Category: inspiration

“The act of writing is to create, and sometimes it’s easier to let that urge manifest itself in other ways, if you feel stuck. […] It is often through doing something else that I feel rejuvenated about writing. Don’t force it. The flow will come back to you.”

Yangsze Choo is a NYTimes bestselling author of The Ghost Bride (soon to be a Netflix Original series) and The Night Tiger, Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick, Amazon’s Spotlight Pick, and one of USA Today’s best books of the year. Yangsze loves to eat and read, and often does both at the same time. She lives in California with her family and several chickens. Dark chocolate is her writing inspiration. Visit her blog at www.yschoo.com or follow @yangszechoo on Twitter.

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Text added over original image by Khara Woods on Unsplash.

“Sometimes your characters will want to choose difficult or inconvenient things. It’s all right. Let them go ahead. Later you can decide whether that fits in with the story arc or belongs elsewhere. There is no need to maintain perfection in your writing world. In fact, I find letting the characters wander around alternate storylines very helpful. Even if you never use the material, it adds richness and depth to the world—you will know whether character A is really the sort of person to do x and y!”

Yangsze Choo is a NYTimes bestselling author of The Ghost Bride (soon to be a Netflix Original series) and The Night Tiger, Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick, Amazon’s Spotlight Pick, and one of USA Today’s best books of the year. Yangsze loves to eat and read, and often does both at the same time. She lives in California with her family and several chickens. Dark chocolate is her writing inspiration. Visit her blog at www.yschoo.com or follow @yangszechoo on Twitter.

Your Camp Care Package is brought to you by Camp NaNoWriMo. Sign up to receive more Camp Care Packages at campnanowrimo.org.

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Camp NaNoWriMo is an exciting time, but it can feel a bit intimidating to tackle a creative project head-on. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Jarrick DeWaine Exum offers some helpful tips for those of us struggling with writer’s block:

Ahh, writing!

People seem to think that we writers are always
endowed with the gift of creating something out of a simple idea. And many readers
seem to think that it always come naturally, that the author must be blessed with the talent, right?
Wrong! 

Now that we’re in mid-July, some of you writers out there may have discovered that it’s not so easy as it seemed when you started that project of yours (whether it’s editing a
recent piece that you took a break from or starting something new). 

Oh sure, one moment you’re flying high and putting down every single idea
that forms in your mind. From the get-go, you never want the flow of
ideas to end. And then… you hit the wall.
The dreaded wall of writer’s block. 

Sadly, people, you will not be alone. All writers go through the phase of not
finding the right idea at times, even yours truly. Sometimes, it’s only for a day or
two. Sometimes, it takes weeks to overcome. All the same, we all go through that
dreaded dry spell. But fear not, writer! There are some ways to find that inner
spark to get over that nasty slump so that you can get back to business. In fact,
there are simple tasks you can do every single day! 

Here are some of the many ways
to beat the block:

1.
Take a walk.

It’s the ultimate cure-all. Plus you’ll make sure that you’re
getting your exercise in. Self-care for the body is important, after all. 

2.
Listen to music. 

Grab your earphones or speaker and turn up the music loud. Although, if you’re in a public place like a library, best to keep it to yourself.

3.
Do some housework. 

It works for me at times, whether washing some
clothes, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, etc. Not only will you be doing something completely different, but a clean workspace may help you find your ideas more easily.

4.
Do yard work. 

Ditto: hedge-trimming, lawn mowing, weed-pulling,
gardening, etc. 

5.
Take a spa day.

Or a mini-spa day if you’re on a budget. Nothing beats a
shower or a soak in the tub to clear the mind and the body. 

6.
Run some errands.

Handle some bills, shop for groceries, etc. Get rid of some of the niggling things in the back of your mind that take up brain space when you’re trying to write. 

7.
Take a day to catch up on some shows. 

Watching what other people have created can help boost your own creativity. Just don’t overdo it. You’re a writer, after all.

8.
Focus on your main job. 

If you, like many of us, have a career that’s not just writing, devote some time to your main job. Focusing on something else for a while may remind you why you love to write. 

The list can go on and on, but the most important thing to remember is that
you’re not superhuman. 

Everyone has a dry spell at times when working on a
project. And even when it seems like you can’t go on any further and you want to
give up, remember to take it one chapter (or paragraph) at a time, and one day at a
time. That’s all you can do, at this point. 

 So, what are you going to do to beat the wall? Sing? Dance to some crazy
song that’s stuck in your head? Sniff a candle? Visit your loved ones and friends?
Treat yourself to a dinner or a movie? The possibilities are endless. Take time for
you.
And then, get back into the game of writing. We’re artists in the literary
sense of the word, after all!


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Bitten by the literary bug at age twelve, Jarrick DeWaine Exum never fully
took writing seriously until 2012 when he self-published his first poetry collection
“Sonata City” through Amazon KDP. Six years later, he began working on “A
Nerd among Heroes,” the first book of his superhero teen fiction series. “After
that, for his first NaNoWriMo debut, he published the sequel “Nerd of Fire, Rebel
of Ice.” He lives in a small town near Macon, Georgia where he is planning to
work on book three of the series for NaNoWriMo #2 in November.
You can find Jarrick through Facebook (Jarrick DeWaine Exum), Twitter
(Jarrick_Exum) or Instagram (iamtherealjarrickexum) and Tumblr
(jarrickdexum1991). He also has a WordPress weblog regarding his superhero
series (www.vigilantesamongus.wordpress.com). 

Top photo by Sergey Turkin on Unsplash

The Come Write In program brings NaNoWriMo to your neighborhood through local library partnerships. We’re currently hosting a fundraising drive to raise money for this important community program. Today, author Jarie Bolander shares why he supports Come Write In:

My first NaNoWriMo novel, Small Heart Monster, was the first novel I ever attempted to write. It’s an epic tale of Jessica, a female Asian-American publicist for professional athletes, struggling to make it in the misogynistic world of professional sports. It was inspired by my late wife Jane, who happened to be a female Asian-American publicist for professional athletes, struggling to make it (and she did!) in the misogynistic world of professional sports.

The tragedy of her death, at the young age of 36 from leukemia, compelled me to capture her life so that her stories would live on. That novel will most likely never be published (it needs a lot of work) but the inspiration to write it led to a more public dedication to Jane’s love of literacy and service—JSY Giving.

JSY Giving is a 501©(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits tell better stories. We believe that well-told stories can amplify a nonprofit’s impact. Our focus is on nonprofits in the Literacy, Women & Minority Entrepreneurship, Anti-Human Trafficking, and Services for Youth sectors. These were all sectors that Jane helped when she was alive.

Writing, like reading, is something that gets better with practice. The stories that inspire us to action are the ones honed over time and reach deep into our soul. We get better when we write and share our stories with others. That’s why JSY Giving is proud to support Come Write In.

“Our stories are what define us, inspire us, and expand us into different points of view.“

Our lived experiences make for the best stories. Come Write In gives many people a place to be with other story nerds and share their lives through the stories we write. This makes us and our communities better. Our stories are what define us, inspire us, and expand us into different points of view.

That first NaNoWriMo novel led me to tackle the hard work of capturing the story about loving and losing Jane. That memoir, which I wrote during another NaNoWriMo, has been a big part of my healing from grief and loss. It also captures what it means to love, with all the baggage that comes along with it.

My hope is that more people will Come Write In to their local libraries and write stories together. Sharing our stories is a powerful way to build communities that make the world a better place. It’s also a great way to bond with others since writing with a partner opens up your eyes to whole other worlds, especially ones with magical mirrors and talking sea otters inspired by your 9-year old (now 10) writing partner.


Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He has over 20 years of experience bringing innovative products to market. He is a Certified Story Grid Editor whose uses his editor training to help his companies tell better stories. He has published six books—8 Startup Dilemmas All Founder Will Face, The Entrepreneur Ethos, 7 PR Secrets All Founders Should Know, #Endurance Tweet, Frustration Free Technical Management, and Business Basics for Entrepreneurs. He’s also the ED of JSY Giving and on Twitter @TheDailyMBA.

Top photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash.

“Character arcs and plot should be closely intertwined—each should affect the other. Does your plot push your character to develop and change? And does your character’s growth allow them to then make decisions that shape the plot?”

Kat Zhang is an author of books for teens and children. Her Young Adult trilogy, The Hybrid Chronicles, is published with HarperCollins, and she has two Middle Grades, The Emperor’s Riddle and The Memory of Forgotten Things, as well as two picture books, Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and sequel Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon with Simon & Schuster. She wrote her first novel for NaNoWriMo a great many years ago! Follow @katzhang on Twitter.

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Text added over original image by SpaceX on Unsplash.

“Even the most Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer can ease the way while drafting by doing what I think of as “mini-synopses”. If plotting out your whole book isn’t your style, but you find yourself writing yourself into corners or staring at a blank page, try describing what’ll happen next in a stream-of-consciousness, synopsis-style paragraph or two. You can even stick in dialogue. This allows you to see the shape of the next few chapters (and possibly realize some sticking points!) before you commit to writing out everything in detail.”

Kat Zhang is an author of books for teens and children. Her Young Adult trilogy, The Hybrid Chronicles, is published with HarperCollins, and she has two Middle Grades, The Emperor’s Riddle and The Memory of Forgotten Things, as well as two picture books, Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and sequel Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon with Simon & Schuster. She wrote her first novel for NaNoWriMo a great many years ago! Follow @katzhang on Twitter.

Your Camp Care Package is brought to you by Camp NaNoWriMo. Sign up to receive more Camp Care Packages at campnanowrimo.org.

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Camp NaNo is underway! You have a story to tell, a job to do. This story has been growing inside you, itching to make its way into your manuscript. But the words seem to be getting stuck in your throat. Why?! Today, Camp NaNoWriMo participant AJ Dodge offers some advice on staying true to your heart and keeping your story alive: 

As writers, we get caught up in the minutiae of writing in an intimate way, and this can cause us to forget that we love what we’re doing. 

Some complain about spending hours on a sentence. Others gripe about the difficulty of getting started. And still others discourage themselves by editing while they write, judging every letter they type or scrawl. 

There are few who would refute that getting started is the hardest part—I, however, am one of those few. 

There are a couple of keys to ‘getting started’ that have benefited me over the last few years of my writing life, and the first is to banish expectation. This requires some confidence in the self, and mustering that confidence is one of the most important aspects of getting started. 

Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself and love what you create.

Although it is true that your beginning must be catchy and snappy, poignant and hooking, your first sentences have nothing to serve without the body of the novel, poem, or short story. I have found that by banishing the expectation of The Most Awesome First Sentence Ever, I was able to plow through and finish the body of the novel, which then allowed for a more meaningful beginning. 

When your plot is fully developed, your characters are whole, and you know what direction your story goes in, you will find that writing that first sentence or paragraph becomes a playground. You have all the colors of your new piece of writing to help you churn out a succulent hook or endearing first sentence. 

My best advice about getting started is to write the stories that live in your heart, rather than pressuring yourself to write what you think you’re supposed to write. 

If you’re passionate and excited about what you’re going to write, getting started is that much easier.

Write the story you’ve never been able to tell until now. Write something autodidactic. Write about that completely strange character you can’t stop thinking about. Write the stories you tell yourself to get through the day. 

Confidence and love are two incredibly important ingredients in being a creative person. Without confidence in yourself, getting started is the hardest part because you’ve already decided that what you’re going to write is not good. Without love for the story you’re about to tell, getting started is the hardest part because there is no fervor. 

To be consistently creative in a way that satisfies ourselves, we must take care of and love ourselves. This idea gets lost in the myriad of tips and hacks we read online every day. 

Creative self-love begins with dashing high expectations and diving into the story that lives in your heart. 


AJ Dodge is a speculative fiction writer living on the east coast of Maine, US. She has been published in the Devilfish Review and Outrageous Fortune, and is working to do the same with the novels and short stories she had been hammering away on for the last several years. Cats, music, and tea are the essential ingredients to her creativity, along with a healthy dose of love. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

“Did you ever read a book and just feel so glad it exists?
Or maybe it was a single scene or one minor character who wandered in and out just long enough to connect with you.
At some point in your life, a story helped you feel Not Alone.
Because it rang true.
And something you write could do that for someone else out there. People respond to and connect with stories that feel vulnerable and honest. Whether they are scifi or mystery or romance or any genre.
So, go write your truth. Someone’s waiting for it.”

Kat Yeh is the award-winning author of middle grade novels, The Way to Bea and The Truth About Twinkie Pie (an NPR Best Book of 2015 written during NaNoWriMo!) from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and picture book, The Friend Ship, from Disney-Hyperion—as well as others. Kat currently lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more at katyeh.com, or follow @yehface on Twitter.

P.S. You pronounce her last name YAY!

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“Some people say write what you know—I say write what you feel. After all, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s how we feel. […] Your emotions are your strongest writing allies. And when you write from a place of real feelings, your reader will feel it, too.”

Kat Yeh is the award-winning author of middle grade novels, The Way to Bea and The Truth About Twinkie Pie (an NPR Best Book of 2015 written during NaNoWriMo!) from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and picture book, The Friend Ship, from Disney-Hyperion—as well as others. Kat currently lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more at katyeh.com or follow @yehface on Twitter.

P.S. You pronounce her last name YAY!  

Your Camp Care Package is brought to you by Camp NaNoWriMo. Sign up to receive more Camp Care Packages at campnanowrimo.org.

Text added over original image by Debby Hudson on Unsplash.

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What has writing done for your life? Today, NaNoWriMo participant Lolita shares her personal writing journey in the hope of inspiring writers from around the world to find their voice:

I was born in France. 

From the time I was in high school, I developed a love affair with fiction books. I read to understand people and escape my own teenage life. At fifteen, I was often writing in secret. This continued for a few months before I left that draft on the side and wrote some poems that helped me deal with family issues at the time. After that, I went several years without writing anything.  Although, from time to time, I remembered that draft I’d written and put aside. At that point, I viewed these writings as a weakness people would look down on instead of seeing the work as an achievement.

Years later, after I finished my maternity leave, I was back at work. I started to write the story of a young woman who would one day become an Amazon. I barely finished the first draft, putting it all aside for about two years. One day, I took a pen and paper and wrote my second draft by referring to the first draft. Then I started to research and sketch what I had in mind for characters and settings. 

With a full time day job, my life as a mum, and a contemporary painter, it took me months to realize that I needed to slow down and appreciate all that I was doing. 

Otherwise, I would burn out and give up temporarily (like I had two years before) or perhaps, permanently.  

Coincidently, a health-related issue made me stop everything.  I was laying in a hospital bed where I couldn’t write or paint or be with my family. I started thinking of all the things that were going wrong in my life as well as in my book. I did more research. I rearranged things to make them fit together like puzzle pieces. I also found books on how to become a better writer. It felt like my creative process didn’t fit within the methods being suggested. It made me question whether I’d been doing things the wrong way. 

So, when I did Camp NaNoWriMo in April, I really thought about whether I was a writer or just pretending. I felt this need to be validated as a writer. 

The community of writers I found in the virtual cabin at Camp, showed me that I am a writer as well as a mum, an artist and a book addict.

I think that my passion for books has made me more empathic. Reading has shown me things I didn’t know, things we can’t find in textbooks or on TV. Now, I observe people on the streets, in the bus and in shops. I make notes of people’s mannerisms, knowing that the details I see are things that I can use in my book.

I write in English now instead of French. Sometimes, a character feels something that’s better described in French, and I face the challenges of writing in a language that’s not my native tongue. My advice to people who are facing the same issue, is use the words you do know to describe the things you don’t have the right words for, yet.

No matter what, just write!


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Lolita is a French native living in the UK for the past ten years. Mother of two and working in a library, she writes fantasy fiction and paints in her spare time. In a life where we live fast, she wants to read books where heroes (males and females) are not perfect and take time to learn to become better. Lolita is still working on her first novel and hopes to publish it this year or next. You can follow her on Twitteror her blog.

Top photo by Ben White on Unsplash.