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National Novel Writing Month

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  • September 19, 2014 8:45 am

    NaNo Prep: Don’t Waste a Single Moment

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    NaNo Prep is here! Whether you’re planning your November novel down to the final scene, or soaking up inspiration for spontaneous story creation, we’ve got the tools you need to make this year’s NaNoWriMo your most successful ever. Today, author Eileen Goudge shares why a writer shouldn’t look for time, but should take long baths:

    I was recently reminded, reading novelist Claire Cook’s inspiring (and hilarious) book, Never Too Late, that every author has his or her own “sure-fire” method for writing. Mine is simple: I commit to writing at least a paragraph a day. Almost never do I stop at one. In fact, once I get going it can be hard to stop. Try it. It works.

    When I used to teach writing the question I got asked most often was, “Where do you find the time?” Good question. Where did I find the time? When my kids were little, I envied parents who worked outside the home. They got to sit at a desk that wasn’t in the kitchen. They could talk on the phone without a child screaming in the background. I wore shirts with spit-up stains to work. My typewriter represented the four food groups, with spaghetti sauce stains to go with the crumbs in the keyboard. And have you ever tried to type with a small child on your lap?

    Along the way I learned a few tricks about time management, so here goes:

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  • September 17, 2014 8:52 am

    In Case of Inspiration Emergency: Write a Letter to a Character

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    Whether you’re a planner or not, there’s one thing every writer will need as they prepare for NaNoWriMo: inspiration. We’ve challenged some of our favorite authors, and the NaNo staff to inspire you by sharing what’s inspired them… and challenging you to prepare a specific jumpstart for that inevitable idea drought:

    The Inspirer: Sarah Mackey, NaNoWriMo Director of Community Engagement 

    The Inspiration Sources:

    The Jumpstart: Write a short letter to one of your possible characters for them to respond to in November.

    Why This Will Inspire You: I’ve been contemplating writing an epistolary novel for NaNoWriMo this year. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s a story written in the form of documents, usually letters. They are among my favourite type of novels to read, and although I’ve often included various letters, emails, text messages, and other documents in previous novels, I’ve never gone 100% epistolary before.

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  • September 15, 2014 8:54 am

    No Plot? No Problem! — The Joys of Writing Companions

    NaNoWriMo season is officially here! How can you prepare for a successful November? By planning your novel, storing up inspiration, or finding a writing partner-in-crime. Every week, we’ll have some tips from Chris Baty, and the brand-new, updated 2014 edition of his book No Plot? No Problem! Today, he profiles potential writing buddies:

    Novel writing is the perfect social activity. Granted it is a social activity where no one is allowed to talk. And one where much of the pre- and post-event socializing consists of tearful laments about the deplorable state of one’s writing and the meagerness of one’s talents.

    Maybe I have a strange idea of social activities, but this to me is heaven.

    And a productive heaven at that. Writing with a partner (or three or four) helps all parties tap into the pool of competitive energy that forms when several people are working toward the same goal. When novelizing with someone else, you have a pacer, a motivator, and a sympathetic ear for sharing the triumphs and tragedies of your novel. It’s more productive and a lot more fun.

    As you mull potential writing buddies, consider recruiting someone from the following groups:

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  • September 12, 2014 1:51 pm

    A Book Cover Revealed… Conviction, Collaboration, and Themes

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    Every November, we ask 30 designers to create 30 book covers in 24 hours for novels people are writing for NaNoWriMo. The collaboration between designer and author can be incredibly inspiring. Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of the forthcoming Convictionand NaNoWriMo associate board member shares how she, her designer, and her editor worked together to create her book cover—revealed for the first time here! (And watch out for this year’s 30 Covers, 30 Days announcement soon!)

    Book covers have always felt like faces to me, and recognizing one in a bookstore or on another’s shelf is like finding a good friend in a crowded, busy place.

    Ever since I sold my YA novel Conviction (releasing May 2015), I’ve quietly obsessed over what my own cover might look like. And in honor of the cover making its way into the world (for the first! time! ever!) today, my editor Laura Schreiber and cover designer Maria Elias are offering a behind-the-scenes look at the design process:

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  • 9:11 am

    In Case of Inspiration Emergency: Devise Rules to Help Control the Fun

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    Whether you’re a planner or not, there’s one thing every writer will need as they prepare for NaNoWriMo: inspiration. We’ve challenged some of our favorite authors, and the NaNo staff to inspire you by sharing what’s inspired them… then issuing an inspiration dare:

    The Inspirer: Dave Beck, NaNoWriMo Technical Director

    The Inspiration Sources: 

    The Jumpstart: Think of three structural challenges to whip out when the going gets, well… boring.

    Why This Will Inspire You: Ask the average person to write a poem and she will likely balk at the task. Ask her to write a haiku, however, and she often becomes a willing and creative participant…

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  • September 10, 2014 8:49 am

    No Plot? No Problem! - How to Stay Alert While Writing

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    NaNoWriMo season is officially here! How can you prepare for a successful November? By planning your novel, storing up inspiration, or finding a writing partner-in-lines. Today, we’ve got some tips from Chris Baty, and the brand-new, updated 2014 edition of his book No Plot? No Problem!, on pulling off a late night of writing:

    Between work, school, family, and errands, the only time many of us have to get writing done are the quiet, pre-bed hours. Writers in their teens or twenties will have no trouble handling an occasional regimen of burning the candle at both ends. For us older writers, though, all-nighters are out of the question, and we’ll need all the help we can get to keep from ruining the romantic late-night writing tableau by falling asleep at the keyboard.

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  • September 8, 2014 9:15 am

    NaNo Prep: Giving Your Hero a Reason to Heal

    NaNo Prep season is here! Whether you’re already planning your novel, searching for inspiration, or planning not to plan your novel, we’ll be providing insights, tips, and writer fuel to help you hit the ground running in November. Today, author Alan Sitomer shares how you can give your protagonists drive—and find healing:

    To have a great story you must have a great hero. And to have a great hero, you must beat the crud out of them.

    Totally serious. Great heroes, over the course of great stories will have been dragged through the mud physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Maybe not in that order, but it will have happened. Each hurt should be wrenching, vivid and altering (if not downright scarring).

    Indeed, to become a successful writer you must love your hero and hurt your hero. Why? Because readers love it! Why do they love it? Because the more formidable the challenge, the deeper down the hero must reach in order to achieve their goal and heal.

    Over the course of a good story, the reader will come to experience a couple primary hurts:

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  • September 5, 2014 9:00 am

    Designer Q&A: Elizabeth Doyle on Your Boundless Novel

    Every year, we roll out a brand new theme for NaNoWriMo, complete with a new poster, T-shirts, mugs, and more. Last year, we brought NaNo to you in retro 8-bit video game style. This year, we took it back even further, to bring you a steampunk-influenced, Victorian, anything-could-happen Boundless Novel. After all, if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that your imaginations are limitless. (And occupied by the occasional dragon.)

    Designer Elizabeth Doyle shares her process, and how her work at Simon & Schuster and love for antique books influenced this year’s gorgeous design:

    The design this year is beautiful! Will you tell us a little bit about your process for creating the poster for our “Boundless Novel”? 

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  • September 3, 2014 8:46 am

    Got the Writing Blues? A 4-Step Guide to the Cure

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    NaNoWriMo season is nearly upon us! Participant Irina Michael shares how a change in writing genre or project might just be the ticket for a successful, flu- and writer’s block-free season:

    Like falling sick with a cold, falling out of sync with what you’re writing can exhaust you. Maybe you’ve been writing novels and the only coherent parts are at the beginning. Your short story—though it’s short—actually doesn’t have conflict. The screenplay you’ve been working on is written with sparse dialogue. Still, you battle on until there comes that one blank page that leads to blank staring, and a blank head with no-idea-at-all-in-any-way of what it’s going to produce.

    There is still hope! Like taking cold medicine, you can open a new Word Document and take a hearty dose of something new. (This is also when you grab some chocolate as your award for having courage.) Here are some tips for fighting the writing blahs by tackling a whole new genre or type of writing project:

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  • August 29, 2014 8:47 am

    At 3354 Adeline: Closing Another Chapter… Changed

    As Camp NaNoWriMo intern, Katharine Gripp inspired writers through leading Virtual Write-Ins, and encouraged student voices through Student Pep Talks. She says goodbye… and makes us tear up a little:

    (Interested in our fall internship? Check it out!)

    Saying goodbye, I’ve found, can be a little bit like writing a novel. All the basic elements are there: that awkward beginning when you search for those few elusive words that will lead the way into the heart of what you’re trying to say; the anxiety of putting those words together in a way that is both coherent and meaningful; and even, sometimes, those late nights lying awake after you’ve shared your carefully chosen words with someone else, wondering, ‘Did they really get it? Did I get across everything I wanted to say?’

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  • August 27, 2014 9:07 am

    Wrimos Around the World: Of Mountain Views, Historic Brothels, and Research

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    One of the best parts of NaNoWriMo? The incredible community of writers. Today, we spotlight Lindsay Lackey, who tackled historical fiction for the very first time: 

    I write from Colorado Springs, CO—the land of fast-food chains, road construction, and glorious, glorious mountains. It’s not ideal for foodies, maybe, but it’s a great place to live. I’ve seen a lot of growth in the city’s focus on celebrating the arts and on embracing our natural resources like mountains, trails, and open space. Plus, we have Pikes Peak Writers, which is an awesome group to be involved with!

    Where would someone most likely find you writing from?

    I write in all sorts of places. Lately I’ve been on a coffee shop fix, probably because it’s summer and the coffee shop near my house is part of an outdoor mall, which makes for fantastic people-watching…

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  • August 25, 2014 8:59 am

    At 3354 Adeline: This Isn’t Goodbye

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    Wendy Ung did many things during her time as a NaNoWriMo intern: she was a grammar wrangler, a YouTube star-in-the-making, and an all-around gem. We’re crushed to say goodbye:

    Like they say, all good things must come to an end. 

    This is the end of my internship at NaNoWriMo. 

    I’m actually at a loss of what I should say. I blame it on a mixture of disbelief and sadness. How do I even begin to say goodbye to the everyone and everything at NaNo HQ? I am incredibly grateful to the awesome staff for taking a chance on me and letting me experience the underbelly of a nonprofit. Working here honed necessary skills and taught me life lessons that will help me in all my future endeavors. 

    I introduced myself with a bullet point list, and I shall include it in my last post here. (It comes full circle.) What I will miss most about working at NaNoWriMo: 

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