Thank you, Students!

Thank you very much to the schools who’ve invited me to speak to their students this year. I have driven across the state and back in a single day to spend time talking with students from remote, farming towns to auditoriums packed with aspiring teens writers, and I cherish these visits. They’re an opportunity to connect with readers but more than that, it’s a chance to encourage young writers who dream of having their books on shelves and let them know it’s a dream within their reach.

Thanks also to the librarians and teachers who facillitate these visits. You’re doing well by these kids. I can always be reached at sarahjudewriter(at)gmail(dot)com for questions or to set up a school visit/Skype.

Keep writing.

Talk to you soon,

S

Speaking to an auditorium full of students

NaNoWriMo!

Hello, friends!

We survived the frights of Halloween night, yes? Now we’ve reached November, which is the month of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), wherein writers of all stripes try to pour 50,000 words into a project by the month’s end. Holding a carrot in front of a writer and making them run for it can be a great motivator, especially if they have trouble carving out writing time or struggle with focus. I enjoy the camaraderie in NaNoWriMo as writer friends cheer each other on to reach goals. For me personally, I love seeing the graphs light up as I move closer to reaching my goal. That visual representation is a good driving force even on the days when the words are a struggle. Ten words is more than zero words. Ten words is still ten more words than what I left off with the day before.

Sometimes it’s not about increasing the word count in a project. Writers approach NaNoWriMo differently. Some just look to fall back into a productive writing schedule. Get the butt in the chair and write for an allotted time each day, doesn’t matter how many words you create as long you develop the habit. Others seek to fall in love with writing for the sake of writing and not let whether it’s any good stand in their way, drafting to get out a story and know that you can fix it later through revisions (because, oh hell no, the work’s not done at the end of the first draft).

This year, my approach to NaNoWriMo has been different. In the past, I’ve sought to add words to a project I’d already begun drafting. Sometimes it’s worked. Sometimes it’s been more of a headache than worth because I wasn’t focused enough on where I was going with the story. So this year, I’ve spent about six weeks pre-writing. I wrote up character sheets with their motivations, conflicts, what they want to achieve, backgrounds, what their role is in this story. I did the same with the setting. Creating a beat sheet gave me a loose outline to follow. It’s not about planning so intensely that I’ve locked myself in and given myself no wiggle room–rather I made sure I have an idea of how point A flows to point B and so forth. It still gives me the freedom for creativity and spontaneity that can be the exhilarating part of drafting while still knowing what the point is of the story. I have a plan. I know where I’m going in my story, and I’m excited to be purposeful in my writing while working on craft.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to participate in NaNoWriMo as long as you know what you’re setting out to achieve by month’s end. Good luck!

Until next time,
S