Blank to 50K: Why write your novel in 30 days?

http://lorilrobinett.comIf you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but can’t seem to get it done . . . National Novel Writing Month may be for you. But there is a caveat to that. You don’t HAVE to sign up for NaNoWriMo. You don’t HAVE to do it in November. The things that make NaNo work for so many people can be tweaked for your personal situation to help you reach your goals.

Quantity over Quality

Don’t get hung up on this point. The idea is to take one month to get your first draft finished. Your goal is to have a beginning, a middle and an end. If you get too focused on crafting perfect sentences, you’ll never reach those two magical words: The End.

Write Wherever

NaNo teaches you to write wherever you’d like: at your desk, at a write-in, or in short little bursts wherever you happen to be. I’ve been known to work through lunch at work . . . but take 15 minutes to send myself an email with a few hundred words for my work in progress.

Support

If you sign up for NaNo, you’ll have overwhelming support from the entire NaNo community – from the Office of Letters and Light, your Municipal Liaison, and your Region. If you don’t sign up for NaNo, you still need to elicit support from friends and family, as well as the writing community. Find a writing group or at least a critique partner.

Take the Time

The biggest hurdle writers face is finding the time to write. Give yourself a deadline, tell others you are writing a novel . . . then DO IT.

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Both of my novels were drafting during National Novel Writing Month. Check them out and see what is possible, and support a fellow writer at the same time:

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/

Denim & Diamonds

http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Impulse-Widows-Web-Novel-ebook/dp/B00UB2U7WS/

Blank to 50K: Why you should let me help you write your novel

In the past few weeks, I’ve talked about the fact that everyone wants to write a book, asked why you want to write a novel, and advised you to write what you read. But I missed an important step . . .

Why should you listen to me?

I’ve done it, plain and simple. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month eight times and finished every single time as a winner.

http://lorilrobinett.com

My 8th National Novel Writing Month WIN!!

Even better than that – I self-published my first draft through Lulu and sold twice as many copies as most self-pubbed authors do. Then I took that (very) rough draft, rewrote and polished it, submitted it . . . and I happily signed my first publishing contract with CaryPress. It was released in 2014.

http://lorilrobinett.com

I’ve been published in Well Versed, “The Storyteller,” “The Heritage Writer,” “Writing for Dollars!”, and “Secrets & Strategies.”

I led my National Novel Writing Month region to Top Ten status (number of words / writer) every year I served as Municipal Liaison. I helped others finish the first draft of their novel in 30 days or less . . . and I can help you do the same thing.

Rev your engine up. Let’s go.

Are you ready?

Blank to 50K: Write What You Read

WHAT do you want to write_(1)Obviously, you want to write a novel. And you know WHY you want to write a novel. Now the question is: What do you want to write?

Well, what are you reading? And don’t EVEN tell me you aren’t reading anything because, let’s face it, you can’t be a writer if you aren’t a reader. I tend to be a bit of a book slut. Right now I’m reading a thriller (An Unlikely Hero by Tierney James), just finished a rom-com (Frisky Business by Tawna Fenske) and before that, I read horror (Dr. Sleep by Stephen King). But there are still commonalities in what I read, and I tend to go to a particular section of the library and the bookstore every time I go in – the mystery section.

So, think about your habits. What section first draws your attention?

What about the characters that appeal to you? Do you like strong female protagonists? What about those characters we love to hate? Sometimes I find myself rooting for the bad guy, like in the movies Gone in 60 Seconds and Ocean’s Eleven.

In essence, write the story you would want to sit down and read. Write the words that would draw you in and keep you reading into the wee hours of the darkest night.

If the idea of getting a second chance appeals to you, pop over and check out one of my books.

http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Impulse-Widows-Web-Novel-ebook/dp/B00UB2U7WS/

http://carypress.com/denim-diamonds-by-lori-robinett/

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

 

Blank to 50K: Why do you want to write a novel?

http://lorilrobinett.com

In all seriousness, think about this question and it will help you find your way. There are all sorts of reasons – and you have to identify them in order to make your dreams of writing a reality.

Move past WANTING to write a novel.

Let’s discuss why you want to write.

WHY do YOU want to write a novel?

  • To entertain people?
  • To inform people?
  • To get rich?
  • To get famous?
  • To get the voices in your head to shut up?

Take twenty minutes and free write your answer. Bonus points if you do it in longhand with an elegant fountain pen in a worn leather journal. Then let me know in the comments what you discovered.

Have you signed up for my mailing list yet? If not, pop over to the box and enter your email. I don’t send many newsletters, but I offer freebies a few times throughout the year.

 

 

Blank to 50K: Everyone wants to write a book (#MondayMotivation)

http://lorilrobinett.com

Everyone wants to write a novel.

OK, not everyone, but about 80% of the U.S. population, according to a survey (by the Jenkins Group). So, it’s a dream for 8 out of 10 people. Lots of people have dreams, though, and very few make that dream a reality. Like, I dream of winning the lottery. I really need to start playing the game if I want to make that dream a reality.

A VERY small percentage of the population actually writes a book.

With the advent of Createspace, Lulu and other business models, the dream of seeing your book in print is greater now than ever, yet it is still a DREAM for most people. Forcing yourself to sit down, write words in a coherent manner, with a well-paced plot and compelling characters is only the first step. Very few people make the jump from wanting to write a book to putting words on the page.

Even after you write the book, there’s still editing, rewriting, proofing, querying, market research, and . . . well, the list is nearly never ending.

Writing takes dedication, perseverance and a bit of insanity.

Seriously.

Dedication? I spent nearly all of last summer holed up in the house with my laptop making changes to a manuscript requested by editors (my publishing house had several editorial changes, so I made changes for each editor). Yup, that’s dedication for me. I’d much rather have been floating in the pool drinking a cold one and reading the latest Tawna Fenske book.

Perseverance? Yeah, all those changes I made for that manuscript? I jumped through all kinds of hoops for that publisher. I polished, edited, rewrote . . . it was a long, grueling process. Finally, my editor emailed with a positive email, saying she loved the changes I made but the manuscript had to go through a series screener (because the manuscript was submitted for an ongoing series) and that I would hear back in a couple of weeks. The following day I received a brief form email. Rejected.

Cue the sad trombone <SIGH>.

Which left me dejected.

That’s where perseverance comes in. I polished that manuscript more, removed all references to the series it was written for, and published the book.

Insanity? Yeah, that applies to me, too. Characters chatter in my head all the time, sometimes at rather inopportune times. When I’m deep in writing mode, everything else falls to the wayside. Laundry? If it passes the sniff test, I’m good to go. Hygiene? Yeah, I’ve been known to wear the same t-shirt through the entire first draft process. It can stand up on its own by the end of the month, but by golly, I’m not going to mess with my groove once the words start flowing.

On a personal note, I’m focusing on getting fit and have been doing the Couch to 5K program. As I run, I realize that it’s a very similar process to learning to write. Going from Couch to 5K is like going from Blank to 50K. 50K is what it takes to win National Novel Writing Month. If you can write a first draft of 50K words, that’s a darned good start. It gives you the bones of a story that you can edit, rewrite and polish.

So, that’s what I shoot for every time I sit down to start a new novel.

50K.

50,000 words.

I’ve done it. So can you.

If you want to make your dream a reality, join my list and we’ll make it happen together.

Here’s proof – this is the book I mentioned above (you can buy it in paperback or Kindle):

http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Impulse-Widows-Web-Novel-ebook/dp/B00UB2U7WS/

How to Write a Novel: The First Draft

Blank to 50K(1)I’ve been writing for a long time – semi-seriously for over 10 years. I spent years on the first draft of my first novel. And it’s still not finished. So, how did I break through and finally FINISH a first draft?

  • Recognize that a first draft is an imperfect grouping of words, sentences, paragraphs. It is perfectly simply because it exists. It’s not supposed to be perfect.
  • Declare your intentions. You need to be accountable. You don’t have to tell the world, but tell a good friend. And have them check your progress.
  • Decide what method to use. There’s the snowflake method, or Holly Lisle’s index card method, or you can just fly by the seat of your pants. It doesn’t matter what you use this time. This time is all about learning and experience. If it works, use it again. If it doesn’t work, try something else next time.
  • Treat writing as exercise. Writing is like a muscle. Do it daily, and it will get easier.
  • Start. You can sit and think forever, but that doesn’t get that first draft written. You have to actually sit your butt in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and type.
  • Slog through. The middle is mucky. You’ll get stuck, the forward movement will be slow. Just keep going.
  • Finish. Find a way to wrap things up. It doesn’t have to be the perfect ending. You’ll polish it later.
  • Finally, put it away. Give the draft time to percolate and let yourself get some distance before you go back to revise. And celebrate. You did what very few people actually do.

#CritiqueGroup

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett/dp/1631030035/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405879835&sr=1-7&keywords=denim+%26+diamonds

Lori L. Robinett, author

The number of people who want to write novels is quite high, but very few people actually make it happen.  I get questions fairly often from aspiring writers, and a common question is how I found my critique group. My group is close-knit and I am very fortunate to have found them. Based on my experiences, here are my suggestions for finding your own group:

  • National Novel Writing Month. We all started as NaNo’ers. That’s how we met. When you participate in NaNo, you find others in your area who share your passion for writing. Some people might call it crazy, but we prefer to call it passion. ;o)
  • Network. Talk to your librarian. Tell people you work with that you are a writer. Tell your family and friends. Chances are, you’ll find other aspiring writers.
  • Test Drive. Don’t commit to a group until you’ve had a chance to read each other’s writing. Genre doesn’t matter as much as passion, enthusiasm, dedication, and skill level.
  • Find what works for you. My group meets every other week. We send a few chapters to each other by email the week before we meet, then we talk over suggested critiques face to face. But that may not work for you – do you want a high level overview of an entire novel, or are you looking for intensive line edits?

In a future post, I’ll give some tips about how to get the most out of your critique group. If you have ideas/tips, I’d love to hear them!

 

Dream Tomorrow

Dream Tomorrow

Dream Tomorrow

Dream Tomorrow.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the vinyl wall decor above is displayed in my living room (I made it myself!). It’s my mantra.

Dream Tomorrow is my daily reminder that my dreams will only come true tomorrow if I plan for them today.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

With the start of a new year, I often spend at least an hour or two planning my goals for the year. Here’s my process – give it a go and see if it works for you:

Big Picture Goal: What do I want to accomplish this year? Think in terms of financial, professional, health or personal goals. Publish a novel. Lose at least ten pounds. Save a thousand dollars. Write each of these at the top of a different piece of paper. Bonus points if you write them in your day planner (and if you are looking for a print it yourself planner page, please check out my Etsy store – the download is only $1).

Stepping Stones: These are the smaller milestones that you need to do in order to reach your Big Picture Goal. For instance, my Big Picture Goal is to publish a novel. Some of the smaller milestones I need to reach in order to make my dream come true are (1) write the draft of the novel, (2) edit/rewrite the novel, (3) polish the novel, (4) line edit the novel for grammar, punctuation and spelling, (5) research agents and/or publishers, and, finally, (6) submit.

Daily To-Dos: These are just what they sound like – the things that you need to put on your to-do list to make it happen. For instance, while I am drafting a novel, I will write “WRITE 250 words” on my to-do list every day until I type those two magical words “THE END.” The important thing here is to be specific. Don’t write “write” without setting a goal for yourself. This is where you need to be tough. Be your own coach. Set a task and make sure you do it.

What are some of your Big Picture Goals for 2014?

NOTE: If you like this blog, please consider stopping by my Etsy shop. You’ll help me out, and you’ll get something for your money. 🙂

Winning National Novel Writing Month (reminiscing . . . )

Aside

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In honor of NaNoWriMo and all those who are currently returning to the real world, I thought I’d share something I wrote in 2009 after winning. I hope you enjoy it:

I don’t know why I’m surprised that December is nearly half over. It happens faster and faster each year. I used to think it was because I was getting older and quit looking forward to things so much (you know, when I was a kid I couldn’t wait for Christmas but it seemed to take forever to get here . . . the watched pot never boils – like that). But now, I think the world is just spinning faster. I can almost hear the wind whistling past my ears.

Oh, wait . . . that was just the cold, December wind. Never mind.

It has been 21 days since my last post.

Oh, wait . . . I’m not giving my confession.

Sorry. My NaNo fried brain isn’t functioning quite right just yet. What I wanted to tell you is that (drumroll, please . . . ahem . . . really – make that drumroll sound or drum your fingers on your desk, whatever works best for you) . . . I WON!!! That’s right, you are now looking at (sort of) one of the proud winners of National Novel Writing Month 2009. I finished with a grand total of 50,629 words. (OK, I’m bowing now . . . thank you, thank you . . .).

What was my secret for success?

1) Write every day. My goal was to write 1,667 each day. (Some days I made it, some days I didn’t.)

2) Don’t read.

3) Use every available moment. If you work, eat at your desk and write yourself an email. Carry a notebook with you. If you commute, carry a handheld recorder. You don’t have to dictate your story, but you can talk to yourself – what if this, what if that, how can you screw with your main character’s life . . .

4) Bribery. I want a Nook so bad I can taste it. So, I promised myself that if I win, I’ll buy one. Now, I’m just waiting for the money to appear. (wait! what the? there’s no prize $$ for winning NaNo? Dang!!)

And how do I feel about my winning story, Gateway to Hell? My story is just getting wound up, just started at about 47K words, actually, and part of me really wants to finish it. But first, I need to get through the holidays. I’ve got a house to decorate, Christmas cards to make, dinner rolls to make, gifts to buy. And since I’ve only got 2 weeks ’til the Big Day, I think I’ll take a break from writing and focus on the holiday and family. Probably should, since I kind of neglected the fam last month. So, my plan is to smother them with attention for the next two weeks, and then start a serious rewrite of Denim & Diamonds. Those characters have been talking to me again (and so have my characters from NaNo ’08. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m schizo. Then again, for a writer, is that a bad thing?), which is like slipping into my favorite pair of faded Tommy jeans on a Sunday morning. It feels right. Who knows, maybe with a touch more suspense and a dash more sex . . . it might end up being a whole new book!

So, that’s how I did it and those are my writing plans now that NaNo is over and I must return to the land of mortals . . . what are yours?

Drawing Inspiration

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I always assumed that the writers I look up to (Stephen King, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Lea Wait, Jennifer Crusie, and many others) are surrounded by inspiration. That is, until I decided to start taking my writing seriously. One of the first affirmations I chose for myself was “I do not wait for inspiration to write, I am inspired by writing.” If I wait to be inspired, I won’t touch a keyboard for weeks, even months, because life gets in the way. There are so many demands on our time, that we don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit. One of the young writers I work with years ago told me the blank page staring at her freaks her out, and asked how I can sit down and just start typing. “What inspires you?” she asked.

The answer for me is competition. In order for me to be successful, I have to be accountable to someone other than myself. It’s way to easy to lie to myself and bargain with myself. I believe me and fall for it every time. At this point, I have eight completed novels (one published, one in the editing stages and the remainder in rough draft stage). I would never have gotten there if it were not for four very important things – in no particular order: Book-in-a-Week (BIC HOK TAM!!!), National Novel Writing Month, my critique group (this is a talented group: Colleen Donnelly, Ericca Thornhill, Carolyn Branch and Jennifer Bondurant – pay attention to those names. You’ll see them on the best seller list someday), and my friend Lynn.

I need that push, that drive, that accountability, which is currently offered by my critique group. And there used to be NaNo (this is only the 2nd year I haven’t competed). All of my completed novels started as NaNo novels (by the way, our little region frequently finaled in the top 10 for the average production per writer list!! Kudos to us!!). And that’s how I got hooked up with my writers’ group. I really like these people, and even though I only see them occasionally, we share a unique bond. I joined up as a Nano’er and stuck with them throughout the year. It is well worth it to have a face-to-face meeting with other writers. We writers are a different breed. By our very nature, many of us have tendencies towards introversion. This gives us a chance to talk to others that understand our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our frustrations.

So, that’s what does it for me. Accountability and competition.

And the chance to meet some fantabulous women for breakfast every other Saturday!

I encourage you to give serious thought to what inspires you. Do not wait for inspiration to hit. It doesn’t knock on your door and ask if now is a convenient time. Surround yourself with inspiration. Think about what fires you up and makes you productive. It may be something like a support group, or it may be something completely different, such as having a ritual before you begin writing. Once you find something that inspires you, incorporate it into your life, and start making your dreams become realities, bit by bit.