Day 4 Still haven`t figured out how to change my É to a question mark! I looked it up in `help` and also online. Other people said it helped them – not me. I`m going to have a lot of editing to do when I`m finished! I took a lovely walk outside when I had my break today. I was in a t-shirt on November 4th – bliss. We have huge fish swimming upstream! Not an easy task. We have sections where the river is about six feet deep and has a fast current. Other parts are shallow with rapids. The poor fish. I`m not sure what they are. We used to think they were trout, but these guys are huge. I took videos of them to send out a query, but uploading them to Facebook was taking too much time away from my novel. Hey, do I get a badge for procrastinating by fish (insert your own question mark here, please). Still need to catch up a bit with word count, but I got my 5,000 word badge today – wahoo! Have a good sleep everyone 🙂
Day 3 Ok, here comes the first challenge! I was working away nicely this evening – trying to catch up on my word count and telling my inner-editor where to go – when my cat sat on my laptop. She has a place on top of a set of drawers beside me, with a comfy blanket because she likes to be near me when I write. J She`ll walk across the keyboard once in a while vying for attention, which I gladly give. Occasionally, she`ll try to lie over my shoulder with her butt on the keyboard because I`m not giving her my undivided attention. She did this tonight and now my keyboard is switching my question marks to a French É – see, I just typed a question mark! My son told me it`s an alternate function of that special key, but he doesn`t know how to fix it. So I had to continue typing away without question marks until I can ask my IT son-in-law in the morning! Silly kitty. Anyway, now I`m beat, so I`ll pass my 5,000 mark tomorrow (only 746 words to go). Take away from my experience todayÉ (argh!), pet the kitty before I start work then move my laptop to the sun room! See you tomorrow!
PS – When I transferred my blog from Word to WordPress I tried my ? key and – as you can see – it worked! Crazy things computers.
NaNoWriMo Daily Notes on Progress – or lack thereof!
So this is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. I decided to blog about the experience so you can make an educated decision if you’re thinking about doing it next year. And no – I don’t use a typewriter, but I liked the image and it was free. Here goes:
Day 1 It had to start on a Sunday, didn’t it?! I had decided to take Sundays off so I could go to church and visit family who I wouldn’t see otherwise because they work full-time. So here I was gearing up for the big event – my first NaNoWriMo – and I wasn’t even going to write on day 1! Fortunately, it was Daylight Savings Time and we turned the clocks back an hour, but not till 2am. So – aspiring to be a fringe fiction novelist – I figured out that the time between midnight on the Saturday and 2am on the Sunday, when the time officially changed, was no-woman’s land and up for grabs. I grabbed it and wrote furiously for two hours. I had to tell my inner-editor to pipe down several times, but I did manage 633 words – Wahoo!!! I need to catch up a bit tomorrow, on writing and sleeping, but writing a little more for six days should keep me on track. Fiction is a lot harder than Faction. (Oh dear, I seem to be losing the ability to find the right words. Bedtime).
Day 2 I started late because my son had a craving for French toast with cheese – a delicacy he came up with while at a restaurant yesterday. The chef wouldn’t cook one for him so he’d been wanting one ever since. Two French toasts with cheese later I set to writing. I already had 633 written from the Twilight Zone time of Saturday night, so I was feeling confident. “Just write away – don’t edit!” is what we’re told. Just get the 50,000 words written in abandon. Edit January and February. Ok by me, but sooooo difficult to do once you’re a writer. I also had to take time out to do my gardening responsibilities which I had procrastinated. So, with 15mins to spare before dinner had to go in the oven, I finished my word count for the day! Sweet bliss. Of course, I have no idea what I’m writing next, just a rough outline of start-middle-end. So I took some time tonight to research names for my antagonist. Yes, I’m learning all the big writing words so I know what people in the forums are talking about. See you tomorrow!
Do you have a collection of something you treasure; art, books, old coins, stuffed animals? Most of us do. Our collections say a lot about who we are – our personalities and what we hold dear. I have a collection of books which belonged to my husband‘s parents.
In it are yellowing pages bound in fraying covers and tattered spines. Some are old children’s stories, some are poetry, and one is even a much dated ‘Household Management’ book with instructions on how to set a formal dining table for 12 guests. (I don’t pull that one out very often!).
These treasures are very dear to me because they remind me of the dear people who owned them, and also they link me to authors from long ago who had a vision of telling others what was close to their hearts. These family heirlooms I will not give away or sell, but will someday pass on to my family so they will tell stories of their grandparents to their children too.
Prompted by my daughters, I’ve recently ‘de-hoarded’ much of my home and given away what I thought would be useful to others. In the process, I realized I had collected notes and half-written short stories and poems. I felt compelled to share the literary treasures I had found, and have since turned some of the short stories into blogs or compilation pieces, and collected enough notes to write another e-book!
Do you find yourself hoarding your literary treasures? Is your notebook or laptop full of fascinating gems you haven’t done anything with yet? Share some of those gems with your audience every day. Let them see who you are and what inspires you.
I ‘follow’ several authors whose work I admire, but before I ‘liked’ them on Facebook or subscribed to their newsletter, I researched them online and got to know them as individuals. Once I liked what I saw, I followed them and even bought a book or two. Their online presence sometimes mentioned other authors they were inspired by, and I often bought their books too – all because they shared something that they treasured.
Now I do my best to pin or post one of my treasures every day. It’s not always about my work, but rather a gem I’ve discovered from someone else. I’ve collected a piece of their collection, cherished it, and then given it away for others to do the same. Check your notebooks and archived files. Are you hoarding treasure? If you are, start giving it away and see what happens…
I thought I would spend the entire winter improving my social media and using it to market my books. Then I’d sell a lot of books and become successful, right? It turns out that all this social media takes a lot of time and drags me away from what I really want to do – write! How can I become a successful author if I don’t have time to write any books? It’s like a giant cake sitting on my laptop, and – though I like cake once in a while – I couldn’t eat a whole one without being, well – you know!
What do I get from all this social media stuff anyway? As time-consuming as it may be, I’ve realized through it all that I have in fact gained something. I’ve gained an online writing community. I’ve gained friends and colleagues along the way and followed mentors. So that’s what this blog is all about. Success doesn’t come overnight – for most of us anyway. We need to take it one bite at a time, savour the morsels of small successes along the way, and share a piece of the cake with someone every day. The task isn’t as daunting that way. Let me explain…
Each day, if I follow my writing schedule, I will have worked on one of the following:
My blog is where you’re at now. You can see what I’ve written in my past posts and you can follow me if you like. You can also follow my Facebook page and Pinterest boards. All of these social media sites are an interest/hobby and I can share a piece of my cake there without it taking a lot of time. I’m doing a small piece of marketing while having fun. It doesn’t seem like much effort or need to take up too much time (although do set your timer for an allotted amount of time if you tend to get carried away!). Occasionally someone will like what I’ve posted/pinned and buy one of my books because of their interest in what I’ve shared.
If you’re a writer – share a sentence from the novel you’re writing (no spoilers!) or an excerpt from an ebook you just published. How about pinning a picture that inspired part of your book? Or make a 30 second YouTube video of you reading part of your published book, as a teaser.
If you’re an artist, share a part of your sketch, or the colour scheme of your latest design.
Remember to keep it about your work – not what you had for lunch. (Unless you’re a blogger or author of recipes). Whatever your work is, that’s your focus. Each thing you share with others becomes part of your collection. Your collection becomes who you are as an author.
Even one minute each day to pin or post something will be 30+ things you’ve shared at the end of the month.
Turn each one into a couple of paragraphs and that equals a 30 page ebook!
How do you respond when you meet someone for the first time?
Generally we shake their hand like a soggy fish, force a tired smile and say something like, “Nice to meet you” or “Good to meet you”.
Sometimes we really aren’t sure how we feel or we’re disinterested and simply say “Hi”.
How does it make you feel when you meet someone for the first time and they seem genuinely happy to meet you?
Great – right?
They smile, shake your hand firmly and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you!”
What if you could make everyone who follows you feel this way?
You can – at least you can do your best.
Not everyone who reads your work will be pleased to meet you, but those who are deserve to meet the real you.
Some will decide you’re not the kind of person they’re interested in following, some will follow you for a time until they lose interest, but others will stick it out for the duration because they’ve found you to be interesting and likable.
These are the ones you want to give something of yourself to so that they will say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you!”
So how do you get them to know you well enough to put a smile on their face from a distance?
Lets go back to the old school of communication – you tell them something about what you both have in common. If you’re new to writing you need a way to connect with your followers in that common thread.
Start out by showing them what you’ve already written.
Do you have a blog of your own?
Do you use Pinterest to showcase your work?
Do you send out a newsletter?
If you haven’t published any books yet, a blog is a good place to start. This will get you noticed online and you’ll start to get followers. The more followers, the more sharing online and the further up you go on the searches. This takes time, so do a few things and do them often.
It took me about six months before I got the hang of it. I’m constantly learning from other writers I follow.
Share something about you first.
-What’s your passion in life?
-Do you feel comfortable sharing a few notes about your personal life? No details here – just where you grew up and a few places you’ve lived, not necessarily your current town if it’s small.
-Are you married, do you have children or pets? You get the idea. Remember what goes on the internet can be read by EVERYONE!
Let your followers get to know who you are before you expect them to follow your work. Treat them as pen-pals. (Under 40? – ask your grandparents). I had several pen-pals growing up. We exchanged names and addresses through school. Honest!
Then start to show them what you do.
Write an introductory blog about your writing goals. Again, don’t share specifics of a work in progress, rather an idea of work.
What inspired you to work on this particular project?
Share some excerpts that don’t give away any spoilers. You want them to buy your finished work.
Open a Pinterest account to showcase your work and any pins related to it. I have a personal Pinterest account where followers can get to know me, and also a business Pinterest account where I showcase my own work and the work of fellow writers.
If you plan on going to events to sell your books/art, or you intend to be a speaker, a newsletter may be of benefit. I use Constant Contact because they make the guide quite easy and they keep track of your open rate.
Tweet. I don’t because I think I may become too ‘addicted’, but if you have good self-control, go for it.
Use your blog and Pinterest analytics to find out what your followers like, then write, post and pin like crazy. Set yourself a social media schedule so you don’t get carried away and forget to write! I generally collect ideas and file them into categories for each social media venue. Then it takes me less time to actually share it.
Here’s a great example: In 2013, Commander Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, wanted to connect with people on Earth and show them what real life was like on a space station, so –
“During his next five-month mission, while performing all his regular astronautical duties, he tweeted, answered questions from his followers, posted pictures he’d taken of Earth, recorded music, and filmed YouTube videos of himself…” – Austin Kleon in Show Your Work
The best part of all this social media sharing is, you get to meet some really interesting people and they get to meet you. Remember to always give credit to those whose work you share on any social media; a link to their own blog, accredit to their Pinterest boards, link to their website to buy their books.
If all this seems daunting, take heart. I learned it veeeeery slowly and I’m still learning, as you’ll come to realize 😉 You can take classes at your local college, at a local business advisory centre, or hire someone to do it for you Webrite Design and Social Media.
Next time we’ll look at different topics to share.
Finding your writer’s voice –
So you’ve decided to become a writer.
How do you decide what to write about?
Start with what compelled you to write in the first place. Chances are, you have a passion for something and want the whole world to know about it. You want to share your passion. That’s what you write about. Even if you decide to write an autobiography, it can be full of passion. After all, aren’t we passionate about ourselves? I hope so! So write about your experiences, good or bad, that link to your passion.
Herein lies your writer’s voice.
It’s not an audible voice, but a recognizable pattern of words which will speak to your audience and connect you to your readers. They’ll come to hear you in the way you write; the influence of dialect, the grammar (or lack thereof) and style, as if they were listening to spoken words. So be yourself. Let your audience get to know you. You don’t need to be famous, but you do need to be authentic.
I started out as a writer after three people told me I should write a book about raising my son who’s on the Autism Spectrum. Many people knew my journey through short stories I’d spoken, but encouraged me to write them down to share with others who didn’t know me. Until then, I hadn’t thought of being a writer. But looking back, I remembered I used to love to write fictional stories and poetry. I had simply forgotten. It’s funny how life can get you so far off track.
Maybe you have a similar story to tell. Have others encouraged you to write? Have you always been a writer, even if only in notebooks no one else reads? We all come to this point from different paths. It doesn’t matter how you start out. It just matters that you start.
So discover what inspires you and type, type, type like crazy. If you want to write a fictional story, check the ‘Inspiring Imagery’ on White Rose Writers’ Pinterest for some ideas. It’s the board where I pin pics of fantasy and sci-fi and scenes in nature around the world, to encourage writers to get those creative juices flowing. I love the creative mind.
Find books on topics you’re passionate about and read, read, read. Search online for blogs to follow from people who have the same passion. Can you ‘hear’ them in their writing? Do you recognize their ‘voice’?
Write a few blogs, a magazine article, a review of someone else’s work for practice. Save them in docs and don’t worry about editing them. Organize them and file them away for now. We’ll look at what to do with them next time. Just immerse yourself in the process and let it carry you away. Find your writer’s voice.
I’m not sure if that’s a declaration or a question.
I’ve been writing for about two years. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve been writing since I was about four – I’ve been writing professionally, that is to say, being paid for what I write, for about three years. So I’m classed as a novice writer with a lot yet to learn. I was told recently by a seasoned author, that we never stop learning as long as we never stop writing. I’m beginning to understand that.
Something else I’ve learned recently about the life of a writer is – to share what I’ve learned with others. I already knew this from a general perspective as a life coach and workshop host, to pass on knowledge to the next generation of people so we, as a global community, may improve life for those to come. It didn’t occur to me to apply it to my writing. I thought I should guard my work against the world until it was acceptable to read, without flaws. And isn’t it self-defeating to share my work, in case someone beats me to the finish line? I’ve learned the answer is “no”. What does it matter if someone steals my idea and creates something from it? Remember – share for the next novice to learn from.
So as I embark on an adventure of literary discovery, I invite you to join me; to wade through these sometimes murky waters, to experience the flow of a river of creative thoughts and ride the waves of joy and excitement with me as we blog, journal, research and publish together.
What I learned first:
• You can’t call yourself a writer if you’re waiting to get better at it. If you’re waiting – then you’re a waiter, not a writer. So just start writing!
• Practice calling yourself a writer. If you’ve written your first sentence of a 300-page novel – congratulations – you’re a writer!
• Don’t let anyone steal your dream – not even you. If someone says you can’t make a living at it or pretty much gives you the impression of “who do you think you are”? don’t buy into that. Ignore them or have a good answer ready. I know many people who earn full-time pay for writing.
• Research what you’re writing about; whether it’s a novel, a series of blogs, a magazine article or a collection of thoughts you don’t yet know what to do with, you need to be able to link, accredit and support what you say. If you’re writing a historic novel, for example, you’ll need to know all you can about the aspects of life at that time in history. Keep your information in a file specific to that piece, for future reference. Fans may be interested in where you learned about your storyline.
• Set a schedule for yourself. Be realistic in how many hours a day, how many days a week, you want to devote to writing. Use a filing system online, on your PC or laptop, or a calendar pinned to your workstation with different couloured sticky notes. Whatever works for you. Be prepared for unexpected intrusions and don’t get your knickers in a knot over them.
I would like to end this first Building a Writing Platform by sharing from a book I recently purchased, “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon. On being an amateur writer, Kleon writes; “Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career of it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you”.
So how did I do?
As you start your literary journey, I hope you’ll keep in touch. Let me know if this post helped you. Leave a comment or a question.