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.

Anyway.

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!

LET ME ‘SPLAIN

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!

THE RULES

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.

HUH?

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.

REPITE, POR FAVOR?

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.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH WORD COUNT?

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*

In the Blogosphere: 9/12-9/17

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to June (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

GET WRITING!

My weekend plans fell through, so now I will be sitting at home [probably with all the lights on all weekend because this will be the first time I’m staying home alone at my house—how lame am I?] with my computer and my beagle.  Which, as much as I love them both, can also both be time sucks!  But I’m buzzing on my WIP right now and would LOVE to get to 30,000 words by Sunday.  It will be a bit of a challenge, but I’m up for it.

Adorable little baby time suck. And a bunch of crap she'd dragged out everywhere and was chewing up. (And my husband's foot.)

All-grown-up time suck. 🙂

That said, here are some resources—some of which I’ve used and some of which I haven’t yet but might have to employ this weekend, in order to get words written.

  • Write or Die—You can set your word count and your time goals, and this interface will get IN YOUR FACE [well, if you set it that way] until you reach your targets.
  • WriteRoom—This is for Mac users.  It’s a full-screen writing environment that rids you of the “clutter” of word processing programs.  [Referred to by The New York Times as the “ultimate spartan writing utopia.”]

  • WordWatchers—This has been working for me this month—and this isn’t just shameless self-promotion, as a number of writers have been getting tremendous amounts of work done using this writing program.  It’s through The Write-Brained Network and, like its sister weight-loss program, is something each individual designs to fit his or her lifestyle.  All us Write-Brainiacs participating have set challenging goals, and while we haven’t all been hitting them each week [guilty!] we have been getting tons of work done. And, some people have finished entire projects or gotten over slumps, due to the prodding encouragement of others.

QUERYING & SUCH

Here, literary agent Jennifer Laughran busts publishing industry myths that most writers believe or have heard.

Yeah, but this is real, though.

Two takes on the 5 stages of querying:

  • The first, a guest post by writer Anne Gallagher on the Guide to Literary Agents blog
  • The second, by the inimitable Tahareh

When when those rejections come, Holen Mathews at GotYA offers some constructive questions you need to ask yourself.

SOCIAL MEDIA TIPPAGE

Social media got you down? [If you’re Greyhaus Literary’s Scott Eagan, then yes.] Author Jody Hedlund offers some advice on how to use it effectively without allowing it to take over your life—and writing time.

And here, Daily Writing Tips lists 40 Twitter hashtags for writers.

CRAFT

I was going through my saved posts for “In the Blogospheres” today and came across this little jobby, by Heather Trese at See Heather Write, on the importance of having a pitch . . .

. . . which goes hand in hand with the post I wrote this week on plot vs. situation.

It was really hard to narrow down which picture I found to be the chachiest. So I went with this one.

Here is a lovely post by Christina Mandelski over at Will Write for Cake wherein she discusses the importance of setting in a story.

And here, Writing for Digital talks about the value of a good editor.  One edit quite possibly changed the entire course of American history!

FANGIRL LOVE

I heart you, John Green.

I heart you, Meg Cabot. [the Allie Finkle #6, Blast from the Past, review she links to at the end of this post is MINE!]

PLUG!

Inky Fresh Press interviewed little ol’ me!

Grounding is important.

Happy weekend, everyone! Come harass me on the WB or Twitter and make sure I’m getting my words written!

Paying It Forward to “Lovely” Blogs

I had really meant to do this a few weeks ago, but the time got away from me, and I truly feel bad about it!

Alison Miller, my writing BFF, awarded me/this blog with the “one lovely blog” award.

Ta da!

In her post, she said:

Here’s how it works:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

Pay it forward to fifteen other blogs you have newly discovered.

Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.*

I haven’t been doing a lot of “newly discovering” blogs, since I’ve been kind of locking myself to my WIP, but here are fifteen blogs I read regularly of fifteen “lovely” writers, and I think they deserve a little love as well.

As it turns out, many of Alison’s choices would also have been mine (Marice Kraal, The Misadventures in Candyland, Sparks from the Wheel, Season Ticket, Babbling Flow, The Michelle Show, Fiction City, and (W)ords and (W)ardances), so I won’t include those (but—ha!  Did you see what I did there??  *sneaky, sneaky*).

Here are my fifteen, in no particular order:

These are all great, informative, engaging (pretty much all writing) blogs that I highly recommend.

Thanks, Alison! 😉

*I probably won’t do this part because I fangirl a lot of them and would feel like kind of a tool. 🙂

In the Blogosphere: 9/5-9/10

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to June (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

AGENTS’ TRICKS

Agents are inundated with stuff pretty much year-round, which means a lot of their time is dedicated to clearing out their inboxes and whittling down the slush pile alone!  So, when they give advice on how to get their attention, it’s best to listen up.

Here, Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency offers six tips on things you can do to make September rock—and, surprisingly, they’re not “revise” or “don’t contact me”—she says you shouldn’t be afraid to use a little shame.

Here, Getting Past the Gatekeeper says it’s basically a no-no to revise and resubmit a manuscript to an agent (meaning, you’ve revised it since they requested pages and you’d like them to look at the new pages instead)—but it *can* be done well.

JUVY

Here, Editorial Anonymous answers the question of whether or not children’s books should take into account entertaining the adults who will be reading them to their kids.

Here, Tahereh makes me feel a lot better about being almost 29 and always going straight to the YA/teen section of the bookstore.  Solidarity! 🙂

BEDAZZLE YOUR MSS

I have been telling people this for *ages*, but everyone (especially my [former] students!) always thinks I’m nuts.  Or it’s like, “Yeah, yeah—you’re right,” and then you just know they didn’t do it.  Maybe you’ll listen to Heather Trese over at See Heather Write?  It’s really a MUST in terms of revision.

Here, Lydia Kang of The Word is My Oyster talks about and gives examples of character sheets—great tools to make your characters frawesome! <—word stolen from Elana Johnson, and I feel like I can’t use it without giving her a shoutout!  Is there such thing as plagiarism when it comes to Internet slang? She says “fabu,” I’ve noticed, but I have said “faboo” for years . . . (yes, I know hers makes more sense, but I can’t go back NOW!) . . . so I feel like that one’s fair game. 🙂

But I digress.

Let's bedazzle the crap out of something!

DOH!

Over at Fuel Your Writing, Suzannah Freeman outlines the five mistakes you make when writing a blog postSo, stop it!

Here, Shiver and Linger author Maggie Stiefvater gives you a dose of reality in terms of the publishing industry—and she does it using a ham sandwich.

Here, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker talks about what caffeine actually does to your brain.  I’m choosing to ignore it. Right now, actually!

I found out about this site by reading this post by Jeff Hirsch over at the League of Extraordinary Writers, where he calls it “The Greatest and Most Horrible Website Ever.”  I mean, how can you not click on something when it’s billed like that, right?

Hirsch is referring to this site, TV Tropes, which lists—in crazy number and detail—just about every trope* (narrative, character, etc.) out there . . . and it breaks them down by categories, genres, etc.  It’s just nuts.  There really isn’t an original thought to be had anymore!  Beware: The site is totally addicting!

ONLINE IDENTITIES

Over on her blog, Kristen Lamb coughs up the single best way for authors to become a brand**—and it may be easier than you think.

And Jane Friedman discusses how to manage multiple (online) identities: avoid.

It can get complicated. Just ask Lana, Lois, and Chloe.

GET WRITING!

September is so back-to-school/let’s get down to business, and a lot of folks are talking about butt-in-chair-and-write time.

Here, Jody Hedlund talks about what to do when your writing routine is disrupted.

This is what I do.

Across the Universe author Beth Revis and my pal, The New Soul Trilogy author, Jodi Meadows—along with Authoress Anonymous (and probably some others) have been “word racing” on Twitter to get the words written.  Here are two great posts Revis did about their little project—what they’re doing and how it’s going.

We’ve got our own little GET WORDS WRITTEN thing going on over at The Write-Brained Network, and that’s WordWatchers.  It’s a little like NaNoWriMo, but you can tailor it to what fits in your schedule.  Details here.

Come play with us!

*Ahem—What is a “trope”?  In this sense, it’s a common or overused theme or device.

**Kyle, this is for you.

What Kind of Writer Are You? (Conditions-Wise)

We all have different schedules, lifestyles, and forms of OCD idiosyncrasies that affect what kind of writer we are.

Which one are you?  Take the poll:

I am a combination Tuner Outer and Zoner.  Probably more of the latter when I’m editing, and more the former when I’m just creating.

My husband told me I’m like this:

Which is only partly true. 🙂

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: Create “Kinds” of Days & Change Things Up

I’m posting some oldie-but-goodie posts, folks newer to the blog may have missed.  Enjoy!

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.

frustration

As promised, this installment will continue the discussion on scheduling.

First, determine how many days a week you will be working.  I tend to be a little biased in this area and want to say that, as a writer, you’re always working—even at that Saturday tailgate, you’re observing what drunk people do or sound like (or what it feels like to be drunk—ha!).

If being as anal as I am about scheduling isn’t up your alley, another thing I like to do that might seem less insane daunting than scheduling every minute of your day is to designate certain days for certain things.  (If you are especially Type A, however, you can actually do this in conjunction with the scheduling outlined in the previous post.  I find it works best for me to do it that way.)

As you get more assignments, develop more ideas and take on more projects, you will need to come up with a strategy for your labors, which goes beyond the hour-by-hour schedule.  That said, even if you aren’t freelancing and, therefore, only have one manuscript on the fire, there are a few different kinds of things you can be doing in order to keep from wanting to set your manuscript ablaze.

How many types of days are there?

calendarAs I said, this kind of depends on you.  If you’ve got several projects in the works, you might have more “types of days” than someone who is only working on one novel manuscript; however, here are the basics.

The most obvious (and essential) is the writing day, and you’ll most likely want to schedule the most time for that.  I like to schedule three consecutive writing days so that I can ride a creativity wave if I’m on a roll.

But, Ricki, I’ve heard that you’re not really a writer if you’re not writing every single day.

Ugh!  I could argue for and against this.  The freelancer probably needs to write every single day—just varying the type of writing or type of project.  However, the lone novel writer might go a little mad if he doesn’t break away from his manuscript at least one or two days a week.  Wherever you fall, just make sure to give yourself breaks from the actual writing so you don’t get into a funk.

Where was I?  Ah, yes.  In addition to the actual writing, it is also important that you brainstorm, read books in your genre, make time to research and do writing exercises.  For example, you might schedule Wednesdays and Fridays as reading days, where you go to the library or set up camp at your local Barnes & Noble and thumb through the latest John Green or Lauren Myracle novel (guilty!).  If you’re a serious writer, you will also want to work on enhancing your platform by doing things like blogging, etc.

Not only are all these activities essential to being a good writer, but making time to do these things will help break up your work week and keep your mind fresh for those days that—oh yeah—you hammer out 1500 words.

Crap—I’m forgetting something.

Every week?  Curses!
Every week? Curses!

Some of you may be saying, this all works out fine and dandy if you don’t have kids or if you are well enough off that you have hired a cleaning lady, but I don’t have either of those luxuries!

Duh.  I don’t either.

While a four-year-old beagle isn’t the same as a four-year-old child, I am not without responsibilities throughout my day.  And yeah, no cleaning staff.  Even though writing is my passion and the cogs are pretty much cranking 24/7, I have to schedule in things like grocery shopping, laundry, walking/feeding the dog, working out and eating—otherwise, none of those very important things would ever get done.  On those housework days, take care of the laundry/dishes/groceries/cleaning/pay bills/etc., and don’t worry that you aren’t working on that book proposal.  You’re sticking to your schedule and making progress.  Check and check.

For my workaholics who feel guilty if not dedicating all their waking hours to writing, take some solace in this: It turns out, a lot of these non-writing-related activities are great times to brainstorm, work out those plot details or figure out characterization.  As well, there’s always the chance you’ll finish your chores early and discover you now have extra time to run to your keyboard. Score!

All that being said, remember to be flexible.

Just make sure you don't snap!
Just make sure you don’t snap!

Ha—that sounds like an oxymoron after discussing how important it is to structure your time (and after looking at the ways I’ve suggested one can do this!), but even I give myself options because what if I don’t feel like writing that day? It happens.

Flexibility is important because something will always come up; that’s just how life works.  You might get a mega-important e-mail you have to answer right now or an editor wants you to overhaul a chapter, and you’re forced to write on—gasp—housework day!

My “regular” schedule looks like this:

Sunday

Housework – OR – Research/Reading Day

————————————————————-

Monday

Housework (if not Sun) – Blog – In to Write

Walk Molly

Work out

————————————————————-

Tuesday

Out to Write

Work out

————————————————————-

Wednesday

Out to Write – Blog

Walk Molly

Work out

————————————————————-

Thursday

In to Write – OR – Research/Reading Day

Work out

————————————————————-

Friday

Blog – Research/Reading Day

Walk Molly

————————————————————-

Saturday

Research/Reading Day

The beauty of all this is, it’s up to you.  The more you have on your plate, the more likely you’ll need to combine kinds of days and create a more stringent schedule that sets time limits for each of your endeavors.  Just get something down on paper and try some things.  Find out what works and what doesn’t, and then tailor your schedule to fit your life.

This Week’s SWO Live Chat: Blogs & Blogging

As frequent readers of this blog may know, I am the coordinator of Shenandoah Writers—a “real-life” writing/critique group located in Harrisonburg, Va.—and Shenandoah Writers Online—a writing community open to writers of all genres and levels, currently with upwards of 50 members located all over the U.S. and one in Australia (we’re basically global 🙂 ).

This Tuesday, June 29, from 9-10 P.M. EST, I will be hosting our monthly SWO live chat on Shenandoah Writers Online.*  Our chats sometimes run over, if we feel so inclined, but the “official” time for this event is from 9-10 P.M.

This month’s topic: Blogs & Blogging

Come with your questions and/or expertise in this exploding area of social media.

Since last month’s chat, the Grou.ps network seems to have fixed some bugs and added some new features to the chat function—like chatting within the group, conducting private chats between yourself and another member & going “online” and “offline” in terms of chatting).  I’m hoping that means it won’t stick as much as it did last time.

Even if you can only stop by for a few minutes, it’d be good to have you poke your head in and say hello.**

*For more information about SWO, click on “Shenandoah Writers” in “Categories” in the right-hand side bar.

**You must be a member of SWO to participate in the chat.  Not a member yet?  E-mail me or click here to get started.