Tag: NaNoWriMo

Being Patient

Being Patient

Being passionate people, writers are impatient. We want the manuscript written. We want the editing done. We want the book on shelves around the world. We want the movie made. We want, we want, we want! And all this wanting is a good thing. It’s important, and it’s healthy. I’m not going to say otherwise, but I will say this: step back and take a breath.

The process of writing and publishing takes time. As excited as we are for publishing, we need to make sure every step is right. Much like any work of art, books take awhile to put together properly. Our instincts want us to rush ahead and get it all done sooner rather than later. Our hopes and dreams for big sales and, maybe, fame drive us to think unrealistically about our publishing timeline.

Writing your first draft can, as NaNoWriMo has proven, take a month or less, depending on how many words you write per day and how long your manuscript is. However, editing takes a bit longer. It’ll be several rounds of self-editing and maybe at least one run-through with a professional editor. And that takes time. As much as our hearts don’t like to take the slow road, in this case it really is slow and steady who wins the race.

Our first draft is a caffeine-induced roller-coaster ride of adrenaline and inspiration. Most of the time. We sometimes get stuck or have times where we throw up our hands, but it is (at least to me) the easiest part of the process. After we hit the end, the wind leaves us. We ride the high—the thrill—of completion for awhile, but editing is a long, arduous, painful process by nature. Much crying and screaming and gnashing of teeth. That does not mean, however, we can shirk it. It must be done because the first draft of anything is complete crap—to paraphrase Hemmingway.

After your own work it’s another hurry-up-and-wait experience for authors. Keep in mind most publishers usually take at least a year of lead time before publishing a book. That means they have time to edit the manuscript to their satisfaction (a rush job means mistakes), typeset it well, have a solid cover-design and do pre-release marketing. All of that takes time, and even if you’re self-publishing you should be taking those steps at a similar pace. It may even take you longer because you’re going to have to find and select your team rather than work with a team of in-house folks the publisher has already vetted.

Either way you go about it, don’t despair that things will take awhile. Take a breath and enjoy the ride if you can. Don’t be in such a rush that you lose sight of the end goal: the best work you can create.


Following The Muse

This November I started with the intent of participating in and winning NaNoWriMo. I outlined my story, planned the details, and when November first hit I started pounding away at the keys. I wrote and wrote and wrote until I ran off the edge of a cliff and had to rethink my strategy.

At some point while I was trying to reconsider my plot and write my way around the holes in my setting my computer keeled over. Okay, fine. I swapped to my laptop and continued trying to work while I worked on repairing my desktop. After installing my new HDD and beginning to transfer files around I found it.

There it was, the missing 10k of last year’s manuscript that I’ve been agonizing over and trying to replace for no less than six months. It was all there. Needless to say I was somewhere between frustrated (because I had just started working on it again) and elated. Dumbstruck, I scrolled through what I’d written. It was in that moment my muse shifted gears. She kicked me in the head and said, “HEY! Remember this story? Remember this whole series you were going to make out of it? Stop slacking and get to it!”

“But I’m writing my NaNo project!” I protested. “I don’t have time for this right now! Can’t it wait until after November?”

“Don’t make me get the frying pan.”

So, in fear for my life, I started working on the discarded project. I brought it with me when my husband and I went on vacation for a few days to an internet-free cabin in the woods my family owns. I sat down at that laptop and the words pounded onto the page. Chapter after chapter poured out of me until that magic moment happened: I hit the end.

In two days I had written over 10,000 words and finished my book.

Now, a secret about me most of you don’t know is that I haven’t finished an entire novel of my own since high school. No joke. I have published short stories and poetry, but the novels in my head have been waiting to come out for ages. After finishing it I stared at the screen dumbly for a few minutes before whooping in excitement and eating a celebratory cookie. Or four. Who’s counting?

The point of this blog is that – short of deadlines and paid work – you should follow your muse. If you are being driven to write something then write that story. Tell it. I don’t mean to encourage writing ADD, but if your whole muse is driving you toward another project don’t be afraid to follow her.

There’s no secret that we writers have fickle muses. After “losing” that 10k  of my novel I was destitute and frustrated. I thought my world had ended and woe is me. I’m sure you all can tell since I wrote a few whiny blog entries about it and have mentioned it multiple times since. My muse deserted me and went to Havana for a few months. But when she came back it was like a whirlwind and I had to work on that novel. There was no escaping it, and there was no avoiding it.

Unless you have income riding on these projects never be afraid to go where your heart is telling you to go. You will write better and more fully if you are in a place where you are able to throw your whole being into what you’re writing. If you can’t do that you’re only half-assing it, and we all know that isn’t going to really cut the mustard when it comes down to it. Sure, you can fix it in editing, but unless your mind is in that book it just isn’t the same.

So, the tl;dr of this? Don’t make her get the frying pan. JUST WRITE IT.

Why NaNoWriMo Is Important

While I am a relative newcomer to NaNoWriMo, this being my second year, I don’t have a long-running history to be able to share about this project. However, I did win it last year (cue the confetti), and I learned a lot while doing it.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for “National Novel Writing Month” where authors globally attempt to write 50k on a manuscript in a month. There are write-ins all over the world where authors meet up and sit around writing together. It’s a month-long celebration of the creative process that is not to be missed!

1) Time Management

In order to “win” you need to write a minimum of 1,666 every day for a month. If you miss a day you need to write more the next day to make it up. As such, you are competing with yourself, and you have a specific goal to hit on the piece. While you can miss a day if you need to, it gives you the pressure of knowing you should be writing. As such you tend to structure your day around your precious, precious writing time. It’s a good exercise for people like me who have problems carving out time in our busy schedules for personal writing.

2) Commitment

Many of us start novels and then just wander off into the brush and never finish them. NaNo gives us accountability to ourselves and to the community (if we choose to participate in it). It also helps that it’s something that’s everywhere in the writing world during that month because we can’t just forget about it so easily. Particularly if our friends and family are participating!

3) Don’t Look Back

When you’re writing a first draft it’s always tempting to go back and tweak it before you’re done writing it. The path to insanity is to try and edit before you’re done writing, and when you’re doing NaNo you just don’t have time to do that! You have to plow on full-speed-ahead and wait until you’ve reached the end in order to go back and fix anything. It teaches the lesson of letting the first draft be a first draft.

4) You Are Not Alone

Writing is often a solitary act, and we tend to isolate ourselves for hours with our computers when we’re trying to get something done. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t alone in the world with the struggles and triumphs that come from writing, even if our family and close friends don’t quite understand what we are doing. NaNoWriMo connects you to a global community who will be encountering all the same things you are in the same context and the same time frame.

While I’m sure there are many other lessons NaNo can teach, those are the ones that came to my head today as I was working on the outline for the novel I’m preparing. It’s going to be a great journey, and I’m really looking forward to participating this year. Wish me luck!

Book Release, NaNoWriMo, and Critique

Forgive the late blog post, between trying to get Dragon’s Teeth on the shelves and losing power on the storm that the media is nicknaming “Snowtober” we’ve been running a little busy over in the world of Divertir!

The first thing I’m going to mention is that our second novel is available for purchase from http://www.divertirpublishing.com, amazon.com, Barns and Noble, and many other venues. It’s a fantastic novel that I’m extremely excited to be sharing with all of you. Here’s the back cover blurb:

You can never outrun your past…

After years of war ravage the globe and decimate humanity, civilization is revitalized in the city of New Arcadia, a cybernetic playground where longevity treatments promise near immortality. Detective Cyrus, fond of fedoras and narcotics, is hired by Benji MacDowell, heir-apparent to an eugenics empire, to find MacDowell’s long-lost biological father. Employing his network of shady contacts within the underbelly of the city, Cyrus uncovers a murderous web of corporate corruption and political conspiracy with ties to the old Order, a tyrannical organization whose sole intent was perfecting the next generation of genetically engineered soldiers.

Now Cyrus knows too much and finds himself caught in the cross-hairs of super-soldier assassins while the dark secrets of his past snap at his heels, forcing him to confront the truth he’s been running from… and discover his own terrifying purpose.

The novel is a futuristic mystery that’s rife with pulse-pounding excitement and a hard-hitting emotional punch. Suzanne van Rooyen, the author, has been a wonderful partner through all of this and her writing is just superb. I suggest you all check out her website, http://suzannevanrooyen.com , and then head on over to http://www.divertirpublishing.com to pick up your copy today! You won’t regret it.


I’ve decided to quasi-participate in NaNoWriMo. By quasi, I mean I’ll write as much as possible given my usual crazy, but I can’t promise a novel will be finished. Hopefully, though, this’ll slaughter the writer’s block I’ve been facing. I know that NaNoWriMo can work – Dragon’s Teeth is actually a NaNoWriMo book – but my problem has been that I’ve run into kinks in the plot that need fixing and I’ve run out of ideas how.

That said, I know that after I finish writing this book, if I finish it in November, it’ll need a lot of work. While I definitely believe it is possible to put 50k words to paper in that time frame, the question becomes whether they’re 50k words worth keeping. If nothing else, they’ll need serious editing. But even if they do, I’d like to get things to paper because I haven’t written anything worthwhile in almost a year and that’s become a problem for me.

I guess the upside is that it’ll get me motivated to write again – being an editor has had me focused on other people’s writing rather than my own (not a bad thing!) and has kind of gotten me stuck in the process. I just need to get it going again and then, maybe, I’ll be able to get things flowing more fluidly.

I definitely hope so!


The last segment I have for this evening is regarding critique. It seems that a lot of people either don’t know what critique is, or mistake critique and editing. Critique asks questions (What did you mean here? What were you thinking? Why are there aliens?!) whereas editing starts involving grammar. If you know the various types of editing (developmental, substantive, mechanical) then consider the critique to be a developmental “edit”. You address themes, large problems, plot holes, etc. – leave word choice and grammar out of it.

However, what a critique is, isn’t the only problem. I’ve encountered many writers that are hugely defensive of their work and even when they ask for a critique they don’t really want one. While I can understand and respect a writer’s attachment to their baby, it’s a good idea to keep your mind open. You don’t have to agree with what people are saying. Not at all. You don’t have to like it, either. But that said I think the key is to take it all with a grain of salt. Be polite, be respectful, be professional about it. It’s kind of a smile and nod and then do what you want kind of situation.