follow a long line of Wizards and see how they evolve in the magical world I created. As all my worlds are linked together through a special place, the magic involved is different for every kind of characters which makes it more complex and enjoyable to write and I hope to read.
If I work on Vampire Heart, I hope to at least finish one volume (currently at 53235 words), as I am hoping to make it a trilogy. If I work on any other not yet started novels, I hope to pass half way through the first draft.
Meet some of your fellow JuNo WriMos in our Featured Author series each Monday and Wednesday during June.
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.
Enjoying JuNoWriMo? Help us make it bigger and better for next year! Donate, and you’ll receive personal fanfare from our Facebook page.