NaNoWriMo 2014 Fever

Four days in to National Novel
Writing Month and I still cannot believe I signed up for this. You guys probably don’t remember the last time I posted here (January) and my “excuse” is lack of time.

Really? Yes. Really? Ok, fine! It’s lack of time management. See, I break easily and I cannot be tortured. If I am so in flux and busy and undisciplined with blogging, why would I volunteer for a month long writing challenge?

I’m an insane egotistical, neurotic, sycophant with a competitive streak. Yup. I said it. I’m a writer.

The last time I did NaNo (2010), my life was totally different. I was an online college student with hours of free time at my disposal. Now I work 55 hours a week, run a small business, and it is football season. Signing up was not a calculated move. I keep mulling over reasons why I joined this year but the truth is, it doesn’t matter. I needed to write.

So yes. It’s day four and I’m going to win. If you’re doing NaNo, let’s buddy up (User Name: maxiesteer) online and get this done. I’ve pulled Author Karina Espinosa into the madness, so it’s good to have a few friends along for the ride.

What was your reason for doing NaNoWriMo? Comment below with your motivations!


Listening to Podcasts in the Shower & Other Time Management Tips for #Writers)

Time Management for Writers

It’s never too late to get back on track with a proven regimen. I restarted my running and exercise routine last week and being on the path to a heathier life feels great, but I’ve been a little off kilter (and sore). If you’re like me, you get distracted by your own competing interests, and the things you want to do–like more writing–gets bumped in favor of other tasks–like exercise. Running in the morning requires waking up, which requires going to sleep earlier, which cuts into my writing time.

How do you maximize your time management skills to do what you want need to do and still have fun?

Short answer: PLAN. I always feel a little guilty when I am not working on something for the business, writing the novel, polishing a poem, or working on things for my community clubs. The only way to get past those feelings is to remain determined and follow a few of these tips:

  1. Grab a stopwatch – Determine how much time it takes you to complete tasks. Watch the clock or get your stopwatch going as you write a normal-length blog post, as you prepare meals, even how long it takes you to get dressed for work. This might seem tedious, but make it fun. You’ll have a better idea of how much you can actually get done in a day.
  2. Make a weekly schedule – Once you know how long your usual tasks take, set your daily schedule (on paper or use Google Calendar) to create predictability for the week. Give yourself time to slack off, watch TV unwind. This schedule should be flexible. If you;re a morning person, plan for a few hours in the morning to write. Work to your strengths.
  3. Listen to podcasts in the shower – Double up on your information intake or transfer some of your reading to audio if you find that you must perform many “mindless” chores (washing dishes, running) where concentration is not exactly required.

Platform Challenge Catchup!
Day 12: Create a new blog post 
Day 13: Link your new blog post

What strategies do you use to stay on track?

Lessons from FWA 102: Networking at a Writing Conference

NETWORKING: cultivating professional relationships with peers and industry representatives through meaningful interactions.

Networking is work. It comes naturally to some, but it can be difficult for someone who is unprepared, someone who is reclusive, or someone like me, who hadn’t done it before attending the Florida Writers Association conference. I didn’t know what to expect from this experience, but because I made an effort, I can call it a success.

First off, some context: I am usually an outgoing person, but being around “real” writers intimidated and terrified me. I thawed out after a day, and when I finally felt like myself, it was time to go home. I learned how to network by doing. Here are a few tips about networking that you can use at your next writing conference or literary event:

1. Be prepared

My business cards by Moo
  • Bring business/contact cards with you that share your name, email, Twitter handle, website or blog, and phone number. Make it interesting and uncluttered. I got mine from Moo for the cost of shipping after signing up for a profile at
  • Set a goal for the number of meaningful connections to make during the event. Once I did my first card swap, I was so excited that I made a game for myself: get at least 10 cards before we checked out of the hotel. The ulterior motive challenged me and I won! Caution–don’t allow the game to become the purpose. Meaningful connections that come naturally should be the aim, but give yourself a little push.
  • Bring a Sharpie. This is optional, but it worked for me. When you want a presenter or an agent to remember something about you, write a note on your business card before you hand it to him or her so it will trigger a memory (before it lands in the trash…just kidding!). Most business cards are textured and do not lend themselves to ballpoint or “bleedy” pens. Sharpies are great. Metallic Sharpies are greater.

2. Be yourself

  • Authentic is memorable. People can smell if you are trying too hard. Allow natural conversations to build connections. Don’t worry about perception. You’ll probably embarrass yourself once or twice, but most times, you’re the only one who notices. Usually, the other person is as terrified as you are.
  • Your people will find you. I talked with many writers over the course of the weekend, but the ones who made the biggest impressions did so because we connected on common ground. We encountered each other in the same seminars, hobnobbed with the same people, or wrote in the same genres. Birds of a feather…circle around the same carcasses trees?

3. Be Considerate

  • No networking in the restroom. I need not elaborate, right? Respect people’s time and personal space and let common sense reign. The golden rule applies.
  • Give your friends space. If you attend a conference with a friend, members of your writing group, or a spouse, allow them time to network on their own. It is tempting to rely on their company, but far more rewarding to trade stories afterwards about meeting new people. Likewise, let your new friends meet the least annoying version of yourself. Build the relationship, but don’t crowd or cling. Creepy is not cool.

I did not come up with these useful tips all by myself. Before I packed my carry-on, I did some research and here are some supplemental sources on networking skills:

How to get the most out of a conference
Don’t panic: Networking for Writers

Which brings me to my last tip. Research the presenters, industry people, and other writers listed in the conference literature before the weekend. Modify your plan of attack accordingly.

This post is the second in a series that aims to give you insights into the experience at the 2012 Florida Writers Association conference. The objective is straightforward: to share what I’ve learned. My ultimate goal is to encourage you to apply these lessons to your own writing life.
Missed the first installment? Lessons from FWA 101: the Royal Palm Literary Awards

What is your networking experience? Do you have any questions about networking?