I think I have decided to live write (liveblog) part of NaNoWriMo. It shows a distinct lack of sanity, which only makes it more appealing.
My Tumblr liveblog will be here:
More to follow… maybe a schedule.
I think I have decided to live write (liveblog) part of NaNoWriMo. It shows a distinct lack of sanity, which only makes it more appealing.
My Tumblr liveblog will be here:
More to follow… maybe a schedule.
I’ve been blathering on about all the things you’re supposed to do in order to publish your book. I was going to jump into Writer platforms (which are neither train stops nor shoes which make you taller). I forgot something very important: networking.
There’s a lot of negativity around the term “networking” in the artistic world. (Don’t even think about bringing it up in Figmentland.) It brings up high-powered executives jostling with each other to get the best end of a deal. That’s not how it should be, especially in the creative world.
Networking is, at its very best, making friends who do the same thing you do (or something in the same realm) and then working together to support each other. It means taking steps to help others instead of viewing them as your competition. The best thing about networking is that it levels the playing ground for independent writers. If you network, you have as strong a reach as any traditionally published author.
There’s a lot said about building a platform. I’m going to say some of it, in fact, next week. That’s important. But far more important is building your network.
I belong to an online writer’s group. In that group, there are those who regularly post about themselves and their achievements. All well and good. Occasionally I check on these. There are others, however, who regularly take time to post about others, help others, or do things that further writing in general. These are the people who I will go to bat for (which would be useless, mind, because I am terrible at games). These are the people I’m going to encourage you, my Readers, to look into.
Ronnie Virdi, who publishes under the pen name R.R. Virdi, is the author of Grave Beginnings, available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle formats. While the book itself is a great read and I look forward to watching him progress as a writer, it’s Ronnie’s enthusiasm for other Writers that really has me hooked. He goes out of his way to promote others, spending his Fridays citing other writers instead of himself. As a result, people pay attention to him. He helps other Writers and other Writers want to help him.
One way you can tell that Jeffrey Cook knows how to network is by seeing how many times he’s published with other Writers. Out of his eight books on Amazon, he is co-published with other Writers seven times. Even more than writing with others, though, Jeffrey is always open to answering questions, encouraging other Writers, or getting involved in projects. More than once I’ve seen him post “Just tell me what you need” and then follow through with it. He has networking down to an art.
Lazette Gifford is not only an incredible Writer, she goes out of her way to teach Writers, offering a two-year Writer course. She’s taken everything she’s learned in her prolific career and made it available to others. Again, she truly understands the meaning of networking.
This is the kind of networking I seek to build. It’s hard, being a Figment, since I get distracted by little things like Nana Romo wanting me to get her new running shoes and giving me directions that involve hunting down a tumerbic scarb on the way, but everyone has their distractions. Some of you have families. Some have school or Work. It all comes down to the main point of Goals: why do you want this and how much do you want it?
My biggest goal as a Writer-Figment is never fame for myself, but to be able to say that I helped someone else get to where they are. That, my Writerly friends, is networking.
Who reflects networking for you? Give them a shoutout.
So, now that you’ve set your goals… you did set your goals, right? Back in this post, I walked you through how to set goals. Hopefully you did your homework, because I’m going to blather on about how to achieve them.
For those who are wondering how I’m qualified to talk on goal-setting and achieving, I read a lot of books. I’m a Figment; we don’t need to eat or sleep much, so I read. I also set a really daunting goal with my last book and achieved it. So… mostly qualified.
My guidance for this section about goal-setting is from Goals! by Brian Tracy. He believes there are twelve steps to set and achieve any goal. Our goal is to publish our NaNo book. Let’s walk through it:
Now, go do your homework. The next time I’ll be talking about Writer Platforms. It’s not just a train station.
We’ve been talking about prepping for NaNoWriMo as if you’re going to publish. Okay, I’ve been prepping. The rest of you have been letting the crickets do the talking, which is really awkward, because they never want to be quiet when I’m trying to concentrate. Hopefully you’re still doing the homework. Let’s talk about setting goals and taking names. Mostly goals. You can take names if you want.
Stop for a moment and pretend you have your perfect dream Writer world. Where are you in five years? How many books do you have out? What are you known for?
Unless you have a vision for where you want this writing thing to take you, you probably should still with writing for fun.
Ooh, sorry. Was that harsh? I’ve been told I can be harsh and I’m trying to change that. But, really, if you don’t have a vision, you at least need a guide dog. Let me be your… wait, no. Scratch that. I’ll guide you. No dogs.
I read a lot of books. It’s fun for me, because I can go in and mess with the Figments or Characters, but sometimes I learn things. I read Goals by Brian Tracy and learned a few things about setting goals.
First, keys to goal setting are SMART (+2… no clever acronym for the last two):
First, be specific and detailed. “I’m going to write five books in the next five years.” Great. Are you writing five children’s books? Five non-fiction? Five laundry lists? For me, it’s “I’m going to write a Figments trilogy in the next five years and start a second trilogy.” I have titles for the first three books and a vague idea of the fourth. The fifth is eluding me; I think the Conductor stole it. Still, it’s pretty specific and detailed. You probably want to be even more detailed before you’re done, but this is a starting point.
Second, make them measurable. The very best goals are broken down into steps. “I want to have book 2 published by April 2016. To do this, I need to write book 2 by December 2015. I need to edit it by the end of January 2016. I need beta Readers by the end of February 2016. When the beta Readers all run away in terror, I’ll need new beta Readers by…” well, you get the idea. Be able to measure your progress along the way.
Third, reach for the stars with your dreams. It’s better to reach high and fall a little short than it is to reach short and never get anywhere at all. If you think you can write one book in a year, dream a little bigger and say you’ll have fifty sales in a year. That does lead to…
Fourth, keep them realistic. Fifty sales in a year is doable if your book is good, you catch the right audience, and you practice some good marketing techniques. (Don’t ask me about those. I’m just here to pump up your dreams.) Saying you want two million sales in the first year… maybe not so much.
Fifth, be time-limited. In other words, set deadlines for reaching your goals. If you’re ambitious, set a deadline, then add half-again as much time. If you’re a little more cautious, take one-third of the time off your goal. Either way, don’t set a goal without setting a deadline.
Sixth, balance your goals with the rest of your life. I don’t have a life, so I don’t have to do this much (except for hiding from the Conductor), but most human Writers do. Think about family, job, school, finances, health, community and spiritual aspects before your make a crazy commitment. Don’t give up on your dreams; just make sure they work with the things that fuels your reality.
Finally, write your goals down. Lots of people have lofty goals. I have one goal about flying to the top of a mountaintop and yodeling until an avalanche buries six people. Only six. I’m a Writer. We kill things. Anyway, I don’t write that goal down, so I forget about it sometimes. In fact, if you want to forget about it, that’s perfectly okay. But if you want to remember a goal, write it down and post it somewhere where you’ll see it often.
So, let’s just talk NaNoWriMo. You want to write a novel. No. You want to write 50,000 words. That’s both specific and measurable. You want to write it all in the 30 days in November. That’s time-limited. If you’ve done NaNo before, maybe you want to write more than this and challenge yourself (be amazing); if you haven’t done NaNo before, shoot for the 50k (realistic). Now, balance that goal with the rest of your life. Don’t quit your job, abandon your family, ruin your health, or kill your finances just to get to the 50k. Make plans to fit those other things into your life.
NOW WRITE IT ALL DOWN. That’s right. If you don’t want to do your own, there is an official NaNoWriMo one on the website. Just put your goals in writing. Now post that puppy where you’ll see it daily. Not a real puppy. Your paper. Puppies are better suited for petting and loving.
Aaaaand you’re set. You have a GOAL. Wait. I have a goal. You need to go set yours.
Let me know how it goes.
I don’t promo well, but my social reality person has gone on the lam, so I’m going to take a stab at it. I’m offering a big promotional deal to all of my loyal Readers from now until October 23rd. Here’s what I need from you:
1. Support the NaNoWriMo Young Writers’ Fund by going to http://www.adropofinkreviews.com/ and making a donation. In exchange for your donation, you will get five non-DRM books: Veneri Verbum, Grave Beginnings by R.L. Virdi, Dawn of Steam: First Light by Jeffrey Cook and Sarah Symonds, Think Happy Club: Friendship by Grace Snoke and Anne Saucer and Rose in the Dark by Casia Schreyer. Any donation gets you five books. All donations will go to the Fund, which supports the development of young writers.
2. Write a review of any book written by a NaNoWriMo writer. Need some recommendations? Ask! Please post your review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. You can post it here, too, for bonus points. (Legal disclaimer: Bonus points are good for exactly squat, diddly, and nada, but are excellent for making your favorite Figment-Writer happy.)
3. Buy a copy of Veneri Verbum in any format. Note that step one can count for this, but if you want a signed paperback, I will send those out over the next two weeks for only $5 plus shipping. Yep, better than Amazon, even with Prime, unless you live somewhere out of the way. I recommend moving before you order.
Here’s what you get from me:
Oh, right. Where to send stuff.
You can either send stuff to my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post it as a comment to this blog post. I need links to reviews and either a receipt showing purchase of a book or a photo of a book. If you buy it directly from me, I’ll save you a step.
Where can you buy my book?
So, there it is. Why are you still here?
I’ve heard it a million times: “I have this great idea. I can’t wait until it’s time to write.”
“Did you write it down somewhere?”
“Oh, no. I’ll remember this. It’s good.”
Two days later… “I forgot what it was!”
I have read that the great Stephanos Reyes (known in your world as Stephen King) does not write down his ideas. If they’re good enough, he’ll remember them when it’s time. While I respect his creative genius and his productivity, most of us need to write things down to remember them. Also, if you’re new to this, having little notes to jar your memory may be what gets you to two thousand words that day instead of petering out at fifty.
When I wrote Veneri Verbum, I had little notes on everything everywhere. Okay, my notes were sometimes actual Figments I created, but we’ll work with your world. When you get a great idea, write it down. When you sit to write, put all your great ideas next to you. If you get stuck, pull one of the great ideas. If you have a lot of them, pick the one that works best. If you only have one, toss that baby in there and see what it grows up into.
If you are trying to write two thousand words a day (two hours of work each day or more), you do not want to get stuck staring at a blank screen and drooling on your keyboard. There are enough other reasons to get a Writer into therapy.
Your homework today even if you’re a Pantser is to brainstorm a list of ideas. Don’t write. Don’t plot. Just idea. Give yourself a reserve to pull from in November.
She lay there, a formless mass of bones, muscles, and blood, not yet a real Character. It was his job, as a Writer, to flesh her out. Adding some flesh to cover up the gore would be a good start.
It can be tricky business making the Figments from your imagination into real, flesh-and-blood Characters. There are a lot of ways to go about it, too. I recommend picking one to keep your Characters straight unless you want to end up with Tweedledee-Tweedledum confusion.
Pantsing It– Completely
If you think your memory is good enough, just put your Character out there and wing it. No notes. No planning. Don’t blame me if she turns out like Chris in Veneri Verbum and never quite solidifies into a solid Character. Also don’t blame me if she’s homicidal. It’s a lot of stress when you don’t have an Id.
Pantsing It– With Style
If you want to pants it, I recommend making notes. Use notecards, Scrivener, sticky notes, or tattoos, but make notes of every important feature about your Characters. If he has brown hair in chapter one and red hair in chapter three, a Reader will eventually notice. Don’t forget to add character traits.
You’ll have to pick your own method. Some people spend more time creating their Characters than I spend writing books. Others, including yours truly, borrow from the gaming world and create a Character sheet with the basics. I’ve even rolled a Character before.
However you decide to do it, be willing to alter your pre-planning, because something you planned won’t work out for that particular Character. As Christopher discovered:
“Didn’t I describe you as slender, too?” He was pretty sure she wasn’t a size two. Maybe a size ten.
“You described me as curvy and sexy,” she grumbled… “There’s nothing wrong with a size ten or any other size.”
… “Did I make you a feminist? I don’t think I’d be very comfortable writing a feminist.”
Your Character will inevitably develop some traits you didn’t plan. Run with it. This is what makes them real.
You only have homework this time if you want to plot your characters. If you do, you have a lot of homework. Get to it.
First, a disclaimer: this is not one of my stronger areas. I’m a Figment. We don’t have social media. We once burned Writers at the stake (and, accidentally, at the steak). I’m so bad at this that I hired a social reality person. (Which reminds me that I need to fire her and hire someone else, but that’s not part of this post.)
A lot of first-time writers don’t start publicity for their books until after they’ve published. At the very least, they wait until release week and spam everyone with their excitement. Excitement-flavored potted meat is not nearly as tasty if you’re not the one who created it.
You really need to start setting up your social media before you ever start writing. The real trick, you see, is that social media is about connection, not about potted meat. If you start connecting with people before you get excited about your book, they will get excited with you because you have a connection. If you toss it out there before they know you, you’re a telemarketer. Even telemarketers don’t like telemarketers.
Now that you’re caught up on your homework (you are caught up, right?), here’s your next assignment: get your social media in order. Lucky for you, I have a handy dandy guide.
You can sign up for any or all of the above, but it’s best to keep it down to one or two to start. If you get comfy and feel like sharing the warm fuzzies, move on to the next one.
4. Set up an identical or near-identical profile on every site you use. Create your user profile once and reuse it. Again, this is a “you” blurb. Be consistent.
5. Start using social media regularly. Be active on groups. Make friends. Make connections.
When you get around to publishing and start to sell potted meat, everyone will like you and they’ll buy, even if they don’t particularly like potted meat.
Plenty of homework here. Don’t come back until you’ve done it. Okay, come back, but lie to me. It’s your writing career.
I’ve been told many of you have lives outside of Writing. Apparently these involve things like Work, Family, and School. I have none of these things, but I’m going to help you plan for November as if I do.
First, the big secret to winning NaNo is to know what you have to do to win. If you have a job and a family, you know that you need to write fast and hard (even if you don’t write erotica). If you have lots of free time, you may need motivation. My trick would be to plot your life the way you plot a book. (Pantsers, this even means you.)
1. Figure out your life
Find or make yourself a calendar. November starts on a Sunday this year, which is very helpful. Make four weekly calendars (like above) and one with just two days. You have November.
Now, fill in the things you cannot clear off your schedule. Apparently taking a month off to write is frowned upon at most jobs and places of education, so enter those first. Don’t forget commute time. If you’re not a Figment, you have to travel the slow way.
Next, figure out family and social commitments. Missing your mate’s birthday because of NaNo is a bit short-sighted. You may still want people to talk to you if you don’t become world-famous.
If you’re not a Figment (and I believe I’m the only Figment Writer who does NaNo), put in time for things like eating and sleeping. Even if you are a Figment, don’t forget to include time for overpriced coffee. Writers need caffeine.
Once you have all the must do of life in there, see if you can cut anything out. Can you write during lunch? How about during your commute (only if you use public transportation, please)? If you’ve blocked in television shows but you don’t have a lot of free time, you do realise most shows can be saved for later, right? This is NaNo. Make some sacrifices for your art.
2. Figure out how much time you need
Well before November, take the time to do some writing sprints. You either need to know how many words you write per sprint (twenty out of thirty minute chunks) or how long it takes you to write 500 words.
Do math. Sorry; there’s no way around this one. If you average 500 words in 30 minutes or less, I would just round it to 500. If you do 212, round it down (very important).
You need to write 2000 words per day. Trust me on this. None of this namby-pamby 1,667 words. Yes, that will get you to 50,000, but it won’t finish a book. You’ll have bad days and appreciate me pushing you.
Now, more math. If you write 500 words in 30 minutes and you need 2000 words in a day, you need to write for two hours. Doesn’t have to be two hours straight, but you need two hours. If you write 200 words in 30 minutes, you need five hours. (I recommend typing classes.)
Schedule in your writing time around your existing schedule. If you find a day where you can’t write the full 2000 words, do extra on another day. If you can’t schedule in enough time no matter what you do, then consider that you may be overbooked in your life and get a life coach. Or just ignore your other obligations for a month. Again, I’m not judging.
Last year I wrote a novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). No big deal; according to the site, 325,142 other Writers finished a book in 2014. However, I wrote in November, edited in December, and published in January.
Most of you aren’t Figments. I believe you have to type or handwrite your words, rather than have them appear on the screen when you think them. But if you’re writing a book with the intention of publishing, there’s some NaNo prep you might want to do now that October is officially here.
1) Solidify your idea
Every pantser, gardener, and booper just cried out in pain. “We don’t plan! We run by the seat of our pants!” (Sounds painful, by the way.) If you’re writing just for fun, yes, pants away. (Please don’t take them off. That’s a verb, not a noun.) However, my studies show that the majority of traditionally published novelists plot to one degree or another. (My studies may or may not be other people’s studies that I’m using as an example.) J.K. Rowling? Plotter. Tolkein? Plotter. Even Stephen King, who treats plotting like adjectives, does at least get a good concept of his story ahead of time. Since I disagree with him about beautiful, insightful, useful adjectives, I’ll just treat him as an anomaly.
So, to one degree or another, you need a solid idea before you start November. If you’re writing fantasy or historical, you may want a good map. For science fiction, you may want to research the science. For me, it’s getting point A, a random concept and characters, and point Z. Then I make notes of whatever must happen to get me to point Z. It’s not perfect, but it does keep the story rolling. That’s what’s truly important in November: keeping the story rolling.
But, Z, I don’t even have an idea. Yes, you do. Everyone has ideas. Look out your window. If you don’t have a window, politely borrow one (I don’t advocate stealing). Write down the first person you see. It’s dark out my window, so I wrote “shadow”. From there, I could write something mainstream about a girl with a phobia about shadows or I could write a Figment made up entirely of the shadows of others. More likely to be the latter for me, but I won’t fault you if you go mainstream.
If you’re still really uncertain, go to a site with writing prompts. No, there aren’t any links here. You’re a big Writer now. Learn to use Google. Searching “writing prompts” will likely be the least-triggering thing you’ll search today.
2) Give yourself a timeline
When I wrote Veneri Verbum, I figured out ahead of time how long I needed for hitting each milestone. The entire novel, by the way, had to be written by November 30th, not just 50k. If you want to be published, you need to do the same. Here’s a tip: however long you think anything past first draft stage will take, double it. This will prevent you from having a matching permanent bald spot on one side where you’ve pulled your hair out trying to meet your impossible deadlines. Not that I mind if you want to match with me, but we should at least get t-shirts or something.
My timeline for 2015 goes something like this:
There you have it. I will never again be publishing my book in less than three months; I can only afford to halve my life expectancy once and that was for the first book.
If you want more tips, I feel like making this into a series. Look for the next part eventually. I’m a little iffy on Time; Figment-time doesn’t work the same as people-time. No more than one week. I think I can manage that.
Go. Do your homework now.