Tag Archives: Writer Resources

Nailing NaNoWriMo: The Importance of Momentum

It’s finally here! That’s right ya’ll, NaNoWriMo is finally upon us, and just in time too. If I’d had to wait any longer I think the story I was planning would have torn itself out of my head, and started writing itself.

Being as I’m spending most of my time writing my novel, posts this month will tend to be on the short side, but today I just wanted to drop a little nugget of NaNo advice.

Remember back in high school when you used to put off papers until the last minute and then rush to get them done all at once the night before they’re due? Well guess what? High school is over. (Unless, you know, maybe you’re still in high school, in which case, I weep for you.)

And yet still I see people taking this same approach to NaNoWriMo. They revel in the mad dash at the end of the month, trying to make up the word count they were too lazy to pump out at the beginning. Today I am here to admonish you, DO NOT BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE.

The key to a happy and productive NaNoWriMo, in my experience, is getting a good start. If you set out to write only 1,667 words a day, one of those day’s you’re going to fall behind and then you’re screwed trying to make that shortage up. Instead, take advantage of that first-of-the-month enthusiasm and write more than you have to.

This is good for two reasons. First, you probably have a better handle on the beginning of your story than you do on the middle or end. Getting those first few scenes you’re sure of written early in the month will help you when you get bogged down later on in the details that maybe you should have planned a little better.

Second, the more you write now, the less you have to write later. Okay, I know, duh. But seeing that “words per day needed to reach 50,000” number fall can be wonderfully addictive. Conversely, seeing it grow because you’ve fallen behind can be super discouraging, and in my experience discouragement begets more discouragement.

Again, this isn’t rocket science. It’s just me trying to encourage you to go above and beyond what you have to do. Which, when you get right down to it, is the key to success in everything you do.

How to Ignore Perfectly Good Advice in Three Easy Steps

You are not alone.

You ever notice how often that phrase pops up in commercials? Do you ever feel a little creeped out by it? Maybe you look around the house to make sure that there’s no one there with you. Well if you do, then you are not alone.

But all silliness aside, as a writer you really aren’t alone. There are hundreds and thousands of other writers out there, from all different levels of the skill spectrum, and many of them are eager and willing to help you out on your journey toward the fun and lucrative world of being a published author.

This is a good thing. Sometimes.

But sometimes it can be overwhelming. There are lots of great people out there with tons of knowledge, and lots of great advice to give out. They’ve been there, they’ve done that, and they know all the mistakes you’re going to make if you’re not careful. You’d be a fool to ignore them.


Except sometimes their advice doesn’t work for you. And sometimes it might actually contradict other advice you’re getting from equally credible sources.

This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit recently because it happened to me in a big way. Let me explain.

I started blogging seriously solely because of the influence of one Kristen Lamb, media expert and all around awesome person. Her blog is an invaluable resource on how to leverage social media as an author, as well as having great tips on plotting and structure.

(Also she has a book entitled We Are Not Alone. How’s that for your freaky coincidence?)

She encourages writers to do things like start a regular blog, get on Twitter and Facebook, and for the love of Bob use your writing name wherever you can.

As you may be able to tell, I’ve taken most of her advice to heart. But one of her bits of social media wisdom is this: Blog about what you write about.

You may be noticing that I am in fact blogging about writing. I do not write about writing. Except now. Which doesn’t count.

But I didn’t make the choice to pass on that particular piece of advice at a whim. I went through a process of thought and introspection which I’ve boiled down into three steps.

If someone’s giving you advice you’re not sure about maybe this will help.

1. Listen

This is very important. Sometimes a piece of advice might not be for you, but if you dismiss it out-of-hand then you’re doing yourself a disservice. At least give the person the benefit of the doubt that they’re not just blowing smoke. They want to help you. Don’t ever ignore that.

When I first read Kristen Lamb’s advice, I didn’t just snort and say, “Well that’s stupid. I’m not doing that.” I listened. I gave the idea room to take root in my mind.

2. Think

Now that you’ve got the bit of advice in your head, mull it over, do your best to understand it. If you can, try to incorporate it into your process. Even if it doesn’t feel natural at first, give it a try. If it doesn’t work for you try to understand why it doesn’t work. There may be some deeper kernel of truth within the advice that may be able to benefit you.

“Blog about what you write about” is really a great piece of advice. Kristen’s deeper point is this: we need to connect with our potential readers not just other writers. And that’s something I’ve tried to keep in mind as I’ve slowly expanded my writer’s platform.

3. Decide

Because hey, you can really do whatever you want to do. Ignoring advice isn’t wrong. If it doesn’t work for you then fine. If it does work for you and improves your craft, even better.

Obviously, I decided not to follow Kristen’s advice. I made my decision mostly because it’s hard to blog on topic when your work-in-progress is a horror story about a monster mulch pile.

I’m gonna talk about what? Organic gardening?

But for someone writing a more conventional genre, say legal thrillers, blogging on topic could be a fantastic opportunity to connect with readers.

The bottom line is that one size does not fit all. You need balance. You shouldn’t reject advice simply because you don’t feel like doing it. But neither should you feel obligated to go on following advice that just isn’t working out for you. You have to use wisdom and discernment, and consider which path is best for you.

And that’s my advice. You know what to do with it.

For Those Who Came In Late

Sooo, something kinda weird has happened lately at the Unsanity Files. On Sunday my hit counter looked something like this:

Then, on Monday morning, it did something like this:

Oh, the Vogonity!

Being “Freshly Pressed” has been an exciting ride, and also somewhat terrifying (I have no idea how I’m supposed to even begin checking my comments.)

I’m thrilled to have some new readers out there. You guys are awesome. I hope you hang around for a long time to come. But in the interests of full disclosure I feel I must make this confession:

I am not an expert. On anything.

Okay well, technically I’m an expert at filling out 4473 gun sale background check forms at Walmart. So if you’ve got questions about that I’m your man (Remember that even if you get a confirmation number you still need to check the “Proceed” box. Otherwise you end up looking like a doofus later.)

But as far writing stuff goes? I’m just a nobody. I don’t have anything published (yet). I don’t even have an agent. I’m basically just this guy who’s been writing for five years, and found out, hey, they’ll give a WordPress.com account to just about anyone.

So why should you keep reading? Because I’m a guy just like you. (Actually, from what I’ve seen you’re probably a girl. Lots of estrogen floating around in the creative pool for some reason [not that there’s anything wrong with that]). I’ve faced writer’s block, writer’s depression, and on the good days, writer’s elation.

I’m not here to tell you, “This is how it’s done.” But I can tell you, “This is what’s been working for me.” My main purpose is to encourage and exhort. I know being an unpublished writer is hard. I know how doubt and fear tend to creep in at the edges of your mind and make you wonder whether all your work is ever going to be worth it.

I’m here to tell you to keep going. I’m here to encourage you not to give up even when writing feels pointless.

So if you’re looking for posts like “How To Land An Agent 100% For Sure Every Time, I’m Not Even Kidding” you’re going to have to look elsewhere. I don’t know anything about that.

But what I do know is that the writer’s life is a journey. And this blog in some small measure is a reflection of my own faltering steps along that path. There may be missteps along the way; I still have no idea where any of this is leading. But I’d be honored to have you accompany me along the way.