NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Raina Anatra (aka Barbara Jacksha)

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Be Grateful for Where You Are We’ve just had Thanksgiving here in the U.S., a season when the smell of roasted turkeys and feelings of gratitude hang in the air. It’s easy to be grateful for so many things and people in our lives, but how often does our writing make the list? When you think about your writing, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Are you thrilled with the idea of sitting down at your desk/couch/coffee shop chair and pounding away at the keys? Or are you frustrated, feeling like you should be farther along, or maybe questioning your ability to write in the first place? If the latter describes you or you on some days, take heart. It’s only your starting point. Let’s throw gratitude into your writing mix. You can keep a gratitude journal, including all the wonderful things that happen during your writing life that often get overlooked. That’s a great ongoing practice, but I’m going to suggest you do one thing right now. Give a big shout out of Gratitude to wherever you are right now in your writing project, your process and your career. Hug it, acknowledge and accept it as part of your crazy, topsy-turvey writing journey. Many of you are writing your NaNoWriMo novels, and this last week can be a sticky one. If you’ve already finished your 50,000 words, then gratitude is easy. Whoop and dance around and celebrate all you’ve done. But what if you’re running low on ideas or that early-NaNoWriMo-induced adrenaline? Then be grateful for where you’re at. Celebrate each fresh word you’ve put on paper that is only there because you made the brave choice to take on this challenge. What if you signed up but didn’t write? Be grateful you signed up. That’s a step forward. And there’s still time left in November to write. Gratitude for where we’re at changes how we look at our projects and ourselves. It lightens things up. It opens things up. Gratitude makes it easier to go back to your project and say “this is great, but now what might I do”? In that way, gratitude becomes a form of momentum that can help move you forward to the next place you want to be. As the month of November and NaNoWriMo start to wind down, let that gratitude and momentum help you finish strong. Whatever “finishing strong” means to you. My writing coach and mentor Tracee Beebee often reminds me that finishing strong is even more important than starting strong. Why? Because finishing strong gives you momentum for the next phase of your project. For writing the next draft of your novel. Or for whatever writing or editing you do in December. All that momentum sounds good, doesn’t it? You can set it in motion simply by being grateful for where you and your projects are. Right here. Right...

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NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Doyle Slen

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Get ready for some literary clichés, because they’re going to be coming fast and furious. Fangsgiving has come and gone like the wind taking week three with it. The turkey and ham are being used to fill sandwiches made of dinner rolls smeared with cold mashed potatoes and gravy. Frankly, my dears, you should give a damn. The long nights and bloodshot eyes and cramped, arthritic fingers and caffeine overdosing and finding space for Juan Valdes and his burro to crash and the looks from family and friends when you say, “Oh, I have to write,” are all worth it. When I first started writing, I attended a meeting at The Quillians clubhouse in Second Life. Michael Stackpole was leading the event. It was a question and answer time for new writers with published authors. It was an eye-opening experience for me. The most notable thing was a poster they had on the wall behind Michael’s chair. “If you treat it like a hobby it will pay like one. If you treat it like a business it will pay like one.” Now I understand life gets in the way and disrupts the flow of writing, and November is the beginning of the holiday season in the U.S. Family members don’t understand; if they aren’t writers, they don’t get the burning intensity of building your world and breathing life into it. Work gets in the way, so do children and school needs. For some, this year is not THE year, and we lament with them. Writing takes dedication, and I’ll toss in my favorite quote for emphasis: “Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that, when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.” ― Lili St. Crow Even if you can’t find time to pound out 1667 words a day, you need to find fifteen minutes to write something. Anything. A song. A poem. Lament your inability to find a topic worthy of your attention. Perhaps even an interpretive dance. You have a story inside your head screaming to get out. You can’t do anything without thinking about it. It burns just behind your eyes. the characters are clamoring like a horde of middle schoolers at their first dance. You owe it to yourself to write every day. This year may not be your year, but maybe next year will be. The hobbyists are mostly gone now. The idea of scribbling out 50k words in a month sounds like fun until you’re a week in and have 500 words down and no prospects for further production. This is where the rubber hits the road. Don’t stop just because you won’t make the word count. This is the time...

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NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Ercila Robbins (aka Susan Agatha Davis)

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Good morning fellow scriveners! Now that you’ve jumped out of bed, jogged your two miles, taken a hot shower and had a good breakfast, it’s time to write! I’m dreaming, right? After all, I write fiction. Getting up, jogging, showering and having breakfast BEFORE I write is NOT how I start my day. If I did, I’d never get to the writing. Writing is what I do first thing in the morning. And last thing at night. And if I need a break from “real life.” And sometimes at 3 am when I have this great idea and it just doesn’t go away. Jogging, eating, sleeping, showering is what I do BETWEEN spells of writing. I want to take a moment to offer a piece of advice for when you’re stuck. I usually get stuck because: a) my story is too long, and I got lost in it; b) I’m struggling with this one scene, and it’s holding up the rest of the book; or c) I alter my routines. For long stories, stop and make an outline/timeline. List each scene, with the characters and one or two significant points. Summarize. This way when you’re staring at the page and going, “Wait, how did I get here? What’s supposed to happen next?” You’ll know. It’s also good to create vignettes of your scenes and then splice them together later – like creating the parts of a crossword puzzle and then matching the edges. (Sometimes you have to trim the edges for a good fit.) When you’ve got that one scene that just won’t work for you, don’t throw it out! The most common advice I hear from people is, “If it doesn’t work, chuck it.” No. That’s just being lazy. Write it first! THEN if it doesn’t work, chuck it! Just get it down on paper any way you can. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to fit just right. Why? Because there’s a reason that scene found its way into your head. It has a meaning, a purpose. Often, after I’ve finished, and it still doesn’t quite work, I put it into a folder to use it in the next book! Don’t be afraid of sweating it out. Nothing good comes easy. Routines are essential for writers. You write best at the desk by your bed? Write there! All the time! You write best at a library? On the front deck? By the beach! WRITE THERE! 3 am? Midnight? Only on Saturdays? Call it discipline. Call it habit. Call it superstition. Go with what works. Finally, there’s an old Biblical saying, “A prophet is never recognized in his own home.” The people who are closest to us, usually family members, are often the people who are the least interested in our writing. Don’t get discouraged because they “don’t get it.” We’re writers.  We’re a tribe. We have NaNoWriMo. Go...

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NaNoWriMo 2017: Events and Support for Virtual Writers

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With November here again, that crazy literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is back! We’ll be offering an exciting calendar of writerly delights – word scrimmages, write-ins, as well as inspirational workshops, talks and articles from successful authors. Join our Second Life® group Milk Wood Wrimos for event reminders and follow us on Twitter for daily tips – you’ll find lots of great links under the hashtag #virtualwrimos. VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS We are excited to announce that we’ll be hosting a selection of online workshops again this year. Click on the link below to participate at the specific time. These workshops are held in Second Life®. For details on how you can participate check out the following article. All scheduled events take place at the Milk Wood Writing Group area or in the writing room at Book Island (Sundays at 12 noon PT). Please be aware that the clocks go back in the US on the 5th November and on the 29th October in the UK, and we go by Pacific Time (PT), also known as SLT in Second Life®. NaNoWriMo Prep Write-In Hosted by Harriet Gausman Click here to teleport to the writing area Wednesday 25th October, 2017 8am PT / 11am ET / 4pm GMT NaNoWriMo is a demanding challenge and preparedness is key. Join us for our NaNo prep write-in where we’ll share some storyboard and plot development resources in readiness for November. Then we’ll all sit down together and begin to plot in a timed writing session. Come prepared to work both during and after the meet. We may also take a field trip for added inspiration: so bring your hiking gear. _________________ NaNoWriMo Workshop with Huckleberry Hax Ten plus years of NaNoWriMo: what have I learned about writing stories? Click here to teleport to the event Friday 27th October, 2017 3pm PT / 6pm ET / 11pm GMT 2017 will be Huck’s twelfth attempt at NaNoWriMo and – hopefully – his eleventh successful one. His first go in 2006 put an end to almost a decade of writer’s block and he’s still now processing why that was, over three quarters of a million words later. In this workshop Huck will share some of the insights he’s had as to why writing a novel in this way can unlock your identity as a writer, and how everything we get taught about writing stories in school might just be completely wrong. _________________ NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party Click here to teleport to the event Tuesday 31st October, 2017 3pm PT / 6pm ET / 10pm GMT A chance for you to meet your fellow Wrimos, pick up the goodie bag and titler, and chat about your NaNoWriMo ideas. If you’ve worked on your plot, setting and characters during our prep session, bring along a brief summary to share with the other participants. You can read it out or share via a notecard. Fancy dress a must! This year the theme is ‘twisted fairy tales’, so be creative. We’ll be looking...

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NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Doyle Slen

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by Doyle Slen Well, here we are at the halfway point of another NaNoWriMo. This is my third – and it’s as nerve wracking, exhilarating and annoying as the first. Currently, I am at 41,000 words: close enough to my goal to taste it. This is the time when the writer’s elbow starts to kick in. The family begins to scowl at all the time you are ‘wasting’ at the keyboard, or scribbling on pads of paper that you have in every room. They may pass by you sniffing and ask something like, “When was the last time you showered?” and your response might be a mumbled, “What is the date?” or “We’re still in November, right?” or “What? Really, whatever you want to order is fine with me”. The last one kind of throws them off and is a favorite of mine. This is the time to dig in. Two weeks left. You may be looking at a word count that is below what you had hoped and ready to throw up your arms in defeat. Don’t. Every word is a word you didn’t have before. Even if you don’t hit the magic number you’ve still made a great accomplishment. I am a very opinionated person – if you’ve ever come to Dash at Milk Wood you would find that out – but I am a firm supporter of freedom of speech. Especially speech I disagree with. To me writing is as important as breathing. Expressing yourself in words or other art forms, while I may not agree with everything, is essential. It’s important that everyone gets a chance to speak. NaNo is a forum by which people are encouraged to write, tell a story, speak their mind. If everyone agrees, what a boring world this would be. It may sound cliché, but you owe us your story, poem, song or interpretive dance. It is part of the human experience. NaNo is a forum, a sharing exercise – success gets you a certificate, maybe a t-shirt, but you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Two weeks to go, Scribblers. You can do it. Look at that – with a simple rant I added to my total! Thanks to Harri for the home and the Dash/Snatch crew for musing it up for me....

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NaNoWriMo Pep Talk from Lizzie Gudkov

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by Lizzie Gudkov Stop and Smell the Roses Stop and smell the roses?! But, but, but… That’s exactly the opposite of what everyone has been telling you to do, right? Pep-talks, articles, blog posts, all push you to write on and on. Some of you breeze through the daily quota quite easily while others struggle to reach the goal. Whichever the case, “keep writing, keep writing” is all you hear. However, sometimes you reach a breaking point and that’s the most dangerous moment of your NaNoWriMo. That’s exactly when you feel tempted to simply give up. The daily word goal is challenging. Your schedule is merciless, and so are your responsibilities with the house, the job, the kids, doctor’s appointments, that volunteer work you committed to months ago and you completely forgot about… oh, and then it’s your turn to take the kids and their friends to the cinema, not to mention your concern about the cat who is strangely quiet and wise enough to keep a safe distance from you during the month of November. Panic sets in and flirting with the idea of giving up is somewhat reassuring. Well, stop it! We won’t let you give up that easily. So, here’s what you’re going to do. *Take a day off from writing (one day!); *Find a sim that fits your writing genre (no favorite sims landmarked? Second Life’s® Destination Guide might be a good place to start); *If you don’t feel like spending time looking for a place, explore Milk Wood (there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered); *Observe and listen; *Pay attention to details; *Ask “what if…” questions; *Imagine your character visiting the sim. Tell him to take an object from that location and include it in the story. Make it something totally out of the ordinary, something he would never choose. Push your character beyond the comfortable limits of his pre-designed existence; *Take plenty of notes for future reference. Then, go back to...

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