Blog

11 Aug

Synopses Are Actually Awesome

In Pitch Wars,Queries & Synopses by MK England / August 11, 2016 / 3 Comments

I honestly never thought I’d say those words.

It’s true, my attitude toward synopses has evolved over the years. At first, I utterly loathed them. Then, after my crit partner’s synopsis revealed a major plot issue I’d failed to spot while reading the actual manuscript, I acknowledged that though they sucked to write, synopses could be a useful analysis tool.

And now, after reading Pitch Wars submissions? Synopses are beautiful and valuable and should be written with care.

We requested synopses along with the full manuscript from every contender, and they’ve been so enlightening, illuminating issues with the manuscript that are difficult to see at ground level. Here are some of the most common problems we’re seeing with manuscripts via synopses:

  • No self-contained plot arc. This is the big one. Even if your book is planned as part of a series, the first book must be able to stand alone. Readers hate it when the core plotline of a book doesn’t resolve at the end. More importantly, though, you can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to sell the whole series. You might only sell the first book. The publisher might want it as a duology rather than a trilogy or quartet. Wrap things up in the first book and leave some intriguing threads loose to pick up. If your book is bought as a series, your editor will help you revise to reflect that.
  • Mushy middle. You get off to a great start, and you knew where you wanted to go, but you didn’t know how to get there and there were no tentpoles in the middle propping the story up. Critical things need to happen throughout the book.
  • Too convoluted. There seems to be a real push to make things too complex: Too many characters, too many new ideas or concepts crammed in, too many subplots, etc. Sometimes these are due to poor synopsis writing, which hey, it’s hard, I forgive you. But sometimes, those same issues are reflected in the manuscript, and the synopsis just makes it easier to see. It’s no fun getting to the end of a synopsis and thinking “…I have no idea what just happened”.
  • More love for worldbuilding than characters or plot. Jamie and I LOVE cool worldbuilding. We really, really do, and it can make a book shine. But your world is the stage for your characters and their actions. Make sure your worldbuilding always serves the characters and the plot.

All of these are fixable, and a dedicated writer CAN fix them in the two months allotted for Pitch Wars, but you have to be open to the kind of large-scale rewrite that these problems require. Are you willing to gut entire chapters, chop off your whole ending, and eliminate dead-weight characters? It’s fine—take a few days, cry, feel grumpy, curse our names, and do whatever else you need to do to mourn and digest the feedback.

Then sit down at your keyboard, crack those knuckles, and make your book the best, shiniest book it can be.

Sometime in the near future, I’ll write a post on non-painful ways to write a synopsis. In the meantime, check out THE classic post on synopsis writing over on pubcrawl.

How do you feel about synopses? Do you have lots of angry feelings about them, or have you kind of come to terms? Vent your feelings in the comments.

28 Jul

Pitch Wars Live Video

Last night I was on Pitch Wars Live answering your questions from Twitter about Pitch Wars wish lists, submissions, and the craft of writing. It was a TON of fun, and we got some really great questions! I haven’t been able to go back and watch it because I know I make incredibly stupid faces when I talk, but if you want to be entertained by my face, you can watch below, or on youtube here.

If you want to follow up on any of the questions I answered, or get answers to any of the ones I skipped, let me know in the comments!

27 Jul

Critiques and Cultivating Self-Awareness

In Editing,Pitch Wars,Writing Process by MK England / July 27, 2016 / 0 Comments

I’ve written about critiquing and revising several times before. There’s a reason for that—in the last two years, I’ve personally had to come to terms with how critiquing works, how it feels, what I should take from it, and what role it plays in an author’s career. I’ve also watched how those around me have learned to deal (or not deal) with critiques, from casual one-time crit acquaintances to long-term crit partners whom I adore and still work with. You really do go through the five stages of grief when learning to accept critiques, but successful writers eventually make it to the acceptance stage: critiques are helpful and healthy and the best way to ensure your story does what you want it to do.

But how do you get to that point? How do you eventually make it through the hurt and come to a place of understanding and acceptance? That, dear writer, is the million dollar question. And sure, there’s the usual answers of time, perseverance, blah, blah, blah, but what can you really, actually do?

so much pain

Long answer: For me, the answer is self-awareness. By this point, I know myself, and I know my reactions. I know that when I first get a large critique I will be very sad, and I need to give myself a few hours (or even days) to process that. I know that I’ll have a lot of emotional reactions to the feedback at first. How can I not? It’s like getting up on stage and being booed. It’s a mixture of shame and humiliation over making mistakes, anger over people “misinterpreting” things or just “not getting it”, and sadness for having poured so much of my soul into something and having it criticized. These are honest, real reactions, but they shouldn’t dominate the way you react to feedback, and they absolutely shouldn’t dominate how you revise. Because ultimately, that feedback is what’s going to make your book shine.

Short answer: Don’t bullshit yourself. Learn to spot when you’re bullshitting.

My common bullshitting reactions include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • But I like it this way
  • But I did it that way for a specific reason
  • But I worked so hard on that
  • But this scene is essential for Reasons
  • But does that little thing really matter?
  • But changing that will require huge changes in these twenty other places
  • I don’t get how they see it that way
  • NO. *growl*
  • This is terrible, I am terrible, there is no hope, I should give up

Other things to look for in your own reactions (mostly compiled from the #PitchWars class of 2015, thanks y’all):

  • A different crit partner didn’t have a problem with that scene, therefore I’m justified in not fixing it
  • I’m staying true to my art
  • They’re reading it wrong
  • Let me explain it and you’ll understand
  • That’s just the way I write
  • They just don’t get it

The answer to all of these is the same. It isn’t working for this reader. Their opinion is valid. Take a step back, take stock of what you’re feeling, and really think about what you’re hearing.

Next time you get feedback on a piece of work, try this:

  • Name the feeling you’re having. Anger. Shame. Embarrassment. Disappointment. Allow yourself to feel it. Don’t say or do anything to react to it, but specifically acknowledge it and let yourself feel it.
  • Let the feedback sit. A few hours, a few days, a few weeks, however long it takes for you to feel less emotional and be able to approach it more objectively.
  • What is it specifically about that one piece of feedback that bothers you? Is it the work required to fix it? Does it change something you’re particularly proud of? You can be proud of your writing and still acknowledge that it’s not right for the story.
  • What’s at the core of the feedback? Maybe you don’t agree with the specifics, but you can see that there’s something wrong. You don’t agree that the chapter should be cut, but you do agree there are pacing problems, etc.
  • Is it a grammar rule you’re having issues with? These are probably the easiest to let go of. Learn the rule, do better in the future. You might feel some embarrassment over having messed up, or defensiveness because you’ve always done it that way and you don’t think it sounds wrong, but when it comes down to it there’s no need to feel prideful over an established, industry-standard grammar rule. Follow the rule unless you have a really good stylistic reason for breaking it that others agree works.
  • Change your attitude going into the critique. When you first deliver your MS to your critique partner, say, “Do whatever you gotta do to make it awesome,” or, “Tear it up, I can take it!”. When it’s time to receive the critique, mentally prepare for it. Go into it calm, sit down with your crit partner, and say, “Okay, tell me how I can make this better.”
  • Set yourself up to receive the critique however you need. If you need to be alone to process, ask your CPs to send their critiques as edit letters or with track changes in Word or Google Docs. However, I’d really encourage you to try receiving your crits over the phone or in person. It reminds you that the person you’re talking to is a real human who cares about your MS, not a nameless enemy out to hurt you. It also lets them explain a bit about the suggestions they’re making, so you don’t see them in a vacuum.
  • Go into it expecting changes. I’ve talked about this before, but lots of people go into a critique wanting validation. That’s not the point. The point is to make the story better. You’re never done making changes until the book goes to print. A good crit partner will give you some cheerleading too, but that’s not what it’s about.

If, after you’ve done all this, you still feel that a piece of feedback isn’t correct, feel free to disregard it. No one critique partner is correct 100% of the time—not even a Pitch Wars mentor! But make sure you’re rejecting that feedback for the right reasons.

Learning to accept critiques is one of the hardest parts of being a writer, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to be a professional. Better to learn now than to try to learn when the critique is coming from an agent or editor!

For more on the subjects of critiques and revising, see my other two posts:
On Receiving Critiques
It’s Not Selling Out!: On Revising From Feedback

How do you react to critiques? Any strategies to share? Let me know in the comments.

19 Jul

Pitch Wars MSWL: M.K. England and Jamie Pacton (YA)

In Pitch Wars by MK England / July 19, 2016 / 4 Comments

We are YA co-mentors M.K. England and Jamie Pacton.

jamegan

We’re Pitch Wars 2015 alums turned agented authors, and we’re here for all your YA submissions! We are smart. We are funny. We read all the things. We will make you work, but you will have a better book by the end. JaMegan: two mentors for the price of one.

yay felicia day

Here’s what you should submit to us in 300(…ish) words or less:

Give us: Your absolute best effort. Unstoppable voice, believable characters (who don’t have to be likeable), settings that feel real. We’re best able to provide guidance for high-concept books with tons of heart or a rollicking adventure. We are writers today because when we were kids reading adventure stories made us feel empowered, like we could go out and take on the world. We’d love a manuscript that evokes that same feeling.

Yes Please: Sci-fi, Fantasy, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Mystery, Historicals with a twist (alt history/ historical fantasy). We’d love to hear from #OwnVoices; we want diverse books!

Bonus Points: Funny. Geeky. Quirky. Heists. Girls saving themselves. Badassery.

No Thanks: Horror, literary, heavy issue books, anything super slow-paced and quiet. We’re just not the best people to help shape works like these. We’re not wild about getting dystopian unless it has strong SFF elements. It’s fine if characters have faith as a part of their lives, but Christian Fiction or anything else very faith-focused is also not a good fit for us. (CLARIFICATION: The level of violence found in your typical YA genre book is completely fine with us! We just don’t like really gratuitous horror or violence, or any types of violence found in our Big Nopes below.)

Big Nopes: On-screen incest, rape, abuse. No problem if this is part of backstory, but we aren’t the best mentors for books that dig into these traumas. Bigoted or misogynistic narratives are never okay with us. Also, you don’t have to have LGBTQ+ characters, but we hate reading super heteronormative books where it feels like a queer person could never exist in that world.

Comp Titles We Would Walk Through Volcanos For: Bitch Planet; Rat Queens; Saga; Carry On; Little Brother; Six of Crows; Wolf by Wolf, The Name of the Wind (but with stronger female characters); an updated YA version of Mercedes Lackey’s By the Sword; An Ember in the Ashes; the Temeraire series; Sabriel; Graceling; Eleanor & Park; Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda; Into the Wild Nerd Yonder.

M.K. writes: YA Space Opera, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, and fanfic, because yes.

Jamie writes: YA Fantasy, Alt History, Dark Fairy Tales. And funny MG books.

How We Work: Edit letter for big picture stuff first. Line edit for smaller stuff second. Frequent communication as you prefer. If you’re ready to bust your butt, we’re ready to guide you.

More questions?: @Geektasticlib. @JamiePacton.

————

M.K. England is a writer and YA librarian living in the mountainy parts of Virginia. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, going to conventions, running through the woods, feeding her video game addiction, or improvising truly terrible songs about her dogs. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if she never speaks of BBC Sherlock. She has it bad. MK is represented by the incomparable Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Jamie Pacton is a writer and English teacher living in Wisconsin. In addition to writing Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, she also writes about autism for Parents magazine. She spends her free moments wandering by Lake Michigan, checking out way too many books from her local library, chasing her children, and watching all the things on Netflix. She’s partial to history, adventure stories, Project Runway, and– of course– the BBC’s Sherlock. Jamie is represented by the wonderful Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit

this is getting fun

Looking for our letter for the scavenger hunt? Gotta visit my co-mentor Jamie Pacton over here. For more YA mentor awesomeness, check out the YA mentor blog hop below:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

36.

37.

38.

39.

40.

41.

42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48.

49.

50.

51.

52.

53.

54.

55.

56.

57.

58.

59.

60.

61.

62.

63.

64.

65.

66.

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

13 Jul

Plotting Resources

In Drafting by MK England / July 13, 2016 / 0 Comments

I recently gave a short(…ish) presentation about plotting techniques for the teen writing group at my library and figured, hey, I spent time putting all this together, may as well share it with the world wide interwebs, too.

Look, I make no secret of the fact that I’m an avowed plotter, and I love my outlines with a passion bordering on the obsessive. The mere thought of pantsing a novel both fills me with awe and gives me heart palpitations. As with most things in writing, though, the only correct way to do things is the way that works for you.

That said… we’re here to talk about plotting, which means we’re really here to talk about outlining. Because what is plotting if not an organized list of what happens in your novel? Here’s the secret, though: Outlines aren’t just for plotters, they’re also for pantsers.

plotting

If you intend to create writing for serious public consumption, you will end up doing some manner of outlining at some point anyway, whether it happens before or after the first draft. Even if you’re a devoted pantser, you will eventually need to look back on what you’ve written, analyze it, identify the critical elements, and work to polish them. Outlining methods will help with that! (And hey, with outlining, at least you know if a story is broken before you invest weeks of time into a meandering vomit draft that goes nowhere.) Ultimately, I think Chuck Wendig said it best:

Outlining will not “destroy the magic” or any of that wifty supernatural pegasus shit. I believe very much that writing and storytelling feels like magic while at the same time being a wholly and gloriously mundane activity. (x)

The powerpoint (because I’m incapable of organizing my thoughts without a powerpoint) is right here, with all the relevant links included, but here’s the TL;DR version:

Before you start plotting with ANY of these methods, it’s really helpful if you know your Character, Conflict, and Stakes:

Character– Who should we care about?
Conflict – What is the major obstacle?
Stakes – What bad thing will happen if the character can’t resolve the conflict?

Some methods to try:

Try a bunch, combine methods, see what works!

Do you have any particular plotting methods that work for you? Let me know in the comments!

01 Jul

Twitter Basics for Writers

In PR/Marketing,Uncategorized by MK England / July 1, 2016 / 0 Comments

(This is about two months overdue, so sorry, y’all, but I got there eventually.)

One of my last acts as a founder and co-leader of the Atlantic County Writers Group in New Jersey was to lead a workshop right before I moved away. We had a great group attend Twitter Basics for Writers back in April, and the attendees requested that I post the slides online for later reference.

twitter selfieAnd I tried. The file was so huge that it gave me troubles uploading it, and then I moved and forgot about it. Of course, it occurred to me yesterday I could have just provided you a link to the google doc all along like a smart person. My bad.

 

 

This workshop was designed for folks who were totally new to twitter, or who had used it a bit but needed some help getting involved in the twitter writing community. It walks you through creating an account (which you can skip if you’ve already gotten that far), developing a twitter brand, and engaging with the writing community, and more. You can view the presentation here, and you can even download a PDF to keep by going to file → download as. Many thanks to the folks who gave permission for me to use screenshots of their twitter bios as examples!

Hope someone out there finds this helpful. If you have questions about using twitter as a writer, feel free to ask in the comments. You can also follow me on twitter @Geektasticlib!

 

22 Jun

Pitch Wars is Coming!

In News by MK England / June 22, 2016 / 2 Comments

In the past two months I’ve moved to a new state, started a new job at a new library, become a first-time landlord (ugh), and… some other things that I can’t talk about yet. It’s a lot, y’all.

myfeelings

And on top of it all? I’m preparing to be a #PitchWars mentor for the first time!

Pitch Wars is the biggest writing contest in the twitterverse, hosted annually by Brenda Drake.
Potential mentees submit their query and first chapter to a select number of mentors reading in their genre. The mentors (agented/published authors) choose the best manuscript from their submissions and work with their mentee for two months, providing detailed manuscript critiques and advice about the publishing world. It all leads up to the Agent Showcase in November, where mentees get to post a 35-word pitch and 250-word sample of their manuscript on Brenda’s blog. Then, the agents who have committed to the contest (and a few ninja agents!) check out all the samples and request more pages from those that interest them. Here’s my Agent Showcase post from last year. There are two things that really make Pitch Wars priceless, though: Getting critiqued by someone farther up the publishing chain than you, and the amazing community that emerges from the experience.

Last year I made it into the Pitch Wars class of 2015, had a fantastic time, learned a lot, and met a community of writers that continues to be a crucial part of my support system. Our private facebook group is my solace, and they’re some of my most active twitter buddies and email pen pals. I was so grateful for the experience that I wanted to give back to the community, so this year I’ll be co-mentoring in the YA category with my fellow PW15 alumna, Jamie Pacton! Our manuscript wishlist will be coming out in July, but for now, just know that we’re looking for a hard worker with big dreams and a YA manuscript we can’t put down!

readingfast

If you’re planning to enter Pitch Wars, I hope you’ll consider donating to the cause. All of the mentors work for free, but it takes an enormous amount of time and expensive web hosting to make Pitch Wars happen. Everyone gets to submit to four mentors for free, but those who choose to donate $20 or more will get two extra submissions, for a total of six. All entries are given equal consideration (mentors will not know who donated and who did not), and smaller donation amounts are just as welcomed and appreciated!

To support the fundraising effort, the Pitch Wars class of 2015 will be doing a day of donating on July 15th. To show our appreciation for everything Pitch Wars gave us, we’ll all be donating what we’re able on that day. The first 100 people to donate at least $15 with us on the 15th will get a bonus swag pack of writing-related goodies! If you donate at least $20 on the 15th, you’ll get both the swag pack and the two extra entries. Good deal, right?

pwswag

Want to show your #PitchWars pride? You can also purchase Pitch Wars t-shirts and coffee mugs, and 30% of proceeds will go straight to the Pitch Wars fund!

If you have any question about Pitch Wars, please feel free to reach out to me on twitter @GeektasticLib. While I can’t answer any questions like “Do you want a manuscript that features X and Y?”, I can definitely tell you what being in Pitch Wars is like and encourage you to enter. If you need convincing, I’m here!

Are you planning to submit to Pitch Wars this year? Feel free to ask question in the comments!

10 May

AskAuthors Blog Announcement

In AskAuthors,Questions Answered by MK England / May 10, 2016 / 0 Comments

I recently started contributing to a group blog called AskAuthors, which solicits questions from the tumblr community to be asked of the entire Pitch Wars class of 2015. There will be a question posted every Monday, plus additional questions asked by followers in between. It’s been a lot of fun so far! I love seeing how twenty or thirty different people respond to the same question. As the questions are posted on the Ask Authors blog, I’ll be reposting some of my own answers over here, sometimes with additional content.

We each answered a short questionnaire to introduce ourselves to the AskAuthors audience:

Name: M.K. England
Favorite Book: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Status: Agented, on submission
Primary Genre: YA Speculative
Super Hero Name: According to a highly accurate facebook meme, it’s Stardoom the Smiter of Mars. Pretty good, actually.
Superpower: Teen Librarianing like a BOSS
Three words to describe yourself as a writer: Caffeinated neurotic disaster

Make sure you visit the blog (and follow, if you’re a tumblr user) to see everyone else’s responses, too. The real value of this blog is the variety of perspectives, so ask us things! You can send an ask anonymously even if you don’t have a tumblr account.

Looking forward to answering your questions!

04 May

It’s Not Selling Out: On revising from feedback

In Drafting,Editing,Writing Process by MK England / May 4, 2016 / 2 Comments

Typically when something makes me angry, I’m tempted to immediately fight back with an extremely pissed off torrent of logic that overwhelms my opponent. Just ask my partner. I know it’s not the best reaction, so I’ve worked hard to chill out a bit and take some time to process my reactions before word vomiting all over everything.

But when something is still actively angering me a month later, I think it’s worth talking about.

Upon hearing about all the revisions I’ve done based on critique partner and agent feedback, two separate people have made comments that really stuck in my brain. I attempted to play it cool at the time and tried to brush the comments off, knowing they weren’t intended to hurt me. Both people were writers who were going through that awful period when you’re getting critiqued for the first time and learning to deal with the pain and aching pride. But months later, I still haven’t forgotten those words.

One casually asked, in a somewhat condescending tone: “So, you’re writing for the masses, right? That’s your goal?”

The other made blatant comments about “selling out” and how revising based on feedback makes it “not my book anymore”.

take a deep breathOkay, look.

If you are writing only for yourself and have no particular interest in whether anyone actually reads or enjoys your work, then perfect. Don’t revise. Don’t get others’ opinions. That is completely fine and valid and wonderful. But if that’s your goal, then don’t submit your work to others for critique. And definitely don’t be surprised that when you ask for opinions, you get them.

If you are writing with the hope that people will eventually read and enjoy your book, though, you must seriously consider reader feedback.

Here’s the thing. For me, the biggest part of being critiqued is making sure readers are getting the experience from the book that I want them to have. When I get feedback that the pacing in my first chapter is dragging, I don’t change it to “appease the masses”; I change it because I’m not evoking the feeling in my readers that I was hoping to achieve. I’m changing it because I’m not fulfilling my vision for the book. If my goal is to deliver a fun, fast-paced space adventure and I get feedback that the pacing is off, you’re damn right I’m going to fix it. That’s not what I want for my story. At the end of the day, it’s my book, and I want it to be the best book it can be. Revising based on feedback doesn’t make it any less my book. If anything, it makes it even more my book, makes certain that I’m accurately conveying what I’m trying to accomplish through my story. And yes, you know what? I do want to appeal to as many readers as possible because, for me, the goal of writing is to share the story with other people. That means doing what I can to bring readers in while staying true to the soul of the story.

But M, what if the story I’ve written is exactly as I want it to be and I don’t want to make any changes based on reader feedback? That’s fine, but you have to live with the fact that some readers—possibly most readers—won’t connect with what you’ve written. They’ll stop after a few chapters and never make it to that beautiful scene at the climax of the book that you so want them to experience.

But if they only gave it a chance! You need to give your readers a chance, too. If you want to share your story with them, you need to meet them halfway, invite them into your world. I’m not talking about changing anything critical about your story or watering down your style, language, or complexity. I’m talking about paying attention to things like pacing, cutting self-indulgent scenes that don’t serve a purpose, and acknowledging reader reactions to your writing as valid. Sure, you can write whatever you want—but readers can also react however they want. Again, it all comes back to goals, but if your goal is to have readers magically understand your artistic vision… good luck.

Maybe you will be one of those hole-in-one authors that gets it right without outside feedback. There’s always a chance. But don’t rely on being the exception. Put in the work. Grow that thick skin. Care about your readers.

Deliver the story you want to tell.

02 May

Spring Writing Bootcamp Goals

In Drafting,Goals by MK England / May 2, 2016 / 0 Comments

I’ve participated in the YA Buccaneers seasonal writing bootcamps on and off since spring 2014 and I’ve decided to participate in the Spring Writing Bootcamp again this year in hopes of distracting myself from being on submission. Time to refocus my energy on generating new words! So, here I am, publicly declaring my goals for May 1st through June 30th.

Bootcamp Goals

  1. Draft a new YA book. First draft wordcount goal: 50,000.

I have three ideas battling for supremacy, but I’ve been focusing my brainstorming and outlining efforts on a YA f/f contemporary romance novel. Last August, I went to one of my many annual fan conventions and walked into the con hotel to find myself surrounded by gorgeous women decked out in their finery. A fan convention and a beauty pageant in the same hotel? Obviously a meet-cute and whirlwind weekend romance waiting to happen. Can I write something that isn’t science fiction or fantasy? WE’RE ABOUT TO FIND OUT.

2. Critique my primary CPs latest YA novel.

My dear writing wife Lisen Minetti just delivered her latest manuscript to my inbox last night, and I am PUMPED to dive in and critique it. I’ll be setting aside lots of time during the first week to accomplish my first in-depth critique, and possibly another chunk of time late in June to read revisions. I love this project of hers and have been looking forward to reading it for months!

3. Be active for 30 minutes per day, five days per week.

Since I began writing seriously back in 2014, I’ve devoted more and more time to writing and writing-related pursuits. All of those pursuits involve me spending lots of time sitting in chairs, and my body is suffering for it. My health and energy levels have noticeably changed for the worse. All those days where I work from 8:30-5, then come home and write until midnight may make me feel like an awesomely productive writing superhero, but they do a real number on my health. My wordcount won’t drop dramatically if I take 30 minutes out of that time to go for a walk. In fact, it could even boost my creativity and energy levels.

Upcoming Pinch Points

I have several things on my calendar that may make my drafting goal a bit lofty, but hey, I’ve won NaNoWriMo for the past two years, so I should be able to do 50k in two months no problem, right? Right? Mid-May will be the New Jersey Library Association conference, which is providing me an excellent excuse to have a mini writing retreat with Lisen. June will be the American Library Association annual conference in Orlando, where I’ll have a peaceful hotel room all to myself to get some writing done in between conference sessions. I’m hoping the circumstances I’ve created for myself during these trips will mean I can still get some writing done and stay on track.

Tracking my Progress

I’ve tried lots of ways to track my goal progress over the years, but nothing seems to make me as happy as the combination of colorful star stickers on a calendar plus the wordcount tracker on storytoolz.com. Storytoolz makes a line graph as you input your wordcount each day, and there’s something so satisfying about watching that little line climb. But seriously, colorful star stickers. Who doesn’t love them? I’ll give myself a sticker for each 30 minutes of exercise, each critiquing session, and each 500 words written.

But M, you’re supposed to be a professional! Why do you need stickers to motivate you to write?

Fuck off, stars are awesome.

you got a star

What about you? 

Are you working toward any particular writing goals right now? Declare them for all the world to see in the comments. Let’s keep each other honest and motivated!