The Power of Write-A-Thons

For NaNoWriMo participants, the word “write-a-thon” tends to mean a few different things. It can either mean that you plan to plot out a bunch of chapters, set a daily goal and write your heart out until you hit that goal, or join an insane write-in event where you are surrounded by people who all plan to write a certain amount of words in a set period of time and will stop at nothing to get there. These options can all come with varying stress levels, but the common denominator is that you are setting a goal and not stopping until you write your way there.

Write-a-thons can be an amazing tool for people who find themselves procrastinating or falling behind in word count or who are just more goal driven. I personally do write-a-thons on a weekly basis during NaNo, and this year I plan on doing at least two 10,000 word days.

There are a few important things to plan before you sit yourself down for a day of intense writing, so here are my fool-proof tips to surviving a write-a-thon:

  1. Schedule your sprints and breaks. Do the math ahead of time and calculate your average word count within a set time. Then figure out how many sprints of that length you will need to do to get to your goal.
  2. With that information, you are going to want to set aside some time just for your write-a-thon and make sure that you won’t have any long-term interruptions. It is really easy to lose momentum when you are writing for a long period of time.
  3. If you need to be held accountable for your word count, pick a writing buddy or tweet your goal. I find that as soon as I put my goal on my social media or tell someone about it, it helps me hold myself accountable and push myself there.
  4. Race a friend! This will be a great motivation if you are a competitive person. (Co-founder note: Check out our past posts on NaNoWagers for inspiration!)
  5. Take 5 to 10 minute breaks in between each sprint. Make sure you are staying hydrated and snacking frequently. Stand up, walk around, and get the blood flowing!
  6. Reward yourself at the end or per sprint. If you are sitting down to write 5000 or 10,000 words you are more than deserving of a reward or two! I find guilt-free video game time or Netflix time to be a great reward so far this year.

I really hope that these tips help you a bit when getting ready for a write-a-thon and I hope that you consider trying it out. If you are used to writing the suggested daily goal of 1667 words, I would really recommend you try a 3k day or a 5k day—they are so rewarding and really can boost your NaNoWriMo spirit!

If you have any other tips for having a successful write-a-thon, please leave your tips in the comment below, and feel free to add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website (username is DaisyforMazie)!


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.

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2015 NaNoWriMo Kickoff!

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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

Faye

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!

NaNoWriMo Prep: 8 Things to Do Before NaNoWriMo Starts

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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.

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!

Freelance for Beginners: All About Client/Writer Relationships

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This is the next installation in a series of posts on freelancing by Mazie Bishop. You can find future posts on Freelancing and read the rest of the series here.

Clients are not only the most important factor of your freelance career but the main form of promotion for your services. So of course, by default, managing client relationships can also be the most difficult aspect of freelancing. Every client has different expectations, but they all have one thing in common: they are all looking for someone they can trust to convey their message in the best way possible.

In this post I am going to be talking about some simple ways to keep your clients coming back to you and how to make sure you become their go-to freelancer.

Communication:

Since we have already discussed how to get started started with your new freelance career, the next thing to talk about is communication. When a client reaches out to you, you want to make sure that you are approachable, down to earth and that you communicate in a way that they will understand best. Make sure that you are friendly, polite and overall professional. Feel free to make connections and tell your clients a bit about your writing background and anything else that applies to the job. Sometimes you may find that you just won’t be compatible with their project, but it’s important to keep that communication positive in case they have a project in the future that is more up your alley.

Professional Priorities:

In this career, it’s obviously important to make sure that we are smart about our rates and to make sure we maintain maximum financial security. This is one of the hurdles that comes with being self-employed, as we don’t have a company with legal support to back us. This being said, you want to make sure that you focus on getting all of the information about your client’s project before you even think of throwing around budgeting details. Doing this will show that you genuinely do care about your client’s business and that you are passionate in what you do. Once all the details are worked out and you have a great understanding of what your client wants, gracefully throw in a message asking about their budget. Give them an approximation of what you would feel comfortable working for, and make sure to say that you are will to further discuss your rates to better fit their budget. Most of the time they will work within your ballpark, but a lot of clients love to know that you are willing to work with them.

Regular Check- Ins:

Once you have started working for a client, you want to make sure that you check in with them on a regular basis with any questions, comments or just general progress, no matter the size of the project. Whether it is once a week or once every few days, just make sure you are letting them know how things are going. They will appreciate that you are thinking about them.

Classy Finish:

Once you have worked your freelancer magic and completed the project to the absolute best of your ability, you want to make sure you take the time to sincerely thank your client for choosing you. The freelance world is a big one, in the sense that there are a lot more freelancers than there are jobs, and the fact that they chose to work with you is a wonderful thing. Show that you appreciate it with a simple and professional thank-you, and make sure they know you are interested in working with them again in the future.

If you really clicked and think that you really made a connection with your client, make sure to mention that you are always looking for new clients and that if they know anyone looking for a freelancer, you’d love to help them out. This is going to get them thinking about who they can tell about your work, and it’s the best way to make sure your clients are promoting you.

These are just some of the simple ways I have made better, stronger relationships with my clients and have kept them coming back, but every experience is different. If you have a tip or trick you would like to add, please feel free to do so in the comments, and make sure to let us know how your new adventure in the world of freelance is going!


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.

Goodbye #TNightSprints; Hello #TuesAMSprints!

Hey there, word sprinters!

It’s with half regret, half pleasure that we’re here to inform you that we will no longer be hosting #TNightSprints on our Twitter account and will be replacing it with another weekly sprinting event. It’s been almost a year since we started running #TNightSprints, and while we are no longer able to host it, we thank you for joining us in our many productive Tuesday and Thursday night sessions!

Cristina’s schedule has changed, leaving her with more writing time in the morning than at night. So without further ado, we’re introducing #TNightSprints’s replacement: #TuesAMSprints!

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Cristina will be hosting sprints from @TheSprintShack every Tuesday morning from 6:30 am EST to 7:30 am EST to give you fellow morning writers an extra boost (especially helpful if your motivation is usually lacking on Mondays)! For those of you who are voraciously productive in the mornings, these sprints directly follow those hosted by the @5amWritersClub and finish with only a half hour to go before @Novel_Adventure‘s morning sprints… this way, you can knock out ALL THE WORDS between 5 am and 10 am EST! (That’s 5 hours of writing. If you have that much time on a weekday to write, we salute and envy you).

We hope to see you out there for some early writing! If you can’t make #TuesAMSprints, remember to check out our Sprinting Schedules page to find sprints that work for your routine.

Happy sprinting!