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NoNoWriMo Tips: Week Four

We’ve made it to the last week of NaNoWriMo! As we enter into the final days of NaNo, you will find yourself in one of two camps. You will either be right on schedule with your word count and be thrilled to finally see the light at the end of the 50,000-word tunnel, or you will be woefully behind and not see anyway you can reach 50,000 words by the end of the month.

(Okay, there are actually three camps. Some of you overachievers have already finished NaNo, but we aren’t going to talk about you because you make the rest of us look bad. 😛 )

If you are in the former camp, then congratulations! You are almost to the finish line. If you are in the latter camp, don’t despair just yet. The month isn’t over, and neither is your chance to write your story.

In today’s post, I’ll be giving tips to guide you though this last week (and those extra four days of the following week) for each camp.

First, advise to those of you who are on track.

 

Celebrate your success, but don’t slack off

It is easy to take a look at your success and think you deserve a day off. Well, you do, and there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a break day after all your hard work. Just make sure that one rest day doesn’t snowball into several, or before you know it, the whole week will get away from you.

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Because there aren’t many words left in comparison to when we started this goal, it is easy to think that it is smooth sailing from here. You may think, “I’ve written 40,000 words so far, what’s another 10,000?  I can do that in two or three days. I don’t need a week and a half.”

It is great that you are feeling confident, but don’t let that (well-deserved) confidence influence you to make poor decisions.

If you want to give yourself a day off, make sure you come right back to it the next day. You’ve kept your daily writing commitment so far, don’t get off track now.

 

Use that almost-to-the-finish-line momentum, but don’t burn out

You may have the opposite reaction to being so close to the NaNoWriMo finish line and be ready to charge full speed ahead. This is generally how I get as NaNo draws to a close. Being so close to finishing gives me a renewed sense of excitement and determination (similar to week one). I start thinking that I should double my writing sessions or make a new, higher daily word-count goal.

I either do this because I’m thinking how good it will feel to finish early, or because I want to be an overachiever and have more than 50,000 words by the end of November.

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This never works, however. I end up maintaining my extreme, self-imposed goal for a few days, but then feel weighted down and burned out towards the end of the week.

I’ve learned to keep my original writing goal, but allow writing sessions to go longer if they do so naturally.

If you are so excited about writing the ending of your novel that you sit for six hours straight and pump out 8,000 words, then go for it. But don’t feel like you have to up the ante to finish early or to finish more of your novel because you are writing a Sci-fi or fantasy and know it won’t be finished in 50,000 words. (Yes, that last one is me 😀 ). Steady writing sessions is what got you this far, and steady writing session will carry you to the finish line.

Now, for advice to those of you who are a bit behind.

 

Be realistic

I could tell you that you should never give up on winning NaNo, no matter how far behind you are, but that would be cruel. I don’t know how far behind you are on your word count, and it could actually be impossible to write enough words everyday to finish on time.

I’m not saying that you should give up, but definitely take a few moments to calculate how many words you have left and how many you would need to write daily to finish (actually, the NaNoWriMo website will do this for you).

Counting-fingers GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

If you need to write 10,000 words a day and you realistically only have an hour to write after work, well yes, it might be time to set NaNo aside (unless you have some writing ninja skills the rest of us mortals don’t have 😉 ).

If you know there is no way you can catch up at this point, skip down to You don’t have to write 50,000 words in a month to be a winner.

Other wise…

 

Don’t give up

If your words-per-day- goal is challenging but doable, than go for it! You may have to get creative in finding more time to write. You may have some long writing sessions and may have to give up doing some other things. But pushing yourself extra hard this week will be worth it, not just to win NaNo, but to finish your novel.

Think about it…you are going to have a finished NOVEL in just a little over a week! Isn’t that worth making some sacrifices for? (Okay, well it isn’t quite a finished novel…there’s still all the drafting and editing…but let’s not think about that just yet.)

Think about how amazing it will be to be able to say that you’ve written a novel. Anytime you began to feel overwhelmed when thinking about the sheer amount of words you have left, think about how good it will feel that you turned that story idea into a freaking, actual novel.

I Just Finished The Most Wonderful Story - Beauty And The Beast GIF - Beauty And The Beast Belle I Just Finished The Most Wonderful Story - Discover & Share GIFs

Remember not to stress about making every scene perfect. The goal of NaNo is to force you to put words on the page. Those words don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be there.

Keep this quote in mind.

 “When I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” –Shannon Hale

 

You don’t have to write 50,000 words in a month to be a winner

In the grand sceam of things, NaNo is just a month where we challenge ourselves to commit to writing everyday. It may feel life-consuming during November, but when December rolls around, life keeps moving just the way it always has.

Nothing terrible will happen if you don’t write 50,000 words by the end of the month. You won’t be forced to wear a badge that says “failed author” or made to delete your NaNo account. Your WIP will still be there after November.

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I know it is still disappointing to fall short of a goal, especially one we are so passionate about, but remind yourself that you tried your best. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise that put a halt to even the most carefully-laid plans.

Think about everything that happened this month. Maybe you got sick, or had an unexpected family or work emergency. Maybe you had to take on an extra project at work or had to work more hours. Maybe your classes at school or college were more challenging than expected and you couldn’t devote as much time to writing as you thought.

If something like this is the reason your are unable to complete NaNo, then don’t be hard on yourself. Celebrate the fact that you worked hard on your novel in spite of the fact that you had a lot of other things going on in your life.  You are courageous for committing to working towards your dream to write a novel.

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Maybe you are thinking over this month and see that there wasn’t anything that prevented you from sticking to your writing commitment.

Don’t feel bad about that either!

Maybe this was your first time trying NaNo and you found writing 1,677 words a day to be more challenging than you thought. You should be proud of yourself for trying something new!

Whatever the reason you are unable to complete NaNo, know that you didn’t fail because you didn’t reach 50,000 words. You won because you still wrote more words than you would have if you didn’t try. You won because you pushed yourself to grow as a writer.

Whether you are ahead or behind, finished already or unable to complete NaNo, we all have one thing in common. We took a chance in November to dream, to believe in ourselves as writers, and to believe in our stories.

No matter our word count, we are ending November as stronger writers with a better understanding of our stories.

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

YARN | And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book. Oh, tea. | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) | Video gifs by quotes | 77c93d7d | 紗

If you want to see if I finish NaNoWriMo or not, follow me on Instagram. I post updates in my stories. 🙂

 

 

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NoNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

 

Some people say that week two is the hardest, but I’ve always found the third week to be the most difficult to find motivation. Sure, in week two, some of the shininess and newness of NaNo and my WIP wears off, but there is still enough magic to keep me motivated.

If you can make it through week three, you are a hardened NaNo warrior.

It is week three that makes me question my sanity for signing up to write 50,000 words in a month, and leaves me certain that all these words are in vain because I’m going to delete the pile of nonsense as soon as the month is over.

To get through week three, here are some things to remember. (I’m sure I’m going to be rereading this myself.)

 

Your novel isn’t garbage.

At this point, you may feel like your novel is a heaping pile of garbage. No surprise, since you’ll be working your way through the middle of your novel, and that is notoriously the most difficult part to write.

Throw-in-garbage GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

If you are ready to archive your novel’s folder in a place you’ll never have to look at it again and forget reaching that daunting 50,000 words, know that you aren’t alone. The great thing about NaNo is, you have thousands of other writers who are going through the same things you are.

Doesn’t make you feel better?

Yeah, knowing there are other people feeling as lost as I am on their novels didn’t make me feel better either. Why do NaNo Pep talks assume it does? 😀

Anyway, I do have something that will make you feel better. At least, this little exercise works for me.

Grab a sheet of paper or sticky note. Now, write down three things that you really like about what you’ve written so far. It could be a scene, a character who has really come to life in this draft, a favorite line of dialogue. Or even the fact that you’ve written half a novel!

Top 30 Writing A List GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Keep this list somewhere you can see it. Stick it on your computer screen. Place it on your desk. Read it before you start writing or any time you feel like giving up.

Sure, there may be some things about your WIP that need fixing, but that’s why we don’t stop with the first draft. No one’s first draft is ready for publication. Focus on the things you are proud of, and remember that the purpose of a first draft is just to get the words on the page so you’ll have something to work with later.

 

Don’t be stressed about falling behind.

You may be a little behind at this point. Or maybe you are way behind and are scared you’ll never catch up.

First, take a deep breath.

What is going to happen if you don’t reach 50,000 words? Will the NaNo police come nab you and give you a life sentence that forbids you from writing? Will all the other NaNo writers show up to your house to shame you for not completing NaNo?

Sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping they’d post your picture on the home page with the words NaNo’s Biggest Loser underneath, but nothing so grandly dramatic is going to happen.

Top 30 Disney Sighing GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

If for some reason you aren’t able to catch up and the end of November comes around to find your novel at 40,000 words or 25,000 words, then so what? Nothing bad happens. You can keep working on your story in December. You can walk away from NaNo knowing that you have more words down than if you didn’t participate.

But don’t give up on reaching that goal just yet. NaNo is full of ups and downs. You may be in a writing slump today, but tomorrow may bring a 5,000-word writing sprint that catches you up.

You still have the rest of this week and week four. You may be surprised at how many words you can crank out as NaNo comes to an end. 🙂

Remember why you started.

Why did you chose to write this story? Was it because you fell in love with the characters? Because the plot was absolutely thrilling? Because the world you imagined was stunning?

12 New Year's Resolutions from Disney Princesses – As Told by Laura

Reach back to those things that made you excited to start on this story. Pretend you are getting the story idea for the first time. Close your eyes and imagine that first scene you saw, or the first character that came to you. Spend a few minutes going through the first notes you took, or write something new that focuses on that one thing that made you excited to start writing back on November first.

You may choose to write a paragraph of your favorite character rambling to you, or bring more detail to a worldbuilding aspect, or dive deeper into a plot twist.

Remembering why you started writing this story will give you the strength to keep writing. Your characters deserve it, your world deserves it, you deserve it.

Keep writing! After this week, next week will fly by.

 

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

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NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

We’ve made it to week two! If week one went well, your excitement and motivation is probably still high. I am still riding the high of finishing a whole week of NaNoWriMo and ready to see even more progress this week.

Having said this, I know this enthusiasm is about to take a dive as quickly as my energy when a caffeine high wears off.

Which leads me to my first tip about week two of NaNo…

Enjoy the NaNo high, but don’t count on it.

Enjoy the rush while you can, but don’t count on it pulling you though the month.

I don’t say this to scare you. But on my first NaNo, around this time I was thinking, “This is pretty easy. I’m so motivated. NaNo is like a magic elixir giving me writing superpowers!”

Disney Magic GIFs | Tenor

Then disaster hits….

Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but all that sparkly NaNo magic usually disappears by the end of week two or beginning of week three. If you aren’t ready for it, you may wonder what went wrong. Or decide that because writing isn’t as exciting as it was during week one, that something is wrong with your story.

I’m warning you now. Be prepared to have those rose-colored, NaNo glasses ripped off your face, but don’t let the change in scenery make you quit.

Celebrate your progress.

When the rush of excitement leaves, keep your motivation by looking at the progress you’ve made. You are probably around the 11,000 to 16,000 word mark by this time (depending on when you are reading this).

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That is a large chunk of your novel! You’ve written more words than you would have in a normal writing week/week and a half. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on your progress.

Celebrate your wins, and don’t worry that it doesn’t feel as new and shiny as it did in week one.

Don’t delete words.

I am guilty of stopping to rework sentences and paragraphs while writing the first draft. Editing while drafting may seem like you are giving yourself a smoother draft to go over later, but if your goal is to write 1,667 words in an hour and a half, you are going to fall behind quickly if you stop to reread and rewrite every paragraph.

Rereading also leads to deleting words. Lines of dialogue that sound stiff, descriptions that are bland, or awkward sentences beg to be deleted. But every time you delete a sentence, you are shortening your word count and making it more difficult to reach your goal for that day.

Speed Reading GIFs | Tenor

I get it. Sometimes it is unavoidable to read over the last lines. I’m not saying that you should never look back at what you wrote. Just be careful not to spend too much time trying to rework a paragraph or find the “perfect” adjective to describe your character’s home-knit sweater.

If you find yourself cringing at something you wrote and your finger is hovering over the delete key, do this instead; Put a line through it.  This way it still counts towards your word count, but you don’t have to worry that you won’t catch it when reading over your draft later.

Remember to give yourself a break.

Chances are, you’ve lived, breathed, and ate NaNo for the last week. That word-count goal is the first thing on your mind when you wake up, your next scene is the thing you daydream about in traffic, and your characters are there to talk your ear off before you go to sleep.  (If it hasn’t been this way for you, then I’m not sure whether to congratulate you or to tell you to step up your level of commitment. 😉 )

In the whirlwind that is the first week, you may be able to keep up a hectic pace, but most of us won’t be able to keep that same level of intensity for the whole month.

Of course staying motivated, working hard, and exercising your self-discipline is important, but you don’t want to burn out before the month is over.

Taking A Break GIFs | Tenor

Make sure that you carve out a time during the week NOT to think about NaNo, word counts, or that one character that might as well be replaced by a plant for all the lifeless dialogue they spit out.

I like to give myself Sunday off. I write much better during the week when I have one day to recharge. To do this, I need to write more words during the week or double the words on Saturday. This way, I’m not falling behind during my break day and having to play catch up when I start back. This would defeat the purpose of a break day because I would spend it feeling guilty that I’d purposely made the decision to fall behind or worrying that I wouldn’t be able to make the double word-count goal the next day.

It gives me an extra 277 words a day (or 3,334 words on Saturday), but it is worth it to me to have a guiltless break during the week.

Even if you prefer not to take a whole day off, or can’t take a whole day off, carve out some time during the week to give yourself permission to give your writer’s brain a rest. Take a walk, soak in a bath, or listen to an audiobook.

Only Disney

Giving yourself a scheduled time to take a guilt-free break makes it less likely that you will be too burned out to write one day and fall behind. It is much harder to write double the words when we perceive that we are behind or have “failed” than it is to write double the words when we see it as getting ahead or doing extra.

Now that you are ready for week two, get to writing! 😉 I’ll be back next week, and we’ll conquer week three together.

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

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Grow as a Writer: Pick up a New Hobby

We’ve all felt guilty for spending our free time doing something other than writing, but what if I told you those hobbies that stole from your writing time actually helped your writing?

It may seem counter intuitive to take time to do something that isn’t writing and expect it to improve your writing, but there are some really good reasons why hobbies make you a better writer.

 

Helps you relate to characters

If all of your characters have shelves of books and stacks of notebooks with half-finished stories in them, you have a problem.

Image result for hermione books gif

Sure, it can be fun to give characters a love for reading or writing since it is what you are passionate about (and it’s definitely not wrong to do so) but your characters won’t seem real if they all enjoy the same things. People in real life have divers interests, so your character should be no different.

But how do you give your characters different interests and still make those interests seem real?

Give them an interest in one of you non-writing hobbies.

You will already know a lot on the subject, so you can pepper your knowledge into the character’s thoughts or dialogue to make the character’s interest authentic, and since you are passionate about that subject, it will be easier to translate that passion on the page.

And to give yourself more options, it doesn’t even have to be the exact thing that you do. For example, I love to sing and took piano lessons as a young teen and wanted one of my characters to have a love for music as well, so I gave him an aptitude for the guitar.

Image result for disney character guitar gif

I may not play the guitar, but I could use my memories of my first piano lessons to write his first attempt to play the guitar–all the wrong notes,  feeling awkward as you try to get your fingers in the right positions, the thrill you feel when you get a succession of chords right and excitement that you are actually playing a song. 😀

You can do this with any hobby. If you love to knit, give your character a love for crochet or sewing dresses. If you create digital art, your character could love to paint.  If you took ballet as a kid, your character could love to salsa dance or break dance.

*(I thought I’d add that there is nothing wrong with researching a hobby if you want to give your character a love for something that you’ve never done. It just saves time and makes it easier to write when you already know and love the hobby you give your character.)

 

Gives your brain a break!

Have you ever had a tune stuck in your head, but you couldn’t remember the lyrics? You would sit there for minutes, thinking so hard about it, but the words just wouldn’t come. Finally, you’d give up and go do something else. The moment your brain completely unfocused on trying to remember and got absorbed in something else, those lyrics would miraculous spring into your head.

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The same thing happens with writing. When we come across a problem in our story or an obstacle our character is facing that we need to create a solution for, we will sit at the computer screen and agonize over it when sometimes all we need to do is step away.

Our subconscious is a brilliant thing and will come up with a solution for us as soon as we distract our thinking minds and push our problem to the back of our minds to work out.

If you hobby is something like jogging or biking, then it gets you out of your head and gets oxygen and blood flowing to your brain so you can better solve those problems.

If it is something like sketching or photography, it keeps your creativity flowing while still giving you a rest from writing.

Whether your hobby is active  or more sedentary, it gives your brain a break so even if you don’t come up with an answer to your story’s problems while doing whatever you are doing, you’ll be refreshed and ready to think of something creative to fix it.

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So, writers, don’t feel guilty for spending some time doing other activities besides writing. You’ll get some valuable incite to your characters (not to mention you’ll know how to write a fight scene if your hobby happens to be something like jiu jitsu or boxing 😉 ), and make your writing time more productive because you’ll avoid feelings of being “stuck.”

I hope I’ve inspired you to start a new hobby or go back to an old one you’ve dropped!

I’d love to know what hobbies my fellow writers have! I enjoy singing, as I’ve mentioned, and I also like to paint (and am guilty of pushing it aside so I can write…I haven’t picked up a paint brush in months!)

 



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Advice for Teen Writers

It’s hard when you’re a teen and adults aren’t taking your aspirations seriously and everyone is trying to talk you out of your goal to one day publish a novel.

I’m here with a pep talk and some advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was a teen writer. 🙂

 

 

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The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!


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How to Write a Short Story (if you’ve never done in before)

If you’re like me when I first started writing, you want to try your hand at short story writing before diving into a novel. But since this is your first time, even the short story is overwhelming.

I’ve got you covered! I’ll walk you step by step through creating your first short story.

 

 

***The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!

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Beta Readers 101: Beginner’s Guide to Beta Readers

Hey Epic Dreamers!

If this is your first time sending your book off to beta reader, you have a lot of questions.

  • How do you find them?
  • What exactly is it that they do?
  • What even is a beta reader?

I’m going to answer these questions in 5 minutes, so you can get back to those beta readers. 😉

 

 

 

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