Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: November 2014

Have a Happy Yam Sham!


It has been a busy, busy couple of weeks. And not even thanks to NaNoWriMo, which I pretty much gave up all hope of winning midway through last week. There have been a lot of errands to run, and freelance gigs to get done, and stuff needing done around the house. Hopefully, next week we’ll get back to sanity and a normal blogging schedule.

In the meantime, I wanted to pop in and say, Happy Thanksgiving! I have much to be thankful for this year. Well, I do every year, truth be told; but compared to where we were at this point in time last year, this year has been much more gracious to us. This year we’ve witnessed God’s provision in several areas, not the least of which has been health and finances. It hasn’t been a year without challenges, but it’s also included a lot of awesome, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Here’s wishing a lovely “ritual sacrifice with pie” day to you and yours.

Fire bad. Tree pretty.

zNaNoWriMo Participant 2014This week did not go as planned. Matt and I ran all over town  running errands and stocking up on winter supplies. Wednesday was supposed to involve a quick morning run to Sprouts to stock up on produce and bulk dry goods, after which I was going to catch up on writing and freelance work. But just before we left, the insurance adjuster FINALLY returned our call (did I mention here that we were involved in an accident last week?).

We spent probably 45 minutes on the phone with him, asking and answering questions about our claim, and then he approved us for a rental car, so we had to go pick that up, which ate up another hour or so. By the time we finally made it to Sprouts it was noon already. Tuesday and Thursday were even more hectic. The upshot of which is, I haven’t added a single word to my NaNoWriMo word count since Monday.

This introverted homebody is completely worn out. But at least we’re ready if the winter weather that’s expected to hit this weekend turns into a big deal. Today was all about getting caught up on my freelancing so I don’t have to work through the weekend, so it hasn’t exactly been restful. My new plan is to spend Saturday vegging out and recharging my brain, and then Sunday, while Matt is distracted with football, I will make a valiant effort to catch up on my word count before deciding whether to throw in the towel on trying to win ‘WriMo this year. Unless ice knocks out our power, in which case my chances are pretty much screwed. But at least we’ll be well fed and we won’t freeze to death.

Here’s hoping next week is much calmer.

Bits & bobs, and a NaNoWriMo update

zNaNoWriMo Participant 2014We’re into week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m currently at 14,191 words (that’s words written in November. The total manuscript word count currently stands at 20,714 — about a third of the way through the first draft. I think). I should be at 16,670 by the end of the day, which probably won’t happen. But if I can put in another 2K before I call it a day, I’ll be close enough for comfort. Which means I’d better keep this post short so I can get to writing.

As for what’s happening within the novel, the plot hung a sharp left the other day and now I have to solve a decades-old murder in addition to getting my two protagonists to make with the smoochies.

What else am I up to? Yesterday, I finally put away the Halloween decorations, but left up the fall decorations and added a crocheted horn of plenty that I still need to take a picture of. Today I changed out the dirt in Matilda the Box Turtle’s tank and took her out to get some sun on what may well be the last warm day of the year. And of course there’s the freelancing. Fiverr’s keeping me busy with editing and book formatting gigs, and I just wrote this post on romance novel and wine pairings for Libib.

The forecast is showing wintry weather this weekend. As unpredictable as that crud tends to be in these parts, the rest of this week is going to mostly be dedicated to prepping, to make sure we won’t starve or freeze if we get stuck here and the power goes out. Of course, the more prepared we are, the less of a big deal winter storms tend to be, so if the sky simply sneezes out a few flurries over Tulsa this weekend, you’ll have us to thank. 😉

Right, then. Time to write. How’s your NaNo novel coming? Or any big projects you’re tackling this month, as the case may be?

How to Keep Your Momentum and Avoid Burnout During NaNoWriMo

zNaNoWriMo Participant 2014It’s National Novel Writing Month! Which means that millions of people worldwide, myself among them, are scurrying to draft an entire novel (or at least the first 50,000 words of one) within the month of November. If that sounds like a daunting task, that’s because it is, even for seasoned novelists and ‘WriMos like myself.

This post is dedicated to all of those brave souls who are daring to venture forth on this kooky month-long adventure. Here, just for you, is my advice on how to stay the course, keep the momentum going, and avoid fizzling out by the end of week 2.

Have fun.

Yes, writing a novel is serious business, especially if you want to end the month with something that at least has the hope of one day becoming publishable. But it helps not to take it too seriously. NaNoWriMo is the one time when writers all over the world are In This Together, cheering one another on. Take time to enjoy the camaraderie. If you can’t attend local write-ins and events in person, find a group on the official forums, or join in on one of the many Twitter hashtags dedicated to the event. Don’t be afraid to incorporate the occasional prompt or dare, even if your story is tightly plotted (you can always toss that scene out later, but sometimes those dares result in pure gold). However you find your fun this month, just know that taking this too seriously is a surefire way to lead to burnout and not finishing that novel.

Pace yourself.

If it’s easy for you to write 1,667 words (the daily quota you need to meet to get in 50K by the end of the month) in a single sitting, then by all means, go for it. For the rest of us, it’s easier to fit in sprints–short, quick bursts of writing–throughout the day. I especially recommend this method for people who think they MUST HAVE at least a solid hour or two of uninterrupted writing time to “get their head in the zone” before they can even start writing. NaNoWriMo–and especially NaNo sprints–are an excellent boot camp for getting you over that notion and training you to stop waiting around on your muse and fit writing into the small cracks of your day, which is an absolutely necessary skill if you ever want to earn a living writing.

Strike while the iron’s hot.

Related to the above tip, you’ll want to use all that enthusiasm during the first week or two to build up a buffer in your word count so that you can afford to take a break when you need to. Do you really want to have to worry about making your daily word count on Thanksgiving when you’re stuffed full of carbs and tryptophan and your family’s wanting to pile in the car and go see the latest Hunger Games movie? If you build up enough of a buffer, you won’t have to. Alternatively, you can just schedule your days off and re-calculate your daily quota accordingly.

Don’t read over what you’ve written…

…until you go to bed. Resist the urge to read your prior output when you sit down to write. Instead, print it off (so you can’t edit it) and read it right before you go to sleep. More likely than not, your subconscious will work on what comes next while you sleep, and when you sit down to write the next morning, you’ll know just where to start.

But if not, don’t be afraid to write crap.

If you get stuck, engage in free writing for several sentences–or several paragraphs–to loosen up the gears (you can absolutely count those parts toward your final word count, although you might want to highlight them or put them in brackets so you can remember to delete them later). And once you figure out where you’re going, just focus on getting the story down. Don’t worry about choosing the perfect words to tell it. You can worry about being artful on the second draft. For now, just get the ideas down.

Keep going.

If you find that you need to look something up, fact-check something, see how a word is spelled, etc., make a note in brackets and MOVE ON. Save research for the revision phase. Similarly, if there’s a type of scene that’s daunting or tends to slow you down and take a lot of effort, insert a place-holder note and skip to the next easy part.

Here’s an example. I used to write a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. As such, I had to write a lot of fight scenes, which I always found difficult. So my early drafts were often littered with this note: “[And there was fighty-fighting!]”

Do just a little more.

When you end a sprint, or reach your goal for the day, challenge yourself to keep going and do just a little more, even if it’s just one more sentence.

Channel Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway famously ended his writing sessions in the middle of a scene at a point where he knew exactly what came next. That way the next time he sat down to write he could pick right up where he left off instead of spending time trying to figure out what came next. I’ve employed this method for years, and it works like a charm.

Ignore the haters.

It’s bad enough that you’re likely to run into skepticism, if not straight-up opposition, within your own circle of family, friends and co-workers. Even worse, every year–and I mean Every. Year.–some elitist gasbag adds fuel to their fire by writing some condescending link-bait article about how NaNoWriMo is the end of civilization as we know it and how nothing good ever comes from it (I beg to differ). Ignore them. They’re wrong. Period.

Remember you’re already a winner.

50,000 words is kind of an arbitrary number. Sure, it gets you the coveted winner’s badge and “purple bar” and entitles you to some extra swag, but really, if you put aside your fears to tackle that novel this month, and if you make any progress at all, you can consider yourself a winner in my book.

Now carry on, fellow WriMos. You’ve got this.

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