This post has adult content. If you are under the age of eighteen years old and/or sensitive to adult language/situations, please do not read this post.
It’s day 6 of the annual writing craziness called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you’re on schedule (you lucky bitch – I am NOT, having been sideswiped with bone-deep edits on my beloved Sinful Rewards), you’ve written over 8,000 shitty words (Shitty is a given. This is the first draft. The first draft is always shit).
Are You A Hobbyist Or A Professional?
The new idea rush is over and you’re crashing hard. You’re beginning to dread sitting down at your computer every day. You have Pac-Man-like nightmares about the curser gobbling up your manuscript one letter at a time. You’re eating Nutella straight out of the jar.
No. Wait. Delete that last one. Nutella is supposed to be eaten straight out of the jar.
The writing is getting damn hard (and not in a hunky hero-type of way). What you do next defines the type of writer you are. If you’re a hobbyist, you’ll stop writing. If you’re a professional, you’ll continue.
There’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, someone who writes whenever she feels like writing. If that’s what you wish to do, embrace it. Don’t pretend to be anyone else.
If you’re a hobbyist, however, you might wish to keep your opinions about writing whenever the muse visits you to your sweet self (especially during NaNoWriMo). Because odds are the professional you’re speaking to is hyped up on black coffee, jellybeans and no sleep, trying to meet her impossible and never ending deadlines. She’s in a dark place, unable to fully appreciate your goodness and light. Trust me. You don’t want to mess with her.
Professionals continue writing. Some writers (like Nora Roberts) consider it to be a job (“Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse,’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.” – Nora Roberts). I consider writing to be a calling. This is what we’re meant to do. We write. This is our way of changing the world and changing the world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it’s dark and angry and twisted.
And sometimes this is when we do our best writing. Yes, we write a lot of drivel also, scenes we’ll have to revise a dozen times before being satisfied with them. But hidden in that drivel is often slices of pure magic. We’re too frustrated to fight our characters. We allow them to lead the way. They create scenes and phrases we never knew we were capable of.
Some writers rely on drugs and alcohol to bring out their creativity. Being tired and strung out on caffeine can accomplish the same thing AND it is completely legal.
How do we push past the new idea crash? When I wrote the 12 novellas for Sinful Rewards in less than 5 months (yes, I did NaNoWriMo for five months straight), I used almost every incentive in the writer’s handbook.
Success Is A Team Sport
I shared my daily word count goals with four writing buddies and they kept me honest, asking me for updates during the day, booting me off social media, cheering me on. J.K. Coi must have sent me a ‘Go! Go! Go!’ email every freaking day. Some days, I hated those emails but they worked. I didn’t want to disappoint my peeps so I wrote until my fingers were bloody stubs. Just kidding! (No, not really.)
Many writers put a call out for word sprints on Facebook or Twitter. They’ll challenge each other to write as many words as they can in a certain length of time.
There’s also Write-Or-Die (http://writeordie.com/ ), a sadistic program that forces you to write at a set speed or the curser (as in the Pac-Man nightmare) will start erasing your precious words.
Like Bee, my heroine in Sinful Rewards, I enjoy receiving rewards. I’ll set a word count goal and, when I meet it, I reward myself. It could be a walk around the block. It could be a half hour of pleasure reading. It could be hot steamy sex with the dear wonderful hubby (he LOVES it when I have deadlines – grins). Naps are great. So is staring at the ceiling. Often I’ll bake banana chocolate chip muffins.
The best rewards are those that refill our creative wells, allowing us to return to the computer and add even more words to our hoard (or whore – however you think of your manuscript).
Just 100 More Words
When I was writing the Sinful Rewards serial, I had a Monday to Friday word count goal of 5,000 fresh words a day. There were times when I hit the wall, smacking into that baby face first. I was certain I couldn’t make my goal.
I told myself I’d only write 100 more words. When those words were written, I told myself I’d write 100 more. Logically, this shouldn’t work, just as logically receiving an email with three words (Go! Go! Go!) shouldn’t work, but this did… at least for me.
How do you ‘trick’ yourself into writing more words?
Note: Some blog readers have asked, “If writing is so tough, why do you do it?” Since many writers think of their stories as their babies, I’ll use the baby analogy.
Babies are a shitload of work (both literally and figuratively – they’re pooping machines). They cry. They wake up at all hours of the night. You worry about them constantly. They cause chaos in previously organized lives.
Some days, you might wonder if you’ve made a mistake, if you’re capable of raising your screaming red-faced bundle of joy. Then she wraps her little fingers around your thumb, looks up at you with those big trusting eyes, gives you a (gas-prompted) smile and you know all of the work, all of the heartache was worth this one moment.
THAT is writing.
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Four years ago, Bee Carter left her tiny hometown, escaping her tormenters. She concealed her tarnished reputation under a good-girl persona, hiding her history from Nicolas, her strong and silent billionaire; Hawke, her tattooed bad-boy biker; and Cyndi, her man-crazy best friend.
Today, she’s returning home … and she’s not alone. Some of her deepest, darkest secrets will be revealed. Trust will be tested. Clothing and inhibitions will be discarded. Bee and her hometown will never be the same.
When her past and her present collide, will any of Bee’s relationships survive?