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!

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How to Utilize NaNoWriMo When You Aren’t Participating

UntitledEvery November, we flood The Sprint Shack’s blog and Twitter with NaNoWriMo advice. And while that advice is helpful for the many writers who do partake in the annual challenge, what about those of us who don’t? Thankfully, the lessons learned during NaNoWriMo apply to writing throughout the year—first draft writing, at least. And the tenacity, dedication, and supportive camaraderie displayed throughout the month is always a source of inspiration.

I, personally, decided not to do NaNoWriMo this November. When Faye, Taylor, and I posted our kickoff post, I had every intention of participating. I sat down, started writing, almost hit my word count goal for the first day… and immediately stopped. I had no love for the story I was attempting to write and very little time to spend working on one that I did enjoy. I knew starting out that this would not be an optimal time for me to attempt such a large goal, but I wanted to at least try. And while I don’t consider giving up after the first day a real concerted effort, I knew that I was making the right decision for myself this year.

That, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t intend to write at all this month. I still plan on being productive, only on a much smaller scale. So what if you’re like me and aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo, for whatever reasons you may have? What if you’re in the middle of editing rather than penning a new draft? Try using these tips to feed off the NaNoWriMo vibe to still stay productive, even if you aren’t aiming for that 50,000 by November 30th:

1. Read the pep talk emails. One of my favorite things about NaNoWriMo is the regular pep talk emails they send from various NaNoWriMo staff and acclaimed authors. Having your own personal cheering squad can be incredibly exciting, not to mention those who are writing the pep talk emails often have great advice that applies to all stages of writing.

2. Scroll through the forums. Don’t do this while you’re writing, of course, but take a few minutes in your spare time to peruse the NaNoWriMo forums. This can be especially helpful if you have writer’s block since many generous wrimos will often drop unneeded characters, settings, prompts, and entire plots into the Adoption Society for anyone who needs some fresh ideas.

3. Watch your friends closely. If you don’t have any “writing buddies” on the site, now’s the time to get some (the forums mentioned above are a great place to start). Watching everyone else’s word counts climb steadily throughout the month can be incredibly inspiring and can often kick your muse into action.

Of course, these are also great tips for those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo and are struggling with those second week blues. For more on that, check out Taylor’s last post on getting back on track!


Are you choosing to participate in NaNoWriMo this year? If not, what are you working on instead and how are you staying focused? Let us know!


Fallen Behind During NaNoWriMo? 5 Tips to Get Back on Track!

Behind During NaNo(1)How has the first week of NaNoWriMo been treating all of you? Are your novels coming to life as you zip through your words? I sure hope so!

But, realistically, a fair amount of us have already fallen behind.

*gasp*

It happens to the best of us. We all start out each November with a few thousand words and the undeniably optimism that this will be the year that we write AT LEAST those 1,667 words (the bare daily minimum to write 50,000 words in 30 days) each day during NaNoWriMo. But, while our muses and creativity are in a frenzied excitement, real life doesn’t slow down.

Maybe you had to work some unexpected extra hours, or maybe you caught a nasty cold. Or maybe you just couldn’t bring yourself to face another bout of writer’s block the other night. Whatever the reason, many of us have already fallen behind where we should be for the NaNo word count and are now playing the desperate game of catch up.

We’re all human and it happens to most WriMo’s. But you can’t beat yourself up about it if you still have your eye on that 50,000 target.

To aid you in your quest to claiming that NaNoWriMo victory this month, here are 5 tips to help you get back on track!

1. Do the Math

Go into your NaNoWriMo dashboard and see how many words you should have, then look at how many words you actually have. What’s the difference? If you’re behind by 1,000 words, just write 500 extra words (on top of the typical 1,667 per day) for two days. Or distribute the difference in smaller amounts over larger days. Whatever seems doable to you. In fact, NaNoWriMo’s site has a section that tells you how many words per day you need to average in order to finish on time. To find this, navigate to the stats page of your current novel and look on the sidebar for “Words Per Day To Finish On Time”. Use this is a guide for how much you need to write in order to catch up.

2. Take advantage of small pockets of time

If you find yourself at a loss for extra writing time, start using those little lulls throughout your day to get those words in. Use part of your lunch hour to write. Or if you find yourself in a waiting room, whip out your notebook or laptop and start writing. Even if you just get 50 words written, those little spurts of writing will add up and boost your word count.

3. Make time

If you can’t seem to find enough time to get your writing done, it may be necessary to go on the offensive and create the time you need. Get up 30 minutes earlier (or whatever is plausible for you) than usual, and use that time to write the extra words you need. Or maybe order in some food one night to save on cooking/clean up time. Start carving out time so you can get back to writing.

4. Set aside a whole day

Let’s say that you’re REALLY far behind. Or maybe you just can’t seem to work productively in short 30 minute spurts. If that’s the case, it may just be time to go all out. That’s right, pick a day in the next week or so and block out a huge chunk of time – if not the whole day. Don’t make any other plans for that time. This is your writing time and you’re going to use it to get back on track with your NaNo word count. It may be a bit drastic, but sometimes you need a whole day to do nothing but write in order to refocus on the goal at hand.

5. Keep writing

No matter what happens, don’t get discouraged! Keep writing and hitting your goals each day. But Don’t get down if you fall behind. You can only catch up and stay on track if you’re both optimistic and defensive of your writing time. So keep at it, hold that 50,000 word goal in your mind, and go for it! You can do this!

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!

NaNoWriMo Prep: 8 Things to Do Before NaNoWriMo Starts

Untitled

It’s that time of year again, when the leaves start to fall, the crisp air bites at your cheeks, and all of the coffee shops are full of the smell of pumpkin… and crazed over-caffeinated writers preparing for the impending storm. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but for people like me, this is the month of readying yourself for the battle against a novel that seemingly never wants to be written. Ideas for stories or novels swarm my brain on a regular basis, but as soon as NaNoWriMo is in arm’s-reach, it’s like they go into hiding.

There are millions of things we suddenly remember while NaNoWriMo is in progress that we wish we would have thought about before–or, at least, that’s the case for me. So I took it upon myself last year to keep a little ongoing list of all the things that I should have done before NaNoWriMo started. Here are some things you can think about or start working on now to have a more productive November.

Find Character Inspiration and Names:
We all know the struggle of character naming in the heat of the moment. Even if you are a “pantser” at heart, you know the time that building a character can take away from your word count. So why not do some minimal planning and figure out your characters before you have to stress about them?

Create/ Brainstorm your Cover Art:
If you are anything like me, you know the pain of going onto the NaNoWriMo forums and seeing all the beautiful cover art all ready in the signatures of all the eager and prepared Wrimos. You try to ignore them, but in the back of your mind, every sentence you write is backed up with an unbearable longing for your own cover. For me, it was my greatest downfall and distraction in the first week of last year’s festivities, and I will definitely be working on mine before November this year.

Research your Genre and Take Note of Any Applicable Conventions:
This is a great thing to do, especially if it is your first time writing within this genre. Knowing the conventions or other common features of your genre will really help you get in the groove, and it’s one less thing you will need to research when you get started.

Do the Math, Plan Your Numbers for the Month:
If you are a student or work full-time, you will need to work around your life’s schedule to win NaNoWriMo. The lovely word count tool on the website will try to tell you that you need to write roughly 1600 words a day, but for some people that’s simply not doable. So go through your schedule, find the best writing days, and try to amp up your word count on those days. This is also good if you suffer from chronic stress and need to give yourself a little break once or twice a week from novel land. If you need a few days off, just calculate that into your weekly numbers and make sure that you can make up for them on another day. The biggest part of NaNoWriMo is keeping a steady pace and making sure you take care of yourself and life outside your novel, as well.

Book Some Days Off for Catch Up or Damage Control:
This one kind of ties in with the last tip. Slipping and falling behind is pretty easy to do–life happens and you can’t expect the world to stop for NaNoWriMo (not yet at least). If you can afford to do so, I highly recommend keeping at least one day near the middle and end of the month dedicated to catching up. I personally keep a few days closer to the beginning of the month to get ahead so that I can focus on all my duties as a Municipal Liaison, and that works best for me.

Figure Out Your Goals and Rewards:
I’m a big believer in setting goals and planning rewards for when goals are achieved. If you are someone who finds themselves unmotivated often, then you should definitely set multiple short-term goals and rewards, such as for every 10,000 words written. But if you just need that one big push to get to the end, give yourself one big end goal and work towards that. Every year my reward is a winner shirt for the year and a big celebratory dinner with all the friends that had to put up with crazy-NaNoWriMo-me.

Prepare Your Inner Editor:
I want to talk more about this in a later post, but for now, I am going to explain what you can do to get ready for your novel frenzy month. Any seasoned Wrimo knows that the biggest word count killer is your inner editor. That little voice in your head that moves your fingers to that backspace button, makes you read back 8 pages, or convinces you to delete whole chapters. You need to start training yourself to fight against that little voice. I have some tips and tricks to help you beat it once and for all, but right now, you can start by practicing the ever so simple mantra “write now, edit later.” It will seriously change the way you write anything and everything. There are settings for you to turn off your word-processors editing tools if that helps you at all, but just start practicing, I promise it will make a huge difference.

Clear Your Workspace and Computer of Distractions:
Nothing is better than a well-organized workspace. All your references in order, the perfect little spot for your coffee… it all helps everything flow better when things are in place. I always make sure to clean up my computer while I’m in the cleaning mood. I hide all the distracting files or games in a folder and flood my desktop with motivational quotes and inspirational images or references. It’s really helped me out when I am looking around for something to distract myself.

How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo? Will you be trying any of these tips this October? Let us know!


Mazie-Bishop

Mazie Bishop is a fiery 23 year-old writer and journalism graduate from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.

5 Ways to Promote Your Writing NOW

5 ways to promote writingAs I mentioned in my recent series on self-publishing, writing a book (or series or running a blog – really any type of writing) is half the battle for indie authors.

In order to help gain potential readers and make it as easy as possible for them to find your writing, you need to be your own marketer. You need to champion your own site, book, etc.

Here are the top five things you can do right now that will help increase your visibility online, attract new readers, and keep your loyal fans happy.

  1. Reviews. Ask your friends, your family, your readers, your doctor…ask everyone who reads your book to leave a review. I can’t stress how important of a part reviews play in the book-buying world. So what can you do right now? Reach out to your readers and ask for them to pretty please leave a review if they at all enjoyed your book. Or, head over to Entrada Book Reviews. They’re running a contest right now for a free book review. Check it out!
  1. Be Active on Social Media. Regular social media engagement can do wonders for promoting your writing. Take 30 minutes right now to head over to create accounts on any major sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) you’re not already active on. OR, use those 30 minutes to schedule some tweets/posts or engage with others. Be social! But remember, be professional.
  1. Show Your Newsletter Some Love. Set aside some time to send out/plan an email with a freebie, teaser, or update on your latest work. Make sure to thank those who are subscribed and make the email worth their while. OR, if you don’t currently have a newsletter, start one! Check out MailChimp if you’d like a user-friendly, free option.
  1. Give Your Website a Face-Lift. Streamline/re-brand/re-define your online presence. Check out byRegina’s amazing wealth of knowledge on the topic. OR, if you don’t have a website of your own, create a free one (check out WordPress for a free, beginner website). Every writer should have a website!
  1. Give Back. Gain a bit of publicity while giving back to the writing community. An easy way to do this is to write a guest post for a site, give an interview, participate in a book review/swap program, etc. Make sure links to your own site and work will be included, but otherwise, share your knowledge. Have something that our writing audience might find useful? Apply to be a guest poster for Sprint Shack!

Which of these 5 things are you excited to tackle? Have any questions? Comments? Leave them below!

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!