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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Yes, another absence from this blog. It was completely unintentional this time around.  After I finished NaNoWriMo in two weeks (I’m still amazed I actually “won” after a couple of years of trying..), my creativity just shut down.  The last thing I wanted to do was write.  I had these great plans to get back to the w.i.p I set aside for NaNoWriMo and finally finish the sucker. Has it happened? Nope.  I have worked on it a bit, but it’s still sitting at a lovely 55,000 words. Not bad really. I’m almost there, but the idea of finishing that right now just wasn’t on my radar.

Neither was blogging, to be perfectly honest. I guess I had to take a step back and take a “vacation” from writing completely.  For anyone who hasn’t done NaNoWriMo, you can’t really understand how much it takes out of you.  For me, all I did was write. I think I took two days off in the two week span that it took for me to get to 50k words., and that wasn’t even because I wanted to. I just had other things to do.  Did I end up wearing myself out during that time? Probably. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

Yes, NaNoWriMo caused me  to take some time out to take a break from writing afterwards.   But I’ve also learned new things about me as a writer and that’s the most important lesson I could ever take away from something like that. I wouldn’t trade that in for anything.

It’s okay to take a step back and collect your thoughts. It’s okay to take a break from your writing when you feel like you can’t write anymore.  Don’t push it. Just let it flow naturally. If your brain is tired and is screaming for relaxation, do what it says.  You will thank me later. 🙂

Oh, and congratulations to all of the fellow NaNoWriMo “winners” out there! Great job on getting to that glorious 50k finish line!  I’ll also say great job to everyone who participated. Whether you won or didn’t, pat yourself on the back for at least trying!

In other “news”, it’s come to my attention that I have received a few blog awards. Thanks to those who have given them to me. I’ll start handing them out to others in tomorrow’s post! If I don’t forget… Knowing me, that may happen. 🙂

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…and I didn’t pull out all of my hair in the process!

Originally, I had this nice, long post about this earlier and then my blog decided to eat it or take it away to the dark blog abyss. What a jerk. Anyways, as a NaNoWriMo finisher, let me try and be your NaNoWriMo coach (self-appointed, of course) and help guide you to the 50k NaNo finish line. Or at least, I’ll try to. 🙂

First off, I should mention that writing is my full-time “job”. I know it’s harder for those who have jobs and families to take care of to fit in a decent writing schedule. My best advice is to try and schedule in at least 60 minutes of writing time. I always tell people not to bother me unless the house is on fire or someone needs to be taken to the hospital. You know, the emergency stuff. Once you have that figured out, write in 15 minute intervals, making sure to take five minute breaks. During those breaks, do whatever you can to rest your brain. Take a walk or relax on the couch. Just make sure it doesn’t last very long. You need to get back to writing as soon as you can. If the internet ends up being a distraction, unplug or disconnect it. I have a bad habit of becoming engrossed with Twitter and blogs, so I had to unplug my internet and hide it while I was writing. Trust me, it helps.

Write down your word count goal of the day. I tried to write at least 2,000 words a day. Sometimes I met it, sometimes I didn’t. There were times when I exceeded it. Put your word count goal near your computer so it’s there for you to see if you’re having a rough time. When you do get to that goal, reward yourself. Go out for some ice cream or coffee with friends. Go out to a nice restaurant or to a movie. It could be something small like watching television (for me, a great motivator was letting myself watch episodes of The Walking Dead. Great show.) No matter what the reward is, just make sure you enjoy it. It’s a great motivator.

This year, I had a better writing support system than the year before. I think it’s important to have a group of people there for you as you try and tackle such an event as this. Go on Twitter and search for #NaNoWriMo and join in on the conversations there. Send messages to writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo website. Talk to your friends and family about your goals and achievements. It’s nice to have people encourage you along the way. If you can, go to a write-in in your area. Unfortunately for myself, I didn’t have any close by. Stupid rural Missouri.

My main advice is to keep writing. Whenever I felt a wall coming up, I just busted right through by not stopping my flow. No matter what, just write. Even if it doesn’t sound that great. Ignore the inner editor we all have (admit it, you have one) and don’t go back to edit what you’ve written. If you’ve written something that sounds horrible, change that font color to white so you can’t see it. I had to do that a couple of times and it really helped me move past from it. This month, it’s all about quantity and not quality. Write in November and edit in December.

As a NaNoWriMo finisher, I know there are some people struggling to get their word counts up there. Just keep in mind that it’s okay not to finish. This month isn’t about “winning”. It’s about finding out who you are as a writer and learning something new about yourself. Just know that you have a NaNoWriMo coach here cheering you on.

Words to remember this month

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We’re only a few short days away from the start of NaNoWriMo. I’ve talked to quite a few people about it who have said basically the same thing: “I’m nervous, scared, and excited.That really sums up the emotions people feel before the start of something like this. When first-timers tell me they’re scared, I try to tell them everyone gets a little nervous before NaNo, no matter how times they’ve done it. It’s sort of natural to feel something like that. It’s a lot of work to write 50,000 words in a month. It takes a lot of dedication and persistence. Those are two things I lacked last year and that’s why I didn’t finish.

If I could give any advice before this month long writing fest starts, I’d say to just relax. Take some deep breaths and clear your head before going into it. Make sure to connect with other NaNoWriMo participants so you know that you’re not alone. That’s something I didn’t do last year. I didn’t talk to anyone who was participating and I felt really alone. When I got stuck, I didn’t have anyone cheering me on. Nobody pushed me when I fell behind. So I really fell behind. Writing buddies are there to not only keep you somewhat accountable for how much you write, but also to encourage and support you. I’ve already “met” some awesome people on Twitter who are also going for it this year, so I don’t plan on making the same mistake!

Think of NaNoWriMo as more of a time where you can write the novel you’ve always wanted to write, but maybe you just didn’t have the time. Or maybe you just couldn’t get yourself to sit down and write it. November can be the time where you put yourself in a chair and start typing away until you get cramps in your fingers (trust me, it happens haha). As writers (and as people), we need to challenge ourselves so we can get better.

On another note, I will be doing a few guest posts these next couple of weeks. I’ll announce each one as they happen. The first one will be on Monday, so make sure to check out the blog, Wrimos FTW!, on that day to read more NaNoWriMo survival tips from me. 🙂  It’s a great blog for anyone who is a NaNoWriMo participant (or maybe knows someone who is one!)

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The answer? Anything you want, it’s your blog. If you want to teach people to cook, how to be a mom, how much you enjoy being a teacher, or just to do movie reviews, it’s all up to you. A lot of us would love to be able to write for a living (I sure would) but just get in & pour your heart out even if you never get any money out of it. I have had my blog for just a little over a year now & it has been the most enjoyable thing that I have done since getting online many years ago. I’m no expert, but wanted to give you all some ideas that I have learned along the way to maybe help you out if you are just getting in on this wild & crazy world of blogging. First of all, if you want to maybe get more exposure (like here on WordPress the Freshly Pressed highlight), you may want to keep your writing clean. They will not put you on there if all of your posts are full of bad words. I know…I would love to write how I talk, but I keep my posts clean hoping that one day I will get that elusive Freshly Pressed gig so I can pick up more readers. The more readers you get, the better your chances are at growing & possibly picking up advertisers & making some money. If your not looking for that & just want to spill it all out…go for it. Like I said, it’s your blog.
I also try to reply to everybody that leaves a comment on my posts. They took the time to read your stuff & make a comment..now you take the time to respond to them. It really makes you feel so good when somebody says something about what you have written. You can also pick up & make alot of great new blog buddies (friends) from this.
Try to pick a theme that you can customize so your blog will stand out as you & people will get to know you by. The one I use let me add my own picture as the header. I took this picture, added type to it with Paint Shop Pro & now it is my one-of-a-kind header. It’s kinda fun trying new thems from time to time, but once I found & put my own touch to the one that I have, kinda want to stick to it so everybody will remember it. I went through 3 different ones before settling on this one.
Make sure you get the word out on it…set-up the Twitter thing so everytime you make a new post, it tells all of your followers. There are other sites that you can list your blog on also that helps with exposure. Bloggers.com has alot of spammers, but you can get some good people out of it…that is where I met Melissa here that I am guest posting for, so you can meet great people & wonderful writers.
The other thing that I try to do is keep my word count under say 600-700 words. I may gone over that here, but I am always scared that it might get boring if I ramble on too long. Like I said, I’m no pro, but wanted to throw down some ideas that you may not have thought of to help any of you out that I can. I may have left some out here too. Come join the blogging world with us & hope to read your posts someday. Thanks so much for this little challenge Melissa. Looking forward to having you on mine.

Jason (The Mindslam)

Check out Jason’s blog here.

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Before we get into the guest post, I just wanted to remind everyone that if you have a guest post you want to share here on this blog, please e-mail it to me at thestoryinme@gmail.com. Keep in mind that the posts should be either writing or literature related. Check my previous post on more guest post guidelines.   This guest post is kicking off my NaNoWriMo preparation posts for all of you. The other day I decided to participate again this year (hopefully I’ll be more successful than last year..) so keep checking back for those posts. Now, onto Panda’s guest post (btw, she’s one of my NaNoWriMo writing buddies lol)

The Power of Speech

This year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. I’d heard of it many times in the past before, but was always under the impression that writing a novel just wasn’t my gig – I always found myself much more drawn towards poetry (I was rather successful on allpoetry.com in years gone by!)

However, as I’ve grown up (probably not actually, just in terms of years) I’ve found myself wanting to… well… get my ideas out there. I want to get into the open the thoughts and opinions that float around my mind on a daily basis. This is virtually impossible through poetry, there’s so much restrictions and rules, and I’m not one for “writing my thoughts in a poetic manner” – there’s just too much floating about in there to put into poetic terms.

So that’s how I ended up here, guest posting on a blog, writing about NaNoWriMo 2011 and why I’m participating.

But that’s not what I actually want to talk to you about. No, what I want to talk about is the power of speech within a novel.

I mentioned above that poetry has a lot of restrictions. If you think about it, so do novels. There’s definitely a “way” to put across a narrative to someone. A narrative can’t possibly be your own exact words, thoughts and opinions, because there’s no personification. No, where your ideas come into it is through the art of speech.

Speech, in a novel, is key to subliminally getting across to the reader what you, the author, are thinking about whilst writing the novel. You can personalize speech to make it fit your character, who could, in turn, be based on you, and thus compelling the reader to indulge in YOUR thoughts and ideas, and not that of the character alone.

For example, when it comes to narrative, you generally have to write using proper English. This is standard across the board really, after all, it needs to be easily understood. However, with speech, you can bring in accents, dialect, made up words, “in-joke” words, whatever you want really.

As a narrative, “She held on to the street light for dear life as the tank rolled through the quiet town” sounds quite, well, boring really, doesn’t it?

However, if you transfer that to speech, you can put it across whichever way you fancy. Whichever way suits you, as well as the character.

“Well I was walkin’ ‘cross the street an’ this bloody massive tank was thunderin’ towards me! So I held ont’ the street light and, lordy lordy, I could feel the ground ‘neath my feet shakin’!”

It just makes it more… personal, more interesting to read. Some would say that the former is better because you can add imagery to it. Flickering street lights and quivering pavements are fantastic, but when I personally read the two together, the first-person spoken description is much more visually pleasing when you imagine the scene in your mind.

NEVER underestimate the power of speech in your novel. A novel with too much speech is destined for disaster, this is true. But likewise, a novel with far too much narrative will bore your reader into a mid-afternoon nap if you’re not careful.

Finding the right balance is key to creating an enthralling novel. But try not to convey all of your imagery through narrative. Speech can be one of the most powerful visualising tools available to an author, so use it wisely!

If you’d like to read my blog, you can do so here -> http://procrastinauthor.blogspot.com/ J

And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck!

Panda

xxx

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I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Of course, when I was a kid, those stories were always pretty innocent. I wrote about family, animals, etc. One time, I even wrote a story about dinosaurs taking over my school and my friend, Monica, had to save the day.  When I got into high school, that’s when my stories became a bit more dark. I wrote about troubled teens and family issues.

Basically, my stories involved people. I liked to focus my stories on the inner struggles of people and society… maybe a part of society some may not understand.  They involved people struggling with addiction, mental illness, dark secrets they couldn’t tell anyone. I felt that where I needed to be in the literary world.

Until last year, when I realized I had another story to tell……. and it didn’t fit where I thought I was needed.

I had to write a story about zombies.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile (or on twitter..) you already know about my love for the zombie culture.  I’m a huge fan of zombie flicks and novels. So, of course, when I thought of my current zombie apocalyptic novel, I had to stop what I was doing and start working on it.  And you know what? I think I really found my genre.

I never really thought I’d feel comfortable writing horror/paranormal literature. I loved to read it but I wasn’t sure I could write it. But, since working on my book, I feel like that’s my place. I feel more comfortable there amongst the creepy stuff and the zombies feasting on people (morbid? Probably..) . It’s almost like I was meant to be there.

Of course my book deals with the struggles of my main characters as they make choices and keep secrets. It’s not all about annihilating zombies. That’s just the fun part haha.

You should always write what you want to even if you think people you know maybe won’t like it. I live in a very conservative area who believe zombies are crap and they don’t want to read about it. They think I’m weird for what I want to write because it’s not what they like. Who cares? For every person who doesn’t want to read your book, there will be another one who does.

If you have a story that keeps invading your head, you should write it. Even if it’s out of what you think your genre is, write it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because you never know the story you could come up with.

I mean, look at me. I went from writing about my favorite pet when I was five years old to now writing about a zombie apocalypse. I bet my family didn’t see that one coming…. 🙂  I’m full of surprises.

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Staying Focused

Thanks to all who sent in their answers to the question in my previous post which was “If you were attacked by a zombie and didn’t have a “conventional” weapon handy, which non-conventional weapon would you use?” You can still answer it if you haven’t yet. Maybe I’ll use a few suggestions in my current zombie apocalyptic novel.

So, I have to be honest here. This past weekend, I didn’t write. At all. I think I may have typed a sentence or two but nothing worth making note of. Am I disappointed in myself? Perhaps a little, but I’ve realized something. Even writers need days off.. sometimes weekends off. I’m not the kind of writer who is able to write all day, every day. I’d fry my brain. If you are one of those writers who can continuously write without a lot of breaks, well, I respect you. Haha.

But here’s the thing. Whether or not, I’m writing, I’m always thinking about my story. My characters are always running around in my head, sometimes chasing zombies. I think of what to do with them next, where to take them, who they see, etc. It’s not like I’m not “working” on the book. I’m just not physically writing it.

I read a book recently and it had a chapter about creativity and sometimes losing it. It said that there will be times when your creativity need a little break. It can be over worked too. That’s when you take a step back and get some clarity. Stay focused but don’t beat yourself up if you stumble a bit.

We shouldn’t rush the process. Writing a book is like a marathon and shouldn’t be treated like a sprint. Take your time if you have to but keep moving. Take time to enjoy the scenery and the process. Remain focused on the finish line because we can all get there. It just takes time, but I’m sure it’s worth it.

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