NaNoWriMo, Week Four

WRIMOS!

We are almost done!

FOUR MORE DAYS!

Soon we will all be doing this.

But. It’s not quite time for dancing yet. Because we still have four more days to go.

For some of us, this is TERRIFYING NEWS because we are way behind on our word counts and are feeling the heat of the deadline breathing down our necks.

For others, this is not a big deal. Maybe you’re already at 50,000 words and sailing past that word count goal. Maybe the goal is in sight—you know you’re going to hit 50,000 and are feeling pretty good about yourself.

If you have already hit 50k, SO MANY CONGRATS! Sit back, relax, and have a drink. Maybe a pastry. Because you are a writing rockstar and have written 50,000 words in less than 30 days and deserve a (short) break.

If you’re still writing, YOU CAN FREAKING DO IT.

You’ve got this.

Don’t think about the word count, just write. Write and write and write and write.

And if there’s absolutely no way at all that you’re going to hit 50k, here’s the deal: THAT’S TOTALLY FINE.

What you have spent the last month doing is figuring out how one writes a book. How you write best and how you work best and knowing what does and does not work for you.

Which, really, is more important than the actual book. Once you know the environment and time and way in which you are able to work best, you can go from there. When November is over, you can continue to work toward your goal of writing a book.

Because, and here’s the harsh light of day about NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words does not a book make.

But more on that next week.

This week, let’s focus on what you can get done. We are in the last sprint of this writing marathon. We can see the finish line. The light at the end of the tunnel. The pile of laundry we’ve been neglecting to do because it seems like a distraction from writing.

Instead of being petrified of the deadline, get excited by it.

You’re almost finished.

Don’t give up. Push through to the end. And on November 30th, look at everything that you’ve done, whether that’s 75,000 words or 10,000, and say, I STARTED WRITING A BOOK.

That’s huge and exciting and something a lot of people want to do, but don’t ever do because they think they don’t have the time or the patience or the know-how to do it.

But you have begun doing it. And if you’ve found it delightful and awesome or the worst, most frustrating thing you’ve ever tried, the fact of the matter is you started writing a book.

And that is something to be proud of.

So, Wrimos, best of luck with the last few days. Crush it.

And, American Wrimos, definitely use writing as an excuse to take a break from your family on Thanksgiving. Ain’t no shame in that.

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friday things.

friday things

-The hardest game of Would You Ralther ever.

-An artist in the Netherlands created this cool Van Gogh-inspired bike path.

-Dawson + Pacey IRL!

- Bob Dylan lyrics + Marcus Mumford + Other Musicians and Also Johnny Depp

-PITCH PERFECT 2 TRAILER!

Happy Friday everyone!

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NaNoWriMo, Week Three.

WRIMOS. IT’S WEEK THREE.

Oohhhhhhh you’re halfway there!

[You can—and should—watch the entire video of Swifty, John Bon Jovi, and PRINCE FREAKING WILLIAM singing “Livin’ on a Prayer” here.]

No, but really, at this point, you probably feel like you’re livin’ on a prayer.

I definitely do.

I’m at the point in my manuscript where I need to write a Big, Pivotal Scene.

And I have zero motivation to write it.

Every time I go to tackle it, I take a deep breathe and pump myself up and read over my paltry outline and think about what I’m going to write.

I know what the scene looks like. I know what goes down during the scene. I know how the characters react.

And yet, when it comes to sitting down and banging out the words, I just don’t want to.

And so I end up staring at the computer, taking lots of deep breaths, writing a couple sentences, and then getting on Pinterest.

This is not a good way to get anything done, in case you were wondering.

Weirdly, something that has worked to motivate me to write in the past is to read a book. It lets me focus on a different story, one that isn’t mine, for a while and then when I’ve read the book, I feel rejuvenated and refreshed and ready to write my story again.

That hasn’t worked this time around. And I’ve read two books.

So I just need to power through. Because there is no trick for lack of motivation. I can’t wait for inspiration because I’ll be waiting a damn long time. So I just have to, as Nora Roberts is fond of saying, put my ass in the chair and write.

If you’re feeling similarly unmotivated this week, know that you’re not alone. Writing is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s mentally and emotionally taxing.

But, you and I started NaNoWriMo because we wanted to write a 50,000 words in a month. And we can do this.

We can get past this lack of motivation.

We can write that scene that seems so daunting.

We can do this.

And if you’re having a hard time hitting your word counts this week, here’s my advice: don’t worry about the word count.

Because, really, who cares? Write as much as you can each day. If that’s 100 words, that’s great. It’s 100 more than you had yesterday. So don’t let yourself get wrapped up in word count numbers. Just focus on what you can get done today. And be proud of getting any words at all on the page.

But what if I don’t end up hitting the goal of 50,000 words?, you ask.

You have two more weeks to hit your goal of 50,000. So don’t worry about not hitting your goal yet.

Because the bright side is that we still have plenty of time.

friday things.

friday things

 

-Blank Space

Elizabeth Taylor Swift.

I love this song. The video is very tongue-in-cheek and gorgeous and well-shot. And I deeply enjoy this Guardian article that completely overanalyzes the video in the best way possible.

 -Serial Podcast

I realize I’m approximately eight weeks behind on this, but I live in Singapore. Give me a break. Also, it’s awesome.

-Spoiled and Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I have long been a fan of Heather & Jessica’s fashion blog Go Fug Yourself, but had never actually read their YA books! Until this week. The books are very funny and very readable and so, if you haven’t read these, you should do that. Especially if you are going on a beach vacay soon to escape all the winter weather that is starting to set in in the northern hemisphere.

Also: Heather & Jessica have a new book coming out next year called The Royal We, which is basically a fictional version of how Wills and Kate met. Thought you should know.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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NaNoWriMo, Week Two.

Wrimos assemble!

It’s week two, the week in which things sometimes start to get hard.

You’ve set the scene. You’ve built the world. You’ve introduced your characters. The love interests have met or the adversaries have had a stand off or the alien and the astronaut have become friends or the guy randomly turned into a dragon and doesn’t know why/how.

You laid the groundwork for your novel, probably in the first few days of NaNoWriMo, and then maybe you skipped to writing the fun scenes—the kissing and the flirting and the fighting and the magic.

And you thought, “That was so much fun! Writing is great!”

And now, in week two, you’re looking at your manuscript and thinking, “Writing is the worst. I have no more words. THERE ARE NO MORE WORDS.”

That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.

You need secondary characters who are three dimensional. Often, it’s the secondary characters who give the project its true heart and humor.


You need a B-plot because your awesome three dimensional secondary characters need something to do.

Like a side job. Or a community service project. Or playing bass in a dragon band. Or hanging out at a dive bar. Or actually diving. Something. Anything.

You need to write the transitional scenes that lead up to the flirting and the kissing and the fighting and the magic. They may seem boring, but they are important.

If it helps you to think of your manuscript as a mountain, you can do that. So, these transitional scenes would be the rising and falling action, according to writing mountain.

If you get super stuck, I find that describing things is helpful, both as a way to hit your word count and as a writing exercise. Describe the paint color on the walls and the wood grain on the floor and the smell in the air. Describe the clothes. Describe the sounds. Put yourself where your character is and once you’ve described it all, figure out how they’d react to their surroundings.

And if you think that’s stupid, do it anyway and then when you revise, you can delete all of that.

Another thing I’ve done is write the most awkward scene possible. It takes a surprising amount of words to make a scene awkward, and it’s actually kind of fun to put your characters through the ringer.

But, the main thing is that you need to keep writing.

Don’t give up.

Don’t throw in the towel.

Don’t stop. (Get it, get it.)

Because you’ve got this. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, there are going to be days when you are driving the struggle bus. Yes, there will be times that you want to slam your head against your desk because you just wrote the worst scene ever ever ever. Yes, you will have moments when you think, “I’m the worst writer in the world,” and “This book is awful” and “No one will ever read this pile of shit.”

None of that is true. So forcefully tell your Inner Critic/Inner Editor/Inner Asshole exactly where they can go.

And then keep writing. Keep going. Keep on keepin’ on.

And remember that no one can write your book but you.

Happy Week 2!

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friday things + Making Headlines One Monthaversary!

friday things

-“Geronimo” by Sheppard

I enjoy this song. And the fact that the title references Eleven only enhances its appeal for me.

-The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

So, this is the promo poster for A BOOK called The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs. It comes out next year. You better believe I pre-ordered already.

-Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren

If you are into books that are funny and charming and, uh, more than a little sexy, you need to check out The Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren. The first book, Sweet Filthy Boy is just so good, and the second book, Dirty Rowdy Thing came out on Tuesday and is a quick, hilarious, hot read. So if you’re into those types of books, check it out.

-Making Headlines Has Been Out for A Month!!!!

Cover design by Paige Doscher

Cover design by Paige Doscher

My second book, Making Headlines, has been out for a month, as of today.

That is BANANA-PANTS CRAZY.

And I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased, read, and reviewed the book. It means everything to me that people are reading words I wrote and I appreciate your support so so much. It is my precious.

And because I’m obsessed with this interior design app, Neybers, I designed Sophie and Kate’s dorm room and Luke’s room at Delta Tau.

Because of course I did.

Sophie & Kate’s dorm room.

Luke.

Luke’s Room.

Voila! Fictional living spaces!

Totally not weird or anything.

ANYWAY. Thank you all so incredibly much for reading my books. I adore you. Have an extra cocktail tonight. You deserve it.

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

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NaNoWriMo, Week One.

Hello, Wrimos!

We are five days in! That means that, if you’re adhering to the suggested daily word counts, you’ve already written—or are well on your way to—a little over 8,00 words!

HOORAY WORDS!

It also means that it’s the 5th of November. Remember, remember and all that.

Real talk: Though I’m hitting my word counts every day, I am struggling to do it. I go into every day knowing, at least vaguely, what I’m going to write. I’m writing in dual perspective—one male, one female—a narrative device I used in both Taking Flight and Making Headlines. Though the male perspective does tend to be harder for me to write, because, well, I’m not a dude, it’s never been hard. Writing this guy is hard.

He’s a jock. He’s outgoing. He lives a life of athletics and that’s pretty much it. He is surrounded by other jocks, which means I have to create a cast of secondary characters who are also jocks. He is literally nothing like me. And it’s really difficult for me to get in his head and write from his perspective. So I have to find emotional places to connect with him. Insecurity or anxiety or frustration or lust or love. I have to hone in on what the emotion of the scene calls for and work from there.

What I’m saying is that writing is a lot of bullshitting.

And maybe during this first week of NaNoWriMo, you’re struggling, too. (I hope you’re not. Really, I do!) And maybe you’re thinking that this whole writing thing is too much for you and you’re second guessing yourself and the decision to try and write 50,000 words in a month. But I’m here to tell you that you can do it. Here’s how.

Be Snoopy.

Sit Down and Write: Grab your computer (or typewriter or word processor or legal pad), sit down, and start writing. That sounds easy, but it’s harder than it seems.

Know Yourself: Do you need absolute silence to concentrate? Do you need a glass of water beside you so you’re not getting up and interrupting yourself? Do you need mood music? Do you need to turn off the Internet? Do you need to designate small word sprints (500 words, maybe?) and then take a break or reward yourself when you hit that marker? Whatever it is that you need, do it.

Keep Going: When you get stuck or frustrated or know that you just wrote a plot hole, KEEP GOING. Don’t stop. Don’t look back. Just keep writing. Even if you know it’s bad. Because . . . Give Yourself Permission to Write Crap: It’s okay for this draft to be bad! That’s the point of a first draft. So give yourself permission to write crap. Let this draft be messy. Be okay with the fact that it’s not going to be good yet. It will get good later. For now, just get the words on the page. That is all. And it is enough.

I hope you all are having a great first week of writing!

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friday things.

friday things

-This article from New York Mag’s The Cut on mistakes made while high on Taylor Swift. We’ve all been there. (I may or may not be wearing cat ear RIGHT MEOW. Meaning, I am totally wearing cat ears right meow. #halloween)

-This Buzzfeed list of what Jane Austen character Tinder profiles would be like amused me. (Hint: Mary’s from Pride & Prejudice is awesome.)

-Elle UK got a whole bunch of your favorite actor dudes (Read: Hiddles, JGL, Cumberbatch( together to talk about feminism and took photos of them wearing a truly awesome shirt. Related and spoilerish: Elijah on this week’s The Originals says “As a devout feminist I will not say you punch like a girl.” It is wonderful. God bless those writers.

-And, because it’s Halloween, here is The Monster Mash. Because I love it so.

-And, also because it’s Halloween, the opening song from The Sing-Off a couple years ago because it is THE BEST.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

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NaNoWriMo 2014, Here I Come! + Some Word Sprinting Tips

Ah, November.

It’s full of crisp days (at least, in the U.S.) and preparing for Thanksgiving (again, at least, in the U.S.) and dudes growing out moustaches and lots of novelists racing to write 50,000 words by the end of the month.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the last three years, and y’all, the struggle is real. Writing 50,000 words in a month is not an easy feat—and that much harder when you have a full-time job that isn’t writing, holiday plans, and any semblance of a social life.

In fact, I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I just participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in July (same idea, slightly different rules) and then I moved to Singapore and I just finished drafting a WIP I had started a couple years ago and had set aside and am in the middle of revising a novella and the WIP I just drafted, so I thought, ‘Maybe I need a bit of a brain break.’

And then this morning I thought, “No. No brain breaks. Write all the things!”

Though I’m jumping into this year’s NaNoWriMo head first, I’m guessing many of you are not.

Because you are smarter and wiser and better than me.

And I’m guessing that there are some of you out there who are new to NaNoWriMo and looking for some advice. So, here is mine.

Erin Brown’s Handy-Dandy NaNoWriMo Tips: 

  • Don’t think, just write:  Write whatever comes into your head. It doesn’t have to be sequential, it doesn’t have to be perfect, hell, it doesn’t even have to make sense. Just sit down and write. Get the words out of your head and in your manuscript. Deal with making the words into readable sentences later. If there’s a typo, fix it later. If you can’t remember a character’s name write THAT CHARACTER WHOSE NAME I CAN’T REMEMBER and keep going. If you get stuck, write yourself a note that says FINISH THIS LATER, then abandon that scene and move on. Don’t let yourself get bogged down. Just. Write.
  • Don’t go back and edit: This is the hardest thing for me to do. I love revising. Revising is the best. But if I stop drafting and go back to read what I wrote the day or week before, I’ll start revising. And that is a black hole. If i start revising before I’ve finished drafting, it will take me YEARS to finish drafting. (This happened to me with Taking Flight. And though I’m happy with how that book turned out, if I had never started revising while drafting, it would’ve taken half the time to finish it.)
  • Don’t let yourself feel like a failure: If you don’t hit your daily word count or if you don’t hit your overall word count goal, THAT’S OKAY. I promise. You haven’t failed. You haven’t let anyone down. What you’ve done is started writing a freaking book. And that is something to be proud of, no matter how many words you end up with.
  • Don’t take everyone’s advice: If you’re reading these tips and thinking, “This isn’t how my brain works. This will never work for me,” that’s totally fine! Writing is a very personal, personalized thing. For example, I tend to be a pantser (someone who doesn’t really outline) and I write from beginning to end. Most writers I know do not write this way and cannot wrap their brains around how I write like this. But I can’t figure out how they write out of sequence—that makes my brain hurt. So whatever works for you, do it. Find your groove. Find your stride. And go.

For those curious Taking Flight and Making Headlines readers, here’s a little visual sneak peek of what I’m working on.
Adam & Courtney's Story, Y'all!I know. I’m excited about it. And I hope you are, too!

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo and want to be my writing buddy, feel free to add me by clicking here.

Happy Novel Writing Month, everyone!

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friday things.

friday things

 

-Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

loooooooved this book. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are so much fun, the main character, Reagan, is hysterical, and it’s a road trip book, a contemporary slow-burn romance, and a book about teenage celebrities. Basically, it’s everything. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend!

-Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer

Black Widow on a motorcycle that drops out of a jet!!!!

This io9 shot-by-shot breakdown is cool and exciting and illuminating, for those of you who are interested in nerding out.

-A Thank You

I wanted to quickly give a huge Internet hug to all of the book bloggers who participated in the Making Headlines blog tour. I’ve been floored by the love and support you’ve shown for this book and my writing. It means the world to me that anyone reads my books and to have so many people feature excerpts, playlists, and dream casts, post reviews, and generally hype my writing is the most warm and fuzzy feeling ever.

Thank you so, so, so much.

I hope you’re all having a great Friday and have an amazing weekend full of books, Taylor Swift songs, blanket scarves, and pumpkin flavored desserts ahead of you!

 

 

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