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National Novel Writing Month is Underway and It’s Not Too Late to Join In

National Novel Writing Month

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

Every year as trick-or-treaters trail home on Halloween to tally their loot, writers around the world are flexing their fingers in preparation for National Novel Writing Month, better known as Nanowrimo, that begins on November 1st. For one full month, would-be novelists churn out thousands of words a day with the goal of creating the rough draft of a 50,000-word novel.

National Novel Writing Month was started by Chris Baty and 20 of his friends in July 1999 in SanFrancisco. Although it began as a half-literary fest and half-block party, it has grown into a worldwide explosion of the imagination among 300,000+ aspiring novelists. It is now even a 501(3)(c) nonprofit providing programs such as Young Writers Program and Camp NaNoWriMo, that empower and encourage vibrant creativity around the world.

Why should you join NaNoWriMo? If you’ve been longing to write a novel or struggling to finish one, here are some very good reasons to join your fellow novelists.

You are encouraged to go for quantity, not quality.

Here’s your chance to push yourself to turn out that rough draft that every writer must create. At the end of November you will have a product that will definitely need to be edited and polished before it’s ready for publication, maybe for months later. But won’t it be great to have it done in a month instead of dragging on for years?

Your one-month novel will likely be bad, Actually really, really horrible.

No one will ever see your rough draft.

Let me repeat that.

Write your worst. No one will ever see your rough draft.

What is important is that you will discover that you can create something that
is the same length as a good novel. Maybe, with attention to the elements ofnovel writing, you COULD turn a feeble attempt into a publishable novel.

Listen to the Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, share the history and give tips.

 

You get tips and encouragement from published writers.

Best-selling authors offer free coaching on NaNoWriMo’s Twitter account to offer tips. Check out the schedule at http://nanowrimo.org/events for this and other exciting events.

You have the chance to connect with fellow writers in your community.

Although you may certainly write alone, many NaNoWriMo writers gather in coffee shops, libraries and other public places to work on their novels and enourage each other toward their 50,000 word goal. There are 803 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guiding in 615 regions on six continents. Once you join, locate your region to see a listing of meeting places and times. Attend the ones that are convenient for you.

In addition to the typical coffee shop meet-ins, my local NaNoWriMo groups will meet on a train, at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and even IKEA. Then there’s our write-a-thon, Night of Writing Dangerously in SanFrancisco.

The volunteer liaisons are wonderfully creative and energetic as they plan events to make it fun to join in. Some have themed dress-ups days and offer prizes.

If you can’t get out, consider virtual write-ins.

Have any NaNoWriMo participants ever published their novels?

Yes!

Here are two you may recognize.

Hugh Howey, author of Wool and Sara Gruen, author of the historical novel Water for Elephants wrote their first drafts at NaNoWriMo.

You don’t have to change your life, just make writing your focus.

Disciplined writers already know they must turn out a certain number of words per day. They do it by making a commitment and fitting it into their daily lives. You can do this too.

There is no pressure. You may track your word count on the NaNoWriMo site, but it’s on the honor system. Even if you don’t make the 50,000-word finish line, you will be happy to enjoy whatever progress you make.

If you’re still not convinced to jump on board the 2015 NaNoWriMo fun, read this pep talk from Gene Luen Yang.

Ready now?

To get started, set up your account and log on to report your word count and participate in the forum. Remember, it’s on the honor system and completing your goal is your reward. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word mark, just participating is an achievement.

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Flora Morris Brown, author of this article, also wrote Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Visit http://coloryourlifehappy.com to learn more about the book before it is released on Amazon and other major booksellers.

 

Seven Tips For Spring Cleaning Your Way to Your Writing Goals

As winter eases into spring, it’s traditional to clean a house thoroughly from top to bottom. For those who live in cold climates, it helps get rid of the winter blues. For everyone it is a time for decluttering, organizing, and maintaining your home for another year.

Whether you engage in this annual tradition or not, you must agree it can clear not just the cobwebs in your house, but lighten your mood, brighten your outlook, and boost your well-being.

But why stop at spring cleaning your home. As an author, this is a good time to spring clean your way to your writing goals.

Here are seven tips for getting started:

1. Start on the inside

What are your values and goals? Are you choosing activities and behavior in keeping with your values and moving you toward your writing goals?

How are you feeling physically and mentally? Listen to your body and mind. Pain,discomfort or troubling thoughts are signals of potential problems. Don’t ignore them. Examine them and if necessary get help from a doctor, coach, or other professional.

As a writer you can help relieve troubling thoughts by journaling about them. Some writers use these ideas and thoughts from the past to begin their memoirs. For additional help in unblocking your creativity, see The Artist’s Way
by Julia Cameron

2. Discard what no longer works for you

  • Replace tattered thoughts. I’m referring to that self-talk about what you don’t want. It’s time to change to positive affirmations about what you do want.
  • Remove stains of the past. They have no place in your present. Start with the “if-only-I-had-done-this” thoughts about events you cannot change. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, don’t dwell on how many years have passed, get started now.
  • Eradicate those moldy thoughts. You know the ones I mean, the ones that hold you back. Perhaps no one in your family or anyone you know ever wrote a book, so you didn’t think you could either. Or maybe you always wanted to live in another place but your family made you believe that you couldn’t survive away from them. When you change these thoughts, you will change your circumstances.

3. Enlist support of family members, friends or colleagues who believe in you

Surround yourself with friends, family and colleagues who share your values. Combine your efforts and share your growth and celebrate your successes.

Negative Nellies and toxic people have no place in your life. They only celebrate when you fail.

4. Polish your strengths to a high shine

Use your strengths to move toward your writing goals and help others. Perhaps you are great at decorating, for example. Beautify your own space, then volunteer your services at a nonprofit organization or a senior citizen in your neighborhood who lives alone. Finally, write about your experiences in an article, ebook or book.

5. Make those unfinished tasks/repairs you’ve been postponing

You know what they are. For some it’s going to the doctor for an exam. For others it may be finishing school. Perhaps you promised yourself you were going to take better care of your feet, hair, hands. You may have thought of improving your eating habits. Now is a good time to make even one small change and use those experiences to help you have the energy and confidence to complete your writing.

6. Plant new seeds

Spring is a great time to do something new. If you’ve been thinking about writing a book but didn’t know how to start, sign up for a class or hire a coach. Even one small step forward, like my eCourse, Rockin’ Your Book, will put you on your way. Get started now.

7. Commit to maintaining your changes, improvements, and new growth

By committing to the changes you made and continuing to work toward your goal, you will ensure that you reach them. The time spent in spring cleaning your life to achieve your writing goals pays off.

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Article by Flora Brown

Flora Brown is an author, blogger, speaker, and book coach. She's the creator of "Rockin' Your Book" an eCourse delivered to your emailbox.

If you like this post, you can keep up with the latest information from Color Your Life Published by subscribing to updates at the top of this site. When you do, you'll be able to download a free copy of the eBook, "It's Time to Write Your Book."

Originally published on April 11, 2012. Updated on March 4, 2015.

 

Join the Race to 50,000 Words: National Novel Writing Month

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

 

If you’ve been putting off writing your novel (or other genre), November is an excellent time to get started because it’s National Novel Writing Month .

Although it began as a national effort for novelists, it is now practiced around the world by fiction and nonfiction writers. This year 400,000 writers in 616 affiliated chapters across six continents are expected to participate. They will gather in coffee shops, libraries, and many other places to encourage each other and reach for the 50,000 word goal, or 1,667 words a day. Some work alone at home, but check in online with their fellow writers.

Started by Chris Baty and 20 of his friends, the first NaNoWriMo actually took place in July 1999 in San Francisco. Described in their history as half literary marathon and half block party, it is celebrating its 16th year.

National Novel Writing Month is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes stories matter. Through their programs, including the Young Writers Program, the Come Write In program, and Camp NaNoWriMo, they empower and encourage vibrant creativity around the world.

Starting November 1st, eager writers gather in coffee shops, homes, cafes, etc. starting right after midnight on Halloween. They hope to keep each other motivated and awake as they race toward the goal of 50,000 words by midnight November 30th.

Most will continue to go to work and carry on their normal lives in between writing sessions, but most see writing as the primary task this month.

To get started, participants set up accounts and log on to report their word count and participate in the forum. It’s on the honor system and completing your goal is your reward. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word mark, just participating is an achievement. Experienced NaNoWriMo writer, RJBlain, gives you the pros and cons here, but will not try to coerce you to join.

What kind of novel (or other genre) can you possibly turn out in a month?

Quantity, not quality is the point. 50,000 words is the goal.

They don’t have to coherent, but many fiction and nonfiction writers use this time to speed up their productivity toward churning out that inescapable crappy first draft. Would-be novelists and even nonfiction writers use the time to prove to themselves that they can complete a piece of work.

Hugh Howey, author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series, believes that writers who work well under pressure can turn out good quality manuscripts during NaNoWriMo. Whatever you turn out in November will need editing later. If writing a novel is not your goal and you use the time to write about your past or create poetry instead, he believes the experience can still change your life.

But everyone doesn’t see NaNoWriMo as a good thing.

NaNoWriMo is not for everyone.

Alan Baxter, author of dark speculative fiction, takes a very dark view of this November ritual. He believes it’s unrealistic and a cruel joke on those who expect to have a novel at the end. You can see his full rant here. He announces that he won’t be participating, which is no surprise to me. I don’t think NaNoWriMo was created for professional writers who have already found their niche, pace and audience.

Another writer, David McDonald, admits that keeping up with the demand to finish 50,000 on the same project was grueling, but he did it. He gives tips on how he did it, and is happy for the experience that made him stretch beyond his usual short story length pieces. David is clear that he wouldn’t end with a polished piece. Here’s his take from on the reward for reaching the finish line

“And what of the actual novel? Was it worth it? Again, I have to say yes. The plot outline I had worked out translated pretty well into novel form and I can see that it is worth persevering. Sure, it needs some revising and editing, but the fact remains that the bulk of it is there, instead of in my head like it had been for the fast few years. NaNoWriMo was the kick in the pants I needed to take the next step.”

NaNoWriMo Writers Who Became Published Authors

In case you wonder if any NaNoWriMo writers ever become published authors, the answer is yes. Since 2006, 100 NaNoWriMo novels, such as Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, have been published by traditional publishers. Hundreds more have been published by independent, small press and self-published authors. Many have been published in the authors’ native languages. See a full list of published authors at http://nanowrimo.org/published-wrimos

2014 Brings Exciting Features to Spur You On During NaNoWriMo

  • You don’t have to write alone. Come Write In, a program that offers free resources and support to literacy related spaces, will expand beyond libraries and bookstores. Three hundred and ninety spaces, including cafes and community centers (and even an American style pizza restaurant in Japan), will become local beacons for creative writing through NaNoWriMo.
  • Debbie Millman, president of the design division at Sterling Brands, returns to run “30 Covers, 30 Days”, which challenges designers to create a book cover for a participant’s novel in progress in 24 hours. A celebration of the collaboration between design and writing, this program will inspire authors and provide prints for an Art of NaNoWriMo event

If you aren’t convinced to jump on board yet, maybe you’ll catch the NaNoWriMo fever from this video by Errol Elumir.

What do you think? Is NaNoWriMo an event you could embrace? Have you ever participated? Did you make it to the finish line?

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Each year I post an updated version of this article appears on www.coloryourlifepublished.com announcing NaNoWriMo.

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Way to make time to write

If you want to go at a slower pace than NaNoWriMo, I’d love to be your travelling companion to make your writing journey a fun trip with a soft landing. Check out my 4-week ecourse “Rockin’ My Book” where you can ease into the writing process with a gentle push, but no pressure. Once you sign up for the course you’ll get a lesson loaded with content and suggested activities in your emailbox each week. As you complete the lessons you may email me with questions and concerns.

 

Would you write if it meant you risked getting your fingers chopped off?

Mammy Prater, 115-year old ex-slave. Image originally from Library of Congress is no longer available from Amazon

Mammy Prater, 115-year old ex-slave. Image originally from Library of Congress is no longer available from Amazon

Imagine you want to write a letter to your husband.

There is no Facebook, Twitter, email. As a matter of fact, there is no internet.

It’s 1830, you are an African American slave and every aspect of your life is controlled by your master.

Even if you happen to know which plantation your husband has been taken to, you have several problems.

1. Not only is it against the law for slaves to read or write,
but it’s against the law for anyone to be caught teaching you to read or write.

This 1830 North Carolina statute was typical.

AN ACT TO PREVENT ALL PERSONS FROM TEACHING SLAVES TO READ OR WRITE, THE USE OF FIGURES EXCEPTED
Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State:

Therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same
, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes.

II. Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

III. Be it further enacted, That the judges of the Superior Courts and the justices of the County Courts shall give this act in charge to the grand juries of their respective counties.

Source: “Act Passed by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina at the Session of 1830—1831” (Raleigh: 1831).

Retrieved from http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/slaveprohibit.html

 

2. Some slaveowners took the punishment a bit further and threatened to chop off the fingers of any slave caught writing.

See The Secret Writing of American Slaves

 

3. To learn to read you had to engage in covert activities.

Frederick Douglass sneaked pieces of bread to poor white children who would in exchange teach him to read.

 

4. Writing supplies were hard to come by.

One slave wrote letters to his mother on scraps of wallpaper he saved when he got a job hanging wallpaper. His mother had taught him to read before she was sold to another slaveowner.

 

5. If you succeeded in learning to read, find paper, get a writing tool, and write a letter, how did you get it safely delivered?

Enough of this.

It’s the  21st century and if you live in a democratic country, you don’t have any of these worries.

Your biggest roadblock is nothing so scary.

You have tremendous advantages

  • You know how to read.
  • You have access to writing tools.
  • You are free to openly write letters and more, even a book.
  • You have classes, coaches and mentors eager to help you write, even if your dream is as ambitious as writing a book.
  • You probably can write on any topic without fear of repercussions, especially without fear of losing any fingers.
  • You can get your book published affordably and distributed worldwide.
  • People will pay you for your book.

So, tell me in the Comments, what’s holding you back from writing your book?

If you are fresh out of excuses for writing your book, let me help you get started at Rockin’ My Book , an on-demand eCourse.

9 Steps to Writing and Publishing a Book

Aspiring authors have many fears, uncertainties, false notions, and misconceptions. Who can blame them?  Until recent years, the inner workings of the publishing industry were mysterious to us commoners. Whenever I speak at seminars or work with coaching clients, I am pressed with questions like

  • How do I get a book published?
  • Do you think I can write a book?
  • Do I need an agent?
  • Are there any secrets to getting published?

The beginning writer is haunted and paralyzed by fears and uncertainties.

Although successful writers are portrayed as loners clicking away on a keyboard or scrawling on a yellow pad, my best advice for today’s first time author is to build relationships. You will benefit from exchanging ideas and strategies with other writers online and offline. You will save time, money, and disappointments when you seek a mentor, attend workshops, invest in conferences, and engage the help of an accountability partner or  coach. You will learn how to organize your time, choose the best tools for your purpose, and discover the many publishing options available to you.

Nothing will spare you from rejections and the inevitable rewriting

Getting to know fellow authors will help you handle all parts of the publishing process.

The nine steps to writing and publishing a book above are simply stated, but cover the basics most authors follow, not necessarily in this order.  There is so much to learn about each step that books have been written about each of them.

There are no secrets, no need to be an outstanding writer, or have special DNA to publish. Authors read and write a lot, and if they want to be successful, build relationships.

If you’re ready to keep the promise you made to yourself about writing a book one day, today is a perfect day to start. My eCourse, Rockin’ My Book has helped give other authors the push they needed. Let it do the same for you.

Are there any steps I didn’t cover that you think are essential? Tell me in the Comments.

Download your free ebook, It’s Time to Write Your Book at http://coloryourlifepublished.com

 

How to Rock Your Book Copy