How To Write: You Do You!

How To Write: You Do You!

The Many Writing Proverbs

There’s a caveat that goes with pretty much all writing advice about what you SHOULD do, and it goes like this: “unless that doesn’t work for you.”

It seems to go hand-in-hand with the advice about what you SHOULDN’T do’s caveat, which is “if you do it well enough, you can break all the rules.”

‘Cause, remember, all the people giving this advice swear by the adage, “if you know how to write a book, you know how to write that one book.”

I can spout off writing proverbs and rules all day:

  • Write every day – unless that doesn’t work for you.
  • Avoid adverbs, use stronger verbs instead – unless you can make it work
  • Passive voice must be avoided at ALL COSTS- unless you can make it work

So, I’ve been spouting all this advice. How about I tell you how I’m actually doing?

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My Nano Status

So far, this NaNoWriMo, I’m keeping up with my words. Getting over the daily target, sometimes by the skin of my teeth, never really getting ahead. The steady, forward progress works for me. I’ve got that 1-2 hours a day to devote (or carve out) for it, and I make it work.

What If You Can’t Find The Time?

“Write Every Day” – writing proverb

Many of you can’t find that sort of time reguclocklarly. Instead, you carve out larger chunks once or twice a week and slug your way through thousands of words in a go.

I’ve written over 3,000 words in a day maybe 3 times ever? That’s not how I work. But if you can make it work–more power to you!

Some of you can only find 10-15 minute blocks, on your lunch break, on your commute, whenever you can squeeze in some words. I’ve done that here and there, but I know how hard it is to keep it coherent and track your line of thinking. I’m impressed by you!

What If You Can’t Write Enough Words?

“Write until you hit your word count target” – writing ‘proverb’

(Okay, that one might just be an adage of NaNoWriMo, not actually a writing proverb.)

Many of you can’t write fast enough or find the right words, and the monthly word target is slowly slipping further and further from your stalled out word count. Research is distracting you. Or the next plot point is eluding you.

Don’t be discouraged! Is your word count higher than it was last week? Then you’re still moving forward!

Some people revise the target and make it work in their lives, not outside of it. And that’s okay.

Maybe 30 in 30 is right for you

Some people are aiming for 30,000 words in 30 days, not the full 50k. And that’s still pretty durn impressive.

Is 5 in 5 a thing?

Maybe it should be.

Is 5,000 words in 5 weeks something you could be proud of?

It’s still 5,000 more words than you started the month with. (Plus, it’s a nice round number with a cutesy rhyme, how can you go wrong with that?!)

Should You Participate In Writing Sprints?

Writing sprints are kinda a new thing for me. I’d ‘participated’ in them once or twice before. Some rando on twitter would say ‘go’, and then ‘stop’. Or I’d time myself, but there was no accountability.

This time, I checked out the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints and set up a couple with friends. Usually, starting them at the nearest quarter-hour without much prep time.

I’ve done about 7 now and I’m REALLY liking them. Tonight, I got my words in before this post with 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, with a little bit of clean-up and internet browsing in my downtime.

I create the sprint, share it, and then go. I’ve got a set stop time– that seems just a little too long, a touch of competitiveness — both with any other sprinters who clicked my link to join the sprint and with my past records of how many words I got in that time frame before, and usually, in the 3-5 minutes after creating the sprint, before it starts, I think ahead about half-a-scene’s worth, to decide exactly where the scene is going.

When my computer cheers for me to start, I’m ready.

I’ve decided 15 minutes is the sweet spot. Any longer and I’d be taking breaks, I know. I’m already starting to flounder and contemplate where to go next. At 10 minutes though, I’m still in the middle of my initial thought.

But for some, sprints are stressful. Or discouraging when you see other people’s word counts. Maybe when you’re online doesn’t synch up with your friends? No matter your reason, it’s perfectly fine to write without sprints.

(Note: Friend me here and I’ll post my sprints on my fb page here so you can join me!)

What About Write-ins?

Some people love them. The focus on writing, everyone there working on the adult version of toddler parallel-play. Being surrounded by people who understand the writing bug and are focused on their writing can be very invigorating for some people’s writing.

Some Write-ins are chatty and social and next-to-no-words get written.

Some write-ins are silent, and you hear everyone typing away while you’re sitting there wordless, feeling like a loser.

Some people enjoy the time out of the house, the change of scenery, and make it work for them.

Personally? I like the slightly chatty, but mostly focused ones, where I can get cookies to snack on.

Hating write-ins doesn’t make you a bad NaNite. Loving them doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an extrovert.* (P.S. Extroverts can be writers, too! Ask me how I know.)

musical-notes-music-notes-symbols-clip-art-free-clipart-images-2Writing Soundtracks!

Some people love soundtracks. They almost spend more prep time making their playlist than writing any sort of outline.

Some people enjoy playlists. I like to hit Pandora, find a seed-song that sets the mood for me, and roll from there.

Some people can’t write to certain kinds of music. Maybe they find music with words they can sing with too distracting. Maybe musicals? Maybe classical? Find what you can and can’t work with.

Some people like rocking out. Some people prefer to jam privately, with headphones.

And some? Some can’t do BLEEP with background noise. They need silence to focus. And that’s okay! [I totally get this! I can’t edit to music, I need the silence to think.]


In Conclusion

There are as many ways to write as there are writers. You do you.


P.S. Check out my NaNoWriMo Posts from the Past!

Maintaining Your Writing Momentum
Tips For Finding The Time and The Words
So You Want To Be A Writer
Twas The Week Before NaNo
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
An Outline To Write By (for Plantsers and Plotters)
How to win NaNoWriMo
3 Things That Helped Me Win NaNoWriMo early
Craft Vs Professionalism

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NaNoWriMo: Maintaining Your Writing Momentum

Maintaining Your Writing Momentum

Well Begun Is Half Done

We’re just over a week into NaNoWriMo at this point and whatever excitement and glory and energy you brought into this project are likely starting to burn out. This is turning into, maybe not quite a chore, but your words are starting to feel like a promise that must be kept, an obligation.

With 3 weeks left, even those who’ve gotten off course know that there’s still hope to get their words in, but now is the time to buckle down.

If you started off with a sprint and you’re ahead of the game? Don’t get too cocky! Remember the tortoise and the hare. See if you can keep your lead (or grow it), leaving wiggle-room for any impediments life decides to throw your way.

If you’ve been making your daily or weekly word count goal, sometimes that can be the inspiration and momentum you need to keep going. Once I have a streak of check-marks, I have added motivation to not miss a day.

This is the point where writers who only write when inspired often drop out. Inspiration can get you in the game, but for most of us, it’s not going to get us over the finish line.

The only way to get those words out is butt-in-chair. Without sitting down to write, you’re not gonna make it.

Best of luck!

Vlog: Maintaining Your Writing Momentum

Maintaining Your Writing Momentum

Well Begun Is Half Done

We’re just over a week into NaNoWriMo at this point and whatever excitement and glory and energy you brought into this project are likely starting to burn out.

Vlog: Tips For Finding the Time and Words To Write

Getting The Words Out

Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or just trying to get your story out, it can be a struggle.

Tips For Finding the Time and Words To Write

Tips For Finding the Time and Words To Write:

 

Getting The Words Out

Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or just trying to get your story out, it can be a struggle.

When To Write!

We’re all busy. Overworked, overscheduled, over-committed. If you want your story to ever finish though, you need to stop leaving it for that mythical free time.

Personally, I find it takes me about 30 minutes to get started, but if you prioritize it, 30 minutes a day can be enough to keep you moving forward.

Honestly, the tricky thing about writing to a target word count is that time restraints can HELP. If I have 6 hours to write 2,000 words, it will take 6 hours. If I have 90 minutes, somehow I can manage to get it done. And even if I don’t? I’m a lot closer than I was!

One way to make writing a priority is to set aside a specific time that works for you.

  • Your commute – do you use public transit? Have a carpool buddy?
  • Early morning – twitter has a #5amwritersclub for those who squeeze their writing in before work and/or kids get up
  • Late night – many of us aren’t early birds though. Maybe your best writing time is after everyone else is asleep. Fewer distractions and facebook updates to pay attention to
  • After dinner – you’re fed, your day job is likely over, if you have roommates or family, they’re probably settling in for the night – watching tv or going to bed. This can be your time
  • During your lunch break – whenever you can squeeze it in!

Ways to make time

  • Delivery food or microwave dinners
  • Crockpots
  • Make someone else cook
  • Skip cleaning. JK Rowling says the way she made time for her writing is she lived in ‘utter squalor’. She basically didn’t clean for 3 years.
  • Wear only pajamas – that way, you don’t have to worry about laundry!

Ways to Un-stick Your Writing

Okay, so you’ve made the time and now writing. But what if you get stuck while the clock is ticking on your narrow writing window! You don’t know what happens next! Now what?

  • add a meal — your characters have to eat like 3 times a day.
    • did they have to find/buy/hunt the food
    • did they have to cook the food…
  • start a fight
    • have tensions been brewing?
    • is there a character who doesn’t like the main character?
  • subplot time!
    • If you don’t know what to do in the main plot, maybe it’s time for a subplot. A secondary character’s adventure? A romance? A rivalry? It’s up to you!
  • write backstory vignettes for secondary characters.
    • Even if you’re not going to keep it in the manuscript, sometimes you need to know more about these characters, might as well get word count credit for it. Plus, now you have a short story you can sell separately
  • write world-building mythologies for your world
    • Creation myths, sun, moons, stars…
  • skip naming characters
    • Names mean a lot. And can color a character. Naming a single character can take me 3-5 hours! And we don’t have that sort of time during NaNo. That sort of thing can mess up your flow. So, instead, use placeholder names like: NPC1, Alice, Bob, Carol… Anything to keep from impeding your writing.

Things to Remember

Don’t forget about YOURSELF. Your story isn’t the only thing that matters! Don’t forget to eat, hydrate, and sleep. Maybe even plot in your head while taking a walk.

And, I wasn’t kidding, see if you can make someone else fix you dinner.

Vlog: So You Want To Be A Writer

So You Want To Be A Writer?

Now’s the time

The primary difference between aspiring authors and actual writers is the number of words on the page.

So You Want To Be A Writer?

So You Want To Be A Writer?

Now’s the time

The primary difference between aspiring authors and actual writers is the number of words on the page.

(Getting published on the other hand? Is a whole different can of worms.)

Have you always dreamed of being an author?

Did you come up with an awesome plot line or some amazing characters, but you’ll never know what happens to them because it’s just in your head?

Do you have a story that you just want to get out of you, so you can go back to your real life?

Have you ever dreamed of becoming the ‘great American author’*?

What are you waiting for? Now is the time.

Join thousands of other people worldwide, who’ve committed to getting those all-important words-on-paper. You can’t edit what you haven’t written.

This is NOVEMBER. And November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo (or Nano). The month in which people pledge to ignore their inner critic, their mental editor, and just write. The official goal is 50,000 words, or approximately 200 pages. If you read what I like to read, you know, 50,000 words isn’t a full novel, but it’s a LOT more of a novel than most of us have right now.

Where To Start?

If you’ve ever seen an artist draw, often they start with pencil sketches, then they start inking, then, they fill in with color, finally, they add the shading and little details.

Writing a novel can be JUST LIKE THAT. Your outline (or your rough draft if you’re a pantser**) is your pencil sketch. Your inking and maybe even a little color? That’s your rough draft. Filling the rest of the color is your revisions. The shading and details are the line-edit polish.

Not everyone goes into November planning the full 50,000 words. Some hope for 10,000 words. But that’s still more words than they started the month with! Some spend November revising, writing poetry or short stories — NaNo “Rebels” are just as welcome.

If you’ve never participated in, or never won NaNoWriMo before, 50,000 words sounds like A LOT. Luckily, they break it down for us: 1,667 words per day, less than 7 pages a day. That sounds a lot less scary than 200 pages!

And bonus? If you’re writing a novel? You get to make stuff up.

Join me on NaNoWriMo.org! [And feel free to friend me! My Profile ]

 

P.S. Check out my NaNoWriMo Posts from the Past!

Twas The Week Before NaNo
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
An Outline To Write By (for Plantsers and Plotters)
How to win NaNoWriMo
3 Things That Helped Me Win NaNoWriMo early
Craft Vs Professionalism


* Okay, this one isn’t really a genre *I* read, but best of luck to you anyway.

*There are 3 general approaches to writing: planners, pantsers (who write without a plan ‘by the seat of their pants’), and plantsers (who plan a little and wing the rest).