On Your Mark, Get Set, NaNoWriMo!

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It’s that time of year again; November is National Novel Writing Month.

Writers, you have 3 options:

  1. Wimp out while eating leftover candy and turkey.
  2. Participate and write 50,000 words on your next novel.
  3. Be a rebel, writing as if possessed for 30 days on anything you want.

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Need more reasons to do it? How about 8? As in at least 8 bestsellers that began during NaNo:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Wool by Hugh Howey
The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer

I’m going with rebel option 3, hoping to finish the novel I started during NaNoWriMo in 2011 (yikes, five years later!).

A few reminders from the folks in charge:

Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down…

What are you waiting for? Write, write, write! For more information and to sign up for the extra goodies, visit nanowrimo.org.

Please share any thoughts or tips in the comments section.

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Life After NaNoWriMo

Indie Authors discuss the NaNoWriMo experience and what to do after. Featuring host, Jason Matthews, and authors, Lisa Grace, R.M. Prioleau and Samantha Fury.

Amazon Author Pages:
Lisa Grace – http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Grace/e/B003H8CMBW/
R.M. Prioleau – http://www.amazon.com/R.-M.-Prioleau/e/B008I3ABFU/
Samantha Fury – http://www.amazon.com/Samantha-Fury/e/B00418GSVC/
Jason Matthews – http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Matthews/e/B004A8W4BG/

Websites/blogs:
Lisa Grace – http://www.lisagracebooks.com/
R.M. Prioleau – http://www.RMPrioleau.com
Samantha Fury – http://www.samanthafury.com/http://samanthafury-authorsden.blogspot.com/
Jason Matthews – http://ebooksuccess4free.webs.comhttps://ebooksuccess4free.wordpress.com/

G+ Pages:
Lisa Grace – https://plus.google.com/103935289635198255908/posts
R.M. Prioleau – https://plus.google.com/109039979934042787673/posts
Samantha Fury – https://plus.google.com/101015850943623419980/posts
Jason Matthews – https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/posts

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On Your Mouse, Get Set, Write!

Nanowrimo marathonYes-sirree, the sign up for 2011 November NaNoWriMo is in full swing, and this writer just stepped to the starting line.

What is NaNoWriMo? It’s an organization that rhymes with “Mama Rhino,” dedicated to inspiring creativity in fiction by hosting an all-out assault on the written art form during the month of November. The goal is to write like your life depended on it and reach the coveted goal of 50,000 words written in just 30 days. The emphasis is on colossal, unbound, right-brain output while abandoning any attempt at polished prose. There’s no need to edit any of the words, happily allowing thousands of them to be crapola.

Yikes, what the hell have I signed up for? Is 50,000 words in 30 days really in my schedule, especially considering how much time is needed for marketing current books?

Even for the fearful newbie, like me, the concept makes sense. Forget the control-freak editor within for awhile, for a long while, and let unleashed creativity alone manage the helm. If you really can type out 50,000 words along the lines of your novel’s idea, plot, and/or characters… then it’s bound to result in some useful stuff. Once December and January roll around, you can edit to your heart’s (and left-brain’s) content. And once February arrives, you may have the makings of a darned-fine novel coming to life.

Who wins and what are the prizes? Everybody who writes 50,000 words by midnight Nov. 30th wins. They get a winner’s banner on the website and a million dollars. (Just kidding, that was their joke.) Visit the FAQs section for more info and NaNoWriMo humor, which seems to be within every paragraph.

(Side note; cheaters wanting to write non-fiction books can probably benefit too. Just don’t tell then it was my recommendation. They do have a forum page for NaNo-Rebels.)

Fortunately, NaNoWriMo has 3.5 very distinct rules, which make this a lot easier to focus on (though not easier to do):

1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

What are my thoughts as a newbie after signing up? I’m scared, bummed a little, nervous, excited. This next novel is barely coming to me. I’ve got the characters and a few ideas for plot, but absolutely no idea on the beginning/middle/end and what I’m hoping to say with it. Alas, this is already starting to sound like a much needed exercise in creativity.

Who’s with me? Sign up and let’s be writing buddies!


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NaNoWriMo Novel Writing Month, Prepare Now

NaNoWriMoLately some readers have been asking about books that teach how to write a book or how to write a novel in X number of days. Understandably, it’s important for many to define a timeline, perhaps so the author sees a light at the end of the tunnel. This was not my personal method for writing novels, but if it works, what the heck. Writing is hard. Do whatever works.

If memory serves correctly, years ago there was a title about writing a book in 90 days, and then one came out for accomplishing the task in just a month, then another for finishing a book in a week, then another in only three days. Someday soon the title will be, “Write a Book and Sell a Million Copies in One Day!” This concept is both alluring and off-putting, and it should be discussed.

In practice, my specialty is not teaching people how to write (or how to write quickly), but teaching what to do after the book is written. However, since this subject seems so hot, perhaps my two cents can get thrown in for at least a few recommendations. One thing that is clear; books don’t write themselves. Anything that motivates you to write is a great place to start. If getting it done in a quick time frame is appealing, then now might be the time to start thinking about a November challenge and NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. Kind of sounds like Mama Rhino. From their website, NaNoWriMo is:

…a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down…

Yep, it’s a real deal. Last year 200,000 participants entered and 30,000 actually reached the 50K word goal. That’s an impressive 15%. For the others who didn’t, many of them probably wrote a good bulk of 50K words, also impressive. It took me years to write each of my novels. Here’s the registration page.

Activities like this are different from simply repeating phrases like, “really need to write that novel someday,” because of the DEADLINE and the GROUP PARTICIPATION. Those two factors will have a huge difference on most writers.

You might be thinking, “It’s August for crying out loud. What’s up?” The answer is, it’s the perfect time to start gearing up for this and getting your creative juices flowing so when November comes around–you’re already rolling.

NaNoWriMoNow’s the time to practice. Pick a week, pick a month, do whatever. Here’s my advice for getting writing done quickly:

1. Make an initial outline. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even complete. A general outline discussing beginning, middle and end features will always help.

2. Add some basic sentences to all sections of the outline. Try to identify key points, scenes that come to mind, which characters might be involved where, anything to help expand your initial outline.

3. After the outline’s in place, create a document for your book that’s like a daily or a journal and label it as such. Then set ten to twenty minutes aside for your “dailies.” Write anything that comes to mind on your story and don’t edit. Just write, don’t edit. Keep on writing for at least ten to twenty minutes if not more. Don’t edit the dailies. In case you still haven’t heard this piece of advice, DON’T EDIT THE DAILIES. The reason is to build the creative flow since that’s where the magic happens. Editing takes you out of the creative moment. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to have typos and poor choices of words. You’ll fix them later.

4. Do this everyday. Even if it’s just ten to twenty minutes, you’ll be amazed what can happen in a few days to a week. Your “dailies” document should fill up fast, even if some of it is crap and needs thorough editing.

5. Create a 2nd document and title it the name of your story or “main story.” At the end of the day, when your creative mind is waving a white flag, copy and paste sections at a time from the “dailies” and place them where you think they will go chronologically in your “main story.” Now’s the time to go over what you’ve written. Editing and rewriting takes different brainwaves as creation does. You might be pleasantly surprised to actually feel recharged during this time of editing. For me, working on editing in the “main story” is far easier than creating the “dailies.”

6. Stick to it. That’s easier said than done, but if you can stick with this, once November and NaNoWriMo comes around, you’ll be ahead of the game.

If you have any extra time, the main other thing that will help is to join a critique group on the side. Yahoo has critique groups as does every site for writers like Authonomy, Redroom, and others. By regularly hearing critique of your chapters and critiquing the work of others, you’ll get a finer idea of what makes your writing its best.

Click here for the home page of How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.
Subscribe to this blog for updates on what Indie authors can do to sell ebooks.

Bookmark and Share


add me to your Google Plus circles.

+Jason Matthews

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