The Joy of Writing: How to Keep it During NaNoWriMo

8 Bestselling Authors Share Tips and Tricks for Finding and Keeping Joy in Your Writing

by Ruth Harris

The Joy of Writing? During National Novel Writing Month? You're kidding, right?

A 55K word novel in a month?

You're fretting, nervous, sweaty.

Performance anxiety in excelsis?

Brain block? What brain?

Writing should be fun and NaNo is your opportunity to have a ball. To help get you in the mood, I've asked some experienced writers to talk about the many pleasures of writing.

Grace Burrowes

Grace Burrowes started out as a tech writer, switched to law, but millions of readers know her for her USA Today and NYT bestselling romance novels.

There are so many joys to writing, at least for me. I love—

Joe Konrath

Noted blogger and ebook guru, Joe Konrath has sold over 3 million books worldwide and writes in the thriller, horror, erotica and comedy genres.

Consuelo Saah Baehr

Multi-faceted bestseller, Consuelo Saah Baehr has been published in hardcover by Delacourt and Simon & Schuster, and as an indie in ebook format. Consuelo is now a Montlake author. (Montlake is an Amazon imprint...Anne)

Vanessa Kelly

USA Today bestseller Vanessa Kelly is a hybrid author who publishes traditionally for Kensington and Grand Central, and as an indie. Vanessa, known for her Regencies, is one of the "stars of historical romance" and, as V.K. Sykes, she writes contemporary romance.

The character who comes alive:

When the idea strikes:

Getting into the zone:

Khaled Talib

Khaled Talib is a Singapore-based journalist and member of the British Crime Writers Association. Khaled is the author of The Little Book of Muses, a collection of personal muses for writers and aspiring authors and author of the thriller, Smokescreen.

Lindsay Buroker

Lindsay Buroker was a lifeguard, a fast-food-flinger, a network administrator, and a soldier in the U.S. Army before she turned to writing full time and became a bestselling author of indie fantasy and sci-fi romance.

My favorite thing about writing is coming up with fun characters and writing dialogue for them. I love banter. (If my shy, introverted self could have handled Hollywood, I might have gotten into screenwriting.) Everybody from soldiers to sentient swords to dragons get humorous lines in my stories. My readers may joke that I'm known for including lots of action, explosives, and crashes in my stories, but those crazy events just gives my characters more to talk about.

My tips for writing banter your readers will enjoy:

Anne R. Allen

My most excellent blog partner, Anne R. Allen

Ruth Harris

As for me, when I was a kid, I was a modestly talented but seriously dedicated figure skater who got just good enough to compete in regional competitions. Learning to do an axel and stick the landing was—and probably still is—one of a young skater's milestones.

I spent lots of time practicing in cold rinks, lots of time learning the axel, much of it flat on my butt. The reward of a well-executed axel, though, was the paradox of feeling in complete control at the same time that I was—literally—flying. Writing catapults me into that same joyful zone.

The same word applies to axels and writing: Magic.

....Ruth Harris

What about you, scriveners? What aspects of writing give you the most joy? Is it the first moment of inspiration? When things start to fall into place? Do characters jump into your story and take over? Are you planning to join in the NaNoWriMo marathon, or do you prefer to work at a steady pace all year round? 


Three Fed-up Wives—and only Husband Training School stands between them, murder, and a lifetime in prison.

  • Will Trailer is a super-achiever on the baseball diamond but at home? Not so much, according to his gorgeous movie star wife. 
  • Efficiency expert Howard Hopkins has just retired. His wife married him for better and for worse—but not for 24-hours-a-day.
  • Gordo Canholme would procrastinate breathing if he could, but will he ever get the new baby's room ready? Not without HTS, according to his very pregnant wife.

Ex-Marine Drill Instructor, Robin Aguirre, and her sister, Melodie, run HTS and have been hardened by years of experience. When the three fed-up wives enroll Will, Howard and Gordo as new students, Robin and Melodie are ready for anything the most hapless and hopeless husbands of the 21st Century can dish out.

They think.


The Poisoned Pencil: The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Win $$$ and BEER!! SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST  $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016. 

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Short Story; $7 Flash Fiction/$15 three Flash Fictions; $7 poem /$15 for three poems. Currently accepting submissions for the short story contest (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction contest (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry contest (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits on their submission and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 (USD) for the short story winner, $150 (USD) for the flash fiction winner, and $150 (USD) for the poetry winner. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

The IWSG Short Story Anthology Contest 2015. NO FEE! The top ten stories will be published in an anthology. (Authors will receive royalties on sales.) Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member (no fee to join the IWSG). The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free. Word count: 5000-6000. Theme: Alternate History/Parallel Universe. Deadline: November 1st

MASTERS REVIEW FALL FICTION CONTEST $20 ENTRY FEE. 7000 word limit.The winning story will receive $2,000 and publication on the site. Second and third place stories will receive $200 and $100, publication, and all story winners will receive a critique. Fifteen finalists will be recognized online and have their stories read by the VanderMeers. Deadline October 31.

Fuse Literary Agency's Christmas Romance Charity Anthology: NO FEE! Short Romance Fiction 5000-8000 words. They're donating 100% of the profits to the UNHCR, the UN agency leading and coordinating international action to protect Syrian refugees. Non-exclusive rights to your story, so you're 100% free to publish it elsewhere if you'd like. If your story is accepted, you will receive a single, up-front payment of $10, They want steamy, winter-holiday-themed romance. Deadline October 31.

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