December Writing Challenge: 2016


It’s the last day of November, and the last day of NaNoWriMo for those of you participating. But whether you’ve just finished up tackling 50,000 words in 30 days, you’re falling short of the mark, or you think the idea of trying to churn out that many words in a single month is insane, I have a new challenge for you. Or rather an annual challenge. Tomorrow is the first day of December, and with it comes my December Writing Challenge.

For those of you unfamiliar, the December Writing Challenge is designed to help you keep up your good writing habits through what is arguably the busiest month of the year. With all the holidays, the year-end wrap ups at work, and planning for the year ahead, writing efforts often get short changed. This becomes especially problematic for anyone who has resolutions for the new year that have to do with their writing — writing more, better, finishing a project, getting an agent, etc. Bad habits formed in December take a little bit of time to correct in January, and so writers end up starting off the year on the wrong foot.

The December Writing Challenge aims to help you maintain (or even build) good writing momentum now, at the close of the old year, so you can start the new year off with a bang. It helps you keep writing even if you can only steal a little bit of time. Only you can decide if writing is a real priority in your life, and this challenge can also help you determine how much you want this life.

The challenge is simple: Write every day during the month of December.

  • You can be working on a novel, revising something, tinkering with some short stories, writing personal essays for periodicals, putting together a proposal for a new project… whatever. You can work on one thing or many things.
  • You can write for as little as 15 minutes on a really busy day, though I’d ask you to aim for at least 30, even if you have to break it up into chunks.
  • Because I know this time of year is crazy, you can give yourself up to two days off during the month. You choose the days. Maybe Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Maybe New Year’s Eve. Maybe the day your family all arrives to stay with you. But plan ahead and keep in mind that the goal is to take no more than two days off.

That’s the challenge. No difficult rules to track, no weird stunts to pull. Just write, every day, over the course of the month. Give yourself some quiet time to get those words on paper or pixels on screen. Make writing a priority. Let your family know this is nonnegotiable. Keep your head in the game.

I’ll be posting prompts and pep talks periodically throughout the month to help you keep at it, but ultimately the choice is yours. You can do it. Happy writing!

Friday Links: Inspiration to Keep the Words Flowing

Happy Friday, everyone! This has been an extremely busy week, in part because I looked up and realized suddenly that it’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. next week, which means a very short week in terms of getting work accomplished. As always, I feel like I’m blindsided by the holidays and the end of the year. Time certainly is flying.

So with that I offer up some varied links for the weekend, including some lovely thoughts on reading because I fully intend to use some of my holiday time off curled up on the couch with a few choice items from the towering TBR pile. I wish you all some quality reading time as well, plus writing time, of course, especially those of you tallying up the words for NaNoWriMo. Hopefully some of these links will keep those ideas flowing. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

2016 National Book Awards Announced – Congrats to the winners!

If You Want to Be a Writer, Neil Gaiman Says You Should “Get Bored” – A brief explanation as to why Gaiman thinks boredom is the key to writing.

Reading Locally When You Travel – How searching out books at your travel destination can add to the experience.

5 Reasons to Keep a Record of What You Read – An argument for chronicling books you’ve finished.

Hundreds of US Children’s Authors Sign Pledge to Tackle Racism and Xenophobia – A look at the movement to use literature to fight fear.

Ten Obsessions that Murder Writing Careers – A list of time sucks and other issues that can detract from the more important aspects of writing.

Friday Links: The Endurance of Art

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m afraid I have a rather abbreviated set of links for you this week, given that my attention was generally elsewhere during my downtime this week. But I do have a few tips and a bit of a pep talk, especially for you NaNoWriMo participants, who may be struggling with output about now.

Art endures. Whatever your feelings about the outcome of this week’s election, I encourage you to continue to do your best work, to focus your frustrations and joys and heart into your writing and into making the best art you can. So get words down, or go read your favorite book, or discover a wonderful new novel and get lost in its pages. Pick up some cheap theater tickets or head to the movies. Spend a quiet hour in a museum. Take a little time for your spirit and your creativity, whatever else you feel it’s necessary to do right now.

5 Benefits of Using a Typewriter on Your First Draft – An interesting theory of process.

Why Fiction Matters – Why you should keep plugging away at your work.

Toni Morrison on Reality TV, Black Lives Matter, and Meeting Jeff Bezos – An interview with the acclaimed author.

Writing Trans Characters – Some advice on how to write an accurate portrayal.

The Words and Works of Leonard Cohen – Saying goodbye to the talented singer/songwriter/poet.

Friday Links: Pre-Election Inspiration

TGIF! This weekend marks the last few days running up to the elections here in the U.S., and I think it’s safe to say that not only the nation but a good part of the world is bracing itself for the outcome. So much rides on who moves into the White House come January, and also on what happens with the balance of power in Congress, particularly for women, for immigrants, for anyone who has traditionally been labeled as “other.” Every vote matters, and while getting out to vote itself is the most important thing, I would also ask people to truly consider whether their vote will have actual weight, and not to vote for someone with no chance of winning simply to make a statement. Too much hinges on the outcome this year for any of us to make what will ultimately be a rather hollow stand.

And on that note, I’ll shut up about politics and get to this week’s links. They may be a little thematic, in that there’s a fair number that focus on diversity in literature, but that theme is ongoing around here, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I’ve also got some writing tips that might particularly interest the NaNoWriMo folks. Wishing you all a great and productive weekend. Happy writing!

From the First to Second Wave: Wonder Woman’s Feminist Roots – Feels appropriate in light of the release of the new trailer for next summer’s film.

NaNoWriMo 2016: Writing Tips and Techniques from Our Authors – A round up of writing tips from the Penguin Books blog.

Jade Chang Won’t Write a Traditional Immigrant Novel – Electric Literature interviews the author of the recent release, The Wangs vs. The World.

Mind Your Languages: Literature in Translation Quiz – Check out your literary translation I.Q. or just pick up some fun facts.

Tuck Everlasting Author Natalie Babbitt Dies at 84 – A brief report on the death of the beloved children’s author.

What to Do When Your Book Jumps the Shark – Tips for how to handle abrupt, ridiculous plot twists that send your book careening off track.

Reading The Handmaid’s Tale in the Year of Trump – I’ve been tempted to reread this book several times this year, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it in the face of reality. Timely.


Happy Book Release Day to Nalini Singh!


A very happy book release day to Nalini Singh, whose latest installment in her Guild Hunter series — ARCHANGEL’S HEART — comes out today.

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Elena and Raphael are back, digging deeper into the secrets that surround the world of the archangels. Find them at your favorite brick-and-mortar or online retailer today.