Not what you were expecting?
It is if you’re a writer! As November gets closer, writers from all over the world prepare to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s a time for writers and would-be-writers, Plotters and Pantsers alike, to lock themselves away, accepting the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month (the equivalent of a short novel). I’ve found myself in these ranks since 2012. Oddly enough, my first book published was the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo that year. Coincidence? I think not. You see NaNoWriMo taught me a great many lessons that have carried through my writing career and the nine novels I’ve written since.
One was to always participate in NaNoWriMo. The second was, being a Pantser, how to prepare for NaNoWriMo. While there are many people who sign up, less than half actually reach the goal of 50,000 words. Not because they run out of things to write but because they become too overwhelmed and give up. I want to give you a few pointers on how to set yourself up in October to succeed in November with NaNoWriMo.
1) Get out a calendar and schedule your NaNoWriMo writing time.Even if you enjoy the free flow of fitting in writing time when the muse strikes, if you want to succeed at NaNoWriMo, you have to be more intentional than that. The way to keep the muse flowing is to be writing, to make writing - even if it is only visualizing your next scene in your head – a constant activity. In October, figure out what other activities you have scheduled for the month of November (doctor appointments, work, sports events, family obligations, etc.), write down and highlight the non-negotiable events then plan your writing time around them.
This is where you find out if NaNoWriMo is even feasible for your schedule. NaNo is the equivalent of a part-time job that you may never get paid for. Only you can decide if you are ready and have the time for that undertaking. If you’re a new writer to NaNo, plan at least two hours a day (or 14 hours a week) for writing, either all at once or broken up. While some write faster, this will usually take into account interruptions, writer’s block and the inevitable technological issues that will arise.
2) Even Pantsers need plot ideas.While Plotters love this suggestion, I can already hear the Pantsers protesting. Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to plot out your novel; however, you do need to know the beginning, middle and end. You need to have a general idea of what will happen. The month of October is the time for you to decide who your characters will be, what will your book be about and what genre it will fall into. And write these down!
If you’re writing sci-fi, use this time to plan out your world and the characters in it, including several ideas for struggles they may (not necessarily will) face. If you’re writing a romance, what will come between your hero and heroine? Literary fiction needs a theme. These are all part of writing but will slow you down if you wait until November 1st to begin thinking about them, dragging you away from actual writing and hindering your progress toward that 50,000 word goal.
3) Don’t let a word count scare you.1667 words per day. It might sound like a lot to some. To others, it sounds like a piece of cake – until they begin. Most writers with an idea of where they plot is going can write 200-400 words in 30 minutes, experienced writers with several books under their belts will get more. That means, if you’ve done as I suggested above and have ideas written down, you won’t wonder what will happen next. You will know where your characters need to end up and your mind will fill in how they get there whether you write in 15 min “sprints” or in a 2 hour stretch. Break the word count into bite-size portions. You’ll be surprised how fast you can write 200 words.
An extra piece of advice: Go over your word count every day you write. Because there will be days when emergencies happen and you don’t write, plan ahead to get at least 2000 words a day. It will all balance in the end this way.
4) Set up your DVR.Since most people who participate in NaNoWriMo are not full-time writers, your time is limited. You must choose your priority – NaNo or other activities? While there are terrific shows on television, with the dawn of DVR and On Demand programming, it can wait. Most of us binge watch shows anyway so save four weeks and reward yourself after you finish NaNo. Trust me, your brain will be fried and you’ll want to veg for a few hours when you finish.
5) Disengage gradually from social media.Most people have no idea how much of a time-suck social media is. Beginning in October, post comments about preparing for NaNoWriMo, your goals for it and how excited (or scared) you are to do it. Begin cutting your time spent on social media by 5-10 min each day. This means withdrawing yourself from game invitations, watching online videos, tumbling less and refraining from LOLing on every friend’s post. You can still go on, but begin to slowly spend less time online. Use that additional time to prepare your plot idea and characterizations or to clear away the heap of accumulated papers on your writing space.
6) Find your Happy Place.Figure out where you will do your writing. Will it be an office space, a desk, a table in the closet? Find a space, or several, and make it your own. Make it a place that inspires you to write, whether that means pictures, books or good luck charms. I have several places in my house to write but I have my laptop organized with exactly what I need. My research is bookmarked and saved, my desktop is loaded with pictures of how I envision my characters and I have several reference books at my disposal online. That way, I’m never forced to stop writing to go looking for some integral bit of information I need and it keeps distractions to a minimum.
NaNoWriMo is one of the most difficult things I’ve attempted as an author but it has propelled my career and my skills as a writer more than any other tool I have found to date. I’ve learned to focus, to write faster, to be concise, and to find the methods that help me write as well as shed the things that hinder me. With a little pre-planning, you can make NaNoWriMo an easier, more pleasant and successful undertaking as well.
About the Author
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She writes contemporary western romance for Avon Romance, including four books in the Rodeo series and the Healing Harts series. She has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. In her very limited spare time, T.J. can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.
It only took an instant for her world to come crashing down…but Heart Fire Ranch is a place of new beginnings, even for those who find their way there by accident.
As the only veterinarian in town, Justin Hart doesn't have time to think about romance. So when A-list actress Alyssa Cole crashes her car outside his clinic, it's entirely unexpected when there's a spark between them he can't ignore. Still, she's a movie star, and he's just a small town cowboy.
Alyssa has learned the hard way not to believe first impressions, especially not in Hollywood. But, 400 miles from her former life with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, she places her trust in the handsome vet who comes to her rescue.
There's no denying the connection between them, but when Alyssa's past shows up at the door, will their new relationship be able to withstand the storm?
Close to Heart is available at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Avon.
ExcerptShe slid into the chair at the table and buried her face in her palms, trying to stop the tears from burning her eyes.
“Hey.” Justin moved to the chair beside her. “It can’t be that bad.”
Alyssa looked up at him, trying to keep the tears at bay. “Are you kidding?” She couldn’t help the bubble of irrational laughter that fell from her lips. “I’m eight months pregnant and I just found out my husband has been sleeping with every woman in Beverly Hills for over half of our marriage. Not to mention that I have no money, no career, and he kicked me out of our house.” She threw up her hands and rose to pace the kitchen as the truth fell from her lips unbidden. “I have nothing. Even that car is in Elijah’s name.”
She realized she’d just told him far more than she’d intended.
“Was that who you were talking to?”
“No, I called my friend. He’s a lawyer.” She slid her hand over the top of her stomach. “I wanted to find out my options.”
“He suggests I ‘divorce the no-good bastard.’ ”
“I have to agree.”
Alyssa faced him, running her hand over the side of her stomach as her baby kicked against her hand. “I wish it were that easy, trust me. But how am I supposed to support us, where are we going to stay? I was on my way to my parents’ house last night after he kicked me out.”
Justin rose and moved toward her. His hands cupped her face gently, tipping her gaze up to meet his eyes. “Your husband is an idiot. He has no idea what he’s giving up.”
Her parched heart soaked up his words. After listening to Elijah’s criticisms for so many years, it was like rain on a desert plain.
“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to. That’s probably the only way I can help you.” He smiled and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “Unless you want me to kick his ass? I’d be happy to do that for you.”
She laughed quietly. “I appreciate the offer, but that’s probably not in your best interest. I don’t have the money to bail you out of jail.”
The dimple cut into his cheek as he gave her a lopsided smile. “Then I guess the ass-kicking is going to have to wait.”
Alyssa couldn’t look away from his hypnotic blue gaze. He saw her, really saw the woman inside. He didn’t see her as a movie star. He looked past that to the hurting woman beneath. His nearness seemed to demolish every protective barrier she’d erected over the past six years. He made her feel wanted and worthy.
Alyssa didn’t think about what she was doing as she slid her hands to the nape of his neck, pulling him toward her, their mouths exploring, seeking. Justin’s kiss was tender, far gentler than she wanted him to be. Her fingers dug into the hard muscles of his shoulders and he responded. His hands slid into her hair, while his tongue teased hers, tasting her, his teeth nipping at the corner of her full lips.