Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 29: Trusted Readers

Trusted Readers are your greatest resource.

I don’t use family members or romantic partners as Trusted Readers. I want a more outside eye. My Trusted Readers are comprised of fellow writers I think are particularly suited to the particular project and one or two non-writers who are avid readers. They do not have a personal agenda to my work – they simply want to read something good. They will be honest without being cruel. They provide positive criticism that helps me make the piece better, and they catch my bad habits. They do not try to sabotage me to forward their own agendas.

Once I get their comments, I go back and do another revision, incorporating them, and then do yet another revision with more cuts.

Only then is the piece in shape to start the submission process.

That’s my revision process. We each have to find our own. But the most important thing is not to try to submit something that’s not the best it can be. And a first draft, especially one written in an atmosphere of “just do it” is not going to be ready to submit.

There are 48 hours left in the Nano process. Where are you? What have you learned from your characters? Even if you feel your plot’s turned into a mess, keep going. You are so darned close. If your characters aren’t behaving, throw them into a crazy new situation, even if you’re not sure it fits. The results might surprise and delight you. If they don’t — you can cut it in your next draft.

If you are on track, or beyond your 50K, just keep a steady word count going for the next two days. If you are behind, do yet another big push, so that you are as close as you can be.


Published in: on November 29, 2015 at 5:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 28: So Close!

We’re getting there! Are you excited? Are you happy? I hope this experience has been all those things for you.

In Year 2, I was so close to the end of the novel I could taste it. I wrote additional chapters outside of my usually scheduled writing time. I had only two more chapters to write.

If you’re behind, this is your chance for a final push. Just dig deeper and do it. When I researched a hockey book a few years ago and asked the players how they kept going when the tank was empty, they said, “You just dig deeper.”

You have it in you. It’s simply a case of pulling it out and placing it on the page.

Published in: on November 28, 2015 at 5:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 27: Finish

Even if you don’t finish the novel in the 30 days, keep working on it past those 30 days.

Finish it.

Don’t let it sit in a drawer, unfinished, draining creative energy from other projects. The more unfinished projects sit there, the more projects you will start and not finish. I teach an entire course on “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” to teach how to finish, even temporarily, to stop the creative drain.

Don’t try to pitch it to agents or editors in unfinished first draft form.

Until you have an established track record, if it’s not written, it can’t be sold, and the words won’t appear on the page until and unless you put them there.

I hope Nano’s given you the chance to experiment, to make discoveries in your process, to set your own goals and commit to them, and, most of all, to respect your work and be true to it.

Published in: on November 27, 2015 at 5:01 am  Leave a Comment  


Have a wonderful, blessed day!

Published in: on November 26, 2015 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 26: Planning the Next Steps

One draft never does it for me. I do as many drafts as the piece needs until I feel it is the best it can be.

So what steps does one take after Nano?

First of all, I’m a big believer in putting it away and letting it “rest” instead of diving right back to edit. In order to edit successfully, you have to be able to approach it as though it was written by someone else, and this is the first time you’ve ever read it. If you dive back in to edits, especially early in your career, it is less likely to happen.

I prefer leaving it for two months, although when I’ve been on deadline, sometimes it’s been as little as two weeks. If you actually finish your novel by the end of November, the end of January is a good time to start editing (that’s why I’ve always skipped NanoEdMo, because it starts at the beginning of January, and I think it’s too early).

Work on another draft. Put it away again. Work on another draft. Maybe this time you’ll have something you can show to your “Trusted Readers”. Once you’ve received their feedback, let the comments sink in for awhile before tackling the next round of edits. Whenever I get comments, whether it’s from my Trusted Readers or the editor that my publisher pays to guide me in the write direction, I let the notes sit for three days before acting on them. You need that time to get past the initial, “No one gets me!” that’s normal to notes and move into what you know, in your gut, works or does not work for your novel.

Also, remember, that the Nano forums remain open until just a few weeks before the next Nano begins – so you can maintain connections you made during this experience.

I hope you’re racing to the finish line, but even if you’re not where you feel you want to be, remember that: A) There are still a few more days until the end of the month; and B) you have more words on paper than you did when you started, and you’re working along your own commitment to the work. And that’s the important part.

Note: Since today is American Thanksgiving, the Marstons Mills Public Library is closed, and there is no Come Write In.

Published in: on November 26, 2015 at 5:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 25: Balance

Life gets out of balance when you try to write 50K in 30 days. The writing is the priority.

If you plan on being a professional writer, you have to keep the rest of your life in balance. While you can take a month per year to only focus on writing, there are other areas of your life that deserve attention.

The trick is to keep your own writing time sacred, your own needs balanced with those who are important. You shouldn’t be a martyr; nor should you expect anyone in your life to martyr themselves for your writing.


Know when to compromise.

And when to stand firm.

And remember: Just because someone claims you are ignoring them or being selfish, doesn’t mean you are. That person might be making unfair demands.

Step back. Take a breath. Look at the big picture.

Make your decisions, and most importantly, take responsibility.

If you don’t write, the only person to blame is yourself. Don’t use anyone else as an excuse.

Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills
Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4 during November.

Published in: on November 25, 2015 at 5:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Tues. Nov. 24, 2015: Verified


Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015
Nearly full moon
Sunny and cold

Most of yesterday was spent working on TIE-CUTTER, the rebel project. I managed, over the weekend, some work on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, but I wrote myself into a corner, and I need to do tracking sheets to get out of it. So I focused on TIE-CUTTER. I dug deeper in the latter, and got some good, emotionally truthful scenes written.

I verified this morning. I thought I had just past 57K, but it verified at 63K, so, yay me.

I have my certificate and my little icon above.

I don’t usually work at the library on Tuesdays, but I wanted to get some stuff done for next week’s Victorian Tea and for the Trees, so I came in. I’ll stay and write with the Nano Writers at 11 (I made brownies), and then put gas in the car and bake the Red Velvet Cupcakes I’m bringing to the dinner. Tonight is an Artist HobNob Event.

Although I still have a lot of work to do on both TIE CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC — I figure I’ve got about a third of the book done on each — I have to switch my focus over the next two weeks to the historical play, which has to upload to the theatre company on December 17. So that will be my primary focus, although I hope to do a few pages a day on one or the other of the books as well. Yes, in spite of all the Holiday Madness.

I’ll be offline for a few days, although the tips will continue. Have a wonderful holiday!


Published in: on November 24, 2015 at 10:40 am  Comments (1)  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 24: Other People/Boundaries

One of the most important gifts to yourself, in Nano and in your writing life beyond Nano, is to set strong boundaries and remove toxic people from your life.

There will always be people who don’t wish you well, even if they say it’s with your best interest at heart. If they have to say it, it usually isn’t; it’s usually self-serving.

Learn to discern who genuinely wishes you well and who is trying to sabotage you. Cut the saboteurs out of your life. If you can’t, because you’re related to them, at least limit your interaction.

If someone puts you down for writing, don’t discuss your writing with that person. Period. If they try to pry it out of you say, “I’m sorry, I don’t discuss work in progress.”

You don’t owe them an explanation.

That doesn’t mean you turn into a monster who uses writing as an excuse to mistreat other people; but it means you don’t let them use your writing as a weapon to hurt you.

Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills
Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4 during November.

Published in: on November 24, 2015 at 5:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 23: Final Week

We are in the final 7 days of the process.

Look back.

Have you reached your benchmarks?

If you missed one, did you make up for it?

Have you learned something, even if it’s that a way you tried working didn’t pan out?

Start formatting the manuscript for the upload now. Place it into one RTF file. As you keep working, upload the new material into the file at the end of every work session.

Back it up. Multiple times.

Even if you’re behind where you want to be, start this process NOW. Don’t wait for the last minute.

And keep writing.

Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills
Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4 in November.

Published in: on November 23, 2015 at 5:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 22: Blocks

Blocks are ways to get in your own way. Whether it’s self-sabotage or something not working in your story, blocks can turn into excuses. Don’t let them. If you need to write four pages, you sit down and you write them. If your characters aren’t talking to you, write about your character. Or write about a character or situation from a different character’s point of view. Or, if you’re writing in third person, write a scene in first person through a character’s eyes.

Will it stay in your final draft? Probably not. But it will get you thinking and seeing from a different perspective, and that can be helpful when you feel stuck.

The most important thing to do when you’re blocked is not to stop. Not to say, “I’m blocked” or “I can’t.” You bust through it and keep going. It may take you someplace you never expected in your piece and that can be a good thing. It may eventually lead you back, or you may find you have a completely different piece.

If you try to play God too much in the first draft, control too much, you shoot yourself in the Creative Foot. The less you try to force it, the better it will flow. That sounds like the opposite of “sit there and make yourself do it” but it’s not. Creative Constipation can be broken if you stop trying to play God and remember to just play.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take a break. Walk away from the page for a few hours. Take a walk (walking a labyrinth can unlock all kinds of ideas). Do some yoga poses. Take a run. Bake cookies. Do the dishes. Take a shower. I get many breakthroughs in the shower, and I’m really, really, REALLY clean when I keep getting stuck.

But don’t give up until you’ve met your quota.

Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills
Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4 during November.

Published in: on November 22, 2015 at 5:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 21: Lessons

What have you learned that will help you move forward?

Don’t be afraid to change your process. If you usually write in the morning, but are getting stuck or interrupted, try writing late at night, after everyone in the house has gone to bed. If you usually write late at night, but are so tired you can barely sit up straight, get up an hour earlier in the morning instead and write – and let the household know it is NOT an option to disturb you.

Change up where you write. Try a different room or a library or a coffee shop. In the spring, summer, and early fall, I prefer to write my first 1K of the day outside on the deck, and then go back into the house. I love my writing room, but the change of location helps.

Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills
Tuesdays 11-1 and Thursdays 2-4 during November.

Published in: on November 21, 2015 at 5:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Fri. Nov. 20, 2015: Still A Little Out of It

Friday, Nov. 20, 2015
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cool

I was discombobulated yesterday. I was overtired from the funeral the day before; I’d come in for a few hours on Tuesday, when I usually don’t; I was late coming in on Wed. I was completely confused on Thursday.

But work we did – cataloging books, prepping for Spectacle, answering emails, doing book orders, working on ask letters, etc.

I had a slow writing day yesterday and a slightly better one today, both on the classic – a little over 1400 words yesterday and 1448 today. Not Nano numbers, but I’m ahead enough so it’s still okay. I’m over 46K, and nearly 30K of that is the new mystery. It’s chugging along nicely.

Long work day today and tomorrow, but I also have a lot of writing to get done. On Sunday, a friend is coming over and we get to work on the strategic plan.

I can’t believe next week is Thanksgiving. Where did all the time go? I’m not ready for the holidays.

Enjoy this last push for Nano!


Published in: on November 20, 2015 at 9:45 am  Comments (1)  

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 20: Keep Going

Keep writing. Keep working. If you’re at a point where you don’t want to put words on paper and are terribly far behind, work on something else. The important thing is to keep writing.

Being a writer is not about doing it when you feel like it. It’s about doing it.

A writing colleague commented on a blog the other day, “You don’t feel like writing? Boo fucking hoo.” And that about sums it up.

Some days, it’s a bit harder to sit down and do the pages each day. However, once I got past the first half page or so, I fell back into the world of my story, and it gets easier and easier with every paragraph. If I can push through the first 400 words, I can find my rhythm and make it to the 1000 or 1500 or whatever my goal is for that day. So, push through the initial resistance and keep going.

We’re in the final ten days. We’re tired. We don’t know how we can reach the finish line. Time to make like a hockey player and dig deeper.

Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills.
Tuesdays 11-1 and Thursdays 2-4, during November

Published in: on November 20, 2015 at 5:01 am  Leave a Comment  

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