Tag Archives: encouragement

November Eve Eve

30 Oct

It’s that time of year again—November Eve Eve!

The day before the day before November starts, and crazy hopeful writers everywhere pick up their pens (oh, who am I kidding, they take to their keyboards) and write like mad for a month.

It’s the day before the day before the day outlines will be shelved in favor of that One Magnetic Idea, the Hugely Huge One that requires a ton of planning but who cares?! I can totally write a zillion-word (50K is for wimps, yo!) epic masterpiece trilogy in a month with no prior thought whatsoever—it’s November, and that means my brain and fingers and keyboard are infused with MAGIC!

It’s also the last day where sleep is an option, because Halloween?  Pretty much backs up to November.  Bubble-clad Lady GaGas, sparkly-sexy vampires, Princess Leias, Voldemorts, and Pippi Longstockings everywhere will flock from parties to coffee houses, bust out their laptops at midnight, and FALL ASLEEP IN THEIR BOTTOMLESS CUPS OF COFFEE WRITE!

So…am I doing NaNoWriMo?

Heck no.

I’m a NaNo cheerleader, which is every bit as important!  This is a PSA to everyone who’s tempted to think November is only for participants.  No, my friends!  The participants need cheerleaders!

Who else is going to remind them to eat?  Reassure them that it’s TOTALLY OKAY if they actually heed the Inner Editor (not to be confused with the Inner Critic) when she speaks her mind?  That doing the Halloween-party-to-coffee-shop thing at midnight, dressed in bubbles, is a bad idea in more ways than one?  That sacrificing quality for mere quantity only leads to editing misery?  To be their Harry Potters when they are Dumbledores in Voldemort’s horcrux cave (“Make me finish this no matter how much I protest!”)?

No, friends—November Eve Eve (and the rest of November, for that matter) is not the time to sit back.

November Eve Eve is the day to adopt a NaNo Participant, whip out your cute little cheerleading outfits, and prepare to ENCOURAGE!

Here are some suggested adoptees to get you started:

@melissaiswrite / @LizaKane / @KristenYard / @jamieharrington / @LauraJMoss / @Anna_Dawes / @betherann / @mercedesmy / @Simone7304 / @WeronikaJanczuk

Disclaimer: these extreme examples of crazy people in no way resemble the awesome participants listed here.  These ladies have good heads on their shoulders, and I have every confidence they’ll whip November into shape and wield it to their advantage (as opposed to, uh, getting whipped by November).  All the more reason you should cheer them on!  🙂

Oh! And PS: I listed their Twitter handles because it’s easiest to follow that way.  If you prefer to follow blogs, not Tweets, click over anyway.  Links are included with their profile sections.

PPS: If any listed participants would rather be cheerleaderless, shoot me an email [olsonkayla (at) gmail (dot) com] or a comment and I’ll remove you from this post.  And, conversely, if you’re NOT on the list—and can’t face November without pompoms and pyramids—just let me know!


3 Dec

Project Diligent December is well on its way, though I must admit it has been diligent in every way except for writing.  While the past two days have been extremely productive, as far as home and health are concerned, I’ve been starved for a chance to write, write, write.  

Right before I wrote this, I crunched numbers and set some concrete daily goals.  I’m aiming for a total of 70,000 words by Christmas Eve.  Right now, I’ve got 51,710.  That’s a total of 18,290 in the next 22 days: not bad, not bad.  This means I’m 73.87% to my goal.

So, in order to meet it, I counted the number of days that are already filled with plans:  this weekend (a trip to New Orleans), the next Saturday (I’m the pianist for a wedding), the next weekend (weekend date/trip-to-a-fun-hotel with my sweet husband!), and then, of course, travel to my family’s house on the 23rd.  That leaves about fifteen relatively free days to work.  After calculating how many words it would take if I only got to write the minimum amount for those fifteen days (1,219), and then calculating how many it would take if I wrote the minimum every single day (831), I’ve settled on an average of those for my daily goal: 1025/day.

Can you tell I love Excel spreadsheets, by the way?  Maybe not, because all you see are the numbers.  A while back, I created a table that easily calculates all this information for me.  That way, I can insert one number (my grand total) and see, at a glance: how much I’ve written that day, how much I need to write to meet my daily goal, a running total of how ahead/behind I am, how many total words are waiting to be written, percentage of completion, and a monthly total of words written.  It’s color-coded and pretty, too.

Okay, friends!  Thanks for bearing with my inner math-nerd today.  It helps just knowing other people are aware of my goals – much harder to make excuses that way.  

I’m so ready to write, but alas, I have to take care of two more things before I can work on the novel today.  So far, Merrilee Faber and Jennifer Neri have added some writing goals to the Diligent December comment section – anyone else want to join the ranks for some encouragement and accountability with this month’s goals, whatever they may be?  If nothing else, feel free to click on over to their blogs, poke around their archives, see who they are and what they’re all about.  I’ve learned a lot from these two, and I think you should get to know them, too.

Happy diligence, all, and I’ll be back tomorrow – hopefully with good news of forward progress!

On Writing…

12 Aug

Well, I’ve finally done it.  Yesterday, I went to Barnes & Noble and purchased my very own copy of Stephen King’s recommended-by-everyone memoir, On Writing.

I can already see why it’s recommended by everyone.  Actually, I could see why, after the three forewords.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when you’ve had a little success, magazines are a lot less apt to use that phrase, “Not for us.”

— Stephen King, On Writing

Among many other things I’ve read – and loved – so far in this book, this bit of wisdom resonated with me.  What an amazing, humble way to address so many things at once.

The first thing it reminds me of – bear with me, here – is American Idol.  Specifically, the audition process.  I have not mentioned on this blog that I am an extremely musical person, and that I auditioned for the show back in July.  I did it mainly for the experience, but with that tiny mustard seed of hope people get, the one that goes with-the-right-judge-and-if-I-don’t-screw-up-this-could-actually-happen!

Well, I did not screw up, and I got the wrong judge (a very nice lady who sent no one through to the next round, from what I could tell).  Out of 12,000 Dallas hopefuls, not many made it through, and I was in the larger of these two divisions.  I saw so many people bawling their eyes out and cursing, thinking the world had screwed them of their one and only opportunity, ever.

The reason this experience reminds me of the King quote is this: I did my best.  I did great, actually, and I didn’t look half bad, either.  It’s not only about that, though – it’s about casting a show, it’s about sheer numbers, it’s about hungry, cranky judges who’ve seen thousands of people sing (and scream and cry) and dang it they want their coffee.  I don’t envy their position, suffice it to say.

I left the audition process with dry eyes and my head held high, and the world still went on.  Perhaps if I’d been Kelly Clarkson or Christina Aguilera, I would have caught their attention, but I’m just me.  Not a professional, not well-known.

Stephen King’s quote has threefold wisdom.

First: Don’t base your worth on what others deem valuable. Don’t get your feelings hurt at rejection, if you can say with all truth that you’ve done the very best you can do.  It’s not always about you – editors and agents, like the cranky coffee-less judges, have to sift through their own piles of junk each day.  Sometimes they miss jewels, and sometimes what we think are jewels are just cubic zirconia.  The key is to just be confident, always try to make your work better, and don’t put too much significance in a faulty system.

Second:  A little success doesn’t necessarily mean your work is awesome.  Some things that get attention are of the cubic zirconia sort.  One person takes notice, another takes notice, and then people are more likely to think your imitation diamond is the real thing.  It’s kind of like the Atkins diet, or the Master Cleanse fads – they’re popular, but not necessarily healthy.  Of course, that’s not to downplay your success if you’re lucky enough to have it – a lot of what’s published is done so for the right reasons.  It’s just good to remember that not everything is, and that a rejection does not necessarily mean your work stinks (though it might).  

Last:  Be confident, do quality work, and submit your stuff until someone takes notice.  Obviously, Stephen King didn’t curl up and stop writing when one magazine rejected him.  He kept his head up, did what he loved, and eventually, people cared.  The best lesson I’ve taken away from this quote is his persistence, and his resistance to the belief that other people’s opinions are everything that matters.