Tag Archives: pep talk

Make Your Last Day Count

Make Your Last Day Count

There are planned pep talks and then there are those thoughts that come to you while driving home at one in the morning because you didn’t want to stop typing at your parents house when it was a half hour to midnight because you’ve still got 5,000 words to write before the final midnight.

All of you who have already validated can go plot what you’re bringing to the potluck at the TGIO party. I love you, but I’m not talking to you right now. Really. This is the last time you’ll hear a peep from me until tonight’s Last Blast To Get Your Words In or I’ve validated myself. Whichever comes first.

For those of you still reading, I want to take a moment to encourage you to keep writing. As I have been working on catching up with the 12,000 words I need to get in these few days, I could not help but think a quote attributed to Red Smith about the difficulty of writing that goes “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

We may not use typewriters anymore (at least the vast majority of us), but sometimes these last days of writing feel like bleeding, like the marathoner who didn’t quite break in their shoes enough before beginning the race.

Life happened. Writer’s block got you. Doubts started eating away at your confidence. The characters ran amuck. Whatever it is that happened in the last 29 days, I want to encourage you to keep writing today… and tomorrow and the next day. Maybe you don’t reach that 50,000. Maybe you do. Whatever happens take heart in the words of Ray Bradbury – “You fail only if you stop writing.”

Don’t let worry slow you down. Follow Walt Disney’s advice – “Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.” 

I like quotes, so here are a few more that you can take heart in if the craziness of this all seems to have grown since you first started on this journey.

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – F. Nietzsche

“Normality is a paved road. It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.” – Doctor Who

“We wait, starving for moments of high magic to inspire us, but life is full of common enchantment waiting for our alchemist’s eyes to notice.” – Jacob Nordby

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – unknown

“Never, ever let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Prove the cynics wrong. Pity them for they have no imagination. The sky’s the limit. Your sky. Your limit. Now. Let’s dance.” – Tom Hiddleston

“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash, founder of May Kay cosmetics

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

I could go on and on, but I have some writing of my own to do. Hopefully one or more of these gives you something to hold onto as you continue in your writing journey.

Whatever comes at midnight, I’ll borrow from lyrics of The Wanted to share my own feelings towards you all -:

“The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came
I’m glad you came”

Write on, my friends. We’ll see you again soon.

Alaina aka A_Rachelle
Your co-captain of the Airship NaNoLansing Sojourner aka co-Municipal Liaison for USA::Michigan::Lansing

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Week 3: All the Little Things

Week 3: All the Little Things

Week three. Sometimes it feels like the Wednesday of NaNo. In week one we had a plan or the hope of a plan and asked ourselves ‘what if.’ Week two we held fast to our imaginations and steamed past the naysayers. Then week three arrived. Purple bars started appearing under some people’s pictures. Then there are those of us who aren’t quite (or not at all) near the blasted purple bar worrying as we shovel coal in hopes of creating some more steam because it feels like there might not be quite enough. This is week three. Don’t worry. It’s almost week four.

So what can you do when all those coals of ideas pushing your imagination on seem to be running low?

One of the things that is fascinating in steampunk is while there is that crazy juxtoposition of ideas and openness to just about anything, there is also a lot of attention to detail. Do an image search on steampunk and once you look past the tophats and corsets and bustles of the Victorian era, you may begin to notice that what sets them apart are all the little deatils. There are cogs and chains and intricate clockwork devices. The pistols are engraved and the brass is aged. Texture is layered over texture and every seam is defined. Without those details they don’t make the jump from Victorian to steampunk.

Word nerd that I am I looked up the etymology of ‘details’ and at its French roots it means to separate (de-), to cut (tailler). Further back that to cut is from the Latin talea meaning a twig or cutting.

What does this have to do with steampunk or NaNo? Maybe its where my own NaNo manuscript is as, but there are two pieces of inspiration I take from this.

The first is that all those ‘minor items or events regarded collectively’ can be a great place to visit when you are stuck and trying to figure out how to get those 1,667 words in for the day. Describe the details that make your story yours. Maybe your character loves pierogies or spike heels. Perhaps they decorated their whole home in purple or there is something strange about the street they live on. Daily writing prompts are a great place to find inspiration for this.Those details may never make it past the first draft, but there is a lot to be learned from the details of your world.

The second is that original Latin talea. In horticulture a cutting is a part of a parent plant that is cut off in order to grow a new and separate plant. Look through what you have written. Where are there places that you have skipped over details or days or emotions? Can a new scene be grown out of it? What unanswered questions can you address?

Need help figuring out some details? Other wrimos are a great source of info. Come and pluck their minds at our write-in today at E. Lansing Grand Traverse Pie Company or any of the others coming up between now and the end of the month.

Go get lost in the little things and we’ll see you soon.

Alaina aka A_Rachelle
Your co-captain of the Airship NaNoLansing Sojourner aka co-Municipal Liaison for USA::Michigan::Lansing

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Week One: When 'What If' meets 'Yes, and…'

Week One: When 'What If' meets 'Yes, and…'

Ah, week one. You learn a lot about your novel in week one. You may have discovered that you hate your plot and changed it or had your first character rebellion. You may have fallen in love with a place or gotten side-tracked on a detail. One week end the world is full of possibilities. Don’t be afraid of them.

This year we took one look at the artwork from the Office of Letters and Light and knew that steampunk would be the theme for our region, but what, you may ask, is steampunk? The term appears to have originated in a letter written by K.W. Jeter to Locus magazine in the mid-80s, but its influences reach back into the Victorian where steam ruled and the scientific romances of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells came into being. More recently it can be found in the work of authors like Cassandra Clare (City of Bones) and Raven Dane (Cyrus Darian And The Technomicron).

Steampunk is an amazingly versatile genre. Authors have taken the feel and technology of the Victorian era and asked themselves the question ‘What if?’. What if there was magic? What if instead of futuristic cyborgs, people were augmented with clockwork parts? What if combustion engines didn’t overtake steam as an energy source? Then they ran with it.

In the world of theatre we have an improv game called ‘Yes, and…”. It’s our equivalent of committing to ‘what ifs’ in our storytelling. While playing the game you are not allowed to say no. It doesn’t matter what the previous person threw at you, you have to accept it and go. Beavers may be bowling or aliens kidnapped you in the middle of a lovely date. You can’t change where the story has taken you, you can only take the ‘what if’ you’ve been given, follow it with a ‘Yes,’ and run with it.

As we head into our second week, that is what I encourage each and every one of you to do. When you hit writers block take an idea that is totally outside of your novel and ask ‘what if’. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it. Make ‘Yes, and…’ a regular part of your writing experience. Bring in an element of sci-fi to your literary fiction or horror into your fantasy. It may not live past December 1st, but it also may open you up to ideas that you never would have thought of otherwise.

Not sure where to get a crazy what-if? Here are a few places to find them:

  • Ask your friends and fellow writers
  • Visit the Adoption Society or Plot Doctoring forum threads
  • Use a plot generator (Here’s one, but there are a ton out there)
  • Browse a library, bookstore, Amazon, or your own bookshelves

Whatever you do, remember that NaNo isn’t just an opportunity to write a novel with a bunch of other somewhat crazy fellow writers, it’s an opportunity to explore. So just like those authors that started this whole steampunk culture, and in the immortal words of Nike, just do it.

I mean now. There are three weeks left, but I promise they will fly, so write like the wind, my wrimos.

Alaina aka A_Rachelle
Co-Municipal Liaison, USA::Michigan::Lansing

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The Week Four Countdown

The Week Four Countdown

Hello, NaNoLansing! Welcome to Week Four. It’s hard to believe there’s less than a week until month’s end.

As I was flipping through one of my dad’s magazines today, I saw an ad for a five stone synthesized diamond ring. According to the ad they are supposed to be even more perfect than naturally mine diamonds as well as being far more inexpensive to produce thus their price of only $99.99.

When I was a teenager I inherited an engagement ring from my grandmother, the center of which featured a beautiful old mine cut diamond. It has far more facets than the cuts that I see now when wandering past jewelry stores, but what you cannot see with the naked eyes is that there is a flaw just beneath the surface. Any jeweler who purchased it would cut it down for a smaller but more perfect stone, but to me that makes the stone unique. Even history aside there is none other quite like it.

Now, I have nothing against imitation stones. They can be quite lovely and are great for day to day, but there is beauty in imperfections.

Right now, our novels are like that old family diamond. They are not perfect. In fact, you may feel like yours is still that just mined hunk of stone that has as yet to be more than pulled from the earth. That is okay. Those imperfections make that novel unique and yours.

It is easy at this point to become distracted by all of the imperfections that we see in our work. There are scenes you hate, superfluous descriptions, misbehaving characters and any other variety of things that you are just waiting until December 1st to edit away. For these last five days forget about them. There are another eleven months of the year that can be spent polishing them into a gorgeous, glittering gem.

Embrace your imperfections. Embrace your mess. Go into these last few days rejoicing at what you’ve completed and not the things that you haven’t. Find the beauty in those things and use it to spur you on to even more interesting story ideas. You can do it. We believe in you.

Happy Week Three!

Happy Week Three!

Happy Day-After-Halfway-Day!

Also, Welcome to Week Three!

You’ve done it. You have made it past the halfway mark and are still reading our messages, which probably means you have drunk far far too much coffee in the last 15 days.

At this point in the month there are a few places that you could be.

A) Riding high on a fabulous word count that may even be over 50,000 already. If so, hats off to you! Congrats!

B) Right on with 1,667 words a day (or somewhere around 26,667 words at this point). Like the tortoise you are set to win the race. Hold fast to the goal and do not forget to back-up your novel in multiple places.

C) A little – or a lot – behind where you had hoped you would be with your word count. To you I want to say don’t give up.

I have been where you are. That graph with the nice diagonal line of where I should be was my nemesis sent to torment me with my lack of progress. Perhaps your characters rebelled, your plot disintegrated or that ‘real’ life thing invaded and took all of your writing time. Whatever the cause, write on. There is still time to catch up. In my years with NaNo I have seen amazing things come about in the last two weeks of the month. You can do this. We believe in you.

If you need a little inspiration there are several things you can do…

Check out NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. You can scope out their page even if you don’t use Twitter yourself. Not only can you sprint along, you can also snitch their inspirations. Tom Selleck’s mustache may not seem to fit in your story but you never know where it might take you.

Give NaNoLansing Chat a try. You can challenge others to word wars or ask Timmy, the ever helpful bot, to give you a challenge.

Visit a write-in. I’ve only been to the ML sponsored ones but we’ve had a great crowd and the Cauldron of Doom spawns more than just monkey trading.

Bring in ninjas to get your unruly characters back into line. Describe a location that is important to your story. Incorporate the Traveling Shovel of Death. Most importantly – keep writing. You never know what is just over the horizon.

Welcome to Week 2!

Welcome to Week 2!

Welcome to Week 2!

This is the week that traditionally becomes a bit of a slippery slope for wrimos. They hate their novel, feel their characters are cardboard and find new and inventive ways to procrastinate. Or they look at the regional stars’ word counts and compare it to their own and think, “I’ll never catch up, so why bother?”

Well don’t worry. This is normal. It WILL pass. As Douglas Adams says, “Don’t Panic!” All will be well.

If you’re worried about your word count, don’t. Just keep plugging along. Don’t look at the 50K goal. Look at 300 words and then another 300 words and then another. Pretty soon those 300 word bits will multiply and you’ll find yourself with several thousand more words!

If you’re like me and a little competition helps, find someone who is close in word count to you and let them be your carrot that you follow and strive to surpass. Alaina has been my carrot this year. She mostly writes in the evening and I’m a morning writer. So every morning I’ve been waking up to find that she was 1500 to 2000 words ahead of me. It has helped to push me to write just a leetle bit more than her. It’s been a great motivator.

Also use word wars. Some years I don’t do too many of these, but whenever I get stuck, they are excellent at getting me moving and I can usually churn out several hundred words per sprint. At least 1/3 of my novel this year is thanks to word wars. If you want to find a word war, you can head over to #nanowordsprints at twitter, go to the NaNo Word Wars thread, go to the NaNoLansing chat room and start one yourself, or ask Timmy the bot the challenge you to something.

If you respond to kamikaze motivation, try Write or die, but don’t use the highest setting unless you are very serious because your words will start to erase if you stop typing. Or if you like kittens, try written kitten where every 1000 words graces you with another kitten picture.

The other thing that helps is going to write ins. There’s nothing like the energy of a room full of wrimos fervently typing away to motivate you to do the same.

Here’s some other strategies – if you hate your plot, jump to another scene. You don’t have to sit and grumble choking out words like water from an empty thermos. Try something new. Bring in another character and see what they have to tell you. My novel is jumping around more than those leaping plot bunnies we passed out at the kick off party and for cauldron of doom prizes. But it’s all right. With each scene, I’m laying out the foundation to flesh out later. And I keep myself entertained and maintain the fun.

But most of all, give yourself credit! You’ve passed week one and your story is being told! You have written more than those folks who never try, so YEA YOU! Now just keep going. Bit by bit, your novel will unfold and you’ll see those word counts rise!

Happy writing!

Get Ready, Set, Write!

Get Ready, Set, Write!

Greetings Fellow Authors,

In just a few minutes, our exciting journey begins. Whether you have your entire novel plotted out and fully developed or you plan to sit in front of your screen with no idea in mind, or like me, are somewhere in-between, we’re in for a wonderfully fun ride.

Remember to pack the bags for your inner editor and inner critic and send them on their way to a month long vacation. They are neither needed nor wanted this month. This is a month for just writing for the sheer joy of it. And do write. This first day write something. Anything. Just start writing. Get your juices flowing with those first few words and then let those words go forth and multiply like rabbits. You have a story that is ready to be told!

The biggest contributing factor to those who do not succeed in NaNo is that they don’t write. Simple, huh? So try to write every single day, even if it’s only 15 words. You’re still 15 words closer to your goal.

To help get you started with those first few words, we’ll have our first write in of the month tomorrow night (Thursday 1st) at the Pie Factory in East Lansing. Come join Alaina and me as we kick off the month together.

We will also have a chat room up and running in a few days. Those of you who can’t make it to a write in will be able to chat with each other there. We can also have one or two scheduled virtual write-ins during the month. I’ll post all of the information as soon as it is set up.

If you would like to see how your word counts compare to others, be sure to stop by this thread and post a note. We have 7 so far, but with several hundred participants in our region, there is room for many, many more. It would be awesome to have a whole bunch of you participate in this.

Well it’s almost midnight and I’m thinking about staying up until 1 am to jump start the season. I’m much more of a morning person, so we’ll see how this goes. If I’m a little blurry eyed tomorrow night at the write in, you’ll know my NaNo insomnia got the best of me. But if I have my words done by the time I head to the office tomorrow, it will be well worth it.

Happy writing everyone and I hope to see a lot of you tomorrow at the pie factory!