Are you writing?

It’s that time of the year again. Standing at the bottom of the mountain, staring up at that endless summit with your ‘50,000 words’ flag clenched anxiously in your hand. There’s less than one month until NaNoWriMo, folks!

Let’s rehash – what is NaNoWriMo? Why, it’s National Novel Writing Month, an online event held every year where writers do what they do best: write – and lots of it. The goal is to write 50,000 words in November, which comes to about 1,667 words a day. It’s a monstrous challenge for most, a walk in the park for some and pretty worthwhile for everyone involved. The best part is, you don’t really lose out if you don’t make the 50,000 words. Even if you only got 5,000 words in, that’s 5,000 words you didn’t have before and that’s not counting any inspiring epiphanies you might’ve had in the process.

Oh wait, I lied. That’s not the best best part – which is, of course, that it’s free! And the best best best part is you’re not alone. The forums are always bursting with activity, from day-to-day chats, to Wrimos answering each other’s research questions, to adopting pet names. It’s a great atmosphere to be in.

… Now here’s where I get booed off stage for admitting I probably won’t be taking part in this awesome ordeal this year. I’d really love to! Camp NaNo was great (even if I did make a mad rush in the last 24 hours). I’ve got exams and work going on in November, and my preparation for my novel isn’t really mature yet. BUT! I’m certainly going to be doing a little writing challenge of my own! To be honest, I will probably never have the right timing and speed to hit 50,000 words while I’m a student. So my goals are usually smaller. Maybe I’ll try for 750 words a day. I might even sign up for NaNoWriMo despite not being in the same race – the atmosphere might give me a boost! I don’t know what I’ll be doing specifically but I do know one thing – in November, I’m going to write.

Which is probably what some of you do every day anyway. So why did I make this post?

Because I haven’t been doing much of it. Writing, that is. I’ve been really bad with progress lately, being so busy with uni and my new job… and taking naps… and playing Skyrim… and watching anime… and telling myself I will write tomorrow. It feels like I’ve hit a motivational rut for everything, not just writing. The only good thing that came out of it was realising I’m probably not the only one with this dilemma. We all get stuck sometimes. Realising we’re stuck is the first step. Pulling yourself out of it is a downright sprint.

That’s why I really hope you guys will consider joining NaNoWriMo this year, or making a solid writing goal for yourself. To anyone who is suffering a bout of laziness, demotivation or a plain period of busy life, I just wanted to tell you that I’m right there with you! And that in the slowest, laziest way possible, I’m gradually dragging myself out of it. I just needed a big push of willpower. And I’m not saying I’m back on track (because I’m pretty sure I’m still way south of it), but I’ve got a novel that I can’t bear to leave unrealised. I’m quite terrified of never finishing it by the time I die. I am that unbelievably unproductive. I admit it.

My belief is that if you create a character, they trust you to tell their story. They can get tired of being let down time after time, just like us. Maybe one day they’ll leave us, their good for nothing creators. You never know when that day is just around the corner, so get writing! NaNoWriMo is a beacon of what any writer would love to achieve. But don’t give up just because you think, or even know, that you can’t do it. Just get as far as you can. There’s a story itching in those fingers that only you can tell – you, one in 7 billion. No one else will be able to write the same story with the same plot, the same characters, the same development and the same writing style – not even if you told someone to ghost write it for you. Now that’s a thought!

Dear writers,

You have a world in your hands. Don’t drop it.

Happy writing,
Christine

Make Gifts for People

Camp NaNo is proving to be a hard mile, but seeing this awesome poster/comic made my day! Every writer, artist or aspiring creativist (is that a word) should have something like this on their wall. I’m planning to order a poster version and tack it up on mine!

Make Gifts for People by John Green

Buy the poster HERE!

 

P.S. I’m ever more motivated to read John Green’s books now. We got An Abundance of Katherines for my boyfriend’s sister (no prizes for guessing her name, though you probably won’t get the right spelling, haha). I still can’t believe my library doesn’t stock The Fault In Our Stars!

P.P.S. Behind but still soldiering on for Camp. I know it’s been quiet with updates – I’ll return full force after I WIN this embarrassing NaNo experience! Hope the writing goes well for everyone!

How to Be a Better Writer: Advice from the Pros

All the motivation you’ll need, stashed in one place. I needed this so badly!

Socially Accepted Madness

There are no laws for the novel.  There never have been, nor can there ever be.

Doris Lessing

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

Stephen King

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

Ray Bradbury

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.

Ernest Hemingway

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

Robert Frost

You can fix anything but a blank page.

Nora Roberts

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.

C.J. Cherryh

Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.

Anne McCaffrey

I advise writing…

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The Ingredients of Writing: Talent…?

When I was little, I thought a lot about the talent argument; about whether or not it really, really mattered. I’m not what you call a genius – nope, you don’t want to see me grocery shopping. That said, I grasped things faster than some – at school, my grades were good, I was pleasantly athletic, remembered details better and could study less than some classmates with better results. At the same time, I was never the #1 student, the best at any sport or the most effective at studying (pfffftttt! Don’t get me started!). Still, I admit people mostly saw me as ‘smart’. I used to think the talent goddess had shined quite nicely on me.

At those introduce yourself group activities, they tend to ask about something you’re good at – a talent. I usually say that I can juggle just to make myself look a tad less geeky. Then when people ask me how I do it, I tell them “I had no life as a kid and spent a lot of hours chucking hacky sacks at my face.” Seriously, how many hours did I spend trying to keep two balls in the air with one hand? How many days did I kill trying to do three with two hands? It was a lot of hard work, you know!

Oh wait, then I guess that’s not a pure talent that I was born with… writing then? I’m pretty good at writing! Well, not brilliant but it’s my greatest hobby and I’ve been writing since I was just a wee little-

Hang on. I wasn’t born a good writer either (evidence). Does such a thing exist in the first place? I clearly remember writing tragically bad not so long ago, and hey, I actually had the most fun then! I loved tripping over my own amateur feet and climbing back up standing a little taller than I had before. It was a lot of hard work. And you know what? I don’t think – actually, I know – that I’m not the only one who had to put in the effort.

We’ve all heard it before: talent is useless if you don’t use or practice it. I agree! But what is talent anyway? In the same vein, what’s ‘writing’? What’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’? You may have an easier time with a task than some others – is that talent, experience, luck or just individual differences? My boyfriend is terrible with theory but he can reverse park a bulky 4WD into a tight spot with one sweeping movement – and one hand.

But then there are some geniuses out there. Plenty, actually! Geniuses at the big things; the scientists, the artists, the inventors. Then there are geniuses at small things; haggling for a good price, coffee art, juggling. There was a guy on TV years ago who could sculpt an elephant out of chewing gum in his mouth without looking.

Is it talent? Sometimes! But not always. Why am I being such a rookie philosopher about an age old topic?

Because writing is often such a personal and solitary experience, it’s hard to imagine how the successful authors did it. This insecurity is everywhere. Of course, we know they had their share of hard times. Many well-known authors were penniless – some say they still are. So I’m not trying to say anything new. We know this stuff. But it doesn’t hurt to remember it, over and over again:

The authors we look up to are normal people, just like us. Writers. They’ve just been where many of us want to be, that’s all. And is it talent?

Sometimes – but not always :)

Have a look at this nice post by Emily Temple at Flavorwire of Famous Authors’ Handwritten Outlines for Great Works of Literature. It was actually the whole reason behind this post but I got sidetracked as I always do (sorry you had to dig through so much babble to find the good stuff, haha). See JK Rowling’s outline? What about Joseph Heller’s for Catch-22? Lots of work involved – that said, the outline is a metaphor for effort here. I’m aware that pantsers work just as hard with great accomplishments!

Good results don’t just fall from the sky – you have to climb up and fetch them yourselves. Some people are born closer to the clouds than others. But if you build your ladder carefully, with good foundations, you can be right up beside them just the same.

So keep writing! Keep chasing those dreams step by step, and remember to love what you do!

My favourite is William Faulkner’s outline, written on his wall!

✎ 15+ Wallpapers for Writers

This is my first time reblogging one of my own posts to update something, haha. Just wanted to let you guys know that, thanks to Erica at Rubber Ducky Copywriter, I’ve been able to add more motivational wallpapers for you guys! I added five more but there are still others at WinePressPublishing that I recommend checking out. Be sure to leave a word of thanks if you liked their stuff!

Plotting Bunnies

Many authors and writing guides say this: make writing a part of your life. Make it routine, make it a job, make it count. Sound advice. But sometimes you need a shortcut to help you take the first step…

Like seeing it every time you turn on your writing space, the mother of all procrastination: the computer.

Months ago, I made this simple wallpaper for myself:

I wouldn’t say it helped me achieve zen and spit out chapter after chapter. In fact, it didn’t make much impact on my lack of writing routine. But there was something about seeing this reminder when I turned on my laptop, whether it was to do schoolwork or go on youtube. It made me want to write something, or at the least spend some time with my characters and find out the latest gossip in their lives – lives that were waiting to be…

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Caring for Your Writer – 10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family

Just a spot of fun. I love this little instruction manual. So much that I’m going to tell you a story about it.

I shared this post with my boyfriend, just to let him know the package deal, and he approved. We’re hitting the gym more often as part of #6. I told him his little writer would be working very hard this holidays. Then he said, “I like your working ethic. Another reason why I love you.”

And I stopped.

Did he say ‘working ethic’? WHAT working ethic? I had one?! He must not have seen me dazedly mashing at Skyrim this morning and screwing up my save point, which of course meant I had to procrastinate on youtube for another two hours, and naturally I was obligated to kill another half hour on the awesome Despicable Me: Minion Rush app. Yeah, he really didn’t. Except he might’ve noticed me challenging him to rushes.

So um, you might want to rethink that, honey. At least, I was about to text him that. Then I thought about it for another millisecond.

Sometimes there are things about yourself that others know better than you do. Quite often it’s because you’re so in tune with yourself that the small details fly off your radar, and even more often it’s because we don’t want to self-praise ourselves and end up with twice the disappointment afterwards. Then again, I might really be as bad as I think. But at least my favourite boy doesn’t think that, and I’ve got some good friends behind my back. I boldly tell my parents that I’m writing a novel when they ask what I’m doing. It’s out there. I can’t imagine living with myself if I gave up, either. That means I’d better get my act together.

So I didn’t tell my boyfriend that I had no work ethic.

Instead I noticed he had bought a limited edition costume on Minion Rush without telling me and I keyboard smashed out a capitalised reaction that changed the topic quite subtly.

(But really, the moral of the day is to try believing those who believe in you. Let’s start of with me, who believes in you guys – YOU CAN DO IT! Make the munchkin proud!)

WORD SAVANT

Congratulations!  You are now the proud owner of a writer!  Your writer will perform amazing tricks for you, such as spending hours and hours by themselves working on something that they may never finish. Or, accumulating a small collection of editors who thank them for their work but it’s just not right for this publication.

You may be wondering how to feed and care for this moody and reclusive creature, who is “writing a novel” but won’t tell you what it’s about.  Writers need specialized care, so here are 10 easy Do’s and Don’ts to take care of this special breed.

  1. Do give them a minimum of 1 hour of writing time per day.  For many writers it may be more, but this is the minimum for a writer to stay healthy.  Also do not make your writer feel guilty about this.  It is really hard for them…

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✎ 15+ Wallpapers for Writers

Many authors and writing guides say this: make writing a part of your life. Make it routine, make it a job, make it count. Sound advice. But sometimes you need a shortcut to help you take the first step…

Like seeing it every time you turn on your writing space, the mother of all procrastination: the computer.

Months ago, I made this simple wallpaper for myself:

I am a writer

You’re welcome to use this if you want, though I can’t see why you would after seeing the amazing ones below!

I wouldn’t say it helped me achieve zen and spit out chapter after chapter. In fact, it didn’t make much impact on my lack of writing routine. But there was something about seeing this reminder when I turned on my laptop, whether it was to do schoolwork or go on youtube. It made me want to write something, or at the least spend some time with my characters and find out the latest gossip in their lives – lives that were waiting to be written.

So with that in mind, here are some wallpapers to get you started!

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THE MOTIVATING KIND:

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THE TOUGH LOVE KIND:

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THE BE-INSPIRED-BY-BEAUTIFUL-THINGS KIND:

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THE REMEMBER-TO-HAVE-A-LIFE KIND


THE FRUSTRATING KIND