Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: tips for writers

Hey everyone! Remember me? It’s Kristen and I’m back and yes of course I missed all of you dearly. In this blog, I’ve always worked to be transparent with you guys so you knew it was okay to be human. Lately, I’ve been very very human as in seriously exhausted and burned out. Working is easy for me. Resting?

That requires an intervention.

Hey, I’m a work in progress too! 😛

I’m bad about having two speeds, GO and GO HARDER. Three years ago I pushed and pushed until I ended up with a nice case of Shingles that laid me out for months.

Yeah nothing to make a gal feel young and sexy like Shingles.

One would think I learned from that. Sigh. No *hangs head in shame* So I’ve been going going going for months. Launched a debut book, blogging, teaching then went to present at a week-long retreat…where I worked 10-12 hour days. I LOVE my work. Sitting alone in the woods in the quiet? When there are writers I can HELP??????

*snorts plotting like line of cocaine*

I love it a bit too much and so it never feels like work. Ergo, easy to overdo it.

To make matters worse, though the retreat catered to food allergies, either they screwed up or I did and I got glutened which means I was viciously ill when I returned home. I would have gone to an ER if euthanasia was an option. But it wasn’t.

Only time, lots of water and sleep would make it right…meaning I spent a week in bed. I would grow bored and instead of permitting it, my instincts were to immediately seek stimulation of some kind.

I’d get on-line, hop on Facebook and, of course, see stuff like this…

 And then I of course would “be forced” to respond with, “Sure, because our ancestors ate THIS!”

*backs slowly away from computer* *returns to blanket fort* I didn’t need to give into my craving for stimulation. I didn’t need to get on Facebook and educate the world about food allergies. I was already exhausted and that was just draining away the tiny little reserves I’d managed to build by resting.

I didn’t need Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook or Candy Crush or an audio book or a movie. I needed rest, QUIET, and a serious attitude adjustment (which would probably come with some rest and quiet time).

Unplugging

I miss being a kid and having three months of vacation. Now THAT was unplugging.

Y’all remember summer vacation? It was all joy and fun and excitement for about a month and then you spent the next two months bored out of your skull? Of course usually, for me, those last two months were when I ended up in the most trouble because nothing will make you creative like being BORED.

This was when it seemed a good idea to see if I could walk along the tops of fences, up over rooftops and make it all the way down the block without ever having to touch ground. This was also when it seemed a good idea to convince my little brother he could jump off the roof with an umbrella and that he’d just float down like Penguin in Batman.

#Oops

We spent weeks building, making up games, exploring and getting dirty, but all of that is gone now. Gone for me because I am an adult but also gone for the new generations.

We are a culture who values entertainment, but I’m going to posit some food for thought. Entertainment is not rest. It is not relaxation. It is also NOT a synonym for play (which is also important but a topic for another time). We are seriously overstimulated then wonder why we can’t seem to think straight.

There’s a lot to say about being bored and with the influx of social media and games and apps and streaming video, when was the last time anyone was really…bored?

As a kid isn’t that when we became our boldest? Like our regular friends weren’t available (probably grounded because they got caught three rooftops down) and so we had to reach beyond our comfort zone. Talk to that kid we didn’t know?

Before I went to the retreat I went to get my hair done (turn my gray back to blonde). Beauty shops when I was growing up were always hubs of chatter. Gossip, advice, laughter, talk, strangers becoming instant BFFs.

Now? It’s gone quiet.

If video killed the radio star then smartphones killed the beauty shop. Fifteen years ago, if forced to sit for 30 minute while my hair processed, I would have walked away with three new friends, dating advice and a couple recipes to try.

Now, it’s a wall of grown women staring at phones and tablets with white cords dangling from their ears. Short of razor wire and a KEEP OUT sign? Yeah. With all the stimulation, no “connections” can be made.

Hold onto that thought.

When I’m not working I’m still working. I read tons of books, listen to audio books, watch documentaries, movies, series and study, study, study to get better and better. Yet, though filling my mind with all this information is necessary and good, it does little good if I fail to get quiet.

And even get a little bored.

A good dose of quiet boredom (quiet) is magic for the imagination. There are many scientific benefits to being bored. It defrags the brain, helps us be able to discern the urgent from the important, lowers stress and cortisol levels (stress is bad juju for creativity, btw).

Our minds need quiet time to be able to think, to imagine, to create. To make connections. Think of all those juicy tidbits of trivia, conversations you’ve overheard, news headlines, stories, pictures, questions, documentaries, things you read. Now imagine they are all sitting together in a beauty shop and this beauty shop is between your ears.

Take away their Candy Crush, their email, their audio books and streaming news. Take out their ear buds and make them sit together in the silence. Give them nothing else to do and guess what? They’ll start talking, and gossiping, and sharing and….CONNECTING.

This is when the magic is gonna happen. This is when all those meaningless scraps are going to start coming together and assembling into order and then…into beauty. Lately, I’ve been putting my phone on Airplane Mode a lot. I don’t need the constant beeping and siren’s call to look at FB. Been making time to just lie in bed in the dark and be quiet even if for only 30 minutes. I even moved a couple classes (AHHHHHHH!) because I was exhausted and to give my best I need to be at my best.

Baby steps 🙂 .

So if you’re stuck, your writing is stuck, your muse is stuck? Maybe it’s time to let her get a bored 😉 .

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with rest? Do you feel guilty? Is it hard to let yourself unplug? Hey I get it! What are some things you do to unplug? Hey I am all for suggestions!

Talk to me! And MAKE SURE to check out the classes below and sign up! Summer school! YAY!

For the month of JULY, 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.

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).

NEW CLASSES WITH CAIT REYNOLDS!

Obviously, I have my areas of expertise, but I’ve wanted for a long time to fill in some gaps on classes I could offer.

Cait Reynolds was my answer.

She is an unbelievable editor, mentor and teacher and a serious expert in these areas. She consults numerous very successful USA Today and NYTBS authors and I highly, highly recommend her classes.

      

  

OMG, Like How to Write On Fleek YA July 7th $40 with Cait Reynolds

Research for Historical Writing – Or, How not to Lose Six Hours on Pinterest July 8 $35 with Cait Reynolds

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here) July 14th $40 w/ Cait Reynolds

Shift Your Shifter Romance into High Gear July 15th $35 Basic/ $75 GOLD/ $125 PLATINUM

Gaskets and Gaiters: How to Create a Compelling Steampunk World July 21st $35 w/ Cait Reynolds 

Lasers & Dragons & Swords, Oh MY! World Building for Fantasy & Science Fiction July 28th w/ Cait Reynolds $35/ GOLD $75/ PLATINUM $125

Classes with MOI!

Plotting for Dummies July 13th $35 ($250 for GOLD)

Blogging for Authors July 20th $50 ($150 for GOLD)

Branding for Authors  July 27th $35

Classes with Lisa Hall-Wilson

Growing An Organic Platform On Facebook July 22nd $40

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Today I have a special treat from a long-time writing friend of mine, Kait Nolan, introducing a cool tool by another good friend Susan Bischoff. This is great information for any writer that will serve us far beyond November because this goes beyond NaNoWriMo.

I have said this before and will say it again and again. If we hope to ever make a living writing novels, we are not going to make our income off ONE book. We must harness the power of compounded sales. Aside from the rare fluke, this is always how writers have become pop culture staples. From Stephen King to Neil Gaiman to Anne Rice to Larry McMurtry, careers are made with more than one book.

But if it takes us five years to write the first novel and another five to edit the mess into a final product? We might want something to speed up the process and Kait is here to help with that. Additionally, NaNoWriMo is no easy feat. Great we finish, but better if we finish with something that can be shaped into something others want to pay to read. Ending up with an unsalvageable mess CAN be avoided.

I do a lot of teaching on this blog and feel free to roam the archives. But I also like taking time to direct you guys to the best resources to get you where you want to go.

Take it away, Kait!

National Novel Writing Month is nearly upon us.

Writers everywhere are making their vows to buckle down and crank out 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s one of the headiest times to be a writer all year, with hundreds of thousands embarking on the same mission. Never will you find more opportunities for sprint partners or writer camaraderie. There’s a fever that goes along with November that’s absolutely unparalleled. We are mighty! We are invincible! We are writers!

NaNo Meme

There are differing levels of preparation that go into NaNo.

A deep clean of the house (because you know you’re not cleaning a thing until December 1st). Maybe an epic weekend prepping freezer meals so that your family has something other than fast food to eat. A sharpening of the blade you’ll use to threaten whoever dares interrupt your precious writing time. And, of course, pre-planning of the NaNo novel itself.

The Pantser

Some people start with the vaguest of ideas and figure they’ll pants their way through it, fueled by Red Bull and raw enthusiasm. Most of those will fall by the wayside as the month rolls on, drowning under real world concerns or floundering in the land of asdfjkl; because they can’t think of what comes next. If they finish NaNo at all, they look something like this.

Doc-Brown

The Planner

Others may develop deep and detailed character dossiers or do massive worldbuilding, complete with annotated map. Still others may wander down that road of outlining so that they know exactly where they’re headed. Or think they do.

These folks are likely to get further in the process because they have, to some extent, eliminated the guesswork that is such a timewaster. Even some kind of plan will keep you plodding forward in your plot and get you across that finish line. And that’s AWESOME. Because hundreds of thousands of people never do that.

Finishing is HUGE.

But wouldn’t it be better if, when you crossed that finish line, you actually had a book that resembled…you know, a book? As in a story that bears strong resemblance to a salable tale? Because as fantastic as writing “The End” is, if you didn’t do the right kind of planning, chances are the crash from that NaNo high is going to be brutal when you realize you have to write the whole thing over from the beginning.

The Answer

Toolkit CoverI want to tell you how to avoid that. I want to share with you the deep secret I’ve been using for years to crank out novels that are, other than limited revisions, done right the first time. That system is The Story Toolkit by Susan Bischoff of The Forge Book Finishing.

Susan has been my editor for more than a decade, and the Toolkit arose, in part, because she kept seeing clients making many of the same mistakes, over and over. She wanted to create a tool that would, effectively, take somebody by the hand and lead them from idea to a solid, ready-to-write outline. And I’m proof that it works. This is the system that has allowed me to put out multiple books a year, despite the fact that I’m working one full-time and another part-time job, on TOP of writing. It’s all about efficiency and working smarter. Through a series of worksheets, The Story Toolkit asks the RIGHT questions to help you hone your glimmer of an idea into a viable premise and clear concept. Y’all, it’s like having a developmental editor sitting on your shoulder, helping point out the weak spots so you can shore them up before you even start! I don’t write my books without it.

So if you’re planning to NaNo (or if you’re just looking to improve your writing game), I encourage you to grab your copy of The Story Tookit today so that you can plan your novel the smart way and increase your odds of doing a victory dance come midnight November 30th! The ebook version is on sale for an introductory NaNoWriMo price of $2.99 until the end of October. Or you can nab the paperback for handy-dandy reference.

ecstatic

***

Thanks so much Kait! I am also offering a class this Saturday (Plotting for Dummies) and two hours of this class can literally save your Nano novel. Yes, this will even work for the Pantsers! All recordings come with purchase price even if you can’t make the actual class. And sure, the class is $35 but that beats the $3500 it would take to get a developmental editor to repair a mess. Also, feel free to peruse my archives for all kinds of free instruction. We really do want you to succeed!

What are your thoughts? Are you tired of starting stories that seem great to begin with then fizzle? Have you finished NaNo and what tools did you enjoy using? Have you ordered the razor wire to put around your desk next month?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, 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. 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).

Check out the NEW Plotting for Dummies class below!

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

Upcoming Classes

NEW CLASS!

NEW CLASS! FRIDAY October 21st Plotting for Dummies

Are you tired of starting book after book only to lose steam and be unable to finish? Do you finish, but then keep getting rejected? Do you finish, but it takes an ungodly amount of time? Sure, great you land an agent for your book, but you don’t have FIVE YEARS to write the next one?

This class is here to help. The writers who are making an excellent income are not doing it off ONE book, rather they are harnessing the power of compounded sales. This class is designed to help you learn to plot leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner (even for PANTSERS!)

Learn the basic elements of plot, various plotting techniques, how to test your seed idea to see if it is even strong enough to be a novel and MORE!

SATURDAY, October 22nd Blogging for Authors

Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.

The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.

The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.

This class is going to cover:

  • How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
  • What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
  • How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)
  • What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
  • How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
  • How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
  • How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
  • How can a blog help you sell more books?
  • How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre.

Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

 

~*~

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. This Mississippi native has something for everyone, from short and sweet to Southern contemporary romance to action-packed paranormal—all featuring heroes you’d want to sweep you off your feet and rescue you from work-day drudgery. When not working or writing, this reformed Pantser is hanging out in her kitchen cooking and wishing life were a Broadway musical.