Daily Archives: October 3, 2007

NaNoWriMo Contest

Ocober 1, 2007 (tonight) marks the first day for sign ups of the National Novel Writing Month contest. This is an annual contest held by the NaNoWriMo.org web site. Although you don’t technically start writing until November 1st, you can sign up to obligate yourself to crank out 50,000 words within a month’s time.

The word count of 50,000 might seem short, more of a novella than an actual novel. Being that you have 30 days, however, makes this challenging enough while also enough to be worthwhile to publish after the allotted time is over. The actual focus of this contest is working with deadlines so no prizes are given out other than being able to say “Hey, I completed the contest!”. Not impressed? Well considering in 2006 of last year, 79,000 people joined with only 13,000 reaching completion. Do you think you can survive the grueling ordeal and join the small percentage that make it?

Its the journey, not the destination. This is best described in Chris Baty’s (founder of NaNoWriMo) in his book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. The book is an entertaining, motivational read, packed with valid tips and technique on writing. I highly recommend any writer to read the book. My copy is infested with post it note bookmarks for later reference.

For script writing authors, there is this alternative: Script Frenzy. An offshoot from NaNoWriMo, this site caters to scriptwriters. Another offshoot is NaNoWriMo for young writers. This site specifically caters to students to kids as young as 12, and as old as collage aged students. You can also set the deadline for yourself and crank out a certain number of words within an allotted time just to see if you can do it.

I, for one, will be joining this year and cranking out the required 50,000. Whether they are 50,000 good words or not will remain to be seen. lol

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Writer’s Write

A recurring theme in my experience with writing is that for all the excuses one has in regards as to why the writing isn’t finished, or completed, or the goals set for ourselves doesn’t come to fruition is simple. Writers write! Begin today by having no more excuses to find why we have not written but just to do it.

If you intend on becoming a writer, you have to start thinking like a writer. You must consider that you write; it is in your soul. There is a primal need to express oneself to paper be that for fiction or non-fiction, the words need to find a way out and to set to paper (or pixel). To not write should not be met with excuses but with guilt.

Not writing snuffs that creative spark. Denying that expression of Self only serves to further hinder your wanting to be a writer. Writers WRITE! Even if you jot down a paragraph or two, that is better than nothing.

“But I have writer’s block!” Does this somehow paralyze your fingers so you cannot hold a pencil, or type? Of course not! So you write something anyway, even if its crap. You can edit later. You just write!

“I’m too busy!” You can’t find fifteen minutes out of the day to express yourself? You can’t waken thirty minutes early to write, or stay up an extra hour to catch up on writing then? You just write!

“But I’m stuck in my story (article, poem, etc)!” Then skip that part and move onto another. You can also write more than one piece at a time, ensuring a plausible outlet each time you sit to JUST WRITE!

So no more excuses. You are a writer, so write!

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Writer’s Meetup: How to form and run a Writer’s Group

When I started looking around for a writer’s group to join, there was no big surprise that most of them are located near the city. Washington D.C. and Baltimore had a few, yet most were an hour’s drive with traffic reminiscent of a high speed video game. More importantly, they were not here.

Luckily I have the Internet; the wondrous technology that offers assistance and answers to most of life’s little problems. My answer took the form of http://www.meetup.com/. This web site offers members an enormous list of groups you can join. You can also form your own group as well, with the monthly price between $12.00 -$19.95 depending if you have a coupon (which thankfully I do). Only organizers pay the fee, though some groups ask for membership fees, or donations.

Features include the invaluable calendar that allows organizers (and/or) members to post meetings with listing a venue, time, and a text area for details. Members of the group then RSVP ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘maybe’, which then sends an email to the organizer. There is also a mailing list for all members, and a message board feature. Pages for your group include a file area, photo area, and member’s list, poll page where you can create/list polls, and an About Us page.
Personally, I’d like to see the About Us page switch to the main page people will view when they first click on your links. Why add that extra step? After all, the about us page has a simple HTML/text editor allowing to make some interesting, eye-catching pages.

But I digress. I meant to focus on the actual writer’s group I organized…

My writer’s group has certainly grown since the shaky beginnings a year ago. Membership is open to all genres, and all skill levels. We have members who haven’t officially completed a novel, to members who have printed books on the market. Some members sort of lurk in the group, never posting anything or showing up to the meetups. Occasionally I go through and delete them to maintain an active list. Others show up to every meeting and participate with enthusium.

I’m happy to say that the members who show up to the meetings and participate tell me how the group inspires and provokes them to write. This is my main objective; to help fellow writers to WRITE! Other purposes include activities to explore methods to cure writer’s block, to find creativity when it eludes us, and to form a tight community of writers where we can talk about our craft.

Meetings consist of various writing activities;

  • Writing activities. We’ve used a number of activities to spark creativity, and most handy was the freewriting. This simple method helps provoke ideas and breaks writer’s block.
  • Sharing our work for feedback and constructive criticism. This could include poetry, short stories, or even excerpts from larger projects. Members had work critiqued which was then later published as articles. We even had a few members who knew how to professionally edit writing.
  • Discuss problems we have in the writing process. This includes a vast amount of questions such as How do you deal with laying out your plot? Do you use an outline? Where do you get your ideas?
  • Workshops. So far, I’ve had workshops on author web design and how to publish an ebook.

The different styles of writing our members have add to our diversity, and even inspire one another to explore outside their usual genre. Many have more than one anyway, which is wonderful. Meetings are always interesting, and I look forward to our sharing moments, where you can catch a glimpse inside another writer and explore another world.

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I learned years ago that in the area I live in, if there wasn’t a group available for me to join, I’d simply start my own. So when I started looking around for a writer’s group to join, there was no big surprise that most of them are located near the city. (Washington D.C.) Baltimore also had a few, yet most were an hour’s drive with traffic reminiscent of a high speed video game. More importantly, they were not here.

Luckily I have the Internet; the wondrous technology that offers assistance and answers to most of life’s little problems. My answer took the form of http://www.meetup.com/. This web site offers members an enormous list of groups you can join. You can also form your own group as well, with the monthly price between $12.00 -$19.95 depending if you have a coupon (which thankfully I do). Only organizers pay the fee, though some groups ask for membership fees, or donations.

Features include the invaluable calendar that allows organizers (and/or) members to post meetings with listing a venue, time, and text area for details. Members of the group then RSVP ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘maybe’, which then sends an email to the organizer. There is also a mailing list for all members, and a message board feature. Pages for your group include a file area, photo area, and member’s list, poll page where you can create/list polls, and an About Us page.
Personally, I’d like to see the About Us page switch to the main page people will view when they first click on your links. Why add that extra step? After all, the about us page has a simple HTML/text editor allowing to make some interesting, eye-catching pages.

But I digress. I meant to focus on the actual writer’s group I organized…

My writer’s group has certainly grown since the shaky beginnings a year ago. Membership is open to all genres, and all skill levels. We have members who haven’t officially completed a novel, to members who have printed books on the market. Some members sort of lurk in the group, never posting anything or showing up to the meetups. Occasionally I go through and delete them to maintain an active list. Others show up to every meeting and participate with enthusium.

I’m happy to say that the members who show up to the meetings and participate voice how the group inspires and provokes them to write. This is my main objective; to help fellow writers to WRITE! Other purposes include activities to explore methods to cure writer’s block, to find creativity when it eludes us, and to form a tight community of writers where we can talk about our craft.

Meetings consist of various writing activities;

  • Freewriting. (See previous blog entry). This simple method helps provoke ideas and breaks writer’s block.
  • Sharing our work for feedback and constructive criticism. This could include poetry, short stories, or even excerpts from larger projects.
  • Discuss problems we have in the writing process. This includes a vast amount of questions such as How do you deal with laying out your plot? Do you use an outline? Where do you get your ideas?

The different styles of writing our members have add to our diversity, and even inspire one another to explore outside their usual genre. Many have more than one anyway, which is wonderful. Meetings are always interesting, and I look forward to our sharing moments, where you can catch a glimpse inside another writer and explore another world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Author