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January 1, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Remember that our “31 Minutes for 31 Days” challenge starts today! Get the new year off to a great start.
You’re well on your way to achieving your major 2013 goals at this point, and you’ve probably begun several new good writing habits to support your future writing career. This is great!
You don’t want to be a quick flash that’s here today and gone tomorrow though. You want the changes to last. You want to continue to grow as a writer and build your career. But…you know yourself. The good writing habits never seem to last.
Change and Maintain
In order to keep going and growing as a writer, you need to do two things:
- Learn to recover from setbacks
- Get mentally tough for the long haul
First let’s talk about setbacks. They come in all shapes and sizes for writers. They can be mechanical (computer gets fried), emotional (a scathing review of your new book), or mental (burn-out from an accident, divorce, or unexpected big expense). Setbacks do just what they sound like: set you back.
However, too often (without a plan), we allow a simple setback to become a permanent writer’s block or stall. Setbacks are simply lapses in our upward spiral, or small break in our new successful routine, a momentary interruption on the way to our writing goal.
Warning: without tools in place to move beyond the setbacks, they can settle in permanently instead. Use setbacks as a signal that you need to get back to basics. Setbacks–or lapses–sometimes occur for no other reason than we’ve dropped our new routines. (We stopped writing before getting online, we stopped taking reward breaks and pushed on to exhaustion, we stopped sending new queries each week…)
Count each day of progress, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I used to make myself “start over” when trying to form a new habit, and it was more discouraging than helpful. For example, if my goal was to journal every morning, I’d count the days. Maybe I managed it five days in a row. Five! I felt successful! But if I missed Day 6 for any reason, I had to start over the next day at Day #1.
Maintaining: A Better Way
I don’t do that anymore. It doesn’t help. Now, if my goal is to develop a new habit, I still keep track, but I keep going after a lapse or setback instead of starting over. So if I were trying to develop a journaling habit, and journaled five days and then missed a day, I would begin again on Day #6.
I would count all successful days in a month, which motivates me to try to reach an even higher total number the next month. This works with words and pages written and other new writing habits you want to start.
In order to recover from setbacks, think ahead. Ask yourself what types of things might cause you to go off course or lapse in your goal efforts. Prepare ways to cope ahead of time and have your plans in place. (Sometimes that’s as simple as always traveling with a “writing bag” of paper, pens, a chapter to work on, a craft book to read, etc. so that you can always work, no matter what the delays.)
Coping plans have this basic structure (according to Neil Fiore’s Awaken Your Strongest Self):
“When __________ [potential distraction] occurs, I will say ______________ [inner dialogue] and I will do _______________ [corrective action].”
When my best friend calls to talk during my writing time, I will say to myself, I’m working and need to call her back at lunch time and I will let the answering machine pick up.
When company comes for a week, I will say to myself, It’s fine for me to take one hour each day to write, and I will close the door to my office (or bedroom) and write before breakfast for one hour.
Retrain Your Brain
Mental toughness–grit to persevere–is the other ingredient you’ll need if you want to maintain the changes you’ve made in your writing habits. Scientific studies have clearly shown that repeated affirmations and mental rehearsals create new neural pathways in the brain making success easier and eventually permanent.
Speaking daily affirmations aloud has been proven to help you “retrain your brain” into healthier lines of thinking. Make the affirmations to deal specifically with your own writing issues. For example:
- I am equal to any writing challenge.
- I love to write, and I never miss a day of writing!
- I get started with ease and keep going smoothly and fluidly.
- I take breaks every 90 minutes or so, using the break to refresh.
- I use visualizations of successful writing times to help build new habits and patterns.
- I love to study and then apply what I learn to developing my writing gift.
- My writing gift is unique and the expression of that gift is unique.
- I don’t need to be like any other writer.
- I never give up on my dreams.
I encourage you to make your own list of positive affirmations pertaining to any area of your life where you’d like to see change. (And yes, I use them myself, broken down into several categories: spiritual life, health, writing, children/grandchildren, and my marriage.) I guess I have a lot of areas where I want to rewire brain patterns!
Use the affirmations to help you make changes–and then cement those changes in place. It’s time we stopped yo-yoing up and down and created stable, permanent writing habits.
December 28, 2012
One good way is with a copy of the Writer’s Guide to 2013.
If you want insider information for what’s important to writers in the coming year, this is your book. Over 200 editors, publishers, agents, and industry professionals review what’s coming in 2013.
There are five sections of articles (39 total), plus a sixth section on contests and conferences. The book is divided into:
- Business & Career
- Contests & Conferences
A Taste Treat
To whet your appetite, let me quote from one article in each of the five sections.
From “Markets”–”Big Fish, Little Pond: The Saga of the Midlist Writer”: This article deals with most writers, those of us who haven’t won a Newbery or hit the NY Times bestseller list, but are good writers (often with substantial sales records). As the author of the article notes, these midlist writers are “being abandoned by the ship and left to fend for [themselves]. As a result, midlisters either pursue self-publishing routes or seek out the harbor of smaller houses that welcome their talents.” The article goes on to detail some excellent ideas and goals for midlisters in this fluctuating publishing time.
From “Style”–”Characters in Conflict”: This article takes the average advice on conflict several steps deeper so that your conflict will be both meaningful and gripping to the reader. The conflict needs to be important and difficult, complex and challenging. “If you typically start with a plot concept, ask yourself what kind of person would have the most trouble in that situation while still being able–just barely–to succeed. If you typically start with character, focus on the characters’ primary needs and how they would define themselves. Then figure out which situations would most challenge them.” The author takes you step by step through this process, with good examples, so you can create your character/conflict combination that really works.
From “Business & Career”–”Maximize Your Writing Productivity”: I wish I could quote the whole article for you here! It is full of very useful tips and ideas. I liked how the premise of the article points out a vital truth. One writer is quoted as saying, “Create a vision of what ongoing success would look like for you, and then go for that. Don’t dwell on or pursue other people’s glory.” Depending on what success means to you, you will find certain productivity tips helpful and others useless. Decide where you want to go first. “Goals that do not fit your individual personality and vision…may fade away.” The author gives practical ways to deal with things like email, Facebook, etc. “Internet activities, games on your smartphone, or Downton Abbey are not the only time pirates. People, yes, even those we love, can undermine productivity.”
From “Research”–”Nostalgia: Getting It Right”: Because I’m at the age that I remember with longing some simpler, quieter times, this article caught my attention. What is nostalgia, and why are there so many markets for it? (I was astounded at the market listings in this article–nearly 25 of them.) “The song ‘Remember’ that is so poignantly offered in the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail strikes at the heart of what it means to experience nostalgia. It is a deep pining for something long ago and far away.” If you have those pinings, check out what editors say they want most in the nostalgia market.
From “Ideas”–”Creativity: Where Does It Come From & How Do I Get Some?”: This lengthy article does a good job of simplifying the right brain/left brain information using recent brain research, talks about how your individual personality affects how you create and what tips you will find helpful, and then gives many good ideas for what the author calls putting your creative self “on a strength-training regiment that you have the discipline to commit to on a consistent basis.” I know my own creative muscles get under-used and flabby, and I found the suggestions very useful.
FREE 30-DAY EXAMINATION
Order the Guide here and use it for 30 days. If you don’t find the Writer’s Guide to 2013 as valuable as I think you will during your free examination period, simply return the book, and they will promptly refund the full purchase price you paid.
I love no-risk deals!
December 21, 2012
Your book–if it is to get noticed–must stand out.
Quantity or Quality?
I read a great article this week called “The Importance of a WOW Book in an Overcrowded Marketplace” by M.J. Rose.
It starts with this quote by Lou Aronica from Fiction Studio:
I want to implore you to remember to dedicate at least as much effort, if not more, to craft than you did before you started taking on so many of the business functions in the industry. Simply never lose sight of the fact that readers expect you to bring your A-game consistently, and they have more incentive than ever to walk away if you disappoint them.
I will quote enough of the article to whet your appetite, and I hope you’ll click on over there and read the whole thing.
Estimates are that in 2012 over 1.5 million books will have been published (About 20% of them coming from traditional houses)…It means that now more than ever we can’t be writing just another book. We can’t be rushing through a draft.
There are those who say the way to win the game is to write fast and furious, and fill up the virtual shelves with as many books carrying your name on the spine as possible. In the past there’s been some proof that it was a viable strategy. But there’s more proof that the future isn’t about endless quantity.
With so many millions of titles available, the books that will get talked about are the books that make readers talk about them. Now is not the time to try and write two okay books a year as opposed to one really gangbuster book in the next 12 or 18 or 24 months.
In her comments section was something by Donald Maass (author of Writing 21st Century Fiction) worth repeating here. Read all the way to the bottom, and focus on his last paragraph. In my opinion, that’s where the hope for each us lies:
I’m not sure I agree, though, with the comments that say WOW is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, some readers will never enjoy dinosaurs on the rampage or the latest wounded daughter. Light farce or heavy drama will always turn off some readers.
But my studies of successful fiction show that the elements and techniques that create high impact in a story have nothing to do with category, style, subject matter or message. What we glibly call great writing is a set of techniques (a large set) that are the same across the board.
WOW isn’t luck, timing or a shrewd choice of story. It’s sweat, fire, and a commitment to dig deeper, work harder and say more than the other 1.5 million. The methods aren’t secret, it’s just their application that’s rare.
December 14, 2012
Kick Back & Be Inspired
With that in mind, enjoy some motivation this weekend. Bookmark your favorites and come back to them regularly.
- Zig Ziglar’s Timeless Guide to Motivation includes five of Zig Ziglar’s most well known motivational ideas. Learning and applying these five principles could turn your life and career around.
- Achieve Your Writing Dreams: Sound Appealing? delivers an interesting insight. ”If I was ever going to get any GOOD assignments, I had to give them to myself,” says the author. Aha moment!
- Be Productive! 2 Hard and Soft Methods for Beating Procrastination admits that writers are different. Some need to deal with procrastination from an inner “softer” place. Other writers need outer organizational tips and tricks.
- Trust in Your Ability to Tell a Story will bolster your confidence to tell your story. You’ve got what it takes!
December 11, 2012
(If you haven’t already, read the overview, The Dynamics of Change.)
You want to make changes in your writing life that will last?
Let’s start at the beginning, with Stage 1: Making Up Your Mind. As I said last time, this stage involves several things, including the following:
- feeling the pain that prompts you to change
- evaluating the risks and benefits of the goals you have in mind
- evaluating your current ability
In this stage, you do not make any changes. Not yet. As tempting as it is, do not jump in and “just do it!” Remember how far your willpower has taken you in the past–and wait.
Resist the temptation to cycle through another try–>fail–>try harder–>fail–>discouragement episode. Instead, lay the necessary groundwork to make permanent changes.
The Pain of Not Changing
Wanting to make a change–but never making it–is exhausting. It hangs over our heads, constantly reminding us of some incompleted task. When you really feel the pain of not changing, you’re on your way to making up your mind. (And if you’re willing to live with the pain of not realizing your writing dreams, that’s your choice as well.)
Actively and colorfully imagine staying the same the next five years. Imagine that it’s 2018. You’re still trying to implement the “write daily” habit, you’re still trying to finish that novel, you’re still too afraid to talk to agents or editors at writer’s conferences, and you’re still unpublished. When writers’ block hits–or simply a normal writer’s frustration–you still reach for doughnuts or a cigarette or settle in for an hour of mindless TV.
It’s 2018, and nothing has changed–except you have gained fifteen pounds, you’re still stuck in a day job you hate, your baby is in kindergarten, (and you never did get to work from home), or your military spouse has moved the family again (and you still don’t have a career that can move with you.)
Write out the “future” scenario in vivid color based on nothing changing. A clear image of future pain strengthens our determination to face our current fears about changing.
Risks and Benefits of the Change
Explore (either on your own or with a friend/counselor) the benefits of making the short- and long-term writing changes you are considering. Follow the changes five years into your future and see the benefits of having written steadily for five years, submitting steadily for five years, getting five years’ worth of critiques, etc.
The risks? Most of them have to do with facing your writing fears. For a week (two is better) observe yourself and your thoughts when you sit down to write (or when you avoid it.) You’re not trying to change here–just observe your reactions when trying to write.
Do you feel anxiety? What do you think? (“Who am I kidding? I can’t do this!”) What do you do? (Write half a paragraph, then reach for chocolate?) The risk is being honest with yourself, which is necessary if you’re going to honestly evaluate your current ability…
Current State of Affairs
After spending a couple of weeks observing your writing habits, you may have uncovered a few issues to address (procrastination, feeling isolated, self-doubt, self-sabotage, fears of failure or success, etc.) Maybe you just lack motivation; whatever the issue(s), this is the time to work on them.
How you deal with them (and a combination of solutions usually works best) will vary from writer to writer. Some ways to motivate yourself and work on various writing fears include:
- counseling or career coaching
- reading self-help books for writers like Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write
- reading inspiring books for writers like Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul
Remember, all this thinking and journaling and dreaming is still Stage One. You haven’t committed to making any changes yet. You’re still making up your mind. You’re thinking things through thoroughly.
And you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed–permanently.
I’m curious. Do you find this thinking stage comforting? Threatening? Discouraging? Encouraging? Share your thoughts!
December 7, 2012
It may seem early for this–after all, we haven’t had Christmas yet–but now is the time to think about your goals and dreams.
Time to Re-Boot
After the hustle-bustle of the holidays and kids home for vacation, getting back into a writing routine is often the first challenge of the new year.
If that’s your usual post-holiday situation, then check out Katia Raina’s “Gimme 31 for Your Dreams: A Challenge and A Giveaway.” The help you need could be right here.
Call to Action
Who qualifies for Katia’s challenge? In her own words:
It’s really for anyone who has a serious dream but has been frustrated by lack of time and energy, assaulted by procrastination, tortured by doubts into apathy.
No matter how young — or how old you are – no matter how big your dream (or how small, I suppose), my goal with this challenge is to get you back upon your feet, or get you started, or just let you give yourself a chance.
You’ll want to read the entire post about resurrecting your writing dreams, but here is Katia’s challenge in a nutshell:
During those 31 days, I want each one of you busy dreamers to give me 31 minutes of your precious time. Pick the time of the day that works best for you. Think in advance about your dream. Put a timer on. Seriously, do it. Use a timer. And once it’s on, rush to the computer (or your studio, or whatever), and do the work. No breaks. Thirty-one minutes. Write. Paint. Meditate (if that’s your dream). Thirty-one measly minutes. Don’t be stingy with me. That’s not much, I’m asking.
Little kids? Demanding full-time jobs? I don’t care. If you have time to be reading this blog, you have 31 minutes to spare to your dream.
I’m joining the “31 minutes for 31 days” challenge in January, and I hope you will sign up too. I am particularly pleased to do this because Katia is a former student of mine. I love seeing a nurtured writer who is now nurturing other writers’ dreams.
December 4, 2012
Are you thinking about your 2013 writing goals yet?
Did you know that 75% of New Year’s Resolutions (or goals) are abandoned by the end of the first week? There’s a reason for that.
I spend much time on the blog encouraging you to make changes and deal with feelings that are holding you back. So I thought it might help as we head into a new year to do a short series on the dynamics of change–or how to make permanent changes.
How do we make changes that stick? How can you be one of those 25% who keeps on keepin’ on and accomplishes his or her writing goals?
Change in Stages
One mistake we make is thinking that change happens as an act of will only. (e.g. “Starting today, I will write from 9 to 10 a.m.”) If our willpower and determination are strong, we’ll write at 9 a.m. today. If it’s very strong, we’ll make it a week. If you are extraordinarily iron-willed, you might make it the necessary 21-30 days proven to make it a habit.
Most writers won’t be able to do it.
Why? Because accomplishing permanent change–the critical step to meeting any of your writing goals–is more than choosing and acting on willpower. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to understand the dynamics of change. You must understand what changes habits–the rules of the game, so to speak.
Making Change Doable
All of the habits we’ve talked about in the past–dividing goals into very small do-able slices, rewarding yourself frequently, etc.–are important. They are tools in the process of change.
However, we need to understand the process of change, the steps every successful person goes through who makes desired changes. (It applies to relationship changes and health changes as well, but we’ll be concentrating on career/writing changes.) Understanding the stages doesn’t make change easy, but “it makes it predictable, understandable, and doable,” says Neil Fiore, Ph.D., author of the The NOW Habit.
Change takes place in four main stages, according to numerous government and university studies. Skipping any of the four stages lowers your odds drastically of making permanent changes that lead to sucessful meeting of goals.
Here are the four stages of change that I will talk about in the following four blog posts. Understanding–and implementing–these consecutive steps is critical for most people’s success in achieving goals and permanent change.
Stages of Change
- Stage 1: Making Up Your Mind (the precommitment stage). This stage will involve feeling the pain that prompts you to want to change, evaluating risks and benefits of the goal you have in mind, and evaluating your current ability.
- Stage 2: Committing to Change. This stage involves planning the necessary steps, building up your motivation, and considering possible distractions and things that might happen to discourage you or cause a setback.
- Stage 3: Taking Action. This stage includes several big steps. You must decide when, where and how to start; you must show up to start despite fears and self-doubts; then you must focus on each step.
- Stage 4: Maintaining Long-Term Success. This is your ultimate aim if you want writing to be a career. It will involve learning to recover from setbacks and getting mentally tough for the long haul.
(For a thorough discussion beyond the blog posts, see Chapters 11-14 of Neil Fiore’s Awaken Your Strongest Self.)
So…that’s the plan for the next few Tuesday blog posts. Do not despair if you’ve struggled with meeting your writing goals in the past. Help–and hope for permanent change–is on the way.
The “Stage 4″ article will be posted on New Year’s Day–just in time for those New Year’s Resolutions!
November 30, 2012
As you could probably tell by Tuesday’s article “Simplified Writing Goals for 2013,” I think it’s time to get back to basics. I tend to read a lot, then take what I learn and complicate things.
Learning is good. Making my writing life complicated, however, does NOT help.
With that in mind, today’s Friday offering is a time management coach’s article to help you simplify your day and move forward on your goals. Here are five things to do in the first five minutes of your day. [Read to the end for a free gift offer by the author.]
THE 5 MINUTES THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
BY MARCIA FRANCOIS
How would you like to start every day off on the right foot?
Wouldn’t you like to feel a sense of excitement as you start your day?
You can have exactly that if you do something different for just 5 minutes a day.
If you spend 5 minutes every evening (or at the end of your work day) planning the following day, your life will dramatically change.
So what do you need to do?
1. Grab a notebook and pen.
You could also use the eat the frog form in the pack offered on my website.
The point is to have something to capture your thoughts.
2. Ask yourself one of these important questions.
* Which 3 – 5 things, when accomplished, will move me towards my goals?
* What is the best use of my time tomorrow?
3. Think effective, not busy.
Busy means you’re doing lots of things. Effective means you’re doing the right things.
E.g. Yesterday, after I downloaded email, I had two choices – keep busy by reading newsletters and replying to all my blog comments & personal emails, or be effective by responding to a journalist who wants to interview me.
Guess which one I chose to do?
Effective tasks will move you towards your goals while busy tasks will make you feel productive but may not necessarily yield results.
4. Write down no more than 6 tasks.
Mary Kay, one of the world’s most successful businesswomen, said that the secret of her success was to only tackle 6 tasks a day. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.
I showed a client my own planner a few weeks ago. When I think I’m Superwoman and put down more than 6 tasks, I never get them all done. But when I put 5 or 6 tasks on my list, I get them all done.
If, after a few days, you find that you’re feeling overwhelmed with 6 tasks, lower your expectations and start with 3. You’ll soon settle on your comfort number.
5. Number the items in order of priority.
Only now (in step 5) do you prioritize them. Don’t try and do this step before you get them down – you might get stuck in analysis paralysis.
You’ll hit the ground running the next day when you start on number 1 and move through your list until you complete number 6.
Marcia Francois is a time management coach and speaker who inspires busy women to break out of overwhelm, make the most of their time and take purposeful and focused action so they have the time and freedom to live life to the full. Visit http://
November 23, 2012
I didn’t think the world needed one more writing book—but I was wrong. The book that changed my mind is Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole.
This book answers so many of our questions about:
- the current writing market (and all the changes)
- what sells best and why
- how to target today’s major traditional book markets
- getting inside the minds of middle-grade and YA readers
- crafting characters and plots that grip a reader
- and what makes a winning query or proposal for an agent or editor.
[NOTE: The book is an in-depth treatment of middle-grade and young adult fiction. It does not cover fiction for kids under age 8 or nonfiction. This is not just a “beginner’s book.” While the book is understandable for someone just starting out, it is challenging enough for a more experienced writer, and especially helpful to anyone wanting to bring their novel up several levels so it can compete much better in the current marketplace.]
Why should you listen to Mary Kole? Well, she has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and now spends her days as a Senior Literary Manager at Movable Type. She holds her MFA in creative writing from the Universityof San Francisco. Mary blogs at Kidlit.com, named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Writer’s Digest Magazine for three years running. The book is a bit like having the opportunity to sit down with an agent for a heart to heart about why some books sell and some don’t.
Mary Kole’s encouragement to slow down and really focus on the writing, the theme, and the passion in your story is very welcome. In Mary’s own words:
“That’s why I’m so excited to share this book with you. It’s about craft, first and foremost, and, I hope, it forces you to focus on what’s really important. The publishing game will always be there when you’re ready, and when you finally hit upon that amazing idea and execute it with finesse, you will have a much easier time landing an agent and progressing to a book deal.”
One big change Kole talks about is the current “blockbuster mentality” (that came about after the mega hits of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games) and why novels need to be so well crafted in order to sell today:
“The blockbuster mentality that is rampant in Hollywood and in adult and nonfiction publishing has finally come to the kidlit market. We now know that children’s books can make money, so we (agents, editors, and the finance guys upstairs who are signing off on book offers) expect them to.”
Many students have told me they love middle-grade writing, but have no interest in writing about vampires or wizards. Mary’s thoughts:
“If you want to avoid genre, though, there’s still definitely room for stories that deal with the real world of school, friends, romance, and family. In fact, some editors and agents are clamoring for strong contemporary stories where nobody has any magic powers and nothing falls out of the sky or crawls out of the ground. They (and readers) want real life, because that’s fascinating, too.”
The same holds true for YA writers who don’t want to write books with edgy violence and sex scenes. Mary’s advice is:
“Before you start writing smut and gore, though, here’s a very important point to remember: You don’t have to be edgy to write YA. In fact, that’s a huge trap that most aspiring writers of YA fall into. They try on a snarky voice, shoehorn in a paranormal element, and put their character in dangerous situations—all because they think that’s what’s selling right now. But all it does is come off as forced.”
Editors and agents are looking for “high concept” novels today. Here are some clues to what that means—and ways to get your novel this designation. Mary says:
“There are certain things that seem to get the high-concept designation more than others. Basically, it’s anything Hollywood might like: twists; surprise endings; secrets; betrayals in friendship; family ties; romantic relationships; big events like birth, death, and transformation; life-threatening danger; glamour; fantasy and superpower elements, hidden identities; big crime; conspiracy; love triangles—anything that’s larger than life.”
Writing Irresistible Kidlit has sections called “From the Shelves” throughout the book that highlight examples from current published books. A full list of these books is at the end under “Novels Cited,” and I intend to print off the list and start reading. That will be an education all by itself!
I read this book as a PDF sample review copy. Even though I highlighted throughout, I’m going to buy a hard copy. If you can’t buy it right now, put it on your Christmas list. (Or earmark one of those Amazon gift cards you’ll receive from someone this year.) It will make a great Christmas present to yourself! I recommend this new writing book very highly.
November 20, 2012
Even if you’re not participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I thought you might enjoy snippets of the pep talks that are emailed to writers to help them keep going.
A Pep Talk from Kate DiCamillo was about a guy at her day job who ridiculed her early writing efforts, but she fought back–by writing. (I really identified with her, having written to prove I could to everyone who told me to get a “real job.”) Her letter included:
It is a truly excellent to have someone to believe in you and your ability to write.
But I think it is just as helpful to have people who don’t believe in you, people who mock you, people who doubt you, people who enrage you. Fortunately, there is never a shortage of this type of person in the world.
So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you.
The following is part of a Pep Talk from Lindsey, who ran into an emergency situation at the beginning of the month and was tempted to quit. It applies to any writer who has run into a life situation that has derailed them.
For those of you who have contemplated abandoning your novel—or already have—I invite you to sit down, look at your novel-in-progress, and envision a November without the rest of the story you’ve started. Imagine your laundry is folded, your pillow creased from adequate use, dinner is cooked, socks are matching, your shoes are shined… but no novel.
Here’s part of a message from Lani Diane Rich on “Having a Dream vs. Realizing a Dream”–and it might encourage you to try NaNoWriMo next year!
National Novel Writing Month changed my life. Because of NaNoWriMo, I became the first previously unpublished writer to get a book deal with a major New York publisher. Because of NaNoWriMo, I started taking myself seriously as a writer, and now I get to live my passion. I write, I teach writing, and I talk about writing—that’s my day job. But I honestly don’t know if I’d be where I am now if not for NaNoWriMo.
Do you have a really mean internal editor and critic? Then you’ll like what Karen Russell had to say about that…
Perhaps you, too, have a coach of the interior like mine—bald and cruel, shaking his sweaty pate at your sloth, ridiculing your sentences, professionally contemptuous. Extremely foul-mouthed. A definite misogynist. A voice that reads over your shoulder and snorts with derision at your characters’ dialogue. A voice in cahoots with every other voice that has ever criticized your efforts and ambitions and haircut. He pretends to be all kinds of things: the Voice of Reason, the Voice of Tough Love. But he is a tyrant. He is the enemy of fiction writing. His “pep talks” are actually spells of paralysis, designed to rob you of all confidence and happiness. In order to write your novel, you must get rid of this sadist. Do whatever it takes to shut him up. Chloroform him; drag him by his white Reebox behind the dugout; bury his shrill, censorious whistle. Then return to your green, blank, mercifully silent playing field, and write.
Time to Write!
Try to remember, when you hit periods of distress and discouragement with your writing, that it’s only part of being a working writer. Take the advice above and push on. You’ll be glad that you did!« Older Posts — Newer Posts »