Tag Archive: writer life



nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participantAnd another November 1st comes around.

And once again, I am participating in NaNoWriMo.

As usual, I’m pulling double duty, editing one project, while trying to get word count on another. The first project is the same YA novel that I was working on last year, just two drafts later (yeah, progress!). The second project, a fanfic, will be my word count project, since I’d like to focus my world-building faculties on fleshing out the story I’m working out now, instead of trying to build a completely new history. Of course, I do still want to make word count, but I won’t feel any guilt if I have to abandon this one halfway through the month.

That said, while I will still be doing weekly updates, they will not be as extensive as they have been in previous years. Instead, I’ve decided to try my hand at video updates this year. We’ll see how that goes. I’m not abandoning the blog, but it takes me considerably less time to film a video than to write a blog post (though I’m still just as long-winded).

So, good luck to everyone with your NaNo endeavors this year. I’d love to connect either in the comments or on one of my social media sites. I’ll put links below.

My first NaNo 2016 video can be found here.

Twitter: @thegladelf

Instagram: @thegladelf

tumblr: thegladelfwrites

Question of the week:

Are you participating in NaNo this year? And are you a first-timer or a veteran?


22144212210_be0977d417Tomorrow is November 1st. Tomorrow, National Novel Writing Month begins.

Last week, I gave the non-writers a quick rundown about NaNoWriMo. This week, it’s the writers turn.

If you haven’t committed to NaNoWriMo yet, it’s not too late. We’re barely at the beginning. Yes, fifty thousand words sounds like a lot, but you can do it. This year, thousands of people will reach that goal, just like last year and the year before that. You could be one of them. I can’t guarantee that you’ll reach fifty thousand words this year, but I do know is that if you don’t try, you haven’t got a chance.

This won’t be my first NaNo rodeo (a look at my blog history tells you that much). I go into NaNo in 2012. I didn’t “win”, but I did manage to get very close. My second go around was last year and I managed to pop out the necessary fifty thousand words. This year, I’ll be participating in NaNo again, on top of re-establishing this blog and working through draft four of my other work-in-progress. If that seems ambitious, that’s because it is. But I’m not going into it unprepared and neither should you. Here are seven tips for a NaNoWriMo win in 2015:

  1. Have a plan– Listen to the pansters squirm. Don’t worry, this isn’t a sermon on the virtues of outlining. I’m talking about setting writing goals. You might be planning on a traditional NaNo, but maybe you’re a parent or you have rehearsal for a Christmas production or you work a job that works you extra hard over the holidays. That’s fine. Feel free to tailor your goals to your life (but also, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a little). Make sure to write those goals down! Whether writing fifty thousand words is your goal or you’re aiming to work through Draft #X of your WIP, write it down. I can’t reference any studies to prove how important this is (though I’m sure they are out there), I just know that writing down specific goals is much more effective than keep an amorphous list in my head.
  2. Break it down– Fifty thousand words looks like a lot because it is a lot, like trying to leap a tall building in a single bound. Outside of Superman, I don’t know anyone capable of jumping over skyscrapers. So take the building one floor at a time. Focus on how much you need to write today. If you’ve read anything about NaNo (or read last week’s post), you know that the “magical” daily number is 1,667. Still a little daunting, but more manageable than 50,000. If you don’t have enough writing time every day to meet that goal, don’t worry. Work with the time you do have. Plan a day or two where you can slam out several thousand words in one sitting. After all, ten five thousand word days gets you to fifty thousand.
  3. Get away– This is a tip I use year round, but it’s crucial during NaNoWriMo. You don’t have to go far. It means spending a couple of hours at the library/Starbucks/Panera/etc. Or maybe heading to your brother’s room to use the desk you two share. The key is removing yourself from the familiar things that distract you: your bed, your laundry, your Netflix subscription…you know all things that sound like a better idea than writing right now. I’ve found that I get far more done when I’m somewhere other than my own room (the closest I have to an office is said brother’s room and sometimes he likes his privacy).
  4. Simplify– Life is crazy. You might be juggling school, job, family, health issues, social life, and more on a regular basis. NaNoWriMo is your excuse to put more focus on your writing. Work deals with your spouse/parents/friends to get a couple of kid free hours during the week. Eat at your desk so you can spend your lunch break writing. Get up a little earlier or stay up a half hour later. Tell your friends you love them and you’ll see them when November ends. Cut out your favorite TV show (there’s plenty of time to get caught up in time to the mid-season break). Be creative as you find ways to trim your schedule and free up the time you’ll need to complete NaNo.
  5. Keep a schedule– The word schedule just gave some of you shivers, but I’m telling you it helps. Even if it’s just for the month of November, get a little planner and use it to keep track of your time. Finding time to write is much easier when you have all the other things you need to do recorded in one place. My most productive writing days are usually the ones I sit down and plan.
  6. Get plugged in– Go to NaNoWriMo’s official page and register and then look to see what’s going on in your region. It’s nice to have other people around you working toward the same goal—especially since they’ll fuss if you get distracted for too long. Find write-ins or other events thrown by your municipal liaison and get to know your fellow WriMos.
  7. Commit to finishing– Even if you can’t do the whole fifty thousand within November—even if you can—commit to finishing the story. Don’t let “losing” or reaching the end of November stop you. Fifty thousand words is a very short novel (Unless you’re writing for middle grade), you may find your story needs another ten or twenty thousand words. Finishing the blasted thing is the important part. Once you’ve finished one novel, finishing the next is that much easier, because you know you can do it. The whole point of NaNo is completion, taking you one step closer to something publishable. This novel may not be it. That’s okay. The next one might be.

And there you have it. That’s the short list of how I’m surviving NaNo 2015. Granted, I don’t have kids, I’m single, and my work hours leave plenty of time for writing, but even though you are probably ten times busier than I will be this month I encourage you to apply some of these tips. Just a little extra effort and planning can make a drastic difference.

Question of the Week:

What challenges will you be facing during NaNoWriMo 2015?


Image: NaNoWriMo 2015 by Rachel K, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


9355090806_80b6faabc7_cIt’s almost that time of year again.

As of this post, Halloween is one week away and a scant twenty-four hours later November descends upon us.

And the madness begins.

“So it begins,” some of you murmur, nodding your heads. You refer to the frantic, cinnamon-infused, fifty-five day explosion known as the Holidays. However, I speak of the much briefer (though no less frantic) span of days known as NaNoWriMo. In English, that translates to National Novel Writing Month. Non-writers call it November.

You may be vaguely aware of NaNoWriMo. You’ve seen your writer friends post about it on Twitter, tumblr, and Facebook. You heard them crying about it last. But for those of you going, “Margaret, I have no idea what you’re talking about”, I will explain:

On November 1st  many ambitious writers commit to writing a 50,000 novel by November 30th. How long is a 50,000 word novel, you ask. Think The Great Gatsby. NaNoWriMo challenges a writer to slam down 1,667 words every day for a month. Do you remember college? And term papers? That’s about how long each day’s work needs to be, or you end up playing catch-up. Some writers find that easy, others don’t. Either way, it’s stressful and more than a few writers spend November ripping their hair out. That’s totally normal (and hyperbolic, if your writer starts ripping their hair out, please intervene).

Now that we’re all on the same page, here are some ways that you—the ever supportive non-writer—can help:

  1. Understand– Writing over a thousand words a day (or several thousand every few days if that’s how your writer works) takes a lot of time. If you know someone who is attempting NaNoWriMo, they will be writing at every opportunity. Writing cuts away from the time your writer has for food, sleep, work, friends, family, personal hygeine, and any other diversions that life offers. Be aware of that. Please understand when they’re more forgetful or messier or less emotionally stable than usual. Know that it’s only for 30 days. Appreciate every moment they give you for the sacrifice it is.
  2. Help them focus– It’s the little things that eat away at writing time. After all, the laundry still needs to be done and you don’t stop loving your kids just because you’re writing a novel. The writer’s brain is easily distracted by all the things we SHOULD be doing, the things that NEED doing. Right now. If you live with a writer, even the smallest gestures help. Like doing the dishes or the laundry or giving them an hour without the kids or making sure they don’t have to worry about dinner on Thursdays.
  3. Encourage them– Writing can often feel like a waste of time—especially for your writer. It feels awkward to call it a job when you’re not getting paid, but you can’t get published (and make money) if you have no book. Remind your writer that it’s not a waste. Cheer them on. Whether or not a NaNo novel gets published isn’t the point. The point is finished the dumb thing.
  4. Treat it seriously– If your writer commits to NaNoWriMo this November, please don’t trivialize that. Under any circumstances, writing to fifty thousand words is a huge undertaking…and a HUGE achievement. Setting out to write that many words in just thirty days straddles completely crazy and definitely daunting. Writers have it hard enough finding time to write, please don’t make it harder by scoffing or dismissing our writing as a hobby. Respect the time your brave writer sets aside for NaNo. Respect their efforts. And do what you can to help them stick to that goal.
  5. Bribe them– If you’re so inclined and in the position to reward your writer for reaching fifty thousand words, go for it. Give them that extra incentive to push towards the goal. You don’t need to be extravagant (although, if you anyone wants to reward me with a trip to see Aladdin on Broadway, I won’t say no). It could be simple: a movie night with their favorite movie, taking them to dinner or ice cream, or promising to buy that book they’ve been ogling on Amazon for weeks.

Writers participate in NaNoWriMo for many reasons. Some writers use it to jump into their newest (or their first) novel. Other writers participate for the comradery. Or a change of pace. Every writer will give you a different answer. Every writer is different, but I’ll stress again, effort is the important thing about NaNo. If that idea stays in your writer’s head, it never gets published. By encouraging your writer (this holds true all year long), you are helping them get one step closer to a finished first draft and a finished first draft is one step closer to a published novel (though it might not be that particular novel).

Question of the week:

How do you encourage your writer? (Writers: How do your family/friends encourage you?)

Disclaimer: This is in no way aimed at anyone in my immediate circle. You are all wonderfully supportive of my writing. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I’m blessed to have each and every one of you supporting me.


Image: diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson, CC BY-SA 2.0


Disclaimer: This is a writing advice post. I know every writer is different. What works for me may not work for you. Reading writing advice is like buying a pair. The first pair you try might be perfect or you may have to try several before you find the right shoes; until you try on a few pairs, you won’t know. I use the same attitude for writing advice. If it looks like it’s my size, I’ll give it a try. If I like the advice, I use it. If I don’t like the advice, I put it back on the shelf so to speak. If my advice doesn’t resonate or work for you, feel free to put it back on the shelf.

21088225960_7337178c45_b

What working on TQG feels like right now.

And now…

It’s confession time.

I’ve reached a point where my work-in-progress (a.k.a. TQG) feels like a chore more often than not. On a fundamental level, I still want to “finish” this story. I want to get to a point where I can either say, “Hey, maybe I should see if this is something” and start querying agents or say, “I’m proud of all the things I’ve learned, but this isn’t it” and walk away. But whenever I sit down to work on TGQ? I find myself not in the mood. Here we are at the beginning of October, and I haven’t finished a chapter since August. It was Chapter One.

I know the problem: Story edits kick my butt. Want a first draft? Great, give me a few months. You want line edits? I got that. Story edits, though? They trigger my primal urge to over analyze everything, because WHAT IF I GET EVERYTHING SOMETHING WRONG!?

Writing is fun.

Editing is work.

Editing takes more motivation than cleaning my room does. (Two rooms over, my father rolls his eyes.)

So I stall. I hem. I haw. I whine—often quite loudly on social media—about how writing is hard. I get on tumblr and scroll through my dashboard until I’ve seen every post fifteen times.

Meanwhile, my novel collects (figurative) dust on my hard drive.

What have I learned? I am not a “wait for your muse” kind of girl. (Technically, I’ve known this, the past few months have made a fresh impression on me.)

I’m more the “force your muse to catch up” person. Because most of the time, my muse does not feel like writing. She’d rather read a book. Or get on YouTube. Or find something else on Netflix to obsess over. (Really, it’s mostly YouTube.)

I have to try.

I have to pull out my notes, sit down at my computer, and open that Word doc. I have to look at my week and say, “Here’s where I can spend this much time writing and here’s where I can spend that much time writing”. And I have to tell myself to try.

I am loathe to contradict the words of a revered Jedi master, but—all due respect to Yoda—when it comes to me and writing, the word “try” must exist. If I don’t try, I don’t write. But if I do try? Well, I either…

  1. Struggle for a specified amount of time (usually 30-45 minutes), write a sentence or two, and decide that a writing day, today is not.

OR

  1. Struggle for a bit, write a few sentences, make a weird face, rewrite those sentences, nod, write more, nod more, rewrite more and come to the end of my writing time with a page or two done and a pleased look on my face. (Sometimes quickly replaced by a confused look as I realize that it’s past midnight. Whoops!)

Note: This method is most effective when you ignore your muse’s initial temper tantrum and attempt a few sentences.

There are writers that mostly write when they feel like it. And as they’ve published more than a few books, I cannot deny this method works for some people. If it works for you, embrace that.

I am not one of those people.

For me, writing is similar to exercising. I almost never feel like working out, but I read once that even if you don’t want to work out you should do part of your routine. If you’re still struggling after a few minutes, then maybe today isn’t a good day. However, completing part of your workout gives you momentum, increasing the chance you’ll finish. While I will always prefer reading to jogging, 99% of the time I finish feeling accomplished and pleased that I put the effort in.

Don’t feel like this has to be you (because it doesn’t), but if the shoe looks like it will fit why not, well…try?

And with that, it’s time to sign off and go try some more.

Question for the day:

Do you wait for motivation or do you make motivation catch up to you?


 Image: Don’t try this at home by Massmo Relsig, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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