Week 4 Pep Talk

By Natasha R.

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Greetings Wrimos. We’re officially in week four! We’ve made it to the wire! The struggle hasn’t been easy. By week four you may be staring at the screen, blinking in slow repetition, willing you fingers to move, and finding nothing pours onto the keyboard.

The frustration has grown, and several diabolical things come to mind.

In fact, there have probably been days when you wanted to print your manuscript just to burn it.  (For the record, don’t burn anyone else’s manuscript. It’s rude.)

 

 

 

 

Think about this though. You’ve made it to WEEK FOUR! WEEK BLOODY FREAKIN’ FOUR!

You’re in the home stretch! That in and of itself should be enough to motivate you to keep writing, but it doesn’t always work out like that. That’s what these PEP TALKS are for!

So, here are some things to do to bring the zest back into your manuscript!

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Week 3 Pep Talk

By CP Bialois

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Almost there…

That’s the phrase many of us say about this time during NaNoWriMo. We can see the finish line in the challenge, our WIP (Work in progress), or both. It’s also a time that can be difficult to push through.

You’re asking yourself things like, “What was I thinking?”, “Can I really do this?”, and “Is this really worth it?”

It’s easy for us to doubt or question ourselves when we become mired in a story we love. We want so much to finish it, to raise our hands and say we’re writers by completing this challenge.

It’s easy for us to forget that writing can be fun. Yep, that’s right. Writing is supposed to be fun. It’s one of the few times we’re allowed to let our inner child out to play and imagine a different world or adventure we want to be a part of.

You know what? That means it’s all right to break a few rules. It’s your story. Don’t like the direction or a character? Throw a major obstacle in their way. If things are too difficult for them, give them a solution that’s so simple it’s ridiculous. You can always go back and fix it later. Have fun with it and challenge yourself with a game like trying to write your daily goal faster than you did the day before. Promise yourself a treat after making your characters’ lives miserable, or a little easier. Indulge away and I think you’ll find the obstacles that seemed so large before are little more than speed bumps.

Playing is fun, and that’s exactly what writing can be, so enjoy it. NaNoWriMo only comes around once a year so sit back and let your imagination fly.

Share some other ideas about what you can do to make the writing fun in the comments below!

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Have you hit THE wall?

By Debby J.

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I know that every time week 2 rolls around I start to get down on myself. I hate the week 2 blues during NaNoWriMo. This is what I always find to be the most challenging week and I believe this is typically when you see a noticeable drop off in word count updates, participation, and enthusiasm. I know that personally, this is the week I see a marked decline in the number of people attending write-ins and I can’t help but wonder what I could do differently as your Municipal Liaison to support you during this week.

The problem is, I’m in the exact same boat as you. I find myself hating my plot. Or maybe I’ve written myself into a corner. Or I realize that all my carefully planned plans have been derailed and I can see the gaping caverns that are also called plot holes. It’s hard to see the finish line when you know you’ve got to hurdle the grand canyon of plot holes, right?

So, what can you do? What should you do? I know many people will throw in the towel. I’ve done it before. You’ll make the excuse of “the writing was bad” or “I don’t have time” or “I’m too far behind.” And that’s okay. The fact is, you’ve made it farther then most people. But what if you want to finish? What if you don’t want the excuses to be the reason you quit? I’m sure there are a lot of you reading this post, wondering what you can do to make it through? Continue reading »

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Week 2 Pep Talk: It’s Never Too Late

By Jamie W.

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So, one week of NaNoWriMo is in the books. As I look at my buddy list and the forums, I see that there are still some people whose word count reads “0”. This is the point where some people might be tempted to give way to panic and say, “There is no way I’m doing this now.”

I say, “Think again.”

My first NaNo I had an idea very quickly and was writing within the first couple of days. I religiously updated my word count and sometimes wrote more than I needed for those few days here and there where something might come up. Then came CampNaNo June 2012.

One week into the camp, and I still had no idea what I was going to write about. Luckily, a local writing group gave me some inspiration and I started, cranking out several thousand words in no time. I was pumped. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of saving that document directly to my removable drive. When I opened it again, I got a message saying the file was corrupted. The words were gone, and that wasn’t the only road block that month. Still, my stubborn streak refused to admit defeat and, after a ton of grumbling and cursing technology, I opened a new document and tried again. Some days, I really had to push, but I got there. The same thing has happened in other camps/NaNos and I have managed to come out a winner each time (well, except that one camp where I had computer trouble trying to update my word count at the last possible second on the final day).

The point is, if you still have a “0” count today, don’t let that stop you. Sit down now and commit to writing for as long as possible today to see how many words you get. Struggling for an idea? Look up writing prompts. Go into the adoption section of the forums. Post in Fort Writerdale for help. We’re all in this together and we all want to see each participant cross that finish line. It might take a little extra writing time each day, but you’ll be glad you did it when you have that finished novel in your hands.

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Winning NaNo with Children

By Debby J.

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I was kind of stumped for words. Well, not with my novel. But yeah, with that too. I was trying to think of a short and sweet blog post I could write that might reveal a little bit about me, your Municipal Liaison but also have information you might find helpful. I am sitting here, at 11pm in my bedroom while my kid snores loudly beside me. She is only one year old but she sounds like a freight train. I’ve hit my word count for the day and really should be trying to get ahead but instead I’m penning this for your reading pleasure.

I was catching up with a fellow ML in our top secret chat room and it got me thinking about NaNoWriMo and how people do it with children. See, WitchyRobyn has been doing NaNoWriMo for way longer than me and was there in the chat room my first year. She is in charge of the Elsewhere Region of Louisiana and if I recall correctly, she was super pregnant and was running most of her write-ins virtually. So, seeing her again in the chat room this evening made me think, “Man, I would have loved to have some hints about how to win NaNoWriMo with a kid before I even thought about a kid.”

I asked for her advice, and she said, “Be sure to let everyone in your life know what you’re doing. People are more likely to help out and watch the kids for a couple of hours if they realize how much this challenge means to you. My girls are turning 1 and 2 this month and the help I get from my husband is invaluable to my success. In the future, as I continue with both writing and MLing, I want my girls to see that any challenge can be met despite the obstacles. Also, I would suggest looking at co-ops with other wrimos with kids in your area. Arrange playdates with them to split the load and give everyone a little bit of writing time while the children entertain themselves for a bit. Don’t discount the creativity gained from looking at the world through your child’s eyes. Get on the floor with them, play with them, and worlds can open up.”

Pennblade from the Massachusetts Southbridge/Sturbridge Region says: “To always have fun. I told that to my son. Writing is a journey, not a chore. Enjoy the ride. You’ll never know where you’ll end up.”

Rachel Sanford from the Arkansas Fayetteville/NWA Region says: “I have a 2 year old son. I try to let him do his own thing during November and let him be as independent as he wishes. I also keep in mind that things happen and to just go with them. There are days you aren’t going to meet your goals, but nap time and bed time are invaluable times for writing.”

AuroraLee from the Canadian Annapolis Valley Region says: “If kids are old enough, get them to write with you. A great way to let them explore their own creativity? (disclaimer: I don’t have kids)” Continue reading »

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Week 1 Pep Talk

By Debby J.

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November is here! Are you guys ready to write those novels? The great news is, you are reading this and I doubt you need much pep to get your fingers flying. Week 1 is always the “easiest” week in NaNoWriMo for those who come prepared with at least a plot, or character, or setting, or something. For those who are hyper organized and have outlines and infographics galore, the first week is also pretty straight forward. This year, I need all the pep I can get because I’m coming into this thing with absolutely nothing. I can’t seem to get the microscope of my author’s vision to zoom into the lives of my characters. I’m stuck. I have no clue as to what I’m doing.

Would you believe me if I said this is how every November begins for me? I have a vague sense of “something” happening in some world I created in my mind. I usually start my novels for NaNoWriMo by describing the world in excruciating detail. It’s really painful to read because the minutiae is minutiae. But by starting about a million miles away from the action I can hone in on the important things happening. I see the big picture and slowly the focus comes and I suddenly have a character, a conflict, a scene, a something to work with.

So, if you are like me, then you may have nothing. But if you have even one thing to start writing about, even if it isn’t very good, you have the makings of your novel. To give you a taste of what my NaNo first days are like, here are the beginnings of my past NaNos.

  • 2008: Alison looked at her watch and sighed loudly. This was not the time nor the place. She was already running late for her doctor’s appointment and the bus was running even later.
  • 2009: It was the most baffling thing that came ashore. The sun was setting and the sky was clouded over and there it was. I squinted my eyes, not really believing that something like that was on the shore, but there is was. As I approached it, it became clearer, the features more distinct. I bent over and scooped it up, sand slipping between my fingers. I wiped my hands on my pants and tossed the object from one had to the other, getting a sense of its weight.
  • 2010: I remember everything about the day I left my home. My sister and brother each held a hand as my parents trailed behind us. We were headed to the convent where it seemed I was destined to spend my life. At least when I was seven it seemed like my destiny. Alisa was stoic. Her blue eyes looked straight forward and she almost seemed to tug at me, pulling me along faster then I really wanted to go. Alexander seemed to be a counterweight, dragging his feet as if to keep me from going away. And I just walked. Since the day I was born, I knew that just as Alisa was destined to inherit the family business and Alexander was destined for the military and, essentially politics, so I was destined for religion. It was the way things were done in Kyria.
  • 2011: Margie looked at the man and tried not to laugh. He was wearing a giraffe costume and looked absolutely ridiculous. She had requested a clown, not a giraffe. Or any animal for that matter. She smiled politely at the man and shook her head a little bit, her short brown hair swaying against her neck.
  • 2012: Taylor looked out at the ocean as her father’s ship flew away. He was only home for a few weeks at a time but Taylor loved the time she got to spend with him. He was a merchant by trade but was very well to do. He was one of the few individuals authorized to cross the border between Leylandia and Technologia. While considered a citizen of Technologia, he carried the precious steam technology through the sky and over to their rival nation. The two countries were as different as children from different parents. Technologia was a sprawling country that had mountains surrounding three sides and long coast that gave them port access. In the center of the country were forests. The country was not afflicted with deserts or tundra. The rich land lead Technologia to develop into a nation that was very technological. Their primary export was the steam technology that had come from all of the resources.
  • 2013: The black, pearlescent sand clung to her milky, pale skin. She flexed her fingers and toes and looked at the world around her. It was vastly different yet very familiar and similar to the world she came from. Lush green trees rose high up in the distance and even farther beyond were hillocks and mountains. The sky above was navy blue with spots that glimmered in the distance. Two giant orbs floated in the sky – one seemed to sit right on the horizon, a blue disc that reflected light. The other was smaller and high in the sky. It also did not seem to emit any light of its own. It was reddish in color and seemed to be pockmarked where the blue orb was smooth. 

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Getting Involved

By Natasha R.

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NaNoWriMo is a hectic time of year for those who participate. Everyone is frantic trying to make their word count for the day, let alone the month as a whole. Sometimes people have a massive muse, and sometimes it’s harder to get those words out. That’s why in each region there are events, both physical ones and online. Fort Writerdale events can be found on the NaNo forum here.

Granted we all have responsibilities in life, whether it be school, work, family, or whatever. Debby (our ML, make sure you learn who she is, cause she’s AWESOME) has put together several events all over Broward. Meeting other participants and joining the write-ins creates a positive atmosphere where everyone motivates each other.

NaNoWriMo is more than just sitting in front of a computer and writing. It’s community, and I recently got the chance to hang out with our fearless leader, Debby, one on and one, and see just how much she puts into it. She dedicates her time to making sure everyone has a fun, positive environment. Her dedication is amazing! She not only tries to write her own story in thirty days, but puts so much into making sure everyone else is motivated to do the same. Continue reading »

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Tools of the Trade

By Neliza Drew

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So, you’re pumped for November 1st. You have all the ideas – nay, All The Ideas! – and you’re ready to go. So, you’re going to need a way to write all those words. Below are just some ideas, some suggestions. Tools you can put in your toolbox or leave on the store shelf. You can always write by hand — and I know writers who swear by that, too. Heck, so many paper options, that could be its own post…

But, since it’s easier to count words with tech, let’s start with the tech.

MS Word 

The powerhouse. The go-to word processor for decades. The pricey prince if your computer didn’t come with a copy or you can’t just use it at work. There are other, free – or cheaper – options for writing your NaNoWriMo novel and I’ll talk about several below. That said, if you plan to eventually edit or submit your project for publication, you’re probably going to need Word at some point. While OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and gDocs will all give you a Word .doc or .docx file, they all are limited in their ability to display and interact with the changes and comments functions. If you have it or can afford it, Word is a great tool and if you’re very linear in your thinking or plotting, a blank page like Word is great. Additionally, if you’re willing to spring for the “rental” or subscription Office365 plan, it comes with a terabyte of cloud storage (so you have offsite backup for your new baby).

Pros: Has all the features and is fairly universal for sharing with critique groups or submitting to agents (after much editing – boatloads of editing). At this point, almost everyone has used it at some point.

Cons: Expensive and requires a computer you can download to, though there is a “online” version, but it’s honesty no better than some of the freebies.

Google Docs

How to Geek talks some about the pluses to Docs versus shelling out money for Word, but here are my two or three cents: Google Docs works great for shorter documents. I’ve used it for reviews and reports and short stories. You can convert your gdoc file to a .docx (new Word), a PDF, or a few other options. You can email it. You can print it. It saves automatically – even offline – and syncs to your Google Drive anytime it finds an internet connection. While in it, you can track your word count, copy, paste, change your font, insert tables, and most of the features you’re familiar with. That said, aside from not handling comments well, it gets slow – molasses going uphill in February slow – if your document gets much beyond 10,000 words. Which means, if you use Google Docs for your NaNowriMo project, you may want to split it up (by chapters, by acts, by 10,000 words, by whatever fits your story) into separate files until you’re ready for the big count at the end.

Pros: Totally free, syncs great across devices, and saves constantly.

Cons: Not that Mac friendly, mobile version is hard to edit, and it gets s…l…o…w… beyond 10k words.

Handoff & Continuity

I’ve heard great things about Handoff from Mac people. I’ve also heard terrible things about Yosemite, but I’m not a Mac person, so you’ll have to try it for yourself and let me know what you think. (For the record, I’m sure Mac is wonderful and everyone I know who has one talks about theirs like it’s the Ferrari of computers. I just…drive an ancient Jeep.)

Pros & Cons? You tell me.

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Paper Trade

By Neliza Drew

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Let’s say you’re super-pumped for November 1st. You’re cracking your knuckles and hopping up and down and doing your very best “I’m Ready!” dance…. But, you don’t have a computer of your own or you hate typing on your tablet or you want to write while your kid’s at soccer practice without whipping out a laptop or you’re technology-averse or you spend all day programming and the last thing you want from your muse is more screen time.

At any rate, yes, you can write your NaNoWriMo project by hand. And yes, you can even validate it and win.

Some writers swear by Moleskine or Field Notes. Others are big fans of Arc (and other discbound systems), the neat thing about those being that, like an analog version of Scrivener, you can rearrange the pages and write scenes out of order or include research sections without losing your mind.

Writers are often stationery and office supply fetishists, so if you talk to a bunch of them, you’ll probably find a lot of favorite pens and favorite papers and all sorts of oddball quirks that work for them, but might not work for you.

You don’t have to invest in a fancy paper system. You just have to find something that works for you. Heck, one of my favorite writers fills dozens of plain yellow legal pads before her novels are complete. You can use composition books, three-ring binders and loose-leaf, wire bound notebooks, the backs of grocery receipts (although then you might have to write rather small) or whatever else you find works.

And if you want to go full-on analog, designer David Seah has updated his printable word count tracker for 2014.

Don’t forget to check out the digital Tools of the Trade.

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Kick Off Party Notes

By Debby J.

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Howdy, Fort Writerdale!

Just wanted to make sure I put a post up detailing what you missed out on by not attending the awesome party, part 1. Fortunately, there is a part 2 that you are all welcome to attend and I hope you will RSVP!

We had a wonderful guest speaker present. Barbara Levenson is a published author who writes fiction with a specific interest in mystery. She started by asking everyone their experiences with writing (specifically asking about our experiences with writing, publication, and workshops or critique groups). Here is a quick list of the things she spoke about:

  • “If you want to write, get your butt in the chair, sit and write.”
  • Many people will start to write, but will get stuck and quit and never go back. It is better to put the writing away for a few days when you are stuck and go back to it.
  • The more your write, the better you write.
  • Her experiences started when she was young and she would tell stories and write plays for her friends to act out. Into adulthood, she started writing more technical writing because of her career but after taking a class she realized she also really wanted to write fiction.
  • She said that any experience or course is very beneficial and will get you writing.
  • She encouraged everyone to join a writing group and attend seminars. Seminars are great because you can pitch ideas, but even better you can talk about writing with people who are also writers.
  • She talked about her experiences with publishing and said that no matter what, to make sure you protect your rights. The Author’s Guild has lawyers on retainer who can help with your contracts if you are member.
  • She actually bought back the rights to her novels because she was unhappy with what the publishers were doing (or not doing!).
  • Barbara also said that stories can be character-driven or plot-driven. She said that with NaNoWriMo it is likely the stories we write will be plot-driven since 50k words is not a good amount to really develop the characters.
  • She personally doesn’t outline because generally speaking she knows what major things have to happen (even if the how is vague) and knows the final outcome.
  • She knows these things because she spends a lot of time thinking (mostly when ironing and baking).
  • She said a complete work that is 50k words long is more like a novella than a novel.
  • There are no rules to writing. However, you still need to establish your point of view (POV).
  • Your POV should not change from one paragraph to another or even in the middle of a chapter.
  • She strongly encouraged we avoid the use of adjectives and adverbs.
  • We did a short writing activity. We wrote a paragraph without using adjectives or adverbs. The prompt was “He looked at the river and saw something he couldn’t explain.”
  • My paragraph: Juan looked at the river. A breeze caressed the river; ripples crossed the service as Juan stared. A fish leaped from the water and landed on the river bank. While he watched, another fish floundered out. And another. Juan looked to the sky filled with sunshine and clouds. A comet hung high beside the moon. Today was going to be something special.
  • She spent some time talking about showing and telling. It is better to show and you can use dialogue to show things. If you want to show with a scene, then use action words.
  • Dialogue makes your characters real.

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