2016 Announcements ~ A Hiatus

ss announcements 2016Happy 2016, everyone! We here at the Sprint Shack would like to wish you a wonderful new year filled with happiness, health, and lots of good writing.

Over the past years, we’ve been blown away by the amazing community that has sprung up around The Sprint Shack and word sprinting. We’ve loved sharing our writing advice and hearing yours. So many of you have accomplished amazing things with your writing and we’re sure that 2016 holds more of the same!

Unfortunately, we have an announcement to make – one that is somewhat difficult for us: as of today, the Sprint Shack will be going on an indefinite hiatus.

This decision was not one that was easy to make for us. But after much discussion and reflection, we’ve decided that putting the Sprint Shack on hiatus is the right thing to do as we all venture further into our own writing and personal projects.

We are not sure if, or when, the Sprint Shack might return, but we have decided to leave that open for the time being. As we pursue other projects, we’ll most certainly miss the Sprint Shack and this incredible community. So we’re leaving this open-ended for now. If, in the future, we feel we have the time to commit to the site again, we’ll pick everything back up.

But for now, we’re putting things on pause. And though this was a hard decision, we’re confident that it’s the right one.

We’re positive that 2016 is going to be a wonderful year for the writing community. We’re so glad to have been part of it for so long and thank you all for your participation, engagement, and enthusiasm you’ve brought to this site.

We’d love to keep in touch with you! You can find us at our respective websites/social media outlets:

Faye Kirwin

Cristina Guarino

Taylor Eaton
Little Write Lies

Thank you all for your support! Happy writing in 2016 and beyond!


The Sprint Shack Team
(Faye, Cristina, and Taylor)

Announcement: Entrada Publishing is looking for manuscripts!


We’ve been a bit quiet here at the Sprint Shack for the holidays, but we’ve got a quick announcement for you all!

Rachel of Entrada Publishing (you’ll remember her from our most recent guest post) let us know that Entrada Publishing is currently looking to publish more books in 2016. So for those of you with a manuscript that you’re dying to see published, take a look at the details below from Entrada Publishing.


We are now seeking a few submissions to round out the publishing calendar for 2016.

If you feel that your manuscript is ready (it’s been edited and beta read at least once) then please contact us.

No romance (as the general theme, some as a sideline is okay).

No erotica.

No “graphic” sex.

Please message or email a summary of the book (no more than one page), the genre and a movie rating to go along with it, G, PG, PG-13, PG-13+, R. (yes, I made up PG-13+ it seems like there needs to be another category in there for a general PG-13 book with one bad scene or language, etc.)

We are a real publisher, not a subsidy publisher. We do not charge any fees to the writer now or ever for books we select to publish.

Email or message with questions at query@entradapublishing.com


Good luck with your submissions, everyone! And happy holidays to all!


Guest Post: Rachel Smith – Four Simple Ways To Get Your Book Noticed

Rachel SmithThe t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. Your book is done and you’re ready to publish. And the hardest part is over…but your work is not done. Now it’s time to begin your marketing plan. First, let’s assume that your manuscript is as polished as it can be – you’ve had it edited and maybe even beta read by family and friends. Let’s assume that you’ve picked out a great title, designed the perfect cover and clicked that final upload button to the publisher of your choice. Now what? How do you get the word out about your book? Here’s a quick list of ways you can get your book noticed:

Get your book reviewed. There are lots of different types of reviews. Editorial review are generally the most expensive ($299+). These reviews are by neutral third parties (yes, we do those) where an editor reads and reviews your book. You are then allowed to use that review in your marketing materials, on the cover, etc. But you can also leverage the blogger network.

What does this mean? I call it the ripple effect. If you have an amazing, compelling book – it will be successful. Remember the last time you read a truly excellent book – didn’t you want to tell everyone about it? There are quite a few bloggers that will read and do reviews for books they are interested in, some of them are even free. But it takes time, perseverance and research. There are several companies that will also manage the process of getting these reviews for you (yes, we do that too). Other options include contacting local media, newspapers and television. You’ll have a better chance of being talked about in your local news if you present your story in an interesting way for the editor of that outlet. Media outlets are always looking for more content that they can provide to their readers.

Use your social networks. This seems obvious but you don’t need to spam your friends and family. However, getting a mention to your book, a link, a like, a post can help a friend of a friend of a friend find your book. And don’t forget for every reader you have, your circle of influence expands. Social networks don’t have to be limited to online contacts. I was recently checking out at a store when the woman in front of me struck up a conversation with the cashier. She said something to the effect of, “I think that you would like my music. I just finished recording this and I’d like to share it with you.” She then left a copy of a CD with the surprised and pleased employee. That made an impact.

Donate when you can. There are libraries and schools near you that are always in need of new books. Find out how you can donate a copy or two of your book to them. They may have an area where they spotlight new books or local authors. Take advantage of this free publicity. Many of these library employees are in the business of recommending books on a daily basis. Also, don’t overlook that many retirement homes or senior citizen centers could benefit from your book as well. All donations are tax deductible either as charity or as a marketing expense. Ask your tax advisor for more information.

Sponsor a book club. There are thousands of book clubs all over the world that meet in person and online to read and discuss a specific book. Contact the leaders of these groups to suggest your book as the book of the month/week, donate it or offer to speak to the group personally for a question and answer session. Everyone loves to get a little “special attention” when they are involved in running or participating in a book group. These experiences give you an opportunity to form relationships with people that can become “super fans” and help grow your reputation while increasing awareness about your book.

These are just a few ways to increase awareness for you and your book. Most are fairly low cost but all involve forming relationships with people. You can download more marketing ideas free at http://www.entradapublishing.com/marketing_guide.html to get you started.

You can do this next step! Just take a few minutes to brainstorm your ideas and write them down, including the ones that you had while reading this article. Your book won’t sell itself. It need a little help from you – but don’t forget…YOU CAN DO it!


Rachel Smith is the lead acquisitions editor and marketing manager at Entrada Publishing. She works with beta readers, editors and authors to get books into selling and award winning shape. She prides herself on having found two authors through beta reading for publication, holding their hand every step of the way and celebrating when they signed their first book deal contract. You can get help with all areas of book marketing, book reviews, beta reading, cover design and more at www.entradapublishing.com.

Writerly Round Up: November 2015

Writerly Round Up monthly template (1)Happy November 30th! For many, today is a bittersweet day: the end of NaNoWriMo. Throughout the month, you’ve likely fallen in and out of love with your story a million times, and it’s both relieving and saddening to close the cover on a beloved (though exhausting) 30-day challenge.

We’re here with our monthly round up to help you both celebrate and mourn the end of November with some great articles we spotted across the web this month. So take a breather, do some reading, and set your sights on the road ahead!

Outlining… Or Not: Some Tips For Discovery Writers

Posted by J Young-Ju Harris

With NaNoWriMo officially coming to a close, there are plenty of writers out there who have learned something new about themselves and/or their craft this past month.  For many, that thing is a love for discovery writing. If you’ve found yourself loving the less structured approach these past 30 days, check out J Young-Ju Harris’s tips on discovery writing like a pro!

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals for Writers (and Those Who Love Them)

Posted by Joe Bunting @ The Write Practice

The title says it all! Though Black Friday has passed, there are tons of great writerly deals out there today for Cyber Monday, from cheap e-books and e-readers to discounted writing courses.

The Character Evolution Files, No. 4: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 2 – The Comfort Zone (Act I)

Posted by Sara Letourneau

This month, Sara Letourneau posted part 4 to her wonderful “The Character Evolution Files” series, which explains the various stages of the Character Arc in great detail. Take a look at the series from the first post on—there’s lots to learn, especially if you plan on revamping some of your characters when editing your new novel!

Have you read any great articles this month? Feel free to share them with us!

2015 NaNoWriMo Kickoff!


Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone! We’ve been hosting word sprints on our Twitter all day to celebrate and get a head start on our word counts, but we also thought it would be fun to throw together a little kick-off post as always.

Over the next 30 days, we’ll be toiling alongside you to churn out 50,000 words (and a few inspirational posts to help you chug along). This, of course, means one thing: word sprints! For the next 4 weeks, we’ll be hosting our usual #SundayScribes and #TalesAndTea word sprints, alongside spontaneous, unannounced sprints, as we grab spare moments to write throughout the days and nights. We hope to see you writing with us; NaNoWriMo is always more fun with company!

And, to hold us accountable, we thought we’d share our goals and what we’re working on for the next month. Feel free to comment below with a description of your story and/or goals!

CristinaCristina Guarino

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo last year and definitely missed the fun and camaraderie this month brings. This year is just as busy as the last (if not more so), but I’m going to try to take the plunge with a drama/thriller novel that I’ve been brainstorming throughout October.

I typically don’t go into too much detail about my novels before I start writing them, but let’s put it this way: I’ve been reading a lot of Gillian Flynn lately and I love how complex her characters are. I’m hoping to pull off something equally as amazing in this novel, although I know that’s ambitious for a first draft! My goal is to hit the 50,000 mark, but even if I miss it, I’ll be happy to know I tried.

Skye Fairwin


I’m a NaNo rebel at heart. Why work on one project when you can work on two? That’s my aim for the next month: 30,000 words on a fantasy-with-a-dash-of-steampunk novella and 20,000 words on a non-fiction e-book. The (hopeful) result: two first drafts by the end of November. We’ll see in 30 days whether or not I make it! I hope you’ll all keep me accountable (and I’ll return the favour, ’kay?).

TaylorTaylor Eaton

It’s already time for NaNoWriMo? How did that happen? This year has flown by, and I find myself unprepared for NaNo this year. But no matter! I’ll be working on a novel of mine, Firewalkers, which has been in progress since last year. I’ve currently been writing a chapter of it each week and posting it to Channillo. But now, I want to make a final push and wrap the whole book up. I think it’ll take at least the 50,000 words I’ll write during November – maybe even more!

I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of word sprints this month and can’t wait to see how everyone does. Let’s write a novel this month, everyone!

What are you working on this month? Are you aiming for 50,000 words or less/more? Let us know!

Writerly Round Up: October 2015 (Plus, NaNoWriMo Kickoff Sprints!)

Writerly Round Up monthly templateHey there everyone, and happy Halloween!

It’s the last day of the month, and that means it’s time for our monthly writerly round up! In case you missed our first post, our writerly round ups are monthly posts with links to helpful blog posts and articles we’ve collected throughout the month. This month, we’re dedicated to bringing you articles that will hopefully help you through the trying month of NaNoWriMo ahead!

But before we delve into that, we just wanted to announce our kickoff sprints for NaNoWriMo! To celebrate the very first day of our adventures, we’ll be hosting some sprints throughout the day tomorrow to help you get a head-start on your word counts! We’ll be hosting sprints during the following times:

10:00-11:00 PDT / 13:00-14:00 EDT / 18:00-19:00 GMT – #SundayScribes, hosted by Taylor

05:00-7:00 PDT / 08:00-10:00 EDT / 13:00-15:00 GMT – word sprints hosted by Cristina  

12:00-15:00 PDT / 15:00-18:00 EDT / 20:00-23:00 GMT – word sprints hosted by Faye

We hope to see you there! And now, without further ado, some reading material for you last-minute NaNoWriMo planners.

5 Creative Ways To Take Writing Project Notes

Posted by: Alyssa Hollingsworth @ The Great Noveling Adventure

Just because you’re busy working on one project during NaNoWriMo doesn’t mean your muse brain will take it easy on you. Here are some ways to stay organized during the month so you can tuck away any new story ideas that come to you and keep focus strong on the task at hand until December.

Ten Questions To Ask When Beginning A Book

Posted by: Cheryl Reif

An oldie but goodie, this article helps writers start their novel on the right track. If you’re an outliner looking for a few pointers to square away the last of your details pre-NaNo, this article is for you; pantsers, you may still find this useful should you become stuck during the month.

10 Last-Minute NaNoWriMo Prep Tips

Posted by: Kristian Wilson @ Bustle

Bad case of procrastination? It happens to the best of us. This is a great go-to guide for those just beginning their first NaNoWriMo journey or procrastinating on their 10th.

There is only so much you can read about NaNoWriMo before biting the bullet, so we’ll leave you with these three this month. After all, there isn’t much time left for you to spend reading. Get to that last-minute outline or brainstorming session and we’ll see you on the other side!

Good luck, everyone!

Guest Post: Sara Letourneau – Seven Keys to Maintaining Your Writerly Well-Being

Our healGuest Post Template(1)th and wellness are two of the most important “possessions” we have. Yet as writers, sometimes we take them for granted. If we’re too engrossed in our work and lose track of time, or a crucial deadline on a blog post or a round of rewrites is looming, we might feel tempted to ignore sleep, hunger, and other needs.

Here’s what I can tell you from personal experience: It’s not worth it. In fact, it’s essential for us to step away from our craft now and then so we can take care of ourselves. And by remembering to balance creativity with self-care, we can be productive, happy, and healthy.

So, how can you maintain your well-being without sacrificing too much of your writing? Here are seven keys that focus on all-around areas of physical, emotional, and mental wellness.

Key #1: Hydration

Staying hydrated isn’t limited to physical exercise. Drinking enough beneficial liquids during the day can improve energy levels, mood, and concentration – all of which are crucial for writers. So, don’t wait until you’re thirsty. (It’s a sign that you’re already dehydrated.) Have a cup of water, coffee, tea, or other beverage of choice ready when you sit down to write and use your breaks to get refills.

Key #2: Nutrition

Do you find it impossible to write when you’re hungry? (I do!) Not only does hunger lead to a distracting sensation in one’s stomach, but it also throws the brain “off-balance” by forcing the hypothalamus (which regulates a body’s homeostasis) to work overtime. As a result, the body’s focus shifts to finding food. Malnutrition, or the state of not getting enough food or enough of the right foods, can also affect memory, sleep patterns, mood – even motor skills such as writing manually or typing.

Don’t let an empty stomach derail your ability to think or write. Instead, have a snack handy for when those familiar pangs pay a visit. Some healthy choices include fresh vegetables, dried fruit, cheese or peanut butter with crackers, or nuts and seeds. And when it comes to meals, take a break from writing to feed and refresh yourself, or set a deadline so you can wrap up your session at a reasonable time.

Key #3: Exercise

Not only is exercise good for your physical health, but it also has emotional and creative benefits. It can enhance your mood, improve energy levels, and boost self-esteem. It can also put your brain in a relaxed state that opens the spontaneous pathway, which happens during free association and idea-generation. (In other words, those “a-ha” moments that happen when you’re away from writing? Your spontaneous pathway is open then!)

Since every writer’s schedule differs, it’s important to fit in exercise when it works best for you. And whether you prefer cardio (aerobics, swimming), toning (yoga, pilates), or strength conditioning (weights, indoor rock climbing), there’s no shortage of activities to try. Also, have a journal or recording device ready for when your spontaneous pathway opens. If I’m outside walking, I take my cellphone with me for safety reasons – and for saving “text messages” when inspiration strikes.

Key #4: Rest

Some writers have no trouble sacrificing sleep for their craft’s sake. A few even advocate that insomnia boosts creativity. Not me. I’ve learned first-hand that sleep deprivation can hinder concentration, disrupt the ability to fight stress, and make you super-cranky. And when the cycle goes on for too long, it can force your body to shut down.

If this happens to you, listen to your body. Ensure you get enough sleep by going to bed and getting up at times that work for you. You’ll feel refreshed as well as mentally and emotionally prepared for your next writing session.

Key #5: Relaxation

One of the perks of being a writer is using our craft as a form of stress relief. When something troubles you, journaling can often help you find a solution. Not only does journaling allow you to acknowledge your current emotions, fears, or worries, but the act of writing by hand can also put you in a meditative state by slowing your breathing, relaxing your muscles, and clarifying your thoughts. I’ve kept a journal off and on for years, and it’s been a savior for problem-solving and for calming my (sometimes) anxious mind.

However, what about the times when a journal isn’t available? Try listening to new age music or guided meditations that can reduce stress and anxiety. Practice yoga, which promotes relaxation by combining stretching exercises with focused breathing. Other artsy hobbies such as knitting, painting, and adult coloring books can also help.

Key #6: Social Life

As much as we love writing, we shouldn’t let our passion turn us into hermits. ;) Take some time to meet up with friends, attend events that appeal to your interests, or volunteer for meaningful charities and causes. It nurtures your current relationships and helps you build new ones. And on a wellness level, it can buoy your energy and self-confidence.

Key #7: The Occasional Reward

Did you recently finish a draft? Or hit an important word count milestone? You should celebrate! A chocolate bar, a dinner at your favorite restaurant, a shopping trip, or a day at the beach – whatever brings you euphoria or peace, give yourself permission to indulge in it for the moment. Then, when you go back to writing, you’ll feel satisfied with your progress so far and even more motivated to reach for the next goal.

What are some of your tips for maintaining your “writerly well-being”? Is there one particular area you want or are trying to improve on?


Sara Letourneau is a Massachusetts-based writer who practices joy and versatility in her work. In addition to revising a YA fantasy novel tentatively titled THE KEEPER’S CURSE, she reviews tea at A Bibliophile’s Reverie and contributes to the writing resource site DIY MFA. Her poetry has been published in The Curry Arts Journal, Soul-Lit, The Eunoia Review, Underground Voices, and two anthologies. Learn more about Sara at her website / blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Happy Birthday to Us: The Sprint Shack Turns 2 Today!

UntitledHappy Sunday everyone—and happy birthday to us!

Today, The Sprint Shack turns two years old! It’s been an exciting and productive year, and we thought it’d be fun to get together and share a recap with you all. After all, this could be our last big celebration before we update our NaNoWriMo word counts to that glorious 50,000 on November 30th and weep with overwhelming victory.

In case you haven’t seen, we’ve been sprinting on and off on our Twitter all day to celebrate (and we aren’t stopping yet)! But now we’d like to take a moment to recap some accomplishments from this past year, our own personal experiences blogging together, and each of our most popular posts.

The blog was a bit quieter this year as we all toiled away at our own projects, but we’ve accomplished a few exciting things since our last birthday. We added Mazie, our new contributor, who now blogs with us regularly. We hit 2,000 followers on Twitter and released a celebratory resource bundle. And, of course, we featured some amazing guest posters! Before we continue, take a look at these amazing posts and give a big thanks to their authors for contributing such awesome pieces:

Brigid Gallagher (YA Buccaneers) – Kill Your Distractions

Meredith Foster – How to Write in a Less-Than-Ideal Environment

Mazie Bishop (before she joined us as a contributor!) – Being A NaNoWriMo ML

Amy Good – “Story Bandit:” Stealing Your Writer’s Block With Random Prompts & Dares!

Grace Black – Poetry & Three Line Thursday Writing Competition

Amy Good & Karen Faris – Rewriting Mary Sue

Yvonne Spence – 1000 Voices Speak & The Power of Writing

These were some well-written, inspiring posts… and we’re honored to have hosted them!

We Just Wanted To Say…

Happy birthday to us! The Sprint Shack is one year old! Here's what the founders have to say...Faye

It feels like it was only last month that we were launching the Sprint Shack and now we’re celebrating our second birthday. I can’t believe how fast that time’s gone! But it’s not that surprising, considering how much has happened in that time. The Sprint Shack has developed and branched into areas that we never thought it would when we first founded it, like self-publishing and freelancing. We also launched our first bundle for writersthe first of many to come! This next year is going to be very exciting for the Sprint Shack, let me tell you.

The past year has also been an incredible journey for me personally. I’ve moved on after graduating from university, run my own business and expanded my first e-course into an e-book, the Writember Workbook. Over the next year, I’m planning to release two more e-books for writers, plus whip my work-in-progress, Her Clockwork Heart, into readable shape. It’s all happening in 2016—and that’s not even going into what we have planned for the Sprint Shack! (Hint: it’s going to be epic, you guys.)

In short, keep watching this space.

Faye’s most popular article this year: How To Write 10,000 Words In A Day

TaylorTaylor Eaton

Two years? Already?! Wow. Happy two-year birthday to the Sprint Shack! It’s hard to believe we’ve been around that long already. To be honest, this site still feels very new. And in some ways, it is. We’re still working to come up with new ways to bring all our readers the best content we can. I can’t say too much, but we’ve got some exciting things planned for Year 3!

On a personal note, this past year has been a variety of writing successes and failures on my part (but that seems to be most years). As far as successes go: I’ve published two more collections of flash fiction (God Gave Me Butterfly Wings and Little Write Lies, Volume 1), plus continued to post two free flash fiction stories per week over at Little Write Lies. I’ve also started a successful series, Firewalkers, on Channillo, continue to be a monthly judge for Three Line Thursday, and have recently become an editor at 101 Words.

On the flip side, there have been weeks on end when I haven’t written at all. Projects I have been working on have been put on hold. My time spent word sprinting has dwindled down to almost nothing. And a new job has left me exhausted, with little to no energy left to write in the past couple months.

However, if there’s one thing that the Sprint Shack community has taught me over the last year, it’s that it is imperative to celebrate your successes and forgive yourself for your failures. I’m encouraged to keep writing by our wonderful readers and contributors, as well as my awesome co-founders. Here’s to another great year with the Sprint Shack!

Taylor’s most popular article this year: A Tiny Guide: Prioritizing Your Writing Time

CristCristina Guarinoina

I’m not sure what I can say that Faye and Taylor haven’t already. Of course, I’m floored that it’s been two years already since we began writing, sprinting, and collaborating with each other to bring The Sprint Shack to life. I, too, look back on this year as a combination of failures and successes alike, but as Taylor said, I think that’s every year!

Receiving a promotion at my job last year led to an increase in writing responsibilities for my employer, so personal blogging and creative writing have shifted back and forth in priority over the past 12 months or so. In addition, I’ve embarked on a fitness journey of sorts, holding myself accountable to my weekly workouts and more active weekend plans like hiking, and my will power often runs out by the time I get to my writing as a result. I also found myself in a new relationship and with a new pet—a feisty and troublesome kitten! So, naturally, life has felt a bit hectic—and I’m a little disappointed about how infrequently I was able to post on The Sprint Shack, be present for regular sprinting events like #TNightSprints and #TuesAMSprints, and focus on my creative projects this year.

But while there were some disappointments, there were some amazing experiences as well! I got to help beta read Faye and Taylor’s works and watch their writing flourish, meet and work with Mazie as our new contributor, and this past summer, I got my own flash fiction piece “Petals to the Sea” published in The Great Noveling Adventure’s anthology Summer Nights!

As for the future, I’m excited to work with Faye and Taylor to put some of our exciting ideas for The Sprint Shack to life. I’ve been spending some more time with my fantasy WIP Fleeting and considering what to work on for NaNoWriMo, since I think spending some time in a new project would do my creativity well and give my excitement for writing the spark it needs after a tough year. I’m still not entirely sure where the next year will take me, but that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for… and we aren’t there quite yet!

Cristina’s most popular article this year: The Story Arc: A Guide To Structuring A Smooth Story


In the past year I have somehow managed to land a writing position with Sprint Shack, graduate with a degree in Journalism, and jump start my freelance career. My new year’s resolution was to write 1000 words a day, and for once in my life, I haven’t broken the chain yet. It has truly been a year full of big sprints and I can’t be more pleased about how it’s turned out.

Mazie’s most popular article this year: Setting Manageable Goals

So, where do we go from here?

We have some more plans for The Sprint Shack, the details of which are still under wraps… but keep an eye out for more content and bundles, a potential site overhaul, and new & improved sprinting schedules in the future!

Most importantly, thank you so much to our readers and followers for participating in sprints, reading The Sprint Shack, and chatting with us on Twitter. We love having such a wide community of writers to celebrate the craft with.

Here’s to another great year!

Introducing “Writerly Round Up:” Our Top Picks from September 2015

UntitledIt’s a little crazy to think that September is already over. October is on our heels, and with it, the excitement and sheer terror of NaNoWriMo peeking over the horizon. What will we write about? How will we approach those new or ongoing projects? Will we finally beat down that writer’s block once and for all, or succumb to it a little while longer?

Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or not, these are all questions you likely face every day. They, along with dozens of others, are constant fodder for those pesky inner editors who are adamant about keeping our word counts down. Self-doubt is something we all deal with, and that’s one of the reasons there are so many blogs, websites, and challenges dedicated to keeping fellow writers productive and confident.

At The Sprint Shack, we all follow other writers—whether that be through Twitter, their blog’s subscription service, or a myriad of other venues—and so we’re constantly reading about the craft of writing. Since there are so many sources out there for inspiration, we thought it’d be fun to share some with you! We’ll be collecting a few external posts each month that we enjoyed or found helpful and share them with you in a monthly “Writerly Round Up” post.

Take a look at what we have for you this month. We hope you enjoy your last day of September!

4 Reasons Why Sprinting Is The New Writing

Posted by: Sacha Black

We’ve extolled the virtues of word sprinting numerous times, but Sacha does a great job of going over the basics—as well as 4 great reasons why you should be utilizing this great productivity tool.

The Benefits of Pre-Writing

Posted by: Kristen A. Kieffer @ She’s Novel

Kristen at She’s Novel does a phenomenal job of covering pre-writing’s many benefits. This one wasn’t posted this September, but the advice contained within is timeless. Pre-writing is a helpful exercise for getting into the meat of your next project, particularly for those of us embarking on NaNoWriMo in a mere 32 days.

How to Accept Your Writing (When You Feel Like the Worst Writer Ever)

Posted by: Kaitlin Hillerich @ Ink and Quills

When you’re in the worst of writing ruts, the craft you’re most passionate about can feel like a chore. Kaitlin at Ink and Quills doles out some great advice in this piece about knowing yourself, accepting writing, and acknowledging that your dry spell won’t last forever.

The #1 Secret To Writing Faster And Saving Your Time

Posted by: Jenny Bravo @ Blots & Plots

Writing is a long, laborious process. No magical formula will help you write a bestseller in a day, but if you’re looking for tips to be a faster, more efficient writer, Jenny Bravo at Blots & Plots has you covered.

Pep Talk: Getting Ready For NaNoWriMo

Posted by: Hannah Davies @ Write All Year

Who doesn’t love the regular pep talks from NaNoWriMo’s Chris Baty & co.? If you can’t wait until November for that extra boost, give this pep talk a read and get prepping.

Did you come across any articles you particularly enjoyed this month? Let us know in the comments, or pass them on to us via Twitter!

Guest Post: 1000 Voices Speak & The Power of Writing

Guest Post TemplateToday, we break our hiatus with a guest post from Yvonne Spence, founder of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion blogging challenge! 1000 Voices Speak invites bloggers to post on topics of compassion on the 20th of every month. These posts can range from fiction to poetry to nonfiction and everything in-between, and aim to raise awareness about the various ways in which people can show compassion. Posts are linked up on the 20th so that participants can read each others’ work and spread the word. 

Yvonne is with us today to discuss the power of writing, which is at the very core of the 1000 Voices Speak initiative. 

Suppose you’re having a tough day and feel as if nobody understands you. Lost in sadness, you search the internet for help and find an article that says what you need to do is get rid of your negative thoughts and choose happiness. As you read, you might see where your thoughts have driven your spiral into misery—or you might feel even more miserable because you think you should be able to drop those negative thoughts, and because your feeling that nobody understands you intensifies.

The written word has power—but only as much as the reader gives it. This is true even of unpublished writing—even if nobody else reads your writing, you do. If by journaling you gain insight into your own mind’s thought patterns, then your writing has the power to transform.

Back in January, I read articles about the Charlie Hebdo murders and massacres in Nigeria. As I read, I felt shock, and yet a sense that of change, of the world saying, “No more.” Two words held up by the people of Paris summed this up: “Not afraid.”

Later, I read a post by fellow blogger, Lizzi Rogers, that was a call for more compassion. I often read similar posts and yet it seemed that many writers felt lonely in their longing to care. It struck me that we needed to get them together.

I invited people to join me in writing about compassion. My hope was to get 1000 people to write on the same day, creating a counter to the frequent reports of atrocities. I hoped that in some small way we would help to spread love and understanding around the globe. We’ve been spreading love ever since.

When writing comes from the heart, it provides a service. In giving ourselves permission to write from our deepest truth, we touch the same truth in our readers and so give them permission to be who they are.

Writing that wants attention for its beauty or cleverness tends to disappoint. It feels empty and leaves writer and reader feeling frustrated though often not knowing why. It’s simple: the writer isn’t writing to spark ideas in the reader, but to impress them, to gain approval and feel of value.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. If we, as writers, feel lacking and gain approval through our writing, the confidence that comes can spread to other aspects of our lives.

And yet, if we want to connect with readers, we need let go of wanting approval and write from beyond habitual patterns. This deeper kind of writing most often happens when we don’t plan it, but simply show up at our desks and allow the process to do the writing for us. The “I” (or ego) steps out of the way. It’s no coincidence that many great writers say the writing writes itself.

Great writing by “ordinary” bloggers or authors comes that way too. We don’t have nearly as much control as we’d sometimes like to think and the more we let go of trying to control, the better our writing usually is. When we let go of trying to control, our writing comes from our deeper, unconscious mind and we connect with other people in this same deep way.

Yes, we also connect in superficial ways—if, for instance, I write an article about politics and present my view as the “right” or “good” one, many people will agree with me. However, this also risks disconnection from others if they happen to hold different political opinions. The same holds true for any topic – I could have strong opinions about parenting, schooling or even cooking that diverge from a percentage of my potential audience.

Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. I’m not suggesting we censor ourselves, because that destroys any power our words have. If we express our view and are open to others disagreeing with us, then we will reach deeper understandings. In this way, writing connects and transforms.

Writing that comes from the unconscious mind, that goes beyond ego and touches that deeper part of the reader, doesn’t need to be serious or “worthy.” Comedy exposes the collective insanity of the mind, the parts we try to hide. In recognising and laughing at our human foibles, we release them, and again open to deeper connection.

Writers, including many of the people who take part in 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, often struggle for words, not because they are trying to impress, but because they don’t feel worthy. In reality, it’s not that we aren’t enough, but that language can only ever point to what connects us; it can never fully be it. When we go beyond our fear of disapproval, what remains is a wordless sense of peace.

However, to point others to that, we need to use words. Take compassion. I’ve felt it; you’ve felt it. But we experience it through the filters of our minds. When I share my definition and read yours, it leads to deeper understanding.

The power of the written word comes when it breaks through a reader’s filters to allow new insights and awareness. For me, this is the biggest source of joy in writing—both as reader and writer. Several people have said that my novel, Drawings in Sand, helped them to gain compassion for someone from their past.

One post for our very first #1000Speak link-up came from a Nigeria woman, aptly named Joy. She now lives in South Africa and to try to protect herself from the pain of what was happening in her home country, she shut it out. After joining 1000 Voices Speak, she found the strength to open her heart to her country’s people, writing: Today and always you are my family.

There can be no stronger testament to the power of the written word than that!

Yvonne Spence writes both fiction and non-fiction.  Her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, and two have won prizes. One of her essays will be published in the anthology “Mom for the Holidays” later this autumn and another will be in an anthology published in spring 2016 by HerStories. She blogs at yvonnespence.com.
Compassion Logo FINISHEDIn January this year, Yvonne instigated 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. If you would to be part of a movement for loving change, you can check out the 1000 Voices Speak blog, join the Facebook Group, like the Facebook Page, follow on Twitter at @1000speak or look for posts with the hashtag #1000Speak.