• NaNoWriMo Week 3 Talk: Reigniting the Spark

    "And then Smarty Pants cuddled up next to Brutus and giggled..."

    The finish line is in sight folks! We’re almost to the end of this massive word sprint! No matter where you are on your journey, don’t give up now! You can do this! And what’s more, below, I’m going to give you some ideas on how.

    But first, let’s talk about validation. To be considered as a ‘Winner’ of NaPoWriMo and be included in the Victory Post, here’s what you need to do:
    • Email eqnapowrimo@gmail.com with your Author Name (the same one you entered with), the Story Name, your personal goal and your final word count.
    • Message must be sent by 12PM Pacific on December 3, 2017
    Find out what you need below the break!

    In addition to the above information, you must have one of the following: 
    • A link to a Google Doc with your story.
      • If you continued an ongoing story for NaPoWriMo, only include the words you’ve written since November 1, 2017.
    • A link to your FimFiction story.
      • If the story isn’t published yet, create an Unpublished View Password (found in the Edit Story screen beneath “Long Description”) and provide that password. 
      • Under no circumstances should you include your FimFiction account password in your email.
    Emails sent without all of the information listed above (choose either FimFiction or Google Docs, do not send both) will be considered invalid. Due to the number of participants, I will not be able to send you reminder messages. These stories will not be published in any way, shape or form unless you provide a link to a published FimFiction story. This information will be used for verification purposes only. 

    The Victory Post is slated to come out December 7. 

    In addition, for those of you who are participating in National Novel Writing Month, validation is now available! Go get your banners, awards and discounts! Especially since Scrivener actually just released Version 3.0 for Mac this week and winners will get 50% off this amazing writing software!

    Just go to the website, open up the word count and as long as you’ve cracked 50,000 words, you can hit validate! 

    Get some of that validation goodness! 

    "The secret is to make them all lethally cute. That way, all will be shipped."

    Once again, I found myself somewhat befuddled on what to talk to you all about this week. You see, despite appearances to the contrary, I write on instinct. I’m driven by passion, dedication and my own sense of obligation. This is the fuel that keeps me going.

    Sometimes, that fuel runs out. This month, it’s run out a lot.

    What do you do when the fire’s gone?

    First, you cover the basic necessities. Physical stuff like sleep and drinking enough water (seriously, drink water). Stressors like family, work, social life and the like. But this is basic life stress management. There are people far better qualified to talk to you about this than me.

    Let’s say you’ve got a decent handle on all of that jazz. But when you sit at the keyboard, the muses still aren’t helping. You can slam a few words together, but they come across as flat an uninteresting. Even you’re bored with your own story (I’ve had this happen).

    Well, the first thing to do is to stop! 

    Yes, believe it or not, I just told you it’s okay to stop once in a while. In fact, you have to. Creativity is not a bottomless well. Even Brandon Sanderson, a man who I consider to be unto a writing god, said: “I take two hours off for my family every day...” Stephen King always takes Christmas and his birthday off. 

    You guys already know how to take basic breaks. Take a walk outside (Celestia won’t kill you, I promise). Watch a TV show. Go hang out with some friends. Heck, take a nap! 
    “The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. ”
    ― Agatha Christie
    "I said we could talk about my shipfic! I didn't say you could read it yet!"

    My personal favorite, of course, is reading.
    “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
    —Samuel Johnson
    I’ve found myself recharged by reading both pony and non-pony words. When I judged for the RariTwi Interwoven Colours contest, I found myself unable to write between all the stories I had to judge and my own self-imposed writing obligations. I decided to read a few short stories in Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson. After that, I blazed back into full production, completely re-energized.
    It is very important to be reading as well as writing. A doctor is not going to ignore new surgery practices.
    ― Brandon Sanderson
    That being said, it’s a really good idea to get out of fanfiction once in a while. And if you find you don’t have time to read, you’re overscheduled. I’ve met too many authors who don’t read and their writing suffers. Make the time, even at the expense of your own writing time (just don’t get too caught up in a new book that you have trouble writing!)
    Elend: “I kind of lost track of time…”
    Breeze: “For two hours?”
    Elend: “There were books involved.”
    ― Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension
    "How can you make me decide between my ships, Rarity? They're all glorious!" (Source)

    The next big one is chatting with people! 
    “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”
    – Orson Scott Card
    I’ve been privileged to be on both sides of this experience. Sometimes, I’ll find myself totally stuck in a story. I’ll type about it to a friend or my editing team and while I write, the solution just comes to me. Sometimes, if they get pulled away while I’m typing, they’ll come back with an idea and I’ll respond with “Oh, I figured it out. Thanks!” 

    That being said, being able to actually interact with people who are as passionate about writing (especially writing pony fics) as you are is a wonderful thing. Talk to your friends and fellow authors. Bounce ideas back and forth. The FimFiction server has a great channel called #writing-help where you can get advice from some of the best. 

    I don’t normally recommend you show people your work until it’s past the first draft, but I know many authors who can’t function like that. So that’s an option, too! Don’t let that get into editing though. Either way, find out which way is best for you! 

    If you happen to be one of those lucky few with a following, reach out to your fans. A single conversation with someone who truly loves your work can fuel you for weeks. Speaking of which, take the time occasionally to gush about the stories your love to the authors you love. I cannot express how powerful it is. It puts the muses into overdrive.

    "I only have forty-seven shipfics going right now! It's a major improvement from the eighty-three last week!"

    Next, have a few projects going at the same time.

    This one can be tricky. I don’t usually do very well with it, as if I spend too much time away from a story, I tend to lose interest in it. Then again, I often get too focused, so take that with a grain of salt! 
    “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
    —Philip Roth
    Honestly, you don’t want to use my techniques. As I told Carapace earlier, “I’d rather teach folks healthy writing techniques instead of mine.”

    However, many authors use this technique prevent burnout. By keeping your mind on several projects at once, you won’t risk burnout nearly as much. Sometimes, you can transition this to one-shots, too! In fact, I’ll admit that some amazing stories have come out of me throwing up my hands, saying “I’m sick of everything I’m writing right now, I wanna do something else!” and then doing it. 

    I asked a few of my fellow FimFiction authors and they weighed in on this particular technique:

    I have a friend give me some various 1k word writing prompts. Just to write something completely else and different, on a small scope, to feel a small "accomplishment," and to distance my mind from what I'm burnt out on so I can come back to it "fresh.”

    I have several projects and I juggle them. If one gives me trouble, I put it aside and work on another. If none are appealing, I might prod at a one-shot idea.

    Move away from whatever fic you’re working on and try to move forward on a different story. I've sometimes ended up writing entire chapters I didn't plan using this method. It helps to have a few projects one can jump to if one stalls.

    "I just can't take it anymore! Why won't you just admit how you feel? Stop looking so smug!"
    “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
    —Ray Bradbury
    Sometimes, you’re going to have to scale back. At the beginning, I said you should aim high for your daily word count. Part of the reason is because life happens. This last weekend during EQLA, I had a day when I literally wrote 9 words for the day. Nine. I was simply too busy at that con to do anything else! Now, I don’t recommend that you scale back that far, but I felt much better knowing I had written something

    Often, you’ll find that the best ideas come to you out of nowhere. I can’t count the number of times some epiphany came to me while I was taking a shower. I’ve had entire stories unroll before me while I was busy doing something else like driving or doing the dishes.

    Take a step back. Read a book. Talk with some friends. Even work on something new for a bit. Use that time to refuel and re-energize. Just remember, it’s going to take some sort to get back into the groove. 

    No matter what though, don’t give up! You’re almost there! Just a bit farther! 

    Finish strong!

    Good luck and I’ll see you all for the grand finale!