Write What You Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 2)

Some wise person said to write what you know. Some people agree with this, some people don’t.

What about you? Do you agree with that?

Whether you do or not, I’m not going to tell you this:

Write what you know and write what you don’t know.

Easy enough, right?

Write What You Know NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Why should I write what I know?

You know a lot more than you think, that’s why.

You can draw in most life experiences into your stories. The best research would be your own memory. Look things up in your journal, if you have one and write in it frequently.

How can I write what I know?

Did you get a flat tire on your way to work the other day? Put your character in your shoes. How does getting that flat tire make your character feel? Is he angry because maybe he just got the car fixed? Is he frustrated or worried because now he’ll be late to work? Or maybe he’s heading out to pick up his date and he’s already nervous enough without the flat tire. Or maybe he feels indifferent because he’s in no rush and it is what it is. He can’t do anything about it other than fix it… Or call someone to come fix it for him.

What did you actually do when you got that flat tire? Is that how your character would act? Which character would be best to put in that situation? Play around with it, the possibilities are endless.

But wouldn’t I just be telling my life story as a memoir with a fictional character?

Yes and no.

If you write what you know, you’re creating a relatable situation for your characters and readers to have in common. Yet, you’re not explaining the true story word for word. You have to embellish a little. Fictionalize the situation.

Fine. But how do I do that?

Play the “What If?” game.

What if your character’s tire got flat because someone poked holes in it? What if some unknown force caused the flat tire? What if the mechanic comes down to help fix the tire and that person ends up being your character’s soul mate?

Maybe your character wants to avoid the situation altogether and goes back in time to avoid it. But then maybe he gets stuck back in time. Or maybe he makes it back without realizing he changed one important detail about his life accidentally.

You can twist and turn your own situation into something book-worthy. Turn your own situation into a plot, or into a bigger situation to help move your plot along.

There are a lot of twists and turns out there. There are a lot of, “should I have,” “could I have,” “would I have,” and “what if?” questions out there.

I mean, tell me there hasn’t been a situation in your life where you thought back on it wondering how you could have done things differently.

So, good advice or bad, you should still write what you know. Because your experience by getting fired at your job could be the beginning of your bestseller.

Of course, it’s always best to write what you don’t know as well. Just to mix things up a bit.

But there will be more on that tomorrow.

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Go Team You! (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 1)

Writing a novel is no easy task. Sure, writing a novel is definitely doable if you’re up for the challenge. But it’s emotionally draining, mentally challenging, and physically difficult.

NaNoWriMo is great for a lot of things: motivation to begin chasing your dreams, a difficult challenge and the feeling of accomplishment once it’s completed, and so many resources for the writing world. Yet, it is a stressful 30 days. The pressure is on as soon as the clock strikes midnight on November 1st.

Despite the pressure, NaNo helps out with one more thing (whether you join the challenge or not): a writing community.

If you strive to be a published writer, or even if you just write for yourself, it’s so important to have a support system.

NaNoWrio 2016: Go Team You!

Why you should have a group of writer friends

Writers understand what other writers go through on a day to day basis like no one else does:

–Writing is hard
–Good days are high word counts. Bad days are staring at a blank screen
–You want to write when you can’t. But when you can write, you have no motivation.
–Killing characters is the easiest and hardest thing ever
–Caffeine is the best invention
–We don’t do it for the money
–We know the success rate is low, but we keep trying anyway
–Writing isn’t a hobby, it’s a passion
–Talking to yourself (or your imaginary friends) is totally okay
–The best ideas come in the shower

You can bounce ideas off of your writer friends. You can write stories together. You can read and critique each other’s work. You can ask spelling and grammar questions and argue over who’s right. Writers truly are a writer’s best friend.

However, while you need at least one person who fully understands what you do and why you do it, you need a second support group.

Why you should have a group of non-writer friends

They’re your first readers. Hand out your draft to a few friends and they’ll let you know what they think through a reader’s perspective. Some may even critique it for you.

They’re your cheerleaders. They may not understand what goes into creating a book, but they know enough to realize what an amazing accomplishment writing and publishing a book is.

Share the wealth of your writing world. Grab a writing buddy and a cheerleader of your work. Hold your head up high, put your thinking cap on, and get to work.

Even when you start to feel discouraged whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or just writing for yourself, remember to cheer yourself on and you have a huge support system rooting for you.

Go you!

Are you a part of any writing communities locally or on the internet outside of NaNo? Do you have any close friends who support your writing but don’t fully understand it? Let me know in the comments!

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A Day Off is a Day of Writing

Remember when I said that Kris and I were going to work on one manuscript each for at least an hour every day for a month? Well, that obviously didn’t happen. September ended up being much more hectic than we thought it would be.

However, October is usually a calm month and nothing really happens until the end (three birthdays and Halloween). So, we decided to work an hour a day during the month of October instead.

We’re ten days into the month and so far it’s been going pretty well. We’re both still pretty busy with work and trying to have a social life on top of writing and blogging, but we’re doing it. We’ve found a good rhythm.

Why am I especially excited to get some work done today? Because I have the day off from work! And because the kids I babysit have the day off from school (and their mother works in a school system so she has it off as well) I don’t even have to babysit.

Yep. Today will be a pajama day (after I head out and get a large hot coffee).

Then it’s writing time.

Kris has had her new job for a while now, but she gets holidays off now too. So, we decided that we’re going to spend the day sifting through all our writing ideas.

This is something that has needed to be done for a while, but when we had the time, it was always just easier to keep writing. No planning involved.

Yet, Kris has a whole universe to figure out for her fantasy series and I have a huge timeline to figure out for my mystery series. Not to mention a lot of research and outlining for both my mystery series and my fairy tale retelling.

A couple of weeks ago we were at our local bookstore having a writing session. While I was writing the beginning of a new mystery thing with George and Lilah (I say “thing” because it was going to be a short story, but I think it’s actually turning into the beginning of another novel) Kris was trying to sort out her thoughts about her own series.

That’s when we decided that October 10th would be the day we would flush everything out (with occasional video game breaks, of course).

So today I’ll be working on multiple things:

1. Flushing out my mystery series: Creating the timeline and then putting all the books in order.
2. Figure out what I need to do for The Lost Girl such as research and other outlining and editing bits.
3. If I have time or need a break from the bigger projects, start brainstorming prompts for Short Story Sunday 2017 for NaNoWriMo.

It’s going to be a busy day, but I plan on Tweeting updates throughout the day. Here’s hoping I get a lot of work done! …And Kris and I don’t get too distracted by video games.

Have you ever had a day to just write and plan all day? How do you usually fit in your writing times around work? Let me know in the comments! 

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Thinking Ahead

September is almost over. I feel as though the month dragged on, but now that the end is just about here, I feel as though the month went by too fast.

I didn’t get as much done as I planned to this month mostly because of work, but I’m still trying to figure out ways I can still be productive without burning myself out. I’m always planning ahead.

October begins at the end of this week, which means a lot of things for some people. Autumn is officially here, Halloween is coming up, and pumpkin everything. But, if you’re a writer, you think of one thing:

NaNoWriMo prep time!

I’ve known what I wanted to write for NaNo for the past few months now. I think I decided what to write at the end of July, the last Camp NaNo session.

Last November I wrote a novel called Second Chances, which I think came out very well and I enjoyed writing it. But I probably won’t continue that novel for a while.

The year before, I didn’t write a novel at all. I wrote short stories.

This year I’ll be doing the same thing. I’m going to write my Short Story Sundays ahead of time for 2017.

My Short Story Sundays are mainly flash fiction, but some do run a bit longer. And who knows? Some stories may turn into actual shorts and some might even turn into novella or novel ideas. So some shorts I write in November may not actually appear on the blog.

Either way, I’ll be able to get new ideas out of these short stories while getting a little ahead on my blog for next year. Every little bit helps.

The reason I’m not working on a novel this year is because I already have two novels I’m currently editing. I’m hoping to spend some of my NaNo time editing at least one of those novels if it’s not too much between writing 2,000 words a day on top of my day job.

Kris and I are still trying to work at least one hour every day on one manuscript, though we’ve missed pretty much this entire month. We’re going to try again between now and the middle of October and then swap manuscripts to look at each other’s work.

Both October and November will be busy months, but I’m determined to find a rhythm that works to fitting in work, writing, editing, blogging, reading… and whatever else I do in my life.

Plus, even though November is NaNo, I only have two full weeks of work due to voting, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. So I’ll definitely take advantage of those days and there’s always the weekends.

I just hope that I can remain focused on those ideas.

Have you started thinking about NaNoWriMo yet? Let me know in the comments!

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