My Post-NaNoWriMo Plans

I cannot believe December is almost halfway over and I am only now just thinking about my post-NaNoWriMo plans.

Well, at least we’re here now!

For the last NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month: an international, online writing event that takes place every year during November and encourages writers to write 50k words in 30 days), I wrote around 25,000 words for my Aztec fantasy novel. However, clearly, I did not finish in the 30 days which means I need to keep working on it.

I hope that many of you, like me, took a little bit of a break from writing after NaNoWriMo ended. Even if you did not hit that 50k word goal, you deserve a break! While I only wrote 25k, I did write a little bit (almost) every day and that is a lot of energy. I didn’t anticipate taking a break from writing, but I have only sat down to work on my project a few times since November 30 and then decided that nope, I need to take a few days off. And that’s okay! My body and mind needed a break, but now, I feel the creativity seeping back in.

It’s time to talk about my post-NaNoWriMo plans.

Since the holidays are approaching and surprise, surprise, I’m not really doing much for my 11 days off both work and school, I do want to write a decent amount by the end of December. It would be really nice to hit 40k before 2021 and because I am at 30k, I think that is manageable.

When I think about the new year, CHAOS flashes across my mind. For the first few weeks of January, I will be in five classes until I figure out which one I want to drop. One of the classes is a one-month continuing education editing class (structural editing) that has a “work at your own pace” structure, so that won’t be too stressful at least. I am also working part-time at my current job (I’m a Communications Development Lead for Focal) and focusing a lot of time on building up my freelance business. My freelance business is actually doing pretty good right now, so I anticipate having projects at the beginning of the new year as well. If you didn’t know, I am a freelance editor, digital marketing blogger, and social media manager. Click HERE to check out my freelance website!

Anyways, back to the beginning of 2021: it’s going to be busy! But, I am determined to finish my first draft of this novel idea because I have been working on it for four years! That is crazy to me because in those four years, I haven’t even finished a first draft; I am constantly changing the story around and while I do think it was all for the best, I just want to right the damn thing. You know? So, I have been thinking about a word count goal for January and I think I want to do another 40k. This is a fantasy book which means it won’t be some short book –I’m anticipating around 100k. for a final word count.

That means, I want to finish the first draft completely by the end of February. Preferably, before the end of February, but I don’t think I will officially bring down the hammer until then. I do believe in being lenient with yourself, but sometimes, it’s time to just get it done. And this is that time. I am super passionate and excited about this project, even after four years, and it deserves to be finished!

I am a big believer in letting your story sit for a bit too, so I don’t plan on jumping into the second draft until April. Just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo! Fingers crossed I can stick to these deadlines without getting overwhelmed, but I am hopeful.

Sorry for the rambly post, but I really wanted to share my post-NaNoWriMo plans in the hope of inspiring any of you who are unsure what to do next. Especially if you didn’t hit 50k, like me!

Make sure you check out recent blog post and follow me on social media; the links are all down below. Also, don’t forget to let me know what your post-NaNoWriMo plans are! Thanks for reading 🙂

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How to Make Money as a Writer

Ready to pursue a career in writing? Here are a few ways to make money as a writer.

How do I make money as a writer?

Is getting my book traditionally published the only way to make money?

What other writing jobs, other than an author, are there even?

If you have asked yourself any of the questions above (or all three), I am here to tell you that you do not have to get a book published to make money as a writer. To be honest, that might be the most difficult way to make money as a writer and is not a reality for everyone.

Of course, to make money from writing takes time and skill. It involves crafting an impressive portfolio of writing samples that will make companies want to hire you or literary magazines want to publish you. It takes practice to improve your writing skills and get them to a level where people can and want to read them.

Today, I am going to breakdown what types of writing you can make money from, where you can go to make money from writing, and take you through the steps.

Here is your go-to guide for how to make money as a writer.

Types of Writing Jobs Out There:

  • Article Writing
  • Blogging
  • Press Release Writing
  • Ghostwriting
  • Copywriting
  • Content Writing
  • Creative Writing (Submitting to short story contests and literary magazines. Not a job exactly, but a way to make money from writing on the side with enough patience and practice.)

Some of these jobs overlap. For example, a copywriter can be a blogger and an article writer because copywriting is a form of advertising. It means to write in a way that promotes a company and encourages a client to take a particular action. This is something that can be done it multiple forms.

Where to Start

1. To Freelance or Not to Freelance

Do you want to be a freelancer, which is someone who works for themselves and is employed by other companies either for permanent, contract, or temporary work, or do you want to write for one specific company? This is the first thing to narrow down.

When choosing freelancing, you have to understand that it is a business. That means you need to build a website, keep track of clients, send contracts and invoices, as well as make sure you get paid. If you aren’t willing to put in the work to market you and your business, I would recommend becoming a writer employed by one company.

I love freelancing. I love running my own business and marketing myself (which is why I am a digital marketing writer). However, it isn’t always smooth sailing. It involves lots of long days, lots of rejection, lots of dealing with people, and lots of research. But in the end, it’s all worth it to me!

What’s important is figuring out what fits you best. If you want to try out freelancing, give it a go! If it doesn’t work out, you have other options.

2. Determine Your Writing Niche

The second step to succeeding in the writing world is to determine your niche. But what is a niche? A niche is a specific topic that you decide to write about. For example, I am a freelance digital marketing writer. That means that now, after taking some time to discover my own niche, I only write (for clients) content that relates to digital marketing such as social media, SEO, email marketing, etc.

It is absolutely essential to determine your niche, otherwise, you will just be a meh writer in a wide range of topics. You want to hone in on one topic and really educate yourself on it so that when clients look at your portfolio, they will see that you really know your stuff.

For the literary magazines and writing contest side of things, your “niche” could be fantasy short stories or contemporary poems. The more specific you are, the better chances you have.

Here is a list of more popular niches in 2020: https://www.writingrevolt.com/profitable-freelance-writing-niches/

3. Build a Website

This is especially important for freelancers, but even if you don’t want to freelance, I think it is a good idea to have a website as a writer.

You need a nice and clean website to showcase your niche, services, portfolio, testimonials, and contact information. If a company stumbles on your website and they can’t figure out what type of writing you do, or how much you charge, there is a good chance they will click off the website. We want to avoid those missed opportunities.

Check out my website for inspiration. I am no website designer, but it certainly does the trick: http://www.zoemathers.com

4. Publish Your Writing Online

When I first put together my writing portfolio, I remember thanking myself for creating this blog when I did. For six years, I have been consistently posting blog posts on here and that gave me a strong writing foundation. Not only did it improve my writing skills immensely, especially my skills for writing for the web, but it helped me build credibility and an audience. I am a freelance content and copywriter which means when I contact a company, or am discovered by a company who is in need of a writer, they can see my years and years and hundreds and hundreds of blog posts that I have written. They are not all beautifully written, many were strewn together in less than an hour, but it shows that I can write a lot and fast. It also shows how much my writing has grown over the years. Kind of like a diary. (However, I don’t have many of my own blog posts in my writing portfolio.)

I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to build a platform where you post your writing on. Whether that is a social media account like Instagram or Facebook, or a blog, it will make jump starting your writing career a lot easier.

5. Create a Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your best writing pieces out there. Mostly, they are samples already published online, however, if you are just starting out and don’t have a blog, they don’t have to be published.

When it comes to curating content for your portfolio, make sure you include pieces that showcase your skill, voice, and niche the best.

Want some inspiration? Check out my writing portfolio: http://www.zoemathers.com/writing-portfolio

6. Build Up a Cold Emailing List

Whether this list is full of literary magazines to submit to or companies to propose your copywriting services, build up a list of people to cold email. Cold emailing, when done right, can lead to new clients and is an essential step towards making money as a writer. I recommend building up a list of at least 50 potential clients before starting to send out emails.

Here are some tips for cold emailing:
  • Be Personable and Personalized – Be courteous; compliment their company, tell them why you admire them and want to write for them. To check if your email is personalized enough, if you read over your email and realize you could send the exact same message to the next company on your list without changing anything, it is not personalized enough.
  • Offer Up Your Ideas for the Company – Do they not have a blog on their website? Do they have a poorly written “About Us” section? Whatever it is, kindly offer up your ideas to them in a pitch. Tell them how a blog would improve their website and drive more traffic to it. And then, tell them how you would proceed to build up a blog for them.
  • Link 2 Writing Samples – Do not attach your resume or attach your writing samples. Instead, provide a link to your Google Drive where they are organized by category, topic, etc. Or, link them to where they were originally posted. You don’t need to overwhelm with samples either, so stick to two.

7. Create a CRM Spreadsheet

A CRM is a Customer Relationship Manager. Basically, it organizes your clients, or potential clients, so you can keep track of what project they hired you for, if they’ve paid you, if they contacted you first, if you sent them a cold email, etc, etc. It will be a time saver as you grow your writing career. It is also handy when submitting to contests or literary magazines. When it comes to the end of the year, the time when you want to reflect on your writing business and see how much you made, a CRM that process a lot easier. Trust me.

If you want a CRM template, subscribe to my freelancing newsletter HERE. My newsletter went out today (Nov 30) so if you sign up now, you can still get the template I included in this month’s newsletter! If it is past that date already, feel free to subscribe anyways and leave in the notes section of the sign up form that you would like access to my CRM spreadsheet! 🙂

Places to Find Writing-Related Work

Now that you have your niche picked out, a website built, and a curated selection of writing samples, it is time to figure out where the heck to submit your work or find clients.

Below, I have listed a few freelance job boards to help kickstart your process of making money as a writer.

A lot of the websites listed below are best for beginner writers, or those of you who want to build up your portfolio. Some of them, you can find well paying gigs, but on websites like Fiverr, you will start out not making too much per word. However, this is how I started and it really helped me learn how much my services cost and what my writing was worth.

Fiverr

Upwork

Freelancer

FlexJobs

Pro Blogger Jobs

Guru

We Work Remotely

LinkedIn (Much more credible and better for finding a full-time, non-freelancing job)

Now you have all the tools to get started! Remember, you won’t find success right away, and that’s okay. Some months for me are super busy with contract work and it is great, however, there are slower months too. Much slower months. That is the life of a writer, especially a freelance writer.


I hope this was helpful, and if you are in search of more writing and/or freelance-related content, consider checking out the links below! Thanks for reading 🙂

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NaNoWriMo 2020 Strategy

My NaNoWriMo plans and the tools I’ve been using to have a successful start.

Happy day 3 of NaNoWriMo! Hopefully, your projects are all going well and if they aren’t, that’s okay too.

So far, NaNoWriMo is going really well for me! I am a few hundred words behind but considering I haven’t been in a writing routine for a long time, the fact that I am only 500 or so words behind is impressive.

What am I writing this month?

This month, I am working on the novel version of Project Mystic, an Aztec mythology-inspired story that for the last while, I have been writing the novella version. However, I decided that after three years of working on this story, it is time to write the damn thing. I am going for the 50,000 word goal but that is more like the “oh, well it would be a bonus if” type of goal. Instead, I am focusing more on writing a good chunk of words every day. And some days, that just isn’t 1,667 words.

My new writing routine

Ever since I started working full-time and doing university part-time (and running my freelance business on the side too), I thrive off routine. However, I get suffocated when there is too much routine but somehow, I’ve found a great balance. For example, if I really don’t feel like writing or reading or doing some other hobby, I will make myself do it but only for 10 or so minutes. If I am still not feeling it by that 10-minute mark then I have learned it is better not to push it. Thankfully, reading and writing have been the only things I’ve wanted to do lately!

This writing routine most likely won’t stick around for long, but hopefully it will for the rest of NaNoWriMo because I am loving it! Like I said, I am not super strict on writing 1,667 words per day, but I am trying to get a solid amount done each day. With work and school, it is hard for me to find enough time to only sit down once and bang out all my writing in 30 minutes or an hour (like I used to). Instead, I have started breaking up my writing sessions into short sprints. This is something I used to do but then it stopped working but now it is back in full swing and has been working great.

Here’s a little insight to a normal day routine:

7:00 AM – Wakeup

7:30 AM – Write!

8:00 AM – Work

12:00 PM – Lunch

12:30 PM – Write!

1:00 PM – Work

4:00 PM – Finish Work & Take a Break

5:00 PM – School Work

6:00 PM – Eat Dinner

7:00 PM – School Work

8:30 PM – Write!

9:00 PM – Relax

That is the basic idea of my day but once again, it changes day-to-day. Some days I spend time with friends, some days I do less work (because I work from home and can make my own schedule) or less school, and some days I only do two writing sessions. It all just depends and it is important to remember to be flexible!

Writing Live Streams

I have always recommended writing live streams in the past, but so far this year, I have used them religiously each time I’ve sat down to write. Maybe that is because I am really using the writing sprint method this year. Some of the 30-minute writing chunks in my daily routine are more like 10, 15, or 20 minutes sprints, depending on the situation.

Some writing live streams I have been loving are Davaisha’s (grapefry) and Natalia Leigh, Brooke Passmore (bytheBrooke), and Mandi Lynn‘s group streams.

Other Writing Tools

Another writing tool I have been LOVING is a writing prompt book called Coffee Break Writing by John Gillard. I got it for super cheap at the bookstore and is filled with 100 prompts. So far, I’ve done this every morning for the last two weeks or so. It is a great exercise before my morning writing session to do because a lot of time, I write a piece for each prompt that is based of my NaNoWriMo project. I highly recommend it!



How has NaNoWriMo gone for you? Let me know in the comments below, and also share a snippet of your story if you’d like. I wish you all the best of luck for the first official week of NaNoWriMo!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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4 Resources for Writers

A list of resources that every writer must check out.

As a writer, it is nice to have a handful of resources to turn to when you are need of some writing tips, motivation, or places to submit your work.

To help you out, I’ve curated a list of my most favourite resources. These are the ones I always go back to and keep bookmarked on my laptop!

Here are 4 resources for writers.

1. Freelancing with Zoe Newsletter

If you didn’t know, I have a freelance editing and writing website! On my website, not only do I offer a bunch of different services, but I also have a newsletter you can sign up to. My newsletter comes out at the end of every month and is filled with tips for freelancers or wanna-be-freelancers. That includes business, writing, and editing advice so if that sounds interesting to you, sign-up for my newsletter by going to my website HERE!

2. CBC Short Story Prize Newsletter

This is another great newsletter filled with writing tips. It is from the CBC Literary Prize which annually, hosts a non-fiction, poetry, and fiction writing contest. I like this newsletter a lot because it offers a lot of insight from past winners on the steps they made to create a story that could win the contest. I find this not only inspiring, but really helpful when it comes to my own writing.

3. The Write Life

For the last year or so, this has been a go-to resource for me because whenever I had a question, I would Google it and a post by The Write Life always came up. They have a vast variety of advice and tips on blogging, freelancing, publishing, marketing, and more. Basically anything a writer needs, especially one with the goal of becoming a published one. If you need ideas for places to submit to, The Write Life has a lot of great recommendations you should check out (this is how I found them)! Especially for people in the US.

4. No Write Way

No Write Way is an Instagram Live series by author, V.E. Schwab that eventually, gets posted onto her YouTube channel for us to watch whenever we please. It is a series where she brings on other wonderful authors and interviews them about their writing journey. Common questions answered are how did you get into writing? What is your process like? What book of yours would you hope to outlive you and why? It is super inspiring for aspiring writers and you will walk away feeling motivated and educated on the craft of writing!


Those are my go-to writing resources that I highly recommend you all go check out. If you have any other resources that you always go back to, please drop them in the comments below!

Need a writer or editor? Check out my freelancing website HERE!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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3 Tips for Writing Romance

Happy Friday!

Today, I want to share my 3 essential tips for writing romance.

Writing a romance your readers will fall in love with is no easy task. Often, authors opt for insta-love but unless it is done well, it is the slow-burn, hate-to-love, etc tropes that really grab at readers’ hearts.

Before we jump into my tips, I wanted to remind you that 2 weeks ago, I launched my freelance editing and writing website! If you need copy editing, proofreading, manuscript critiques, blog writing, social media content creation OR copywriting, check it out HERE. I’d love to work with you.

Now, let’s get into today’s post because it has been a while since I posted!

Here are 3 tips for writing romance your readers will love.

1. Know Your Characters Individually Before You Know Them Together

This goes for any relationship, real or fictional, but you must know yourself before you can be with someone else. When writing romance, you need to have a grasp on who your characters are. What do they like? What are they afraid of? What do they want? What is their family like? If you don’t, they will be two-dimensional people in a two-dimensional relationship. That makes for a boring plot line and dynamic altogether.

Here is a basic character questionnaire that you should ask each of your characters in order to vividly paint them on the page.

2. Figure Out How They Fit Into Each Other’s Lives Organically

A lot of the time, a romance in a novel feels unnatural and forced. It is as if the author wrote two characters, decided their audience would probably want some romance, and then pushed the two main characters together because hey, they were right there anyways.

When it is done correctly, it works really well, but if it feels too forced and convenient, you are going to lose your audience. Here are some ideas for how your characters can organically fit into each other’s lives.

  • Their pasts are intertwined (maybe their families are close or are enemies, maybe they are childhood friends, etc)
  • They both want the same thing
  • One of them has something the other wants
  • One of them saves the other

3. If the Romance is a Subplot, Treat It Like a Subplot

Unless you are writing a romance novel, the romance should not be the main attraction. I hate when I am reading a fantasy and the romance overtakes the world, the magic system, the other characters, etc. If the romance is just one aspect of many within the novel, it should stay that way. Of course, it can have its moments in the spotlight, but it should not overshadow the rest of the story.


Those are 3 simple but essential tips to apply to your story when writing romance. If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave them down in the comments below!

Don’t forget to check out my freelance website and subscribe to the monthly newsletter for more tips, tricks, updates, and freebies on writing and the business of writing. You can check that all out HERE.

Also, make sure you read my last blog post and check out my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 Tips for Writing a Novel

Writing a novel isn’t easy, but here are 5 tips to help you out

Happy Monday!

Writing a novel is hard, which is why I have put together 5 tips that will make writing a novel just a little more easier.

Of course, there are the basics that go into writing a novel such as outlining before writing. Outlining includes creating 3D characters, mapping out the world your story takes in, knowing your plot points, etc. However, I will be covering novel writing aspects that you might not think about as often.

Here are my 5 tips for writing a novel.

1. Dedicate a Time & Place for It

This is a basic tip, but it is one of the most important tips out there. If you do not dedicate a specific time and place for writing. In order to write a novel within a reasonable amount of time, you must carve out a certain time to write it and be consistent with following it. For me, my mornings are for writing. That is when I sit down and know it is writing time. I do not sit down only one morning in the week either, every morning where I do not have to work, I use that time for writing.

It is also helpful to have a writing space, or even a few. These are spaces where you sit down and feel inspired to write. Having these spots trains your brain to know that when you sit down there, it is writing time! For me, this is just my desk but I have a nice setup going there with my candle, laptop, and lo-fi music.

2. Know EVERYTHING About Your World

While you do not need to know everything about your plot, it is essential to know everything about your world and characters. You do not need to share everything about your world or characters with the readers (at least, not right away or even ever), but it is important for YOU to know that information. Even if it never gets included in your book!

However, here are 3 things your reader MUST know:

  • Where are the places your story takes place? Describe them for your reader; make it vivid and descriptive
  • How does your world work? Who is in charge? What type of government is it?
  • What are the rules of your world? (This is especially important for fantasy novels)

3. Think of What You Want (or Wanted) to Read and Write It

Think back to when you were younger, or to whenever you pick up a book. What are the things you were hoping for within it? What did the book not have that you wanted? These are things you should think about and write down and then, when you are outlining your plot, include them.

This is why I read lots of books that are similar to my own during the outlining phase. It helps to warmup my mind and prep me for creating a plot that will hold my own attention first, which is crucial when writing a novel!

4. Welcome Surprises and Twists Within Your Story

It is important to follow an outline, but sometimes your story has a mind of its own. These are the times when we have to let our story go where it needs. Often, this makes the story more exciting too. The times where my plot has deviated from the outline created a more thrilling story overall. Those are scenes that felt more natural and less plotted out compared to the scenes I did map out. However, both are important!

Of course, your outline is there for a reason, but if you want to add in a new scene because it feels right, don’t shy away from it!

5. Hold Yourself Accountable, but Don’t Be Too Harsh!

It is nice to have a few friends who can hold you accountable for you writing goals, but I think it is also important for you to hold yourself accountable. Like anything in life, we cannot always rely on others. However, that is not an opening to be harsh on yourself! Be flexible and realistic with yourself, just like you would for a friend that YOU are holding accountable.


Those are 5 tips for writing a novel and I hope they were helpful. If you have any more, leave them below in the comments so we can help each other out!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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7 Tips for Conquering Camp NaNoWriMo

Your in-depth guide to achieving your goals and winning Camp NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday!

Camp NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, which is why I will be sharing 7 tips for conquering Camp NaNoWriMo this July.

What I like about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you get to set your own goal. Instead of a word goal, you can have a page goal or even an hour-related goal. It allows you to really tailor it to what you can honestly achieve. Don’t feel forced to try and reach the 50,000 words in one month goal. Do 20,000 or even less if you want!

Even with a flexible goal, it can be hard to make the time to write. Especially with everything going on in the world right now. I recommend using your writing time as you hour or two in the day to escape. While it is essential to be present during some of the crises we face today, it is important to know when to take a breather. Channel all the anxiety, fear, and anger you are feeling into your writing and enjoy your absence from our crazy world for a little bit.

Read on to explore the other 7 tips I have for conquering Camp NaNoWriMo.

1. Spend Time Creating an Outline

Having a guide to what you are supposed to write, and where you are supposed to take your story is one of the main things you MUST do in order to win Camp NaNoWriMo. Even if you are like me and consider yourself a pantser, try and write out the main points of your story and characters in some tangible form. That way, if you don’t feel like writing or don’t know where to start, you will be able to turn to that outline and feel comforted that at least past you knew where the story must go.

If you don’t enjoy outlining, carve out an hour each day for a week or so to spend on your outline. Include an Act I, II, and III with at least 5 major events that occur in each one. Spend time thinking about your characters too. Who are they, what do they like, what are they afraid of? (Check out below for some key questions to ask your characters!) You can make outlining fun too. Put on some music or a podcast and break out your stash of coloured pens and highlighters. I love colour coding when outlining because when you look at your outline during a writing session, it will be easier to find what you are looking for.

2. Install Writing Triggers

Writing triggers are great for getting your mind and body in the writing zone. A writing trigger can be anything from a certain beverage you only drink when it is writing time, or a playlist that you curated specifically for writing. They ensure that when you drink them or smell them or hear them, you will feel obligated to write and hopefully, have a good writing session.

My writing trigger is any lo-fi music, but I do enjoy the Chilled Cow the most. Usually I will just plop my headphones and listen to the Spotify playlist, but sometimes I will play the YouTube videos. They are relaxing and a nice background noise to ensure my mind doesn’t wander because this is the biggest problem I face when writing!

3. Complete a Trial Week of Writing

Before July, take a week the month before to test out your writing schedule. This will show you if it will actually work in your day-to-day life, or if you need to choose a different time of day. Make sure you spend 7 consecutive days testing out your writing schedule. Don’t skip a day or two in between! If you realize your schedule isn’t working, you will save yourself SO much time instead of discovering this when you are actually supposed to be writing. This trial week also serves as a great writing warm-up!

How to Find a Writing Time That Works for YOU:

  • Ask yourself, “When do I have the most free time?” because this might be when you need to be writing!
  • Decide if you are more of a morning or night person. This will tell you when you are most creative and productive.
  • Ask yourself, “Do I work better in writing sprints or straight working sessions?” because this will ensure you get the MOST out of your writing time.

4. Aim Lower…You’ll Achieve More

As backwards as this sounds, it is true. If you sit down knowing you need to write like 1,200 words, you might feel a bit intimidated. If you tell yourself that yes, 1,200 words would be nice but for now, I will just try to hit 1,000 words, there is a good chance you will be able to surpass that. This is because once you hit that 1,000 words mark, you will realize another 200 isn’t too bad. You are already warmed up and the creative juices are flowing, so what’s another 10 or 20 minutes?

5. Reward Yourself

I discuss having a reward system often because it is so important and a huge contributing factor to your success during Camp NaNoWriMo. You need to curate your reward system according to you. For example, some people enjoy experiencing some small rewards after every writing session like a special coffee from the coffee shop or a TV episode. On the other hand, others will enjoy larger rewards after a successful week like going to see a movie or taking an afternoon off.

Rewarding yourself will encourage you to keep writing. It will show you that all your hard work does pay off, thus making you want to keep doing it! Make sure you set limits to your rewards and also guidelines. If you want to have a big reward at the end of each week, how many words minimum do you have to write? Or in your daily sessions, how many words do you have to write? You must know this before you reward yourself, otherwise you will be tossing out rewards left and right, or none at all!

6. Join a Writer’s Group

The great thing about social media is that you have a community right at your fingertips. This is incredibly helpful amidst all of this COVID-19 chaos. Whether you join a group of likeminded writers who are also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo on Twitter or Instagram, having others who will hold you accountable to your goals will help you conquer Camp NaNo.

Check in with each other at the end of each day and discuss if you achieved your goal for that day or if you didn’t and why. These people can help you work through your struggles and offer you advice because most likely, whatever you are feeling regarding writing, someone else in your group has experienced it too. That is the great thing about forming a community. You will feel less alone in this lonely passion and having those connections will encourage you to write even more!

7. Remember that Camp NaNo is Fun!

Remember that the only person truly holding you accountable is yourself. Don’t hold yourself to insane standards, but also do not let yourself slide too much within your goals. Achieve what you can, work hard, but enjoy the experience. At the end of the day, Camp NaNoWriMo is an event where you set your own goals and spend time doing what you love: writing!

Ask yourself: “If I don’t hit my Camp NaNo goal, what will happen?”

Nothing! It just means you have more of your story to write, but guess what? You (probably) have lots of time left to do that in next month and the month after that!

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Those are my 7 tips for conquering Camp NaNoWriMo and I hope you enjoyed. If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

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Happy Friday!

Today, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for writing short stories. I recently finished writing a novella about a month or so ago, and it reminded me how careful and particular short story writing is. It is hard to know what to cut and how deep to dive into your world and characters.

Hopefully, this blog post can give you some insight into that!

#1: Don’t Fit 100,000 Words Into 2,000

This tip is especially important if you are writing fantasy. I always attempt to write fantasy short stories, which are the hardest to write, and I have to remind myself that I am only focusing on one or two specific incidents/events. Unlike a novel, you do not have to have a huge cast of characters or an in-depth explanation of the world, magic system, and history. Yes, you need to touch on those things in your short story, but they are not the main focus. The main focuses are the plot point of the short story (which can consist of one or two major events) and your main character. Maybe a second character as well.

The point is, you and your reader know and understand that this is a short story. It is not meant to explain everything, nor should it!

#2: You Should Know Everything

Going along with the first tip, just because your reader doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you don’t. You are the storyteller, the writer, you MUST know every little aspect of your story, its world, the characters, etc for your story to work. Even if you don’t mention it in the story ever, your readers will notice something is off or missing.

Another reason I like to plan out everything, even if it doesn’t make it into the draft, is because if I decide the story could become a longer piece one day, I have most of the info already. Yes, some tweaking and adding to the outline will occur, but this way, you already have a strong foundation for a novel.

#3: Is Your Story Character-Based or Plot-Based?

While it is important to showcase both the plot and characters in every story, most tend to lean to one side more than the other. This is very helpful to determine in short story writing before you jump into drafting because it helps you know what to focus on. That way, in your short amount of time, you use your limited word count to make the characters or the plot shine.

Now, that does not mean you completely push off the one you aren’t as focused on. No, no, no. Both are still crucial elements to the story, but you are just figuring out where your strength and focus should be. You still need to thoughtfully plan on both aspects and showcase them in your story.

#4: Over-Write

I highly recommend over-writing when it comes to short story writing because this will ensure you aren’t leaving any important details out, which can happen in short stories. Personally, I usually write thousands of words over my target word limit (which I don’t always recommend), but it means I have gotten everything I needed to say for that story out onto the page. That way, when it comes to editing, I will read through the story and figure out what are the important and necessary pieces that need to stay.

Over-writing also means that I don’t need to add many more words (if any at all) because I got all the words on the page already.

#5: Editing Will Teach You How to Write Your Next Short Story

While every story is different both writing and editing wise, whenever I edit a short story, it helps me understand what to include and what not to include in my next one. It will show me that I focus on too much meaningless description because oh yes, I am cutting a whole paragraph describing the green hills out of a page…again.

Pay attention when you’re editing. Take note of what you are cutting out and what you find yourself cutting out over and over again. Most likely, these writing habits will transfer into your next short story or novel too. It can help save time and wrist strength!


These are my five short story writing tips and I hope you found them helpful! Let me know what your short story tips are below, or just any writing tips in general so we can help each other out 🙂

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading!

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5 Outlining Tips for Pantsers

Not a plotter? Here are 5 tips to get that outline down.

Happy Friday!

Today, I will be sharing my five outlining tips for pantsers from a pantser. I am not huge on outlining but I always make sure to do it, even if it means forcing my butt into a chair and putting a timer on for 30 minutes to make sure I just get it done.

Outlining is such a huge and crucial part of the writing process. Even if we don’t feel like doing it, it is one of those things we have to. I was watching “No Write Way” on V.E Schwab’s YouTube channel and she was interviewing Zoraida Cordova and talked about how outlining is like drawing up a map for your story. It is not carving a specific path but giving you the parameters to which your story can expand. Schwab mentioned that you can always change things and add new roads or cities, but the outline just acts as a general idea to how far and wide your story can go.

I loved this description and honestly, it has made me more open to outlining. If you are still iffy on the whole process and want to know how to become a better plotter, then read on!

What is a pantser?

A pantser (vs a plotter) is someone who “writes by the seat of their pants.” This means they sit down with a story idea and only that before they start writing, and then figure the plot out as they go.

You can successfully write a story this way, but often what happens is you will write yourself into a hole. You will turn out a manuscript of 50,000 words only to get stumped at that point and not know where to go next. That is why outlining is helpful. Whenever you feel this way, you can turn to your organized story plan and know where to go next.

The tips

1. Set a Timer

Setting a timer is a great way to ensure you get your outline done and over with. Whether you stretch it out over a couple days or weeks, setting a timer for 10 or 40 minutes (or whatever time you want) will encourage you to finally focus. If you sit down with the intention of outlining but you want to get it done in that one sitting, you are less likely to finish it. That is why I recommend doing outlining sprints and stretching them over several days or so.

This is also a great tactic to do when you have trouble writing, set a time for a writing sprint and get writing! It motivates you to get as much done as you can because you know you have a limited amount of time.

2. Keep it Simple

Just because outlining is essential to a successful story does not mean you have to crank out a super detailed and descriptive outline that is 50 pages. No, just keep it simple. Here is an example of how I outline my stories as a pantser:

  • Define the three MAIN points of your story (follow a three-act structure)
  • Add a few major events for each main plot point (I recommend three to five for each act)
  • Have a decent idea of who your characters are (know their names, motives, backstory, and arc)
  • Know your world like you live in it (write out its history, its current status, its religion, who rules it, etc)

I find this gives me enough information so I don’t write myself into a hole, but it also doesn’t have too much information that I feel constricted or forced to go a certain route.

3. Utilize Cue Cards

As a pantser, having your outline in a notebook means you will forget to drag it out and then never actually look over it. A notebook is less accessible and a hassle to refer back to for someone who did not want to in the first place!

That is why I love cue cards; they are simple and accessible. They are also small which means you can only add so much information on each one. Another reason cue cards are great is because you can punch a hole through the corner and put them on a ring. They are easy to flip through, rearrange, and swap out during the outlining and writing process. This is a huge comfort for pantsers because they don’t feel strapped down to what they wrote this way. Which is how I feel when I write my outline in a notebook.

Not only that, but cue cards can come in all colours with fun designs. Overall, they are an essential tool for pantsers during the outlining process.

4. Write Down Every New Plot Point for Your WIP and Save it for Future Use

If you have a new idea right when you finish outlining or when you begin writing, don’t disregard it. However, don’t immediately go back to your outline and force it in either (unless it is the missing piece to your story and MUST be in it).

Here is where cue cards come in again! If you are using the cue card method, you can write this shiny new plot point down on one and while writing, you might figure out where it fits (if it does). This way, you can just place it under whatever act it belongs under and you don’t give yourself an excuse to procrastinate and rewrite your entire outline. 

I am guilty of having a new plot point idea and then immediately changing my outline for it. However, I have learned recently that is not beneficial to my story or me.

5. Make Your Outline Organized and Attractive

When it does come time to refer back to your outline so you can remember what comes next in your story, having it organized with colour coordination, titles, bullet points, etc is crucial. This is because it makes it easier to read through your outline and find what you are looking for. 

If each act is colour coded and each plot point is a bullet point in bold lettering, you will be able to fish out what you need without wasting any writing time. If your outline is on a cue card, make sure each card is devoted to one act or one character and title it according to that. If you are using a notebook, do the same. Don’t waste writing time searching through pages and pages of pencil written notes, trying to find out how that one plot point ends!


Those are my five outlining tips for pantsers and I hope they were helpful for all you pantsers out there. If you are not a pantser though, let me know in the comments and give me an insight on your process!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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NaNoWriMo…But in May!

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Happy Wednesday!

NaNoWriMo, but in May is my way of making up for not writing at all during Camp NaNoWriMo this past month. I decided to give it an official name in the hopes it will motivate me to actually writing during May. Hence, Mayorimo.

Before I jump into what I am writing, my goals, and overall writing plan, I wanted to acknowledge that yes, this is my first Wednesday blog post! If you missed my last blog post (My May 2020 Writing Goals, which you can check out HERE), I announced that I will be posting three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Since I finished school last week, I have more time to brainstorm and write content for my blog and I am very excited to do so!

Now, onto my goals, plans, and writing ideas for Mayorimo aka NaNoWriMo in May.

What Am I Writing?

Glad you asked! I am adding to my Aztec novella I wrote back in March. Currently, it sits at around 20,000 words and I really want to expand it into a novel. There is so much in this world and story to explore, and I know the story will benefit from a longer length. In the past few days, I have been brainstorming new plot points and characters to add to the story and it is reminding me why I love this story.

What Are My Goals?

I knew before I planned to do Mayorimo that I did not want to write 50,000 words in one month. During March, I spread myself thin trying to write and edit 17,000 words in like two weeks while juggling school. This resulted in creative burnout for ALL of April and only now, am I finally craving to write for my story. I do not want to be irresponsible and repeat the process that resulted in my burnout, so, I settled on a more attainable goal.

Every day, I want to aim to write 1,000 words. I chose this because I know if I sit down to write, I can easily write this many. And if I miss a day, it will not be too hard to catch up. That means by the end of May, I am hoping to have added 31,000 words to my story. This puts my manuscript at 51,000 words but I have a feeling it will need to be a liiitle longer than that since it is fantasy.

Reward System = NO Burnout

I also decided to try something new during this upcoming writing-filled month: a rewards system. I have preached before in past blog posts about the importance of rewarding yourself with breaks, treats, etc when writing a lot, but lately, I have not been following that. This time, I wanted to change that and reward myself with 30 free minutes after every single writing session.

At first, I debated rewarding myself at the end of the week. However, I hate not being “productive” for long periods of time so taking a day off from writing to do whatever is not appealing to me. It drives me crazy, especially during a pandemic when I am stuck at home all day. If I could go out and be with friends, that is a different story and in that case, I want to be anything BUT productive. However, whenever I try to take Saturday off from Coursera work or writing, I itch to do anything but relax and read or watch TV. I realized I benefit from taking small breaks every day and infusing them with things I enjoy.

So, after every successful writing session (where I write at least 1,000 words), I can take 30 full minutes to read, watch YouTube, play a video game, or catch up on a TV show. Sometimes, I won’t be able to right after, but as long as it is before the evening when I do typically relax more (because I think it defeats the purpose if I take my break when I am already relaxing!) I will call that a success.

My Tips for a Successful Writing Session

  • Find Your Creative Time

Having no school or places I need to be (except work on Sundays) has reminded me I am a morning writer. This is probably why I did not get as much writing done during the school year I think (other than me making excuses) because I had classes starting at 8:30 am sometimes. Spending 9 am – 12 pm on weekdays to work on creative projects has really shown me how productive I can be in only three hours.

  • Create a Writing Trigger

By trigger, I mean find something that you listen to, drink, or smell whenever it is time to write. For example, my writing and editing trigger is lo-fi music. When I hear it, I just feel the urge to write and be productive. That is when I realized it is my writing trigger. It is helpful to have one because it really helps set the mood to write, especially when you do not feel like it.

  • Plan Out What You Are Going to Write

Plan out at least three plot points (they can be as small as your character speaking to another character) you want to write during that writing session before you sit down to write. Even if you have it in your outline, write down the three main plot points you are writing that day on a queue card or sticky note. That way, you are focused on what to write and not distracted by the rest of your story.


Those are my plans and goals for Mayorimo, and also some tips to ensure a successful writing session! Let me know what projects you are working on during May because I’d love to know.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media which is all linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: May 2020 Writing Goals

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