Category: Resources for Writers

A November Pledge

It’s the first of November. It’ll be one of busiest months I’ve had in as long as I can remember, and I’m sitting on the bus to work, typing this blog post instead of getting to work on any of the many things that will fill every minute of these next thirty days.

Because I just sat for about fifteen minutes and meditated. Specifically, I followed a guided meditation from the 10% Happier app, which has become a staple of my daily life over the last month or so. In this series, about developing emotional agility, meditators are asked to examine their feelings from a neutral perspective; to learn to identify the feelings, then identify how those feelings affect us. It’s a bit meta, to say “how do I feel about being angry?” or “am I okay with this frustration?” but I’ve also found it to be informative.

This morning, I identified anxiety in myself, a common thing, as I’m medicated for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The difference this morning’s meditation was that I knew what I’m feeling anxious about, and how I feel about that anxiety.

I feel resigned to it. The anxiety sparked by my fervent desire to “win” NaNoWriMo (by writing a 50,000 word novel this month), something I’ve never done despite years of trying. I have already resigned myself to the failure that will no doubt announce itself on November 29, as my 5000-word attempt at a new novel joins its companions in my growing trunk of unfinished stories, and I take my traditional two-to-three month sabbatical from writing at all, sparked by the feelings of failure and disappointment that NaNo brought, compounded by seeing so many people I respect succeeding. Shame at their kind words, confusion that they respect me as a writer when I can’t sit down and do the damn thing.

But then, something else happened, which hasn’t happened before. I thought about the prep work that I put into this year’s NaNo effort. I thought about the experiences I had only a few months ago, on the Writing Excuses Cruise and at Worldcon, where my status as a writer never came into question. I was a writer there. I am a writer here.

I thought about the new friends I made on that journey, and the things I learned from them, About my instructors, whose candid acknowledgement of the same anxieties that I experience around my writing was both a shock and a comfort. About my writing-world friends from before those experiences, in whom I’ve found inspiration and camaraderie. But before I delve into a cheesier realm than is necessary for this exercise, I’ll stop myself and say this: I recognized that the anxiety is there, I recognized why it’s there, and I recognized how I can circumvent its effects on me…hell, maybe even use them to my advantage.

I’ve got my outline, my tools, and my community. And I’ve got my anxiety to keep me honest.

And for now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to start writing.

2k to 10k – Rachel Aaron

Given that the podcast I’m on recommended this book almost a half-dozen times, I decided it would be prudent to read Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. 

So I did. And I’m glad we’ve been recommending it so heartily. The book is short and to the point, focusing on the author’s experience raising her own writing efficiency to (some might say) inhuman levels. 10,000 words a day is massive. It’s more than I write in a good week. And it’s what Rachel Aaron manages daily.

Her techniques for achieving that daily feat are not opaque magical rituals, nor do they require ritual sacrifice—much to the possible chagrin of folks hoping for a “secret sauce” to writing lots and lots of words. Rather, she has a three-part plan that she claims can double word counts.

I won’t dig into the details here, because the book can be read in an afternoon, but suffice it to say that the tips come down to time, enthusiasm, and knowledge. Not rocket science, necessarily, but when you have a strong sense of what you’re going to write, why you want to write it, and you make the time for it, you are guaranteed to get more work done than if you sit down to work without a game plan.

The most helpful thing in the book ties into something that’s been on my mind for a few months, since a particular episode of Writing Excuses aired. Specifically, it has to do with treating writing more like a fine art practice. Rachel Aaron’a take on this topic is simple: take the concept of a thumbnail sketch—wherein artists make a very small, abbreviated sketch of what they intend to work on prior to beginning—and translate it to your writing. Before you sit down with your draft, take five minutes to briefly write out what you’re going to write; get yourself from point A to B in brief, and discover if there are any hangups before you’re deep in word-selection mode.

2k to 10k is loaded with tips, most of which may seem like common sense, but the benefits of reading the effects of a carefully considered writing strategy cannot be minimized. If you’re a writer who is looking to improve your productivity at the page, you need to read this book.

2k to 10k is available on Amazon.

Writing Inclusive Fiction Five-Week Course

Warbler’s Note: This marks the introduction of an ongoing series of posts aimed at providing the writing community with resources of all kinds, from conventions to software, podcasts to exercises, and much more. The first will be a shout-out for the upcoming Writing the Other course.

I attended a class from the Writing the Other series last year, and not only was it supremely helpful in building my characters, it opened me up to a wonderful network of writers I now communicate with regularly. Tempest and Nisi are doing something spectacular for speculative fiction with these courses, and if you or anyone you know has interest in taking this course, I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are genuinely interested, please contact me for a coupon code for a $100 discount on tuition.

Directly from K. Tempest Bradford, here are the details:

Writing Inclusive Fiction April 6 – May 14 (students may enroll in class up to April 9)

Writers often wonder and worry about if it is possible to write characters whose gender, sexual orientation, religion, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity differs from their own. Many authors are afraid to try even though it is possible to do so sensitively and convincingly. In this five-week course, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford delve into this tricky skill through a combination of readings, videos, discussions, and writing exercises in a safe, supportive atmosphere. The class is appropriate for all writers (fiction, plays, comics, screenplays) from all backgrounds and any skill level.

This class will cover Language & Description, Characterization & Identity, Dialogue & Dialect, Worldbuilding Without Appropriation, Researching the Other, and MUCH more. In addition to instruction from Shawl and Bradford, students will have access to the video and resources from three Writing the Other Master Classes on writing Native American characters, Trans & Non-Binary narratives, and Deaf and Blind characters, plus exclusive access to a guest lecture on worldbuilding without appropriation by Max Gladstone.

The course does not have set meeting times. You can access class material and discussion and participate in class at any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. All class discussion will take place in an accessible private online forum and all class work done on Google Drive.

There are 20 spots available for open enrollment. The course costs $500, but we have several options for writers who wish to take the class but need financial flexibility, such as Payment Plans, Pay What You Can Afford, and full Scholarships. The scholarship deadline is April 2nd, so please click the link below to find out how to apply right away if you’re interested.