Cracking the Whip on Your Word Count: NoRhym-O-ReMo

First, I have no idea what’s up with the formatting of the text on this post.  But I have 18 bajillion things to do today, so rather than freak out about it, I’m letting it go.

WHAT??  I know.  That’s so un-Ricki.


My apologies for being a bit sparse with the posts as of late. My aforementioned sickness, which lasted several weeks, played a large part in that, as did some freelancing and, of course, the Write-Brained Network.

What will be pulling my focus now? NoRhym-O-ReMo

But this is something anyone can take part in—and I hope you will!


As per my last post, my online writing community did a reboot of NaNoWriMo last May, and we’re doing it again. NoRhym-O-ReMo stands for No Rhyme or Reason [Writing] Month, and it’s on—right now!


There are no rules.

Well, that’s not entirely true—but, let’s say, you make your own rules.  Just write something.  Every day.  For the month of May.  NoRhym-O-ReMo is like NaNoWriMo, but a more accommodating of your schedule.


For traditional NaNoWriMo, folks set out to write 1500 words a day—and then, at the end of the month of November (National Novel Writing Month), they have a 50,000-word first draft of something.  For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, click here.

For NoRhym-O-ReMo, let’s be more flexible.  Set your own goal for your daily word count.  For instance, if you think your schedule will only allow you to comfortably write 500 words/day, fine.  That’s your goal.  Post it here, and have at it.

You can write one continuous piece or a lot of smaller pieces—or, heck—even just writing prompts.

And if you find your schedule changes, and you are writing more (or less) than you had hoped, adjust your goals as you go.


Just set a goal for yourself and DO THE WRITING.  And keep us posted about it.  Participants are keeping records of their progress over on the WB—and it’s hugely inspiring (and kick-in-the-pantsing) to see other folks succeeding.


As a general rule in the industry, 250 words=1 page.  That should help you gauge the amount of words to which you think you can commit per day.

When setting your goal: Don’t be too aggressive.  Not that you shouldn’t challenge yourself, but I’m just saying don’t say you want to write 3K/day if there’s no way you can feasibly do that!  You don’t want to make it impossible to reach your daily goals—that might discourage you from continuing. However, don’t be wimpy either. Throw out a number you’d be happy reaching per day, and get those words down.

OK, so what are you waiting for?  If you’re not already a member of the WB, get on over there.  It’s painless—really. You’ll meet a lot of fantastic writing folks and you’ll even get to keep your first born. (Well, probably.)

If we get enough participants, I’ll be offering up a prize or two.  Stay tuned . . .

If you’re looking to get serious about a new manuscript, if you want to finish/up your word count on an existing one, or if you just need a little incentive to write whatever it is you’re writing get on over to NoRhym-O-ReMo and DO IT.

*cracks the whip*

Spoiler Alert: NoRhym-O-ReMo Starts May 1

Last May, my online writing community was much smaller—and called Shenandoah Writers Online—so we had SheNoWriMo, which was SWO’s reboot of NaNoWriMo for the month of May.

We’re doing the same thing this year—only now we’re the Write-Brained Network—and we’re calling it: NoRhym-O-ReMo (No Rhyme or Reason [Writing] Month).

I’ll be posting more info about this next week, but if you’re looking to get serious about a new manuscript (or if you’re looking to finish/up your word count on an existing one), it’s on like Donkey Kong in May, baby.

RhyMoWriMo: The WB Celebrates National Poetry Month

I’m celebrating National Poetry Month on the Write-Brained Network in a big way.

Poetry seems to intimidate people who don’t write or read it often (what is up with that??), and I think this is a great opportunity to change that perception and do something cool.  So, if poetry isn’t necessarily in your comfort zone, GOOD!  All the better! I hope you’ll come check us out our festivities and participate anyway!


Since September on the WB, we have had writing challenges every month.  For example, we have WordWatchers, which is basically like NaNoWriMo—except it’s a bit more laid back in that you set the amount of words you think would be feasible (but still challenging) to write in a given week, and then you report on your progress, etc.

However, WordWatchers is for fiction and nonfiction and doesn’t really work for poets because poetry isn’t about making daily or weekly word counts.

Enter RhyMoWriMo, which will be sort of like WordWatchers. The poetry won’t have to RHYME—I just thought the name had a nice, dorky ring to it. Participants will have one official prompt or type of poem to write per week in April (starting Monday, April 4), for a chance to win a prize.


Photo credit: Molly Nook

To introduce some amazing modern poets to the group, we will present a series of short interviews with a “featured poet” or poetry expert each week.

To kick off our the series, meet Dave Lucas, whose debut poetry collection, Weather, hit shelves April 1.

Dave was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the recipient of a Henry Hoyns Fellowship from the University of Virginia and a “Discovery”/The Nation Prize, and his poems have appeared in many journals including Paris Review, Poetry, and Slate. He lives in Cleveland and Ann Arbor, where he is a PhD candidate in English language and literature at the University of Michigan.

See my interview with the award-winning poet.

Dave, on sonnets.


Try your hand at writing a sonnet—extra points for a “more advanced” entry (here’s a refresher course).  Leave your entries in the comments to this post for a chance to win a signed copy of Dave’s debut collection, Weather.


This month’s chat topic to be poetry.  Genius, I know. But it’s going to be a little different in that we will have a guest or two—perhaps one or two of the folks featured in the series (TBA).

Get over your poetry phobias and get scrawling!

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Plotters & Pantsers . . .

March 22, the Write-Brained Network hosted its March live chat.  The topic?  Plotter or  Pantser—Where Are You?

The gist . . .

This topic didn’t yield a full hour’s worth of conversation, but it was a great turnout and so much fun to chat with people in real time!  And we found other things to discuss. 😉

First, some working definitions:

Plotter—one who outlines before writing

Pantser—one who “flies by the seat of his pants” when writing

Basically, we went around and discussed our processes, and I’d say it was pretty much split between those who use at least a broad method of outlining (i.e., they have a rough idea of where their story is going) and those who are true “pantsers.”

We also talked about authors who claim to be one or the other (Stephen King, Meg Cabot & Annie Dillard have all said they’re pantsers, and we had a bit of a debate as to whether or not we really believe it).


Those who plot shared some of their plotting techniques as well as helpful plotting books:

  • Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need (Blake Snyder)

*Click here for more STC-related resources

  • First Draft in 30 Days (Karen S. Wiesner)
    • One Write-Brainiac is currently working on this, and at least one other has used it in the past.
    • Basically, here’s what it looks like*:
      • Days 1-6 Preliminary Outline (character/sketching/plot sketches and summary outline)
      • Days 7-13 Research
      • Days 14-15 Evolution of the Story
      • Days 16-24 Formatted Outline
      • Days 25-28 Evaluating the Outline’s Strength
      • Days 29-30 Revising the Outline

*Here’s a more detailed overview


  • I was fortunate enough to hear one of our Write-Brained Network workshop speakers, author David L. Robbins, speak in June 2010 at the Southeastern Writers Association conference on the very subject of plotting.  He warns not to do it too thoroughly, as the story will not unfold as it should (recordative vs. recollective writing).  He recommends what he calls “baseball writing.”

Here’s the write-up I did on his session.

  • Write-Brainiac and upcoming young adult author, the Diana-Fox-repped Cristin Terrill, is participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days, where she plans to write a book in said amount of days (sort of like NaNoWriMo, but with more wiggle room).

Check out her post on the topic here.

  • Not really plotting-related, but Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life was suggested as a must-read for all writers.

Want in?  Join us April 26 from 9-10 p.m. EST for our next WB Live Chat!  Topic: Poetry Panel.

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Research . . .

Feb. 22, the Write-Brained Network hosted its February live chat.  The topic?  Research in Fiction—What’s Your Process?

The gist . . .

We started by discussing the different methods people use when they need to do research.  We brainstormed a quick list of ways to do research and came up with reading stuff and interviewing pros or specialists. Nothing too groundbreaking there, no?

Then, we talked about the ways in which we go about incorporating research.  Because everyone’s process is different, it was interesting to compare notes.  Some Write-Brainiacs need to have their whole plot frame up before they even attempt doing any research. Others begin writing and leave themselves notes in terms of where they need some research beefing (in other words, get the story down and THEN worry about the nitty gritty). Others still can’t move on to the next sentence if they haven’t done their homework.


After that, we talked about where people go to get the necessary info:

  • Google.  We agreed that with the Internet, there isn’t really much excuse for getting something wrong these days.  A good, old-fashioned Internet (or library) search can mean all the difference in a lot of cases, so it’s a good thing that’s pretty accessible to pretty much everyone.
  • ProfNet.  I hadn’t heard of this one, but it definitely sounds like it’s worth checking out.  Through PR Newswire, ProfNet is a free database where one can search for info—or (and this is where I was really sold) ask a specific question that one of their 30,000 professionals will answer.  And they’ve got pros in a ton of areas!
  • Google Maps. We got into a little discussion about research and setting—i.e., do you have to have visited the place you’re writing about (if it’s not a fictitious world you’ve created).  Of course, if you’re looking for concrete details, it’s probably better if you’ve been there or at least talked to someone who has been.  However, if you are simply looking for distances of locations, Google Maps is a great tool.

  • Lydia Kang’s Medical Mondays.  For medical research, I pointed to a blog I follow—The Word is My Oyster—by doctor/writer/blogger Lydia Kang.  She has a series she does every where she takes some kind of medical condition and explains it thoroughly for writers looking to incorporate things about it into their work.  If she hasn’t already done a Medical Monday on a subject of your choice, you can write in and she’ll answer your questions in a subsequent post.  For example, today’s question is: “If someone died and was buried in a shallow grave in New England (about an hour northwest of Boston) for nine years, would only a skeleton and clothing be left behind? Or would hair, skin or anything else be left?” Find out the answer here.
  • CSI stuff. We also talked about a few books out there that cops and other investigative types have written—some specifically *for* writers to answer their questions about police procedure where crimes are concerned, etc.  For a while, a few of us thought we were talking about the same book only to find out we were talking about a couple of different books, but in the midst of that convo, someone metioned the Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter (which is exactly what it sounds like).

I know this is NCIS, but I just really hate CSI.


After all that, we discussed how (and where) to keep everything straight, and, quite frankly, we talked about Scrivener so much they should be endorsing us. 🙂  But some other Scrivener-esque programs out there were mentions as well—two being Evernote and My Novel.

I haven’t tried any of these, but with the glowing reviews from other Write-Brainiacs, I can’t wait to play around with them soon, as I embark on manuscript #3!

All in all, it was an enjoyable hour (two hours for some of us who stuck around after the allotted time!).  I always have a great time chatting live with other WBers.

Want in?  Join us March 22 from 9-10 p.m. EST for our next WB Live Chat!  Topic: Plotters & Pantsers.

Write-Brained Network Workshop: Registration Now Open

Sorry I missed posting so far this week—the Write-Brained Network has been keeping me super busy.

Mark your calendars for 9/10/11, kids, because the WB Workshop is on like Donkey Kong!

For only $45, spend the day learning tips from writing and publishing industry pros and mix & mingle with other writers at the Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg, Va. Registration is now open.

(Forgive the pimpage, but I’m pretty psyched that this is all actually happening!)

We have some fantastic speakers lined up—more on that later—and a fantab-looking program. For more info, visit our landing site, where I’ve posted the schedule as well as our current list of speakers.

If you have any questions, please contact me through the WB or via e-mail.

That’s all for now—hope everyone’s having a great week! 🙂

The Write-Brained Network: New Stuff in 2011

The end of 2011 marked a busy time for me and the WB.  We’d been having issues with our network host this fall, so we decided to move off and back onto Ning—where we started, I know!  But this time, it’s for keeps.  (I hope!)

Here's our new badass logo, compliments of Bridgid Gallagher!

Several Write-Brainiac “elves” assisted me in the moving process during the month of December (thanks, guys–you’re the best!), and I unveiled the new network Jan. 1.  Here it is, if you’d like to check us out (and I hope you will!):

For all current WB members, please make your way over to the new community and start using it exclusively.  I will allow a few weeks of transition time, in case you want to move any of your discussions, photos, blog posts from the site to Ning, but I will be deleting the WB site come Jan. 16. So be sure to pack your bags and get over to the new WB asap!

Also beginning this month, the WB has a brand new Web site and logo—I couldn’t be more excited!

The Web site will serve as a landing place for anyone trying to find out info about us and will be updated with all our latest news.  Here is that URL:

Please update your Favorites and Bookmarks accordingly. 🙂

In terms of our new logo, see above.  Inky Fresh Press’s Bridgid Gallagher made my decision very difficult by creating so many awesome logo choices!

We’ve got a lot in store for the WB in 2011, and I’d love to have you be a part of it!

End of the Week Mishmash: Why I’m Crazy (This Week)

I don’t think I’ll be doing a blogosphere post this week—just too much going on. We’ll see—maybe I will.

This week’s craziness:

1)  I’ve had a fever for a week and a half now.  I finally went to the doctor yesterday, and he says I may or may not have mono.  WHA??  He doesn’t think I do (I don’t either), because I don’t have swollen glands or anything, so I’m just kind of monitoring the fever.  It seems to be getting better today, so that’s good.

2)  Just when I started to feel *a little* better on Monday (only to revert back to a higher temp on Tuesday), I found out the company that hosts The Write-Brained Network ( is all of a sudden going to charge for its services.  They came out of nowhere with this (after vowing about seven months ago—when I moved the group from Ning who was doing the same thing—that they’d *always* be free) and basically bullied its group admins by saying we have until Nov. 1 to cough up the cash.  Nice.

If the service was great, it would be one thing—but it’s not.  So, I’m contemplating a move back to Ning—even though they too charge, they are good—and reliable.

The only thing is . . . we are triple the size we were when I first had to move the group—we are over 100 members!—and there is a lot of content that would have to be moved.  So, yes, I am kind of freaking out. A move would be labor intensive.

Luckily, I have a great team of folks behind me to help.  But I’m not sure what to do about potentially losing members in the migration.  The shoddy service I’m now paying for (at least until I can figure out what to do) is not putting my messages through to the group members, so I can’t even get the word out to those who don’t visit the site every day.  Harrumph!

Anyway, several of the folks over at The Write-Brained Network are so awesome they even donated money to help me pay for the costs.  I felt very George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life this week.  🙂
But it’s seriously such a great group to be involved with—if you’re interested in checking us out, please do!  Click here. I promise to let you know about the migration when and if it happens!


3)  I’m going out of town—to Columbus—this weekend to see my in-laws . . . and I get the extra awesome bonus of meeting FIVE Write-Brainiacs IRL for the first time: Carolina Valdez Miller, Sara McClung, Gina Penney, Laura Atchison, and Brittany Roshelle!  YEE!
Photo ops?  Hell yes!!


I also get to meet a few other people who I only know from Twitter, like Simon C. Larter.  I have chatted with him here and there a few times, but I wouldn’t say we are really buddy buddy or anything—so I’m nervous!!
And Karen Hooper!  I don’t even know her at all, but Carol and Sara said I should look for her at RWA (I never found her). Because I don’t really know these people, I kind of feel like I’m meeting rock stars or something!
Carol did this totally cute vlog about this very subject—check it out—and it’s totally how I’m feeling.
I’m not *as* nervous to meet her and Sara because I’ve had more contact with them . . . but it’s still a little crazy.  I imagine this is a bit like what Internet dating is like?  Will they like me????? 🙂
4.)  You may have noticed my word counter and NaNoWraMo (yes, you read that right) badge that I just added to the blog.  More on that later, but that is partly what I’m planning for, come Nov. 1—finishing my WIP! (Sara McClinginstein is getting a group together to dedicate November to finishing their manuscriptshere’s her post on thatso I can’t take credit.)
Um, yeah.  So, anyway, that’s what’s up with me.  I’m trying to tie up my loose ends so I can leave for Ohio without having a panic attack.
One more thing:
Have a great weekend, everybody!

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Make Writer Friends

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

I have been feeling very *this* lately:

And I *know* I’ve put that video clip in a post or two before, but it’s so appropriate for the life of a writer (when frustrated) that I can’t promise I won’t link to it again.  (It’s pretty much genius—so get over it.)

Basically, it all stemmed from a very complicated situation I was facing that was driving me insane.  Writing wise.  That’s all I’m going to say about it—sorry to be so vague, but I’ve been thinking and talking about it so much over the last few weeks, I want to put it all behind me.

This poster still hangs in my bedroom at my parents' house. Hahaha.

But, I had been trying to figure out how to move forward for a while, and just when I thought I had a decent plan in place, I realized it wasn’t going to work. *oh noes!*

And then I got sick at the start of last week was unable to do . . . well, anything that required more effort than watching back episodes of Tosh.0 or Melissa and Joey or Desperate Housewives or . . . you get the picture.

With all the plans I’ve made and ideas I have, being unable to work or figure out how to proceed made me feel not only guilty/stressed/freaked . . . but also down. 

Like Alice in Chains “Down in a Hole” down. And if you don’t know how depressing that is, here:

So I talked to my husband—and he just happens to be awesome and actually know what I’m talking about when I talk about writing and the industry and blah blah blah.  Talking about it (ad nauseum) with him did help, but I still didn’t have the answer I needed.

I just wished someone would say, “This is the answer,” but I knew my problem didn’t really *have* a definitive answer and that was why I was going so nuts.

So I talked to my writing BFF earlier today. She listened, sympathized, empathized, and—guess what?  She gave me *the answer*! (I know I just said my problem didn’t *have* a definitive answer, but her solution was just the kind of thing I needed.)

Aww--kitty friends. 🙂

This, my friends, is why I can’t stress enough the importance of having writer friends. Even though you might have fantawesome family members who will listen and offer advice, they aren’t always going to be able to figure out what to do.

It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s just: They aren’t as nuts as you are.

So, there you have it.  Make writer friends. Seriously.  Like right now.

Comment here and leave a link to your blog or Web site so *we* can be writer friends—and do it at other blogs you read.  Start conversations with other writers on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Go to conferences and workshops.  Take writing classes.  Check out writers’ groups that meet regularly.  Join online communities like mine, The Write-Brained Network, that are dedicated to the intermingling of writerly peeps.

Yes, it takes work to cultivate and maintain these relationships; no, not every person you meet is going to mesh with you as well as your be-fri—but get out there.  Somehow.  It’s from these friendships that come so many wonderful things—like stretches of sanity, even for writers.

And if nothing else, you'll have found another drinking buddy. 😉

Big Pimpin’: JRW, the WB & Contests

Sorry I slacked with the blogosphere post this week—but I was at James River Writers and having far too much fun to stress over it. I plan to get back into it this week for sheezy, though, so stay tuned.
Speaking of JRW, it was fan-freaking-tastic.  I met a horde of good folks and learned things like:
  • there are creepy weirdos on Twitter
  • Jefferson Davis is not, in fact, the same person as Abraham Lincoln

Yes, those are kind of inside jokes, but you see?  I made writer friends with whom they are inside jokes! So, YAY!

I learned one or two other things as well, and I will be sure to blog those in the coming weeks. 😉  But seriously, I was thrilled to have been a part of such a nice conference, and I’m even more excited that it’s within driving distance from good old H’burg!

In other randomosity, my Write-Brained Network is *just shy* of 100 members, and I would *love* it if we could get there . . . by the end of this week?**
Not for the lyrics-squeamish:



If you’ve been toying with the idea of checking it out or with getting involved with an online writing community, I hope you’ll give us a whirl.  It’s a great group of writers, who are always willing to help out one another.  We’ve got subgroups by geographical area and genre, forums, bloggity and linkerly (wha??) resources, monthly live chats, writing programs, a critique corner, contests, we’re planning an IRL workshop for 2011 (!) . . .  and just general awesomeness.

If you’re a write-brained individual, check us out—I mean, where else are you going to fit in society?  We’re all pretty much screwed, so we might as well stick together! 🙂

I promise not to become obnoxious with the pimpage, but if you join us and can assist in spreading the word, I’d def be grateful.


Just a reminder, you’ve got until 11:59 PM EST on Friday, Oct. 15 to get your gnome puns in the comments of my review of Chuck Sambuchino’s How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.  The best one (winner chosen by me) will receive either a query or up to 5-page critique from the Class 1 gnome slayer himself.

If your entry doesn’t post for some reason, e-mail it to me at ricki [at] rickischultz [dot] com.

Also, don’t forget about the scary short story contest I’m hosting: Scare me in 1000 words or less. Click here for details.  I’ll be accepting entries until Sunday, Oct. 24, 11:59 PM EST.
Last, but not least, fellow Write-Brainiac Bridgid Gallagher and her cohorts are doing some awesome things over at Inky Fresh Press to celebrate their one-year blogiversary—including some prompt contests and a huge giveaway.  Click here for details.
She is always super fab about plugging the WB whenever she can, so I wanted to share the love.  *Huggleberry Finns, B!*
OK, Schultz out.
*What is the WB, you ask?  Click here for more info.