NaNoWriMo Motivation – Day 3

Day 3: We’re starting to settle in now. Regardless of whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, writing is a journey and an adventure. Keep writing and see where it takes you!

Today’s Count: 5,001 words

Happy Writing!

Four Must Haves for Your NaNoWriMo Sanity First Aid Kit

It’s here! It’s here! NaNoWriMo 2017!

The last few days I’ve shared some tips and questions to help you get in the right frame of mind to start this marathon writing adventure.

In case it isn’t obvious, I love NaNoWriMo. A bunch of writers getting together virtually, or physically if you have an active local write in, to tackle the Great American Novel. Twitter is all aflutter with several hashtags for writing sprints and all types of camaraderie. It always reminds me how great the writing community is, regardless of what we write.

And reminds me that this crazy, gargantuan challenge is worth it and that I’m not alone.

But let’s not kid ourselves. It is a daunting undertaking and not for the faint of heart.

Then again, writing itself is not for the faint of heart!

Like any well-prepared individual facing the prospect of a fierce storm, I created a NaNo sanity preparedness kit for myself.

These four items are my staples. Other things come and go, but I always keep these things in stock:

Coffee: The nectar of the gods gets me going every day. Since I drink it black, I’m a bit picky about what I drink. It helps that my daughter works for Starbucks, so I get good coffee for a deep discount. I have a Keurig machine and a Ninja drip coffeemaker but in November I stick with the Ninja simply because I can make a whole pot at once. No need to wait around for every cup of coffee I want. And frankly, I drink too much coffee to make using K-cups a viable financial option.

Candy: Whoever decided November should be National Novel Writing Month knew the power of sugar and how easy it would be to obtain. All you have to do is raid the kids Halloween bag! A piece of good dark chocolate makes me happy and happy makes the words flow. I’m partial to a fun size bag of Skittles as well.

Cheerleader(s): Some writers drink coffee, some tea. But I don’t know any writer that doesn’t need a cheerleader. Stringing a series of sentences together to tell a story is hard. Not to be taken lightly. You’re going to need someone (or two) to help you through getting this done. They don’t necessarily have to be a writer themselves, just someone that will wave those poms-poms and do some cartwheels (not literally, of course) telling you how awesome you are and to keep going.

Love: You need love in abundance for the month of November. Love for yourself and love for your story. Even with cheerleaders, at the end of the day, this challenge is on us. Only we can love our stories and ourselves enough to finish our stories and win NaNoWriMo.    

You may feel like the words suck. Or the words might be brilliant. But either way, get the words on paper and finish the story. Stories in and of themselves are magic. So get all that power down on paper in the form of words.

You can let that inner editor out of its cage on December 1st.

Happy Writing!

Do you have any staples you use during NaNoWriMo? What helps you through the marathon? Share it here!

Eight Tips to Getting the Words in for NaNoWriMo

Daily word count is the bedrock of NaNoWriMo. Here are some tips to making sure you meet that count each day.

You’ve asked yourself some basic questions about your story (see what those are here).

You’ve gathered the courage to move forward and created a novel on the website.

Now it’s time for the work.

Getting the words on paper.

The default setting for Nano is 50,000 words in 30 days. Why 50,000? Because that’s the standard of what is considered a novel by the industry. However, Nano is also good to use for those writing a novella or an epic novel. The goal is to write and hit a target with a finished product at the end.

But in keeping with the default, we can see by doing the math, you’re going to need 1,667 words a day. Every. Day.

Gulp.

Yeah, I know.

It can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have eight hours a day, seven days a week to devote to it. In other words, you have a day job and life keeps moving on.

So how does one pull off a feat like this and not lose their minds?

Well, when I find out about the last half of that, I’ll let you know.

Otherwise, here are a few tips to help you get those words in every day. Your mileage will vary on how each one works for you and it may work best to use several of the them together. Or maybe you find a single one that works with your process. Whatever works for you is what’s going to get the story done.

Tip 1: Get up early/stay up late

I’m an early bird, night owl combination. However, when I write, the creative muse tends to be at her best early in the morning. Most of the time, my husband is already up and leaving for work and my teen isn’t anywhere near being awake, so it tends to be great alone time for me. I set my alarm for 4am and have my butt in the chair no later than 4:30 (it takes a minute for the coffee to sink in) to write for about an hour before real life calls and I head to the day job.

Conversely, your muse may need all day to get some ideas for you and tends to visit at night. If you’re a night person, you may find that waiting until after the work day is done, dinner is made, homework is complete, and the rest of the house is in bed, to be your best bet to get in an hour or so.

There is no right or wrong answer here. The goal here is to make a schedule and stick to it to help you get in those words.

Tip 2: Use a timer

You’ve found some time to actually sit and write, but maybe it’s a short amount of time. To help keep you focused on the task, you may find having a timer with a repeating tick-tock handy. For me, I find a time extremely useful. If I know I only have 20 minutes to get those words in, I’m more likely to stay focused and not be distracted from my goal.

Tip 3: Learn “snap-writing”

I didn’t know until recently that this technique actually has a moniker. Snap writing is the art of writing in snatches of time, no matter how long or short they are. The opposite of having a schedule or a routine. Writing whenever, wherever. This technique may not work for everyone, but it is a useful skill to learn if you are already overcommitted before you put a single word to paper.

Tip 4: Dictate

This is another tip that works brilliantly for some, but will leave others flat. And it does have a learning curve. But if this is something you’d like to try, it can be a game changer. I’ve used it myself a few times while stuck in traffic and have made some great gains with it. 1300 words on a long commute home doesn’t suck.

Dictation is something that takes a bit of practice though. You have to “train the dragon” which takes time and patience. Neither of which will be in ample supply in the month of November. But if dictation is something you already use or have used before in any way, I encourage you to try it.

Tip 5: Keep Track of Your Words

This can be a simple notebook with a date and a number of words done for the day or an Excel spreadsheet with formulas in it. Either way, keep up with your progress. This will be especially important if you “snap write” through out the day and only get in a couple of hundred or so at a time.

Keeping track of the progress is also a great visual way for you to see where you are and how far you’ve come.

Tip 6: Turn Off the TV, Phone, Social Media, etc.

Get rid of the distractions! While technology helps us in a number of ways to sell our books and provide research for us during discovery, it’s a double edged sword. It takes no time at all to fall down the rabbit hole known as the internet, or Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media platform. Time in those rabbit holes are time that you could be writing and getting in those words.

Same goes for Candy Crush or SimCity or that farming game. I speak from experience here.

Tip 7: Get an Accountability Partner

Fitness gurus will tell you that it can be easier to lose weigh or stick to a workout regimen if you have someone keeping you accountable. And if you are helping them as well.

That same philosophy applies here. It helps to have someone that you can check in with or that will check in with you to make sure you are getting those words down each day. And if you’re flagging, they will cheer you on with razor sharp jabs or a gentle shove, whatever it is you need to get back on that horse and keep going until the end of November.

Tip 8: Stop for the day on a “downward slope”

I’ve heard this in a couple of places, one of them being on the Journeyman Writer podcast. The idea is to stop at what would be an unnatural break. For example, stop in the middle of a paragraph or the middle of a scene. This allows for you to pick up where you left off the next day and help keep that momentum going.

Much like a manual transmission car on a downward slope. Pop that brake and you have instant momentum to get started.   

Keep in mind, small gains added together equal big gains. So if you can only manage to bang out 250 words at a time but snatch several times through out the day, you’ll be at your word count target before you know it.

The other great thing is that once you pick up the momentum, you can keep rolling. If you can type 250 words in 10 minutes on day 1, you may graduate to higher numbers in the same amount of time.

So keep going. Don’t stop. Stay focused and keep the momentum on an upswing as long as you can.

You can hit the floor on December 1st.

Happy Writing!

Do you have any tips that have helped you hit your daily target? I’m always looking for new ways to try, so please share!

Podcast Series Ep 3: Two Motivational Podcasts to Kick Start Your Writing

Writing can be hard. It’s a solitary, isolating profession and sometimes we need a pick me up. These two podcasts accomplish that in their own ways.

Having a cheerleader, even if it’s through the speakers of your computer, headphones, or car as you commute, is vital to the self-esteem of a writer. While we may have our characters we hang out with daily, writing can still be a lonely endeavor.

I’ve listened to podcasts for many years now and part of why I love them is because they meet so many of my needs. In this episode of my Podcasts Series, I talk about two podcasts that keep me going from two different perspectives.

The Petal to the Metal – Hosted by J. Thorn and Rachael Herron

Honestly, I can’t remember how I came across this podcast. I was familiar with J. Thorn since he has worked with my author entrepreneur idol, Joanna Penn in the past. I didn’t know Rachael, even though she’s been writing for years. But I have to say that even though I can’t remember how I found them, I’m glad I did.

This weekly podcast started at the beginning of 2017, so it’s a bit younger than other podcasts I listen to. Both J and Rachael are full-time authors, living the writer’s dream. One of the things I enjoy most about this podcast is the conversation like nature to it. Instead of the polish of a formal show, it’s simply two people talking about writing. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a format. They catch up with what’s going on with each other and then they move on to the question of the week. One will come up with a question for the other that has to do with their writing process, writing goals, or anything else in regards to the writing journey.

The camaraderie between these two is fun to hear and I have found myself laughing along with them. What makes The Petal to the Metal motivational is to hear two writers making a living at writing and be truthful about the world of it. They are cheerleaders for each other. Because it isn’t an easy business, but it is worth it if you have someone to motivate and inspire you.  When I listen to them, they remind me to stay the course and never give up.

Length: 20-30 minutes long depending on the topic.

Find them at http://thepetaltothemetal.com/

The Journeyman Writer – Hosted by Alastair Stephens

Full disclosure that makes me sad: this podcast is no longer producing new shows. It was owned by an organization called Story Wonk and earlier this year, the couple that ran it divorced. However, they continue to maintain the website where the podcasts are and you can still find all 235 episodes on any podcast app you use.

Fortunately, the craft of writing is evergreen, so the discussions and teachings that Alastair imparted can still be used. I found this podcast to be one of the better ones to explain writing craft. He uses a lot of cinema to help explain craft for writing novels and for me, it helped connect the dots. Mindset, productivity, publishing, Nanowrimo are just a few of the things he discussed on the show. And each show is short and sweet, which I appreciated so as not to overwhelm me.

The Journeyman Writer is motivating in the fact that he breaks down the craft in bite size pieces. It makes you feel like not only could you write a book, but you could write a book well and actually learn the craft.

The fact that he has a fun Scottish accent is just a bonus. 🙂

If you listen to The Journeyman Writer and love it like I did, I have good news. While that particular show may be over, I found out that he has recently started a new craft podcast called The Narrative Beat. I haven’t listened to it yet, but now that I know it exists, I plan to check it out as soon as possible. Check back in a couple of months and I’ll have a review of it.

Length: 5-10 minutes depending on the topic.

Find the old episodes at https://storywonk.com/category/podcasts/the-journeyman-writer/

Find Alastair and The Narrative Beat at http://pointnorthmedia.com/

As I always say, there are a ton of podcasts out there and these are only my opinion. But whether or not one of these or a different one helps you, podcasts are one more medium that can help writers on their journey in a number of ways.

What are some of the ways you look to others for motivation? Do you have another podcast you’d like to share that has kickstarted your writing somehow? Share with me and drop a comment below!

Happy Writing!

Podcast Series Ep 2: Two Book Marketing and Publishing Podcasts Every Indie Author Needs

In my last post, I talked about my three favorite self-publishing podcasts.  In this post, it’s all about my favorite marketing and publishing news podcasts.

When you’re an indie author, it takes more than just writing a great book. Marketing is the other side of the coin and a skill you have to learn if you want to sell said books. Keeping up with publishing trends is also an important piece of an indie author business. But with so much information out on the web, it can be overwhelming to vet all of it on your own.

I listen to a lot of shows and they all have some book marketing and publishing news. But these two shows in particular specialize in book marketing and publishing news.

Again, I’m not affiliated with these in any way, just a huge fan!

The Sell More Book Show Podcast – Hosted by Bryan Cohen & Jim Kukral

This show has been around for more than two years and they have really found their rhythm. I find myself looking forward to Wednesdays when the show comes out. They are fun to listen to as the guys are opposite sides of the coin. Bryan is the optimist with Jim being more pragmatic in his take on the publishing world.

They each bring their own experiences to the table. Bryan writes both fiction and non-fiction, while Jim writes non-fiction and has been around the internet marketing arena for decades.

The show starts with any announcements that they may have in regards to their own work outside the show. Or some times they have what’s called a “lab” feature where they bring in a guest that does an experiment to sell more books, such as writing to market or ad stacking.

The tips of the week and the top five publishing news articles of the week are the meat and potatoes of the show. They cover topics from all over the web that I would never find on my own. I’ve come to depend on Bryan and Jim to curate the news for me. They’ve yet to let me down.

One thing that they do each week that so far I haven’t seen on any other show is showcasing their featured patrons. They pick three books from people that contribute to the show through Patreon and read the blurb for the book. I love this is in the fact that they give back to those that contribute and it spotlights what their mission is for the podcast: selling more books.

Length: About an hour. Jim keeps the podcast moving so as to keep the listeners engaged.

Find them at http://sellmorebooksshow.com/

Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast – Hosted by Lindsay Buroker, Joseph Lallo, & Jeff Poole

I love their tag line: “Interviewing and learning from successful authors.” And that is exactly what they offer.

While I haven’t listened to this podcast for long, it has been around for awhile and has quickly become one of my favorites.

And don’t let the title fool you. There’s more to this podcast than science fiction and fantasy. The three hosts all write in the genre primarily, but also have other genre interests. The information they provide can apply to anyone who writes books and wants to sell them.

Most weeks they have a guest they interview. They’ve had authors in other genres as well as industry folks with guidance to sell and market your books. Occasionally the show will be just the three of them offering their advice from their own experiences. Either way, I find the show informative and entertaining every time I listen to it.

Length: Usually a little more than an hour. Lindsey is usually the one that guides the show, but I love the fact that they each have a turn to weigh in on the topics at hand.

Find them at http://www.marketingsff.com/

 

Just like the information these podcasts provide, there is an overwhelming number of podcasts in the sphere. These are by no means the only two on the subject out there. But these are two that I hear about from authorities in the field. If you listen long enough, you hear them mentioned time and time again.

And I figure, if those in authority that I respect listen to them, they must be doing something right.

Do you have a podcast on book marketing and/or publishing news you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments below!

Happy Writing!

Kim

Podcast Series Ep 1: Three Self-Publishing Podcasts Indie Writers Should Subscribe To

Podcasts can be a treasure trove of information for writers. Here are the best ones for self-publishing I’ve found to give the best bang for my audio buck.  

Podcasts are one of the hottest mediums out there today.

People can listen on the go, sitting in traffic, walking the dog.

They’ve become my “go to” when it comes to getting news on publishing, book marketing, learning new skills for writing, or learning how to grow my blogging business.

Over the last few years I’ve listened to several podcasts on writing and the business of books. Each one I listen to helped me in some way over the last few years.

Back in 2013, I self-published a novella and did everything wrong. These three podcasts have taught me more than I could possibly learn about self-publishing. My next time around (I’m looking at you 2018!), I’ll do a lot of things differently thanks to these helpful souls.

Note: This is just my opinion and I’m not affiliated with any of these podcasts. I simply love them!

The Creative Penn Podcast – Hosted by Joanna Penn

When it comes to podcasts, this is the one that I look forward to the most. Joanna is a lovely host with her bright personality and English accent. She’s hosted her show for several years now and it amazes me the amount of content she has produced.

A weekly show, she gives updates on the top trending publishing news and personal updates. She uses the interviewing format and never fails to bring in fantastic guests. Through her show I’ve gained knowledge on everything from learning Facebook ads to author mindset to publishing adult coloring books.

Joanna is a futurist and I enjoy hearing her predictions for the publishing world and where it looks like it’s going to take us. Don’t miss her shows where she takes inventory of the goals she sets for herself. Enlightening and always makes me want to run out and write down or evaluate my own goals.

Listening to her show gives me motivation and makes me think I can really do this writing thing.


Length: A little on the longer side with most podcasts clocking in at an hour, give or take. But the content is so engaging, it’s a quick hour.

Find her at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/blog/

The Self Publishing Formula Podcast – Hosted by Mark Dawson & James Blatch

While this podcast hasn’t been out as long as some other self-publishing podcasts, I really enjoy it. I’ve heard Mark on The Creative Penn a couple of times so I was familiar with him and his story.

He went from having a traditional deal with virtually no followers and not having an email list at all to an indie published, multi six figure (perhaps seven-figure at this point) author with a potential movie deal on one of his book series.  

The podcast is in an interviewing format and provides motivation and education for indie writers, no matter what level they may be. They have featured Pat Flynn, Marie Force, Bella Andre, among others. In addition to the interviews, listeners are privy to James’ journey writing his first novel.

One other thing Mark does monthly that I find inspirational is his income report. He goes over each of his marketing strategies and explains how much he spent and his ROI (return on investment). The transparency he brings is uplifting because it shows that this making your living as a writer thing can be done if you put in the work.

Length: Between 35-45 minutes per show, varying by topic.

Find Mark and James at https://selfpublishingformula.com/category/podcast/
The Self Publishing Podcast – Hosted by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, & David W. Wright

These three guys are on their way to being the Pixar Studio of stories. They write books, help writers, host several podcasts, and hold the annual Smarter Artist Summit through their company Sterling & Stone.

Their weekly podcast includes updates on what they are up to and interviews with independent publishing experts and how to DIY your way into author entrepreneurship.  Marketing and business strategies all delivered with sharp wit and sarcasm. I love snark so these guys are not only informative but entertaining to listen to each time.  

Fair warning. Don’t listen with the kiddies in the car. They aren’t afraid to let some f-bombs drop and “shits” to fly.  

Length: Right at an hour per episode.

Find the trio at https://sterlingandstone.net/series/self-publishing-podcast/

 

There are a number of self publishing podcasts floating around out in the podcast-sphere to help the budding writer that wants to control their publishing destiny. Most of them very good. But after careful curation and some research (you know, me listening to them), I found these three have really helped to motivate and inspire me to continue on my indie publishing adventure.

It’s an adventure I don’t want to go at alone. And with these podcasts behind me, I won’t have to.

How about you? Any podcasts that have inspired you in your independent publishing journey? Let me hear from you! I’d love to try a new one!

Happy Writing!

Three Ways Music Enhances Creative Writing

I love music. I always have.

Unfortunately, I don’t have that gene that some get to understand the theory of music or the voice to be the next winner of any of the singing reality television shows.

I have no idea how my daughter ended up with her angelic high pitched Disney Princess voice. But she could get a job at the Magic Kingdom as Snow White if she felt so inclined on her voice alone.

As much as I love music though, when I started my writing journey a few years back, I was against anything except silence. Locked up in a room with nothing going on.

But I’ve learned something about myself this year since I put the pedal to the metal and started taking my writing career seriously: when I’m in the groove and serious about my work, music doesn’t distract me. It actually enhances my creativity.

But it doesn’t work for everyone. Those who’ve been at the writing game a while know their processes. They already know the answer to whether or not music work for them.

Chances are you’ll know in a couple of sittings whether or not listening to music while writing works for you. But if you’re on the fence or new to the game, I say, give it a shot.

Here are 3 reasons I found music helps writing:

1 – Focus: In a 2007 study from Stanford Medicine, the research team there found that music engages certain parts of the brain. It just so happens that these are the same parts that involve paying attention and making predictions.

I found that to be true in my case. The more I worked in silence, the more distracted I became. I found myself listening to the television from the other room or my daughter talk on the phone (teenage conversations are equal parts entertaining and cringe worthy) instead of writing. I found myself doing just about anything but writing.

I needed something to drown out the distractions that, ironically, silence brought to me. I started with movie scores. No lyrics to distract me just the notes of the music. When it’s time to draft my novels, I love nothing more than to wear my noise cancelling headphones and have an epic movie score playing. It has become a part of my writing ritual that tells my brain, “my butt’s in the chair, now let’s write”.

2 –Inspiration: Songs tell a story to a set of notes, so what better way to be inspired?

Driving on road trips when the whole car is asleep but me (no worries, I’m the driver) and the radio is playing, I take the opportunity to listen to the lyrics of songs. I let my mind open and just listen to that story the song is telling. Many times, my head will take a detour and create scenes that I just know will work in my current work in progress or create a whole new story all together.

I came up with an entire plot to one story on a beach trip when Heart’s “All I Want to Do is Make Love to You” came on the radio. I haven’t written the story yet, but I did write it down in my “plot bunny” file for later.

Keith Urban’s song “Break on Me” inspired more than one scene for the next manuscript I’m about to start. Every time I hear the song, I can’t help but play out scenes in my head that I want to put in my novel.

Inspiration is everywhere, including in the songs we hear.

3 – Mood: For me, music can lift me up or make me cry. Lyrics or no. When I’m feeling down, I don’t watch a movie, but I will listen to a three-minute song to make myself feel better. And the best thing about a song? The repeat function. I can listen as many times as I want and it just keeps on giving me that boost. It’s a more immediate medium than say, a ninety-minute movie or even a half hour sitcom.

But movies still get their due. Certain movie soundtracks, such as Legends of the Fall (one of my favorites), gives me an incredible bittersweet feeling that makes it a great score to play when I’m writing a dark moment scene. If you know the plot to the movie, you know that any score on that soundtrack can rip your heart out, dance a jig on it, and hand it back to you. Which makes it perfect for angsty scenes in romance.

On the flip side, when I’m writing sexy time scenes and the sexual tension is palpable between my characters, I find that sultry, what I call “baby making songs” work well for that, such as Eric Church’s “Like a Wrecking Ball” or Sade’s “No Ordinary Love”. Those songs make me think of romance and seduction, perfect for the mood I’m trying to translate intowords and onto paper.

The irony about writing is that our imaginations are fueled by the life and people around us and yet it is largely a solitary profession. Music has a way of bringing the two pieces together and that, my friend, is when magic is made.

I can think of no better way to fulfill the writer’s creative well.

Do you have a particular song or genre of songs that help you get the creative juices flowing?

Happy Writing!