Hitting the Wall

The following is a guest post from Tiffany (Angelkirb).  Tiffany lives in Calgary. Hewr hobbies include reading, writing, drawing, knitting, and watching a variety of TV shows (which goes better with some of her hobbies than others).
The dreaded writer’s block. The ten foot tall brick wall that pops out of nowhere just as your writing is flowing so well. It seems impassible, impossible to get over. Everyone experiences writer’s block at some time or another, but what do you do when you feel as though your muse has gone on vacation?
The first thing to consider is the root of writer’s block. As much as it feels like a solid brick wall, it’s really not. There are a variety of causes that bring about writer’s block, but most of the time what it really comes down to is that the creative juices just aren’t flowing anymore. It may be something big or small, but either way, you need to get past it so you can get more words on the paper.In order to find the door in the wall there are many different strategies you can try. You may want to do something different with your writing. If one scene has you stumped, jump forward to the scene that’s been keeping you up at night or find a writing prompt and put it into your novel. Or change your PoV character for the scene. It might be messy, it might come out odd, but it may give you some new insights on the part that has you stuck.All you need is some movement. This can be anything from getting outside for a walk and a change of setting, hitting the gym for a quick workout, or something as simple as taking a dance break to that song that describes the theme of your novel just right. A few minutes of movement, especially after hours stuck in front of your computer, can do wonders.

If the words just aren’t coming no matter what you try writing, switch activities for a bit. Do something you love, whether it’s drawing, knitting, gaming or Facebook. Take a bath/shower or read a book by your favorite author or in the genre that you are writing and see if you can find inspiration. When all else fails, turn on an episode of your favorite show. The one thing to remember when seeking out another activity is to set a time limit and get back to your writing after that. It’s easy enough to get away to refresh your mind and get sucked into distractions instead that eat up your writing time.

If it’s a particular situation that has you stumped, reach out to other writers or someone from your support team. Post in the Facebook thread, on the NaNo forum, in chat, attend a write in, or when there isn’t one, set up your own. The community is a very strong resource, both for help with story issues and for general support.

Some of these strategies may work better than others, while some might not work at all for you and that’s okay. Experiment and see what works best for you and your writing. Whatever you do, make sure that you get back to your writing after you get a bit of distance and hopefully find that door you were looking for. All the strategies in the world won’t help you if you don’t sit back down and give the words a chance to flow once more.

The last thing to remember is not to stress over a blip in your creative process. The more you stress it, the hard it will be to get over. And after all, almost all of us are on this writing journey because we have a passion for it and a story that is demanding to be written. Even the best authors struggle with writer’s block at some point and they have gotten over it and so, too, will you. Have fun and enjoy the ride.

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NaNoWriMo 2014 Planning Workshops

Missed the workshops on October 25? Couldn’t quite catch all the notes? Never fear! We have uploaded the presentations, complete with all the brainstorming we did as a group. Just follow the links below:

 

Dynamic Dialogue

Striking Settings

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Calgary NaNo 2014 Events!

Note – those events listed without time and location are still tentative, as we finalize details with our venues.

Another Note – commenting to this post is not the best way to reach an ML, since we don’t get notified of all comments. Have a question? Email us instead! WrimotaursATgmailDOTcom. 

Note that the November 17 Write-In has ben cancelled due to venue conflicts but we have added a Midway Party/Write-In to make up for this.

 

Monday Night Write-Ins – November 10, 24 6:00 to 8:00, Denny’s McKnight – 5015 – 4 St NE

Come on out for some yummy food and some conversation and some friendly writing competition that’s certain to increase your word count! RSVP on our regional forum here.

Saturday Write-Ins – November 22, 29 10:30 to 12:30, Fish Creek Library – 11161 Bonaventure Drive SE

Much like the Monday write-in, but on a Saturday and during the day!  Also, note that there is no write-in on November 8 or 15 because there are other events those days. RSVP on our regional forum here.

Come Write In at the Calgary Public Library – Saturday November 8, 11:00-4:00 – Central Library – 616 Macleod Trail SE

There will be two events, from 11 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm (because your intrepid MLs do require food at some point.  The write-ins will have the usual word wars, box of awesome, and buckets of doom, but we will focus less on the social aspect and way more on the writing we should all be doing. ~~NOTE: This event requires a valid adult library card and you MUST register for the event with the CPL. If you do not register, you may show up and hope for a no-show, but we cannot guarantee this.~~ You can register here

Sunday/Wednesday Night Chats – November 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30, 7:00 to 9:00 – http://members.shaw.ca/squiddy/chat/

An online version of the Monday/Saturday write-ins.  All the fun with no travel! No need to RSVP, just show up!

Marathon Write-In – Saturday November 15, 10:00 – 10:00, Odyssey Coffee House, SAIT

A crazy long chunk of noveling insanity!  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll make lots of new friends, and you’re guaranteed to add to your word count (many people average 10,000 words on this day). Note that the Saturday Write-In is cancelled due to this event. RSVP here.

Midway Social Party/Write-In – Sunday November 16, 5:00 – 9:00, Denny’s McKnight – 5015 – 4 St NE

Half-social party, half-write in. Bring your friendly stories and writerly commiserations and also your writing gear.RSVP here.

TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) – Monday December 1, evening

A (somewhat tired) send-off to the craziness of November and a serene welcome to the (relative) calm of December.  There will be celebrations and commiserations, there will be celebratory food and drink and there will be prizes.  Come out.  You want to celebrate your achievement, don’t you?

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2014 Year Round Meet Schedule

Hey Wrimotaurs!

So your intrepid MLs are still so on the ball that they’ve booked the 2014 year-round meets! Here they are:

  • February 23
  • March 23
  • April 20
  • May 18
  • June 29
  • July 20
  • August 24
  • Sept 21

No meetings in October (kickoff), November (well, there will be meets, lots of them), and December (TGIO) as usual.  All meets will be from 5 to 9 pm at the Denny’s McKnight (5015 4 St NE) in the back room.  Just ask for the writers or listen for the laughter.

Watch your e-mails/Facebook for RSVP details and we’ll see you there!

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Planning Workshops

Missed the workshops on October 26? Couldn’t quite catch all the notes?

Never fear! We have uploaded the presentations, complete with all the brainstorming we did as a group!  Just follow the links below:

 

Phenomenal Plots

Captivating Characters

Posted in How to Write a Novel | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Monthly Meet Schedule

Hey Wrimotaurs!

 

So your intrepid MLs are especially on the ball this year.  So much so that we’ve already booked all of the year-round meets!  Here they are:

 

  • Feb 24
  • Mar 24
  • Apr 28 (NOTE: changed for scheduling reasons)
  • June 2nd (Which is actually our meet for May. What can we say? We’re busy people.)
  • June 30
  • July 28
  • Aug 25
  • Sept 22.

 

No meetings in October (kickoff), November (well, there will be meets, lots of them), and December (TGIO) as usual.  All meets will be from 5 to 9 pm at the Denny’s McKnight (5015 4 St NE).

 

Watch your e-mails/Facebook for RSVP details and we’ll see you there!

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A Week Three Celebration

The following is a guest post from Ashley Nicole.  Ashley lives and breathes writing, and it makes her happier than almost nothing else in the world.  She started to write when she was young and has always loved expressing herself in anyway that she possibly could.  She thinks that we all have a story and how it will end is up to us.  so let your creative imagination soar!

 

Celebrate!!!

Week three is upon us. Some have kept along well with their daily word quota, others will have fallen behind a bit on certain ‘bad hair’ days, and other may have given up all together at this point. Such is week three.

Many people call this ‘dreaded week three’, and with a good reason behind it!

Writing a novel in a month is a grand task to be sure! But to put a different spin on it, how about we celebrate week three, instead of dread it?

You have put in a significant amount of effort by this point, like… a lot of effort!

You may give yourself a pat on the back, or go and do ten pushups to get that heart racing after being sedate for three weeks, haha!

Seriously though, you have done such a good job, even though at this point you may be questioning your sanity, and/or how good your story actually is. Don’t get bogged down and give up at this point, please, I beg you don’t do that! You are so close!

You know what I did in the Nanowrimo race last year, at this time? (Carrying along with the theme of celebration, this is the story!)

It was quite chilly out already, but I got myself all layered up and made the trekk to a local coffee shop. The walking time in some serious Canadian weather probably took me a good 90 minutes, but I bought the special holiday drink they had on the menu, and walked home, without taking a sip! (True confessions, I think I did have one sip)

When I got back to my place, I hurried to the kitchen to warm up my special drink, then ran back upstairs to write with my delicious treat in hand. Sure, this may not be celebratory for everyone, but let me tell you I don’t just walk a good distance in the freezing cold to get coffee for no reason! I had to celebrate.

For me, my self, my personality, my preference, my reason for living, haha… I have to celebrate!

It may sound silly to some people, but it is how I was made, I just know it.

This is exactly why you have a box of chocolates sitting next to your computer at this moment in time, right? Please say yes, haha :)

But really, I think that celebrating (especially at ‘this stage of the game’, as they say) is such an important part of accomplishing an amazing feat such as writing a novel in a month. The reward for being diligent, writing more and stretching yourself both as a person and as a writer should be rewarded.

So, as it is now week three, take a moment to celebrate all that you have gone through to get to where you are now. And then think of what little time is left in Nanowrimo, you are practically finished! (those who are panicking about finishing can just skip over that last sentence)

Celebration is key, so go and have a party! Sure, it doesn’t have to be a party party, (it could be) but just do something special, okay?

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When Week Three Gets Tough

The following is a guest post from Kai Kiriyama.  Kai is a writer and a generally geeky girl. She likes to read books by the fire and playing Pokemon on her DS. She invites everyone to friend her on the NaNoWriMo forums, her user name is KaliYuga. She also has a blog which she is attempting to keep updated and you can find it at thekiriyamaheir.blogspot.com she also has a youtube channel which she hoped will be updated with a video blog on her life during NaNo, her channel is thekiriyamaheir. Kai also insists that you find her author page on facebook (Author: Kai Kiriyama) and her twitter which is @thekiriyamaheir. There, no reason for you not to talk to at least ONE person during NaNo! Kai Kiriyama sends you all the warmest wishes and good luck hugs.

 

So  you’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo. Awesome. I decided to do NaNo 3 years ago. I was so not expecting anything even remotely close to what happened to me in November. It’s difficult, writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Difficult, but not impossible. I will admit that life tends to throw curve balls at you, and none are more apparent than when you’re trying to reach such a lofty goal of writing a novel in a month. I should know. In 2010, I was working 3 jobs, working 7 days and well over 70 hours every week. In a mall. During the Christmas rush. And trying to write a novel. And planning for Christmas. And did I mention that I was trying to write a novel? I reached the 50k mark. In fact, I surpassed it. Barely. But it is attainable.

The other thing that I’ve noticed in my first two years of NaNoWriMo, is that there is a point in the month where you will hit a slump. You can be a planner, or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser, or a go-in-it-blind-and-hope-for-the-best kind of person, but no matter what you do (I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants novelist in 2009 and a planner in 2010) it is almost inevitable that you will hit what I refer to as the dreaded “Week-Three Slump.” Sometimes, it happens in the second week or partway through the first week, but for me, the slump tends to strike on the third week of the month. I get so psyched up about writing and I fly outta the gate full tilt. My first week typically is fantastic for my total word count. My second week, I start to get right into the plot, developing what is happening and where the story is going. I find my second week to be a lot slower than my first week during NaNoWriMo, but I get most of the set-up in my story done, and usually all the back stories and secrets my characters have are developed enough to make the story work. But in my opinion, that is the easy part.

Week Three tends to be the part where you’ve started to feel like you’ve hit the wall. Your word count slows down. Your plot has become developed and your characters are solid but now it feels almost like work to try and progress the story towards that 50,000 word mark. Sometimes life has thrown you for a loop, sometimes you’re discouraged by the people who have written 80,000 words in the first three weeks (I know I have been in the past.) Sometimes it’s just writer’s block. Whatever the reason, it happens. It’s normal. I’ve compiled a list of tactics that work for me when I hit that slump, and I hope that you will find this list helpful. Read on!

 

Tip One: Keep Breathing.

Okay, so it’s kind of a stupid tip, of course you’re going to continue to breathe, it’s not something that you can normally shut off (unless you’re a vampire, but that’s a whole other discussion.)  When I say ‘keep breathing’ I mean relax. Don’t stress yourself out over it. Writer’s block or a slump happens, especially when you’re pushing yourself as hard as you will be in November. Take a step back, push yourself away from your computer or set the laptop aside, and just breathe. Calm yourself down. Take a minute to refocus yourself and ask yourself these quick questions:

• Why am I stuck?

• Am I letting this [writing a novel] stress me out? How can I remove that stress?

• What is the worst/best that could happen in this situation? (In your story)

• How long have I been sitting here?

Usually, these four questions will give you an answer to what you need to do to get over the hump. If you’ve been sitting at the computer (or notebook, or typewriter or parchment and quill pen) for a long time, maybe you just need to get up. Which brings me to my next tip.

 

Tip Two: Get up, go out

If you’re like me, week three dictates the third week that you haven’t left the house for non-work or groceries-related reasons. And you’ve probably consumed enough caffeine to power a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters for a week. And you probably haven’t slept much.

This is all normal, but for the love of everything you hold dear (and your sanity) call someone and go out for coffee, or dinner, or just to the park. Anything to get you up and out of the house for an hour or two.

Seriously. Save your work. Back it up. Turn off the computer. It will still be here when you get back. Change your clothes (you’ve been wearing the same ones for a few days, if you haven’t had to go to work, I’ll wager) and go meet up with a friend. Bonus points if it’s a non-novelist friend, because then you can talk about things outside of NaNoWriMo.

Make sure that you take a notebook along with you on this excursion so that you can write down anything that inspires you or if you get that perfect idea for the next big plot point, or that clever one-liner that your hero can shout right before the epic showdown at the end. You never know where inspiration will strike. And even if all of your friends are doing NaNoWriMo, then good! You can all take an hour to go out, get some fresh air and have a social visit. Which again, brings me to my next tip…

 

Tip Three: Attend NaNoWriMo events

I’m lucky enough to live in Calgary, Alberta. We have a fantastic NaNo group called the Wrimotaurs. (Like Minotaurs, but for writing month, get it?) The Municipal Liaisons here are fantastic at organizing events in the city throughout the month of November (and we even have monthly meetings to keep the NaNo spirit alive year-round!)

The events that they so meticulously put together are great social events where you can chat with other people as crazy as you are for participating in NaNoWriMo, compare your progress in real-time, and generally have some fun. We also have word wars (which are basically mini-contests to see who can write the most in a set amount of time; sometimes, there are small prizes with us.) which will definitely increase your word count because who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? We also have a 12-hour event which is amazing if you can go. You will honestly increase your word count by a huge margin at this event. Almost everyone does, and a lot of the Wrimotaurs win at this event.

Now, maybe you live in the country, or you don’t drive, or you can’t make it to these events for any number of reasons. Well, that’s okay too because there are the forums on nanowrimo.org, and there are chatrooms (at least for Calgary) that you can get on and chat with people doing NaNo as well. So there’s really no excuse for you NOT to be in touch with someone else who is participating in NaNoWriMo, and with events in person and online, there’s even less of an excuse for you to be a shut-in when it comes to pep-talks and participation! And there’s tons of Wrimos on places like Twitter and Facebook, all you really have to do is get online to find out who has these options in place and see who is interested in setting up a chat to cheer each other on.

Darn, I didn’t have a clever segue into my last (and personal favourite) tip on overcoming the week-three slump…

 

Tip Four: Break time!

Yes. Take a break. An actual break. Usually in Week Three, you have ingested a ton of caffeine, have neglected doing the dishes for as long as you can, haven’t showered, haven’t slept, have barely eaten. Sound about right?

This is my favourite way to overcome the Dreaded Week-Three Slump. I have a day off, sometimes two in a row if I’m lucky, and I had planned to get another 10,000 words put into my novel. I had big big plans to finish the 50,000 words before the end of the month. And then, the Slump happens. I sit for hours struggling with what I’m trying to, but nothing is coming to me.

So I take a break and pamper myself.

I’m a girl, so I tend to do my nails, take a bubble bath, maybe colour my hair or give myself a facial. But I also make myself (and sometimes my fiancee if he’s home) a nice meal; maybe steak and potatoes, or pasta and sauce, something that isn’t previously frozen and usually requires a fork and knife (or a spoon, if it’s soup) to eat.

But the real thing that I find helps is if I let myself get up from my work and literally unplug myself. That’s right. I take a nap. Even if it’s only for an hour, a nap is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to recharge your mind and body. (I always give myself a minimum of 90 minutes though because I have trouble falling asleep on a good day.)

Oh and, DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT!

I know, NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality, but you will still feel like you should be writing instead of taking a bubble bath and a nap like a five-year-old. Relax, allow yourself to take this break and trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you get up afterwards.

So there you have it. My four tips on getting over that Week-Three slump. I’m always looking for more, so feel free to email me or NaNomail me or even find me in person and let me know what else you do to overcome the Week Three Slump.

 

Happy writing everyone!

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Help, I’m Terrified!! (Part 7)

How the heck do I write a novel in 30 days???

dreamstimefree_84852

Image from Dreamstime

Today we’re going to talk about climax.  No, it’s not what you think.

Well, maybe it is.

You were thinking about the climax of your novel, right?

Okay, good.  Just checking.

Now, the climax of your novel should typically be the most fascinating and interesting part. It should be so exciting that the words are just flying onto the page without you doing much.  This probably means that it’s an exciting, engaging point, which is exactly what it should be.  But how do you get your novel to that point?

Well, first, let’s examine what a novel climax really is.  Traditionally it has been considered the moment of greatest emotional tension in a story and the point at which the protagonist’s fortunes turn.  Alternately, it can be considered under the light of whether the protagonist will reach his or her story goal, which typically involves a decision to change himself or her behaviour.

The climax should be the culmination of the main story you have been building from the first chapter, but it need not be exciting.  It can be dramatic as well, and in many cases this is even better.  Either way, the climax is the point of greatest conflict, where all the small obstacles you have put in your protagonist’s path suddenly come together in to one frightening ball of doom.  Now your character has a choice to make.  Will he change in the face of these obstacles?  Or will she stay the same?  Only you can tell us.

There are two classical types of novels: comedy and tragedy.  No, these don’t mean funny and sad, necessarily.  In a comedy, your main character reaches all of his or her desired goals and the story has what is often called a “happy” ending.  In a tragedy, your main character doesn’t reach all of his or her goals and the story has a “sad” ending.  Of course, there can be middle ground between these two options, such as a tragi-comedy (where the protagonist fails to achieve the goal, but this turns out to be a good thing) or the comi-tragedy (where the goal is achieved but the protagonist’s success turns out to be a bad thing).

Whichever ending you pick, remember that the climax and conclusion of your novel should be consistent with the characters and the world you have developed.  Ideally (although not necessarily) it should tie-up the novel’s loose ends, themes, and occurrences.

It has been said that “your beginning sells this novel – but it’s your climax that sells the next.”

Make it a good one.

 

Here are some additional sources you can reference (Disclaimer: we do not personally or professionally endorse any of these sites, nor do we have any affiliation with their creators):

http://www.sfwa.org/members/bell/writingtips/spring08.html

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-development.html

http://www.writerscafe.org/courses/Writing-the-perfect-novel!!/419/The-perfect-climax./424/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climax_(narrative)

 

Good luck!

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HELP, I’m Terrified!! (Part 6)

How the heck do I write a novel in 30 days???

dreamstimefree_50628
Image from Dreamstime

 

So, you have some ideas for a novel.  You may have even started planning for it, making outlines, drawing maps, building elaborate forts with cue cards, or have a pile of research a mile deep.  But you may still be panicing, and that’s okay. Trust us, part of the fun of writing is relaxing and letting things surprise you… And they always will!  Things might take a strange turn halfway through that you didn’t expect, or you might suddenly realize that your bad guy isn’t really bad after all!  That’s all the fun!

But today, we’d like to focus a bit on writer’s block.  We know.  It’s a terrifying topic, especially this close to November.  But it happens to everyone, and it ~will~ happen to you.  And when it does, try not to panic.  One of the beautiful things about NaNoWriMo is that the limited time frame forces you to overcome writer’s block quickly if you want to survive.  Here are a few simple tricks that you might use:

1) Just Keep Writing

Keep going, keep writing.  Kill your internal editor, turn off the voice that tells you that your writing is no good.  Plough through the drabble and the boring description and the pointless dialogue.  Eventually you will get back into the swing of things and your story will take off.  And after it does, you’ll still have put words on a page.  Sure, they won’t be any good, but you might just surprise yourself in a few weeks.  Just remember: editing is for December.

2) Exercise

No, not jogging.  We’re talking about writing exercises.  They let you change track for a moment and stretch your writerly muscles briefly and just might provide you with some inspriation to keep going.  Here’s a few:

  • Write a sentence where every word starts with the same letter
  • Write a paragraph that uses three or more of the following words: Distress, Partial, Triplets, Piggyback, Clenched, Bald, Cornerstone, Hundred, Army
  • Write a paragraph that starts with one of the following phrases: I remember, I have always, I see, I have never, I don’t know, I want to, I wonder, I hate, I love, I try not to
  • Write a scene using no modifyers (adjectiives and adverbs)
  • Write a 300 word description of your bedroom
  • Use the morning’s paper as a basis for your next scene

3) Take a Break

Seriously, put down the pen or step away from the computer.  Go for a walk.  Clean your house.  Cook something new.  Have a shower.  Visit the forums.  Set a timer for a set period of time and then come back to your novel with a clear(er) head.

4) Write Something Else

Write about the weather, or what you did in the morning, or how you like your coffee.  Write about your favourite book, the best meal you ever ate, or what you plan on doing tomorrow.  Write about your favourite holiday, your best vacation, or your least favourite grade in school.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and just keep going.  Eventually, you may just find inspiration.

5) Sleep on it

Who can count the number of times they’ve come up with the perfect solution to writing problems just as they’re about to fall asleep, doing daily tasks (showering, washing dishes, cooking), or letting their mind wander?

 

Good luck!

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