In my previous blog I said I believed I wrote a similar blog post in April, I dismembered. In April, I wrote several posts about getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo, not the readathon. Sorry about that.
Now, that I have one Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon under my belt I’ve collected some tips to help you make the most out of your readathon experience.
Have a TBR List, but plan to diverge too.
It’s exciting and fun to create your TBR list for any occasion, but when creating one for a 24 hour readathon you should be aware of the pit falls. If you’re like me, what you’re in the mood to read isn’t always the same. I planned my list way ahead of the actual date this year and have put a few other books aside in case they no longer tickle my fancy. I’ve also accepted it’s perfectly okay to pick up a book I’ve read a hundred times or another book from my TBR shelf.
2. Meal Prep/Plan Ahead
If you plan to read as much as possible during the 24 hours of the readathon be sure to plan what you’re going to eat. You don’t want to feel hangry or exhausted from skipping meals. While sweets and junk food are a great addition to the readathon be aware of sugar crashes and the yucky feeling from eating too much of them.
This time around I’m going to meal prep like normal and just allow myself a few extras since it’s a special day. For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently part of the Weight Watchers community. In the past, I’ve totally let myself have whatever I wanted on special days, but this year I want to keep it within reason. So, yeah, I’ll probably have a brownie and some chips, but they won’t be my soul source of nutrients.
3. Remember to move around.
If you’re planning to do your best to stay up for most of 24 hours you need to keep your blood pumping.
While everyone has they’re own way of doing this I like to alternate between reading and doing small tasks around the house. I do this most of the time when I read anyway, but this is my first time testing it on a longer time frame since I plan to read for most of my waking hours that day. I’m sure some things will have to be taken care of. The pup will need to go out and I’m not planning on totally skipping my workout that day.
If the weather’s nice moving outside to read or perhaps even taking your books to a cafe or coffee shop are all great options too!
4. Get Comfy
Many of us have our favorite reading spots. For the readathon make sure your area is prepared. You don’t want the start of the ‘day’ to roll around only to find your area cluttered or ill prepared for your purposes. The day before take some time to straighten things up and gather your supplies.
5. Don’t get caught up in how much you do or don’t read
Dewey’s isn’t a competition. Sure, it can be fun to track reading progress, but don’t think of the day as a competition to read more than other readers. You’re participating in the day to enjoy one of your favorite activities. If you focus on that you’ll enjoy the whole day much more.
What’s your best advice for a 24 hour readathon? Let me know in the comments.
At the time of writing this I’m having a bad writing day. I’ve only written about 1,300 words on book 6 of my Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga. I’ve written a few blogs to save for later. (I’ll likely save this one for later too.) Today, I’ve realized something, though. I’ve fallen into a self-worth pitfall about word count goals.
My writing days usually end one of three ways.
Met my goal: Meh. That’s pretty good. I did my job anyway.
Beat my goal: Go me! You’re getting ahead.
Didn’t reach my goal: You are the worst writer on the face of the earth. You’ll never get this book written or published. You should never write again.
I have some ongoing external conflicts in my life at the moment that are definitely affecting my mood, but this is my pattern all the time. And let me just say I thought I was the only one until I sent out some text messages to some writer friends. I’m not the only one. That made me feel better for maybe two minutes. Then I realized how mean we are to ourselves. Yes, word counts and plot point goals are uber important to our chosen careers. They’re like 50% of our job. (Rewriting, plotting, marketing, etc. take up the other 50%.) But at the end of the day they don’t define us as people. A bad writing day doesn’t make someone lazy or horrible or a complete failure. It’s one day. One writing session. Sure, if it’s an ongoing problem we should examine what’s going on and see what the best way to work through it would be. I’m not giving all of us free reign to never pursue a writing goal again. What would we read if we all quit writing? What would you read, person who’s reading this?
So, what am I saying?
Simply that when we get caught up in creating other people and worlds and epic plot lines and romances we shouldn’t forget about ourselves. Sure, we maybe people with universes of stories living inside of us, but we’re still people. Besides, if we don’t take care of ourselves where will all the stories live until they’re born into books?
So, for all of my fellow writers and creative spirits out there here are some self-care tips to help you birth new worlds into existence.
Be realistic about your goals and leave room for slower writing days.
Not everyday needs to be a writing day. Even if you’re a full time writer. I don’t know where this myth came from but I wish I could summon a dragon to eat it. Think about the other professionals of the world. Sure, some brain surgeons are on call at all hours, but they do have down time. So, sure, if your main character wakes you up at 2am to finish a scene. Go for it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve days off.
Using a word count tracker and planner. I use PaceMaker. When I’m planning out how long it’ll take my to write a novel I make sure to include every upcoming appointment date that will hinder me. I take into account everything from errands to meal prep. Then I add three days to the end of when I think I’ll finish it.
2. Kill the negative self talk before it kills your story.
This just isn’t about word count. It can be about any part of the writing/editing/publishing/marketing process. Tons of information exists out there on how to do this. The same method won’t work for everyone. As I said at the beginning of this blog I still struggle with this.
3. Don’t forget to celebrate victories.
If you totally kick butt on your word goal it’s okay to celebrate. When you finish a first draft (even if you’re behind on your timeline) you should still celebrate. Do something nice for yourself.
4. Make your work area comfy and nice to look at.
If your chair is hurting your back replace is ASAP. If every chair hurts your back talk to your doctor or other medical professional. Hang up inspirational quotes and photos. I like redecorating my wall space with each new novel. Yeah, I pin up a lot of notes about things to remember for the rewriting process, but I add things that remind me of the setting or my main characters. I also have a longstanding love affair with scent candles. Aromatherapy for the win!
5. Get up an move!
As tempting as it may be to sit and stare at a blank screen when you’re having a bad writing day don’t punish yourself like that. Get up and move. Take the dog for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Do a yoga workout video. Do something to get your blood moving and get out of your own head for a minute.
6.Remember writers are always working.
A lot of my friends lift a brow at this one, but it’s true. When we’re planning or writing a book we’re always thinking about it and that’s okay. Today, while having a horrible writing day I figured out a major plot point for the middle of Claiming the Shaman. My brain needed time away from the keyboard and screen to say “HEY! I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!”
7. Alternating word sprints with other activities is a life saver!
Some days I wouldn’t get a thing on the page if it wasn’t for this method. Most writers will be familiar with the concept of a word sprint. If not, it’s basically setting a timer for a per-determined amount of time and writing your heart out until the timer goes off.
On bad writing days I’ll try alternating this with doing household chores or playing quick little games on my phone. This one has really turned around some of my bad writing days.
8.Relax your shoulders or treat yourself to a massage.
Sitting at a desk all day writing can be hell on your neck and shoulders. Remember not to scrunch your shoulders up like a turtle trying to hide in her shell while typing. I’m 100% guilty of this one.
Also, if you have the time, cash, and inclination treat yourself to a massage! Maybe you could do a massage swap with your SO!
9.Chat with other writers.
If you’re new to publishing speaking with other writers can be down right scary! But if you can make a few good writer friends you’ll have someone to shoot weird questions to. Most of which will include “Is X normal?” or “Do you do X too?” It’s a great way to feel a little more connected despite working in a career of solitude.
I should be working on Claiming the Shaman book 6 in my Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga , but my mind is too scattered this morning. It’s one of those days most writers are familiar with. Everyone has them at one time or another, but when chaos erupts they’re more common.
Some of my books have been called wholesome. I don’t mind that label, because I’m the most old fashion about sex in my friend group. I like writing happy endings where the good guys win and the bad guys get their just desserts. That doesn’t always happen in real life and I believe we need it in the places we escape to.
With all of that said I wanted to warn my long time readers that this blog may not be as wholesome as most of my books are. I’ll be covering difficult subjects and messy situations to which there are no easy answers. Real life doesn’t tie up as neatly as a book, unfortunately.
Recently, a friend told me I needed to connect with my readers more and perhaps people in general. I’ve always been introverted and keep a lot of things to myself. The older I’ve gotten the more I find myself surrounded by more words than people. Most days I like it that way. No one can write full time surrounded by people demanding their attention.
As someone who’s always kept my problems to myself in large groups I find it difficult to write about the chaos my life has become this year. Two family members have passed away. Another family member is dealing with addiction and he’s not who he used to be. Most of my other relatives are enablers and think I’m the asshole for not doing the same. I understand that addiction and addiction treatment is a hot button topic these days, but my message to anyone dealing with a similar problem is that it’s fully within your rights to kick anyone out of your life for any reason. You are important and you deserve to be happy. You don’t have to put up with bullshit.
With all of that said how do we write through chaos? These tips may be more aimed at writers who write full time, but even if you don’t write I hope you draw something from them. I’ve always been the sort to ask “How can I turn this bad thing into something good for someone?” It’s my hope that voicing these problems and tips will not only soothe something within me, but help someone somewhere who reads them.
Please note these tips don’t replace seeking therapy or other professional help. If you’re in need of help please reach out to someone trained to help you.
Accept Some Days Suck
Everyone everywhere has bad days now and then. Sometimes they politely wait in line behind a bunch of good days. Other times a bunch of them push their way to the front of the line and compete to be first. There’s a big movement that real writers must write everyday. That’s bullshit. Writing is required to be a writer and if you plan to publish you’ll need to spend a lot of time writing. It doesn’t have to be everyday. If a bad day pops up and you can’t get words on the page don’t sweat it. Tomorrow will come. Take time for self-care and work on other parts of the process: Planning, plotting, cover work.
2.Take Advantage of the Days That Don’t Suck
If your life has whirled into a chaotic mess the days that are less chaotic are to be taken advantage of. Maybe you have the house to yourself and you’re feeling okay. That’s the day to get the words on the page. Even if you hit your normal word count goal see if you can get more onto the page. These days are your secret weapons against the chaos. Extra words help make up the difference.
3.Don’t Wait For Inspiration or Motivation
This is common advice for all writers, but where chaos rules you might not find motivation easily. Tack up your long term goals for you book or series or whole writing career somewhere you see them everyday. Focus on them. In a lot of cases, they can be the lighthouse in the storm. We all need those lighthouses.
If you’re life is particularly chaotic you may want to make sure you set aside time to plot your novel. I know pantsers everywhere are rolling their eyes at me, but bear with me while I explain why you need a plot to write through chaos. Being creative can be hard if things are upside down for whatever reason. With a plot you know what you’re going to write each day. You can tweak it as you go, but it gives you something to focus on.
4.Tell Haters to Shut Their Mouths
There’s nothing worse than going through hell and having everyone else point out why they think your writing, story, book, or whatever is useless. Tell them to shut up. Seriously, I know everyone says keep your head high and ignore them, but honestly if someone is really toxic in your life you need to kick them out if you can. If they’re generally okay in most situations, but still tear down your dreams – that’s toxic. I’m talking about the friend who worries about if you make enough money to live. I’m talking about the haters who just run their mouths for whatever reason. Maybe they think they’re not good enough or that if you do great at something they’ll have to do something too or they’ll look bad. Just cut to the point and tell them to shut their mouths. I don’t mean go online to reply to bad reviews or anything like that. This is in your personal life. Bad reviews happen to everyone. Don’t even react to them. Once your book is in the public people can think whatever they want to about it.
5. Prioritize Your Goals
Maybe the chaos in your life isn’t brought about by other people. Maybe it’s your health. Maybe you need to pick up healthier habits or quit smoking to improve your health. I’m not going to lie these things take time and energy, but the good thing about them is that you can quit smoking while writing a novel. You can find time to write between working out and meal prepping. We find time for the things that are important to us. Sure, maybe we have to cancel that Netflix subscription or uninstall our favorite game for a while, but if you want writing to be part of your life it needs to be in your top 5 priorities.
6.Work Out Your Issues
While we can’t make anyone else do anything (get clean, get healthy, be positive, etc.) we do get to make choices about ourselves. If you need help getting someone out of your life or letting go find a therapist. That’s literally what they’re there for. If you need help getting healthy ask your doctor or join a support group.
If you have fear of failure or are haunted by imposture syndrome figure it out. Everyone has their issues, but if you want to move out of chaos you have to understand and work with your demons.
7.Don’t Turn Your Novel into a Journal
It’s okay to leave pieces of yourself behind in a novel, but not your life story event for event. Have an addict family member and you want a side character to give your beloved MC hell? Sure, they can be an addict, but don’t make it a journal. Let life inspire you, but from personal experience making a novel based too much on your own life never works out. Yes, there are exceptions, but not everyone is an exception.
I’ve read first drafts by fellow writers and my own that are just too journal-like for publication. When we write about something we’re too involved with emotionally it’s hard to create likeable characters. Sure, everyone character doesn’t have to be likeable, but your main character should more or less. If you’re living vicariously through your main character and torturing another character, but the motive isn’t plain for your character (it’s more yours than theirs) it doesn’t make sense in your book.
It’s okay to succeed out of spite. It’s okay to kill off a character named after your ex-fiance or evil aunt, but don’t let your personal feelings override the logic, character development, and plot of your book.
8.Please, Please, Please Finish Your First Draft Before You Start Editing It and Picking it Apart
You can polish up a bad first draft, but you can’t publish half a book. When things are hard it’s easy to pick apart everything we do including our writing, but please don’t fall into this trap. There’s no need to torture yourself. Get your story onto the page and then clean it up. Find a plot hole? Start a separate document and record it there. Name it something like “Draft 2 notes” and move on.
9.Lean on Your Support System
It’s easy to hide under the blankets and not talk to anyone when all hell breaks loose and it’s okay to do that for a while. Sooner rather than later you need to reach out to your real friends. Let them know what’s going on. If there’s something reasonable you need help with ask them. If 2019 has taught me anything is that your friends want to help you more than you think.
10.Remember Nothing Lasts Forever: Chaos Included
There will come a day where you look back and are amazed at what you’ve overcame. Seriously, think back to other hard times you’ve went through. Sometimes you need to make hard changes, but you’re going to be okay.
Keep writing. Write out of passion, desperation, love, hate, or hell, write out spite to show the bastards they can’t keep you down. Whatever reason you find, if you love your craft, please don’t quit writing. Someone out there is waiting to read your book.
Longtime followers of the blog will remember I participated in O.W.L.’s Magical Readthon back in April. I had a lot of fun and met the requirements of my chosen career as a Writer/Journalist. I also picked up a few extra O.W.L.’s. I wasn’t the best student, but since I was participating in Camp NaNoWriMo at the same time I think I did pretty well.
For those of you unfamiliar with the two part readathon I’ll leave a link to Book Roast’s YouTube announcement video. As the creator the readathons she’ll explain them better than I ever could.
As in the books series, the N.E.W.T. challenge is more difficult than the O.W.L. challenge. Since I’ve just began writing the sixth book in my Hemlock Wolf Pack Series and will be writing during August (when am I not writing?) I’ve been more strategic about what I want to do next month.
To Recap Which O.W.L.s I received in April:
Care of Magical Creatures
History of Magic
I received 6 out of 12 O.W.L.s which isn’t too shabby. In August I’ll be focused on just 3 core subjects: History of Magic, Muggle Studies, and Astronomy.
Most readers are familiar with the N.E.W.T.’s grading scale, but for those of you who aren’t here’s the short version.
A for Acceptable.
E for Exceeds Expectations
O for Outstanding
I’ll be trying for an O in each of my chosen subjects. If I finish all 9 books needed for that I’ll look at prompts for the other subjects I received O.W.L.s in.
For my career as a writer/journalist in the wizarding world I’ll need:
History of Magic – Exceeds Expectations
Muggle Studies – Acceptable
One chosen subject (Astronomy) – Acceptable
TBR August 2019
History of Magic:
Acceptable: Read a Fantasy Book
Exceeds Expectation: Read a book with a map.
Exceeds Expectations: Reread an old favorite or a classic
Acceptable: A Cover that includes an actual photo element
Exceeds Expectations: A Books set in our real world
Outstanding: Book written by a person of Color
Acceptable: Moon on the cover or anywhere in the title
Exceeds Expectations: Word night in the book title or series name
Outstanding: Read a scifi book or a book with stars on the cover
What wizarding career are you pursuing in August? Let me know in the comments!
With all the writing I’ve done this year I feel so behind on my reading. I’m 4 books behind at the time of writing this. (Mid-July 2019) I’m really looking forward to taking a day away from the keyboard to dive into some books for the day.
This is my second time participating in a Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. I really enjoyed it back in April, but I learned a few things about myself. First, I have to move around. I’m the sort who has a bit of trouble sitting still for hours on end. So, this time I’ll be taking more frequent breaks to move around. I think I wrote a readathon tips back in April, but I’ll be writing another one this time around now that I have a better plan.
If you’ve never heard of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon it’s a day to set aside for reading. You don’t have to read for the full 24 hours. I certainly don’t plan to. Me without sleep is like taking a bone from a dog. It’s never a good idea. There are a lot of games, giveaways, etc. So, be sure to check out the website for more information.
This time the readathon will begin on August 2nd at 8PM EST and end the following night at the same time. If you need help figuring out which time the readathon starts for you check out this timezone converter. I never know what my sleep schedule will be like. So, this year I’m not going to time my reading. I’m just going to count up the books.
Since the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon also takes place all of August I’m taking advantage of Dewey’s to get a good start on my books for the month. I’ll post soon that readathon too.
Last time I made the mistake of planning my day a little too much and felt a little stuck in what I was reading. This time I’m going to give myself a little more variety and not worry as much about how much I read.
That’s my planned reading for the day. I likely won’t make it through all 3 books, but if I do I’ll just pull more from my N.E.W.T.’s Readathon List.
What are you reading for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this August? Let me know in the comments.
Hey guys! It’s been a while. A long while in fact! I’ve been so caught up in writing novels that I haven’t since the end of May! I’m such a bad blogger! But rest assured, my time away from the blog has been put to good use!
If you followed along with my Camp Nano blogs back in April this is the novel I started that month and finished the next: Omega’s Homecoming I’m not participating this month, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be hard at work. Camp was fun, but once a year is enough to lay the pressure on my creative process.Good luck to everyone participating this month!
Last night I finished up my next novel. I haven’t made the cover or even talked much about what it’s about on social media. Though, lots of details will be coming your way soon. This morning, I feel a little sad that my book is with the editor and no longer waiting for me to work on it. I’m really going to miss Rhett and Brendan. They were a really fun couple to write.
So what’s next on my schedule for this summer? Waiting for my editor to get me the first rounds back so I can do rewrites for my upcoming novel The Sleeping Omega Prince. I won’t be sitting on my hands while I wait though. I still need to concept a cover and get my outline ready for my next book. Hint: It’s book 6 of the Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga! I fell in love with a sexy half-elf wolfman I overlooked in the first 4 books of the series while writing Omega’s Homecoming. So, in the true spirit of Juda and Frost I scoured my little Mpreg universe until I found him the perfect true-mate! If I’m feeling refreshed before I get the first chapters of The Sleeping Omega Prince back I’ll go ahead and start the next book.
Next month I have N.E.W.T.’s readathon on my schedule. In April, I participated in the first half of the readathon (O.W.L.s Magical readathon) and can’t wait for the next part. Don’t quote me on this next part but I believe Dewey has another readathon next month too which I plan to take advantage to help me make the grades I need to be a writer in the Wizarding World.