Kristen Lamb

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NaNoWriMo: Training to GO Pro and STAY Pro

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

National Novel Writing Month is here (NaNoWriMo), which is a challenge to write 50K words in thirty days. Yep, write a ‘novel’ in a month, right in the holiday season. Because guess what? There IS no perfect time to write that novel…especially for those who want to go pro and stay pro.

Today’s tips, however, are evergreen. Good for every day and month and year, even if you are not writing a novel. Yet, when I’ve challenged folks in the past to at least TRY NaNoWriMo, I would get questions like this in the comments.

Blog Question: Kristen, I really want to do NaNoWriMo, but why did they have to choose NOVEMBER?

Dear Commenter,

NaNoWriMo chose November because it was probably started by writers and we are sadists who are trained to make people suffer. Also, writing will make you choose between your characters and family eventually, so get used to it. Bringing novels into the family is like adopting foster children/families who chew on the furniture and shoot guns in the air.

And look at the benefits. Holidays are priceless inspiration for baggage, drama, conflict, AND it’s socially acceptable to live off candy because it’s the “holiday season.” Do you really want to be challenged to write 50,000 words in a month in JANUARY, fueled by celery and sore from the gym? Or November, in stretchy pants, fueled by fudge, nacho dip and rum balls?

You’re welcome šŸ˜‰ ….

Whether or not you are doing NaNoWriMo, these tips will help you go pro because for the pros? Every month is NaNoWriMo. Learn to embrace the G.R.I.N.D.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Most of us are going to have to work a day job and write so NaNoWriMo is a fantastic crucible. We also have a family and like me, you probably have spoiled them by actually feeding them every day. The world is not going to pause because we are writing a book.

Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of an ADHD spider monkey…with a bad crack habit.

1. Make lists.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).

Like Covey says…

Never mistake the urgent for the important.

Do that NaNoWriMo word count right away. Just get it DONE.

2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Writing is a profession, not a playpen.

Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and spirit mediumsĀ listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.

But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.

Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

3. Use the Force…of self-discipline.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?

I use the “Swiss Cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites and NaNoWriMo is no exception.

I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.

Even I don’t get a pass during NaNoWriMo. I have blogs to write (LOTS of words that don’t count for NaNoWriMo), edits to complete, classes to prepare then teach, bills to pay, bookkeeping, taxes, laundry, litter boxes, and dirty dishes. #GlamorousLife

4. Mix it up.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.

Chip at the NaNoWriMo goal a hundred words at a time.

I LOVE audio books when my brain needs a break from MY writing. I can always tell writers who aren’t avid readers, because their writing sucks.

Want to be a great author? Read as much as humanly possible. I listen to audio books while doing housework. It makes the dishes go faster and hones my skills. It revitalizes the muse and keeps me in right-brain mode.

And I don’t want to hear,Ā Oh well when I am writing I don’t like to read because that author’s voice will bleed over into my work.

All I have to say about that isĀ If only we could be that frigging lucky!

Yes, please let Gillian Flynn infiltrate and hijack my work. Like NOW!

5. Suck it up, Buttercup.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Understand that sometimes—especially during NaNoWriMo—we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.

6. Make mean writer friends.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Yes, the Swiss Cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. On the surface my friends are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my television.

Come hang out on W.A.N.A.Tribe. It is a Ning I created just for writers and guess what? It is all writing all the time and no one spams or trolls or rants about whatever the Drama De Jure happens to be. Facebook is there for those who desire to be hysterical, depressed and spammed.

Since I don’t wanna listen to or see that crap, I built my OWN social site, because it’s cheaper than therapy or a criminal defense attorney. On W.A.N.A.Tribe I rule. I’m a kind, loving but vengeful god and will smite asshattery.

So if you need to escape Facebook and find those mean friends? We are there. We have been doing sprints on the CHAT page for OVER TWO YEARS. M-F (M-S for NaNoWriMo) all day every day even holidays.

I kick your @$$ every day free of charge.

You’re welcome.

*polishes riding crop*

7. Ditch loser friends.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time.

Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.

Killer.

8. Forget perfection (especially for NaNoWriMo).

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of successPerfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.)

The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers.

This is the big lesson NaNo is really trying to teach you. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking. Guess what, no half-finished novel ever became a runaway best-sellerā€¦but more than a few crappy-but-finished ones have.

9. Exercise.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Stuck on the WIP? Brain in a fog? Can’t seem to get the words down? Yeah, well hard truth time. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their butts all day. Our lymphatic and circulatory systems can only do their jobs if we add in physical activity.

Blood flow improves and our body can return the blood pooling at our feet fresh, oxygenated and revitalized (filtered through lymphatic system) back to OUR BRAINS where we kinda need it.

Again, I strongly recommend audio books. Cleaning counts as exercise if you do it properly šŸ˜› . This is working smarter, not harder. Shiny floorsĀ and absorb greatness from literary legends while stimulating the right-brain. #Genius

10. Drink lots of water.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Going pro, go pro and stay pro, becoming a professional writer, how to be a professional author, Kristen Lamb, habits of success

Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity (way better when we MOVE). Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way.

Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.

It’s science. Don’t argue.

I hope these tips help, because finishing NaNo is no easy task. In fact, I am creating this post during sprints (as in right now) on W.A.N.A.Tribe. Then, I’ll use it to get through edits and work then NaNoWriMo words.

Hop on the CRAZY TRAIN!!

Last year everyone who sprinted finished NaNoWriMo in record timeā€¦because they had to keep up with me (my record is finishing in 11 days). If you want to really experience the professional pace, come join us!Ā Once a member, hit the CHAT tab and we are there every day and usually all day.

No ads, trolls, family, drama, politics, distractions, or spam. 100% HUSTLE. Okay that’s a wee lie. We hustle 40 minutes, I call time, we report what we accomplished, chat a few minutes then go again. So like 92% HUSTLE. All the social without the spam šŸ˜€ .

****FTY—If you sign up I have to personally approve you to make sure we keep bots out, so relax.

Share your thoughts! Ideas, suggestions, struggles, tips, recipes using hard liquor?

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of NOVEMBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.Ā I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

*****Saturday’s blog had a special contest for a free class,Ā and Laura Drake is the winner.

Winner of OCTOBER’s Comment Contest is Susie Murphy. Please send your 5000 word WORD document to kristen at wana intl dot com. Double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font and one inch margins. Needs to be a regular doc or docx because I use track changes.

For subscribers, click to my site to view gallery of upcoming classes (gallery doesn’t show up for you). But here are the two biggies coming up…

BRAND BOSS! When Your NAME ALONE Can SELL! November 9th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $45 for General Admission, GOLD Option Available!

PLOT BOSS! Writing Novels Readers WANT TO BUY! November 16th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $40 for General Admission, GOLD Option Available!

Blurb - Cait Reynolds
BLURB BOSS: Writing Blurbs that SELL BOOKS. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 10, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
BRAND BOSS! When Your Name Alone Can Sell. $45 USD. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
PLOT BOSS: Writing novels readers want to buy! $40 USD. Thurs., Nov. 16, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

21 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: Training to GO Pro and STAY Pro”

  1. Cygnet BrownCygnet Brown

    I so agree. The other day a friend of mine said that writing was “fun and torture” I said that for some of us, eventually even the torture becomes fun! I’m doing my ninth NaNoWriMo project this month! The torture has become an addiction!

  2. Kristan MazemkeKristan Mazemke

    Thank you for kicking my butt into gear this Monday morning. I appreciate your posts!

  3. Jennifer JensenJennifer Jensen

    I love you, Kristen. That is all.

    Actually, it’s not. This post just made my day. I’m whining my way through NaNo, but I’m on track so far. The grunt work of the first two days led to better flow the next two. And I’m also of the “take a break to clean and move and then get back to work” group–to the point of awarding myself the Writer Wellness badge. I know that I need to work at close to this pace to get the books out, but somehow I forget that I already proved I can in each previous NaNo. Thanks for the encouragement–now back to work!

  4. Mary FosterMary Foster

    Another fantastic post, Kristen.
    Please excuse me while I find my straw!

  5. Amy tasukadaAmy tasukada

    NaNoWriMo was exactly what I needed to kill the perfection bug. It taught me how ‘perfection gets in the way of done.’ Eventually I revised and edited my 2nd and 3rd NaNo attempt and now people get to read my book and I’m getting paid!

    I loved the writing sprints with W.A.N.A. totally reccomend joining.

  6. Elizabeth DrakeElizabeth Drake

    Cats make awful slaves. They do, however, make good overlords!

    If you haven’t already checked out Wana tribe, I highly encourage others to give it a shot. While Kristen can push hard, she’s nice about it. And, you’re with others that are struggling along beside you.

    I totally agree with the exercise and water. I like ice water. It feels luxurious even though, well, it’s just ice water. In winter, hot water with a slice of lemon is my luxury.

    I’ve also found showers help the creative process. I think because it’s alone time and electronics can’t sneak in with you.

  7. W. T. FallonW. T. Fallon

    I very much agree with exercise. I get up and run every morning. Okay, it’s closer to afternoon (I’m a night owl) but whatever. And you know what? Pretty much every halfway okay idea I’ve ever had for my writing I’ve had while running. I came up with the ideas for both my books on the treadmill. Also a lot of short stories. I figure I will never have better blood flow to the brain. I’ve never a had a good idea while sitting in a chair.

  8. Lynn KelleyLynn Kelley

    “Bringing novels into the family is like adopting foster children/families who chew on the furniture and shoot guns in the air.” Hahahaha! So true. Yes, you nailed it, Kristen. Boggles my mind, and it’s so nice to hear other writers deal with the same things.

    Great tips about exercising while writing. It’s so good to get up and move each hour. And water, yes, yes, yes! Gotta stay hydrated. So very important if we want to feel good and meet our goals.

    So I’m going to get on my exercise bike and listen an an audio book, then get some writing done. Then a blog post to publish tomorrow and then go to Toastmasters and fill in for one of the speakers who cancelled. I’m going to read one of my slice of life true stories. Thanks for the laughs. This post made me giggle all through it. Love your humor!

  9. Mary Van EverbroeckMary Van Everbroeck

    Very fun Post! I especially enjoyed the image and words by co-star playing the character of Vicki Vallencourt in ‘Waterboy’. Absolutely if you are going to have a friend, this is the kind to have!

    • Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

      I recognized the image but couldn’t remember which movie it was from! šŸ™‚

  10. Gabriella L. GarlockGabriella L. Garlock

    YES! This kind of cheerleading has the sticking power. God bless the NaNo forums, but a warm fuzzy usually only encourages me for a day. (Give an ADHD writer a fish…)
    I should check out WANA, then.
    Oh, and here it’s my third year of NaNo afore someone absent-mindedly threw out this brilliant tidbit: use the time change to keep getting up when your body’s used to it and you’ll have an extra hour in the morning. Never thought I’d see my lazy tail in the coffee shop typing an hour before work, but miracles do happen.

  11. Judy HawnJudy Hawn

    I agree with Mary Foster. I need to get a straw. Guess that means I can’t wait till my cold is over, which gives new meaning to, “Suck it up.” (Sorry, that was gross.) I’ve never thought to write a novel, though. I’m more a non-fiction type. I guess the same principles apply. Right?

  12. Scott PettyScott Petty

    I have friends who also write (naturally) and I roll my eyes when they start to list the specific conditions the need in which to write. I tell them over and over: all you need is an idea and a word-count goal and those are the conditions in which to write!

  13. Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

    I’m an audiobook addict! I’m hooked on the Hoopla app, a free app that connects to your library card. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise (walking or a workout video–i’ve seen the video dozens of times, I don’t need to hear the same commentary), while I do housework, and while I drive. Sometimes even at the day job if I’m doing something more mindless like data entry. I wouldn’t read nearly as many books if it weren’t for audio. Bonus: you can tell weak writing even more while listening. I recently listened to a book, which I liked and which also won an industry award, but the characters constantly GAZED. They were always gazing at something rather than looking. The best/worst line was “my gaze connected with the time.” Just say I looked at the clock! LOL

    Cheers to everyone doing Nano! I’m behind, but using the chip away method until the weekend and my time off the next two weeks. Happy writing,

  14. Rachel C. ThompsonRachel C. Thompson

    I just wrote my forth novel of 90K words in 5 weeks over October and the first week of Nov… How? I plotted it first–took 3 weeks. I knew how it ended before I started. I wrote the key scenes first then filled in the blanks. I had theme, plot, characterization and premise worked out in advance. I did not plot in massive detail so there was plenty of room for creative surprises and connections I didn’t plan for. It amounts to load the left brain and then let the right brain rip.

    Reply
    November 11, 2017
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