10 Creative Ways to Keep Moving Forward During Nanowrimo

We’ve all had that dream: it’s an important day and you show up totally unprepared and, probably, naked. For writers who take the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, this most commonly occurs on Day One: you’ve brewed your warm, comforting beverage of choice, assembled your meticulously curated writing playlist, filled the bathroom with catnip and locked the cats inside, and carefully arranged all the implements and tchotchkes on your desk into a pleasing geometric pattern. Then you sit and stare at a blinking cursor and have no idea what to write.

Whether it strikes at the very beginning of a novel or right at a crucial middle part, writer’s block is frustrating and potentially devastating. The most essential tool any author can have is a list of surefire ways of breaking out of its cold, clammy clutches. Here are ten creative ways to smash out of a creative funk.

Read Great Books
Your first step, always, should be to read a few of your favourite books. Since NaNoWriMo goes pretty fast, don’t try to read a whole novel, just skip to your favourite parts. Spending a few minutes with a beloved story usually gets the juices flowing. Alternatively, read a hot new title everyone’s talking about to stoke those fire of jealousy, one of the best motivators known to man.

Get Some Pro Advice
Another approach is to sit down with some of the best writers in history and ask their advice, which you can do by picking up a book like Stephen King’s On Writing or Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Or, depending on your taste in literature, a wilder example:Charles Bukowski’s On Writing, or Ray Bradbury’s Zen In the Art of Writing. You get the idea.

Write About Yourself
A great trick is to start writing about a frustrated writer. Writers as characters can be lazy, yes, but even if it’s a false start that has to be scrapped, writing about your own situation might offer a glimpse of an escape route. And writing about yourself is (usually) easy.

Just Start
Another trick is to simply begin writing without any concern over what the story is, who your characters are, or how in the world you’re going to finish those 50,000 words in thirty days. Just start describing something, or sketching a scene, anything. Just using your fingers and brain to put words on the screen can act like a starter motor, cranking your engine into gear.

Change Your Method
All writers develop a mechanical way of writing: the software used, the specific pen or pencil, the location of their work space. If you’re blocked, try changing things up. Switch to longhand if you work on a computer, or go sit in the garden with a laptop instead of rigidly upright at a desk. A change of mechanics can shock your brain into exploring a new way of working and thinking.

Stop Counting
Sometimes what blocks a writer is the pressure of getting 2,000 words in every day for a month. Try not paying attention to word counts for a week, instead just concentrating on telling a story, and often the pressure relief will un-crimp your creativity. And don’t forget, some incredible novels are less than 50,000 words, The Great Gatsby and Slaughterhouse-Five for example.

Change What You’re Writing
Sometimes writer’s block isn’t some mystery brain injury; sometimes it’s your subconscious trying to tell you you’re headed down the wrong path. Back up to the last major plot decision you made and see if there’s a more interesting choice you missed. Or, while it might break your heart, ask yourself if you should be writing something else entirely.

Read Some History
No novel, no matter how creative, can beat actual events for sheer twists and turns and thrilling drama. If the story won’t come, seed your brain with some of the most interesting (and true) stories ever told. Bonus: reading history trains you in how things actually happen, ramping up your verisimilitude skills.

Change – or Make – the Routine
Some writers like to work randomly, plopping down when the mood strikes and scribbling out a few hundred words here, a few hundred words there. Some go weeks without writing a word, and then hole up in their office for a month straight. As romantic as that sounds, you may work better with a rigid schedule. Try swapping your approach: go random if you normally have a schedule, and treat it like a job if you’re normally a random.

Feed Your Senses
Taking breaks is one of the most powerful tools a writer can use. Sometimes that panic over lost time is what’s blocking you in the first place. Take an hour and listen to some great music, or eat something delicious, or go for a walk in a beautiful spot. Feeding the senses stimulates creativity – think of Proust and the Madeleine!

Good luck, and keep writing – you are almost there!

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Via: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/ten-creative-ways-to-bust-out-of-your-writers-block-for-nanowrimo/

How to Handle Criticism of Your Writing

Handling-Criticism-Of-Your-Writing

If you are a writer, you will know that it already takes a brave individual to share themselves in such a vulnerable way. Writing is very personal, and so when a writer’s work is criticised, it feels very personal. Unfortunately, the world is not always that kind. So, here are some tips to help you deal with criticism as a writer:

It’s not personal

As I said above, when someone criticises your writing, it might feel like a personal attack, but it is not. At the end of the day, you need to keep in mind that it is not about you, but rather about the piece of work that you have produced.

Perhaps they don’t fully understand or appreciate what you are saying. Maybe they hold a different opinion, or would have gone about it in a different way. Whatever it is, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, so try not to take it to heart.

If you are feeling brave, engage in a discussion about what it was they didn’t like. Get some in depth feedback, then you can choose what to take on board and what to ignore. And if all else fails, pretend it never happened and move on.

Grow from it

Nobody likes to be criticised because it makes us feel inadequate. The thing is, none of us are perfect, and even the best writers have flaws. Criticism is part of life, and it is better to deal with it early on.

If you feel that the criticism you received is unfair, you can always take on your critic. Try to explain what you meant and where you were coming from. Bear in mind that this isn’t always productive. Sometimes it’s better to just ignore it and move on.

The way we handle other peoples’ negative opinions is going to determine if we grow or stagnate. Perhaps the criticism is an opportunity to improve and get better at your art. There is nothing wrong with getting help if you need it, whether online or asking a friend. All you are doing is improving your writing skills, and no one can criticise you for that.

More than one writing project

As a writer, you probably have more than one project going on at the same time. So if one seems not to be going to plan, put it on the shelf for a while and work on something else.

I am not saying that you should give up on any of your projects, but sometimes it is just one piece of writing that might need more work, and if it’s not going well it might start to get you down. So take a break and do something else you enjoy.

You are not defined by one manuscript or article. You want to make sure that you don’t pour all your energy into one project and let that define you. There is more to you and a lot more that can be done. So even if one of your projects fail, at least you know that you are already working on something else. Keep the faith.

Go with your gut

Sometimes people with no knowledge of writing want to give you their opinions. There comes a time where you have to start believing in your abilities and take these comments with a grain of salt.

Not every negative opinion is correct, and you might just have to leave things as they are. Be careful who you listen to. I would much rather take criticism from people in the industry, than from someone with no writing experience.

That said, even if your editor tells you that your writing is not up to scratch, you need to be willing to fight for what you believe in. There is nothing wrong with you trusting your work above the opinions of others. In fact, that shows that you are evolving and trusting in your skills.

If the criticism is constructive and you agree, go with it. If not, get more information and stick to what your gut is telling you.

Acceptance

There are moments when the criticism you receive is valid, and you just need to accept it. After accepting that you are a human being that makes mistakes, you then need to move on.

This moment does not define who you are or what type of writer you are. As long as you are growing through the process, it is all worth it. Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not beat yourself up about it.

Many writers struggle to get their work published, but they did not let one ‘no’ stop them from pursuing their goals. And every writer gets the odd bad review. You are going to have to grow a tough skin and understand that this is part of the job.

It doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer, but rather that you are still learning and growing. If the critic is correct in what they have to say, or if they have a different opinion, you should just accept it and move right on.

Conclusion

Being a writer is all about discovering who you are through your thoughts and written work. There is no end to this journey, and just like we evolve as people, we evolve in our writing skills.

Using online tools like a grammar checker does not mean that you are not good enough. It simply means that you are using everything available to you in order to learn and succeed.

Hold on to your goals and dreams and do not let one bad comment move you away from the path you are on. There will always be bumps in the road, but you need to get right back up and keep moving forward.

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Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/how-to-handle-online-criticism-of-your-writing

How NaNoWriMo Feels | In Pictures

If you are partaking in NaNoWriMo, you might recognise this pattern well by now. You may even have made most of these statements at one time or another – and if you haven’t yet, rest assured, you will! It goes something like this:

Just know that every single one of us is also going through this same pattern too, so at least you are not alone. Roll with it, and keep writing!

Good luck x

8 Best-Sellers Started During National Novel Writing Month

Bestseller-in-Nanowrimo

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, you will know by now that just getting it done is a challenge. So in order to provide you with some inspiration to keep going, here are 8 bestsellers that started out as NaNoWriMo projects.

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. Yes, the book that was on the best-seller lists for over a year, that was so popular that you read it in three different book clubs, and was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, started as a NaNo novel. This book is easily one of the biggest NaNoWriMo success stories, except for maybe…

The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern. The buzz for this best seller was everywhere in 2011, and judging by its rapturous reviews and strong sales (not to mention the fact that the movie rights were snapped up by the producers of the Harry Potter films), the hype was warranted. Not bad for something that began as 50,000 words of unconnected scenes and imagery. What eventually became The Night Circus began life in 2004, seven years before it was finally published.

Fangirlby Rainbow Rowell. Granted, Rowell had already published her first novel, Attachments, and sold her second, Eleanor & Park, when she sat down to write Fangirl in 2011. And though the book ended up being double the 50,000-word monthly goal, she credits the exercise for forcing her to dive into the world of her story and characters like never before, producing “some of the bravest writing” she’s ever done.

Woolby Hugh Howey. Howey’s dystopian sci-fi novel is one of those credited with putting self-publishing on the map: after selling tens of thousands of ebooks directly to readers, he signed a six-figure deal with a major publisher. Wool was originally issued as five separate novellas; Howey wrote three of them (and even published one!) in November 2011.

The Darwin Elevator, by Jason M. Hough. Hough’s first NaNoWriMo attempt resulted in a 50,280-word novel that “fell apart” after one good chapter. His second eventually became a New York Times best seller, the first in a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers that has earned the author comparisons to recent Hugo Award–winner John Scalzi.

CinderScarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer. Each of the three books in Meyer’s successful YA series of futuristic reimaginings of classic fairytales began as NaNoWriMo projects. How’s that for consistency?

Hopefully, proof that all your pain can amount to something positive will have reignited those burning desires that got you taking part in the madness in the first place. Now, back to the writing desk with you!

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Via: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/8-best-sellers-started-during-national-novel-writing-month/