• Why You’re Still a Winner If You Don’t Win NaNoWriMo

    Every year for the past several years, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)–even this year. See, I even wrote a post about it! I’ve “won” almost every year that I’ve participated (“winning” is established once you reach 50K words).
    This year, though, I found that life got in the way–more so than usual. Despite my optimism and countless pep talks, I wasn’t able to win this year. At a measly 18K, I didn’t even come close.

    But that doesn’t mean I’m not a winner.


    When it comes right down to it, the point of NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily to finish. (I’m sure a few people will want to argue with me on this one. Oh well.) To me, NaNoWriMo is all about possibility; learning that, although writing a novel is tough, it is something that anyone and everyone has the capacity to try–and maybe even succeed.

    NaNoWriMo is important not because it leads to a finished product, but because it gets people writing. It encourages you to put words down every day, develop a habit, and cultivate the self-discipline that’s vital to writing a book. It allows you to realize your potential. Most importantly, it leads to a further appreciation of storycrafting itself.

    I’m sure this post will come off much more hokey than I mean it to. What I’m trying to say that, while I believe in the merits of NaNoWriMo, you certainly shouldn’t feel bad about not writing a novel in a month. I didn’t write one this month, either! And the books I have finished, most notably Blood and Watertook me much longer than a month to complete.

    If you did win NaNoWriMo, congratulations! If you didn’t, just remember that there’s so much more to strive for. You should be proud of yourself for even attempting to write a novel. If nothing else, remember this: I am proud of you.

    How did you do with NaNoWriMo this year? How do you feel about NaNoWriMo in general?

    Tweet tweet:

    Didn’t win #NaNoWriMo? Here’s why @brianawrites still thinks you’re a winner. (Click to tweet)

  • When You Need Your Own Pep Talk

    Last week, I wrote a post. This, in itself, is nothing unusual. The post was about NaNoWriMo. That also isn’t anything unusual. The unusual part, though, is that the other day, I found myself reviewing my own pep talk. Then, instead of skimming, I really started reading it. I dove in deep, swam to the bottom, watched the air bubbles floating up towards the surface. On the subject of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been treading water for a few weeks; since the thing got started, really. But I’m determined not to drown.
    When You Need Your Own Pep Talk

    If you’re behind, too, this post is for you. NaNoWriMo may be halfway over, but that doesn’t mean you should give up if you haven’t reached 25,000 words yet. I meant exactly what I said last week: you can totally do this. Keep going. Believe in yourself and the power of your work. And above all, don’t stop writing. No matter what, my darlings, never stop writing.

    Sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes, it feels like you’ll never get ahead, never come out on top. Life gets in the way of writing. And you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes, writing can’t be your top priority.

    Even if you can’t make word count every day, that’s no reason to abandon the project. NaNoWriMo is halfway finished, but that means you still have half a month to finish strong. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself feeling down on yourself.

    And loves, for what it’s worth, I believe in all of you.

    How’s your NaNo novel going so far? What are your tips for staying motivated?

    Tweet tweet:

    How’s your #NaNoWriMo novel going? Find out why @brianawrites thinks you should keep going, no matter what. (Click to tweet)

  • Don’t Count Yourself Out Yet! (A NaNoWriMo Pep Talk)

    If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, welcome to the dreaded Week Two, in which everything goes to crap! Well, not everything, but you get the point.
    Dont Count Yourself Out Yet (A NaNoWriMo Pep Talk)

    In Week One, you were excited about starting your novel. You were flying high on ideas, inspiration, and energy. There were a million possibilities floating through your mind! You were going to write the Next Great International Bestselling Novel! Everything was going to be okay!

    But then Week Two came, and real life, self-doubt, and panic set in. Maybe you were working full-time or going to school or raising a family. You didn’t have as much time or energy to write as you expected, and you felt like a failure. Why did you think you could write a novel in a month? Who even does that??? You must have been nuts. You’ll never get to 50K! You might even die. (Of embarrassment, if nothing else.)

    But, but, but! Don’t count yourself out just yet! Even if you’ve fallen behind on your word count (even I have!), you can still make up for lost time and get to 50K before the month is out. If you’ve never won NaNoWriMo before, trust me when I say that there’s no better feeling than finishing strong. If you think it’s taking a toll on your mental and emotional health, then by all means, give it up. But please don’t quit just because it’s a bit of a challenge. You might end up regretting it.

    Take me, for example. I’m super behind. At the time this post goes live, I hope I’ll be caught up. As I’m writing it, I’m about 6K behind, so we’ll see what happens. And that’s okay! I tend to do the majority of my writing on the weekends, so I’m trying not to stress over it. After all, NaNoWriMo is about having fun. If you’re not having fun, why participate?

    I don’t have much else to say besides this: keep going. Even if the finish line feels miles away, I promise that you can do it. You’ve got this, all right? I have faith in you.

    How’s your word count looking so far? What, if anything, is stressing you out?

    Tweet tweet:

    Stressing out about #NaNoWriMo? @brianawrites wants you to know that everything will be okay. (Click to tweet)

  • My NaNoWriMo Novel

    Recently, someone on Twitter asked about current writing projects. Having just finished (and published!) Blood and Water, you might think I’d be taking a rest. YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Side note: I never rest. I’m like a shark; I even sleep with my eyes open.
    My NaNoWriMo Novel

    Since it’s November, I’m waist-deep in the waters of NaNoWriMo. I haven’t talked much about the novel I’m working on, except to say that it’s drastically different from Blood and Water, so I thought that this post would give me the opportunity to do that. Plus, I found some pretty neat questions to answer along the way, so…


    (Special thanks to Cait for providing these questions!)

    How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

    I’ve had this idea for AGES. Since it’s essentially autobiographical, I’ve wanted to write about the events of the novel more or less since they happened, which is like seven years ago now? More or less? Weird.

    Why are you excited to write this novel?

    It’s like revisiting the past, in a way. Although this time, I’m able to push past the nostalgia and see the situations for what they really were. Add a layer of distance and self-awareness and yeah, it’s going to be good.

    Also, I LOVE theatre. So there’s that.

    What is your novel about, and what is the title?

    In The Palest of Pinks, Tara Chase lands the role of a lifetime in a community theater production of her favorite play. While struggling through rehearsals and some unforeseen conflicts with some of her costars, she learns a great deal about life, love, theatre, adulthood, and herself.

    Sum up your characters in one word each.

    • TARA (17YO PROTAGONIST): ambitious
    • CORY (14YO BROTHER): supportive
    • JED (36YO MENTOR): eccentric
    • BRADEN (22YO COSTAR): charming
    • ANNETTE (30YO COSTAR): sweet
    • RILEY (21YO COSTAR): levelheaded
    • MARA (32YO PLAYWRIGHT): determined

    Tara has parents, but I haven’t done much with them yet. And as I keep writing, I’m sure I’ll discover more characters, but this is my core cast at the moment.

    Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!

    It’s going to be a tie between Braden and Jed. They’re both different from me in terms of personality, so they’re the biggest stretch for me to write. With Jed, though, there’s a method to his madness, and that’s something I can’t wait to explore. Braden, meanwhile, could charm the chastity belt off the virgin queen. He’s a master manipulator and a bit of a narcissist. So, that will be fun.

    What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

    Tara has two main goals throughout the novel. First, she wants to get to know herself, but she doesn’t have much time for that because she has to get to know her character, Carissa. Further complicating the matter is the fact that she’s falling for one of her costars. In addition, she wants the play to go off without a hitch, but she finds herself at odds with her costars in almost every rehearsal.

    Where is your novel set?

    My novel is set in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

    What is the most important relationship your character has?

    She has a lot of interesting relationships, but she’s the closest to her younger brother, Cory. They support each other no matter what, and throughout the course of the novel, she draws on the strength she gets from him.

    How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

    Ahhh I feel like this is spoiling, but whatever! At the end of the novel, Tara is much more self-assured and independent, having come through several challenges and grown in many different ways. She is prepared to face the future, whatever that may be.

    What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

    The key themes are discovering yourself through art, exploring other perspectives and expanding your worldview, working hard to achieve your dreams, and the importance of a stable support network. When the story is over, I want my readers to feel like they can achieve almost anything. Corny, maybe, but yeah. That’s it.

    BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

    Keep going, even if you hate it… because it’s week two now, and I kind of hate it. Don’t stop to edit. Oh, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

    Okay, so that’s all the questions, which is good because now my break is up and I must get back to writing! I really enjoyed answering these questions, and I’d love to hear what all of you are working on now, too! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

    What are you working on right now? What’s your novel about?

    Tweet tweet:

    Author @brianawrites shares information about her #NaNoWriMo novel and why she’s excited to write it. (Click to tweet)

  • NaNoWriMo Resources

    November is here! I’m sad to see October go, but I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated for the past several years and have even managed to win a few times—but I couldn’t have survived with the help of some trusty resources. If you’re feeling up to the challenge this year, make sure you bookmark these links to use throughout the month!
    NaNoWriMo Resources


    Word Count and Progress Tracking

    Motivation and Productivity

    Prompts and Inspiration

    Writing Tips and Advice


    Whether you’re a NaNo newbie or a seasoned pro, check out these helpful resources! Just make sure you browse them once you’ve met your daily word count—we wouldn’t want you to procrastinate! 😉

    What are your favorite NaNoWriMo resources?

    Tweet tweet:

    If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo, you should check out these resources from @brianawrites! (Click to tweet)

  • NaNoWriMo Prep Tips

    Can you believe we’re over halfway finished with October already? Where has the year gone? October is my favorite month, so I’m not thrilled to see it go. At the same time, November is coming… and that means NaNoWriMo!
    If you’re participating, I hope you’ve already planned a little. October is often referred to as NaNoPrepMo, after all. Whether you have some loose ideas, detailed notes, or a full-fledged outline, every bit of planning will help you in the long run.

    NaNoWriMo Prep Tips

    Even though October is almost over, it’s not too late to start planning for NaNoWriMo next month. If you’ve been putting off prepping, you’re in luck—I’ve compiled a list of my best NaNoWriMo prep tips. Feel free to give these a try and see what a difference it makes.

    • Start with an idea. For my NaNo novel, and for every other book I write, I start with a particular scenario in mind. The scenario often takes the form of a what if? statement. For example, “What if a teenager who lost his parents to a virus finds out that he and his sister have it, too?” (Blood and WaterIt’s often the simplest scenarios that generate the most interesting ideas, so don’t overthink it! If you’d like to develop a one-sentence pitch, check out this helpful post.
    • Brainstorm and jot down notes. Once you have a scenario or situation in mind, keep asking questions and coming up with potential story threads. At this step in the process, it’s important not to censor yourself. No matter how unrelated or useless an idea seems, make sure you record it. You never know which ideas you might end up using.
    • Develop a story structure. If you’re a pantser, this could be as simple as a few tentpoles you anticipate reaching in the story. Tentpoles could be major fight scenes, death scenes, kissing scenes, etc. You don’t need to know every detail of the story, but it does help to have a few key moments in mind. If you’re a plotter, go ahead and map the story out on 3×5 index cards or using the corkboard in Scrivener. I use a hybrid method for plotting similar to Ava Jae’s, laying everything out in Scrivener. I also recommend her vlog on plotting. Not sure how to start your outline? Check out this post, too.
    • Keep an info dump file. Throughout the next month, you’re going to get stuck. It happens to everyone. An info dump file is a great way to keep up momentum on the days when you find yourself grasping at straws. In this file, you can jot down setting sketches, snippets of dialogue, entire scenes, or anything else that you plan to use at some point in the novel. Prewriting this way will save you several times over, I promise.

    If you haven’t started planning yet, don’t despair! It’s never too late for you to start. Heck, I haven’t even started plotting my WIP yet, so I’m just as big of a mess as anybody else. THERE’S HOPE FOR BOTH OF US! So go and get to plotting. 🙂

    I have some more posts planned for NaNoWriMo next month. If there’s any topic in particular that you’d like me to cover, feel free to tell me in the comments!

    How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo this year?

    Tweet tweet:

    Coming soon: #NaNoWriMo! @brianawrites has some tips to help you prepare. (Click to tweet)

  • Lovely Link-Up: NaNoWriMo Tips

    Girl in a Cape and Lights Writing on the Computer
    Photo credit: Flickr

    Wow, where in the world did October go? I swear that was the shortest month this year so far. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Although I’m mourning it’s loss, I’m also a little excited that it’s finally November. Why? Because it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short)!

    For those of you not in the know (it’s totally fine), NaNoWriMo lasts the whole month of November. The goal for everyone who participates is to “win” by completing a novel in 30 days. When I say, “novel,” I mean some kind of manuscript totaling at least 50K words. Certainly nothing to laugh at!

    I’ve done NaNoWriMo and won in the past, but I’m not going to participate this year. I’m still editing my novel MUD EYES. With that being said, I’d like to serve as everyone’s cheerleader this year. I’m offering encouragement and advice over on Twitter. I’m also taking the opportunity to share some tips and techniques for success in this post.

    Word Sprints

    When you’re trying to make word count, word sprints can be incredibly helpful. On Twitter, search “#wordsprint” to see sprints that have started or are about to start. Sprints can last anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour and are a great way to stay motivated and productive.

    Keep Moving

    During NaNoWriMo, the backspace key is not your friend. DO NOT EDIT. Now is not the time for edits. All you need to focus on is getting the words down on the page. You’ll have plenty of time for revision once the novel is finished.


    If you want to finish your novel this month, you’re going to have to commit to writing every day. Make it the first thing you do upon waking up or the last thing you do before going to bed. Write on your lunch break. Cram some words in while you’re waiting in line. Above all, make sure you put your work before play. You can still have a social life, but you need to do your writing first.

    Join the Fun!

    If you’d like to participate in this link-up, write your own NaNoWriMo-themed post, grab the button below to add to your blog, and leave a comment with a link to your post. There’s only one other rule: you should visit the blog that’s linked before yours and leave a comment on their post. Encourage the link love.

    Happy blogging!

    The Novelista
  • NaNoWriMo Tips


    Recently I’ve had a lot of people asking me questions about National Novel Writing Month. While most of the information about this month can be obtained via the official website, I’m writing this post to give you some tips and pointers based on personal experience.

    First of all, participate in word sprints. Most of these can be found on Twitter. Word sprints are timed writing sessions, usually of fifteen minutes or more. You group up with a bunch of people and compete to get the highest word count. While I don’t like to participate in word sprints all the time, they’re great for pushing yourself to finish word count.

    Next, when you’re writing, describe everything in as much detail as possible. This is not only a good writing strategy, but it also will help you jack up your word count. And that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about (kidding). You can describe setting, people, clothing, and even the weather. Let loose with the description. You can always cut back during the editing process.

    That brings me to my next point: don’t edit as you go. First drafts are supposed to be messy. Dump everything out on the page without thinking about it. Yes, it will suck. Yes, it might embarrass you. But if you try to edit as you write, you’ll get so bogged down with the changes you need to make that you might get discouraged and stop putting fresh words down.  There will be plenty of time for editing later.

    Hang out on the NaNoWriMo website. There are word count widgets, forums, and pep talks to keep you motivated all month long. Seriously, it’s amazing. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing that word count steadily climb. The forums are great, too because they allow you to get in touch with other wrimos. There are threads for prompts, characters, plot development, music, and more. Check it out here.

    Also, if you’re on Pinterest (follow me!), you might want to make a board or two for your novel and its characters. Pinterest can be a great source for inspiration. I always have one board for the novel overall and one for each character as well. On each board, I repin quotes, people, clothing, and other items relating to the novel. It helps more than you think.

    So there are just a couple of tips to help you with NaNoWriMo. What tips or advice do you have? What are you writing about this month?


  • Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo


    November is infamous. It’s cold and dreary and easily one of the worst months of the year. Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, it’s almost forgettable. The only thing worth noting about November is that it’s National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo for short.

    NaNoWriMo is terrifying. Some of the most stressful moments of my life can be traced back to NaNoWriMo. Of course, when you’re trying to put down 50,000 words in the span of thirty days, a certain amount of hardship is to be expected. The benefits must outweigh the costs. After all, I keep coming back to it every year.

    What is it about NaNoWriMo that is so appealing? It’s not the frantic sprint of fingers on keys in an effort to make word count. It’s not the caffeine burning hot through your veins. It’s not the blood, sweat, and tears. So come on, what is it? Why do so many people want to participate in this madness?

    Because it’s amazing. NaNoWriMo just might be the biggest thrill of your life. When you force yourself to write a novel in a month, you’ll learn so many new things about yourself. You’ll grow in ways you never anticipated. You’ll achieve something you never thought possible.

    I won’t lie to you – it’s hard to write a novel. Starting is easy, but finishing is tough. There will be moments when you’ll want to throw in the towel. Let them pass. You can do it, I promise. And when you come out swinging at the end, you’ll be so proud of yourself you won’t know what to do.

    You should most definitely do NaNoWrimo.

    For more information, visit this website. Also, please let me know if you plan to participate. I’d love to buddy up with you. We all might need to encourage each other!