Twitter…It’s a conversation

Part 2 ….

It’s all about the tweeting quality of your conversation…

Are you talking?

One of the most underused and abused of the social networking/media sites is Twitter. I will admit that Twitter completely overwhelmed me and baffled me when I first heard about it. Someone suggested I should sign up as the only way to understand Twitter is to dive right in. Well I signed up. I was lost. For the first couple of months my account remained inactive. So did the conversation. I was not talking to anyone on twitter so nobody knew I was there. I decided I needed to educate myself. I quizzed friends already on Twitter, I read up blog posts on Twitter and then I started a conversation. Someone tweeted something that interested me and I responded. Within seconds there was an echoing response from the tweeter and they had started following me. So I continued talking. Before I knew it I was involved in multiple conversations and had more than a few followers who I followed in turn.

Suddenly a lightbulb had been turned on and I could see the whole room. It was a room full of people talking and connecting over shared interests. I turned around and saw a whole lot of smaller groups. Over there, there was a crowd talking about publishing, just across from them another crowd spoke about music, just across from them another crowd spoke about politics. Turning around I also realised there were celebrities in the room but they didn’t have any “minders” or “publicists”, they were just people like you and I talking about things that interest them.

A good cocktail party is all about conversation…so is Twitter.

Twitter is a social tool that breaks down all barriers of fame, wealth, class, age, geography, language in one huge online room full of people having conversations. That is the trick of Twitter if there is a trick. You have to engage in conversation with another person. There is no way that being a wallflower is going to get you into Twitter. But in Twitter there is no need to be a wallflower because conversation is easy. All you need for a conversation is at least two people and a topic that connects them. That is the great secret of Twitter. You need to be part of the conversations in the room to be accepted, followed and friended.

Yes Twitter can be a great marketing tool in that you can tweet links to your blog – to draw in new readers – or you can tweet links to your upcoming products and a site where people can buy them. But if you are only tweeting links to blogs or tweeting product promotion and self-marketing, you have lost the point and the true charm of twitter.

Think of Twitter more as a cocktail party you have been invited to by an acquaintance. Why did they invite you? Did they invite you so that you can climb aboard a pedestal and promote who you are and what you do? Or did they invite you because you peeked their interest and they want to learn more about you, the individual, the person? When you think of Twitter in these terms you will see Twitter in a different light.

However there are so many different conversations going on in the rooms but you may want to leave the main party room and enter a smaller party room to zone in on one specific conversation/debate. This is when Twitter chats come in play or as they are known on Twitter as # (hash-tag chats). For instance if you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this month, if you sign up to a TweetChat account like tweet chat or TweetDeck and enter #NaNoWriMo, you will enter a room where everyone is chatting all things NaNoWriMo. To continue in this conversation, you tweet as normal but make sure that somewhere in each tweet there is the same #NaNoWriMo, this means that all your tweets will be seen by the people in the smaller #NaNoWriMo room.

As you explore more in Twitter chats you will realise that there will be regular chats in your industry throughout the week. Now for writers, twitter is a perfect hangout and brainstorming session with fellow wordsmiths. There are weekly chats on the craft of writing, on the marketing side, the creative side, the brainstorming side and the critiquing side. You just have to search them out. If you have not joined in on one of these chats, I urge you to do so. Not only will you meet many like-minded people but you will learn a lot too. On my writing blog, Wrestling the Muse, I have a page devoted to the different Twitter chats called #Twittertalk. On here you will find the most regular and popular twitter chats targeted towards writers. Try one of the chats out. You may just enjoy the conversation more than you thought and start understanding the unique charm that is Twitter.

I hope that this post breaks down Twitter in simple terms for you as one more great social media tool. Remember that people will take more notice of your blogs, websites, products and talent if they like talking to you anyway. If you can interest them on Twitter, they will follow you to your other places in social media. Try Twitter out if you have not had the courage to yet. If you have and have been overwhelmed, break it down. It is just a conversation after all. You have those all the time every day. Good Luck with your twittering.

Tell me how you find Twitter? Do you enjoy it? Has it baffled you? Will you give it a chance if you have not yet? I would love to hear about your TwitterTalk. Tell me something. Better yet: tweet me @last_lines   or  @AuthorKimKoning . I look forward to having many conversations with you in Twittertime. Don’t be shy. It is just people talking.

Join me here tomorrow for Part 3 on social media…Tomorrow we are going to talk blogging.

Scared by a story? Meet Elise VanCise….

We have all tucked into our favourite armchair with a cup of hot cocoa. It is cold and dark outside. The wind is whistling softly outside. It is the perfect time to open your new purchase: your favourite thriller. You open up the pages and soon you are so lost in the story that when the phone rings; you jump and your heart is racing a mile a minute. Every creak in the floorboards, every noise in the house makes you tuck in deeper, trying to hide from all the would-be dangers…that is when you know that you are reading a book that turns even the most mundane into a thrill. Have you ever wondered what sort of person is behind the pen that writes that book? What skills do they need to thrill you? What experiences turn them into a person who can write a story that can make you jump at imagined danger…and all this with the power of words and imagination? Well wonder no more. Today’s Warrior is that person behind that book that thrills you on cold winter nights….So sit down, tuck into a favourite armchair with a cup of cocoa and listen to the talk behind the thrills…

Introducing author: Elise VanCise

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Elise VanCise?

Elise:   I’m a writer/photographer, native Floridian, and a single home schooling mom. I love to explore museums and historic sites. I’m addicted to dark chocolate and cherry Dr Pepper. I carry pen and notebook where ever I go. I’ve been known to write in the middle of the grocery store when an idea hits.

girl with a quill: If you wrote yourself a part in one of your stories, what role would you play and why?

Elise: The beautiful rich heroine that gets the guy of course! Really though I think I write a bit of myself in every story. There’s always a quirk or favorite thing in the stories that reflect a bit of who I am.

girl with a quill: Which is the more challenging hat to wear and why – that of journalist or that of novelist?

Elise: Journalist, because you have to be careful of what you report and how accurate it is. Every detail must be checked and double checked. Fiction you have much more freedom to bend reality anyway you like.

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer/journalist?

Elise:  In 2006 I joined NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of In the Dark. Finishing the book I realized hey this has been my passion all along. I had just never written a full novel.  I wanted to have an avenue that was a bit more lucrative between books so I started working as a freelance journalist /photographer in 2009.  I love being able to write about the people and places I meet along the way.

girl with a quill: Do you find that your skills in journalism have helped/hindered your skills as a novelist? How?

Elise:  I think learning to think like a journalist has helped me see things in new ways. I have been able to put that into my fiction writing as well. I’ve been able to find some great story ideas while out and working as a journalist. My hindrance is switching my tenses lol. You write mostly active voice present tense in a news/non-fiction article. I find myself switching tenses in the middle of my stories. It makes editing interesting and I drive my writing partner Rose Wade a little crazy sometimes.

girl with a quill: I know that you are a prolific NaNoWriMo participant and winner 5 times over.

What is it about NaNoWriMo that makes you keep on competing?

Elise:  I love the challenge of NaNoWriMo. To write 50,000 words in only 30 days is a feat. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to hit that mark and watch your green bar go purple. I also enjoy the camaraderie that you get with writers from around the world.

girl with a quill: For those naysayers of NaNoWriMo, what would you say have been the highlights of your NaNoWriMo involvement, not only as a writer but as a municipal liaison?

Elise:  I think the highlight of NaNo for me is seeing people who never thought they could write a story. It really doesn’t matter if you make it to 50k. NaNoWriMo is all about the joy of writing.  Being able to see first time writers grow and find their own voices over the course of the contest is a really great thing to witness.

As a municipal liaison I’ve been able to create a group for writers in my area. We meet the 4th Wed. every month at the Eustis Denny’s at 6:30pm. Everyone is welcome we have members of all ages.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?

Elise:  Yes, I do. I have the monthly group I spoke about and I chat every day with my writing partner Rose.  We met on a fan fic writing board and became close friends, sisters-in-heart.  I also am an online member of a few groups such as Fellow Writers on Facebook. Lots of wonderful people in there.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Elise: I would have to say just the world around me is my greatest influence.  God created this great big place, filling it with such wonders. There’s something to be inspired by everywhere you look.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Elise:  I would have to say a mix of Drama, Horror, and Comedy. The last year has been such a roller coaster of emotions and events, I’m kind of surprised the white coats haven’t knocked on my door yet lol.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Elise: I write mostly at my desk. I have photos of my fave places and my son. Two books always at hand a thesaurus and The Descriptionary. I have a koosh ball and Baoding Balls, both are great when your hands get tired from typing or sore. I have carpel tunnel and arthritis so they are great tools for my poor achy hands. I have a flower pot painted with all my pens and pencils in it. I have all sorts of crazy shaped ones.  Most important other than my computer is my bulletin board. Part of it is filled with some memory items but half is my novel notes and bullet points.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Elise:  I start jotting down ideas and possibilities of where it might lead. Then jump into some research for some building materials to really set the idea. As I look though these materials the characters really start to come to life. I’ll do little shorts or a paragraph or two writing about or as that character to flesh them out. Once we’re all acquainted I dive into the story.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Elise: I’m somewhere in the middle. I make a bullet point outline of at least 60 points. Scenes, dialog, plot points, character notes. Whatever I need, I then print it out and cut them apart. I put each bullet on the board in story sequence, sort of like a story board.  It helps me see the progress as each finished bullet is pulled down.

girl with a quill: How important a part does the digital world and an online platform play in your life?

Do you believe that writers now have more control over their own platform now that we live in an increasingly virtual online world of social networking/blogging/tumbling/tweeting ect?

Elise: The digital world is a huge part of my life. I work, play and even use online curriculum to home school my son.  I think writers now have the ability to be more hands on. There are more and more opportunities being created for us to spread the word about our ‘brand’.  Being involved in social networking is almost a necessity these days. You need to have an internet presence to reach the audience you want.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?

Elise: That’s hard to answer. I write so many different kinds of stories but I think my books and niche fall in Paranormal Thrillers. There is always a touch of comedy and romance tossed in the mix as well.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Elise:  Crime/Mystery these are the things I like to read. A good thrill or a dark mystery to solve.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any new story now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Elise:  I have several projects going actually. I’m working on one called Out of the Air. Evan is a scientist who doesn’t believe in anything other than logic. A near death experience causes her to meet someone who shows her science can’t explain everything.

The other is Worth.  A photographer working for World Magazine doing a story on the Congo where she finds herself in a war zone doing more than taking pictures.

girl with a quill: If you met a found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Elise:  To become a character for a short time. Everyone wants to be someone else, just for a little while, to lead a more adventurous, glamorous life. Then just think of the story ideals you’ll come out with for your own work!

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Elise: Character, it’s the character that readers really connect with. You can love a story and not be thrilled with the characters. But once you fall in love with a Character the story becomes more compelling. You’re feeling something for them every time you turn the page.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Elise:  That’s hard they’re all my darlings lol. I would have to say Dean Cross. He’s an ex Marine with a bigger than life personality. Fun loving but ready for action at a moments notice.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Elise:  You know I’m not really sure I have a favorite.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Elise:  Stephen King, what writer wouldn’t want to sit down with the master! Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, I would love to see Florida though her eyes in the early days of the state.  My favorite artist Salvador Dali, his art has so much in it. Each piece tells more than one story.  Russell Crowe, an actor who brings so much life to the characters he plays. It would be wonderful to talk about characterization and what makes them so compelling or not to an audience. And lastly Mark Twain, a man who made no excuses for who he was, lived his life to the fullest with pen and heart.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Elise: Capt. Jack Aubrey from Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series. I couldn’t help but fall in love with this character on the first page as he hummed and tapped his foot and leg to the music of the orchestra with such exuberance.  Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s books, tall dark handsome ex military, kind of brooding… do I really need to explain this one?  Travis Criton from my book Half, I’ve always thought he would just be so much fun to be out on the town with.  Robin Hood, he has been my hero since childhood.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Elise:  It would be the same advice I give myself now. Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t stop searching for the end of the rainbow, keep dreaming big.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Elise:  Just breathe it all in and enjoy life to the fullest.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Elise: To be someone who inspired others to follow dreams and write their tales.

girl with a quill: Where can we buy your books?

Elise: Most online retailers or your best price would be at my Literary Emporium http://stores.lulu.com/elisevancise

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Elise:  My official site http://elisevancise.webs.com
My blog Gladiator’s Pen
http://gladiatorspen.blogspot.com
Twitter @elisevancise
Facebook Author Elise VanCise


National Novel Writing Month 2010 WINNER (NaNoWriMo))

Well today, being the 25th of November here in New Zealand, I officially verified my word count for NaNoWriMo and am a Winner. This is one of the badges I have downloaded from my Winner’s Goodies.

I have taken a short hiatus from writing, hence no blogs from me this last week. Having just returned to work, I have been in the thick of getting back into the swing of life post-nano.

This experience has been one of the most valuable writing experiences for me. Through doing and completing NaNoWriMo I have found a new confidence in my ability to treat writing as my occupation and sit down for sustained periods devoted to writing. I have gained knowledge from the vast experience bank of my fellow wrimos and my Wonderful group I belong to called NaNoWriMo Warriors. I have formed writing friendships with people who have cheered me on and supported me. I have learned how to put aside my inner editor and just let the writing flow. I have learned to trust my writing. I have learned that anything is possible if I can write 50 000 words in 12 days: I finished NaNoWriMo on the 12th of November after starting at midnight on the 1st.

As a writer, it has been wonderful to be part of a global group of people who understand my motivation and drive to be a full-time writer. What is usually an individual pursuit has become a group pursuit. One of the best parts of every day of the 12 days was downloading my word count. Not only did I watch as the green bar became longer but I felt proud as my fellow NaNoWriMo Warriors, friends and family cheered me on from both the writing battlefield and the sidelines.

I have also realised that I am a writer that enjoys writing to timelines. I enjoy the structure of seeing a goal post of time or word count ahead of me. In many ways Wrimos are a bit like racing greyhounds constantly chasing that rabbit that sits just a little way ahead of us.

Today I feel like a winner and more importantly I know without a doubt that I am a Writer. Nobody can take that away from me. Many people have asked me why I have entered a competition where there seems to be no “prize”. This is why I entered. I entered to prove to myself I could do this in a set time period. I entered to increase my self-confidence in my writing. I entered it to meet fellow writers who have similar dreams to me. So to those people who believe that there always has to be a monetary prize, I say that you are limiting yourself and your own potential. The “winning” in this challenge is that you take the risk to follow a dream that many think illogical or unfeasible. Some wrimos might not get to 50 000 words by 30/11. Does this mean they have lost? No. I believe anyone who has taken up this challenge has won. It takes courage to chase a dream others believe to be a mere pipe-dream. So to all those wrimos who do not think they will make it to 50k, I say this to you. Firstly it is not over. You still have some days to go before the 30th of November. Secondly, even though you may not reach 50k, you have still tried and for that you are a NaNoWriMo winner.

To my fellow NaNoWriMo Warriors I say Thank You and Well Done for being the most supportive group of people I know. I am proud to be a NaNoWriMo Warrior and I am even more proud to call many of you friends now. Though oceans may separate me from my Writing Warriors, this challenge has bridged those oceans and the many time zones. Thank you for the cheering and the support. Thank you for the word wars. Thank you that someone was always there on the Facebook site to talk to in the lonely hours of the night when I am tapping away on the keyboard.

This has been a phenomenal experience for me. Will I be taking part in NaNoWriMo 2011. Definitely!

Lastly a huge and hearty Congratulations to all my fellow wrimos who are winners and have reached 50k words. To the wrimos who are still writing and still racing, Good Luck and may the Muses never stray from you in these last days.

Signing off from NaNoWriMo 2010,

Good Luck with the upcoming editing Wrimos – this will be the next challenge for us all.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

A Dozen Ways to have a Win with NaNoWriMo

A Trophy With An A++ On It.
Image via Wikipedia

These were my goals for NaNoWriMo 2010:

  1. To register and sign up for my first InterNational Novel Writing Month
  2. To aim for a minimum of 3000 words per day.
  3. To switch my internal editor to Mute (tried to send her on vacation, she did not take the hint – told me all the flights were booked already with internal editors)
  4. To write consistently every day.
  5. To plot a novel before writing it.
  6. To create at least 3 strong characters.
  7. To finally finish a complete novel.
  8. To get to 50,000 words by end of day 15.
  9. To stretch my writing challenge and write in a genre/style I had not tried before.
  10. To gain a larger network of writer friends.
  11. To have fun.
  12. To do what I most love to do in the world.


I can happily say that I have fulfilled 11 of these goals. I am still working on goal # 7. At the end of Day 12, I reached a word count of 50,029. Considering that I took two breather days after reaching the 30,000 mark, I am very pleased with my first NaNoWriMo attempt and now success. Prior to NaNoWriMo I was writing about 2000 words a day. Since starting the adventure that is NaNoWriMo, I am writing on average 5000 words a day.

My initial thoughts with this challenge were whether I would find enough to write consistently each day. On top of that, I had to turn off my internal editor. As stated above, I did try to book an island getaway for her but either the islands were sealed off for the purposes of NaNoWriMo or the flights were overbooked and there were no seats left. So I have let her hang around but have remote-controlled her: I muted her. She may not be happy but I am getting the words down on the paper every day with or without her help.

Another way to have a win with NaNoWriMo is to give yourself a breather day. This is a day when you try (I know you don’t always) to not think about the novel you are writing and delve into complete non-writerly pursuits. The outdoors are perfect for such a day. There is nothing quite like taking a walk. It does not have to be a long walk either. Just get yourself out of the house and stretch those legs out. If you live near a large expanse of water; Ocean, River, Waterfall, lake, even better. Flowing water works like magic on tired mental muscles. The movement of water seems to be a synergy that magically unlocks stray imagination strands.

We are almost at the end of week 2, which means if you have not got there yet you are almost at the half-way point of the month and the challenge. You will notice that I am using the word “Challenge” instead of “Competition”. I am using this word very deliberately because in a competition you can only have two groups, winners and losers. Anyone who has signed up for NaNoWriMo this month is a winner. It took courage to sign up and register. But this month is a challenge. It is not just the word count but actually making the time every day to write. The added challenge of NaNoWriMo is that there is no “prize” as such. You do it for yourself. You do it to see if you can.

I have been reading a lot of posts lately on various sites as well as on the NaNo forums themselves of people beginning with a shout and bang and now hitting fizzle stage in week 2. Now I am going to throw two words at you. Are you ready?

  • Fizzle
  • Sizzle

Phonetically the words are virtually identical except for a very important difference: the first letter. What a difference one letter makes to one word. I want you to turn around your Fizzle into a Sizzle. Remember that you are already a winner. If you have been writing almost every day for 12 days, that is a Sizzling Win in my book. If you have never finished any of your writing but signed up for NaNoWriMo anyway, that is a Sizzling Win. If you signed up for NaNoWriMo in order to chase the dream of becoming a novelist, that is a Sizzling Win. Now look at yourself. Do you feel the fizzle becoming a Sizzle? It is only Day 13, 12 in some parts of the world. You still have more than 2 weeks left to turn this around. You are already almost at the half way point. Prove those nay-sayers in your life wrong. You can do this. You just have to believe in yourself. Also, do not compare yourself to other writers. This is not a competition against others. This is a challenge for You against You.

Another way to turn what feels like a Fizzle into a Sizzle: take this novel one word at a time. Take this month one day at a time. Break your day up into small word sprints, setting yourself a slightly higher goal each word sprint. Have word wars with friends or writer groups. One fellow writer and friend wrote that she believes there is some sort of magical synergy that is created when a group do something simultaneously. I believe there is definitely something there. I have been doing daily word wars with the Facebook group – NaNoWriMo Warriors – and this has spurred my daily writing onto even higher goals and larger word count totals.

I have also been reading many posts that say the story is not going in the direction you, the writer, wants it to go. Perhaps there is a reason why it seems to be taking another path. Sometimes the most interesting routes are the routes that you have not planned for. NaNoWriMo is supposed to promote free-stream writing. It is the one time when you are expected to turn off the internal editor and just write for the love of the story. If your characters are taking you down different pathways, go down the pathway with them. What you may find may not only surprise you but it may also delight you. After all, didn’t you create the characters, their bright ideas come from another part of You…so go with the flow. Sometimes it takes greater sensibility to just swim with the current instead of fighting it and tiring yourself out or giving you writer’s cramp.

Go easy on yourself. You are a writer. You are already partaking in this challenge. Enjoy this challenge. Reward yourself every time you reach a particular goal post or better a particular word war count. Rewards are very important. Remember also you write because you love writing. So turn down the temperature on your pressure cooker and let your stories sizzle with flavour. Most of all, the most important way to have a Win with NaNoWriMo:

 

HAVE FUN!

Happy Writing….listen to that sizzle, forget the fizzle!


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

NaNoWriMo, Goal Posts, Happiness Projects, Mountain Climbing, Bucket Lists

Happiness Motivational Poster
Image by NinJA999 via Flickr


For the last 6 days I have been participating in a “small” creative event. You might have heard of it bandied about the web this last week. It is called NaNoWriMo. In it the goal is to write 50,000 words in a novel format within the 30 days of November. There are all sorts of reasons to not sign up for something like this.

  • You have no time.
  • You are overloaded already.
  • You’re on holiday, rather go away somewhere.
  • Your social life is more important.
  • You are a procrastinator
  • …you get the gist, I am sure you could fill in 100 more reasons at the least.

But I am going to tell you why I did sign up for NaNoWriMo…

  • I love a challenge, never seem to be able to resist one.
  • I love deadlines (I know, I hear you guffaw in utter disbelief, but it is true)
  • I love clearly set goal posts
  • I like being autonomous, but want the availability of some sort of community
  • I LOVE Writing
  • It was on my Bucket List
  • It was part of my Happiness Project
  • It was also a mountain peak I wanted to scale this year

Now some of those reasons are self-explanatory but I want to open up some of them for closer examination. One of the first reasons I am sure you did not believe was the : I love deadlines. Now, I know for most people deadlines are horrific things to be avoided at all costs. I mean we all have them at some point in our life. I love deadlines because you have a set date of completion. Something needs to be completed by said date or else. So to be fair I think it is not the deadlines that get the bad press but rather the “or else” part if you don’t meet deadlines. Deadlines force you to do something and put procrastinitis to bed. Deadlines are especially useful if other people know about them. For this reason, the people in my life who mean something to me have all been told that I am otherwise occupied and unavailable in November because I am writing a novel.  So I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

Another reason is clearly set goal posts. Now if course there is the obvious one of reaching 50,000 words on the 30th of November. But I have made things interesting for myself and set myself some new goalposts backing up the ultimate goalpost of writing a novel in 30 days. One of the goal posts I set for myself was getting to 25,000 words by Sunday, the 7th.

I am thrilled to have pushed myself this week and say that I have attained this goal post. I have actually reached 30,323 words at day’s end on the 6th of November. I reached my goal a whole day early and exceeded it by 5,323 words.

The other important goal post requirement is the actual prize/reward. There has to be a pay off of some sort to keep you motivated. So I am rewarding myself with a day of rest from writing on Sunday. I am going to be doing lovely non-NaNoWriMo related things and take time to spend time with family and friends.

There was another important reason I signed up for NaNoWriMo and that is Mountain Climbing. Mountain Climbing? I hear you ask. Yes, Mountain Climbing. To a mountain climber, climbing Everest would be the ultimate goal. It would not mean that every mountain climber would actually do that. But it is one of those lofty dreams and aspirations that they all want to attain. While NaNoWriMo is Mt NaNoWriMo to many writers. Some writers would think it crazy to write a novel in 30 days. But there are those who always wonder, even if it is in some dark corner at the back of their minds, whether they could do this if they really put their mind to it. Well I am a writer. I am a published poet but as yet unpublished in prose. Publishing does not make me any more or any less a writer. I wanted to see whether it was possible to do this feat: write a novel in 30 days. So I pulled on my backpack filled with my Macbook, Storyist, Scrivener, Plot Arcs, Character Arcs and Imagination and started climbing this mountain. I plan on reaching that peak of completing a novel on the 30th of November.

Then onto Bucket List and Happiness Project. The Bucket List is based on a movie where two older gentlemen are in their last days. They decide to write up a Bucket List…ie A list of things they want to accomplish before they “kick the bucket”. Both men are complete opposites but they decide that a shortened life span unites them and they go off on their adventure. I truly loved this movie for the optimism it promotes. Life is never to short to begin Living in the Moment. There is so much in life that gets put off or shelved until there is more time, money or whatever other excuse you choose to use.  Writing a novel, being a published writer is on my Bucket List. It is one of those goals I plan on succeeding at. I don’t want to be a published writer for the “published” sake. I will write irregardless of whether I am published or not. But this is the plan that I have for my life. So I signed on for NaNoWriMo.

The Happiness Project is a book written by Gretchen Rubin. It is a book that I started reading last year. I read it over and over. I read it the second and third times with a pencil and sticky notes pad. It was just one of those books. You know which books I am talking about. Those books that just hit you with a STOP sign, make you look both ways and then you hit GO with a refreshed and energised mind-set. The Happiness Project definitely made me stop and think. Basically the gist of the book is that Gretchen Rubin decided to study happiness for a year and she penned everything she learned in that year in a book. You might think that studying happiness is such an inane effort. But the one thing everyone in every walk of life in every era of this world always chases: The Elusive butterfly of life called “Happiness”. In the end she came up with a happiness project for herself and found out what makes her really happy. Well writing makes me really happy. Words make me happy. They always have from when my parents read Disney stories to me until I started writing in my journal progressing to writing stories, essays and poems. So in following my Happiness Project, I signed up to NaNoWriMo. It might not be everyone’s happiness project and that is ok. But it was right up there.

So for all these reasons, what am I getting from NaNoWriMo. I am climbing my mountain. I have hit the first peak. There are a couple more ahead of me, but I am feeling fit and healthy. The climb is going well and is making me feel good.

I have one more item ticked off my Bucket List…I can say that I signed up for something challenging and creative and that I am making every effort to succeed.

The last thing that I am getting out of NaNoWriMo: Happiness. I am excited to get up in the morning and to get going on my NaNoWriMo project. I am excited to watch the pages increase and the word count get closer and closer to a win. I am excited to talk to other writers doing this wonderful challenge and hearing about their wins. Most of all I am happy because I am writing  a minimum of 5,000 words a day. The MYSKY (NZ version of TIVO) is recording any series I may watch. My friends and family are proud of me for attempting this and constantly encourage and support me. I am happy because there is nothing more exciting for me than a blank page and being able to create a story from my imagination. Not just any story but a story that I have created. A story that might be read some day by someone and inspire them to write.

So for all these reasons, surely I don’t need to tell you why I signed up for NaNoWriMo. What makes you happy? What is on your Bucket List? What are your deadlines,challenges, goal posts? What mountain peaks do you want to scale? Never let anyone take away your dreams. If you don’t dream, you don’t live. You survive. Life is not meant to be survived. It is meant to be lived. What are you waiting for? It’s your life. They are your dreams. You don’t need permission to live it or to chase those dreams.

“Do not be awestruck by other people and try to copy them.
Nobody can be you as efficiently as you can.”

— Norman Vincent Peale


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Adding some Zen to my writing world

Zen Garden
Image by quinet via Flickr

This morning I was pleased to open my inbox and find an email from Collin and the team @ OMM Writer. On the weekend I had entered an online competition on their Face Book page. The requirements were to post your name and your NaNoWriMo Novel Synopsis on their Face Book page. The prize was a link to download their brand new version of OMM Writer Dana II along with a registrated licence key.

Being the self-confessed software junkie that I am, I had heard mention of the original version of OMM Writer. After investigating on my own, I really liked what I saw. My one major problem with writing on a laptop / desktop is the eye strain I get after a while from the glare of the screen. I have tried many ways to lessen this. I have changed my full-screen backgrounds to a deep blue and typed the text in light grey. That at the moment seems the least stressful on my eyes. But it still did not counteract it. Another love of mine when writing is having background music playing. So with a Genius mix loaded onto my Mac’s iTunes, I am usually as set as I can be to begin a writing session. I also tend to do most of my writing at night. So a comfortable writing environment is always top of my wish list. I got quite close to what I wanted but still not have quite the right combination.

Until this morning. Until OmmWriter Dana II. Let me summarise this amazing software with one word: ZEN .

This is a quick description of the software by the software developers themselves:

Dāna is the new version of OmmWriter. If you are already an OmmWriter user, you will realize that very little has changed. Fortunately.

A wise man once said “We are all at the mercy of our wild monkey minds. Incessantly swinging from branch to branch.” With multiple windows and applications all vying for our attention, we have sadly adapted our working habits to that of the computer and not the other way around.

OmmWriter Dana is a humble attempt to recapture what technology has snatched away from us today: our capacity to concentrate.

OmmWriter is a simple text processor that firmly believes in making writing a pleasure once again, vindicating the close relationship between writer and paper. The more intimate the relation, the smoother the flow of inspiration.

If you are a scriptwriter, blogger, journalist, copywriter, poet or just someone who enjoys writing, welcome back to concentrating.

Firstly let me preface that a quick run-through of this software this morning has me convinced that this software developer has nailed their aim in making writing, using a keyboard and a screen, a pleasure. Let me tell you how they have attempted and succeeded in this aim.

When you first download Dana II, your screen fills up with a softened off white full screen with some wintry trees in the background. There is a box in front of you and your cursor is ready. There are 6 options on the right hand side of the text box. There is also faint music playing in the background. (My iTunes was turned off at this point.)

The third option in the 6 is a white circle. When your mouse hovers over this circle, 8 other circles appear horizontally next to the original circle. These are the background options. Each option is exceptionally restful and more importantly each is easy on the eyes – MARK # 1 on Less Eye Strain = More Comfort.

The fourth option in the 6 is a music symbol. When your mouse hovers over this, 8 other music options pop up horizontally. All of these are background ambient music options that really put you in a creative and restful zone. I really find music a necessary tool for my writing. This is especially vital when I am writing for NaNoWriMo. the music tends to zone out my internal editor who as much as I have tried to send away on vacation still seems to be hovering around. Although my iTunes usually work well, it can also break my “no distraction needed for concentration” especially when I have to escape out of the full-screen environment to replay the mix. With Dana II, there is no need to exit out of the software to make music adjustments as the music plays constantly in the background of the software. However if you need complete silence to concentrate, there is a mute option in the 8 music options. Mark # 2 on a Comfortable and Relaxing writing environment.

There is also a lovely little option, option no 6 of the 8, that allows to change the sound of the text as you type. A lot of people quite enjoy listening to a “typewriter key” sound which is one of the options on there. At the same time, for those of you who prefer no sound, there is also a mute option that you can choose.

There are also text options. There are 4 different types of font you can choose and there are 4  different sizes you can pick for each font type. So there is Mark # 3 & 4 for this software.

There is the very necessary “Spelling & Grammar” Wizard on Dana. So Mark # 5 & 6 for this software.

There is also a Text-to-Speech option on this software. Typing in one sentence and testing this worked well. The voice is a pleasant computerised male american voice that is easy to understand. Mark # 7 for this option.

Another fantastic feature of this software is the ability to save the document as either (.pdf) or (.rtf). This is a very useful feature that I will be using, especially the .pdf save option.  You can also save to the original (.omm) or (.txt) documents. Mark # 8 for this option.

I am going to go back to the audio and visual features of this software:

The OmmWriter developers/creators have collaborated with a Colour Therapist for 2 of the visual background options: visual #7 + visual #8. These 2 backgrounds utilise chromotherapy backgrounds. This technique employs background colours that change dynamically. This stimulates tranquility and a restful environment which in term promotes your creativity. The visual background #5 is the most innovative of all the visual backgrounds. This background uses subliminal inspirational text messages that are unique with each session. A definite Mark # 9 for this visual innovation.

In looking closer at the audio/music options on this software, I am immediately drawn to Track #7. Choose this audio option and you will enter a literal womb of creativity. This track simulates the sounds an unborn child hears in its mother’s womb. For those of you library writers who just cannot make it to the library there is Track #6. This track reproduces sounds heard in a library. So you can figuratively enter a library of quiet and write your great novel. This is a definite Mark # 10 for this incredible feature.

My overall review of this software is a resounding 10/10.

So if you want a word processor program that has simplified your options, stimulates your creativity through incredible innovations and add to your comfort level by erasing all distraction and focusing purely on a restful screen filling with your words: my personal recommendation is OmmWriter Dana II.

At the moment OmmWriter Dana II is only available for Mac users. The good news is that the developers are at their own confession at work on a Windows version. There will also be a basic version available for iPad users in the near future.

Download OmmWriter Dana II and …

Add some Zen to your writing world.


On a personal note:

Thank you to the developers of this software for the lovely surprise in my inbox. I am going to be getting a lot of enjoyment from your wonderful and fresh new software.


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

(The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and from personal experience of the product. – Kim Koning)

NaNoWriMo Warriors ~ The Pen is mightier than The Sword

the pen is mightier than the sword
Image by Gabi Agu via Flickr

Attention: All Warriors

Yes that means you. The traditional definition for a Warrior is ~ BRAVE FIGHTER & SOLDIER. So why would that make you a Warrior? Let me tell you why. Each of us has our own daily battles to fight. It starts when we get up in the morning and does not let off until we go to bed at night. The battle may have different fields for each of us. But they are all battles. Do these terms sound familiar?

STRESS

RESPONSIBILITY

SELF DOUBT

DENIAL

RESERVE

EMOTIONAL CONFLICT

The CHAOS that is LIFE

UNPREDICTABILITY

TIME

MONEY

EGO / ID

Did any of these fields of battle seem familiar to you? If you answered yes to only one of these terms than you are doing better than most of humanity. No matter what culture you are part of, what time-zone you fall in on the globe, what job you do, single or in a relationship – you will encounter at least most of these battles in your daily lives. The only thing that separates you and I from soldiers is that we don’t wear a uniform that describes us and sets us apart. There are also very seldom any awards for battles well fought given out to us.

There are also another group of Warriors this month. They are part of a 172,000 strong army and their weapons are currently almost 200 000 000 words. These brave troops are boosted by infantry troops of 27,000 junior warriors with fighting power of 10 000 000 words.

This  month I am proud to say that I am one of the 172,000 warriors for NaNoWriMo 2010 and my individual fighting power currently stands at 16547 words. I am very proud of those statistics and this battalion of True Warriors.

These NaNoWriMo Warriors are truly warriors for three reasons.

  1. These Word Warriors fight all the above battles that I listed to chase after a dream. This dream may seem impossible but yet this does not stop them from signing up and volunteering for battle. They also do this along a normal life as well. They do not go and become a hermit in a tucked away cabin, eschewing all human company for 30 days. No they do this Great Battle of the Novel parallel to and oftentimes intersecting life. They do this, not for a monetary prize or even a gold medal, they do this to say proudly that they have taken 30 days to write 50 000 words or more.
  2. The second reason they are called NaNoWriMo Warriors is that by the end of the month they are not just individuals anymore. They have forged bonds and made connections that may last a life time. When you enlist for this Battalion, like any army you become a unit with other individuals all with the same goal even though they may have different motivations. As a Battalion they are supportive and encouraging of each other. They back one another up when they are flailing for air. They cover one another with firepower of WORDS when they go into battle. They respect one another and they all respect the Chase after the Dream.
  3. The third reason why they are called NaNoWriMo Warriors is to my mind the most important and worthy reason of all. It is a simple fact but one that begs to be repeated in this modern age especially. It is as simple and as complex to say: THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. For this reason, each and every one of the 172,000 Warriors and each and every one of the 27,000 junior infantry are True Warriors of the Highest order. In this day and age that people seem to look to television or gaming devices for information and entertainment it makes my heart swell with pride to see the sheer numbers of the Warriors that have enlisted for NaNoWriMo with only a pen in your hand. Be not dismayed by thinking that a pen could not possibly hold up to a sword let alone be mightier. I mean aren’t writers nerdy? Can you name me one great army soldier from any country in the 16th century? You have 3 minutes, without googling….Did you come up with a name? Me neither. Now name me a great Wordsmith Warrior of the 16th century  in the same amount of time? The answer is William Shakespeare. Now how powerful is the Word I ask you?  I could give thousands, hundreds of thousands of other great word warriors but I think you get the point with just this one.

So today if you are facing a particularly tough battle, remember that you are a Warrior Chasing a Worthy Dream with powerful fighting power: Your Words.

I leave you with words from the Mighty Bard himself:

that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither. – Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 – William Shakespeare

Now go:

Fight the Good Fight with your Mighty Words!

 

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

 

NaNoWriMo Boot-Camp Training

Boot Camp (TV series)
Image via Wikipedia

First off my apologies for missing the Monday Mental Muscles Challenge…I blame the madness and creative chaos that is NaNoWriMo falling on a Monday! Not to be concerned…the muscles will get a workout this week. So here is my plan for all you Fitness Fanatics of the creative variety:

This month I will be holding NaNoWriMo Boot Camp on Mondays, except for today of course that happens to be a Tuesday. In Blogging Boot Camp, I will be giving you weekly exercises to do all with NaNoWriMo in mind. However I realise that not all my followers are taking part in this global madness so for you, you can still do the exercises but slant it towards your own WIPs and writing projects that you may have on the go.

So in honour of “Boot Camp” Tradition, here is your first exercise for the week:

(You guessed it right if you thought it might be Push Ups. What is Boot Camp without Push Ups.)

Exercise no.1:

Pull out a pen/pencil and paper. (You heard me. We are doing this the old-fashioned way. No laptop/pc allowed.)

Have you got it. Right. I want you to do exactly 10 minutes of free word association. This warm up exercise will be your stretching for the day.

Your prompt word for the free word play is:

Boot-Camp

Exercise no. 2:

Trying to use all the above words you used in the free word play association, write a 1 page short, tying back to your NaNoWriMo novel or your current WIP. It does not matter at this point if it ends up being a chaotic nonsense piece…that’s the fun of it.

Exercise no.3:

You guessed it, I am going to make you do a sprint, a word sprint. Again, a traditional Boot Camp exercise…

You have exactly 30 minutes to write (long hand with writing implement and paper) a dramatic scene in your NaNoWriMo novel, or your current WIP. Throw something dramatic and life changing at your Main Character and see how they will handle it. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to be mean to your character. Test their mettle and find out if they have what it takes to deal with a really hairy situation.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

NaNoWriMo has begun!

The Starting Line
Image by Susan Sharpless Smith via Flickr

Day 1

Day 1 has come and is almost done in New Zealand. We were the first, along with Fiji to see the start of November 2010 and NaNoWriMo 2010. Before midnight struck, I was at home in a chat room with my fellow NaNoWriMo Warriors. You may have heard of this group before or this may be the first mention you know of. NaNoWriMo Warriors was created this week by the developer of the Scribblerati ning that I am a member of. In 5 days it has grown to 217 members. At first the members were all fellow scribblers belonging to Scribblerati but before long tweets got tweeted, Facebook group shares were placed on individual walls and now we have 217 members as of 9:26pm, NZ time. There are more being added every hour.

This is the first NaNoWriMo is which I am participating. At first there was a small part of me that thought it was sheer madness to contemplate doing a novel in 30 days. But before long I was hooked on the idea and had found myself signed up and registered on 1st October.

People often think that writing is a particularly lonely pursuit. This year I have found my writing life filled with support, encouragement and cheers. It was not just my family and friends as you would expect but two spectacular writing communities that I belong to: Scribblerati (as mentioned before) and She Writes.

When I signed up for NaNoWriMo the support just about blew me away. There was a sense of camaraderie and solidarity from all of my online writing friends. As October progressed, I got more and more excited. I felt like a kid before Christmas except I knew that the perfect gift that I had wished for would be under the tree.

The last week before the today was a mixture of intense anticipation and a jingle jangle of bouncing nerves. I was also trying to get some sleep to prepare for the madness that is NaNoWriMo. It is very difficult trying to sleep when your characters do not have the same courtesy and are wide awake with verbal diarrhea. Trying to explain to my MC that she has to wait just a few more days was like trying to reason with a 4year old child who knows where the Christmas prezzies are hiding. In a word: Impossible. Even for a writerly type who is usually never short of words.

On Sunday afternoon I signed into the NaNoWriMo Warriors page and was immediately infected with the creative enthusiasm of writers all excited for this challenge. I was asked to be a moderator for my time zone when our tireless creator would have to sleep for a short time. I accepted immediately. There is something palpably electric about being a cheerleader for something like NaNoWriMo. On top of that I knew that I would be up for most of the night so being on hand to welcome NZ and OZ WriMos to the wonderful madness that is NaNoWriMo.

The clock ticked and the moon rose higher in the sky. The night air seemed suspended in waiting for something special. As it got closer and closer, I spent the time chatting to my online fellow WriMo Warriors. Simultaneously I started getting ready to type the first word into my full screen MS screen on Storyist. The clock ticked and it got nearer and nearer.

The clock struck midnight. I called the Battle Cry for the NZ WriMos and I was off into the start of my first NaNoWriMo. I wrote down my first word and then I gave control to my MC. I felt it only fair that she be given free rein this first night after being so patient all week long. Before long I had a 1000 words and the next time I looked up I was sitting at 4094 words on my NaNoWriMo Novel. Looking at the clock, I realised time literally opened up a secret time hole that I fell into well writing everything my MC was telling me: it was 3:30am. The first 3 1/2 hours of NaNoWriMo had begun and I had surpassed my own personal goal for the day. I felt a rush of adrenalin hit me and I knew that this story would flow for me this day, this week and this month. All I had to do was believe in the unwritten words that were in a treasure trove locked in my mind.

I stayed online for the sheer pleasure of that writerly solidarity. I kept on popping in and out of the tweetchat #NaNoWriMo and was excited to read the word count updates on there.

Yes NaNoWriMo is a challenge. It may even still sound crazy and impossible to some people. But to me NaNoWriMo is not just about the challenge of the novel or finding the mind-space to let the words flow. NaNoWriMo is also about thousands of writers joined together in a global pursuit. NaNoWriMo is about making friends with true artists all across the 4 corners of the globe. NaNoWriMo is about being a NaNoWriMo Warrior and knowing that I have an army of support, understanding, encouragement and cheerleading to lean on. NaNoWriMo is a creative boost to what is usually a lonely pursuit.

NaNoWriMo Warriors are anyone who has signed up for NaNoWriMo. You are already a Warrior and a Conqueror. It takes real “Chutzpah” to sign up for this challenge.

NaNoWriMo Warriors I salute you.

Bring on Day 2. I am waiting, willing and ready. Are you?


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.


My NaNoWriMo Pencil-Case of Tricks, Tools & Software

What's in your pencil case?
Image by congalaconga via Flickr

It is just under 12 hours until the Mad,Wonderful Craziness of NaNoWriMo 2010. Based in NZ has its advantages and disadvantages. We are the first to open Christmas prezzies. We are the first to celebrate New Year. But we are also the first to start NaNoWriMo. I will be starting at midnight in under 12 hours time. Does this fill me with trepidation, excitement, terror, anticipation, jingling-jangling nerves, raw adrenalin? Yes to all of those. NaNoWriMo is almost like a relay race on an athletics field. Although it started as an US competition/challenge, it is now a global phenomenon with well over 100 000 writers taking part. With its nature of being global and the world being broken up into time zones, this makes NaNoWriMo a relay race. People in NZ and Fiji start the race first, then we hand the batons to our fellow scribblers in Australia, then Asia, then Europe, then Africa, then US & Canada and South America and finally Hawaii. Like every successful relay race, the runners (us WriMo scribblers) are partners and team mates in a race to the finish posts: minimum 50 000 words of a Novel. But every runner and athlete knows that there are certain elements we need to make our race more successful. This is what this post is about. My athlete’s uniform or My NaNoWriMo Pencil-Case.

From the beginning of the month I blogged about trialing out certain software in an effort to find the perfect software for NaNoWriMo. I have been using different trials for a month now and some a little longer. Here is what I have found works for me:

Scrivener (software)” rel=”homepage” href=”http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html”>Scrivener

I started using Scrivener about 3/4 months ago.  I had been searching for just the right software for my writing needs and requirements. I happened across Scrivener. At first I was incredibly confused and overwhelmed. I had never come across anything like this type of software before. I thought I had just wanted a good word processor. (Aside: I have only been a MAC user for 2 years. Before I was a prolific Word user/fan.)

Instead I found myself in the world of Digital Cork-Boards and Index Cards. I tinkered away until I had it relatively figured out. Slowly I started falling in love with this new software. I realised that for the first time I did not need a separate program for research materials. I could do everything in preparation for a Novel within one program.

My favourite tool of Scrivener is the amazing Cork-board with mobile index cards. On this cork board you can place index cards that you can move around and rearrange to your heart’s content. On these index cards you can write scenes from your novel or plot points. You can even break up each paragraph/section of your novel into individual index cards. If you need to rearrange the sequence of events or timelines, you just need to move the index cards around and it automatically translates to moving your text in your novel around without copying, pasting and cutting.

My other favourite tool in this clever software is: the research possibilities. You can directly paste all your research into a file within Scrivener. You can also directly access Wikipaedia articles from Scrivener’s platform without first having to open your browser.

So out of a score of 10, I am marking Scrivener as 9/10. There were some elements that were missing when I first trialled Scrivener which did affect my rating of it. Some of these elements have now been added in the 2.0 version. As a former Window user, I am also pleased to let all Windows users know that Literature & Latte have now released a Windows version of Scrivener. Both the Windows version and the new 2.0 Mac release have been put up for a free trial period on the Literature & Latte site. Literature & Latte are one of the sponsors of NaNoWriMo. Looking for a software program aimed at writers of all types with a little extra yumminess and spice? Try Literature & Latte’s Scrivener. It might just be the software for you.

Storyist” rel=”homepage” href=”http://www.storyist.com/”>Storyist

When I signed up and registered for NaNoWriMo on the NaNoWriMo site, I noticed that there was another software developer who is sponsoring NaNoWriMo this year. This software is called Storyist. Being a software junkie, you know that I had to investigate further. I linked through to the main website of Storyist and saw that they were also offering a free NaNoWriMo trial version of this software. I immediately downloaded the trial version to my Macbook. It would have been rude not to try since it was a free trial and they are sponsors of NaNoWriMo.

When I opened it up for the first time, I was slightly confused. This looked very similar to Scrivener. There must be some differences. So I investigated further. Now a month from first downloading the trial version of Storyist and I am HOOKED. Of course as any writer knows, there has to be a HOOK for a story to be a success. I tend to view Writing Software the same way. I always look for an enticing HOOK to bite onto. So what are the HOOKS of Storyist?

For me the hook was that it has Character formats/Plot formats and Setting formats. On top of that even though it has the Cork-Board like Scrivener, it also has a fully formatted Manuscript view in which you can type in your entire novel and not have to worry about formatting. Another handy tool is that you can export it into epub form and/or print a WYSIWYG hard copy of your novel. It has a word count and spellcheck that I have found more than meets my requirements.

I LOVE Storyist and am sold on this software. My rating for it is also: 9/10.

Scrivener vs Storyist

I am an avid fan of both software programs. Reading through the forums I have found that people are in a sharp divide of opinion when it comes to sizing up and comparing these two programs. However, in my humble and personal opinion, I give both software programs a HUGE DOUBLE THUMBS-UP.

Though it could be argued that the two programs are very similar, there are subtle differences. Scrivener allows you a more open hand way of formatting. It has the better Cork Board and Index Card system. Scrivener is fantastic for any writing that is intensive in research. It is also a software that has all the bells and whistles that any writer; novelists, scriptwriters, journalists, academics, may need.

Storyist however is the Be All-End All software for Novelists & Scriptwriters. Storyist understands the importance of character arcs, plot arcs and settings to the story. As a writer who starts from a Character to get a story, Storyist just WORKS for me. The already formatted Manuscript view is perfect for a Writer who really does not want to have to figure out industry standard formatting. Basically with Storyist, I can do all my prepping and outlining beforehand and then split my screen into a double view screen, with my corkboard / outline on one screen and my manuscript ready to be typed and entered into the other screen. Then I switch to full-screen view and all distractions are shut off and I can just write.

So my diagnosis on both is that try them both out for yourself. I guarantee that you will find what you need in at least one of them. You might even be like me and find you are in love with both of them. I now use both of these programs. Scrivener is fantastic for my research heavy WIPs but Storyist is fantastic for those WIPs that just need me to shut off from the world and from the voice of my characters build my story.

So those, in my personal opinion, are the two top software programs designed for writers. But sometimes you don’t want a program with all the bells & whistles. You might even be intimidated by a program with “so much”. Do not despair. There are fantastic and simple “purist” word processor programs out there. The best thing about these following programmes is that they are free to use and download.

Bean

Now this is my FAVOURITE word processor tool for Mac users. I use this program all the time. I do any and all writing on here. I find this is especially useful for my writing that does not need formatting or bells & whistles. Bean is also a fantastic software for those of you with sensitive eyes and looking for an easier and more comfortable writing environment. The view of the screen is white text on a deep blue background. Bean has all the simple word processor tools you would find in a program. It has spellcheck, full-screen, formatting for fonts and margins, word count and it has a brilliant Text-to-Speech tool built into it as well.

My rating for Bean as a simple word processor is: 10/10.

Try it for yourself. You may like it.

FocusWriter

I have used Focus Writer. Again it was purely my penchant for being a software junkie that inspired this. I found Focus Writer adequate and easy to use. A couple of things it has that bean does not is: themes and timers. In light of this, this may be the perfect tool for NaNoWriMo. It also has not just a Word count but a Paragraph count, a Character count and a Page count. So far I have only been using it for about 2 weeks so I am still learning the various tools and tricks in this program.

So far though, I am impressed. I score it a rating of: 9/10.

Another tool that I absolutely love and advocate is: mind mapping. I confess to being a perfectionist and a grammar-nit-picker. I am a planner. I love planning things but I do not like lists. Then how do I plan if I don’t out line, you may ask? I work best on a visual basis. I used to do all my studying using mind mapping. For me the mind map is something visually appealing and it suits my perfectionist nature. Although I have always done mind mapping by hand and been quite happy with that, I needed to see if there was an online software program that allowed me to mind map. Much to my delight and surprise I found quite the plethora of software that do digital mind mapping.I am going to tell you about my favourite one. (It is also free to use).

(Storyist and Bean are Mac OS X Software Platforms)

(Scrivener and Focus Writer are multiple platforms – both for Windows and Mac)

 

FreeMind

Now this is software that just gets the creative, organised part of me EXCITED. FreeMind is everything and more that you can want out of a visual and creative outlining/planning/plotting tool. It is exceptionally easy to use. It is visually appealing as you can colour code different roots/nodes in your particular mind map. I use FreeMind with all my writing projects. I have even used it for non-writerly pursuits, like planning staff meetings or preparing marketing plans.

If you are a visual person who is inspired by freeform colour and construction of ideas in a mapped format then FreeMind is simply the perfect software program for you.

My rating is a resounding 10/10.

Another tool that I have used for NaNoWriMo is a graphics manipulation/photo editing software called Compositor. Many of my fellow scribblers and WriMo buddies have asked me how I “made” my cover for my NaNoWriMo novel. Compositor is the answer to this question.

Freemind can be used on the Windows platform and the Mac platform. It can also be used on the linus platform.

Compositor

Compositor is a very simple to use WYSIWYG software photo editing and graphics manipulation tool. I have been using it for about 2 weeks and love it. It is geared towards people who want to make up posters or covers or even videographers and scriptwriters for movies. There are many “video” view tools as well as “Photograph” tools. Being an avid photographer, I just “get” this software. In this software you can alter the “filters” on a photograph just as if you were using a manual SLR with all its bell and whistles. You can completely transform a photograph with a few clicks. It s however not a storage facility. You would have to use it along side a storage facility like iPhoto.

My rating is a definitive 10/10.

Download the trial and see what you think of it. I do warn you to put aside a few hours though as you get lost in the wonderful world of graphic design and photo manipulation that Compositor gives you a passport into.

Compositor is a MAC only platform software.

Another great and popular NaNoWriMo tool is the NaNoWriMo calendar with attached word count. Through the links of fellow scribblers and friends I have fund my perfect online calendar and the one I am going to use for NaNoWriMo.

David S. Gale’s NaNoWriMo Tracker

This is the only tracker that I am aware of that calculates your word count goals and accumulations accurately. In this program you can format your own word count calendar/tracker. You can then put in percent (%) form how much of the word count you will do. It allows you to write fewer words on weekends for instance and automatically adjusts all the other days of November.

My rating and recommendation for this tool is: 100% or 10/10.

Use it. You will love it. It will be invaluable to your success in NaNoWriMo. It is also perfect for those writers who are over achievers and want to write more than just 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo. Try it out. It is free and it is online. You won’t regret it.


So those are the “pencils” in my Pencil Case or the “tools” in my digital Tool-Case. All of these ratings and reviews are from my personal opinion. These are my favourite software programs on the digital page. Try some or all of them out, you may just find a new favourite amongst them.

Preparing for any race is all about the reliable tools and equipment that allow you to run effectively, competitively and successfully. I hope that you are getting ready to crouch down at the NaNoWriMo starting block for the global and creative relay race of November.

So pull on your running shoes, fill up your water bottle, amp up your carbs with Pasta and get ready to run the race of the year.

Good Luck to all the WriMos out there . Good Luck for your race.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Pack your suitcases. You are moving into your NaNoWriMo story!

 

I am a writer.
Image by DavidTurnbull via Flickr

 

Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be…Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.”                – Erich Fromm

NaNoWriMo is just a day and a few hours away or two days away, depending where on the globe you happen to be.

So tell me, how are you feeling? Are you panicking with nerves? Are you wondering if your plot idea stacks up? Do you know enough about your MCs (main characters)? Have you set up a writing schedule? You only have a couple of days to sort out any plot holes you may have. Hopefully you have been using the month of October to prepare to succeed in NaNoWriMo.

This weekend is not the time to panic! If you start a race thinking you are going to fail or that you are unfit, you will not succeed. You will instead be setting yourself up to fail.

Instead, take a step back from all your preparation. Give yourself a breather. This is the weekend that you need to relax and get yourself in the right frame of mind. You want to enter Monday filled with enthusiasm and the power of positive thinking. Take a book and a pen and do this for yourself. Turn to a blank page in your book and in the boldest letters you can form, write:

I AM A WRITER.

Now tear that page out of your book, place it in a frame or a mount and put it in a place where you will see it every time you sit down in November to write your story. You ARE a Writer. You ARE a Storyteller. You already have the story you want to write within you, whether you have prepared for it or not. It is time to face this fact. You are going to start writing on the 1st of November and the writing will just flow. You will tap into your most creative part of your soul and mind and the story will take you on a magic carpet ride. Feel the story. These last few days before Monday, don’t do any more preparation. Instead immerse yourself into your story. Look out at the world through the eyes of your protagonist. For the next couple of days immigrate to the world of your story. Talk to your characters. Tell your characters you believe in their story and more importantly you will tell their story to the best of your ability.

Spend the next couple of days spending time with your family and your friends. Make it quality time. Tell them your story. Make them believe in your story. Introduce them to your characters. Let them fall in love with your characters just like you have. Do something you truly love to do that fills you with joy. Have a picnic. Treat yourself to a movie. Buy something luxurious for yourself. Buy something totally frivolous and beautiful. Have a wonderful meal. Have ice-cream for breakfast. Laugh. Play with your animals. Play with your children. Do only positive and happy things this weekend! Believe me, it will pay off for you. Give yourself the weekend off plotting. Don’t put your story aside. Live it, breathe it, play in your world. You will be surprised how valuable this sort of world-immersion into your story will be.

It is time to pack your suitcases. Pack in your positive thoughts. Pack in your inspirations. Pack in your “Writer”. Pack in your “Muse”. Pack in your passport of creativity. Pack in your visas of Character and Plot arcs. Pack in your ideas. You are now ready. Your flight leaves in a couple of days. You are booked into a window seat. Your window looks out onto your imagined world. Your muse is your pilot. Your characters are your flight attendants. They will look after every one of your needs for this month-long journey. They will also be your tour-guides. Listen to them. You will be travelling first class with the exclusive opportunity to go into the flight deck and to see where your Muse, the pilot, is flying you.

Now sit back. Say goodbye to your loved ones. Tell them you will see them again in a month’s time. Promise them you will take pictures of your journey. You are set to fly Midnight, 1st November, 2010. You have been waiting for this journey for a long time. At the end of this journey you will have a novel that you have written in your hands. That is the prize. That is the golden egg. Now fly and go get it Writer!

“Never ask whether you can do something. Say instead that you are going to do it, then fasten your
seat belt.” – Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)

My NaNoWriMo user name is: last_lines

If you are on Facebook, join this great group: NaNoWriMo Warriors

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Today’s lesson ~ Flexing those mental muscles & getting fit for NaNoWriMo

Me Running
Image via Wikipedia

I am centering today’s mental muscles in honour of this being the last week before the gun goes off and the writers are sprinting away in the mad creative marathon of NaNoWriMo.

So is your story clear in your head? Is your story as tangible as a photograph or is it a scarf, flung carelessly, constantly been blown out of your reach? Could you describe it in a page, in a paragraph or in a sentence? Are character/s knocking on your mental doors or have they been breaking & entering in through the windows? Are the character/s nagging you yet? Have they been revealing themselves to you or are they a little reticent?

Well for today’s muscle flexing, I am going to give you some tools that may help you catch that scarf of a plot or maybe your niggling runner’s cramp is a reticent character. Either way, you have one week left to flesh out your character/s and colour your story. Maybe nerves are striking and you keep on wondering why you have signed yourself up for NaNoWriMo in the first place. I mean it’s crazy to think that you can fit more time into your day solely devoted to writing. What about the animals, or the kids or the spouse – who is going to feed them? What about that pesky Day Job that steals at least 8 hours of your time every day? Before you resign from the Day Job and move into a secluded, but handy hermit’s cottage, just like the spooky one you used to skirt past as a kid….Stop….Breathe…that was 3 deep breaths please…Now refocus…Feeling better? If you are still in the freak-out, hair turning white from stress, stage….maybe it’s time to test yourself a little without breaking the NaNoWriMo rules either. I can help you with that. Of course if you are cool, calm and collected and as ready as you ever will be, well you can do these for fun then.

As this may be the first time you are entering this creative gym, I will go over the etiquette. You need to do at least 1 of the exercises listed here. If you do, let us all know which one you chose and how it went. You can do this by commenting on this post. If you put it up on your blog, please link back through to my blog. As with everything else, feel free to pay it forward and give these exercises to anyone you may feel needs to do them. Now onto the workout floor…Hope you brought your stretching mats, work out towels and water…Ready? Let’s begin.

  1. Plotting ~ Write up your novel’s plot into a 1 sentence synopsis. Now flesh that out into a paragraph length synopsis. Next flesh that out into a single page length synopsis.
  2. Plotting ~ Music is a vital tool to anyone. Firstly our sense of hearing is the first sense we develop and the last we lose. So with this is mind…Close your eyes and think of the story you have so far. Now listen carefully. In the background you will start hearing a melody that will turn into a song, maybe even a compilation. This is your story’s theme song. Everything needs a theme song. Now you have your NaNoWriMo theme song. Use it for inspiration or even to vaccinate yourself against procrastinitis.
  3. Plotting ~ Without telling them it is your story, get a trusted friend (non-writer) to read the synopsis from exercise (1) and tell them to give you an honest opinion on whether they would want to read this story. Also ask them what the plot’s strengths and weaknesses may be. Does the story hook them? If it does not, what is missing? (Aside: Remember every story needs to be read as well as told. Readers give invaluable insight.)
  1. Character ~ (This first exercise is for the writer with the reticent and secretive character/s.) Find a spot where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Grab a few snacks and treats. Then make a date to rendezvous with your writing muses. Ask your character/s to introduce themselves to you. You may be surprised. Maybe your character/s are polite and were just waiting for you to make some time for them to introduce themselves to you. (This exercise needs a minimum of at least 2 hours. Make sure you have no interruptions in this time.)
  2. Character ~ Close your eyes and picture your character/s in your mental vision. Once you have them in your mind, start a sketch of your character. (You don’t have to be an artist to do this exercise. Remember this is just for you.) You can keep this sketch in your NaNoWriMo notebook or pin it up on your corkboard / wall to keep you focused throughout November. Sometimes you have to see to believe it.
  3. Character ~ Close your eyes again. Now ask your character/s what their 6 favourite meals are. Now for the next 6 days make these meals for yourself and for your loved ones. Taste is a vital key to personality. Is your character a gourmet or fussy eater? Is your character a simple home-cooked pasta type of person? Use these meal times to further get to know your character and to flesh out their personality/s.

Now choose at least 1 each of the above exercises, 1 for plotting and 1 for character, and let yourself have fun with it. Now how are you feeling about NaNoWriMo? Remember this should be a FUN Adventure and not a chore. You have a story locked inside of you. Use NaNoWriMo to unlock this. Use these exercise to help draw your map for your NaNoWriMo story.

Good luck and happy stretching!

(For any of you NaNoWriMo participants: if you would like to add me as a NaNo buddy, my user name is last_lines)

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.