Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

What Just Happened?

An Incomplete Journey of a NaNoWriMo Newbie – Part 2

By: Benjamin X. Wretlind

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 1: And So It Begins…

The alarm went off at 4 AM with a note: “NaNoWriMo Wake Up.” Right. I said I was going to do that. After coffee, a look at the news, a moment of meditation to rid myself of the stink of the news, and another cup of coffee, I managed to whip out 1,747 words in the morning. I added another 1,052 words around lunch and more in the afternoon. This does put me on pace of >= 1,667/day.

Oddly (or perhaps expectedly), I spent the previous night wondering if I picked the right story. It was just the day before that I considered the possibility of writing something completely different.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 2: I Need Stinking Badges

NaNoWriMo is built with gamification in mind, meaning as I complete various milestones, I am awarded a badge. I like badges, even if they’re only for me. The psychology behind this thinking is well-known and has been around for a while. I was able to punch out another 1,316 words before having to jump on work calls at 6:30 AM. I now have 6 badges. (Update: another 1,075 words in the afternoon.)

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 3: Work Sucks

I am glad I plotted this out. I don’t think I would be able to keep this pace if I had to think about what came next. It does not help that this week my workday starts at 6:30 AM every morning except Monday.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 4: Why Didn’t I Try This Before?

Life. It gets in the way sometimes, as it did today. The dogs needed grooming and work took its revenge. All I could manage was 1,056 words in the morning and a meager 569 in the afternoon. Still, my running mean is 3,081 and I could conceivably finish by the 20th.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 5: Stats!

I love statistics. That’s not to say I loved the class and all the math. Rather, I love seeing patterns in the chaos that is around us, of taking something creative like writing and reducing it to means and histograms. The NaNoWriMo site gets me. There is a page of line graphs and means and more.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 6: The First Saturday

As hoped, Saturday lent itself to an increased word count. Over the course of the day, in spurts of 30-minute to 1 1/2-hour writing sessions, I managed to come up with 4,373 words. They aren’t the best words, but this month is about quantity not quality.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 7: One Benefit to Time Change

The fact that NaNoWriMo occurs during the month when you get an extra hour of sleep (or have an extra hour to write in the morning is noteworthy. For what it’s worth, I wrote a little more. I think the 5,002 words I typed up are close to a record and I am 49.6% done (with the competition, not the book).

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 8: A Thought

I’m over 50% done (55.4%, to be precise) and now have 10 badges. It dawned on me that the only way I could have written this fast was if I was motivated by a) the gamification of NaNoWriMo and b) the fact that the story was thoroughly outlined. But can I keep up this pace?

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Days 9 through 13: Not Always Easy

The middle part of any project is often one that languishes just a bit. There is an initial excitement to get going and a frantic rush to the finish line, but in the middle comes a doldrum. Even NaNoWriMo seems to acknowledge this as I received an email on the 12th day that said “We know the Week Two slump is all too real. The shiny newness of your novel can feel like it’s fading. Don’t be discouraged!”

It’s like they know me.

I managed to write each day, but occasionally the words didn’t flow. This might be the subject matter (more romance than adventure in the middle) or it might have several hours-long Zoom meetings. I did finish the week closer to the goal than I started, and that’s what matters.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 14: I Feel the End

The novel I’m working on is broken up into three Acts with a total of 17 chapters. For those who might be wondering why this is important, allow me to point you to the Wikipedia article about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. I am now into Act 3, and that means I can feel the end.

Kind of like a journey, if you ask me.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 15: So Close…

Wow. If someone told me I would be able to write nearly 50,000 words (47,200 as of today) in just 15 days, I would have laughed. It would probably be a sad laugh full of regret, but a laugh nonetheless.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 16: Well…Hello, there!

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Days 17 through 18: Not. Quite. Done.

The elation of “winning” NaNoWriMo 2021 has not worn off, but I still have a few more chapters to go. Looks like this will end up being around 57k words, 7k of which I will probably cut before adding another 5k just because. Yes, it’s a short novel, but so was The Alchemist.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 19: A Novel I Have Written

It may not be the best novel in the world–certainly not anything I would let the world read at this point–but that’s a first draft for you. As of today, The Beans of Anafi is complete. It stands at roughly 54,506 words, which means it fits into the category of novel just as much as any other novel out there. Being used to scifi and fantasy, it is only a fraction of the length of those genres, but this is literary fiction.

Now to clean up the prose.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Days 20 through 24: A First Pass

The NaNoWriMo site keeps teasing me with a badge I haven’t earned yet (update progress every day). I am a completionist (to use their terms), and I must have that badge.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 25: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, and I can do so with sincerity. I thank the NaNoWriMo people for putting together a program that helped me reach the finish line. I also managed to “carve out” a few words today.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Days 26 through 29: The Second through Sixth Pass

All subsequent revisions tend to remove words and sometimes whole sections. This is a good thing and helps me learn about all the ways I’ve artificially increased my word count in the past.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 Day 30: Done

NaNoWriMo is only once a year (excluding the “camps” they hold in April and July). There is an app out there called 4thewords which appears to use the same gamification concept. I will try this out soon, as January approaches.

The Beans of Anafi now stands at 54,422 words, and after six passes, it is ready to be sent to some beta readers for comments.

****

Read Part 1 HERE
If you would like to read Benjamin’s NaNo creation, you may contact him at author@bxwretlind.com.


Benjamin X. Wretlind

Benjamin X. Wretlind ran with scissors when he was five. He now writes, paints, uses sharp woodworking tools and plays with glue. Sometimes he does these things at the same time. A retired Air Force veteran, Benjamin currently builds and facilitates leadership courses for staff at Yale. He has penned a few novels, deleted a few novels, edited a few novels and is, of course, writing a few novels. Owing his life’s viewpoint to Bob Ross, he has also painted a few things, thrown a few paintings away, and probably has a painting on an easel right now. You can find Benjamin on his WebsiteTwitter and Facebook.

What Just Happened?

An Incomplete Journey of a NaNoWriMo Newbie – Part 1

By: Benjamin X. Wretlind

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 38 Days: The Decision

The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting creative writing. Its main program is an annual event in which crazy people attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript during November.

My math skills tell me that comes to 1,667 words per day. That sounds simple, but if I look back, maybe not. The last novel I completed as part of a series I have been working on (super-secret information here) was 128,896 words. It took me roughly 4 months to complete it, which averages 1,074-ish words per day. Some days I wrote more. Some days I wrote two words.

Nevertheless, I believe I can hit that 1,667-word mark.

My decision to “enter” NaNoWriMo this year was driven by years of thinking “I should do this.” Therapists around the world are probably screaming that you can’t “should” your way through life. And so, as I’m married to a therapist, I have opted to omit the word “should” from that sentence.

I do this.

Okay. I’m off to a good start.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 30 Days: The Outline

I have an idea and cursory outline. The humans are ambivalent about my success, however. They do not seem inclined to bake me a cake for just my outline. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with what I have put together from just an initial glance at a brainstorming app. For the record, the app spit back at me the following: Conflict = Coming-of-Age; Style = A Hero’s Journey; Setting = Greek Islands.

From that I came up with a hastily written summary.

I entered that summary and some project details into the NaNoWriMo website and noticed the following procrastination tools right away: upload a cover image and a little spot to put in “What is the project’s playlist?” (There is also a spot for “What is the project’s Pinterest?” but I must draw the line somewhere.)

Off to play with cover tools and Spotify, because, you know, the writing site says I need this to be successful. As I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, who am I to argue?

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 29 Days: A Self-Imposed Deadline

NaNoWriMo has its own deadline, of course: between November 1st and the 30th, write a first draft. However, as I have been working on another novel, I am inclined to finished it before November comes. That gives me 29 days to write another 30,000 words on something that is 180° different. The two stories are also set thousands of years apart and they both require completely different mindsets.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 26 Days: Flesh It Out

I probably need to flesh out the cursory outline and add some details. The NaNoWriMo website says:

We welcome all writers at any stage. Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged, and you’re welcome to continue an old project.

This is definitely not an old project, but I will feel better if I have an outline. I’m not a pantser. Really. In fact, I may be a little OCD about the process.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 23 Days: Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

Researching, outlining, and thinking hard about the flow of a book prior to NaNoWriMo feels like cheating, but I know it’s not (see previous). Still, I feel like doing my research under the covers to make sure no one is watching.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 21 Days: Should Have Set This in My House

I really do like research, but I’m beginning to think I bit off more than I can chew for this one. However, I have a plan: the story is what matters most, not the details of the location. So, if I write my setting more generically and worry about the details in my first rewrite (after November), I might not get so bogged down in the little things that the writing suffers.

Oh, look. An article on making olive oil in Ancient Greece.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 15 Days: Let Me Start Already

It’s hard to wait when another idea has infected your brain and keeps pushing out competing ideas or a new project like some bully. But! I have put together a cheap cover because the NaNoWriMo website says it is imperative.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 10 Days: More Ready Than Ready

I had a novella I was working on that I did not know if I could complete before the beginning of NaNoWriMo. It appears my estimation of time was off. With that project done, I can run it through one edit then let it sit through November. Things are looking up and I feel more ready than I did when I first decided to attempt this.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 7 Days: Outline? Check. Schedule? Check. Anxiety? Yep.

So I have my outline, my cover, and yes, even a Spotify playlist with one to two songs that set the mood for each chapter. I know I need to write an average of 1,667 words per day, which means I need to schedule my writing time a little better. With a day job that starts at 7 AM and because I am a writer who does his best in the morning, I need about 2 hours of uninterrupted time each day. Add in coffee for that wake up half hour, a bit of breakfast and 5 seconds to get ready for work (ah, remote work), I estimate I need to get up 4 AM each morning.

I must say, however, with one week to go, I am extremely anxious. Success for me would mean meeting the word count goal, if not completing the novel entirely.

But as my therapist wife would ask: “What would it mean if you didn’t complete your goal?”

In the words of Bill the Cat: “Aack! Thbtttt!”

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 3 Days: The Website Goes Deep

With three days left until I start this adventure, I am just now noticing that the NaNoWriMo website is FULL of content, from tips and advice to linking up with buddies to motivate you through the writing process, to joining in forums and more. Notice I said “with three days left until…”

And here I was thinking this was going to be a lonely adventure.

Journal Entry: NaNoWriMo 2021 T-Minus 1 Day: Are You Sure?

At this point, without having started the novel that I have outlined extensively, I could withdraw myself from the competition. After all, I cannot expect to spit out genius hastily over 30 days.

Yet there is a part of me that wants to try. If you do not try, you will not succeed. You may trip, fall, scrape a knee, and fail miserably. Conversely, you may surprise yourself with your commitment. Perhaps just the attempt is a success and pledging to give up 30 days under the guise of a “competition” like NaNoWriMo is just different enough from writing for 30 days without the self-imposed pressures that what you have written will be memorable even with the flaws that are certainly going to be there.

Perhaps.

Why not? We’ll just see what happens.

****Benjamin is presently bruising his fingers looking for the 50,000 mark. The last time this editor checked in, he was close to it already!! Will he survive? Stay tuned for Part II coming early December.****


Benjamin X. Wretlind

Benjamin X. Wretlind ran with scissors when he was five. He now writes, paints, uses sharp woodworking tools and plays with glue. Sometimes he does these things at the same time. A retired Air Force veteran, Benjamin currently builds and facilitates leadership courses for staff at Yale. He has penned a few novels, deleted a few novels, edited a few novels and is, of course, writing a few novels. Owing his life’s viewpoint to Bob Ross, he has also painted a few things, thrown a few paintings away, and probably has a painting on an easel right now. You can find Benjamin on his WebsiteTwitter and Facebook.

NaNoWriMo

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

Are you doing NaNo? Do you know what day it is? How are your fingers holding up? Had a shower recently? Where is your family? Are you a Wrimo? Odd questions? Maybe not. Here’s one more: Did you hit 25,000 today?

If you haven’t already heard, NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) is an event that brings writers together from across the globe in order to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month. Today, November 9, 2021 is almost the middle. The halfway point. In one week you should hit 25,000 words.

Here are a few numbers that you might also like to know:

In 2020:

• There were 552,335 participants. If all the participants finished, with an even 50,000 words each, that’s a whopping 27,616,750,000 words written in a month!

• 906 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guided 671 regions on six continents.

• 448 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.

• 71,832 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.

Who Does NaNo?

Thousands of NaNoWriMo novels have been completed, with hundreds being traditionally published as a direct result of NaNo. Here are just a few:

Sara GruenWater for Elephants
Jason HoughThe Darwin Elevator
Hugh Howey, Wool
Marissa MeyerCinder
Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus
Rainbow RowellFangirl

The Best Part of NaNo?

The numbers are amazing to achieve, but the end result is what matters the most. If you write 25,000 words or 75,000 words, or even a simple outline of 200 words, you have started what many people only dream of…you will have drafted a novel. You will have joined the ranks of writers who are doing what they love, not just dreaming about it.

To everyone participating this year…
You are rockin’ it! KEEP ON WRITING!

Here are a couple more resources to help you get through NaNoWriMo 2021:
The Five Insurmountable Problems of NaNoWriMo
Marketing During NaNoWriMo-Are You Crazy?


KJ Scrim, head shot

Kathie Scrimgeour writes under the pseudonym KJ Scrim. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors with PPW, she is also the Managing Editor of Writing from the Peak (PPW’s blog) and the Project Manager of PPW’s anthologies, Fresh Starts and Dream (coming Spring of 2022). Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. You can follow her on her website, KJScrim.com and on Facebook. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Arizona biking, hiking, skiing, or finding Zen through Pilates.

NaNoWriMo – Not Just for Aspiring Authors

By: Catherine Dilts

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is primarily touted as an exercise to drive aspiring authors to write 50,000 words. Hitting that goal may mean completion of a novel draft for the very first time. At the very least, NaNoWriMo inspires confidence that hitting The End is possible.

Image provided by NaNoWriMo

But what about the published author? Is there any value in leaping into the month-long torment for those who have achieved not only novel completion, but publication?

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time ten years ago. The experience was mind-blowing for the following reasons:

  1. Gravitas: People leave you alone when you tell them you’re part of an impressive international event.
  2. Competition: Applying butt to chair and fingers to keyboard is easier when you’re in friendly competition with yourself and others.
  3. Discipline: You learn the discipline required to finish a novel when pushing toward a goal that can only be achieved with consistent writing sessions as you strive to hit a daily or weekly word count.
  4. Realistic expectations: A first draft should be just that – a draft. The rougher, the better. NaNoWriMo pushes you to get the words down. Editing and refining take place later.
  5. Support and inspiration: Pep talks, local write-ins, on-line forums.
  6. FREE! 

2020 found many authors in the COVID doldrums. Fear was palpable. Lockdowns isolated us. Depression was rampant across all age groups. While some of us took solace in writing, for others focusing on fiction was impossible. Authors conquered the strange new world of on-line meetings, but let’s face it, a lot is lost in living a virtual life.

One definition of virtual by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition, is “Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network.”

Enter 2021, with the promise of a return to normal that did not materialize. Still, some social activity opened up. If authors didn’t return to critique and writing groups in person, at least they were now comfortable with virtual meetings. Some of us flew out the door at the first opportunity to be around other humans, to go to restaurants, museums, and elderly care facilities to visit family members.

The past two years, I remained productive. I’m one of those people who throw themselves into work when times are tough. Then this summer, something happened. I gave myself permission to enjoy the nice weather. To attend sporting events in which my grandchildren participated. To take my elderly mother to lunch. Friends and family dropped in for weekend visits. We enjoyed evenings at outdoor concerts. Suddenly, the spreadsheet I use to track my writing hours looked very thin.

I need to get my head back into my writing routine. While some of my work is published through a small press with less time pressure, my other publisher has strict deadlines. Besides work under contract, there are four novels I’m itching to complete. I feel out of control. I miss structure.

Since my first foray into the crazy world of NaNo-ing, I created eight projects. Only three made the finish line. Eventually, three were published, but only one was a NaNo winner. With this abysmal NaNoWriMo track record, why am I considering participating this year?

Mind-blowing reason number one: People leave you alone when you tell them you’re part of an impressive international event.

Let’s break this down.

It’s easier to say no to time-sucking people and activities when you’re involved in a global project. Sacrifices must be made if you’re going to succeed. Meeting the brisk and brutal word count of NaNoWriMo requires trimming down on entertainment and social activities for the short space of one month.

At this point, I know I can reach The End of a novel. My goal for NaNoWriMo 2021 is to slam out a draft of one of my projects currently in a state of stagnation. In the process, I hope to jump-start my enthusiasm and motivation to stick to a productive writing routine.

You can find me on NaNoWriMo as Granny_queequeg


Catherine Dilts, Headshot

CATHERINE DILTS prefers writing cozy mysteries and short stories surrounded by flowers on her sunny deck, but any day – and anywhere – spent writing is a good day. Author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, and the stand-alone Survive Or Die with Encircle Publications, Catherine also writes for Annie’s Publishing, contributing three books for the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library and two for the soon-to-be released Annie’s Museum Mysteries series. Her short story HazMat Holiday will appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in the January/February 2022 issue, which goes on sale 12/14/21.

https://www.catherinedilts.com/

NaNoWriMo

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

It’s that time of year when writers around the world go a little crazy by attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month. Will you be one of them this year?

In the past, Writing from the Peak has posted a number of articles to help you through this month and the list below will hook you up with some of my favorites. First, and most importantly, hop over to the official NaNoWriMo website where you will find a plethora of information on everything NaNoWriMo.

Links to get you through the month

Hopefully, by now, you are ready to write starting on Sunday, November 1, 2020. As for me? This year will be dedicated to editing, but I’ll be cheering all of you crazy writers to reach whatever goal you have set for yourself.

Best of luck to all of you!!


KJ Scrim, head shot

Managing Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym. You will find her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter: @kjscrim.

NaNoWriMo by the Numbers

Are you doing NaNo? Do you know what day it is? How are your fingers holding up? Had a shower recently? Where is your family? Are you a Wrimo? Odd questions? Maybe not. Here’s one more: Did you hit 25,000 today?

NaNoWriMo logo

If you haven’t already heard, NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) is an event that brings writers together from across the globe in order to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month. Today, November 15, 2019 is the middle. The halfway point. Today you should hit 25,000 words.

Here are a few numbers that you might also like to know:

In 2018:

• There were 403,542 participants (including 108,146 students and educators in the Young Writers Program). If all the participants finished, with an even 50,000 words each, that’s 20,177,100,000 words written in a month!

• 978 volunteer Municipal Liaisons (these are your local organizers and inspiration guides) guided 655 regions on six continents.

• 1,176 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.

Who Does NaNo?

Thousands (367,913 to be exact) of NaNoWriMo novels have been completed, and hundreds have been traditionally published as a direct result of NaNo. Here are just a few:

Sara GruenWater for Elephants
Jason HoughThe Darwin Elevator
Hugh Howey, Wool
Marissa MeyerCinder
Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus
Rainbow RowellFangirl

The Best Part of NaNo?

The numbers are amazing to achieve, but the end result is what matters the most. If you write 25,000 words or 75,000 words, or even a simple outline of 200 words, you have started what many people only dream of…you will have drafted a novel. You will have joined the ranks of writers who are doing what they love, not just dreaming about it.

To everyone participating this year…
You’re halfway there! KEEP ON WRITING!


KJ Scrim, head shot

Managing Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym.

The Five Insurmountable Problems of NaNoWriMo

By DeAnna Knippling

So you’re thinking about doing NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. Or you’re thinking about doing better this year. Or you’re partially through NaNo and you’re stuck and you hate life and you’re reading NaNo blogs because you just like to punish yourself for not being good enough as a writer.

Um, yeah.

NaNoWriMo is a kind of hothouse of writing.

NaNoWriMo is a kind of hothouse of writing. It brings up all kinds of ugly things that encapsulate our failures as writers – or at least the failures as we see them.

So let’s get past that, not by treating NaNoWriMo as a kind of writers’ resolution, (”This year, I will write 50,000 words, mostly by…I don’t know, just forcing myself!”) but by looking at the root causes.

Here’s my premise: anything that stops you from writing is a bad writing technique.

1. I don’t know what to write.

Tip: Pick the first memorable person you think of, drop them in a memorable setting (it’s easier if you know the setting reasonably well), and give them a problem they can’t solve using their normal M.O. (that is, don’t give a firefighter a fire to put out–give them a parent with cancer).

It’s not that we don’t know what to write. It’s that we get hung up on finding the perfect thing to write. Why is that? Because we’re secretly convinced that stories aren’t about how the story’s told, but about the idea that sets them off.

And yet. Everybody who’s ever admitted to being a writer in public has heard this: “I have this great idea for a book. Why don’t you write it for me – I’ll even give you a percentage of the profits. Fifty-fifty!” As though the idea was worth half the work in the book. You’d laugh at that person…if it wasn’t you.

If you’re held up on the idea, then coming up with the perfect idea has got to go. Because anything that stops you from writing is a bad writing technique.

2. I have no time to write.

Tip: Give up Facebook and Twitter for November. If you want to get really extreme, give up all non-job reading and entertainment for the month…no reading, no games, no going out, no socializing…but them’s desperate measures.

You have time to write. I’m sorry, you do. It’s not about time, it’s about fear.

I once had a talk with my daughter about math class, which she normally likes and finds easy. She had a math teacher who threw things at her faster than she’s comfortable with. I could have a talk with the teacher about slowing things down for her or helping her somehow. Maybe getting her a tutor (well, other than me). Instead my daughter and I discussed learning and what it feels like, and how easy it is to run away from feeling like that. I told her that part of a good teacher’s job is to unsettle you, to get you used to and over the terror of learning.

I told her it’s okay to take breaks from your homework, but she can’t run away.

You have time to write; it’s just easier to justify cooking healthy meals and spending some extra time with the kids and doing laundry and Dr. Who and even puttering around on Facebook than it is to face learning something new. If you have fifteen minutes, you can have a page of fiction.

Yes. You can. When you’re not screwing around like a kid trying to avoid homework. When you’re not paralyzed by fear.

Telling yourself you have no time to write stops you from writing–it’s a bad writing technique.

3. I write nothing but crap.

Tip: Check all the items on this list:

  • Did I drink enough water?
  • Have I eaten? Have I eaten something other than crap during one of my last two meals?
  • Have I had enough sleep?
  • Have I had enough exercise?
  • Have I journaled/stress relieved lately?

Some people are surprised to find out that mental effort is physically draining, and learning something new is even worse. NaNo is a writing marathon, and it will burn energy and other resources faster than you’re used to. When you feel drained and horrible about your writing, first check that your body (or subconscious) isn’t trying to send you a message: I need fueland/or repairs.

The other part of this issue is the nature of crap.

The bad news is that we all write crap. The good news is that when you know you’re writing crap, it means you’re ahead of the game–seriously. In order to learn something new, you have to be uncomfortable with where you are now. Viscerally. Painfully.

The idea that you have to feel like you’re writing well in order to be a good writer sounds logical but it will keep you from writing and improving. It’s a bad writing technique!

4. I wrote for a while, but now I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do.

Tip: Write the next thing. Or maybe back up a paragraph or two, delete that, and then write the next thing.

A few years ago I took up knitting as a bucket-list kind of thing. I’d failed miserably at it as a kid – my mom’s right-handed to my leftiness, and she’s no good at explaining things from the other direction. I thought I was doomed. However, then I realized I have the Internet. I must have gone through fifty knitting videos on learning how to get started knitting before I found The One That Made Sense. At one point, I could have watched knitting videos all day. Instead of actually, you know, knitting.

You can, and should, and will do research to find out what works for you. But it has to be based on your personal trial and error, not on other people’s advice. No class, no mentor, no co-author can replace Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keyboard. The only way to get comfortable with writing is to write.

But what if you’re stuck? Seriously stuck? And you can’t write another word?

You can. You must.

During any long writing project, you will more than likely get stuck at some point, especially as you realize you have no idea what you’re doing, what you’ve been doing, or what you’re going to do next. I’ve talked to writers at various levels of experience. As far as I can tell, this feeling never goes away.

So you look up and realize you’ve painted yourself into a corner. Oh, no – there’s no way to get the characters out of this situation! Clearly, it’s time to completely rewrite the entire book. Or just quit writing. FOREVER.

Except there always is a way out of every fictional situation, no matter how bad, because the characters get to destroy the walls and tramp all over the paint. Nuclear bombs? Alien invasion? Falling in love with someone else entirely? That’s what edits are for: rewriting the opening so the ending fits.

When you get stuck, write the next sentence. It might be weird, ungrammatical, awkward, annoying, offensive, etc., etc. Just plain wrong.

It is also yours in a way that the best-planned, structurally pretty sentences will never be. When you have pushed past everything you can think and plan, then you enter into a territory of naked honesty, which is often ugly and just plain wrong.

This is where the art of writing lies. The rest is craft. You need to know craft. I love craft. But this is where the art is, where you go, “I have nothing. I know nothing. I am writing out on a limb, on a one-sided bridge off a cliff with no opposite bank. I am skydiving without a parachute. I am a fake. I am full of crap and so is this.”

But that’s where the good stuff is.

This idea that you’re stuck because you’re at a dead end – it’s a lie, it’s fear talking. It stops you from writing – so it’s gotta’ go. You’re stuck because you’re at the edge of the cliff. The next sentence you write must be magic. Not because it was good (although it will be, if you let yourself recognize it), but because you were able to write it at all.

5. Now what?

Tip: Continue to be a pain in the butt and do what’s right for you as a writer.

At some point, you’ll decide that you’ve finished your NaNo novel, or that you’re not going to.

In either case, you’re going to hear some negative things about NaNo authors, or people who don’t finish, or people who do, or new writers in general, or whatever. The people who depend on you will be relieved that it’s over. You will be relieved that it’s over.

You’ll be left dangling. Now what?

People will give you advice. A lot of it will sound really logical.

However, if it makes you want to stop writing, it’s a bad writing technique. No matter how logical it is, no matter how long people have been doing it. It’s bad. If you just want to work on something new and not finish your NaNo project – do that. (If you never want to do NaNo again – then don’t!) If you want to keep writing every day despite the fact that people tell or imply that you suck – then write. If the idea of submitting makes you want to never write again – then don’t submit (yet). If the idea of having to perfect your work before you can submit it makes you want to roll up in a ball – then submit before it’s perfect. If getting too many rejections kills you – then take it slow, or wait until you’ve written five other things and you don’t care whether that old thing gets rejected or not.

Work around the problems until they aren’t problems anymore. Learn one thing at a time, not all at once. Be kind to yourself. Keep writing.

Everything else is a bad writing technique.


DeAnna Knippling

DeAnna Knippling has two minor superpowers: speed-reading and babble. She types at over 10,000 words per minute and can make things up even faster than that. Her first job was hunting snipe for her father at twenty-five cents per head, with which she paid her way through college; her latest job involves a non-disclosure agreement, a dozen hitmen, a ballerina, a snowblower, three very small robots, and a disposable dictator in South America.  Her cover job is that of freelance writer, editor, and designer living in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, cat, more than one cupboard full of various condiments, and many shelves full of the very best books. She has her own indie small press, www.WonderlandPress.com, and her website is www.DeAnnaKnippling.com.

Marketing During NaNoWriMo – Are you Crazy?

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and I’m going to talk to you about marketing while you’re writing. I know what you’re thinking: Are you nuts?

Writing 1667 words a day every day for 30 days is daunting enough, and now I’m asking you to think about marketing while you’re doing it. Why yes, I am.

Wait! Hang in there!

What’s awesome about NaNoWriMo is the flood of ideas that rush in your head while you’re furiously writing your book. A lot of those ideas won’t make it in the book, so I want you to write them down.

Why?

Because writing down any ideas you have while you’re in the midst of this windstorm of fiction will give you exactly what you need to focus your marketing later.

Huh?

Marketing is simply finding a way to reach readers. That’s it. In order to do that, you need content. Anything you have in a story can be used for your author brand. Drink the Koolaid because no matter if you traditionally publish or go indie, you’ll be doing the bulk of your marketing.

Writer’s Digest hosted a panel at their annual conference in August with publicists from Hachette and Penguin Random House, and right up front, the moderator said, “All authors should have a fundamental understanding of marketing.” 

I’m not going to get into an explanation of the fundamentals of marketing right now. I’ll have a post on that after the maelstrom of NaNo is over. In the meantime, I just want you to be prepared and ready to go.

So, after you’re done writing for the day, take three minutes and make a quick note. What burst in your brain today about these characters and the story? Think about it like a book bible. Simply write down the pieces.

Use the list below to help you.

  • Character names
  • Character jobs or careers
  • Character hobbies or interests
  • Settings
  • Locations
  • Histories of the town or the people
  • Minor characters your MC came in contact with..their jobs and hobbies
  • Restaurants that appeared in the story
  • Businesses that appeared in the story

Not only will this list help you organize your thoughts about the story, it gives you tons of fodder to develop a marketing plan in December. I’ll walk you through it. Until then, simply take notes.


Jennifer Lovett

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her
 WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

You Finished NaNoWriMo—Now What?

NaNoWriMo has ended, and every writer that participated has come out of hibernation with a 50,000 word novel. Congratulations! You did it! Now what? It’s time to reconnect with the outside world again, see family and friends – and make sure that little Sally hasn’t been eating the cat’s food all month. Celebrate your success with a night out for dinner or a movie. I’m sure you can still see most of the blockbusters that were released in November while you were writing.

Now What?Post NaNoWriMo. Now What?

But, what do you really do now? First of all—relax! That was a lot of writing for a month, but now you have a whole new novel. That is quite the accomplishment! The novel may even make sense, but right now, put it away for a while. After writing all those words, you’re probably sick of seeing the story. It’s okay to have feelings of resentment toward this thing you created, and may even think it sucks and want to chuck it out the window. Before you do something that drastic, let it sit while you breathe. You’ve got the holidays coming up this month, so take the time to visit with the friends and family you neglected while in your writing cave.

Make Preliminary Notes

After letting it sit for a bit, take a look at it again. Read it over with fresh eyes. Wow, did I really write that same sentence on two different pages? Make some preliminary notes on what you want to change, but don’t do your full-on edit just yet. Get a feel for what you wrote, as you may not have had time to do that as you wrote your novel. NaNo gets you writing, but it’s intense writing. Now you have the time to check it out.

Edit

Once your preliminary read-through is done, take your time to look it over with a fine-tooth comb. Refer to your notes and read each section carefully. Does it need a little more description here, or less dialogue there? How’s the grammar? This is where you want to make those changes, add some “flavor” to what you wrote. During NaNo, you’re so focused on “getting the story out” that sometimes these bits can be glossed over and missed altogether. Take the time now to add these things in. Hopefully you still have some of your coffee or tea to get you through this process.

When I do NaNo, I know that my writing suffers a bit because I’m focused on word count. A month later, I’m ready to tackle what I’ve written, see what can be salvaged, and start the editing process. I’m super proud of all of you who took part in NaNoWriMo this year, and maybe someday soon I’ll see your brand new book for sale on Amazon!


photo of margin holmesMargena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Letter from the Editor – November 2018

Dear PPW Readers,

Welcome to November and the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Are you participating? Last month Writing from the Peak covered many ways to prepare yourself for NaNo, and today is your day to fly. I wish all of you luck and perseverance as you dive head first into what might be one of the most grueling writing months of the year. Some will cross the finish line in twenty days, while others will crash and burn in two. No matter when you cross the line, just remember, success is not finishing first, but starting in the first place.Success is not finishing first, but that you started in the first place.

Writing from the Peak, will spend November helping you keep writing. Deb Buckingham will help you find ways to Generate Ideas. DeAnna Knippling will set the pace for you with Pacing Primer. Lit-Quotes by Gabrielle Brown, are always inspirational and a visit with the Grammar Police by Robin LaBorde will keep your writing free of comma comas. In addition to PPW’s blog, Pikes Peak Writers will also be hosting monthly events that will certainly add to your writing arsenal.

Open Critique
This FREE program provides a critique experience for a small number of PPW members who seek feedback on manuscript pages and who want to learn how to have positive critique group experiences.

Write Brains
Write Brain Sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. Watch for them in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. Pikes Peak Writers began offering monthly Write Brain workshops in 2004.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober
Come and enjoy some wonderful, guided improv writing prompts and a discussion about what those prompts produce.

Writers’ Night
Writers’ Night is two full hours of discussion, laughter, and fun with other local members of Pikes Peak Writers.

I wish everyone writing success in NaNoWriMo as well as anything you are doing this month. May you find the courage to sit at your writing table each day to conquer whatever writing beast you are facing.


KJ Scrim, Profile ImageManaging Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym.