Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Tips to NaNo Success

From last week's post, I've convinced you to do the National Novel Writing Month challenge- 1,667 words a day for a whole month. (Or, you already knew you were going to do it, but wanted confirmation. You got it.)

Now before you go boasting about your intentions, shut up and take the following 5 steps to help guarantee that success.
  • Go into battle with a plan. One does not simply sit down to write the Great Novel. Know how your story starts, one or more incidents in the middle, and one incident toward the end. Beginnings, middles, and endings may change (that's called changing your mind or revisions) but for now you need solid starting points.
  • Get over it and get going. If you don't make your word count one day, don't quit. Write as much as you can. Some days it's a struggle, but that doesn't mean the challenge is over and that you've failed. You may have a day where all you do is write as fast as you can and you make up for the shortage. Even if you don't, keep going. There are no NaNo police. The purpose of NaNo is to create a writing routine, to build your confidence, to work through a bump in the writing road.
  • Go ahead, cheat. Before November 1st, write notes, character sketches, outlines. You can do this before you start or even during the challenge. Maybe you're having a tough time figuring out a scene. By writing a character sketch, you become more intimate with your character's flaws and talents. And it's writing, so if you do this during the challenge, that's writing and it counts. (Do you really think you're going to keep every word you've written once you start revising? *laughs like crazy.)
  • Hook up. Looking for someone special? Someone who shares your secret desire...? Sign up at the official NaNoWriMo site and connect with others. You'll get support, advice, friendship and opportunities to meet with others. This doesn't have to be a lonely endeavor (save that for the revision process). I'll make it easy for you, here's the link: NaNoWriMo
  • Learn a lesson! About your writing, your routine, your weaknesses, your strengths. You have to be honest with yourself- you hate teen angst, so why are you writing a Young Adult novel? Research is so not you, so don't start a crime drama. You have a flair for romantic comedy. Go with it! You have a full time job--but you can squeeze in a couple of hundred words while the kid is at soccer practice, the baby sleeps, or at 5 am (no one said writing was easy). Learn what works best for you.
Those are my five tips for before you start. If you're still unsure, there are 'write-ins' where you gather with others to do some fast and furious writing, encourage each other, maybe help suggest fixes for plots that stall. And if that isn't enough, I'll be giving a free workshop at the Somerset County Library on Vogt Lane in Bridgewater, NJ on Wednesday, Nov 4th from 6:30 to 8:30. Just click here: NJ SCBWI NaNo Event for info. (Although I'm presenting as a member of the NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, you don't have to write for kids/teens. If you want to write for adults, this presentation works just as well.)

Good writing, and good luck!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

5 Reasons To Do NaNoWriMo

It's called National Novel Writing Month and it happens in November. (I know, crazy month- right in the middle of Halloween and Thanksgiving, right before Christmas. I think January would have been better...)

Participants write approximately 1,666 words every day in November for a total of 50,000, producing a rough drafted novel by the 30th.

Yes, it's hell on some days. You struggle to move forward after that initial burst of creativity and energy--but it's doable. Here's why you should do it:

1. You have this great idea and it's in your head, affecting your sleep. You're always thinking about it, developing plot twists as you try to sleep, killing off characters as you eat, revising the ending as you tune out people talking around you. You need to exorcise this book idea.

2. You're under a deadline. Maybe it's one from your editor/agent for a follow-up book. Maybe you're going away for a vacation right after the holidays and know you won't get any work done for a while. Or maybe you have a work/school/family thing that is going to put a kink in your writing schedule. Get the novel written during NaNoWriMo and breathe easy.

3.  You want to realize that dream of having written a book. (You do know this will be a rough draft and you shouldn't book your tickets to LA for the screening of your book-made-into-a-movie just yet, right?) So many people say "I always wanted to write a book when I had the time/when I retired/when my children were in school..." etc. Now you have a month to do it. Stop yammering and dreaming and Just. Do. It.

4. You want to join the club. Several well known authors have books that came from NaNoWriMo. (Some of us less well-known authors have books from NaNoWriMo that we're still working on: revising, trying to sell, etc.) In common, we cover every genre. Along the way, these authors share tips and encouragement. Beth Revis (among many) sending you encouragement! Plus, when you're done, you get a cool certificate.

5. So many people will be doing it and social media may be a bit dull while we're all busy writing. Don't miss the fun, the camaraderie, the gathering of writing tips, and the sense of achievement to share with others on this journey.

Next, I'll share some tips I've learned and collected to help those who are contemplating this bold initiative. Stay tuned, and start thinking about that book!


Monday, October 12, 2015

A Sight to Behold...

Glistening dewdrops on a spider's web.

The filaments in a cat's eye.

Geometric striations of ice crystals on a frozen puddle.

The subtle shades of colors when sun shines on a head of hair.

Rainbows swirling in oil on water.

The second sense, sight- is more than seeing a red jacket.

 If I tell you a red woolen jacket, in your mind can you see the fuzzies of the wool? Nothing is absolute; even in total darkness, our eyes can be fooled into seeing the barest bit of light...or is it our memory or imagination working? Rarely is anything a solid color because light bends and refracts and reflects.

So look closely. See stitches and edges and veins and all the 'imperfections' that reveal a complex world.

See you soon...


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Breathe It In..

Pool water.


Fresh baked bread.

Pine trees.

Ocean breeze.

What links all these?


And with each one, it brings to mind something specific, a memory. Scientists say our sense of smell is the strongest of the five. A particular scent can produce a memory so vivid that we can temporarily lose our sense of time and be brought back to the moment associated with that scent.

Pool water reminds me of summer, swimming like a dolphin, playing with my kids.

Cilantro makes me think of guacamole dip, chips, and an iced cold Corona, sitting on my patio on a summer day.

Fresh baked bread brings me back to my childhood, when my mom would make it from scratch and set it on the kitchen hearth to rise.

Pine trees mean Christmas, and trudging through the cold with my boys and husband, trying to find that perfect tree before our toes froze.

Ocean breezes whip up memories of my teen years, when I lived near the Long Island Sound. My friends and I would hang out at the beach, swimming, having bonfires, throwing parties and 'parking' (making out).

Whether you're a writer, reader, student of life or all three, enjoy that olfactory organ and breathe it all in.