Write On Your Terms: Why You Can Succeed As A Writer Without Committing To NaNoWriMo

Let me start off by saying this: I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated twice in the last four years, and each time I felt myself challenged, excited and creatively supercharged with each passing day. The process of writing in 30 days a full 50,000 word or more novel is exhilarating to say the least. So this post is not a knock to the event at all. In fact the event is still a very huge presence in my writing in the month of November.

However, for any authors out there who are not participating or can’t participate in the event, know that it is ok. You do not have to participate in the event to be a great writer in life or even just in the month of November. I struggled for a couple weeks on whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s event.

Am I participating?

So many factors came into play when it came to my ultimate decision. I am working four jobs right now, all of which take up a lot of my time. In addition to this, I have responsibilities at home that take up even more time of my day, so by the time I get to the point where I have time to write, I’m either exhausted or have very little time to write, only getting a few hundred words in at most. I also have a project I am deeply committed to, but I am already at over 40,000 words. I’m not sure how many more words my project will end up taking on, but I don’t want the pressure of having to write another 50,000 just to satisfy the goal of NaNoWriMo and writing more than I really needed. Each story is unique (as many of you writers know), and should not be constrained by word counts for the sake of statistics. It usually sacrifices the story and flow of the novel overall as a result. I started coming up with an outline for a short story anthology I want to write to create a whole new project to work on, but with all of the other factors in play, the timing for NaNoWriMo 2018 just didn’t feel right.

So I decided ultimately to hold off for the year. I felt at first like I was failing to join the writing community or failing to be the best writer I could be. Then I started to ask myself: why? My day jobs consist of writing. I have a whole project I’m in the midst of working on that will include more writing. I’m neck deep into the world of writing. Why should I feel any less of a writer just because I’m not participating in the event.

Your Terms

There is no shame in taking your own path when it comes to writing. Whether you have an existing project, a project that doesn’t require 50,000 words or more or already is near that goal, you don’t have to commit to an event to feel like a great writer. The best advice I can give to a writer is to just be you. Write what you love, and write it on your own terms. Whether it takes you a month or ten years, don’t let anyone else tell you, (although, unless you are writing the next great novel, ten years is a bit long. Just kidding). Even I am still growing as a writer, and learning that you cannot rush the creative process or a project as a whole. To anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck to you guys and I wish you well. I look forward to reading some of these projects in the future, and to interacting with you guys throughout the month as we all write alongside you. To everyone else, be you, and write on your own terms.

What do you guys think? Does this help any of you writers out there? Do any other authors have advice for anyone not participating in NaNoWriMo? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this post on your social media sites.

Check out my latest review of Firstborn by Tosca Lee here! Also grab your copy of my first two YA novellas in the Nightmare Academy series here!

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Interview with Author Latashia Figueroa:

Hi there Latashia. On behalf of myself and our readers, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Hi Anthony and thanks so much for having me.

Tell us a bit about you and your journey to becoming an author.

Well, I began working in the fashion industry right out of school. I always said to myself, “This is just temporary.” But I became really comfortable with the industry and the money. After eighteen years, the company downsized. At first, I began to send out resumes, hoping and praying I would get a call back right away. While I waited, I began to write. And I loved it! My mother reminded me that as a child I always wrote short stories and left them on her nightstand for her to read. I pushed forward. I published my first book, THIS WAY DARKNESS: Three Tales of Terror in 2014.

2) Tell us about the conception of Ivy’s Envy and the Want & Decay series overall.

I submitted a flash fiction short to a fellow writers blog. And the more I read it, the more I liked where I could go with the story. IVY’S ENVY is the first story in the Want & Decay trilogy. In the beginning of the book is an Edgar Allan Poe quote, “Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger, for whatever it is it wants…”  I believe we all can relate to that on some level. We all struggle with the hunger of want. The characters in the Want & Decay series are desperate people. The more desperate they are, the darker they become. And each of them will learn, sometimes want can cause our decay.

3) When you are writing, what aspect of the writing excites you more: the development of the overall plot or the creation of the characters?

Definitely the creation of the characters. When I write a story, I have to know the ending in order to get the overall picture. That takes time, its work. But, creating the characters, getting to know them, understand their motives, that’s exciting for me. When I create my characters, I have an interview with them. I write down questions and then answer as the characters would. This really helps me write for them.

4) What authors served as a source of inspiration for you and your writing?

I grew up on Stephen King and R.L. Stine. I really dig Ira Levin, Douglas Clegg and John FD Taff. But H.P. Lovecraft will always be top of the list for me. He was truly ahead of his time.

5) Where do you hope to go with your writing career in the future?

Wow. I’d really love to write a screenplay and do independent films. Not only would I like to write them but direct them. Yes, move over Jennifer Kent!

Bonus Questions:

With technology, self-publishing and e-readers quickly rising in popularity, which format do you prefer when reading a book: e-reader or

paperback/hardback copies?

I like e-readers, but I’ll always love holding an actual book in my hand; flipping and folding back the pages,the smell of the paper. And how wonderfully worn they look when they’ve been loved too much.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?

I would pass on this quote I recently found. “Do not write to impress others. Authors who write to impress people find difficulty remaining true to themselves.”

Thanks again!

Author Website: http://latashiafigueroa-author.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/latashiafigueroa

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LatashFigueroa

Instagram: https://instagram.com/frayed_pages/

The Voice of the Night by Dean Koontz Review

While it’s always enjoyable to get into huge, epic stories with a massive cast of characters and an incredible tale, sometimes the best books
can be incredibly short, sweet, and to the point. That is the case with Dean Koontz’s novel, The Voice of the Night. Following the friendship
between two boys, Colin and Roy, and the troubling developments that come when Colin realizes there’s something not quite right with Roy, this
book features a very small and intimate cast, where all but two or three of the characters are truly likeable, and readers are given a fantastic
look into the horrors humanity is capable of inflicting on itself and how few innocent people reside in it, and how even an innocent can be
turned and twisted into something unimaginable. For those looking for a short and intimate read, then The Voice of the Night by Dean Koontz
is for you. Filled with the classic elements of horror and mystery, this is a great read and well worth the time and effort.

Books and Other Media Formats #1: The Stand by Stephen King

One of the biggest inspirations for me personally as a writer is other media formats. While the written word is my favorite medium of storytelling,
when I write, I imagine what certain scenes in my books would look like as a movie or television series. I also enjoy seeing some of my
favorite books translated into film, television and other media formats. One book I’m incredibly excited to see become a film franchise is
Stephen King’s The Stand. Written as an epic saga of good versus evil, the book follows the survivors of a devastating plague that wipes out
all but a few of the human population. Those survivors must choose whether to follow the path of the light or give into the evil desires of
a ruthless stranger who seeks to wipe out the remaining good guys in the world. It’s an interesting take on the classic tale of the apocalypse,
and this story is incredibly character driven, and I think with the right cast this can be an amazing new film series that fans and newcomers
alike will enjoy. Who do you think should be in The Stand series? If you don’t know the book that well, what book do you want to see get
made into a movie/tv series next?

Developing Plot #2: Deciding The Main Obstacle

When you decide to write a story, whether it be a short story, a novella, or a full book, deciding what the main obstacle or problem of the
book is important. No matter what your genre is, what the characters are doing, or who your characters are, the main obstacle is what brings
the entire story together. Bottom line: if you have no obstacle, you have no story.

For instance, let’s take a popular book and see what it would like look without a central problem. For instance, the Hunger Games by
Suzanne Collins. The series’ main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, lives in world where the planet’s government has not only divided the
country into twelve districts, but has put into motion a yearly ritual in which a boy and a girl are chosen to participate in deadly games
in which you must kill or survive until you are the last person standing, like a modern day gladiator ring. When her young sister is chosen,
Katniss steps in and volunteers to take her sister’s place, putting herself in danger in order to protect her sister.

Now what would have happened if her sister hadn’t been chosen? Katniss would never have had a reason to volunteer for the Hunger Games. Without that, she never would have gone on to become the central figurehead for a revolution. She never would have saved her friend/love interest, Peeta, and would never have gone on to be the first couple to survive the games. She never would have broken the entire Hunger Games system, and never would have helped the rebellion take down the antagonist for the series, President Snow. Without that central obstacle in the first novel, without her sister being chosen, Katniss never would have had a journey worth telling.

This is why the central obstacle is important for any book or book series. Without that first and main obstacle, there is no start to the
story. There’s nothing for the story’s protagonists to overcome. There’s nothing tangible to hang onto, and therefore the story collapses.

Question: What is an example of a story that lacked a central obstacle?

Inspiration Mondays: Christmas Time

For those who have read my books before, you guys know that I in general write horror based stories, filled with good men and women having to overcome great evil, (both human and non-human), and from the outside, that probably looks like most of my inspiration for writing comes from horror movies, true crime novels and a questionable childhood. However, that is not the case. While I’m a huge fan of the horror genre and love horror movies, shows, games, books and more, I’m also a sucker for romance and feel-good stories that touch the heart. One of the big inspirations for me when I try to be creative in both my writing and my filming is the holidays. Halloween is a big creative push for me, but one of my favorite times of year that truly inspires me is Christmas time.

Christmas means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For those of you guys that are religious, this holiday holds a special
meaning to you guys. For others, this is a time where you get free gifts and get to eat your favorite foods. However, since I’m not religious
and since I don’t really focus on the gift portion of the holiday, Christmas has a sort of different meaning for me. To me, Christmas is a
time to be with family. The actual traditions associated with the holiday, (i.e. decorating, baking, wrapping presents, putting up the tree,
listening to Christmas music, watching holiday movies and shows, and even playing games and reading books), these are all a part of the same overlaying tradition, and that’s spending time with family. Family not just by blood, but the families we create as well, whether its significant others and friends to your pets.

These things and the act of being with friends and family is truly inspiring. It lifts my spirits, and boosts my creativity ten fold. Being
around all of these traditions and my family reminds me about the power that family, friends, hope, and love can bring about. It reminds me
of what it is my protagonists are fighting for, and what it means to be connected to one another. No matter how dark things get, the power
of hope and love is strong enough to get you through that darkness. That is what the holiday means to me, and why Christmas is a huge
inspiration to me around this time of year.

Question: What does Christmas mean to you?