Looking Forward

The concept of looking forward should be easy. Most of us plan in advance for something in our lives…a celebration, a reward, an event. But how often do we look longingly into the future?  What prevents us from looking forward? I have a hard time with this, because I’ve grown accustomed to seeing the here and now. I also tend to revel in past failures. There is no harm in either of these, unless they begin to hold you back. Both distract and hinder you from looking and moving forward.

As I begin looking forward myself, I want to challenge you to set three goals with me:

(1) A Realistic Goal: something you want to see happen in 2016 when it comes to your writing. Set a goal to finish a project, submit your writing to X number of outlets, earn $X for your writing, etc.  Set a realistic goal that you believe you can obtain. This isn’t a “safe” goal that you know you can reach; it should still push you.

(2) A Futuristic Goal: something you need to plan smaller steps to reach. This is a multi-year goal, which can include your Realistic Goal as a stepping stone, but you want to make this one as a 2-5 year goal. It should be something carefully planned and well thought out.

(3) A Personal Goal: something for you and not your writing. Why a personal goal? Because we should all take the time to better ourselves in some way. Make this something you’ve always wanted to do but held back. Get crazy, let loose, and set your goal – it will be fun to achieve!

Looking forward is a great exercise to get our focus off what we did or didn’t accomplish this last year and focus on what is to come. Looking forward helps you prepare and anticipate the good to come. It won’t all be butterflies and roses, but you will become well rounded and able to handle more by setting goals and taking the steps to achieve them.

And of course…plan your reward system. What will happen when you reach your goal? Without question, you set another one, but for every goal obtained, there should be a celebration,  and the celebration should not overshadow the goal’s end result.

As you set your goals and celebrations, include them in a comment here. We’d love to watch you this coming year reach your goals and to celebrate with you when you succeed!

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The Middle of November

Yes, we are halfway through NaNoWriMo. Hopefully we are all reaching our goals. It’s okay if we’re not. The important thing is to keep writing. Especially in light of the events in France. While we are all concerned and possibly scared, we need to use our creativity as a way to deal with it. Focus your emotions and channel them into your writing. The writing can also be an escape from the fear. However you process it, try to keep writing.

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It’s Halloween! That means NaNoWriMo starts at midnight! Don’t let that be more terrifying than the trick-or-treaters that ring your doorbell tonight.

Remember that NaNoWriMo is about the words. Just get the words on the page. Don’t try to edit. Don’t try to fix your grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Don’t worry about whether or not a phrase sounds right. Just get the words on the page. You can edit in December.

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What’s up?

We lost a legend recently. Sir Terry Pratchett has had a huge impact on many writers and he will be missed. What kind of writing legacy will you leave behind? Are you proud of what you’re writing? Is it something you want to share with family, friends, the world? If you’re not happy with your writing, what are you doing to change that?

You hold the pen. You write your own history. What are you writing?

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Hump Day

Yes, it’s Wednesday. Hump Day for NaNoWriMo and the week. How is your writing? Is your word count on pace to finish on the 30th?

If you’re not, don’t panic. We still have eleven days to write. You may surprise yourself with how much you can write in that time.

If you have hit your 50K words, Thursday 11/20 is the first day you can validate your novel. Congratulations!

The thing to remember is that you have written. It’s kind of hard to edit a blank page.

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Week One: NaNo Myths

The marathon has begun!! It feels great to begin cranking out those words and see your word count increase. Wouldn’t it be great if life would simply stop during NaNo? You wouldn’t have anything else to worry about other than typing away at your latest creation. Alas, the world doesn’t revolve around NaNo or its writers. The world keeps turning no matter what. So, let’s talk about other NaNo Myths you need to be prepared for:

Myth #1: My project will remain on target.

Unless you are able to go on a four-week sabbatical from work, move out of your house, and avoid all public places of interest (grocery store, department stores, or coffee shop), your novel will not stay on track all month long. Life happens, and you need to be prepared for it. This month is the host of our Thanksgiving holiday – an entire four-day weekend dedicated to over-eating, traveling, and shopping. Unless you can keep yourself focused, count on not writing for a couple days this morning and making those words up on other days.

Myth #2: I will not get writer’s block.

As much as I would love to tell you this is true, it happens in NaNo. If you write well under pressure – never writing yourself into a corner or getting bored with the plot – you may actually find this myth is true.  I have yet to meet one person who didn’t have one tango with writer’s block during NaNo. This is because we are trying to get a lot of words in a short amount of time. Even the best of writers have dealt with writer’s block at some point, so don’t get discouraged.

Myth #3: I can write anytime.

Your goal is to write a rough draft in 30 days, and that takes discipline. Part of the discipline is carving time out of each day to write your novel. By saying, “I can write anytime,” you are pushing your goal backwards. Rather take the time as it comes to write what you can. A few hundred words on your lunch break is better than nothing by the end of the day when you are drained and ready to go to bed.

As you continue this writing journey with us, keep your goals in mind and hold yourself accountable for writing. Use a writing buddy or find someone to challenge you. Do whatever you can to in order to get your story written.

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NaNoWriMo: Week One Preparation

We are mere days away from the first week of NaNo. I wish I had more words of encouragement, but it’s all been said in this podcast. Becca and I recorded this last year, but it’s full of very helpful hints and tips that we’ve learned on our own NaNo journeys.

We are now the co-MLs for the NC: Hickory region, so if you need to catch us in November, that’s a good place to start!

NaNo Week One Podcast

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NaNoWriMo: Planning and Pacing

Oh, next Saturday is the big kick-off, and I’m so ready — well, I think I am. The last several years of trying to get my words on paper have been fun, but the editing process proved my writing was lacking something. I was forcing the words onto the page to meet a word-count rather than to get the story into words. This year, I have a different plan.

Planning for NaNo

This year, I’m doing something different.  I’ve got my main NaNo story that I want to write, but I’ve also got several short stories and another novella in the wings in case I get stuck while writing my main story. I didn’t have a back-up plan the last couple of years, and that was something that really seemed to help a few friends of mine. So, I’m going to give it a shot.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block comes from two things – boredom/laziness and plot issues.  To prevent me from getting bored, I have other plots to work on, which will also help my subconscious rework my main while I focus on another project. When I focus too closely on one thing, that seems to be my down fall. So we’re going to avoid writer’s block this month at all costs!

Reward System

Many writers like to reward themselves for reaching a goal. This is a great idea, but since NaNo will be taking time out of my daily routine that I’m normally on my feet, I’m going to reward myself differently. My new calendar has a box to check off for every 250 words. I get to check them off daily as I reach my word count. If I reach my weekly goal, I’m going to treat myself to a coffee date with a friend, a makeover at the mall, or something just as luscious that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and won’t add to my waistline.

Pacing During NaNo

NaNo is a marathon – it’s simply about finishing, not how fast you finished. In a marathon, you have people of all types competing. Some want the best time, some want to do better than their last time, and others are in it just to challenge themselves not to sit on the side lines and watch. Whatever your reason for doing NaNo, focus on YOUR GOALS, not the goals of others.

Writing Buddies

Writing buddies are great to have, but don’t look at their word counts. It doesn’t help – I promise. Just focus on your count and your goals. Writing buddies come in handy when you need some encouragement from a fellow writer. I try to touch base with my writing buddies at least once every two weeks during NaNo, and once a month the rest of the year. This keeps us all in contact and allows me to continue to encourage them after the writing frenzy is over. But don’t make that the priority of November if you have a high word-count goal.

Focus on Today

NaNo has set up the writing goal for 50,000 words which makes for 1,667 words per day. While my calendar allows me to check off every 250 words, I don’t let that motivate me. I write what I can in the time I have – focusing on the story – and after I’m done with my time frame, I look at the word count. Mini-goals work well for me, but I don’t let that be my driving force. If you find that a mini-word goal count distracts you from writing your story, then stop setting those goals and focus on your writing.

Next week, I’ll fill you in on some tricks to get around editing and distractions! Until then, enjoy this clip I found on a marathon. While you’re laughing, think about this in a writing setting. Enjoy 🙂

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Mark your calendars

It’s time to plan your NaNoWriMo writing schedule. We have our very own region for the Hickroy area this year. Thank you very much, NaNoWriMo.org! Let’s show them we are serious about NaNo!

We have local area meetings planned along with several events on campus at Catawba Valley Community College. All events are open to any writers in the area who would like to participate. The entire calendar can be viewed on our NaNo page. If you prefer a list, here ya go:

10/29 CVCC NaNo Kick-Off Party, 12:00-1:00 pm, Room WW109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/1 HWS NaNo Kick-Off Write-in, 1:00-4:00 pm, Courtyard of Hickory, Conference room

11/4 CVCC, 2:30-5:00, Room WW116, Professor R. Canipe

11/4 CVCC, 3:00-5:00, Room WW 109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/6 CVCC, 2:30-5:00, Room WW116, Professor R. Canipe

11/6 CVCC, 3:00-5:00, Room WW 109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/7 HWS, 7:30-10:00, Kristyn’s House (directions will be posted in the forum)

11/10 HWS, 6:30-9:00, NaNo Chat (more details will be posted closer to this event)

11/13 CVCC, 3:00-5:00, Room WW109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/16 Night of Writing Dangerously, Lunch at 2:00 pm, Writing at Becca’s House (directions will be posted in the forum)

11/18 CVCC, 2:30-5:00, Room WW116, Professor R. Canipe

11/18 CVCC, 3:00-5:00, Room WW 109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/20 CVCC, 2:30-5:00, Room WW116, Professor R. Canipe

11/20 CVCC, 3:00-5:00, Room WW 109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/20 HWS, 6:00-9:00, Barnes & Noble Cafe, Hickory

11/25 CVCC, 3:00-5:00, Room WW 109, Professor P.A. Watson

11/25 HWS, 6:00-9:00, Barnes & Noble Cafe, Hickory

11/30 HWS, TGIO:Thank Goodness It’s Over party, 6:00-???, Becca’s House in Newton


Any additional details will be posted in the forums at our region page at http://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-north-carolina-hickory

Be sure to sign up for the NaNo site and pick NC:Hickory as your home region.  Hope to see you soon.

Happy Writing!


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10/15/14 Mid-Week Motivation

November is almost here. I’m anticipating the struggle, the anxiety, and the challenge. I know it’s gonna be hard, but I keep thinking it will somehow be easier this year than the last. No matter how much I hope, it’s just not true – the challenge is always hard. It’s not about speed or size. It’s about endurance and distance.

I call NaNo my #50K30. It’s a race for me; I have to pace myself or I run out. I can’t stop and take a breather, I have to keep going. Next week I’ll tell you how to pace yourself and give yourself some recovery time, but until then, enjoy this video clip from the movie “Facing the Giants.” It’s a great scene where the quarterback is told to give it his best. He’s blindfolded so he can’t get the to 50 yard line as planned and then stop. He gives everything he has and ends up…well, you just have to watch it!

Give #50k30 your VERY BEST this year!

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