5k Words in One Day

5k

Today I set a goal for myself: 5k words. All in one day. And just now I completed that goal. It’s a small goal in the grand scheme of things. But after reading a post about writing 10k in a day yesterday I felt inspired. I pursued my goal, and I’m ending my writing session today feeling satisfied. There was a time, about half way through, where I thought about stopping. That I wasn’t going to make it to 5k today, and I could always get to it tomorrow.

But that’s not how goals are reached! Don’t put it off for tomorrow. Do it today.

As promised, I wanted to talk about my writing today. Because for those of you who follow along with my writing, my usual goal is 1k a day. It’s a reasonable goal, and it’s usually one on a good day (without writer’s block) I can reach. But today I reached for 5k, and here’s why.

I started a new book today. I’m not going to reveal the title until December, but this new book has me excited. A lot of new ideas are stirring around in my head, and there’s still a lot more that I’m working out. But with the first draft it’s okay to not focus on everything at once. At least for me, sometimes I just figure out things as I go.

Someone on Instagram had mentioned they listened to The Crown soundtrack while writing. The Crown as in the Netflix show that if you’re not watching yet, go watch it! It’s an amazing show. But in all seriousness, I had forgotten what an impact soundtracks can have. I decided to listen to the soundtrack for the first time today, and I found one song (“Duck shoot”) that I placed on repeat for the entire time I wrote today. Maybe it was because I had seen the scene with this particular song in the show, but this song was so powerful today. It was just what I needed, and it honestly worked perfectly with everything I was writing today.

In total today I wrote for 4 hours and reached 5,105 words. Mind you the four hours were split up into smaller sections. The first hour or so I did this morning, and then the remainder of the time I did this evening (since hubby is at work).

So let’s talk about how you can reach 5k. Whether that be today, tomorrow, or next month. Set a date that you have free time to just focus solely on your writing. Make a small retreat out of it if you have to. Have a writing buddy join you. But here’s the most important things you’ll need to succeed:

  • Announce your intended goal –This is why social media is so great to have. Announce your goal is 5k today, and then have your friends and family hold you responsible for reaching it. Maybe check in now and then to update your progress. But just one simple announcement does the trick. It holds you responsible for reaching that goal.
  • Coffee –Or some other beverage to help you stay energized. Unless you’re one of those writers who gets 5k done fast, you might need a few hours to do this. Or you might need the whole day. But don’t lose hope! Drink your coffee, make another cup of tea, and keep on writing.
  • Break your goal into smaller sections –Hit 1k? Great, take a break! And continue this when you feel yourself getting distracted or feeling at a loss of words. 5k in a day can feel like a lot, and you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Staying focused doesn’t mean driving yourself insane. Take some time to cuddle with your cat, eat a snack, and then get back to work.
  • Keep track of your time and word count –Again, I’m going to suggest the app “Wordly” if you don’t already have it. There’s other apps similar to it, but this is the only app I’ve ever used for my word count. I’ve been using it since the first draft of Clara and Claire and haven’t stopped since. It helps you stay accountable for the time you’re spending on your writing and who much you get done after each writing session. This also really helps with breaking up your sessions when you need to take a break. Just jot down when you stop and how many words you’re at, and then pick back up when you start again.
  • Music –music isn’t for everyone. The majority of the time I write in complete silence. But sometimes music (or some kind of inspiration) can really help you get into the mood. For me today it was The Crown soundtrack. Other times I’ve listened to rain and thunder soundtracks (because I’m weird like that). Find what works for you. Maybe listen to music during your breaks to get re-energized.
  • Other preparations –Notebooks, pen, post-its… Whatever you need for those moments when you have a “aha!” moment and need to write it down fast for later. Characters, dialog ideas, plot twists… anything relating to your book that you can’t write into it right now, write it down and save it for later
  • Write like you mean it! –This seems obvious, but seriously just write your heart out. Whether you’re writing on paper or typing, try not to think about grammar or sentence structure or plot holes. Just get the ideas out of your head and onto paper.

The worst thing you can do when you set a goal like this for yourself is get stuck in your head. And I’m guilty of doing this all the time. What if this is complete crap? Why isn’t this chapter longer? How can I make this scene more interesting? What if this book never sells? Why did I start writing in the first place? No, no, no. Get out of your head, and just go with your gut. I honestly feel like that works the best, especially when you’re just trying to get something written.

When you’re trying to get a book written, don’t worry about everything at the end for it to be ready for publication. Just focus on the here and now. You’d be surprised by how much you can accomplish.

I realize this has been a longer than usual post, so if you’ve made it this far I hope this post can help you with your future writing adventures. I was so overwhelmed with hitting that 5k marker tonight I’m eager to see what I can get done tomorrow. For now that’s all, and by the way…

4 more days until Clara and Claire release!!!!

Lindsey Richardson

 

 

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Writing a series vs. a novel

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I am finally writing the post I’ve been wanting to write ever since I first started Clara and Claire. For those of you who are planning to write either, I’m hoping this can be helpful. There’s a lot of different ways I thought of tackling this, and mind you I’m going to include a lot of personal experience with this too. I think that’s a big part of writing. There’s no right way of doing something, but everyone’s experience varies.

Let’s face it a series takes a lot of planning. You might not have it all planned out at the beginning of book one. Unless you’re one of those people who have the whole series planned before you begin –to which I say bravo! But you can equally put just as much time into a standalone novel.

A series is a lot like a butterfly effect. If this happens, this will happen in the next book. If this character dies, this character won’t be in the rest of the series. It’s a lot of playing around with different ideas to see how they’ll fit into the puzzle. Because a series is, in a lot of ways, like a puzzle. You have to test the ideas, see how they work, and then if it doesn’t fit with the idea you have for the overall series you start over again.

With the Magicians series there were a lot of times I didn’t decide on the exact nature of the next book until I was finished with the current one. That’s just the way I write. But I constantly reminded myself after this book there would be another and another until the series ended.

There’s some other major points that make a series so different from a standalone novel:

  • Setting -There’s going to be a lot more time you’ll be spending with the setting of your novel. Even if your characters stay in the same place throughout all the books, there’s still a lot of development and thought you’ll need to put into it. You want this to be the world that’s special to your series, that separates it from other books.
  • Character development -Your characters need to be constantly developing throughout the whole series, just like real people do throughout their life. This is where the butterfly effect is huge. If something traumatic happens to your MC, we want to see and feel what effect that has on them. If they make a huge lifestyle change we want to know why and how it changes them afterward.
  • Voice -Maybe the voice changes throughout your series. For example, in my series the narrator changed with each book. So every book there was always a change in the voice because never the same person was telling the story. Even if this isn’t the case for you, your MC is going to be growing and changing throughout the series. What might have been a bitter MC at the beginning could end with a satisfied one.
  • Endings -endings are so important for series. I really can’t stress this enough. You have to end each book in a way to convince your readers to come back for more. Always leave them wanting more, which is easier said than done. My best suggestion for this is to read the endings of your favorite series and see how the author kept you coming back.

As for standalone novels they’re massively different from a series. This is a one time book. Afterwards you want the reader feeling like they’re just read an amazing book and can’t wait to read more from you.

A novel has everything a series has : character development, settings, a great ending, and your MC’s voice. Except all of these things you have to cram into one book. From someone who was used to only writing series, I found this to be the most challenging part. Like huh, how will this all fit into one book? So it’s important to plan and also recognize what’s in your novel’s ending. If at the end you still feel there’s more to tell, that it can’t all be said in one book, then maybe you need to write a sequel. But if you’re aiming for a standalone make sure you have everything wrapped up at the end.

With standalone novels this means you have one chance to impress the readers. By the end they should know whether they love it or hate it. And if you’ve done it right they should be searching your name to find other books by you. This is also a great chance to gain readers who don’t like series or don’t have the time for them.

Every author has their preference just like our readers do. As for me I’m still a sucker for series, but I loved the work I did for Clara and Claire and it has me excited for my next project –which I’ll be announcing after the release. But regardless I think it’s important for us to step away from the things we’re comfortable with and try something new. For me it was a standalone novel. For you it might be that romance novel you’ve been debating on writing. It can be anything, and if you don’t at first succeed keep writing. You can only get better!

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWriMo: Day 3

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NaNoWriMo day 3. Word count: 7,071. Words remaining: 42,929. Mood: Tired.

It’s the third day of NaNoWriMo, and I’m going to be honest I actually can’t believe it. It feels like it’s the tenth day. I feel like I’ve been writing this novel for more than just three days, but that isn’t the case. (Shoutout to the calendar for reminding me of the simple things.)

Today I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to. My word count app, Wordly, actually is telling me I have 82 more words to write today (until I reach my daily goal of 1667). But with having had interviews today (and getting a job!) I admittedly didn’t have a lot of time to write today. I’m definitely planning to get more done this weekend, so I’m remaining hopeful but cautious all the same.

The thing with NaNoWriMo is it’s a constant struggle. With this challenge you can never get too comfort with where you are. One day you’re ahead, and then the next day you might not write nearly as much (and hence start to fall behind). It’s hard, but I also think that’s the great thing about it. This challenge allows you to see what writing every (or almost every) day is like. It teaches you deadlines and pressure and perhaps most importantly of all dedication. At the end of these 30 days we all should be taking away something from this challenge.

By the third day, how are you feeling about your novel? Do you love it, hate it, still can’t decide on it? I’ve personally been pushing myself toward the more exciting action-packed scenes of my novel. Everyone has something different pushing them along, but it’s important to make that for yourself.

Another thing you’re going to realize with NaNoWriMo is you have to rely on yourself. Learn your schedule. Learn what you can and can’t do. Do those crazy 5k Friday sprints, or dare to stay up for one full night. Challenge yourself, and always remember there’s no “right” method to the madness. You’re going to know how to write your novel better than anyone.

It seems like today went by too fast. I’m constantly reminding myself tomorrow is another day, and tomorrow can even be the more productive day. It’s all about ruling your dice and seeing where they land. Maybe today’s your day, and if not aim for tomorrow. Just keep aiming because it’s mind over matter, and you’re more able to do this than you might be thinking today (or tomorrow).

Leave your progress in the comments below if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo! I can’t wait to see where we all are at the end of this adventure. Take it one day at a time, and don’t forget to take breaks when you need them.

Keep on writing!

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

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Day 2 of NaNoWriMo. My current word count: 5, 486. Words left: 44,514. Mood: hopeful.

You know when I write up two blog posts in one day it’s been a productive (and busy!) day. Today is the second day of NaNoWriMo, and I can’t help but feel hopeful. I reached over 5k today in my novel. It’s interesting to watch as people announce their progress because everyone’s at a different place right now. Some people write crazy fast, and I admire that. And then there’s people like me who are more on the slower side. But at the end of the day we’re all working toward the 50k goal, and the great thing with this challenge is it doesn’t matter how you get there.

If you’re feeling down on your progress –believe me we’ve all been there, and I’ll be there at some point this month too. And what I say to that: Don’t be! Be proud of how far you are, whether you’re only a few hundred words in or you’re way past where you ever expected. Progress is progress no matter how small.

Something I’ve been struggling a lot with (and this is always a problem I have when writing) is analyzing my work. My inner editor keeps begging me to go over that last sentence, that last paragraph, the last three chapters. And I have to keep resisting! NaNoWriMo is all about writing that 50k. And I think the best lesson this challenge teaches us is that it doesn’t matter if you write crap. Right now I’m not sure if I’m over the moon with my first few chapters. Honestly I might hate them later on and be wondering “who wrote this?!” But I’m not letting that stop me.

As for some NaNoWriMo necessities to success, here’s what I’ve been using (that helps a lot):

  • coffee (notice how this is always the first bullet point? It’s that important!)
  • “Wordly” –this is a writing app. I’ve talked about it many times before, and I’m going to keep talking about it because it’s amazing. It’s entirely free, and it’s how I keep track of my word count. I set it to remind me about writing at certain times in the day, and it keeps up with my goal of reaching 50k. I used it for Clara and Claire, and now I’m using it with NaNoWriMo. Seriously get this app or something close to it!!
  • Ommwriter –I wish I could suggest Scrivener, but I don’t have it. If anyone wants to gift it to me this Christmas, I’d love you forever! Ommwriter isn’t free (I think it’s $4-5), but basically it’s really cheap for what it offers. Distraction free writing is huge. It’s so important, especially if you’re like me and get distracted by everything.
  • stationary: journal/paper, pen

So it’s not a lot, but that’s what is keeping me on my toes during all of this.

Remember that you determine your own pace. You might not go as fast as someone else, but it’s easy to fall in love with a story. If you have to leave spaces for parts of the story you’re not sure about for right now and move on. Don’t stay stuck in one place. Just keep writing, and remember after this month you can go back and fix it. (Or if you want never look at it again.)

As for me, I’m working outside my comfort zone with this new novel because it’s unlike anything I’ve done before. So it’s both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. But who knows, maybe after this month I’ll share the first chapter or something on Wattpad for a limited time.

Writing is a beautiful thing, and so long as you know where you are and where you’re headed, you’re covered! At this point I’m glad I’m taking on this challenge again because it reminded me how simple writing can be sometimes. To take away the stress of “oh my gosh this is my next releasing title” and just write is a beautiful thing. I had my break from writing for long enough, and now I’m just glad to have a break from “serious” writing to explore into a genre I wouldn’t usually write.

How far are you into NaNoWriMo? Leave your book title and link to your profile below, and I’ll check out your progress!

I’m not sure if I’m done with writing for the day, but I wanted to write up this post just in case. Keep up the writing!

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWrimo: Day 1

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Somehow November is already here. I’ve been silent the past few days because we just moved into our new home in Texas, so we were on the road for a couple of days.

And boy do I have a crazy month ahead of me, but I’m still going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year to the best of my ability. I think it’ll help my writing, and I have the perfect story for it too. So without further ado, since November is NaNoWriMo, don’t be surprised that a lot this month will focus on that.

First and foremost, I want to announce my official NaNoWriMo novel. It changed at the last minute, so let me introduce what I’m actually writing now that the big day is here.

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The book is called Frost’s Bite, and I’ll have more details on it a little later on. Right now I’m solely focusing on writing it. But to give you a little insight, it’s my first paranormal novel set in modern times. Anyone who’s read my work before knows this is a huge leap of faith I’m taking, but I started to fall in love with the characters in this book and couldn’t resist.

So far since this morning I’ve written 1,165 words. Mind you I’m doing all of this while still settling into our new home and applying to jobs. My goal is 1667 words at least each day, every day, so that way I can at least hit 50k. 50k isn’t my normal word count for novels, so I don’t expect at 50k the book will be complete, but it’ll be a good start. (Or who knows, maybe I’ll just add on more after the challenge.)

This novel is not the one that will be releasing after Clara and Claire. I have yet to announce that novel, but I’ll be announcing it soon after the release.

As for anyone else who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I’m wishing you all the best of luck. This is one of the hardest challenges, but it’s well worth it in the end!

Advice for the first day:

  • drink lots of coffee (or tea) –but most of all just stay hydrated!
  • have a journal or something nearby to write out ideas for future chapters, characters, etc
  • remember to take breaks –you’ll need it!
  • don’t get too caught up in the word count
  • stay inspired –whether it be with music, pictures, etc.

I’m going to keep working throughout the day on my novel, and then I’ll update either later tonight or early tomorrow morning. And if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo don’t forget to add me so I can cheer you on as you write!

I’ll have announcements for Clara and Claire and also announcements about the Magicians series coming within the next few weeks, so keep checking in!

Happy writing, and good luck!

Lindsey Richardson

Writing with a Full Time Job

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Whether you’re working full time at an office or a full time parent, it gets even more complicated when you add writing into the mix. And whether this is your first novel or fourth novel, it’s likely to still be a daily struggle. But that doesn’t mean that it’s at all impossible or a dreadful task.

Let’s face the reality of it: it takes a lot to write full time. And some of us just aren’t there yet, but that doesn’t take anything away from the work we do. As many of you know, I work full time and write as well. It’s been that way every day since I graduated high school.

We’re all at different aspects of our life when it comes to our jobs and when it comes to writing. Maybe this is your first novel, and you don’t know where you’re going afterwards. Or maybe (like me) this is a part of your career that you want to dedicate the time and effort towards. Regardless, I think the overall steps to being successful are the same. Too much work and you’re overwhelmed and frustrated. Too little work and you fall behind and, again, you’re frustrated.

So then how does anybody do it? How do writers work all day (or all night) long and then go home and work more (but on a different task: writing)?

  • Time -we’re talking time management and just an overall understanding of the time you have in a day. If you like to look at the bigger picture plan for the whole week. Take a look at when you’re working for your job and then focus on what time you have left to write. Writing doesn’t require a set time. You can write anywhere, but it’s up to you to figure out when works best.
  • Planning -plan ahead. If you’re not a big planner, maybe take it day by day, but try to plan your day out. If you set up a plan then you can rearrange it as need be. Whatever doesn’t get accomplished (specifically with your writing) can be moved to the next day and etc.
  • Work first, write later -always put your job and your family first. Set your priorities. Sometimes you won’t be able to write when you planned to. Accept that you’re going to need to be flexible with yourself.
  • It’s okay to take breaks -there I said it. Take a break once in a while. Heck, if you have to, take a break for a week! If you’re on vacation, enjoy it with your loved ones. If you’re having a stressful day, let your writing wait for tomorrow. You’re going to need breaks from your writing, just like anyone else.
  • Set realistic goals -perhaps the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing was set goals. And not just any kind of goals, but realistic ones. If it’s a busy month at work, lower that word count goal. If you have days off raise your expectations. Never be afraid to set goals, even if they seem small or insignificant, because when you’re able to check it off and move to the next one, that’s going to fuel your creativity.

While those five tips might not cover everything, I think that gives you the big picture. It’s definitely not impossible. I know a lot of writers who work and write, and I also know several writers who write full time. At the end of the day if you have a novel you truly want to write nothing is going to hold you back. You’ll find a way to work with the free time you have and get things done. Some days are harder than others, but you have to believe in yourself and the story you’re telling.

Leave a comment below and let me know, are you full time working and writing? Or do you write full time? And let me know if you’d like more posts like this in the future!

Lindsey Richardson

Writing Breakthrough Moment

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As September comes to an end, I’m thinking back to how important last September was to my writing. More specifically to Clara and Claire because last year around this time I had my  breakthrough moment.

I think every writer has a breakthrough moment. It might not be obvious, and then other times it might be the difference between writing and giving up. And while I’m sure everyone has a different definition of what a breakthrough moment is, in my experience it’s the moment when you know this is the story you want to continue with. All the doubts, questions, and fears you had before might still be there, but you have a moment of clarity where you’re ably to fully embrace the story and the book altogether for everything (flaws included).

And there’s no telling when this moment will happen for you. Maybe it’s at the beginning or maybe it doesn’t happen until nearly the end of the book. How can you get to your breakthrough moment? There’s really no set of rules or guidelines to get there. For me, it’s just happened, and perhaps that’s the magic behind writing. Some things can’t be determined ahead of time. Sometimes you have to take the leap of faith and see what happens.

If you haven’t reached your breakthrough yet and you’re feeling frustrated, don’t give up. Giving up will only leave you with unanswered questions. Take a break, listen to music, look for new inspiration, or just try (writing) a different angle. For me my breakthrough with Clara and Claire didn’t happen until I joined a writing support group on Facebook. This was my first time joining a support group, but now I definitely want to stay with it as I continue with my writing career.

Had a breakthrough already? Let me know in the comments what was your moment, or if you’re still waiting on it.

On a different note…

Just wanted to give a quick update about Clara and Claire. My editor has been in contact with me this week. Right now we’re working on content edits, and I should be getting the results of that soon and then going to work on that. Good news is everything is going smoothly, and we’re working hard to release the book as soon as humanly possible! I’ll keep you updated!

Lindsey Richardson