Pep Talk Week 1: Three Tips for Reaching Your JuNoWriMo Writing Goals by Nina Post

When Fel asked me to write a guest post for JuNoWriMo, I was happy to do it, though, honestly, I was expecting a stadium talk with proper AV equipment. And where are the Ahlgrens bilar marshmallow cars and Puolukkapore lemonade that my contract stipulates must be provided without substitution?

During 2012, I wrote five novels and had three novels published. I’ve started on my third novel for 2013, and my fifth book (Extra Credit Epidemic) will be published in July. The following tips are a few things that work for me.

Break it down

Break down your JuNoWriMo goal into parts. If you want to pull a series of all-nighters, go for it, and revel in your ability to do so. But whatever your schedule, you want to know that you can consistently achieve more, that you can do this over and over, that this doesn’t have to be a once (or twice) a year thing. So manage your project: figure out what your daily and weekly word count should be, then modify it to fit your schedule. Be accountable to yourself.

Also, keep track of your output: when you write, when you do your best writing, your daily word count, and if you timed yourself (like with the Pomodoro Technique).

Blaze through your first draft

Do not think of this as the defining work of your life. This is *a* work — I hope one of many for you, so keep moving forward. If you’re having trouble making a choice in your draft, think about it for a few minutes, then decide on something. Aim for sustained focus and momentum.

If you want to write faster and get more done, sketch out even a minimal outline. Some writers are resistant to any outlining, and that’s fine. It’s a guide, and my outlines are always flexible. I have a lot of wiggle room, and always change things along the way. If you haven’t outlined before, try doing just one sentence for each chapter or scene, or sketching out a few major turning points.

Spend a few minutes visualizing what’s going to happen in the next day’s work. It also helps enormously to stop at a point where you know what to write the next day, so you can get right back into it.

When you reach an obstacle

Here are some ways I deal with obstacles in the writing process.

  • Talk it out with someone who’s on your side. JuNoWriMo gives you a community of people working toward the same goal at the same time. But this could also be your spouse or your pet iguana.
  • Write out the basics of what you want to do in the scene, and write down questions for yourself to return to later.
  • Think about what pisses you off. Condescending idiots? Bad dentists? Horrible neighbors? Put them up as obstacles for your character, and take ’em down on the page.
  • Have your good character do something bad or your bad character do something good.
  • Add a third person to the scene.
  • Do a little research — you may see something that sparks an idea.

I hope you take away something useful from these tips, and that JuNoWriMo proves to be a fun and productive experience for you!

nina postNina Post is a fiction writer who lives in Seattle. She is the author of Danger in Cat World, Extra Credit Epidemic, The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse, The Last Donut Shop of the Apocalypse, and One Ghost Per Serving. For the latest updates, subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Goodreads and Twitter.

 

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JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Sharon Bayliss

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

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I’ve been a writer for 15 years, but I’ve never “Wri-mo”ed, either Na or Ju. (Yes, I just wanted to write that crazy sentence. But I know you guys know what I mean!) However, I tend to binge write anyway, so I think JuNoWriMo is a great fit for me. Also, it’s coming at the perfect time, I need some aggressive inspiration to get writing!

I am proud to have recently released my debut novel, The Charge, an NA alternate history about a Texas that never joined the United States. I have always intended to write it as a trilogy, and I need to get moving on book two. It’s so easy to get distracted with marketing tasks, but I need to WRITE.

So during JuNo, I’ll be writing The Charge sequel (untitled). I have a name in mind, but I’m not ready to announce it yet. 🙂 In the sequel, Warren finds himself unwittingly an important part of the Texas monarchy, and is tasked with re-building a nation at nineteen years old with no training and not much help. It seems like everyone wants to take him down, including a revolutionary group known as the Knights of Chinati, the dangerous young Lord of California, and even perhaps his own brother.

I have an idea of what I’d like to happen in the book, but do not have a single word on paper yet. I’ll be officially starting on June 1st. My goal is to at least get to the 50,000 word mark by the end of June, and hopefully finish the first draft completely by mid-July.

I need all the encouragement I can get, so I invite you to connect with me here!

~
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JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Margaret McNellis

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

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Margaret McNellis
Margaret McNellis

I was so excited to find JuNoWriMo last year, even though NaNoWriMo was right around the corner. Unfortunately I won’t be able to participate in NaNo as I usually do because I will be training for my 2nd degree black belt test which will demand much of my free time…so June is really going to be my “write with wild abandon” month!

As for myself, I fell in love with writing fiction during my last semester of college. I started playing around with writing fanfiction but then got frustrated with not having complete creative ownership of the characters I was writing–along with all of the other story elements. I started writing my own stories, which mostly featured zombies as a main element. I didn’t particularly like writing the gory parts, but used the presence of the zombies as a catalyst by which to take a deeper look at the human condition.

In August of 2008, I started taking classes with the Long Ridge Writers Group. 2008 was also my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. I’ve won all years since then except 2009, when I was traveling in Turkey for half of November (though I did make an attempt, and got to about 25K). In 2010 I became an municipal liaison for the CT shoreline region, and remained in that role for three years. I really liked growing the region (we saw 150% growth in those years!) and adding pre-event writing workshops to the schedule.

In 2011 I began taking a course on novel writing with the Long Ridge Writers Group, which gave me the ability to dive into historical fiction, which I’ve fallen in love with (as it fits so nicely with my Art History degree). Since then, I’ve been working mostly in historical fiction, but have been mixing other genres into the mix since historical fiction lends so well to that.

The name of my JuNoWriMo novel is “The Price of Freedom” and it is also historical fiction. The basic synopsis is that it begins with the emigration of James Badcocke circa 1640 from England to Rhode Island, and follows through to his son and the founding of one of Rhode Island’s prominent colonies.

The back story for my book, I think, is pretty interesting. I was doing some genealogical research on my family and learned that, against the belief amongst most in my family, my ancestors did not arrive in the late 19th century–at least not for the first time. I traced my lineage back to the Badcocke/Babcock family, one of the more prominent New England families. I learned that James Badcocke Senior traveled from England to Rhode Island around 1640–and while there are records of him in England and records of him in New England, his name doesn’t exist on any ship manifest.

I decided to write a story based on his passage, on the presumption that he traveled under a pseudonym. From that, I created a fictional account wherein his brother, Sir Richard, forces him to take his family out of England and to the New World, because of a difference in religious beliefs. He learns later that his brother has actually murdered someone and used his disappearance to distract from the scandal of the murder (among other subplots).

I have started work on this novel. I worked on it for NaNo 2012 and while I reached the 50K mark, I estimate it needs at least another 50-100K to be finished, and would like to accomplish at least the 50K during the month of June.

Find Margaret online:

Twitter: @mmcnelliswrites

Facebook page: MMcNellisWrites

Blog: http://mmcnellisblog.com

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3 Keys to a Writer’s Block Free Life

To get you motivated and ready for JuNoWriMo, here’s a post on how to avoid writer’s block by Kevin Kaiser of 1K True Fans. Hold these keys close to you and you’ll sail through June.

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I’ve never met a prolific author who believed in the existence of writer’s block. Not one. And even if it does exist, some have told me, they simply choose not to participate in it.

I was shocked the first time an author said this to me. “Really?” I said.  “You don’t believe in writer’s block? Surely every writer experiences a block at some point. It’s almost a rite of passage for all wordsmiths, a badge of honor that we can commiserate with your friends over a nice latte, right?”

Wrong.

Tell me, why is it that some authors are completely hamstrung by writer’s block while others seem unnaturally prolific and unhampered by the creative equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits?

The difference is in the choices they make, not the traits they possess. It’s in the perceptions they have and how those perceptions shape their actions. I went on a fact finding search among some of the best writers I know and this is what I found.

Want to live a writer’s block-free life? Here’s all you need to know.

 1. Realize that writer’s block is about fear.

Understand this point and you’ll discover that the dragon has no teeth. Think about all of those times when you stared at the blank page or screen, paralyzed. For years this happened to me. And, honestly, it still does sometimes. It’s the closest feeling I’ve ever had to a panic attack.

My revelation came when an author pointed out the cause: All of that stress stems from not knowing what comes next. We’re afraid of choosing the wrong word or writing a cardboard character or fretting over whether or not an Oxford comma is better. Or whether we really aren’t writers…at all. What if I’m a fraud.

Getting on with creativity starts with getting over fear. I’m not telling you it’s easy. It’s not. Far from it. But that’s the start of it.

 2. Write when you’re uninspired.

Writing is like marriage in some ways. If you base your commitment to it on whether or not you feel like sticking it out, you won’t last very long.  And the most important actions, the ones that have the most meaning and impact, are the ones you take when you least feel like it.

“I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 a.m.” -Peter DeVries

Ever noticed that no one has “worker’s block”? You can’t phone it in because you’re feeling uninspired. That would never last. It’s the same with writing. No one finds time to do it. They make time. No one who’s successful waits around for the muse to show up. They simply get started.

 3. Get words on the page…even if they’re shitty at first.

Writers are notorious tinkerers. We like pristine words, pristine paragraphs, and pristine pages. I’ve spent hours sometimes tweaking sentences until they’d been completely ruined. We’re (many of us) perfectionists.

There’s a wonderful chapter in Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life entitled “Shitty First Drafts.” I found it on the web and it’s worth taking time to read. That essay singlehandedly freed me (mostly) from my obsession to get it right the first time. It’s too much pressure. I don’t have to and neither do you.

Let me take the pressure off you. You have permission to just get words on the page, even if what you’re putting down is shitty. No one cares. Play. Experiment. Just get words on the page.

I can’t imagine how many stories never saw the light of day because their creators got so hung up on perfection that they quit. I know there’s an idea graveyard full of my stuff, all because I wouldn’t just. Get. It. Down. You can wipe the page clean later, but first just it down.

~

Kevin KaiserKevin Kaiser writes and dishes out professional creative wisdom at 1K True Fans. Check out his Facebook page here.

 

 

 

 

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Art by Norvz Austria

Pinterest.

It’s the latest craze on the internet. It can be extremely addictive. Being a visually-oriented person (maybe more than most), I was immediately drawn to join the masses and start creating my own pin boards. Fortunately, unlike many people, I’ve been able to [mostly] keep a rein on myself and pretty strictly regulate my time spent on the site. But it wasn’t until lately that I realized just how valuable a tool Pinterest could be for a writer.
Continue reading “Pinterest for Writers”

Can Distraction Work For You?

As writers we’re always told to make time for writing and to avoid distractions, important advice especially when writing under a deadline–and for JuNoWriMo 50,000 words in 30 days is one huge looming deadline. But, taking the time to find inspiration is equally important.

Everyone finds inspiration differently.

I think we can agree that most original ideas aren’t developed by locking ourselves in an office, sitting at our computers looking at a blinking cursor. We develop ideas by getting out of our own heads, getting away from the computer and living our lives. Some of us feel we get enough of the outside world with jobs, family obligations, shopping, and the activities of our day to day routines–they certainly do enough to cut into writing time.

live to writeBut does the thought of watching that movie you’ve been dying to see, or just sprawling out on the couch with your favorite drink for mindless TV antics make you cringe in guilt? Your conscience screams, “No distractions when there’s a book to write!” But. . .

Is watching an old Hitchcock movie a distraction from what you’re supposed to be writing, or does it have inspirational merit? For me Hitchcock movies and his TV series have a great way of making me think about things differently. What if I throw in a little taste of the feeling that Hitchcock inspires into my next story? What if, after getting lost in that half hour of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I suddenly have a new insight into my own character’s motivation? Then, the distraction was well worth the time.

There’s a connection between distraction and inspiration.

The best writing tool you have is your brain, and it has its own stubborn and cockamamie way of doing things. How often do you have brilliant ideas while doing mindless tasks–taking a shower or doing the dishes? Or during family time–playing with the kids or watching a movie? Even in the moments that seem like a distraction, our minds continue working in the background, putting the pieces of our fictional worlds together. We may not realize that the process is going on or have any control over it, but that’s when the brilliant ideas develop.

Maybe we shouldn’t think so critically about distractions–we all need a moment to unwind. The important thing is balance. Successful writers need the determination and discipline to know when it’s best to have your butt in the chair writing, and the instinct to know when it’s time to take a break. As you’re trying to rack up those word counts next month, remember to give yourself a moment every now and then to indulge in a distraction without feeling guilty, your mind, body (and story!) will thank you for it.

~

Fel WetzigFel Wetzig is a paranormal writer, book blogger, and lover of folklore. After completing an MA in History, she’d had enough of the real world and armed with a fountain pen, she started writing fiction and building a blog, with the Peasants who live in her head. When not wrapped up in fantasy worlds, she’s usually at the day job designing publications, or relaxing with her husband and two erratic ferrets. You can find her at The Peasants Revolt.

 

 

And if you haven’t entered our care package giveaway yet, there’s still time!
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Be Featured on JuNoWriMo.com

Becca J. Campbell
Becca J. Campbell

I’m so glad you’re doing JuNoWriMo with us! June is going to be amazing, and it’s coming soon, so I hope you’re getting ready.

Each year, during JuNoWriMo we highlight a few of our authors. We’re big believers in teamwork and supporting writers. It’s a great way to get to share about yourself and get to know others. I can’t wait to hear about what you’ll be working on in June!

You don’t have to be published or famous to get featured here. You don’t even have to have finished a book yet. This is a chance to share a little about your WIP (or just W, since June isn’t here yet). This year we have only eight spots available, and it’s first-come, first-served. Continue reading “Be Featured on JuNoWriMo.com”

@WriMo is a Must Read for #NaNoWriMo – Win a Copy Here!

Hey WriMos! I’m excited to share a great new book with you. If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, you won’t want to miss this one. In fact, I’m going to give away a copy at the end of this post, so keep reading!

My Review

Are you new to writing, as in never finished (or maybe started!) a novel? @WriMo is for you.

Are you a National Novel Writing Month (or JuNoWriMo) virgin? @WriMo is for you.

Did you attempt NaNoWriMo and not quite make it to the end? @WriMo is for you.

Are you a several-time NaNoWriMo champion who’s on the [long, grueling] road to publishing? @WriMo is for you.

@WriMo: A 30-day Survival Guide for Writers isn’t a writing handbook—it’s a motivational tool. It’s like a concentrated dose of writing-pep-me-up in a shot glass: the antivirus for that pesky Resistance strain. The book is crafted into 30 bite-sized chunks (one for each day of the month) that are easy to swallow in a short time frame. It’s perfect for a five or ten minute get-into-the-groove before you start your daily writing.

Kaiser covers such topics as: “Inspiration is Overrated,” “When the Muses Head to Vegas,” “5 Things to Stop Doing Right Now (if you want to finish your novel),” and “What Bestsellers Do Differently Than Everyone Else.”

Sometimes when I’m stuck I need to be gently encouraged about my talent and potential. Other times I need someone to pull the La-Z-Boy out from under me, knocking me off of my all-too-comfortable butt and drag me back to the writing desk. Kaiser hits both ends of the spectrum with this one. From quoting Yoda (“Do or do not. There is no try.”) to the drill-sergeant-esque “You want to write, don’t you? Then write!” (exclamation point added for emphasis), @WriMo packs the punch.

This book is geared toward NaNoWriMo participants, but is also great for anyone who fights writer’s block, has a difficult time getting motivated, or needs some extra encouragement in his or her daily writing routine—regardless of what month it is. When I picked up this book, I’d been procrastinating on a few projects. After reading just a few sections, I was ready to get back in the ring and have a throw down with my story. Reading @WriMo made me feel strengthened, revitalized, and determined not to give in to Resistance.

If you’re going to do NaNoWriMo, I suggest you get this book now, read it once before you begin, and then read the content for each day as you move through November. It contains a lot of great nuggets you might want to consider before starting, but it will also be a welcome refresher during the experience. Either way, there’s never a wrong time to read @WriMo.

Interview with the Author

Check out this interview with Kevin Kaiser to find out more about the book and his life as a writer. Then make sure and enter the giveaway below!

BC: @WriMo: A 30-day Survival Guide for Writers is geared toward those who participate in National Novel Writing Month. Have you participated in the challenge, and do you have one (or more) NaNoWriMo winner’s badges to your name?

KK: My only NaNoWriMo was in 2005 after a friend had told me about it. At the time, I was puttering around with writing a novel. Like a lot of people, I had an idea, but that’s about all I had.  I didn’t sign up officially through their website, but I loved the idea of all these people working on books at the same time. Even if I didn’t know any of them, I at least wasn’t alone. So I started getting up at 5:00 a.m. and wrote before work, then wrote at night after I had spent some time with my wife. I hit 60,000 words that year, every single one of them terrible, but that sent me on a new path. I was hooked.

BC: You’ve giving all the proceeds of this book to the folks at NaNoWriMo. What drove that decision?

KK: If I hadn’t written that novel in 2005, my life would look very different today. Back then I was in the investment world. NaNoWriMo was a truly defining event in my life that made me realize what I wanted to do with my life. Now I make my living in entertainment, mostly in publishing, and I have NaNoWriMo partly to thank for that. Doing @WriMo was the simplest way I knew to pay it forward and say thanks.

BC: @WriMo is jam-packed with wise advice about how to beat Resistance. How did you find these truths? Were they mostly taught, borrowed, or personally discovered?

KK: All of the above. They all started out as bits of advice and wisdom that I’d heard or read somewhere. Truth is, knowing about something isn’t nearly the same thing as knowing it firsthand. At some point you have to begin discovering and experiencing these things for yourself, otherwise it’s all just hearsay. There’s nothing transformative about hearsay. But experience, well that’s altogether different. Everything I write about now comes from my personal discovery process. I want to know for myself how to beat Resistance and that can only come one way: by doing.

BC: You have a great quote in the book. “Distractions slay more novels than anything else.” As a writer, what distractions do you face and how do you deal with them?

KK: The same ones everyone else does, though I think my greatest distraction is fear. Many writers may not consider fear a distraction, but it’s what derails us more often than not–fear about whether we’re good enough, fear about discovering that we’re really a fraud and can’t write after all. For me, moving past fear when it creeps in is essential. There’s nothing more paralyzing to the creative process. Not even Facebook or Twitter. : )

BC: Your writing blog StorySellerPRO provides the same type of encouragement and motivation that @WriMo does. One of the things I like best is your brutal honesty about what it takes to be a writer. You don’t kowtow to the excuse of writer’s block. In that way, your posts are often like my own personal writing drill sergeant. Who or what pushes you to write?

KK: I’m in a stage at the moment where I’m writing at least partially for a paycheck. Writer’s block is a luxury, if you want to call it that, I can’t afford because I have deadlines. But even that isn’t enough, which is why having people in your life that you can trust is important. I have a few friends, other writers mostly, who have no qualms with calling me out if I’m making excuses. My wife is my own personal drill sergeant and keeps me on track. Being the spouse or significant other of a writer is tough. They’re the unsung heroes, really, and the real reason why so many successful writers never gave up.

BC: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

KK: I’m not really sure, honestly. I remember drawing my own comic books when I was kid and writing short stories. It didn’t cross my mind that I might actually be a writer until a few years ago when my wife corrected me during a conversation. She’d said, “Stop saying that writing is your hobby. It’s not. You are a writer. Accept it because it’s true.” It seems like a little thing, but that was the spark that made all the difference. Still does.

BC: Have you written any fiction? If so, what genre and what was the story about?

KK: I have. Quite a bit, actually. I have many many short stories, which I’ll eventually share with the world. I’ve also done several novel to graphic novel adaptations, a handful of screenplays, and three full length novels, one of which is published under a pen name. I gravitate toward thrillers, but thrillers that bend toward the supernatural. I think I have my taste in comics to movies to thank for that.

BC: You’ve worked with a variety of talented authors, including New York Times Bestseller Ted Dekker. What’s it like hanging around so many creative minds?

KK: When we actually get the chance to hang out it’s fun and truly encouraging. I’ve learned that everyone is essentially the same no matter what level of success they’ve achieved. We’re all just people trying to do something meaningful in life that we can enjoy. There’s a unique thing that happens, too, when like-minded people come together. New ideas happen that wouldn’t otherwise come to life, and sometimes sets one or all of us on a new path.

BC: What other projects are in the works? Do you have plans to publish again anytime soon?

KK: I just finished the first novel in a series that I was asked to co-write with a successful author. I can’t say who just yet, only that it’s the biggest project I’ve worked on to date. It will release sometime in early January 2013. I also will be finishing the second pen name novel in the next few months, and it will be published probably at the first of the year.

BC: If you could sum it all up in one thing, what would be the single, most important piece of advice for those hoping to win NaNoWriMo this year?

KK: Write because books don’t write themselves. Everyone does it the same way: one word at a time.

Giveaway

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Who’s Doing #NaNoWriMo? We Are!

Howdy gang! I hope you’ve had a great summer and are enjoying the new season. Fall came rushing in on me and I can hardly believe next month is November!

Join Us During November

Anna and I are doing #NaNoWriMo next month and we hope you are, too! If you aren’t signed up yet, go to http://nanowrimo.org and do it now.

We had a heck of a lot of fun last June doing word sprints with you guys. Because of that, we’re bringing it all back during November to help support your NaNoWriMo experience. Follow @junowrimo on Twitter to join in. I’m excited about seeing all my JuNo buddies again.

Remember our word count spreadsheet from June? How cool was it to see  everyone’s daily counts? Did you have as much fun racing with your fellow WriMos as I did? I have good news. We’re bringing it back for NaNoWrimo.

We will have a post letting you know when the new spreadsheet is ready, so stay tuned. We had over a hundred people input their names this June. Let’s see if we can get even more next month. Make sure you’ve created a JuNoWriMo account which will grant you access to the spreadsheet.

The best part about this site is the accountability. NaNoWriMo is a big place and it can be hard to get to know people, but here you’ll find a smaller and tighter community. If you’re new, then welcome aboard! We’re happy to have you with us.

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

Are you prepped and ready for what it’s going to take to write a novel in thirty days? October is prewriting month and I encourage you to take advantage of it. Starting NaNoWriMo without a plan isn’t just difficult—it’s setting yourself up for failure. Get the bones of your novel sketched out ahead of time so that when the clock turns midnight on October 31st, you’re armed and ready.

What is prewriting and exactly how do you do it? Aaron Pogue has a great walkthrough of how to get ready to write a novel. This post is the first in the prewriting series. Follow his advice and you’ll be ready for November.

More Tips and Free Stuff

One final thing. I’ve saved the best for last. There’s a great new ebook out there called @WriMo: A 30-day Survival Guide for Writers by Kevin S. Kaiser. I highly recommend it for everyone doing NaNoWriMo. This book is full of motivation to inspire your writing journey. It’s especially useful for making you stick with it in those times you really don’t want to write. I read it and loved it. Even better, all the proceeds of the book are donated to NaNoWriMo which means that buying this book is akin to sending them a donation check.

I’m so excited about this book that I’m going to give away a free copy next week! Come back on Monday for a chance to win!

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