Category Archives: Motivation and the Writing Life

How to be a #NaNoWriMo Rebel

Photo shows a sign that reads 'No Bicycles, Please" and a bike leaning against a stone wall under it. The post title, "How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel" is superimposed on top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig 

I’ve never officially been part of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo: more about the event here. If you’re interested in signing up, here’s how).  Wikipedia’s NaNoWriMo entry explains how to ‘win’ at the event:

To win NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of approximately 1,667 words per day in November to reach the goal of 50,000 words written toward a novel. Organizers of the event say that the aim is to get people to start writing, using the deadline as an incentive to get the story going and to put words to paper….NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion.

To be a regular participant, you are to start on a brand-new manuscript on November 1. I’m always in the middle of a project at that point.  Besides, there’s Thanksgiving to think about.  It’s never been the most convenient time for me. (If you’re like me, there’s also Camp NaNo, in April and July).

But I’ve always fed off of the energy and the writing sprints of the NaNoWriMo community.  I lurk in the forums and get motivated.

I also tend to beat my usual writing goal…by a huge amount.

I’ve also, in the past, looked at it as an opportunity to get other writing-related things done.

NaNoWriMo is well-aware that there are rebels among them.  :)  They have a special forum for rebels that states:

You’re writing a memoir, an essay, a comic, or something else that’s not a novel. Come join the NaNo Rebels and converse with your fellow outlaws here.

Continue reading How to be a #NaNoWriMo Rebel

On Inspiration and Delivery: The Creative Process

Man in hiking gear sits on rocks and views mountains, a lake, and a sunset. The post's title, "On Inspiration and Delivery: The Creative Process" is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Writers sometimes joke that the worst question to get from readers (and one of the most common) is “where do you get your ideas from?”

I recently read Light the Dark, edited by Joe Fassler, (I received a complimentary copy from Penguin editor Sam Raim). One of the cool things about this book is the fact that it has lots of different writers’ thoughts on where they ‘get their ideas from’…and it doesn’t only cover inspiration, but creativity and the artistic process itself.

Inspiration is a tough subject.  It varies from writer to writer. Sometimes, I think, we don’t even realize exactly what inspires or influences us. In Neil Gaiman’s essay, “Random Joy” for the collection, he talks about this: Continue reading On Inspiration and Delivery: The Creative Process

Time to Write

Alarm clock sits on a table to the left of the frame and the post title, "Time to Write' is superimposed on the right.

by Nancy Christie@NChristie_OH

When I was thinking about what topic to explore for this guest post, three words kept coming into my mind: “time to write.”

Maybe it was because, overloaded with pre-publication marketing work for my upcoming book, Rut-Busting Book for Writers, I kept “robbing Peter to pay Paul”—stealing the small amount of time I had dedicated each day to fiction writing (my passion) to complete all those promotional tasks on my To-Do list.

Nancy Christie's book "Rut-Busting Book for Writers."

Or maybe it was because despite knowing what I wanted to focus on once my writing book was safely “birthed”—preparing my second short story collection for publication—I kept finding my mind returning to a novel idea that was just “a gleam in its mother’s eye.” And then of course there were the client projects (my income source) whose deadlines were fast approaching.

Every day, I am very conscious of the tick-tick-tick that indicated that time is passing while the items on my task list remain uncompleted. Like so many writers and authors I interviewed for my book, it wasn’t that there was a shortage of ideas or projects I wanted to pursue. It was more a time shortage, leaving me feeling like the White Rabbit who kept checking his pocket watch and muttering, “so little time, so much to do.”

So how do we handle it, given that, for many of us, writing is both a creative calling and a business? How do we make time for writing? And is it just about literal “time” or do we also have to think about the other meaning of “time to write”: whether now is the time for us to begin (or return to) writing? Continue reading Time to Write

How to Slow Time for More Relaxed, Creative Writing Sessions

A hand, holding a pen in its fist, rises out of a pile of paper.

by Colleen M. Story, @Colleen_M_Story

“Oh, I want to write today, but I just don’t have the time!”

You’ve probably felt this way more than once. In fact, if you’re like many of us in today’s world, you’re feeling frequently pressed for time, and like you just can’t find enough of it—especially for writing.

The bad news is that when you’re constantly under the gun, creativity suffers. In a 2002 study, researchers analyzed more than 9,000 daily diary entries from people who were working on projects that required high levels of creativity. They found that stress, in the form of time pressure, resulted in less creative projects.

“When creativity is under the gun,” the authors wrote, “it usually ends up getting killed.”

The good news is that you don’t have to feel this way. Here are five tips that can help you slow your perception of time so that when you do get a moment to write, you can approach it with a calm, relaxed state of mind. Continue reading How to Slow Time for More Relaxed, Creative Writing Sessions

Comfort Zones and Writing


Garry Ryan's Matanzas

If you venture out of your comfort zone and can’t find your way back, maybe it’s all good.

by Garry Ryan, @GarryGarrettRya

This story probably began in Singapore. I spent the last two years of high school in a sweaty multicultural concoction of diverse languages, foods and monsoons. It was jarring and I had to adapt. An unexpected dividend was the ability to become a student of the inner workings of societies.

Back in Canada, the kindness of Casey and Pablo exposed me to First Nations’ perspectives. Sometimes the intense heat of a Blackfoot sweat lodge left burns on my shoulders. It also allowed me to see – with more clarity – the connections between humans.


Continue reading Comfort Zones and Writing