Tag Archives: Writing

NaNoWriMo Prep: Just Say Yes!

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from all over take the challenge to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. It’s a literary challenge like none other and last year, over 700,000 writers entered the contest.

The thought of 50,000 words in 30 days is incredibly overwhelming. Writing at least 1,667 words every day is a huge commitment and many writers pass up NaNoWriMo because they’re scared that they will fail to reach their goal.

Last year was my first year to officially participate in NaNoWriMo and I had been apprehensive about it for that exact reason. I had known about it for quite a few years before, but I was never confident enough to take the plunge. I knew that I was more than capable of writing a novel, but the deadline discouraged me and kept me from participating.

When I did finally decide to participate last year, I completed my goal by Thanksgiving and couldn’t have been more proud. If you are unsure of whether or not you should participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I encourage you to just say yes and sign up for it. It may sound stressful, but there are many benefits that come with it.

Development of a Writing Routine
Before I started NaNoWriMo last year, I wrote whenever I felt like it. If I didn’t feel particularly motivated one day, I just skipped it and told myself I would write another day. You cannot do that during NaNoWriMo. If you don’t feel like writing, you need to power through your mental block. The deadline is too tight and the requirement is too large for you not to write often. When you know that you need to write every day, the development of a routine naturally occurs and you’ll soon find it easier to sit down and write every day. Writing will become second nature and as a writer, this is an amazing feeling.

Confidence as a Writer
As I mentioned before, the feeling that you get when you finish a novel is unparalleled. However, the journey to the finish line feels just as good. It’s fair to say that the more that you write, the better you get. If you write every day for thirty days, you’ll begin to get comfortable with your own writing style and you may notice your skills flourish. There is no better feeling than having confidence in your abilities.

A Network of Fellow Writers
Writing is typically a solitary act and it’s easy to feel alone with your thoughts. However, NaNoWriMo offers you the ability to connect with fellow writers who are also participating in the challenge. These people will understand the obstacles that you face, give you feedback on your novel, and lend their support and advice. Forming this network is completely optional, but the social aspect is not widely known.

A Rough Draft of a Novel
Once November ends, you will have a rough draft of a novel! Whether it’s your first or fiftieth, writing a novel is a major accomplishment. Once you have finished your draft, you can decide whether to hide it away on your desktop or eventually pursue publication. Either way, you will officially be able to say that you have written a novel and that’s something to brag about.

All in all, there’s really nothing to lose when you say yes to NaNoWriMo. There is no fee to participate and there is no penalty if you do not complete your goal. I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo again this year and I hope that you all do as well. If you’ve ever expressed any interest in writing a novel, just say yes and sign up at nanowrimo.org.

Until next week,

Debbie

I will continue my NaNoWriMo Prep series through October and I will pick up my NaNoWriMo series throughout November.

NaNoWriMo Prep 2014:

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management
NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November
NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal
NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

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Making Time to Read

MTTRThere are countless studies that discuss the numerous benefits that reading has on a person. Whether you’re looking to improve your intelligence or for a pure form of entertainment, reading a book will positively affect the brain. When writing, your creativity and brainpower are invaluable resources that can be increased when you read. Last week, I discussed the importance of reading. Today, I’m going to talk about how you can make time to read.

Schedule In Time to Read
If you haven’t read a book in a while, it might be hard to get back into the habit of reading on a daily basis. It’s easy to forget something that you aren’t used to doing, so make sure to schedule reading into your day. Whether you mark it on your calendar, make a note of it in your phone, or pencil it into your planner, make sure that you schedule a time to read. If you schedule your reading in advanced, there’s no way that you can “forget” to read. If you are really out of the habit, start by scheduling twenty minutes to read and then gradually build your reading time as you get more comfortable with your new routine.

Replace an Episode With a Book
Many people find television one of the easiest ways to relax. If you’re bored, stressed, or have some downtime, it’s easy to flip on the television and watch episodes of your favorite show for hours on end. If you were to take even thirty of the minutes used to watch television and applied it to a book, you could get some good reading in. Instead of watching the next episode of the show, turn off your television and pick up a book. Reading is just as entertaining, if not more so, than watching hours of television. Reading stimulates your mind and really gets you thinking. It would also do your eyes some good to give them a rest from hours of screen time.

Put a Book on Your Nightstand
A habit that is very easy to fall into is checking your cell phone before bed. Sending texts, checking social media, and watching videos before you go to bed is something many people do, but it’s not necessarily a good habit to have. Studies show that reading on a screen before you go to bed can be detrimental to your sleep, eventually causing health problems. Reading a printed book is the perfect way to unwind before bed, without the negative side effects of the screen.

Start a Book Club
You could join a book club that already exists, or you can create one with a few of your close friends. By being a part of a book club, you are turning the normally solitary act of reading into a social one. You will also feel more accountable to read your book so you can be a part of the lively discussion with your group. Discussing books with your friends is also a great way to learn more  about each other. Most book clubs allow the reader to have an entire month to finish a book, so this is a great option for someone just getting back into the reading habit.

There are countless ways to add reading into your day, you just need to make the conscious decision to do so. Start small and slowly build your habit. You’ll soon become a more well-read person and it’ll be easy for you to find time in your day to read.

If you have any thoughts on how to make time for reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Until next week,

Debbie

Why You Should Be Reading More

readmoreThere are countless studies that discuss the numerous benefits that reading has on a person. Whether you’re looking to improve your intelligence or for a pure form of entertainment, reading a book will positively affect the brain. When writing, your creativity and brainpower are invaluable resources that can be increased when you read. There are several benefits of reading that pertain specifically to writers and if you are able to regularly dedicate your time, you will be able to reap the rewards of reading.

Expand Your Vocabulary
Reading books regularly is an incredible way to expand your vocabulary. Books of all genres can expose you to words that you may not hear in everyday conversation. When you are introduced to new words, you may find yourself incorporating them into your vocabulary, whether it’s when you speak or when you write. By adding to your personal vocabulary, you become a more articulate person and a much better writer.

Expand Your Imagination
Whether you’re interested in reading a historical fiction piece about the French Revolution or a contemporary novel about teenage love, reading a book will expand your imagination. When you let yourself get lost in a story, your mind wanders to places that it might not normally. You may begin to play the “what if” game and the book you’re reading may inspire you to learn more about the subject matter. If you are a writer, this is an incredible benefit because when you expand your imagination, you become more open to inspiration.

Improve Your Writing
By reading well written works of literature, you may see improvements in your own writing. It takes time and effort to master certain writing techniques, such as writing engaging dialogue or setting a scene. When you read, you are consistently introduced to great examples of these techniques, making it easier for you to adopt them in your own writing. If you enjoy a certain genre of writing, you should read books from that genre. Different genres have different genre expectations and when you make yourself familiar with these expectations, you will be able to write for that genre more effectively. Reading also exposes you to different types of plots and this exposure can help you learn what works and what doesn’t work in writing.

Reduce Your Stress and Relax
In today’s society, the constant stresses of the day make it difficult for a person to completely relax. If you attempt to relax by watching some television, it’s easy to glance at your phone and flip through emails during a commercial break. If you’re giving yourself some relaxing time on the computer, there’s a chance that you won’t be totally unplugged from the stresses of work. Modern entertainment doesn’t really allow you to totally unwind like reading a book does. By picking up a book, you are completely losing yourself to the world within the pages. When you lose yourself in the story, you are allowing yourself to relax and this reduces your stress levels. In fact, a 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. When you reduce your stress levels, your brain benefits immensely. You will find that you feel refreshed, more focused, and happier. You may also notice that your creativity soars and it becomes easier to write when you are relaxed.

There are some great books that are slated to come out this summer, so it’s a great time to pick up a book and start reading. Reading will help you become a more educated and interesting writer and it will help you reduce stress and relax.

If you have any thoughts on the benefits of reading, please share them in the comments.

Until next week,

Debbie

Writing While On Vacation

writingvacationSummer is one of the most popular seasons for travel. With school out of session and the weather at its warmest, many people take advantage of the opportunity to go on vacation. I personally love to travel and think that it’s a great way to explore the world and get rejuvenated. However, traveling can hinder your writing. If you don’t stay diligent, it’s easy to go your entire vacation without writing a single word.

Over the past two weeks, I have talked about writing while traveling by airplane and by car. Today, I’m going to discuss how you can stay motivated once you are on vacation.

Schedule Your Writing Time
When you are on vacation, it is easy to let time slip away from you. By setting yourself a specific writing time, you will ensure that your daily writing gets done. Consider a time of day where you may have downtime. If the people that you are traveling with are all night owls, consider scheduling in an hour of writing time in the morning before everyone wakes up. If the opposite is true and your group is early to bed, consider staying up an hour later and fitting in your writing at night. Setting yourself a specific time to write will alleviate stress, allowing you to relax and enjoy your vacation.

Don’t Make Impossible Goals
Unless your vacation was intended to be a writing getaway, you probably won’t be able to complete your entire novel. It’s normal to have lots of excursions, events, or reservations to attend to throughout your days, leaving little time to write. In order to get the most out of your vacation, don’t be too hard on yourself in terms of your writing word count. Set yourself a reasonable goal, such as 500 words per day. If you surpass this goal, it’ll be a happy surprise. Don’t set yourself an impossible 3,000 word goal that will leave you stressed about your writing throughout your vacation. Always evaluate your travel plans in order to decide on the writing goals that are best for you.

Take It To Go
Depending on the type of vacation that you go on, you may have some downtime. Take a pen and paper with you wherever you go so that you’re able to write down notes whenever an idea strikes you. You could be at the beach, relaxing in the sand. You could be at an amusement park, waiting in an hour long line. Regardless of where you are, scribbling down notes will help you whenever you take your writing break. Experiencing new things may also spark some new ideas and it’s great to write down those ideas the moment they occur to you, rather than hours later when you return to the hotel.

Enjoy Yourself
You are on vacation, so don’t feel guilty about stepping away from your computer and writing less than you would at home. If you are able to relax and enjoy yourself on vacation, you will be able to come back to your manuscript with a new set of ideas that may spark some inspiration.

Whether it’s a relaxing vacation to the beach, an adrenaline-fueled adventure in the mountains, or a quick getaway in a neighboring town, a vacation is a great way to experience the world. It can be a challenge to squeeze writing into a trip, but if you are able to, you will feel incredibly productive. This productivity coupled with the relaxation from your vacation will reinvigorate your focus and ignite your creativity.

If you have any other tips for writing while traveling on vacation, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Stay focused on your journey!
Writing While Traveling By Airplane
Writing While Traveling By Car

Until next week,

Debbie

Writing While Traveling by Airplane

travelairSummer is one of the most popular seasons for travel. With school out of session and the weather at its warmest, many people take advantage of the opportunity to go on vacation. I personally love to travel and think that it’s a great way to explore the world and get rejuvenated. However, traveling can hinder your writing. If you don’t stay diligent, it’s easy to go your entire vacation without writing a single word.

I am going on several trips this month and I would like to share some advice on how I stay motivated to write while I’m traveling.

Keep Electronics Charged
The majority of writers do their writing on a computer and the portability of electronics allows a writer to bring their work with them on the airplane. If you are going to rely on a computer or any other electronic to do all of your in-air writing, make sure to keep it charged. Because of the popularity of smart phones and computers, many airports have charging stations that you can plug into before the flight. Depending on how big your airplane is, some airplanes have electrical outlets under the seats. The best laptop batteries only last a few hours so make sure that all of your electronics are fully charged in order to get in as much writing as possible.

Utilizing Smaller Electronics and Writing Apps
Laptops are a great way to bring your writing with you, but they can sometimes be inconvenient. When going through airport security, passengers have to completely remove laptops from carry on bags and when walking around the airport, laptops can weigh you down. If you are fortunate enough to own a tablet or any other smaller electronic device, consider bringing that instead of your laptop. Tablets and Kindle Fire devices are incredibly portable and much easier to carry. You don’t ever have to take your tablet out of you carry on and you can use tablets at every stage of the flight, unlike a laptop that you will need to put away upon ascent and descent.

If you choose to use a tablet, consider a writing app in order to keep your writing in one place. There are many writing apps, so make sure to do some research and pick the app that best suits your needs.

Observe Those Around You
Although traveling by air allows for you to reach your destination quicker than if you were traveling by car, there is still a lot of downtime involved. Before you even get onto the plane, you may find yourself in the airport for hours. Use this downtime to observe the people around you. Since there are people from all over the world who pass through airports, you will be able to pick up on different body language, mannerisms, and accents. Observing others and learning these traits will help you build more believable and diverse characters. Not all people act, move, or speak the same and observing how real people behave may help influence the characters in your story.

Give Yourself an Arrival Incentive
There aren’t many distractions while writing on an airplane. Most people keep to themselves on airplanes and it’s easy to put on some headphones and remain focused for the entirety of your flight. Give yourself a benchmark that you want to hit while you are flying. If you hit your word count by the time the airplane touches down at your destination, treat yourself to something when you get off of the airplane and into the terminal.

Air travel is probably the most convenient form of vacation travel. I think traveling by air is a great way to get in some undisturbed writing time and it allows for you to observe different types of people. This advantage can help you write more dynamic characters and the lack of distractions will help you write plenty of words before your vacation begins.

If you have other tips for writing while traveling by airplane, please share them in the comments.

Until next week,

Debbie