Write like a Runner #writetips #writerscommunity

I write like I run—slow and steady with much complaining.

I think that’s why when my author friend introduced her method of getting her word count in for the day, it resonated with me so much. She told me to simply write short word count goals on a piece of paper and then cross out with an X those goals as you hit them.

Simple. So I decided to try it. And believe it or not, it worked.

Here is an example of my sheet:

10,735 10,985 11,235

I obviously set 250 word count goals. As I wrote, and hit each goal, I took a pretty gel pen color and made a X over the number. It’s amazing how satisfying it is to do that. Just like Tony Robbins said, “Progress is the ultimate motivation.”

So true.

I soon found myself wanting to write a little more just so I could cross out a number. And then I found myself squeezing in writing time so I could simply hit a goal and cross out a number.

All mind games, really. Much like running. But little by little, I hope to end up completing a 5K (word count) before the end of the month. J

As I explained to my critique group, this little trick isn’t reinventing the wheel, but sometimes just looking at writing differently, can help change your progress.

Try  it and let me know if it helps you!

Do you have any writing tricks to help you write more?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

Hello 2020

When two worlds Implode at the same Time: A personal and a business story, with one outcome. 

I’m going to tell you a secret. My period was 6 days late, expected on the 25th or 26th of December 2019. So, imagine me…pretty much freaking out the entire week of Christmas. By the 30th, I was imagining not being done with kids. I was imagining a bigger van and diapers… By Monday after Christmas, I’d decided that on Friday, the 3rd, I was going to take a test and just get it over with. I mean…I’m not young, so it could be a tumor, right? However, my new year started a new cycle on January 1st [TMI, I know…oh well. There’s just so much TMI on the internet and this seems tame in comparison].

I might have been freaked out but I wasn’t devastated. If you’d asked me, even two weeks ago, what I’d do if I got pregnant, I probably would have gone pale, laughed in your face, and thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me; so much so that adoption might cross my mind. I mean, I’m finally at a point where my youngest is in kindergarten, and I have time to solidly write during the day, to work out without waking at 5am, to even just sit and have coffee. I’ve been consistently making dinner 3-4 times a week. I mean…life is good. Throw a baby in there and more than half of that would disappear, except the parts where I’m “working”, and I do mean making dinner and doing laundry and cleaning shit. However, I was kind of excited. I mean, I’m in the best shape ever, and I was starting to think…I could do this as an experiment. Like, how fit can I stay during a pregnancy. Plus, babies. <3 <3

Here I am with a seriously new perspective. And yes, I have it because I’m not pregnant. And I know that if I’d been pregnant, the internal workings of my psyche would be different, but I can only tell my story, so…

January 1st, I was given a gift. A message in the form of a [not] baby.

STOP F*CKING AROUND. [oh! haha. literally and figuratively]

As my personal life was sending mixed signals, a part of the business life around me was imploding. That’s the word everyone has used for the coming demise of Romance Writers of America. I’ve watched this organization for years. I joined in 2006[ish], shortly after I began writing. For me, I believed its value was in the relationships I’d gained. But as I look back, even that value is far smaller than I give it credit for… I only have 3 close friends from my association with RWA. Most acquaintances have come and gone as I’ve moved.

If you are really interested in what went on in RWA, just Google RWA 2019 Scandal and Courtney Milan. Something will pop up giving you a hint, but maybe nothing unbiased–this is the way of reporting today–so, just read with caution. My blog post here isn’t about the Scandal of RWA in 2019, though. So I’m not going to go on about it.

Instead, I will share how it affected me.

There’s always been an underlying current of politics and social reform within the members of RWA. Years ago, it was the fight for equality between print and digital. The idea that only B-rated porn was being offered as ebooks came from the fact that…yes, lots of porn on the internet. But it just didn’t remain so and really might never have been an accurate assessment because when new things arise, people fear. Change is hard. But digital publication and self-publication fought hard for respect and earned it. RWA fought against it. They fought and feared this uprising of authors who may or may not be approved. They lost the focus of supporting the writer, any writer, and became an entity who drew lines.

And they continued to draw lines for everyone, influencing not just writers but publishers, editors, and agents alike. And every year or few years, in the last fifteen, have been rife with the latest social uprising, which leads to accusations, debates, sides being taken, and discontent. For example, the contests of RWA have gone from having 4 categories to many, too many. Because heaven forbid someone not be represented. There should be 4 categories–contemporary, suspense, historical, paranormal/sci-fi. That’s it. It shouldn’t matter what kind of suspense you write or what kind of historical. Whether your characters are straight, gay, white, hispanic, Christian or Buddhist; whether the writer is they, black, white, Atheist or JW.

There is ONE type in a writing group, a WRITER. Period.

Writers for Writers: On Writing. <– this should be the name of the organization, the WWW.

Not Writers for Conform, or Writers for Reform, or Writers for Readers, or Writers for Equality!  No!!

We are artists, each with our own mission, passions, and goals, taking the issues that drive us and putting them to words. As soon as we start letting other people tell us what to do, we become robots. We become anti-artists.

I follow God. I pray every day. I ask Him to show me what He wants of me. He asks me to use my gifts for His glory. My gift is writing romance, writing stories about love between two people. The joy within me comes from penning stories of redemption and forgiveness and love, sex included!

And in the last two years, I have failed my passions and my gifts. I have struggled to separate the politics from the art. I have let doubt and uncertainty bind me and trap me in this corner. No more.

My RWA membership will expire this year–for good. I’m pulling myself up out of the pool of social norm and conform–in RWA, online, and in real life. It’s too crowded. Jumping on the bandwagon is the most unindividual effort an artist can make. I teach my children to be independent and have a mind of their own. Don’t follow the crowd! If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?

Sound familiar?

Well, who am I to not follow my own advice?

My advice to you, Writer and Artist. Don’t waste time, it could be gone in an instant. This year, move forward! Get excited! Find joy. Unfollow the people who are killing that joy. Reinvent your support group. Don’t write what is expected, don’t write what other people tell you is romance!

I will not box my creativity in with lines drawn by society and culture. This isn’t the way of the artist.

To me, this is the death of dreams.

So, your entrance might not have been as [melo]dramatic as mine, but WELCOME to 2020!

I wish you freedom of mind and spirit in which to create. I wish you a hope-filled, energetic, and amazing NEW YEAR!

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

The Game of Writing

As some of you might know, I’m a gamer. I’m a hardcore World of Warcraft fanatic and have been playing since right after beta. I’ve belonged to the same guild for over 20 years, across multiple MMO (Massively multiplayer online) platforms.

I’ve decided that the publishing industry is like gaming. Not a compassion you’d expect to hear, but let me explain.

As an up-and-coming writer (new adventurer) you set out to hone your craft (level up) and tackle your first manuscript (your first quests).

Work hard and stay the course, and you land yourself an agent (level-up and gain access to a new area).

Keep writing, work with your agent to polish that manuscript, and earn a publishing contract (keep leveling until you earn that coveted legendary piece of armor)

You’ve made it (won the game), right?

Wrong!

Just like in MMOs, there’s no real endgame. Your work (the world) is constantly evolving. There’s always a new skill to learn, a class to take to level-up. A few simple things and you’ll be skipping down the path to success (pillaging the enemy and amassing hoards of gold)

Always raid with a party – Just like in gaming, the road is smoother if you don’t go it alone. Find your tribe. You’ll need them to navigate rocky terrain (setbacks, bad reviews, rejections) and provide a trusted ear for battle strategy (plotting, venting, ect!).

Remember there’s no in-game hack to get you to the finish line – in gaming, we call it an exploit. A trick to fool the game and advance without putting in the work. (Hopping on twitter and calling for a “follower trade” to amass thousands of followers isn’t going to earn you a platform. Editors and agency are looking for quality, not quantity. You can’t possibly have meaningful exchanges with that many people! Make real connections, interact, and grow your following through hard work and putting your all into creating your masterpiece—your book!)

There might be twenty different servers, but there’s still just one internet. Watch what you say/do – I remember badly behaved players from the first years I started playing WoW, and to this day, those player’s names still live on, their reputations still soiled. Wiping a raid ALA Leeroy Jenkins, to kiting a boss into a low-level town and watching all the AFK people get smushed, the internet remembers. (Remember to think before you speak/act. The same author’s book who you talked trash about for four days on twitter might one day be someone you want a blurb from. Trust me, they’re going to remember—it’s happened to me, and while I didn’t hold an actual grudge, I didn’t go out of my way to help the individual. Remember to treat everyone with kindness and respect. The publishing industry is surprisingly small, and people talk.)

And that’s all from me this month. Happy writing (gaming)! May your words flow free and your plots remain untangled (may your gold be plentiful and your rares abundant).

About Jus Accardo

JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

Planning and the New Year

I’ve always been a reasonably good planner though these last few years have put a definite crimp in my normal routine. And just for the record, my word for 2019 is determined.

In 2017, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. We spent the whole year with surgeries and chemo and all the things necessary to get him cured. In 2018, I spent most of the time recovering myself but there was one thing I was interested in pursuing, and that was my MFA in Creative Writing.

In January 2018, I checked out the local program and was so impressed overall that I immediately submitted my application. Every time a deadline passed, I would email the office to see what was happening. Then I got wait-listed and felt I’d waited too long as obviously my chance was gone. With only six weeks to go, I was informed I had indeed gotten in and was given the dates for that July residency.

Sure, I jumped for joy, but I also knew that it would change everything as I would now have to ‘fit’ everything around my education. Fast forward to January 2019, and I’ve now completed my second semester and no longer am the stunned person I was in July 2018. I also learned that my first semester was excellent and easy to plan around. This semester, I have a new mentor who expects many different things from me, more difficult things and definitely much more polished.

After resting and getting my bearings for nearly two weeks, I realize I am going to have to plan more than ever. Last semester, I revamped older writing things to use but this time around, I’m having to start from an idea to getting it on the paper to critiques, and you get the idea.

A few years ago, I had designed a planner specifically for a writer’s productivity. While I do want to continue that project, I decided to go with a popular planner design from Erin Condren because it fit with my goals. I’m using her quarterly mini-planners as well as her goal planner.

Both of these will get me back into the habit of writing down what I need to do and when. It will also have a daily inspiration that perks me up. Today’s was: It always seems impossible until it’s done. I have space to make notes and then check them off as I complete them. I also use colors: purple is for writing and school things, hot pink is for my own writing life outside of school, and teal is for all things personal.

Every day, I can glance at it and see just how much or how little I might have to do that day from the colors alone. I’ve included a photo of my calendar, which includes today and the weekend. Notice not much is on the weekend and that is to accommodate my husband’s day’s off. Today, you will notice is full of things still not checked off. I usually go back over my daily items before writing in my nightly journal.

What do you do to combine and plan all areas of your life? Do you use separate planners for separate portions? Or do you just use one planner and try to make it work that way?

Can’t wait to hear your answers about planning and coordination of life and writing. Next month, I’ll be looking at the goal planner and how I’m using it to keep my writing, both regular and MFA projects, organized.

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sorry I haven’t been here much this year. Lots of things happened and I’m back on the track with writing, life and a whole lot more!

Promise I’ll be back to tell you all about it starting next month!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Stuffed

I began this week, thinking… uh, oh. Diet Sabbatical, here you come. With all the foodie inspiration popping up on Facebook, this holiday week is bound to be filled with every amazing dish known to mankind. And it was true… we had turkey and baked dishes filled with cooked down veggies and creams and sauces. Pies like you just can’t even do more than once a year!

I’m stuffed. My buttons are tight. I’ve run in an effort to balance, but let’s be honest…ain’t no running enough to counteract the Diet Sabbatical!! haha.

You know what else I’m stuffed with?

Good ideas.

I’ve had a great week of pulling back, spending time with family, and just listening. I’m returning home from Florida today, feeling refreshed and ready to go. Excited to end the year on a good note and carry it through to 2019. I hope this Thanksgiving has found you doing the same: eating, enjoying life, relaxing, and filling your soul with the next best selling idea!! Whether that be the burnt fried turkey…the fight Uncle John had with Aunt Maude…Cousin Frankie’s new tattoo…or your sister’s announcement that she is pregnant with number 12 [she does know how that happens, right?].

What’s one thing that happened this week that will definitely end up in a book someday?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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