Fast Novel 101 (part three)

This month, we’re working on writing those 50,000 word books, NaNoWriMo style, but in a month that’s not as insane as November or April. Click Here to see how the series started out, and what we did to prepare for this arduous ordeal.

Today though, I want to remind you of some things.

Don’t get discouraged.

I want you to remember that we all write crap sometimes, and that we all write chapters that have to be cut and characters who need to be removed and settings that need to be rethought and storylines that just plain don’t work.

We all do it, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, we do it a lot. It happens. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’ll tell you why:

We get better at writing when we fail at it.

When we make a mistake and we realize it, we’ve just gotten better at writing. When we write a monologue and realize it’s terrible, we’ve just gotten better at writing. When we write a whole chapter and realize none of this information is necessary to anyone but us, we’ve just gotten better at writing.

It’s something a lot of us overlook, something many writers fret over, when it comes to writing a whole book in a month. We dread the thought of writing something bad, the questions in the back of our minds that ask whether we’re doing the right thing or not. But the truth is that those questions help keep us on track. Those questions are the things that teach us—but we should not allow them to cripple us.

 

Here’s what you need to do, if you’re going to write a whole novel in a month:

  • Don’t self-edit while you write
  • Make notes of things you think might need to change, but don’t change them
  • Don’t go back and make sure you did it right
  • If you need to go back, do it only for reference, not for details
  • Don’t let your characters (or your story) get the better of you—but don’t worry about it, if they do

Remember, a novel writing month isn’t a perfect-novel writing month. It’s just a novel. It’s going to have to be edited no matter what. So don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t sweat the big stuff either. Every novel written in NaNoWriMo has to be cleaned up to an insane degree. It just does. Yours will too.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The goal is to write a book. Remember that. The goal is to write a book, to get it out of your head and onto the page. That’s the important part here.

You don’t even have to let anyone read it when you’re done, if you don’t want to. This is your creation, your baby, and you get to decide what happens to it.

You also get to decide whether it comes to life at all—but to do it, you have to get out of your own head.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, Etc.

Fast Novel 101 (part two)

This month, if you’ll recall, we’re talking about how to bang a 50,000 word novel out in a month, NaNoWriMo style—for those of us who are far too busy to actually take part during November or April. Click Here to check out where the whole thing started, and how you should prep to start this crazy adventure.

Today, let’s talk about the biggest thing of them all:

Write 1,600 words a day.

For some of us, that looks like an unattainable goal. That’s a lot of words to have to write in a day. I’ll admit it, these days, that’s a lot more than I usually write on any given day (unless you count writing blog posts and typing emails… but let’s not count those. That’s cheating).

But remember, the month before our novel writing month, we started practicing. We started teaching ourselves how to write more words in a day, how to write even more words than 1,600. So really, it’s not that bad. We’ve practiced. We’ve put in the time.

So here’s what you really need to do:

Write what you can, when you can.

Yes, you should be making time every day (or nearly every day) for your writing, but you don’t necessarily have to write 1,600 words every day. If you wrote 4,000 words one day and 1,000 the next, you’re still ahead of where you should’ve been.

Don’t play it like a numbers game.

Remember, writing is supposed to be a joy, a fun thing that we get to have the pleasure of doing. It’s not supposed to be an annoyance that we have to do, even though we don’t really feel like it and feel like we don’t have any ideas.

But, there will be days when you feel like you don’t have any ideas. There will be days when you don’t feel like it. And the important thing is that you write anyway.

A novel writing month isn’t about writing a cohesive and wonderful and publishable novel in a month, it’s about writing a book in a month. Next month, you can think about making it into something different. This month, all we want to do is write the thing.

So sit down and write. Write more on your days off and less when you have to work. Keep to a schedule, if that helps you. If that makes you more stressed out, then just sit down and binge write instead of binge-watching TV. Move things around, make time for your writing. We practiced this last month; now’s the time to put it into action.

Get those words on the page. We’ll think about whether they’re good or not another time.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Fast Novel 101 (part one)

This year, I've followed my own advice and decided to take RAD away from posts about anything and into a series style. So from now on, every month we'll be focusing on one specific topic—and this month, it's novel writing. But not just any novel writing. 

How to write a novel, fast (NaNoWriMo style)

I'll be the first to tell you that NaNoWriMo isn't for everyone. In fact, I think it isn't for most writers. Most of us honestly can't get out a full-length novel in a month. But there's a reason for that. That's what we're going to explore this month, because I think every author is capable of writing a novel in a month, but that there's something holding them back, keeping them from getting it done, that makes it so most of us simply aren't up to the challenge. Let's unpack that a bit, one piece at a time. 

 

The first thing you need to do is something I hate doing, and something you should do before your novel writing month ever begins. 

Outline

If you don't outline, trying to write a whole novel in a month is downright complicated. Some days, you need a little prompt to remind you where you're going and what you're doing. That's all I'm asking for here. Write a basic idea of what you want your story to be, so when you sit down to write it, you won't have a brain fart and decide it's better to do nothing at all. That's the opposite of productive, you know. 

But now that you have an idea of what you want to write, now that you have your basic outline in place, you can use that to build into something you can use for your novel writing month. 

Take that outline and break it down. Figure out approximately how long you want each section of the book to be. They don't have to be even, but they don't have to be uneven either. They can be whatever you want them to be. Section it off, break it down into easy-to-swallow chunks. 

And now that you have that down, go ahead and practice. 

Now, I don't mean start writing your book. Remember, your novel writing month hasn't started yet. No, what I want you to do is practice writing more words in a day. Start taking one day a week and upping your word count. Then the next week, maybe take two days. Start to up the number of words you write in a single session. Get to where you're fully capable of writing the number of words you need to write in a day, in a day. 

You can't do that without practice. 

And I think this is the primary basis for why so many people fail to write a novel so quickly. They sit down to do it, but they didn't put in any time at the beginning to figure out how they were going to do it. They didn't run their warmup exercises. They tried to run the marathon without ever having run a block. 

Don't be that guy. 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, Etc. 

The Most Wonderful Time

Merry Christmas, everyone!

We here at RAD want to take today to wish you the happiest of holidays and the most joyous of New Year’s.

This will be our final post of the year, to give our editors some time with their families, but for today, we’d like to take some time to wish you our best, from each of us.

 

Christmas is one of those times when we want to take some time and tell everyone how much we love and care about them. It’s my favorite time of year, because so many people are smiling and happy despite anything else that might be going on around them. And I hope that you all have the merriest of Christmases, and the most splendid of New Year’s. Thank you so much for sticking with RAD through this year, for joining the fun train and supporting us through our efforts to grow and expand into new markets. Most of you don’t know just how much your support means to us, but especially to me, as a RAD author. I love all of you, and I’m so thankful to have you. Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting. Merry, merry Christmas!

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, Etc.

 

When Kristina tasked me to share something with you about the Holiday season, I instantly agreed because she’s my boss and she’s awesome. Then the melancholy squeezed my heart. In this time of giving, the distance between the desires I carry to bless and the resource I have to bring desire to fruition is filled with obligations and concerns and ghosts of failures past. Then I remembered you. That you chose to share your creative gift with me is a treasure I cherish daily. And so I wish for you these gifts to carry in your heart when the melancholy comes: Time to pursue the joy of creating – of weaving words and breathing images to life. Resource to access the tangible tools of your creative trade. But above all I wish you love – the love of friends and family and the love of the gift you carry. You keepers of dreams and bearers of light – may you be blessed as you have blessed us here at RAD. Thank you and may you shine brightly in the New Year.

All love and joy!

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor

 

As I sit down to write this, I find myself unsure what I could possibly say, that Rani and Tammy haven’t already covered. Of course, I’ve procrastinated until the last moment to write this down. What do I say, to wish all of you a Merry Christmas? What words could I use, to tell you even more than I already have, just how much I appreciate you and your support? I honestly don’t know. But what I will say is this:

To those of you who celebrate alone, for those of you who have lost someone this year, for those whose Christmas may not be as special this year as you hoped, and to those for whom Christmas isn't the happiest of times, know that my heart is with you. Know that you are not alone. The holidays are a happy time for many, yes, but for some of us, the holidays are a reminder that things aren’t the way we want them to be. It’s for you that I write this. We creatives wear our hearts on our sleeves. We can’t help but. And sometimes that makes us vulnerable. Sometimes that means we feel things more than others.

To you, I wish a quiet Christmas. A Merry Christmas. A peaceful Christmas. A joyous Christmas. To you, I wish a Christmas where nothing else matters, where you can look forward to the New Year with happiness and anticipation, and know, always, that you are not alone.

We’re here for you. We’re standing with you. Always.

Just like you’ve stood with us.

Kristina Haider
Senior Editor

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

We’ll see you on the other side.

Keeping the will to write

I know how it is. Sometimes, the holidays (starting at Black Friday, really), start to make you lose your faith in humanity. Which, for most, might not be that big an issue. I mean, everybody has to deal with people every day, but for most people, that doesn’t involve creating them. For writers, it does.

We simply cannot afford to completely lose our faith in humanity, or everything just turns into one hot mess.

And that’s what I want to talk about today.

How to survive the holidays without that happening.

 

Step One:
Don’t let one person spoil everything

This is really the big one, if you think about it. A lot of the time, we let one person ruin everything for us. There’s one annoying person at the party, so we don’t let ourselves have a good time. There’s one angry person in the store, so we can’t think about anything but that, even though the rest of the experience was fine.

Don’t let it come to that. Don’t let someone else define your day, your month, your holiday season. Don’t let their attitude determine yours, and certainly don’t let it color your writing.

I never suggest writing when you’re angry or annoyed, primarily because the work suffers for it. So, don’t go there. Keep that smile on your face, especially now.

 

Step Two:
Don’t let anyone else define how you think

This is one of those times of year when more people than most like to tell you what they think about everything. We all have an opinion about whether it should be call the holidays, or Christmastime, whether we should have lights on our houses or not, whether we should start celebrating early or wait until after Thanksgiving (in the States, at least). We have opinions about the holidays. And you don’t have to ask for someone to start sharing.

Point is, don’t let them define how you think about this time of year, or about anything. Think for yourself. Make your own decisions. And then use those decisions to color your writing. Your writing should be all about you, not all about somebody else.

 

Step Three:
Don’t let annoying people color characters you love

I’ve had it happen, in the past, where people who reminded me of characters I’ve written, characters I love, suddenly began to annoy me. And then I allowed that annoyance to flavor that character, even though I once loved them. And because this time of year can easily turn people into annoyances, I bring it up now.

Don’t let that happen. Even if you don’t know that person, and you glance at them and they remind you of your character, and your mind is tempted to relay that annoyance onto your character, don’t let it happen.

 

Outside circumstances should not always be the things that flavor or color your writing. Whatever’s going on in your life right now, some of it should make it into your writing. That’s true. But, it shouldn’t be to the point that one annoying person you meet on the street changes your story.

 

Remember, there’re more happy people out there than there are mad or annoying ones. Trust me. I watch people all the time—I know what they’re about.

Keep your focus on those ones, and you’ll have an easier time keeping yourself and your story on track with where it wants to be.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, Etc.