New name, same people! Hello 2017!

You may have noticed something different this year. That’s right, we’ve got a new name! The Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency has now transformed into The Book Design House.  We’ve got a new name but our expectations of ourselves and our service hasn’t changed, and neither has the boss (me!).

So why the change?

After working in business successfully since 2011 I have learned a lot about what it takes to run a good business. Not just a business but a good one. A lot of that lies around community and support.

While I am exceptionally proud to have had my own name as the front runner of this business up until 2016, it is time to reflect on what my business really is- a home. A home for authors looking to realise their dreams, a home for my team to feel encouraged and supported, a home where you can focus on what you need to.

My goal has always been to help you be the best author you can be. Since day one.  But that dream is shared, it’s not just mine. It’s shared by my team members, by you, by other service providers- publishers, editors, printers. We all want your success.

I now believe the name of the business represents that. Everyone is important in our team, from the marketers to the designers to the clients- you are all a part of this team.

And I remain privileged to be at the forefront of that team, because I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Where to next?

There’s still some things to take care of so I apologise in advance for any bumpiness as we go along but as time goes by everything will be in its rightful place again. For now the website will be holding the scarlettrugers.com url until the transition is complete.

My 5 pieces of advice to get through trauma: For self-published authors and business owners

My first blog post in months. Things have changed dramatically for me this year, due to some very traumatic experiences that happened to me at the end of last year, and the beginning of this year. Events that changed the course of my life and changed me as a person.

This year the Agency had a really rough start. One of the worst 6-8 months I’ve experienced since this business came to life back in 2008. I’ve experienced mental illness to the point of paralysis, and being unable to work. And this week I have lost a dearest and darling family member, and my heart is broken again.

But instead of hiding my pain, I use it to teach myself lessons. I use my darkness to give me strength, I always have. And I have decided to write this blog in the hopes that other authors and business owners out there who feel the same pain, know that you will get through it.

So these are my top 5 pieces of advice for anyone out there trying to build a business for themselves (especially you self-published authors, because that’s what you’re doing) about getting through trauma, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel:

 

Accept your pain.

Our society teaches us that it’s better to get up, dust yourself off and move forward. They forget that we can’t exactly do that if we’ve broken a leg. If my experiences over the past year had displayed themselves physically, I would have been in the hospital under constant care, with bruises and broken bones and internal bleeding. I’m under no illusion about the severity of what I went through, but we are not taught to view our emotional and mental states in the same way.

It is important for you to recognize when you are in pain and need care. Accepting your hurt and pain paves the way for healing. You are allowed to hurt, you are allowed to feel all the emotions that are going on inside you. You don’t have to keep pushing them away and pretending they’re not there. You’re a human being and deserve great love and care, and the way you give that to yourself is by giving yourself permission to feel it, and heal.

 

Get people around you.

I am very used to isolating myself in crisis mode. I’m naturally an introverted homebody, and I love being on my own. But you need people around you. It is very easy to get swallowed up in your own self-criticism and punishment but you need people around you to tell you to stop doing that and that you’re being too hard on yourself (because you are). You need people to be your strength when you have none, to help you.

This year I have bonded more closely to my family than I ever imagined. They were at my door and calling me on my phone when the shit (repeatedly) hit the fan, and they have been there ever since. I have carved new intimate friendships with people in my life who I had no idea would ever become so important to me. I learned a new aspect of support, one I didn’t think was there and I didn’t understand how everyone else had people around them and I didn’t. But I did, and I do. And so do you.

But you have to ask for it. These people probably have no idea what you’re going through, or don’t know how to help you. You must ask for it. People want to help you, they often don’t know how. How many times have you seen a friend or family member go through something and felt totally helpless? Don’t be afraid to ask. There is no shame in asking, only love for yourself. Asking for help means you are taking action with trying to help yourself. You will be surprised at how willing the response will be.

 

Do things that make you happy.

When the storm clouds are above and the waves are crashing in upon our ship, we may forget that there are things out there that make us happy. Writing makes me happy. Playing Magic the Gathering makes me happy. Watching and analysing movies makes me happy. Learning about business makes me happy. Listening to music makes me happy. What makes you happy? When was the last time you gave yourself time to do those things, simply to be happy and enjoy it? Without any expectation of success, achievement, or improvement. Just… cos it makes you happy?

Actively find things in your life that will trigger that happiness part of your brain. The more that triggers, the bigger the ripple effect it will have in your life. These aren’t just temporary moments, but they are influencing how you feel the rest of the time. Piece by piece, feeling good about yourself will begin to chip away at the feeling bad about yourself. Give these moments to you, each day, to remind yourself what it feels like to be happy.

 

Recognize your strength

I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. I’m not capable.

Are these familiar thoughts? I have them every single day. But it’s thanks to #2 on this list (people) who remind me of how strong I am. That my recovery throughout this year has been far faster, and with greater emotional health, than normal. Others in my position would probably not have felt the way I do for another two years.

I lose perspective so easily. I forget how much I’ve been through and all that I’ve achieved through it. I tell myself “Anyone would have been able to do better than me,” but that’s total bullshit. They wouldn’t. And we don’t know these things because they’re private, we don’t hear about it except from the Fortune500 CEO’s who experienced these things ten years ago and became stronger for it. Whoop-de-do, but what about the people now? Where are the other people who are hurting as bad as I am? Everyone else seems to have a handle on life pretty goddamn well.

This is not true. Everyone is fighting a hard battle, and everyone has their ways of dealing with it. And most of us do it quietly, because we don’t want the world to see what’s really going on.

Everyone struggles and suffers in their own way. Including you.

It takes so much strength to overcome trauma. You can drown in a wave of doubt, guilt, and shame, collapse under the weight of helplessness and loss. Don’t be blind to how much strength it actually takes to sometimes get through the day. This is not you being weak, this is you being strong.

Look at the reality of your situation, of what you have been through. Pretend it had happened to a dear friend or family member, would you be so willing to tell them that they’re being weak? Or would you understand how hard it must be for them to get through what they’ve been through? You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for, I think it’s about time you start believing it.

 

Hold space in your life for you

A lot of the damage I experienced this year was due to the fact I was putting others before me, when I needed to put me first. I was surrounded by people who wanted me to bow to them, to make sure they had enough before I had enough. This happened with relationships, with family, and with friends. I am naturally someone who puts others above myself, and I hit a breaking point. After everything I had already been through at the end of last year, they drained me of all I was. I was getting to the point where I was losing my own identity. I didn’t even matter anymore. And it took the support of others in my life to be able to step back and say no. To begin to rebuild the walls around me. To know that I matter.

The same can be said about business. I was brought up in a family that put work above myself. Work is more important than me. And so I worked and worked and worked when I shouldn’t have, and I was going through serious breakdowns, and again paralysis. Where was I in all of this? I didn’t matter.

Finally, as I began to emerge through the trauma (I still haven’t completely recovered, and it will take quite a while until I’m feeling 100% again), I started to put myself first. Because there is no life for me, without me in it. Not only that but if I continue to bow to the will of others in my life, who want me to sacrifice my entire self, happiness and life to make them happy, then I have no life at all.

Holding space in your life is you giving yourself permission to be who you are, to enjoy all the things you want to, to give yourself the time and space you need to in order to heal.

To hold space means you recognizing this is your life, and you are allowed to live within it. You are allowed to exist within your own moments. You are important.

And most of all, keep writing. Writing is our vice. Writing is our voice. You need to get the stuff inside you out. Seeing it outside of ourselves helps give us perspective, and something to reflect on. It’s also a record, so that in six months you can look back and realise how far you’ve actually come. And it is in your blood, as it is in mine. Writing is our calling, and we must continue to let it flow.

Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. And don’t take anyone in your life for granted. Go out today and tell your friends and family how much you love them, because they may not know. Treasure them. And treasure you.

My Writing Routine – Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St Clair

Welcome to the forth article in our My Writing Routine series. Each week, we bring you the writing routine of a different author, delving deep into their processes, tips, thoughts, and techniques for getting their words onto the page.

Today we peer into the writing routine of author Anthony St. Clair.

1. Can you give us a bit of a background about yourself as a writer? 

Two events growing up told me that words and expression would be the core around which I would build my life, values, and career.

In middle school I was part of a creative writing program, and while working on short stories I realized that my future would always involve the written word. Then, in college, I spent a couple of years as editor of the student newspaper. Someone told me that I was able to express ideas they had, but couldn’t find the words for. That told me I had a useful skill that people could find beneficial.

My career as a professional writer began in college, with both the student newspaper and a part-time job as an editorial assistant at THE ROANOKE TIMES newspaper in my hometown, Roanoke, VA. Since then I’ve worked as a professional online content writer, doing everything from editing travel stories to managing product copy for a national e-commerce website. In addition to writing, I’ve also lived in Scotland and Ireland, and traveled to a range of countries including India, Thailand, Australia, and Japan. Since 2000 I’ve lived in Oregon, and now have a wife and 2 children.

In 2011, though, after years of soul-searching my wife and I decided that I would leave a job I’d had for 7 years, in order to make a go of being a professional independent writer and author. Since then I’ve been building my business, where I focus on 3 things: writing articles and features about the craft beer industry in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, managing online content and marketing for businesses, and independently publishing a fantasy series based in travel, alternate history, and beer.

So far I’ve published 3 books (e-book and trade paperback) in my Rucksack Universe series: THE MARTINI OF DESTINY, HOME SWEET ROAD, and FOREVER THE ROAD. The fourth book, THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY, will be available in early 2016.

More about me, my books, and my writing is at my website, anthonystclair.com, and I’m also on Facebook and Twitter (@anthonystclair).

2. When you’re in the midst of writing a book, what does your routine typically look like?

I write 5-6 days a week, which I accomplish by getting up before everyone else and making sure the coffee is fresh, hot, and strong. I also get dressed; I work from home, but I can’t work in my pajamas anymore than I can sleep in a suit. My writing day begins either with a book I’m working on at the time, or any articles that I’m on deadline for or have been assigned. Except for Mondays, when I begin the day by reviewing and planning out the week, each day starts with getting the writing done. That way, no matter what else the day brings, I know that my various projects are moving forward.

Figuring out my process made all the difference in writing. Before I knew how I needed to write, I would try to start projects but always ran out of steam. Now I have 3 published books, one on the way, and two more in development. My process is simple: I write like I travel. I need to have some idea of where I want to go, but then give myself total freedom within that journey to change.

I can’t just sit down and go from zero on a story. I need to know why the story needs to exist. I ask myself this question: “If I was telling my best friend why she should read this book, what would I say?” Once I can answer that question as both one word and one sentence, I plot out the story, including the action and emotion, scene by scene, all the way through. However, as I write I also let the project change course and evolve, and the end result is always a better, stronger, more compelling story.

Figuring out my process was probably harder than actually writing a book. Now that I know my process, I can crank through my planning and manuscript writing at a strong pace.

3. How does your routine change when you stop writing and start editing? 

When writing I give myself total freedom. I veer, go on tangents, perceive something interesting and run with it. I envision every sense and aspect of the experiences my characters are living and enduring, and I put down on the page as much of those sensations and reactions as I can.

Once I’m done with the initial rough draft, I follow Stephen King’s advice and put away the project for 4-6 weeks. During that time I catch up on other tasks, from developing other stories, to writing 1,000 words a day in my Rucksack Universe Core Story file, which is where I keep track of ideas, characters, who everyone is, what color their eyes are, back story, and all that fun stuff.

After that resting period, I’ve gotten some distance from the manuscript and can come back to it fresh. Once I put my editing hat on, things change. I like to joke that I’m self-employed, so my boss is the biggest jerk you can imagine. And when I’m editing, I get ruthless. I don’t kill my darlings. I massacre them. And smile.

Editing is essential for every book, and especially for indie authors who want to put out a book that rivals or exceeds the quality of the best traditional publishing houses. My books go through extensive editing processes, which I outline on my website: anthonystclair.com/quality. After my rest period, I do a straight read of the manuscript. I take a few notes, mainly if something jars me or seems out of whack, or if I see an angle to explore that I missed during the drafting. I then do an extensive developmental edit, ensuring that plot, theme, and character are all working together—and that there’s sufficient tension, peril, and—if you’ll pardon some technical jargon—must-keep-reading pageturnability.

After I’ve done all the editing I can do, I turn the manuscript over to my Chief Reader. She gives me extensive feedback, and after making more revisions I send it out to a team of Beta Readers. After incorporating their feedback, the manuscript goes to my copy editor, who fixes hard-to-follow passages, corrects grammar, and ensures compliance with The Chicago Manual of Style, a common US standard for publishing. After that the manuscript is proofread, locked down, and prepped for e-book and paperback formats.

4. Do you have any quirky rituals or specific writing goals to help you to focus?

Each book gets its own playlist.

I go through my music and pick out pieces or songs that seem relevant to the theme of the book, or just that I find help my mind, heart, and imagination stay in the world of the story. The result is as eclectic as my random brain. A typical playlist might include The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, Beethoven, Red Molly, Hozier, The High Kings, U2, and Fiona Apple.

For goals, I have a daily writing goal of “Write for 60 minutes or 5 pages or 2000 words or 2 drafts per day”. That covers my bases with the range of projects that I work on, and ensures that I can always find a way to get words in.

5.  Can you describe the space in which you usually write?

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 16.37.50

I work from home, and this is my home office. Designed in accordance with Virginia Woolf’s guidelines, this room has a door that locks. Here are a few things you’ll find in my home office author cave:

  • Much-marked world map
  • Buttons with sayings I like, such as “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person” and “I’m a HEROINE ADDICT: Lover of Strong, Kick-Ass Women”
  • Coffee mug
  • Headphones (my wife and kids are still asleep when I start working, and I like some music in the morning)
  • Bullet Journal (current notebook: a green, pocked-sized, ruled, hard-cover Moleskine)
  • Files for clients and projects
  • Art from my 3-year-old son
  • Pictures of my wedding day and my 2 kids
  • Lots of books on business and the craft of writing, including Stephen King’s On Writing, John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing, and Laura Wattenberg’s Baby Name Wizardseriously, it’s great for figuring out character names
  • My limited-edition, state-of-the-art standing desk, cleverly disguised as a milk crate

6. Which software, tools, and apps help you to write?

I use an Apple MacBook (which I really, really need to update someday), and an iPhone 5s:

  • iWork Pages: Managing my weekly task lists, as well as final formatting for articles and other assignments. I prefer Pages to Microsoft Word.
  • Scrivener: All manuscripts for my fantasy books, as well as drafting and research for all articles. Scrivener makes it easy to organize all my writing, shift content around, track progress, and export publication-ready e-book files. I adore Scrivener.
  • iWork Numbers: Logging my business’s finances, invoicing, and tracking assignments. I prefer Numbers to Microsoft Excel.
  • Evernote: I use both the desktop and mobile versions for research, marketing ideas and task lists, and information about each book (e.g., ISBNs, links to online stores, descriptions, etc.)
  • WordPress: My self-hosted website and blog for marketing and sharing things with the world (I blog on both my desktop and my phone)
  • Dropbox: Off-site backups and exchanging files with clients
  • Remember the Milk: Online task lists. I use this partially as a repository for tasks to get to later, and also for tasks that repeat daily and weekly. It’s a big time-saver. Instead of typing a task again and again, every day I simply open my computer and see “Write for 60 minutes or 5 pages or 2000 words or 2 drafts per day”
  • Google Calendar: So my wife and I can keep track of our work needs, appointments, social engagements etc.
  • Canva and Acorn: Respectively, for online and desktop graphic work
  • MailChimp: Email marketing
  • Google Earth: my fiction is set in real places or made-up versions similar to real places. Google Earth helps me add verisimilitude of place
  • Hootsuite: Scheduling and monitoring social media for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, both for myself and for clients
  • A pocket-sized Moleskine, a Sharpie refillable stainless steel pen, and the Bullet Journal framework.

7. What music or sounds help you to better focus?

Music varies. I love classical music, and start my day with the 2-hour broadcasts of Performance Today, the most popular classical program in the US. It features recent performances and engaging interviews. From there, I listen to everything from pop to Celtic. Sometimes I use my external PC speakers, and sometimes I use my wife’s Yamaha RH-5Ma over-ear headphones. They’re comfy.

8. What kind of things completely take your focus away?

My wife and I are both self-employed, and we have a 3yo son and a 10mo daughter. We balance work and child care, so usually when one of us is working, the other is in charge of our children. Sometimes I need to help out and leave my desk for a few. But when writing is your job, you learn to push pause on work, and then hit play when you get back to your desk. Being a professional is getting it done, no matter what.

9. How do you get back on track when your writing routine has broken down for a few days or more?

I get to be with my family while doing the work I love, and that keeps my motivation strong. Sometimes there are circumstances that have me working less or being off for a bit, such as someone getting sick or family/friends visiting from out of town. If I am off my routine for a few days, I usually sit down and note the high-priority things I need to do. That could be a scene from a book, outlining a new project, or finishing an article on deadline. For a book, I look over what I’ve done previously, take a few minutes to put myself in the point-of-view character’s mind and feelings again, and get going.

10. If you could change anything about your routine, what would it be?

I’m always learning and evolving as a creative professional, so I’m always changing things about my routine in order to make it better and have the productivity I want. In fact, I just made a big change.

I thought I was setting a good schedule for bringing out my next book, but I wasn’t. I had arbitrary dates that were stressing me out. As I said before, I’m self-employed and my boss is a jerk—but luckily, I have pull with the guy. I realized that I needed to change my expectations on book releases. Instead of setting a date from further back in the revision process, now I’m getting the manuscript locked down completely before I set a release date. That gives me more realistic expectations, and lowers my stress level, while still making sure that I’m staying on track with the book.


Don’t forget, you can learn more about Anthony at his website.

If you would like to be featured in a future My Writing Routine article, please email marketing [at] scarlettrugers [dot] com

Katie Newingham – My Writing Routine

Katie Newingham

 

Welcome to the second of our My Writing Routine articles. Each week, we bring you the writing routine of a different author, delving deep into their processes, tips, thoughts, and techniques for getting their words onto the page.

Today we peer into the writing routine of author Katie Newingham.

1. Can you give us a bit of a background about yourself as a writer?

Raised in a household of boys, I often received messages that my emotions were wrong. I was too sensitive, cried too much, and needed to get over it (my mom’s leaving). I seemed to feel and sense more deeply than others, but learned to repress my thoughts and emotions – the page is where I found freedom.
 
When I was seven, my grandmother gave me a journal and encouraged me to write. By middle school the pages were filled, so I began writing poetry on notebook paper, and by high school, I had a selection of favorite poems I kept hidden in plastic sleeves. Throughout college I wrote non-fiction and then had a career as a producer for web and television news. It wasn’t until my second child was born that I wrote my first novel, THE LOST STORY. You can find ramblings on StoriesUnderFriction and my day-to-day antics on Twitter @KatieNewingham.

2. When you’re in the midst of writing a book, what does your routine typically look like? 

My day starts like any other parent, corralling the kids into a carpool line and seeing them off on their daily adventure in school. When I get home, I warm my cup of inevitably cold coffee and slowly transform from mommy mode to writer mode. I rest in silence, and infuse my brain with caffeine. I may tweet a bit after that, read a motivating article – generally procrastinate – till about nine or so, and then I dive into the scene of the day. Four hours goes by in what feels like minutes and my stomach lets me know it’s time to eat. After lunch, I read for about an hour, sometimes my work, but usually another author’s. Then I do random chores and go pick up the kids. Occasionally, I write at night after the kids are asleep, and most days I read for another half hour to an hour before the night tucks me in.

3. How does your routine change when you stop writing and start editing? 

My routine doesn’t change much whether I’m writing or editing. I probably read more when I’m editing because I hit upon issues I’m having trouble solving, and I want to learn how the “greats” develop their characters or plots, or even be reminded how to change up my sentence structure. 
 
I also have a lot more anxiety with editing, so I tend to take more breaks for snacks, or Twitter, or when I’m really frustrated, my garden. Pulling weeds seems to help me figure out what darlings to kill.  

4. Do you have any quirky rituals or specific writing goals to help you to focus?

When I’m really having trouble believing in myself as a writer, I put on this particular paint splattered sweatshirt. It’s soft cotton on the inside, and collegiate on the outside, with the initials of my college on it, CNU (Christopher Newport University). When I attended this school, I never felt like I fit in, and struggled through a full time schedule and 30 hours of work in the university book shop. But I made it and I did well. The sweatshirt reminds me of this period. Of how I finished what I started and was more capable than I thought.
 
As far as writing goals, mine is simple, to finish well – each story. Sometimes I write 500 words, but they’re good ones and I’m satisfied, then there are crazy days when I write 3,500 words. It’s more about getting through the scene then it is word count for me.

5.  Can you describe the space in which you usually write?

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.19.37

A decluttered space with a comfortable seat and natural light are key for me when I write. So my room is my favorite spot to draft. On my bed, I sit with a host of pillows supporting my back, and when I look up from my computer, I’m staring out at oaks, pines, and maples. When editing, I choose a chair and table, either the desk in our office, or the dining table – whichever is cleaner!

6. Which software and apps help you to write? Which tools do you use?

I wrote most of the first draft of THE LOST STORY in Pages on my iPad, and then realized the editing functions were limited in this program, and switched everything over to Word. I’ve heard a lot about Scrivener and am considering getting this program.

7. What music or sounds help you to better focus?

My soundtrack is based on the scene of the day. I have a writing playlist that includes jazz, pop, alternative, gospel, and blues. All music is inspiring! Often I write in silence.

8. What kind of things completely take your focus away? 

My husband and children are my greatest distraction and inspiration. It’s difficult for me to write with loud, unexpected sounds in the background, but I’m able to zone into my writing with white noise. Flexibility in writing is key to perseverance and finishing the novel. Our work environments are often filled with flames, so its no wonder our first drafts are often burnable.

9. How do you get back on track when your writing routine bas broken down for a few days or more?

Author Tayari Jones wrote a blog on this and suggested journaling, which has been a passion of mine. In my greatest, most discouraged time, I took her advice, and penned a personal page. It got me on track. And still to this day, if I miss a day of “work writing,” I turn to my journal to cope with the backup of words. That’s what it feels like for me when I don’t write, I get word constipation. 

10. If you could change anything about your routine, what would it be?

If I could change anything about my writing routine it would be the unexpected interruptions, which often wind up in my work. I’m learning to take life as it comes and embrace flexibility in my writing. Neighbors, friends, household appointments, school book fairs, bring new experiences to my books.

Don’t forget, you can learn more about Katie at her website.

If you would like to be featured in a future My Writing Routine article, please email marketing [at] scarlettrugers [dot] com

Tim Yearneau – My Writing Routine

My Writing Routine

Welcome to the second of our My Writing Routine articles. Each week, we bring you the writing routine of a different author, delving deep into their processes, tips, thoughts, and techniques for getting their words onto the page.

Today we peer into the writing routine of author Tim Yearneau

Can you give us a bit of a background about yourself as a writer?

The truth is I never set out to be a writer. To make a short story long, I got a Masters degree in communications at the University of St. Thomas way back in the late 90s. At that time I did a Masters project on trademarks, which I was very passionate about. In fact, the length of my project thesis was the longest they had every seen to date for that program. My advisor suggested that I turn that project into a book. After teaching a few survey classes in Intellectual Property for another university that book idea, which had been percolating in my brain all those years, came to the surface and I decided to write a beginner’s guide to Intellectual Property. It took me a couple years, but I finished the book. But my writing ambitions didn’t go beyond that book.

Until I started working at a special ed school and a co-worker, a writing fanatic, persuaded me to enter the Nanowriting Challege which occurs every November. I participated and had a blast. Concurrently, my friend Lisa, who had done some editing on my Intellectual Property book and liked what she read, really encouraged me, if not pushed me, to pursue another book that would reach a wider audience, namely she pushed me to write about my travels. She was very persistent and kept after me. Simultaneously I was about to embark on a Barbeque Tour to settle a debate from work over the best barbeque. I decided to give in to my friend Lisa’s persistence and write about my trip. From that modest intent my travelogue book has ballooned into something far from modest, and thus a trilogy is born, and that’s where I’m at now.

When you’re in the midst of writing a book, what does your routine typically look like?

My overall philosophy is that a little bit over time adds up to a lot. I don’t operate on any sort of set schedule where I write every day at 8am for 1 hour. I’m not built that way. If I have a day off of work or on a weekend I might get up, eat, head to the coffee shop and write for anywhere from ½ hour to 2 hours. Or I might head to McDonalds at 10pm at night and start writing until 1 am. Or I might head into the Uptown area of Minneapolis and stay until this one particular coffee shop closes at midnight.

The bottom line is, I don’t have a rigid routine. I am more random depending on my mood. I’ve written in the mornings, the afternoons, and in the evenings. I float to different coffee shops depending on my mood, and lately I’ve been driving 40 miles away to a small town and writing at a coffee shop there because I get a lot done.

When I’m writing at a coffee shop I tend to write a little, schmooze, write a little, schmooze. I like people, life, and action, and do better with stuff happening around me and I use those opportunities to meet new people. How, where, and when I write is flexed into my daily routine, which can vary quite a bit.

How does your routine change when you stop writing and start editing?  What happens when you complete a book?

When I write a book I create what I call the Nanowrimo version first. Meaning, like the Nanowrimo Challenge, I just write and write and get everything out of my brain and into the laptop. No editing, no worrying about an outline or structure, just write. Raw and unedited. Then I let it sit for a while. Then I take the time to create the first draft, which I may or may not have someone look at for feedback. That sits for a while then I take the feedback and incorporate it along with my own feedback. Then let it sit, and repeat the process.

Only after doing this process for a number of times do I bring in an editor to edit. Usually I bring in one editor, go through a round of changes, then one more go around. Then I let it sit for a while, go over the whole thing myself for my own edits and updates, then bring in another editor. This cycle might continue for up to 3 or 4 different editors because each one has their strengths and weaknesses.

After completing a book I might let it sit for a while, but in my case I decided to add to my story because I took another trip, so I start the process again. I don’t typically have multiple books going at the same time. I like to finish what I’m working on before beginning another one.

Do you have any rituals or specific writing goals to help you to focus?

I don’t think I have any quirky rituals other than to roam between different coffee shops based on my mood. My writing goal is usually only write as much as I feel like and see how it goes. Some days only a little. Some days a whole lot. I stick to my philosophy that a little bit over time adds up to a lot. It works for me.

Can you describe the space in which you usually write?

I don’t like isolation, and for that matter, I actually hate being on a computer. I love my people, life, and action. So I almost always write at coffee shops, and virtually never at home.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 19.56.48

I might pull up what I’ve written late at night when everyone is in bed because with others buzzing around, too many distractions. Same reason I go to the coffee shops aside from the people, life, and action. I can’t get anything done at home because of the distractions.

Which software and apps help you to write? Which tools do you use?

I use Scrivener for my drafts and Office Libre for editing when I’m working with editors.

What music or sounds help you to better focus?

I own an Apple Mac Book Pro 13” and I have iTunes. I have a bunch of songs of all kinds that I listen to when I’m writing. I don’t listen to music all the time. Ironically I will put them on if even there’s too many conversations going on at the coffee shops and I can’t focus because of them. I just have the standard Apple earbuds.

What kind of things completely take your focus away?

There are two things that distract me, aside from the daily grind of life. When I’m at home and trying to work on something and people continually want something from me or talking at me when I’m writing or editing on the laptop. In these cases I simply quit what I’m doing and turn off the laptop with the idea I’ll head to a coffee shop the next day.

The other distraction for me is if I’m at a coffee shop and some people near me engaged in conversation and their conversation dominates my hearing. I tend to focus on their conversation rather than what I’m working on. This is when I pull out the earbuds and pop on iTunes, and I crank up the volume.

How do you get back on track when your writing routine bas broken down for a few days or more?

I’m not too disturbed when my “routine” breaks down for the day for I don’t have a set routine anyways. I fit my writing into the ebb and flow of my life, and I just look ahead to when there is a time to resume.

The biggest thing that breaks down my “routine” is that my head hurts from starting at the computer screen. I get fatigued, migraines, and buggy eyes. My brain is fried and feels like mush.

In these cases I have to get off the computer for a few days and take a break, even though I want to keep writing. I can’t function very well if I’m fried. I love ping pong and chess so I go do those for diversions or watch TV. Then when I’m refreshed I start writing again.

If you could change anything about your routine, what would it be? Why?

I like my way of writing, with no set routine or schedule. The biggest problem I have is fitting it in with work and the other stuff I have going on. It is hard coming home, then heading out to write. The biggest thing I would change is to reduce the amount of time I work so I have more time for this, more balance and I’m more refreshed. The other thing is that where live there are so many distractions. It would be nice to cut down on those.


Don’t forget, you can learn more about Tim at his website.

If you would like to be featured in a future My Writing Routine articles, please email marketing [at] scarlettrugers [dot] com

Toni Gallagher – My Writing Routine

Welcome to the first in our weekly series of My Writing Routine articles. Each week, we’ll be bringing you the writing routine of a different author, delving deep into their processes, tips, thoughts, and techniques for getting their words onto the page.

First up is storyteller and author Toni Gallagher (follow on Twitter)

Can you give us a bit of a background about yourself as a writer?

I’ve written all kinds of things since I was a kid, and majored in journalism at Northwestern University. I’ve been working in reality TV (which is not writing exactly, but storytelling) for over 20 years. Recently I’ve entered the children’s book world by writing a middle grade novel (ages 8-12) called Twist My Charm: The Popularity Spell. It’s published by Random House and will be followed in 2016 by a sequel, Twist My Charm: Love Potion #11. And of course I’m hoping Random House will want a third book!

To find out more about me, check out my website: tonigallagherink.com. It has a link to purchase my book, but a lot of other fun stuff, like the “books” I wrote in elementary school, newspaper articles I wrote in high school and college, letters I received from Steven Spielberg and John Irving, and photos of my travels around the world.

When you’re in the midst of writing a book, what does your routine typically look like?

Usually when I’m writing, I also have a full time job, as I’m guessing most people do. I’m not a morning writer, because I like to exercise (spin, yoga or taking a walk) before work. I’m not a big fan of working out (I didn’t start until I was around 30!), but it really helps me keep my energy up for a long day ahead.

So I work a full day (currently I’m an Executive Producer on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Bravo) and eat dinner (usually a frozen dinner!) at my desk before wrapping up around 7 pm. Then I head to a coffeehouse. Writing at home, I face too many distractions. I attempt to write two hours before calling it a night.

On the weekends, I try to carve out two or three hours at a time – and go to a different coffeehouse to keep things interesting. (By the way, I don’t even drink coffee. I drink iced tea!)

How does your routine change when you stop writing and start editing?  What happens when you complete a book?

Because I’ve worked in television so long, I’m a writer who likes editing more than writing. I’m totally open to changes and even enjoy making them. Because of this, I can sometimes work at home when I’m editing…though I still like trying different coffeehouses.

I prefer to have a short breather in between books, though I was on a deadline for my Twist My Charm sequel. As I recall, I took a three-week vacation to Cambodia then started again. When I finished Love Potion #11, I took another break, but spent a lot of time creating my website and getting ready to promote The Popularity Spell. Now, after a little bit of downtime, I’m eager to work on a potential book #3.

Do you have any quirky rituals or specific writing goals to help you to focus?

I don’t really have any rituals, aside from ordering my iced tea! As for my goals, they change each day. Am I starting a chapter? Finishing a chapter? I’m thrilled if I can write four or five pages in a two hour window. Even if it’s terrible, it gives me something to work with later. Writing something terrible is way better than writing nothing.

Can you describe the space in which you usually write?

I write in coffeehouses all over Los Angeles, from the beach to downtown. I even use writing as an excuse to explore neighborhoods I’ve never been to before, which is great. However, if it’s a weeknight when I’m working, I have one “go-to” place, called Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake (which is in the Valley in LA).

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 14.49.41

It’s open until 11, plays enjoyable but non-distracting music, and there’s usually a lively mix of people there. The staff are friendly too.

Which software and apps help you to write? Which tools do you use?

I don’t use any tools at all, aside from a computer and Microsoft Word. In addition to the main document, which is the book itself, I usually have a scene breakdown (which I sometimes call a “beat sheet”) to keep me on track. I tend to write in order, unless I’m particularly inspired on a particular day to take on another section.

At home I have a big bulletin board with an index card for each scene. Television shows do this as well. For me, it’s a great help in planning my book, moreso than the actual writing. Looking at the cards on the wall, I immediately can see what scenes I’m missing. I can ask myself how to get from one part of the story to another one, then just add a card.

It’s also helpful to color code the cards in whatever system works best for you.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 14.50.49

For me, I like to make sure I don’t have too many scenes in the same location, so I might change the color for basic locations like ‘home’ or ‘school.’ Or I’ll sometimes put a B- or C-plot in a different color. It doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it works for you.

What music or sounds help you to better focus?

I like having music on, but I’m not super particular about it, as long as it isn’t too distracting. I don’t use headphones when I’m writing.

What kind of things completely take your focus away? Once your focus has been interrupted, how do you get back into a flow state?

Unfortunately the biggest time suck is right there on the same instrument we’re using to write – the computer! It’s so hard to not peruse the internet. Going to a place without WiFi helps. I’ve also heard about a program called “Freedom,” which allows you to turn off your access to the internet. I haven’t used it; I just try to use my own willpower.

If I’m at home, I can be distracted by anything. In addition to the internet, there’s dishes, a cat, my checkbook, what to wear tomorrow, whatever! Unfortunately I don’t have anything specific that gets me back into the groove. The one thing I would recommend, though, is forcing yourself to sit there and work for a specific amount of time. Whether you’re focused or not, whether you think it’s good or not, just write. Often I think I’m done for the night and I’m about to give up, but when I stick to it, something good often arises.

How do you get back on track when your writing routine bas broken down for a few days or more? Are there any activities that reliably bring back your motivation?

I find that being active can help. A walk, a hike, even a spin on the spin bike – where you’re alone with your thoughts – can get the ideas flowing again. You don’t have to necessarily make yourself think about your writing; just do something active and see what crosses your mind.

Also, though I don’t generally do writing exercises when I’m alone, I love them when I’m taking classes and workshops. You can find prompts online or in books, then write for 10 minutes, even if it’s not a particular scene for your story. Maybe it’s something else about a character, or some dialogue that you’ll never use in your final product, but will inspire you to keep going.

If you could change anything about your routine, what would it be? Why?

If I could, I’d probably like to write from home more. After all, I’m spending a lot of money on iced tea!


Don’t forget, you can learn more about Toni at her website, or by following on Twitter.

If you would like to be featured in a future My Writing Routine articles, please email marketing [at] scarlettrugers [dot] com

Lesser Known Pieces Of Editing Advice From 14 Publishing Pros

In the spirit of helping you write the best book possible, we’ve gathered a list of lesser-known editing tips from 14 experienced editors and authors. Between them, these ladies and gents have been through the editing wringer hundreds of times, and house worlds of wisdom we should heed.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.50.02

Beth: BZHercules.com, a low-cost editing and consulting service

In short, don’t do it [editing your own work]! It is a huge mistake that can cost an author time and money, as well as cause some embarrassment. Whether the writer is seeking to publish traditionally or to self-publish, there are certain guidelines, rules of grammar, and formatting requirements that are best left to an experienced editor. For example, many of the smaller “boutique” publishers that have popped up on the Internet require use of Chicago Manual of Style formatting for submissions. Many authors do not know what to look for regarding this style (e.g., how to write numbers, titles, and abbreviations, or indent paragraphs) and should use an editor that is familiar with it. The placement of commas is another frequent issue for authors (The serial comma is a killer!), and don’t even get me started on semi-colons (Okay, I will get started—it is necessary punctuation and it cannot just be thrown out of writing because the author doesn’t believe in it! That is punctuation-discrimination at its worst.).

If an author is self-publishing, the risks associated with posting work that is riddled with errors on many of the outlets are actually higher than submitting to publishers. At least the publishers will be discerning. When posting to the DIY outlets, there is a low filter for screening errors until the work is already out there. Often, outlets such as iTunes and Smashwords will ticket submissions that have been reported as containing mistakes, and Kindle will pull them if the “right” complaint is given. Additionally, the reviewers are another source of misery for a self-publishing author who is trying to gain readers. Reviews regarding errors found in books are not always accurate, kind, or specific and giving critics fuel for the fire is never a good idea, possibly damaging an otherwise great piece of work.

My advice, then, is to find an editor with a track record of success. If you are an author who is new to publishing (You are obviously not new to writing, but that does not make your work showroom ready.), then your editor ideally is college-educated in a writing-related field (journalism, English, education, linguistics, communications), open to collaboration, and experienced at navigating through traditional and/or self-publishing (Most editors will provide a free sample edit of a few pages to you; do not, however, ask to see the edited work of others. That is confidential information and if it is provided to you, be wary of the ethics of that editor.). As the author, expect to pay for several passes through your work (one or two isn’t going to be enough if there are thousands of changes needed—although using a couple of editors isn’t a bad idea if they have similar editing philosophies. Again, ask for samples and compare the styles.), be open to criticism, and be cognizant of what you yourself are attempting to put out in the public eye. Every author needs another set of eyes that has an experienced view.

 

Meredith Efken: Fiction Fix-It Shop

Many writers tend to discount the importance of content editing. They focus on copy or line editing, and they either believe they don’t need content help or they fear a content editor will take over the story or change their voice. However, if a story fails, it’s not usually because of a couple of typos but because the story structure itself is weak or because the character development and portrayal doesn’t ring true on an emotional level. The biggest downfalls I see in many stories are:

  1. a lack of understanding of scene structure and a wobbly or disorganized story structure, and
  2. character emotions that are either too shallow or not psychologically accurate for what the character is facing.

A good content/substantive editor should be able to help spot these problems—and do so in a way that enhances the story and your voice. But if you’re not able to hire an editor, at least study some good how-to resources on those topics. My top recs are these: For story structure, Michael Hague at storymastery.com has an excellent seminar called The Hero’s Two Journeys that explains how the outer plot meshes with the character’s inner transformation. For character emotion, Margie Lawson at margielawson.com approaches character emotions from a psychological background and explains how to convey emotions in a fresh and authentic way. For scene structure, take a look at Randy Ingermanson’s article “Writing The Perfect Scene” which draws on the concepts taught by Dwight Swain in his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer.

 

Helen Baggott: Editor

Many writers embark on the editing process and assume it’s all about trimming things down. Often it is, but it’s too easy to edit out a crucial element that causes the plot to crumble. And because you, the writer, have the complete manuscript – warts and all – in your mind, you can’t distinguish between something that is still in the book and something that’s just a memory from a previous version. If you do decide to go for the chop, make sure you look at the bigger picture and resolve any potential issues before moving on.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.56.31

C. S. Lakin: Author, Editor

Writers should consider getting a manuscript critique or evaluation before any line editing. Most books have a lot of structural flaws and weak components that the writer can’t see, and it helps to have a professional work with the author to strengthen or fix these weak areas. I always say that getting an edit done on a flawed manuscript is like putting pretty icing on a yucky-tasting cake. The book may look nicely edited, but it’s not going to hold up. So getting that critique done first, at any stage, is so helpful.

 

Kristen Weber: Freelance book editor, Co-founder of ShelfPleasure.com

Put your manuscript away for at least a couple of weeks. When you come back to it for editing, change the size of the font. You need to make it look different so you can actually see it. It’s like when a chair in your house accidentally gets moved – you won’t notice it until you trip over it! It is important to present your eyes with something different so you see what’s really there. And then once you think it’s perfect, give it to someone else to read – and they’ll find even more to fix!

 

Chandra Clarke: Editor

As everyone knows, the problem with editing your own work is that you’re too familiar with the material. My best tip for mitigating that is to change both the font type and the font size on the document. If you’re working in a serif font, change it to something sans serif or vice versa, and make it a bit bigger. This will change the way the text looks just enough to make it seem different, and that will force you to focus more on what it actually says, as opposed to what you think it should say.

 

Gary Gibson: Author

One of the best ways to learn how to edit your own writing is to edit someone else’s. I started writing paid critiques of unpublished novels more than five years ago, and I think it did a lot to improve my understanding of my own writing and in the process made me a much better writer. Before that, I’d been an on-off member of a writer’s group in my home city for more than twenty years.
Taking part in a writer’s group can be invaluable, because you have to think about why someone’s story or novel does or doesn’t work. Even better is when you get to tell them what you like or don’t like about their work – and explain why. Doing that gets you thinking about the process, and the how-to of writing, and how to apply it to your own work. It’s a bit like the old saying: if you want to master something, teach it.

Rebecca Horsfall: Author

We’re taught at school that good writing involves using adjectives liberally in our compositions. In truth this is just plain wrong. The use of many adjectives is a sure sign of immature writing. When editing our own work it’s important to notice where we’re peppering our prose with adjectives and prune away all but the essential ones. The same is true of similes; you remember them: “his joints were as creaky as the old barn door,” or “her sudden smile was like the sun appearing from behind a cloud.” Similes almost always seem clunky and immature in prose. Same goes, in fact, for all the elaborate metaphors and figurative language so beloved of our school teachers. The more simple and uncluttered our prose, the more mature it will feel to readers (and publishers!)

Laurence Daren King: Literary Consultant

Set up the word processor for writing a novel, not an essay or letter as seems to be the default. Increase the margin size or font size until you have about eleven words to a line. You will then get a realistic idea of paragraph length. So many authors have paragraphs that are far too long. They think: ‘It’s only three quarters of a page long, I see that in novels all the time’, but they have eighteen or twenty words to a line.

Tania Hershman: Author

Change the page from portrait to landscape and change the font, to try and see your writing with fresh eyes, as if you hadn’t written it.

 

Sam Jordison: Author, Founder of Galley Beggar Press

If you can, cut the first chapter. It’s almost certain to be your worst bit of writing.

 

Fay Sampson: Author

Even after you’ve edited your book to the highest standard you can, get it professionally copy-edited. Writing consultancies like the Writers’ Workshop can put you in touch with an editor who will bring your work up to a professional standard and save you embarrassment later.
If you’re adamant on editing your own work, these professional editing tips will serve you well. After all, having a great story interspersed with mistakes and plot holes is a sure-fire way to have critics pounce, and readers close the book.
What other editing tips do you have? What do you look out for when editing your own book? And what are your most common mistakes?

16 New Year’s Resolutions For Writers

When we look back on a year of writing, we can be filled with a feeling of guilt for not having done as much as we set out to do. Or we can be overcome with pride and gratitude for everything we’ve managed to accomplish. But with each new year comes a fresh press of the reset button, enabling us to turn to those things we’ve not yet tackled.

Here are 16 new year resolutions for writers to help you choose yours. Please leave a comment letting me know which you’re taking on, and how you’re going to tackle them. Good luck!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

 

If you need the text for those:

1. I resolve to call myself a writer
2. I resolve to make time to write
3. I resolve to complete that unfinished work
4. I resolve to write what I feel the calling to write
5. I resolve to read more, and to read more widely
6. I resolve to tell the world about the book I love the most
7. I resolve to find the perfect place to write
8. I resolve to try a new genre
9. I resolve to tell the truth
10. I resolve to break some rules
11. I resolve to overcome my writer’s block
12. I resolve to back-up my writing
13. I resolve to rectify my weaknesses
14. I resolve to tell people about what I’m writing
15. I resolve to publish my work
16. I resolve to be less critical of my writing

Here’s to an incredible 2016!

NaNoWriMo- Dealing With The Aftermath

Congratulations! You survived the month! With the immediate NaNoWriMo challenge out of the way for many the question remaining is what now? This blog is going to give you some options on what to do with your hard written efforts and getting back to a regular writing routine.

The Proof Read and Preliminary Edit

With any luck you now have a draft of a novel, even if it’s just a shadow of one. This is great! You can’t edit a blank page, and one of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it provides you with a building block to start constructing your novel.

The first thing you should do after NaNoWriMo (after a week break from your manuscript) is do a proof read and a basic edit. This is forging your draft into something readable while also shaping it into something that you can really work with. This is a good way to delete what you don’t need, add what you do, expand on events and descriptions, and make note of any plot holes or character building you need to do.

Your mind will automatically pick up the problems you need to fix but it might also surprise you on what you have written. Getting in the NaNoWriMo challenge zone means that you don’t have time to contemplate on whether or not you have written a good sentence or a bad one, so this first read through will allow you to stop and smell the literary roses. You wrote the first draft of a novel in a month, this is a HUGE achievement so celebrate what you like about your draft and fix what you don’t.2349632625_4eba371b56_z

Share If You Care To  

NaNoWriMo champions are legion. If you are lucky enough to have some writing pals or NaNoWriMo group of friends, why not take the opportunity to share your experiences, or even your drafts after an edit, with each other?

Showing your work to anyone can be an intimidating prospect but a fellow NaNoWriMo champion or a beta reader friend can help you move out of the first draft headspace and give you some valuable feedback.

You are still going to be very close to your project so a fresh set of eyes can help you find many of those pesky plot holes. It can also be a fun way of sharing your badly written sentences together over wine and laughs. It’s been a stressful time (especially if you have been juggling NaNoWriMo with a full time job and family) so celebrating your victory with other writers and friends will help with a much needed recharge.

Taking NaNoWriMo Lessons On Board  

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 16.14.31

NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel in a month. But more importantly it is about cultivating a writing discipline. Now you know that you can write 1500 words a day. That is an impressive goal to maintain but what about 500 words a day? You had the writing chops to do triple that.

To be a writer you have to write every day. Picking an achievable daily goal goes a long way when working on a project. Setting out to write a novel is an intimidating undertaking. The average novel is about 80,000 words which is enough to unsettle even the most experienced writer. Yet if you are writing 500 words a day that means you will have hit your target in 160 days. Breaking it down to bite size chunks makes it a lot less daunting.

First drafts can often be the hardest and the most enjoyable part of writing a novel. By finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge you have achieved the first step in getting your novel finished. Giving your draft a good proof and edit, gathering feedback from your betas and maintaining your writing muscles will ensure you are well on your way to getting that first draft nailed down.

What lessons did you take away from your NaNoWriMo experience? Would you do it again? 

Three Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is a writer’s version of blood sport. Fifty thousand words in a month, take no prisoners, a first draft heaven where anything goes. The goal is to get a novel together in a month and writers have a tendency to form a love-hate relationship with their manuscript and everything around them. This blog is going to touch on the top three things to do while preparing for NaNo so you get the most of it and not end up a wreck by the end of November.

9355090806_80b6faabc7_z

 Direction

Writing a book is like being dropped into the wildness, so it’s important to have a map and a compass. Finishing a first draft in a month is a huge and daunting task so it doesn’t matter if you are a plotter or a pantser, having a plan is essential. You are going to want to focus 100% on getting words on the page. Having a rough map will make sure you don’t waffle yourself into a corner and burn out. Here are some quick ideas, whether you are a strict planner or not:

  • Beat sheets– some writers hate these but they can work well to prompt you when you need to put your big events in.
  • Mind maps– grab a pen and create a scribbled mind map even if it’s to get your ideas down.
  • Chapter Plans– these can be as loose or rigid as you like. Try to view them as a suggested route but don’t forget you can move and change stuff about as you go.
  • Notebook– have a notebook designated just for your story. This is a place to jot down ideas, write snippets on the run and keep any research you will need.

Whether you plan chapter by chapter in Scrivener or jot down plot points on a wine stained napkin, you need to know where you want to go before you start. For more ideas and ways to plan go and check out Chuck Wendig’s blog, he offers some great ideas that any writer can adapt.

You Are an Island (in a Chain)

During NaNo your mind needs to be free to focus on your story and roll with all the emotions that go with it. Announcing to your friends and family that you are on a writing challenge will hopefully give them a pre-warning about respecting the space you will need. Writing is a tough, solitary business but remember; meeting up with other writers and NaNoWriMo sufferers can help refresh your mind, bounce feedback off of each other and get you a much needed break away from the keyboard.

It is going to be a busy month so setting extra reminders about birthdays, engagements or bills due dates isn’t a bad idea either. Knowing that everything is covered will free your mind of the mundane so your story can move about freely. Plan to connect so you don’t burn yourself out.

Know Thy Distractions

8583949219_f55657573e_z   Everybody has a weakness or an excuse not to write. Social Media and the ease of checking in while on your computer can seriously cut into your writing time. For 90% of us you have to fight for your writing time and protect it. Don’t waste it on Facebook updates and cat videos. If you have a Social Media weakness it’s a good idea to turn off your wifi before you start. “But I need it to research!”…No, you don’t. The point of NaNo is to write a first draft not a finished copy. If you need research then it should have been done before NaNo started (which is why it’s important to start with a rough plot idea). You can always go back and add the research information into it.

Turn the internet off, everything will be fine, I promise.

The same goes for TV and Netflix, if you know that it’s going to be a distraction, get rid of it. If you have kids or a loud flatmate then maybe head out to a café or for some quiet time at the local library. Libraries usually have quiet rooms you can book if the normal library is too loud. Know what your weaknesses are and prepare for them.

NaNoWriMo can be fun, exciting and productive, but remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Preparing your month by having a novel outlined, planning to step away from the computer to recharge, and minimising your distractions, will ensure you hit your word count and get the most out it.

What Are Your Survival Tips for NaNoWriMo?