Pep Talk Week 2: When You Want to Quit by Hugh Howey

I am a quitter. There, I said it. I tried to teach myself how to play the guitar, and I quit. I did the same with the piano, and I quit. For twenty years, I set out to write a book, my lifelong dream, and I quit every single time. It was so much easier to go find a distraction than to push through the callous-building phase and get good at something. Abandoning my dreams was far simpler than realizing them.

The reason I was so good at quitting was because I never knew what the reward for success felt like. I had never finished a novel, so how could I convince myself that the goal was worth the work required? I couldn’t. No one can know. So let me attempt for a moment to convince you. Because I don’t want you to quit writing until you’ve reached the end of your story.

Forget about what comes after: the revisions and the edits and the challenge of finding readers. Right now, at this very moment, a unique story exists in your head – a book lives and breathes only in your imagination – and whether or not it survives is completely up to you. If you push through that next scene, meet your word count goals, and make sacrifices, a new work will exist for all of time. And it won’t matter if anyone reads it. All that matters is that you accomplished your goal.

When I finished my first novel, I experienced a high like no other. It was like reaching the top of a mountain and finding oneself exhausted, exhilarated, and with the satisfaction of knowing that there wasn’t another step to take. I had done it. As an avid reader, I had always wanted to write a novel, and now I had. I went to dinner that night with my wife, my mother, and my sister. We celebrated. My novel sat on the dinner table in a thumb drive, and nothing else mattered. I had written a book.

Every story I complete fills me with the same sense of satisfaction. As a lifelong quitter, I am now addicted to the feeling of completing my goals. And my goals remain simple: Write every day. Write because I love it. Make my works available to whoever might care to read them.

Many of you have completed previous NaNos and know what I’m talking about. Maybe you feel the same urge I do to tell complete strangers that I just finished a novel. I want to shout it to the heavens when I wrap up a story. It’s that euphoria that we chase as we start our next work. But for any of you who have given up or haven’t had this buzz – take it from someone who regrets the years I wasted. It is completely worth the sacrifice and the heartache that writing a novel requires. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings you’ll ever enjoy. To believe me, you’ll need to feel it for yourself. So what are you waiting for? Stop what you’re doing and go write. And keep writing until you get to the end.

~

Hugh Howey (2) 1200Hugh Howey is the New York Times bestselling author of WOOL and SHIFT. He worked for a decade as a yacht captain before falling in love with a girl and following her into the mountains of North Carolina. There, he pursued a lifelong dream of writing a novel. He’s been writing ever since.

Find him at www.hughhowey.com.

 

 

 

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JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Vicki Trask

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

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Vicki Trask
Vicki Trask

Hi, I’m Vicki Trask *waves* this is my second time doing JuNoWriMo but my first time succeeding.

I was walking around campus one day last year, just people watching, when I stumbled across a dark corner behind a building that everyone walked passed and no one really noticed. Naturally my first thought was “you could murder someone back here quite easily.” It then turned into a game to find all the dark corners in the university campus. There were a lot. And it often required a bit of creativity. After that, I started seeing opportunities to write murder scenes – I emphasizewrite so no one thinks I’m a homicidal manic…yet. By the end of the summer I had a notebook and a wall of sticky notes full of plot notes and dialogue and murder scenarios that I’d “borrowed” from the business office I was working at at the time.

It was a story begging to be written.

So I gave in and planned out a vague storyline so that I could do it for NaNoWriMo in November. I wrote about 4,000 words before life got in the way and I gave up. Turns out November is just not my writing month. I’ve tried and failed at NaNoWriMo three years in a row and for last year’s JuNoWriMo I got further than ever but I still didn’t finish. This year, I have no excuse so if I start to fall off the wagon for one reason or another just slap me upside the head and we’ll get through it together.

Since November the plot has changed so many times that I can’t see straight but I still have that wall of sticky notes as inspiration. I find it a great organization tool actually. It’s disorganized but colourful and handy – plus you can’t misplace a wall so you never lose your notes.

With the help of the handy wall and a few days off, I began to try and make sense of these new ideas that kept popping into my head that were somewhat related to the original idea but in the same way not – it was all very confusing. All I knew was that it was about death and a woman in a pencil skirt.

Thus “Morbid Curiosity” was born; a New Adult Contemporary Fantasy about a woman forced to kill for all eternity who accidentally kills the wrong person and is forced back into the real world. I’ve always had a fascination with death – a safe obsession I assure you. I’ve been writing short stories about death for several years now (mostly on my blog: http://madamewriterofwrongs.blogspot.com) and I thought it was time to finish a full novel.

Right now, I’m in the middle of planning, trying to plot out as much of the story as possible before June. For me the biggest challenge is going to be the emotion. When it comes to fantasy I love the rules and the origin stories but no good story is just made of background – duh – so the challenge is going to be indulging in the background while still fleshing out an interesting story. Seems like it would be simple and obvious but really, it’s not. Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses.

I’m going to be tweeting about it a lot so follow me (http://www.twitter.com/vatrask) and I post writing articles (not my own) every weekday on my Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/179919772129906/

Happy Writing WriMos, Wishing you all the best of luck!

~

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JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Bonnie Louwerens

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

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Bonnie Louwerens
Bonnie Louwerens

Bonnie Rae spent her early childhood in the sunny state of California. At the time, she was an only child with a very large imagination. Thanks to her Grandmother, the love of reading books started at a very young age. Every walk to the grocery store meant an ice cream cone and a new Little Golden Book. Through books, Bonnie learned you could be transported into other worlds. The addiction was instant. She started her first set of novels at the age of sixteen and has been writing ever since.

Bonnie Rae self-published her first two books that is part of a YA paranormal trilogy on Amazon with the third scheduled for release June 2013.

JuNoWriMo Book Title (current working title): Deviant

Genre: Sci/Fi Dystopian

Synopsis:

Eighteen year old Sephra Vandeci has lived a life of absolute privilege. She’s just graduated from the top military academy and is being groomed to follow in her father’s footsteps as Commander of their great dome city, Syrica.  All her life she and her best friend Ronin have been told that life beyond the protection of Syrica’s massive glass barriers is nothing more than a toxic and deadly wasteland. Inside they are safe from disease, famine, and radiation. No one has ever desired to go beyond the walls. No one except, Sephra. She can’t help but wonder about what really lies on the other side. When a mysterious plague suddenly sweeps through her beloved city and a virus causes all of the new Robotic Engineered Soldiers to break the cardinal law of robotics, Sephra’s life of privilege begins to crumble. Time is running out and soon she learns that everything she’s ever loved about her protected world is nothing more than an immaculate and vicious lie.

Backstory:

I can’t get enough science fiction or dystopian novels so I just had to combine my love of both into my own book.  All my life I have been fascinated with the future of technology, cyborgs especially. I was watching a program one day about the advances with robots and how strikingly human they looked. Thus, an idea started to form in my head and the plot for this novel was born. I have about forty thousand words down on draft one already and plan to use JuNoWriMo to flush out the second draft and hopefully bring that word count up to around seventy thousand.

Website: http://bonnieraebooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonnie-Rae/169237309818769

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BRLouwerens

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5816624.Bonnie_Rae

~

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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.

~

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.

~

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.

~

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.
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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.

 

 

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New Swag for 2013
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