Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month

Tomorrow, November 1st, is the kick-off for NaNoWriMo, where dedicated, adventurous writers sign up and pledge to kick-start their writing, or finish a project, by committing to writing every day in November, to complete 50,000 words by the end of the month. It can be a fresh start on a new novel, or a way to test your stamina and ability to commit to time at the keyboard. (And, it needn't be a novel - you can write anything).

Either way, you'll have something to show for it at the end of the month. There's no cost, no commitment, except to yourself, and no shame if you come up short with only 48,329 words on November 30th.

It's easier than you think to get started. Give it a try here:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Organizing your notes for writing

Wonderful travel writer Frank Bures has an interesting interview with George Saunders, author of "The Braindead Megaphone" in World Hum, 10.05.07 that includes this passage:

"What’s it like when you come back from a trip and sort through your material?

It goes like this: Type up every scrap of notes, transcribe every tape. Start sifting through all of that 100-odd single-spaced pages of mess, to try and find some critical incidents you know you’re going to use. This is the hard part—since nothing is polished yet, nothing seems like it will make good writing, ever. When you’ve finally revised these incidents or vignettes, and put them in some kind of order, suddenly there actually is a story there."

Feel better now? All writers go through the moments of mental clutter when nothing seems right, and then somehow our marvelous brain knows how to sort the threads and ideas into something we can work with. Don't get discouraged if you sit down to write and don't know where it's going. You're moving forward. That's what counts - that's where the action is.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Supporting other writers

I join many writing organizations, to show support for the groups that support us in our efforts. Writing is a pretty solitary business, but when you pay attention, you find hundreds of organizations and associations that offer benefits and opportunities for dialog among writers.

Today, I joined the Freelancer's Union - to add strength to their numbers. Much to my surprise, when I completed my profile, I turned up on their home page! Sure shows they know how to offer support. I'll keep you posted of their efforts, and invite you to join as well, at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Title research

At a recent workshop, I asked the participants to give me the title of their book. Some, even though they were working hard on their book, had not yet come up with a title. My advice, for brainstorming titles, is to look at books similar to yours, and search for titles similar to what you have in mind.

Among the many ways to do title research, consider, the world's largest library catalog. Of course you'll also punch your topic or title into Amazon and Google to see if you're in good company.

Since no one can copyright a title, there's nothing stopping you from using a book title that's already in print, but consider the need to differentiate yourself, so you're not just leading people toward another person's book.

When you do a search on Amazon or Google, your goal is not to find half a million similar terms, but to see how unique your name is. My first book Computer Ease, was a tough search because there are so many terms and titles beginning with the word "computer." I got lucky, though, with Release Your Writing, because it's the first book to show up when someone types the name in at Amazon, even if they type it without quote marks. And, at least for the time being, it comes out on top at Google too, even though there are 95,700,000 references to "release" and "writing." But the three words together make my site rise to the top.

So in considering your book's title, do your research.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Floundering? Full of Doubt? ...

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by 
the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
--- Mark Twain

Friday, October 5, 2007

Writer's DreamKit

What a great name for a product !!
Many of us have seen ads for years for Dramatica Pro, software to help novelists and screenwriters to plod along on plot.

But, if that's more than you want, and yet a spiral notebook or a laptop isn't enough to get your story written, they also have a smaller product called Writer's DreamKit. At a cost of $59 for a Windows or Mac version, it might be just the thing to help you with step-by-step techniques for writing fiction. DramaticaPro includes many more features, but retails at $269.

I haven't tried either product, since I write non-fiction, but I've seen ads for Dramatica in Writer's Digest for years.

Here is an unattributed endorsement of Writer's DreamKit:

"What I came to discover that night is that Writer's DreamKit did not write the story for me, what it did do was make me work at telling a story I had no idea how to tell."

Sounds promising...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Blogger becomes Bloggie

Today, fellow writer Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell features an interview with me on her blog.

Stop by for a look at Kerri is a prolific writer with over 2,000 articles published, as well as essays and books.