Pep Talk Week #4: The JuNoWriMo World Series

It’s week 4. Like the World Series of Baseball. Did you know there is a Poker World Series? It came up when I googled World Series for this. Crazy. But that’s not what I’m talking about so back to baseball.

This week, you have 7 playoff days before you can grab that championship ring. It’s shiny. It’s purdy. It Can Be Yours. Do you have what it takes?

You might have given up already. Hopefully, not. But even if you did, you can still win this. Maybe you did already win this thing, you can add another 50k. Even if you are at 0 words. You can still win this thing. And let’s face it. Sometimes we just need that win.

7 ways for 7 days to win the World Series of JuNoWriMo (Yep, made that a thing.)

  1. Set your goal. So 50k words turns out to be roughly 7143 words per day. It’s a lot. I won’t lie. But, it’s doable. In fact, I’m going to go one step further and say. Shoot for 10k a day. Why? If you get that 10k, first, you get the 10k in a day badge. Wowza. A bonus perk. Second, it puts you ahead of schedule. It gives you time to reward yourself or take a breather later. You’re amped when you first set your sight for this, so use the motivation. It would’ve been better to do this week 1, but procrastination is just more fun sometimes. Extra challenging, right?
  2. Order out for the week. Unfortunately, as living things, you have to eat. Grumbling bellies and parched lips only distract us from our championship ring. You need words. Let those take-out apps or your own personal butlers (AKA significant others or awesome friends) be your chefs for the week. You need to write.
  3. Ignore the world around you. Say no to any and everything. Even to your boss. Okay, if you must do the work thing to pay those bills. Go ahead. Nah, I’m talking about the other 16 hours in your day. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone, or at least, put it on silent. Crank up the music. Focus on one thing. That blank, white screen in front of you with the blinking cursor. Oh, and don’t sleep unless you fall asleep at your computer.
  4. Forget good hygiene. Don’t clean your messy house. Don’t do laundry. Don’t shower. Don’t brush your teeth. Don’t brush your hair. If you’re really gunning for this, you can even keep a urinal by your computer and cut that part out too. Hehe. These are precious minutes, people. Okay, sometimes, showering or a bath can help me work out my plot. For some, it’s washing dishes. So, these are tools for writing that sometimes must be used out of necessity. **Please note: This is not really something you have to do, except for not cleaning your house or laundry.
  5. Writing in sprints. Most people write more words sprinting against the timer. If you don’t know this already, with JuNoWriMo, you have the awesome word sprints going on throughout the day on Twitter at #JuNoWriMo. Take advantage of that. It helps you to stay focused for a set amount of time. Imagine. You write 200 words in 20 minutes against the clock. Well, 60 minutes later, you have 600 words. The more you do it, the faster you get. Before you know it, you’re doing 1k words in 30 minutes. Five hours of that gives you 10k words. It’s tough to do, but with our community on Twitter, you’ll be amazed at what you will do. Use it.
  6. Set rewards. Rewards are a very powerful thing, but they have to be used correctly. They must mean something. Sure, doing small rewards for small goals works short term. For major goals that require so much sacrifice requires a substantial reward. For instance, just saying you’ll get to binge watch a show doesn’t hold clout if you’ll do it anyway. It should be something that you’d never get or do or have unless you read the finish line. Your championship ring. What would that be?
  7. Just Write. Write anything and everything. Some internal dialogue you have with yourself could spark ideas for things later. There are no such thing as wasted words. Everything can be turned into something. During editing, I’ve come across lines like ‘I’m not sure where this story was going.’ I wrote what was in my head until something clicked, and I picked back up with the story or changed it into something else entirely. The rest can easily be erased or fixed later. Don’t stop to edit. Don’t correct mistakes. Keep Going. The important thing is to not stop. Just write. Some people will write out every character’s first and last name, no contractions, and other tricks like this. While they will help you up your word count, it will make the editing process later even more tedious, but they do work.

It does take sacrifices to do a 50k week, but it is possible. On the plus side, you likely have some words written, so yours may not be as extreme. Don’t let excuses and negativity weigh you down. You can do this. How badly do you want this win?

Besides, even if you give the best week ever and it doesn’t get you to that 50k, think of how far you’ve come. You’re still that much closer to finishing your book. Overall, that’s the goal we all want to achieve. That’s the ultimate reward. How badly do you want it? If you’ve already hit 50k, are you striving to double that this week?

So, grab your bat and leave a comment on how badly you want to win JuNoWrimo and how you’ll make it happen this week. Batter’s up.

Jessica Dragon Cheramie is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy author with real Dragon blood. Seriously. It was her surname from birth until the day she said, “I do.” This has inspired every aspect of her writing. As a girl with dragon blood, she has a love for shiny things, coffee, painting, knitting, and wine. Her website scribblingdragon.com will be premiering soon.

Pep Talk Week #3: When You Feel Like a Fraud

This week’s pep talk comes from Fallon Brown. Enjoy!

When I was asked to write this pep talk, I may have frozen up a bit. What am I supposed to say? What kind of advice can I give? Who is even going to listen to me?

Confession time: Sometimes I feel like a fraud. And by sometimes, I mean sometimes at least once a day. Sometimes it’s just that little whisper in the back of your head, but sometimes it’s up to a shout. And I’ll admit, there are times when it’s hard to keep writing through that voice. But, I’ve gone the way of not writing, and I know where that leaves me. Hint: It’s not pretty. There are too many characters in my head to leave them to their own devices.

So, I write anyway. Sometimes that’s all you can do to shut that voice out. Because if I don’t, those stories won’t get told. And while I know my stories won’t change the world, that doesn’t mean they can’t be important to someone. But, that won’t happen if I don’t get words down on the page.

And writing is self-care for me. As I said above, it’s not pretty when I don’t write. There’s a quote by Franz Kafka I’ve seen around, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity” that I relate to quite well. Even when that voice tells me that no one cares what I have to say, that I don’t know what I’m doing, that I should just stop; I can’t.

Words have always been important to me, been points of discovery. Whether it was discovering a new passion or discovering a part of myself that I hadn’t known was even a possibility. Words I’ve read lit the spark of that discovery, and my own words have made it burn even brighter.

So who am I to let a voice in my head tell me to stop, when maybe my words can be that spark for someone else? Yours could be as well. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as gagging that voice in your head, but here are some things to do that might help:

  • Blast music: Sometimes that can be enough to distract the voice and let your own words come out. It doesn’t matter what kind of music, I have different playlists for different projects. Whatever works.
  • Writer friends: And sometimes you need someone else to help you push that voice back. I probably would have given up by now if it wasn’t for some of those friends I’ve made.
  • Remind yourself: Your words are important. There is someone out there who needs to read it, and you’re the only one who can tell it in your way.
  • Write anyway: And sometimes all you can do is shove everything else away and write to prove that voice wrong.

You’re not a fraud. You are a writer. Don’t let anyone, even that mean little voice in your head, tell you otherwise. So, write!

Fallon Brown was born and raised in a tiny town in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. At one time, she dreamed of having a cabin in the woods or mountains where she could be left alone to write. Instead she spent three years studying psychology before realizing that wasn’t for her. She now lives outside of a slightly larger small town in the same corner of her home state with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a cat.

Website: fallonbrown.com
Twitter: @ frbrown906
Patreon: 
https://www.patreon.com/fallonrb

Pep Talk Week #2: Muck-Slinging and Word-Making

This week’s pep talk comes from Courtney Cantrell. Enjoy!

Greetings and Felicitations, Wordslingers!

And I mean that. Wordslingers. You’re past the gummy shallows of this splashy craze-fest known as JuNoWriMo. Here in Week Two, you’ve waded at least knee-deep into the ooze of creativity and subject-verb-agreement. Maybe you’re even hip-deep. (“Oh heck, it’s up to my neck!” as a certain Shel might say.) Either way, the Writer Is In, and it’s time to sling.

Sling those words. Plunge your arms into the raw, mushy heat of your story, clench your fists around whatever you can, and explode up out of that muck with verve and pizzazz. Fling those words around you like a monkey throwing poo! Don’t worry about what sticks and what doesn’t. You’ll clean up the splatters in July. Right now, your concern is smacking your immediate universe with all the gloppy characters and gooey plot points you possibly can.

If this slime-pit metaphor of wordy imagination is too ick for you, let’s move away from it for a moment.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo eight times and won seven; I’ve won JuNoWriMo once, but I’ve been loosely associated with it since its inception. And in this abundance of NaNo-ing, one of the challenges I’ve heard writers bemoan over and over again is the temptation to edit.

You know how it is, lovelies. You sit down at your computer, your typewriter, your pen-n-paper, your reed-n-clay-tablet — and you essay to re-read but a fraction of what you scribbled during your previous writing session. Just to get the juices flowing, y’know. Or maybe you don’t re-read. Maybe you just sit down and launch into the keyboard-pounding frenzy (don’t break your reed stylus, those are delicate). Either way, something catches your eye. Something you wrote prior to this session. You remember a phrase you were unsure about yesterday, and you need — you absolutely NEED — to check over it again. And the next thing you know, you’ve spent an hour nitpicking a paragraph or prodding a recalcitrant sentence into just the right shape….

And ya coulda spent dat hour writin’, kid. Ya coulda been a contendah.

(I just wholly dated myself, and I don’t care.)

(I make an awesome date.)

(I do not create fruit.)

*ahem*

Where was I. Oh yes. NOT TO WORRY. You’re still in the JuNoWriMo running. You’re still a contender. You are still fiercely amazing for even attempting these fabulous writing shenanigans. The point is this: during these month-long noveling capers, the Dread Pirate Editing is a temptation for all? most? many? of us. (I have no stats, just edumacated guesses.) The shadow of the Dread Pirate Editing looms over us, threatening to pillage our time and loot our first draft of progress. ’Cuz that be what ye’re pennin’, me hearties: a 50k-word first draft in the space of a month. (Note: that’s 50k more words than most humans in history ever wrote in their lifetimes.)

And if you give in to the Dread Pirate Editing, you’ll end up wanting to FIX ALL THE THINGS and your novel will taking a looooooong (not to mention wet) walk off a very short plank. (And there are sharks down there. They eat plot bunnies.)

Here I am with the metaphors again. Okay. So, in plain English: if you spend your time polishing words, sentences, and paragraphs — instead of generating new words — you will not reach your June 50k-word goal.

Thus…WHAT TO DO?

I can’t make you exercise self-control and ignore your editing urge. I can’t peer over your shoulder and remind you to get back to making new words instead of fiddling around with the old ones. I wouldn’t do any of that even if I could, because I wouldn’t be doing you or myself any favors.

What I can do is offer just a few practical tips that work for me. Your mileage might (and probably will) vary. If you wanna come find me on Twitter or at my sadly neglected blog, I’m happy to chat it out.

In the meantime, suggestions!

  1. Recall these tidbits from writers more well-known than I:
  • “It is perfectly okay to write garbage — as long as you edit brilliantly.”

—C. J. Cherryh

  • “You can fix anything but a blank page.”

—Nora Roberts

  • “Write your story, and don’t be afraid to write it.”

—Nnedi Okorafor

—> i.e. DON’T WORRY. JUST W̸̟̜̜͈͇̱̩̍̈́̿̊͜R̸̦̳̲̄̆̐Ī̸̗̮̗̲͙̳͖̳̌̊͋̓̄̐̕͠Ì̶͙̺̻̳͎͈̘͇̩͂͌́͠I̸̪̱̰̠͆͠Î̸̢͈̫Ï̸̧̲̝̝̭̪̽̈́͆̓̓Į̴̻̳͓̠͖̠͇̦͋͋̂͐́͘̕Ĭ̸͈̱̒͑Ì̸̢̛̱͎̭̑̂̃Ỉ̶͔͎̪̲̈́͑̈́͠I̶̗̯̹̱̰̐̽ͅỈ̵͚̻̮̱͎̖͙̖̣̆͆̄̏͊̾̾̾͜͝I̷̢̺͊́́̀̕I̶̡̛̳̥̻̞͎̠̱͂̆́͊Ȋ̴̧͔͔̯̺̙͕̬͖̒̋͝Ĩ̶̩̈͂̿̅̓ͅI̴̥̖͔̘̣̱͓̗͔̽͊̈́̓͊̋͐̒I̸̝͉͓̻̖̓̈̍̓̄̓̃͗͠ͅT̴̠͖̠͕̔̿̋͐̅̈͆̂͝E̶͇͖͙̰̮̾̔ (write).

  1. Do word sprints.

These are set periods of time — 10 minutes, 20, 30 — during which you force yourself to keep your butt in the chair and make words. Any words. It’s almost a free-association kind of thing.

Just write, write, write. (W̸̟̜̜͈͇̱̩̍̈́̿̊͜R̸̦̳̲̄̆̐Ī̸̗̮̗̲͙̳͖̳̌̊͋̓̄̐̕͠Ì̶͙̺̻̳͎͈̘͇̩͂͌́͠I̸̪̱̰̠͆͠Î̸̢͈̫Ï̸̧̲̝̝̭̪̽̈́͆̓̓Į̴̻̳͓̠͖̠͇̦͋͋̂͐́͘̕Ĭ̸͈̱̒͑Ì̸̢̛̱͎̭̑̂̃Ỉ̶͔͎̪̲̈́͑̈́͠I̶̗̯̹̱̰̐̽ͅỈ̵͚̻̮̱͎̖͙̖̣̆͆̄̏͊̾̾̾͜͝I̷̢̺͊́́̀̕I̶̡̛̳̥̻̞͎̠̱͂̆́͊Ȋ̴̧͔͔̯̺̙͕̬͖̒̋͝Ĩ̶̩̈͂̿̅̓ͅI̴̥̖͔̘̣̱͓̗͔̽͊̈́̓͊̋͐̒I̸̝͉͓̻̖̓̈̍̓̄̓̃͗͠ͅT̴̠͖̠͕̔̿̋͐̅̈͆̂͝E̶͇͖͙̰̮̾̔). Use a timer. When it goes off, stand up, walk

around, get a drink and/or snack, use the restroom, run around the block once. Ten minutes later, get your butt back in the chair and do it again. Look for Twitter hashtags #wordprints #wordmongering #wordgrab and find other Gorgeous Wordslingers Like You(™) online who are sprinting together (or against each other — maybe a little competition will light fires under that cute, melded-to-chair butt of yours).

2. End your writing session in the middle of a sentence that excites you.

I know, this sounds counterintuitive and even downright agonizing. But trust me. If there’s anything that can cannonball you directly into the goopy mass that is your story, it’s sitting down to your next writing session and plunging right into that cramazing sentence you so desperately wanted to finish. Finish it — and then keep going. Do. Not. Stop. Let the momentum carry you like a bulbous sludge-shark hauling you along behind it through the gook. It’ll take you to whatever miry depths you need to reach.

And so, I believe, we arrive back at the muck-slinging glop metaphor. You’ve got this, O Writer! Ye’re a wordslinger, Harry. You wield your words like a mage their wand, an Annie Oakley her gun, a seven-year-old her fistful of mud, a chimp his excrement. Sometimes you make magic. Sometimes you make slop. It’s FINE. That’s exactly what it’s like for every other writer in existence ever. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Welcome to the party. This is where we dive headfirst into what makes other people wrinkle their noses in disgust, and we have a raucous good time with it. So come on, writer. Jump in. The goop is great. Keep getting your hands dirty.

Slimily Yours,

Courtney

Courtney Cantrell is the author of twelve book-length works, including: epic fantasy series Legends of the Light-Walkers, paranormal series Demons of Saltmarch, and short story anthology The Elven Dead. She’s also a 7-time NaNoWriMo winner. Her writing career began when she was 8 with “a Tiger that growld”; continued with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing; and most recently grew to encompass epic fantasy murder mysteries (The Priestess Murders, coming soon!). Courtney lives in Oklahoma City with a husband, a daughter, and a hobbitcat.

You can find her at her blog: courtcan.com or on Twitter: @courtcan


Pep Talk Week #1: Kindness (to Yourself) Is Your Key to Success

To help us start this month strong, Angi Griffee gives a little encouragement for all of us writers.

Hey there JuNoWriMo-ers! How you doing?

This summer has been a challenge for me. This year, actually, has been a challenge for me in the writing department. There’s always something telling me I don’t have time or I’m not good enough, or maybe I’m even being left behind.

But you know what? None of that is true. And it’s not for you either. If you’re joining us for JuNo, writing matters to you. And we always find time for what matters. It’s not a hobby or extra or whatever, it’s your soul trying to get out on the page – and that matters.

You matter.

You’re good enough. Remember, this is a first draft. If it’s perfect on the first draft, please come teach me your ways, you word wizard! But you are making words and telling a story and that is good enough.

And I know as writers we tend to get into the comparison game, but you know what’s great? If one bookshelf gets full, we can just make another. There’s no getting left behind, it’s just a matter of endurance. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And you’re doing awesome.

Just remember to feed yourself, get up and stretch, and hydrate. Races are long, even if you’re only competing with yourself. And you’re close to crossing that finish line.

So no matter how it’s going, keep going. One word in front of the other.

It’s always easy to sit down and write when the words are flowing. Those are the best days. You sit down, stretch your fingers over the keys, and with that gentle tap-tap-tap the world that lives in your brain comes to life in front of your eyes. True magic

But what about those days when it’s hard to put a sentence together? What about the times when life stands in between you and the keyboard? The days when you’ve convinced yourself you’re not a writer. Those are the days I’m talking about.

First – everyone has those days. Every. One. If they say different, they are selling something.

Second – it’s gonna happen. Sometimes I can sit down and pump out so many words I have to double check the count to make sure I actually did that. Sometimes, I can’t do anything but read over my last chapter and delete the ten times I used the word Justandalso and so.

Third – One bad day does not equal a wasted month. (Or year, or book, or whatever our brains would like us to believe)

When I get stuck I try to remember those three things. I take a deep breath and think them through.

Don’t get inside your head. Just keep going. You can mold and edit and fix what you write, but if the words aren’t there, it’s harder. We tend to take a slow day of writing and turn it into OH MY GOD I’LL NEVER WRITE ANOTHER WORD WHAT AM I DOING HOW DID I GET HERE WHERE ARE THE SNACKS IS IT FIVE OCLOCK YET?????

But remember – feed yourself, being kind to yourself, stretch, hydrate. It’s amazing what a little grace toward yourself and a deep breath can do

When you start to struggle, think about what you would say to someone else who is struggling. I bet you’d encourage them, tell them they got this, and give them permission to have a slow day. Talk to yourself like you would a friend. Some days you might need tough love, some days you need a break, but every day you need kindness.

So now, do that for yourself. A lot of us think we’re not writers because of where we are in the process. Some of think we’ll never finish that second (or third or tenth) book. All of us worry it won’t be good enough.

If you are writing, you are a writer.

You will finish whatever you put your mind to.

And your words will speak to the people they are supposed to.

All it takes is a whole lotta bravery and a little patience with ourselves.

So happy writing, my friends!!

Now, take a deep breath! Drink your water. Eat some fruit. Because I believe in you. You got this!!! And slow or fast, you’ll get there. Happy writing!

With magic words and love,

Xo,

Angi

Angi Griffee is a dance and theater instructor whose love affair with words helps her create books. She also bakes, sings, and owns Wise Owl Words Editing.

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”