Writing and Beyond…

After NaNoWriMo ends, I find myself both exhilarated and exhausted. I’m torn between writing more or dealing with regular daily life crap that I’ve been putting off. And then the holiday vibe takes over and writing gets shoved to the side.

Well… the physical aspect of putting words on screen anyway. I still have scenes randomly swirling in my head. I jot them down so I won’t lose them, but they still haunt me. Especially this one particular scene which has absolutely nothing to do with any of the projects I’ve been working on.

I guess another character is knocking at my door. But I’m deferring till January. It needs to wait till then.

In the meantime, I’m still looking at writing-related sites and tips for moving forward post-NaNo. The next few months will include a lot of additional writing, editing, rewriting and hair-pulling as well as organizing and putting together a full handbook for my world-building details. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m excited about that as well (except for maybe the hair-pulling part… might resort to bourbon instead).

To get started, I will be perusing some of the 120 Most Helpful Websites for Writers in 2015. This collection of links seems like a good way to get inspired.

May the post-NaNo force be with you.

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Surviving NaNoWriMo: Tips for Getting Through the Month

NaNoWriMo can be exhilarating and exciting, but it can also be quite the daunting task. It’s a challenge that requires effort and stamina. I’ve completed it several times, but I’ve also had real life take over and thwart all of my efforts. It’s totally understandable that sometimes it’s just not your year to complete it. However, if you start off thinking that way, then mostly likely by the 16th you’ll have already given up on trying.

Tip #1 for getting through NaNoWriMo is to really TRULY commit to finishing 50,000 words in 30 days. You can do it! Seriously! It’s not that hard. It just sounds hard. If you write 1,667 words daily, you can stay on track and keep up with the pace. And even if you slack for a day or two, you can easily catch up. If you have this mindset, you’re already winning.

Tip #2: Schedule your writing time. If you already commit to it, then you work the rest of your life around that half hour, hour, or whatever block of time that works for you. It’s important to make it a priority. You’re not messing around! This is your writing time.

Tip #3: Have a community of cheerleaders. Everyone needs encouragement, especially when your story is going haywire or you’ve turned your character into an amnesiac and you c5816769_origan’t seem to get out of the pit of despair (seriously). It doesn’t have to be a fellow Wrimo, but it definitely helps if they can feel your “pain” by going through the process with you. I’ve found a lot of great virtual buddies who are also working on NaNoWriMo this year. Social media often fosters an outpouring of camaraderie and support throughout November. Twitter and Facebook are both great for meeting other Wrimos who are going through the same thing.

Tip #4: Silence your inner editor. This is challenging and most people have problems with this. It’s difficult to write without editing the work that you’ve just written. Sometimes we’re so hung up on the way a sentence comes out on the page that we never finish the paragraph. It’s important to give yourself a pass for this during the month of November. Anything goes and you can always spell-check in December! Trust me. It will free you and let your ideas flow.

Tip #5: Have favorite creative space(s). It’s important to feel comfortable when you’re making stuff up! Make sure to have at least one or two favorite places that you can escape to and get some real work done. Those places can be your designated “writing only” places.

Tip #6: Caffeine and also… chocolate. This is the time to bust out the good stuff. If you enjoy coffee, make sure it’s always on hand. Same for the tea drinkers. Have a stash of your favorxTgozbBBc ite tea with you for when you’re on the go. For those of you who don’t drink either, hot chocolate can be just as effective! There’s a sugar and caffeine buzz in that too! Chocolate in general is good to have around. It’s been shown that not only does chocolate stimulate your endorphins (aka happy brain chemicals), but it also helps fire up those neurons that help you think faster and more efficiently. Perfect for writing many words and figuring out those plot twists!

Tip #7: Move. Make sure to get up often. Stretch and walk around for a bit in order to keep the blood flowing and give your eyes a break for a moment. Sometimes a few minutes of that can reinvigorate you and you’ll be ready to get your butt back in that chair and write away.

Tip #8: Rewards. Make sure to treat yourself along the way. Every time you meet a word-count challenge or even a daily goal, give yourself a reward. They can be anything from small things like a special yummy latte to perhaps a new purchase such as a new book from your favorite author. Noveling is hard, so why not make it more pleasant with a reward?

Tip #9: Update your word count. Nothing feels as good as seeing that number going up and getting closer and closer to 50,000. Shout it from the virtual rooftops by tweeting it or sharing it on Facebook. Believe me, the more you talk about it, the more likely you’ll finish it! You can also use your own word count widgets to post (here’s a link for a few simple ones) or use the ones provided by the NaNoWriMo site.

And most importantly….

Tip #10: A little self-respect, self-love and never saying “You can’t”:  Having a cheerleader can make a difference, but the real cheerleader ultimately has to be YOU. You need to believe that you can do it. No one can win NaNo for you, so you’ve got to put that pen to paper or fingers to keys and keep on writing! You can do it!

HAPPY NANO-ING!

Utilizing Tech

What tools do you use when you write? Are there certain programs you like more than others? I’m still searching for that elusive “perfect” program, however, I’ve found some great software in the meantime. All of which can be useful for a variety of needs.

Evernote

Screenshot 2015-10-06 22.15.48

Evernote is perfect for gathering info, for taking notes, for research, and if you’re used to taking a lot of notes and/or you just want to have your writing at your fingertips, then this is perfect for you because you can access it no matter where you are. This app works on your desktop, on a browser, your phone and your iPad. And it syncs between them all. You can make “notebooks” to organize your notes and even create a “stack” of notebooks.

Screenshot 2015-10-06 22.21.24It’s a great app for prepping or organizing your novel. There are a few drawbacks such as the inability to create more than one level of stacks (so no stacks within stacks). And unfortunately, the notes can only be sorted by title, date created, date updated, URL or by size. So if you want to use this for…let’s say an outline… you wouldn’t be able to force the order of the notes, unless you use symbols or designated letters in the title.

https://evernote.com/

SCRIVENER

This lovely program has so many options and so many settings that it can a bit overwhelming. It’s definitely a bit of a learning curve and I definitely haven’t cracked all the different ways that it can be useful. But if you’re looking to write with all the bells and whistles, this is the program for you. From long form to screenwriting, the program has different settings and templates for all your writing needs.

Some things that I really like about the software:

The ability to organize your work – from characters and settings down to scenes and chapters. Everything is organized into a binder and then broken down by subject. You can even have templates for characters or locations.

feature-corkboard

The cork board option is wonderful. If you need to rearrange the order of your scenes or chapters, this lovely visual aid can help with that. It’s a wonderful way to organize with flexibility.

feature-outlinerIt also has a lovely outliner for a more traditional approach to organizing your writing.

If you’re looking for distraction-free writing, Scrivener also has that as an option. feature-fullscreen

I’m still learning how to utilize some of the other options (such as using meta data). But it’s a wonderful tool that I think all types of writers should have in their arsenal.

Ok, ok…there is one drawback…It’s NOT like Evernote. It remains only local to your PC. Of course, you can sync the file using Dropbox, however, if you don’t have the program elsewhere, then that’s not the much use. Yes, you can add text to the file, but for me, I really want it all! I want it to work a lot like Evernote – sync between devices and have the full gambit of options when on the go.

The site has repeatedly said that they’re working on it, but so far we’re all waiting. Impatiently.

https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php