15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015

How to Storyboard Your Novel on Pinterest

Feeling the inspirational lull? Today, we're going to talk about how to storyboard your novel on Pinterest. As part of our Writerly series, it's important to talk about how to visualize your novel with all of its characters and elements. The more creative you are with it, the more you get out of it. 

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Pre-Pinterest, I used inspiration boards to channel my creative energy, which was basically a collage of pictures, colors and accents that made up my novel in image form.

With Pinterest, we have much more flexibility. Much like making a novel soundtrack, it allows you to see your story in a new light. Ready to make your own? Here are a few ideas of which pins to use + pins I used to storyboard my own novel, These Are the Moments:

Character Pins

Having trouble picturing your characters? Pinterest has your back! There are some amazing resources on Pinterest to help you find the picture-perfect images of your characters. For instance, my friend Kristen of She's Novel has great boards specifically for character inspiration.

Setting Pins

Now that we have our characters, we need to set them in a space of their own. Whether they're in a post-apocalyptic world or right there in your backyard, it helps to picture your characters in their natural habitats. Let's bring them to life, okay? To find settings of your own, check out Mandy Wallace's Pinterest page.

Quote Pins

We're writers, so we love the heck out of words. Maybe you need dialogue inspiration. Maybe you need motivation. Maybe you just need words to make you feel something. Whatever the case, it's time to start quote collecting, my friends.

Inspiration Pins

If you're having trouble getting your story started, maybe you need a bit of inspiration. Patterns, florals, whatever evokes emotion in you is fair game! If you're looking for more pins like these, be sure to check out my boards on Pinterest.

Discussion Time: Do you storyboard your novel(s) on Pinterest? What are your favorite ways to spark your inspiration?



Be Your Best Self: A Writer's Perspective on Identity

This is the #4 in a fifteen post series, entitled "15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015," posting on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday of January.

I hope you're reading this from your bed, a cup of coffee on your bedside table, and sleep still in your eyes. (Gross.) Because it's Sunday, I invite you to do zero productive things. You've earned it. But if you feel  inclined to read this post while you lounge, well, who am I to stop you? Today, we're taking a writing break, and talking about you, the writer. 

We hear about author platforms all the time. Be available to your audience, but not too in their face. Be on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, but don't stretch yourself too thin. We get so caught up in checking off our lists that we forget to just be ourselves. Some of my favorite writers — John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Ransom Riggs — are my favorite not only because of what they've written, but because of who they are. To clarify: writing is not a popularity contest. But having a personality can only work in your favor. A few thoughts on how to be your best self:

Act, Don't Simply React

If someone has taken the time to tweet you or comment on your blog, by all means, answer them. Manners, man. But don't wait around for that. The Internet is a dialogue between you and readers, as well as you and other writers. Schedule a little time in your day to explore. Look at other people's blogs, scan your Twitter feed and respond to people you follow, search your Instagram and find new friends. You are not a Queen waiting on your subjects. You are a person. They are people. Be a part of the conversation, not as a strategy, but because you are genuinely interested in the lives around you. 

Be Open About Your Failures

We don't admire the people we admire because they are cyborg perfectionists. Failures are an inevitable part of life, and they don't make you a failure. People love an underdog and respond to real, live people. If I were a picture perfect Barbie doll, telling you about how I've mastered the publishing world with my wit and charms, you would hate me. This is 2015, people.

Celebrate what makes you different. There are so many times when I'm sitting inside on a Saturday night, thinking, "I'm 23. Shouldn't I be at a bar or something?" But then I remember my goals and that I don't have to be everything at once. That's a pretty awesome feeling. Speaking of honesty, my friend Ashley R. Carlson does it best. Hop over to her blog and fall in love.

Be Your Best Self, Not Someone Else's

How many times have you caught yourself trying to be a copy cat? "Well, John Green uses tumblr, so I should too." "Tahara Mafi started a lifestyle blog, so I should definitely do that as well." "Hugh Howey was such a successful self-publisher, so I'm going to self-publish too." Here's an important truth for you: what works for one person, does not work for all. The book world is evolving every single day. If you try to write based off of trends or market yourself in the latest fad, then you're setting yourself up for a loss.

Find your own voice. It's actually pretty simple. All you have to do is be yourself. (Yes, this is cliché. Doesn't mean it's not true.) This is to your own advantage: if people love you, they'll want to support you, meaning they will buy your work. Being who you are can only help you, and isn't it so much easier? Stop trying so hard. Just wear your onesie and let your hair down.

Discussion Time: Let's get to know each other: Tell me about yourself! In what ways are you practicing your best self? How do you embrace your identity?

Five Ways to Schedule Your Writing Time in 2015

This is the first of a fifteen post series, entitled "15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015."

Good Morning, pretty people! Get yourselves a cup of coffee and prepare for some valuable, writer lessons. It's the first Monday of the new year, and with that, the beginning of my first blog series called, "15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015." With several guest posts from my much cooler friends, we're going to write ourselves into awesomeness this year. Ready for it? Hooray!

I always start of the new year with a million good wishes, plans and strategies. Some of them stick, while some of them do not. Last year, I made this writing calendar, which turned out to be good in theory, but a bit difficult to keep up with consistently. However, I made a few concrete resolutions that I not only kept, but exceeded.

This year, I plan to publish my book. I couldn't have reached this point without a dedicated, conscious commitment to writing daily. There are a few ways to go about doing this. Let's walk through them together, shall we?

1. Set Time of Day

I can make this statement with utmost certainty: I will never be the type of writer who wakes up before work to get my writing time in for the day. It's just not going to happen. For some writers, scheduling a portion of the morning is a lifesaver. Recently, I've been writing on my lunch break, which has been a great strategy. For the most part, I'm a nighttime, before bed writer. Figuring out the best time of day for your writing schedule is essential to maintaining a consistent writing routine. (That sounded kind of fancy and high-horsey, but you get the gist.)

For me, it's easier to put myself to bed thirty minutes earlier than to pull myself out of it in the morning. It all comes down to what works for you.

2. Word Count Goal 

I've spoken about the magic of word sprinting before, and I've mentioned Jeff Goins' My 500 Words program. Word count seems to be the easiest way to measure your writing. Personally, I aimed for more than 500 words a day, but Jeff's program was a great way to ease into the process. I try to pen at least 1,000 words, because I know I'll end up trashing about half of them. (Did you realize how many words get cut in the book-making process? It's like alphabet soup over here, y'all.)

There are a few options for you: a weekly word goal, that lends itself to some flexibility. I'd say about 5,000 words a week at minimum. A daily word count goal is also a good thing to shoot for, but can be a bit more difficult to manage.

3. A Page a Day 

I'm not going to lie. This is about the bare minimum for writer people. A page is approximately 250 words double-spaced or 500 single-spaced. This is basically a journal entry. However, it's a good way to kickstart your routine, and also an opportunity to practice your longhand. (I happen to be a big believer in writing on paper.)

If you write a page a day, you could have a novel in a year. And chances are, when you get started writing, a page just won't be enough. You writer machine, you.

4. Time Increments (an hour, etc.) 

"I'm going to sit here and write for an hour and I'm not leaving this chair until I do." This kind of writer is a habitual person, and most likely pairs this with strategy #1. Kudos to you, my timely friend. This strategy works as long as you hold yourself accountable. The problem I find is that structuring your writing time around, well, time itself can make your word count fluctuate. Try your best to not squander your first thirty minutes staring at a blank screen.

I suggest pairing this strategy with the sprinting technique. "I will sit here and write as fast as I can for thirty minutes" is usually a much more effective method.

5. Deadlines 

Still with me? Did your forehead just fall on the keyboard? Deadlines are not a negative thing. They're simply a means to an end. "I plan to write three chapters in the next week and a half." It's an incredibly effective way to hold yourself accountable, especially if you tack on some kind of reward or consequence to it. "I will write 2,000 words by next Tuesday or I will have to go a week without coffee."

Yikes.

If that doesn't scare you, involve a friend. Have someone that expects your pages/chapters/words by that date, even if they're not actually going to read it. You feel a lot more pressure when there's someone waiting on the other side.

Discussion Time: How do you plan to make the most of your writing time in 2015? What's your favorite way to schedule your writing time?