How Do You Find the Motivation to Finish?
HALF-PRICE Accountability Coaching plus TONS of Writing Resources
*For writing links and resources, scroll down*
Back to School
My older daughter just started bilingual Kindergarten last week (half-day in English, half-day in Spanish), and she is LOVING it.
Maybe it’s because I used to be a classroom teacher, but I always think of Fall as the start of the new year, and thus a great time to start fresh, whether that means starting a new writing project or re-committing myself to a work-in-progress. After the sluggish months of summer, I always find a new burst of energy in the Autumn.
What are you working on this fall? Might I suggest one of my do-it-on-your-own-time virtual courses:
The Best Motivation?
Sometimes I look back at my younger self, when I didn’t have kids and therefore had gobs of free time, and I want to reach through time to shake myself. WHY, Young Eva, are you not using more of this free time for writing?
Honestly, one of the biggest motivators for me as a writer was becoming a parent and having way less free time. Now, when I have time to write, I get to work right away. I force myself to write whether I “feel” like it or not. Usually.
It can still be hard to find the motivation to keep going. Especially when you’re working on a dauntingly-long book-length project. Especially when you have yet to make any real money with your writing. Especially when no one (except yourself and maybe your mom) cares whether or not you ever publish anything.
Now that I have an agent, I have an actual person giving me deadlines and expecting me to meet them. That, of course, is a huge motivator. I don’t think I would have had the gumption to do yet ANOTHER major revision of this novel if it wasn’t for my agent and her brilliant feedback. (P.S. I finished and turned in the manuscript to my agent a full two days before my deadline of August 31!)
For most of my writing career, I haven’t had an agent. Yet I completed eight novels. How did I find the motivation to finish when no one (other than myself) truly cared whether I did or not?
Maybe I owe part of it to my Type A personality. I was that child who ran home from elementary school so I could immediately do my math homework. I was that kid in high school who actually used Study Hall to study. I was that weirdo in college who lied to my peers, saying, “oh, yeah, I still have to do that Psych paper, too,” when actually I’d finished it the week before, with twice as many references as it needed.
In other words, I’m a nerd.
But, here are two other things that GREATLY helped me finish my novels:
I lowered my standards. The first draft didn't have to be good, it just had to be done.
I relied on my writing friends and writing group. It’s amazing how deciding to send a chapter or draft to other people encourages me to work on it more. Sometimes I just need to know that someone out there is expecting to receive something written by me.
Writing is a lonely endeavor, and the struggle to stay motivated is real. Especially in the days before you have an agent or an editor or anything other than self-imposed deadlines and dreams.
That’s why accountability coaching can be incredibly helpful. An accountability coach works with you to create deadlines then holds you accountable to them. They may not give you feedback on your writing, but they will be that person who expects you to turn in your work on time. They will give you support and encouragement and strategies, and, yes, some tough love if you need it.
This is something I do, and I’ve been told I’m good at it. I’m organized and goal-oriented, and as a former high school math teacher I’m comfortable giving assignments and expecting them to be turned in on time. Plus, as a creative writer, I understand the struggle and can offer suggestions to help with the road blocks that might be stopping someone from making progress on their project.
How Does Accountability Coaching Work?
Well, here’s how I do it…
First, you write me a short email about your writing project and goals.
Next we meet via Zoom or phone call to come up with a plan. We may draft a writing schedule, and we’ll definitely set some deadlines. We’ll talk about your personal roadblocks and strategies to overcome them.
Then I check in with you over email at least twice a month to make sure you’re hitting the deadlines we created, and I’ll be ready to offer resources and support to help you reach your goals. Most people email me their “assignments” (chapters, book sections, etc.) and though I don’t give feedback, I usually skim what you send me.
Though I’m mostly a YA writer, for accountability coaching I accept any genre or type of writing project.
Half-Price Accountability Coaching
Here it is — the big news! Instead of offering a course for September, I am offering half-price accountability coaching to my paid subscribers. Normally I charge $99 for three months of accountability coaching, but for my paid subscribers it will only cost $49.50!
Not quite ready to be held accountable? No worries. This offer stands until January 31, 2023.
Not a paid subscriber? Sign up now, and you’ll automatically be eligible for half-price accountability coaching.
Paid subscribers will receive an email with instructions about how to redeem this offer. Redeem the offer now, or when you’re ready to begin. Questions? Feel free to reach out! I’m looking forward to working with you all!
Hey, I think she’s talking about ME!
In a super short video from The Manuscript Academy, agent Fiona Kenshole talks about the advice she gave me in our one-on-one session. This advice was part of the reason why I started getting more full requests, and ultimately an agent. You can read all about how I changed my query letter and opening pages to get more full requests in my post What I Learned from 90 Queries.
Writing News & Resources
For All Writers:
Submit your best fiction to International Literary Seminars by Wednesday Sept 7. for your chance to be awarded free tuition, accommodations, and an airfare stipend to attend ILS 2022 in Kenya (Dec 6 - 20), along with publication in the renowned Fence magazine. All entrants will also be considered for a two-week writing residency in Southern Italy. Read the full contest guidelines here.
Looking for a way to do more writing and join a community of other writers? Join Jana Van der Veer for #ZoomWriteIn, every Monday through Friday from 8-9am Eastern. No cameras on. Just writing with other writers.
Hey Dr. Suess Fans, there’s a NEW NYC Midnight Story Challenge — The inaugural Rhyming Story Challenge kicks off on September 23rd, so sign up now! Writers will create rhyming stories based on three assigned prompts with a fast turnaround time. Judges give feedback on EVERY submission, writers keep all the rights to their stories, and there are thousands in cash prizes for the winners.
Not into rhymes and have limited time (see what I did there)? Check out the NYC Midnight 250-word Microfiction Challenge. Based on a randomly assigned prompt, write a super short story in 24 hours. There are multiple rounds, and everyone gets feedback from the judges. You’ll be amazed what you can produce when the pressure’s on and you’ve paid to compete. The challenge starts November 18, and there’s early-bird pricing from now until October 13.
I enjoyed this blog post from The Blue Pencil Agency on How to Write Fast-Paced Fiction, but if you don’t have time to read it, the summary is this: when writing your scenes, follow the screenwriter mantra: “arrive late, leave early.”
Looking for a critique partner? Savvy Authors is now offering a free CritMatch Program to help match-make authors looking for feedback partners.
Have you been following the Barnes & Noble news — as in the new CEO and his new policies about what books the chain will carry? (Spoiler alert, if you’re a debut author, you probably won’t see your book on the shelf at your local B&N.) I’ve been reading about it but still haven’t felt knowledgeable enough to address it in my newsletter. Luckily, you can read about it elsewhere. Might I recommend Nathan Bransford’s blog or Jane Friedman?
International Literary Seminars is launching a unique and intensive series of workshops, lectures, and cultural offerings. Apply for this year’s program, held in Kenya (application deadline Oct. 15), and check out the website for contests, fellowships, and other offerings.
For KidLit Writers:
Check out this free online panel on Tuesday, Sept. 13: Tips for Writing YA with Aaron Aceves, Casie Bazay, and Eric Waters
WOWCON, WriteMentor’s online conference for kidlit writers, is coming up September 24 - 26.
The Voyage YA First Chapters Contest deadline is coming up on September 30!
For Querying Writers:
The mentoring/pitching event called #PitchMe is coming up soon! Here’s the timeline:
September 8: The submission window opens
September 22: Selected submissions announced
September 22-October 19: Mentoring takes place
October 20: Revised Twitter pitches posted; agents like their favorites
Every Friday, Operation Awesome offers one free query critique through their #QueryFriday contest.
Did you know you can nominate your query letter and/or your first page for a critique on Nathan Bransford’s blog? Also, read his critiques of other people’s queries and first pages!
The Pass or Pages Query Contest will be held October 3-7. Win feedback from agents about whether they would pass or request pages based on your query. Free!
The Savvy Authors Pitch Fest will be held October 26-28. Pitch in an online forum to agents and editors (for free)!
Submission is open from now until Nov. 4 for the Blue Pencil Agency Pitch Prize. I don’t know much about this, but might be worth looking into. Entry fee is £12.
The querying trenches are rough right now, and Twitter pitch parties can feel like shouting into the void with thousands of other screaming writers, but still, it’s a way to meet other writers and it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. (After all, I found my agent through a Twitter pitch party. I am now an official success story!) So mark your calendar for these upcoming Twitter pitch parties. And be sure to read my article 13 Things to Know About Twitter Pitch Events.
September 15: #LatinxPitch — Twitter pitch for all unagented and agented Kidlit LATINX authors, author-illustrators, and illustrators
October: #PitDark — Twitter pitch for all unagented authors of horror, mystery, thriller, paranormal, and anything else with a “dark” vibe. Date TBA.
November 3: #MoodPitch — Twitter pitch for all genres… and you get to include a “mood board” that communicates the vibe/aesthetic of your book. This is the Twitter pitch contest that got me my agent!
The 2022 Savvy Authors Writer Con is happening for free online, September 9-11. I’m going to be honest, their website overwhelms me, so I don’t know much about the group or this conference, but it seems that many people get a lot out of both. Might be worth taking a deep breath and finding out more. (And if you go to this conference, let me know what you think of it!)
WOWCON, WriteMentor’s online conference for kidlit writers, is coming up September 24 - 26.
This New York Write to Pitch 2022 Conference looks intriguing. The Zoom portion is September 8-11 and the live part is September 22-25 in NYC. And there are pre- and post-content, too. They are calling it The Premier Career Launcher for Aspiring Authors. I’m going to be honest, there’s so much going on with this conference I’d need an entire day to study and digest the website, but it looks very professional and comprehensive, so take a look for yourself!
This year the Writing Day Workshop “How to Get Published” Conferences will be held virtually. I attended one of these conferences in person a few years ago in Philadelphia, and I thought it was fantastic. I can’t vouch for the virtual version, but there are some benefits: recorded classes, no travel expenses, attend in your comfy pants. Plus, you can sign up for Zoom pitch sessions with agents for $29 a piece. Check out the upcoming conferences (and remember, anyone can attend from anywhere; just keep the time zone in mind).
Registration is now open for the ginormous AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs). It’s being held in March 2023 in Seattle, which is one of my favorite cities. Go as an excuse to visit Seattle. Go to check out the enormous book fair, filled with representatives from lit mags and small presses. Heck, go for the dance party because nothing is more awkwardly fun than a bunch of introverted and tipsy writers busting a move.
For more writing conferences, check out this list or this list of 19 Writing Conferences for Emerging and Established Writers.
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