Yay, Writing + Your Complete Guide to Preparing for NaNoWriMo

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Today I just got my book printed out for the second time, so now it's time to FINISH COMPLETELY editing the thing! It makes me excited because, well, after that is the fun part. Or maybe the not so fun part. There's probably both in there, but I am trusting God wholeheartedly because He is the one who gave me the idea, the strength the write that book, all 56061 words. He's not going to leave me now. He has a plan, and I'm going with it openminded.

The real reason I signed on here today is because one my of my fave bloggers Helene has a writing community and check list for you for FREE in honor of NaNoWriMo! And it's amazing. Don't miss out on this! With NaNoWriMo coming up fast, these resources will definitely come in handy.

I also thought now would be a good time to give you a complete guide to what NaNoWriMo is, how to prepare for it, and just some tips I have.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month taking place through the entire month of November. Your goal is to write 50,000 words through the whole month. I know, that's a lot! Don't freak out yet. I have tips coming. It is a great way to keep track of your progress and get motivated to write!

Let's prepare!

Create your account. Obviously a no brainer. Come be my writing buddy here! Don't worry about account details yet unless you want to. I still have a lot to add, so that's probably the first thing you should do.

Create your novel. This will be one of the first things it asks. You can fill in as many details as you want. I just put my current title, the genre, and a quick summary. See it here.

Take lots of notes. I have like 15 drafts on my blog of quick notes or quotes to go into my book. These are your ideas. They don't need to be organized right now, just let them come.

Put together an outline. Now is probably a good time to organize since there's a week left. You can always add and change things, but you at least need to organize your ideas you've taken and put together an outline of your story. I personally do my outlines chapter by chapter, but you could do it part by part or page by page. It's all up to you and your preference, but I do recommend you have something to go off of.

Here are my tips:

Just because your goal is 50,000 words, don't worry about it. The whole point is to get you writing. So that blah blah blah words per day thing is nice in that it keeps you on track, but don't let it control you. It doesn't matter if you "win" or not. God has a plan for you. Some days you'll exceed your goal, but others it will just be an "off" day, and that is okay.

Need motivation? Click here. I wrote this post last year, and I still agree with it. This will help some with motivation, but just remember to ask God for help and what His will is for you.

Connect with others and share your ideas. Find somebody else who is participating in NaNoWriMo (it could be an online friend!), and connect with them about your stories. Encourage each other, pray for each other, give feedback to each other, and so on. Who wants to be my writing buddy?!

Need help...

on using NaNoWriMo? Leave comments. I'll help you out.

finding a writing buddy? Contact me using my contact page or leave a comment, we can work together!

with motivation? Again, reach out, and I'll give you some. I can even do more blog posts on it.

NaNoWriMo is meant to be fun while helping you write, so treat it like that. If you don't finish, that's okay! It doesn't define you as a writer. God has a plan for each and every one of you. If you trust Him completely, you're going to see him doing work in your life. Thank you all for encouraging me in my writing - it really means the world to me!

Blog Pages 101

Welcome to my personal opinion of what I believe is the hardest part of your blog: the pages. I think they're the hardest because this is what attracts the most visitors, so you want your pages to make a good impression! I hate pages, I feel like they're never good enough, and I just never feel like I have it right! Just recently, I finished redoing all of my pages, and I am actually satisfied! Now, I want to share with you some tips on WHAT pages you should have, what to put on them, AND why they are important.

First, what pages will you need?

There are pages you NEED and then pages you SHOULD have. We're going to talk about those NEEDS and then those I highly recommend to go with them.

NEEDS

An about page. They suck to write, so good thing I'll be helping you later in the post! Yes, you need them. Yes, your readers will get to know you in your posts, but not as much as they would by reading your about page. That, and it's like a homepage for yourself. This is more than likely what will give future visitors a good or bad impression. It's where they virtually meet you.

A contact page. This is how people respond and have a conversation with you virtually. You can also get compliments through these, so why the heck not, am I right?! Really - you need one. If somebody loves your blog and they have questions or something, they need an easy place to reach you. This is that place.

SHOULD HAVES

A road map or homepage breaking things down. I have an info page that gives an overview of my entire blog, and then I have a search page with all my topics people can easily hop to. I totally recommend these - it makes your readers more likely to stick around and explore because it's easier!

A best of or popular posts page. I think these are really important because they're like a portfolio of your blog. Visitors can see if you write about anything they're interested in, and so forth.

What should I do for my about page?

Of seriously all the pages, I find this one the hardest. There's so much you could put, and I find it overwhelming. You're just going to have to experiment and find what works best. Here are some starting points, though.

- To start, introduce yourself and the key factors that make up YOU. Then introduce your blog and briefly describe it.

- Go into those things you love, example: a certain drink, color, what you like to do in your free time, etc.

- Add a main photo of you at the beginning. Add some other photos throughout the page in whichever layout you choose.

- Talk about your hobbies and talents.

- Talk about your family or just your life currently.

- Share what you are working on right now and some dreams.

- Talk about some things that make up your blog and why or how you started your blog.

- Share a quote you love and why or your life motto or your blog motto.

- Wrap it up with a friendly conclusion, and point to other aspects of your blog the visitor should go next.

You can do all of these or none. It's totally up to you! These are the things I included in mine, hopefully they can stir some ideas up for you too! Just write, and be you. I think that will work best.

What posts should go under my best of or popular posts?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like a best of page and a popular posts page are two different things. I think a best of is some of your best posts, whereas a popular posts is just that - your most popular posts. A lot of those times those are pretty similar. I choose which posts I put on my best of, unlike how some do what their statistics say are the most popular. If there's a post I feel confident in, I want to get it out there!

So that is what I recommend for your best of. It is just that: your best posts. It can be the most popular ones or the ones you feel are your best. Either works! Use it wisely, though. That is most likely where visitors will go to read more into your blog!

Do I need to make a page for my services?

Absolutely, if you offer services! This makes it easy to find. I don't have any books or products out yet, but I still made pages and will add to them in the future! Somebody may not know you offer your services if all you do is put them in a blog post or two. You need to have a separate page with all of the important info.

Why and what should I put on my contact page?

A photo of you - to make it more personal. A friendly blurb - reassure the reader about contacting you. A contact form - if possible. Some people prefer those, but it's not a necessity. Your email address, and use the correct signs [make it easy, so they can copy and paste, no more (at) and (dot)]. Your social links - if you don't have them linked already. Be friendly and be you!

What other pages would YOU recommend and why?

What Not to Do When Blogging

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Yesterday's post was over helpful blogging tips, so I thought today I would leave you some tips on what NOT to do. Some of these will be similar to yesterday's tips, except from a different point of view. So again, ready or not, here we go. ;)

Do not expect lots of growth right away. Exceptions: 1) you are a celebrity, 2) you are already a well known blogger, 3) you buy like millions of sponsorships, 4) you're featured somewhere famous, or 5) you're just very very lucky. If the case is one, honestly, the blogging rules don't even apply to you I feel because if you're a celebrity people are going to read into your blog anyways.

If it's two, then you already know what you're doing, so that obviously helps.

If three, well, I'd hope you'd be getting attention.

If four, cool, but you're not excused from class because while that may get you some views, you want those views to stay.

If five, well gosh danggit, then you need to be teaching me. Expect growth, but just know it comes in small doses and will take lots of time.

Don't try to be successful without putting any money into your blog. I already went over this yesterday. It's just not going to happen. If you want to grow, you have to invest. If you want to drive, you have to put gas in your car.

Do not work too hard. I know I said blogging can be like a job, but keep in mind everyone needs a break in their jobs. When you're new, it's easy to spend your entire life on your blog. Don't. Get inspiration, live life, and I promise it will make your blog better.

Don't wait to begin your social media even if you have no clue what you're doing. I didn't. I still don't. Just like your blog, that takes time, but start it right away. START learning. START growing. You may have like 10 likes on Facebook or only 30 followers on Twitter, but that's something, and you're establishing your online presence and such. Just trust me on this.

Don't rush into emailing other bloggers except if you are going to ask for advice. I know there's this whole collaborating thing, and I totally think you should take a risk and email some of your fave bloggers about that. But first, wait, for two reasons.

#1: Grow your blog a little. Show them you are serious about blogging. I have to admit, I would be a little skeptical collaborating with someone if they had like one post. It's not that I don't want to help you (I totally do!), but sometimes when you start blogging you're not sure if you'll keep at it. It's pointless for me and for you to work hard at a project only then for you to decide this blogging thing isn't for you.

#2: Get to know those bloggers you want to collaborate with! Comment on their posts. Interact with them. Be real. Be you. Then when you contact them (I'm not saying they'll say yes, and you shouldn't do that JUST so they'll collaborate with you) they will be like, "Oh yeah! I remember her!", and you get the idea. I would be much more willing to work with someone who is active on my blog versus someone who isn't. It shows me you care, and you trust me, and you just want to work together!

I have been blogging for one year, and I have not emailed a blogger yet about collaborating. I didn't even know what collaborating was when I started, but now it was because I'm working really hard on my blog to make it the best it can be. I've also been working on branding it, but emailing bloggers is on my to do list (I have a whole list, watch out). And when you email them, don't just ask to collaborate. Talk to them - about their life, their blog, your blog, have a conversation! Not all bloggers will collaborate with you - even if you comment on all their posts. Don't you still want to get to know them? That kind of is the point of this blogging thing.

So what can you say when you start? Introduce yourself and your new blog! Tell them about how much of an inspiration they have been to you! Ask for tips! I wish I would have done this more, but I didn't - and you should!

Do not rush into decisions. Literally this was my beginning.
"This blog design is boring, it's time to work on a new one! We're getting rid of that purple just because I don't like it."
"I don't like this design either."
"Oh crap! What have I done to my blog? Now it's a mess."
"Squarespace is the answer! I need to move to Squarespace just because it's awesome!"
"Oh, nevermind on this template. I need one with a header not at the top."
"What is wrong with this design danggit!? IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT, AND IT NEVER EVER WILL BE!"
"Okay, I think I finished the 582 tweaks. I'm starting to finally like it."
"I got a blog design, I got money, let's do this!"
"I wonder what's on their Terms. Oh. My. Gosh. I'm going to jail. RIP Sparkles by Ashlee. You have to be 13, and I am not 13 this is awful. My blog will never ever get a happily ever after."
"MOM!!! We need to email Squarespace about these gosh dang terms!"
"Mom, can we please email them today? It's February 2057, and one of these days I want to blog again."
"Mom I swear, please I'm starting to hate my blog design."
"Okay Mom. I will write the dumb letter. You just approve it, okay?"
"Yes, we are going to do this today, Mom. I have a wedding to plan, and I want to blog finally. Just tell me this looks okay, so they can tell me I can have my blog without going to jail."
"YES!!! I can stay on Squarespace! But...you know...something is wrong with this blog design."
"Ooh, this is a nice design she has. It's on Squarespace too..."
"OH my living goodness! I still hate the dumb design!"
"I've got it! There's too much black in it! I'm going to either put gold or silver."
"Oh yes. We've just hit Blogging Heaven."
"No, you know what, no. This template, it just has too many things I need to fix, but no people are responding to my forums on Squarespace Answers and so yeah."
"Okay. I've done it this time. This is the perfect design."
"Hmm. I want to try something with this design."
"Ew my gosh. It did not work. At all. Now I have no clue how to get the old one back."
"AGH!!! I MADE IT EVEN WORSE! NOW WE'VE FOUND BLOGGING HELL!"
"Okay, okay, let's just take a risk. Let's try this template."
"Oh yes, yes, yes!"
"Wait, why did I do those image designs? They say nothing about my brand! Time to redo all the images if you'll excuse me."

Oh. My. Gosh. I do not think sometimes if you can't tell. Do not do what I did. You will constantly wear yourself out. Take time when planning new designs, when choosing platforms, all of that.

Do not put off branding. Brand your blog just like a business. Do it in the beginning, or pay the price later. All those images? That was a true story. I finally got all caught up with ALL the posts!

Do not go in with no knowledge of your platform. Work with them, read on them, and decide which one is best. I felt like I did this, well...except for the terms part.

Do not let yourself get unorganized. Oh my gosh. I mean it. Organize your to dos. Organize your design. Organize the posts you need to write, everything. Blogging is overwhelming, times that by twenty if you don't organize thoughts and ideas and to dos.

Do not be inconsistent. If you are looking to blog professionally or for your job, you do not get to post whenever you feel like it. One post every one week or two, or gosh, even worse, it just won't do it. I am so guilty of this, but I'm working at getting better. The reason is because if you find a blog you really like, it's really no fun when you never get to hear from them right? First of all, you'll have more content for people to look at, and second, you'll find your voice and offer chances for more socialization.

Do not let blogging become a chore, however you do it. You don't want to slack, either. My advice? Blog just to blog - like a topic you are excited about. Take a day off. Work on a project on your blog that makes you excited. It's just finding a balance and finding what works best for you.

Last of all, do not think blogging is not worth any of the work. Because it is. I don't want to scare you with this stuff, but some of it is just true. Like I said in the other post, I'm going to eventually do a post over the benefits of blogging and how it literally changes your life. So come back. :)

That was a really long post. You're the best for reading it! If you want to blog, just do it. Have fun with it. Learn. Grow. Share your story. It's worth it, I promise. Then contact me, because I want to help you, and I want to see your blog. So put that on your to do list. Since after all, a blogger's job is never done.

The Most Helpful Tips I Learned About Blogging

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I have heard lots and lots of advice in my year of blogging, and it's about time I reflect on some of the best advice. There's more that I haven't learned and more that I just don't have room to share, so stay tuned for more posts like these. So here are 15 things that have been super helpful for me in my blogging journey. Ready? Too bad, we're going anyway.  

1. IT TAKES TIME TO GROW. I have been blogging for a year and have about 200+ followers on social media total including all my accounts (Insta, Twitter, etc.), and that's really not a lot compared to a lot of bloggers. And you know what? That's okay. Because it takes time - a lot of it danggit - and perseverance. Just keep going on the methods you've found helpful, and keep an open mind.

2. INVESTING IN YOUR BLOG IS PRACTICALLY A NECESSITY. Don't get me wrong - you can be successful blogging, but I'm sorry, not investing in your blog is like not buying warmer clothes in winter. Good luck getting through that season. I'm sorry, but think about all the other hobbies you have. Reading? You gotta buy books. You gotta buy gas to get to the library. Running? You gotta buy sports bras, special running shoes so your feet don't die, athletic shorts, and so on. Name any hobby, I'll give you a list of things you need to buy. You can't just expect your blog to do well if you don't invest in it.

You don't have to invest in it right away - make sure you'll like it, but otherwise? You need to put something into it. A domain, platform, design... They're all important, but more on this later.

3. THERE IS NO WAY TO SUGAR COAT IT - BLOGGING IS LIKE HAVING A PART TIME JOB AT THE VERY LEAST. To some it actually IS their full time job! Be prepared to put time and effort into it. I don't want to scare you with these things, but blogging requires money, time, and lots and lots of effort - as does anything you want to be good at. You can blog easily without any of that, but just know you will not get as far as you could.

4. UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WHEN GROWING YOUR BLOG. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but that's the world we live in, and social media can do lots of great things when it comes to your blog posts getting out there. So use it. You don't have to be an expert right away - everyone is still determining the best methods, and it's about what works for YOU.

5. SOCIALIZING AND REACHING OUT TO OTHER BLOGGERS IS HOW YOU GROW YOUR BLOG WITHOUT SPENDING MONEY. Whether that be a comment on their blog post, a reply on Twitter, a comment on Instagram, or just an email to them - that's ultimately how you grow your reputation - by getting your name out there. That, and it's great to support other bloggers. We're all a community. It's fine to be social to help your blog, but just don't make that the only reason you do it [because I'm assuming you know that's just selfish].

6. IT'S PERFECTLY OKAY NOT TO SPEND MONEY ON SPONSORING. I've been blogging for a little over a year now and still haven't. However, I totally recommend swapping. And if you're not sponsoring, you need to be social. Just don't feel like sponsoring is a necessity. Don't feel like it's not important, either. Again, it's what works best for you.

7. A GOOD BLOG DESIGN IS VERY IMPORTANT. Obviously not everyone will LOVE it, but you still want it to look nice and more importantly: organized, clean, and easy to navigate. I'm sorry, but this is a necessity. You definitely don't need to hire anyone unless you want to, but if you don't know how to do designs yourself, then I would recommend it.

8. CHOOSING YOUR BLOGGING PLATFORM IS LIKE CHOOSING YOUR HOUSE. Just like moving is no fun, neither is switching platforms. I'm not saying you have to spend money right away on a self hosted one, and I'm not saying you have to start on the free ones either. But if you do decide to switch - I mean it when I say to do it right away. I did it when I was only three months into blogging, and I cringe for anyone who has to switch when they've been blogging longer than that. Transferring three month's worth of stuff was not easy (I'm still working on things!), so just do your research, test things out, get some opinions, and then don't wait! Doing mine early was the best decision I personally made with my blog.

9. DON'T STRESS GETTING POST INSPIRATION. Believe me, when you start your blog, millions of ideas come up. I recommend that you write them all down somewhere.

10. YOUR BLOG WILL NEVER EVER HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ON IT DONE. There is always something, and that's okay. If it's not a new post it's the blog design. Or the pages need to be redone. Or that code needs to be fixed. Or those images need to be redone. Or those posts need to be pinned. It's okay - don't spend your entire life on your blog. It will not blow up if a few things are works in progress. You will not lose all your readers. I promise.

11. DOMAINS AND FACEBOOK AND SEO AND LOTS OF OTHER FOREIGN TERMS ARE NOW IMPORTANT. My best advice is to start reading and start learning them. I read other blogs all the time, and the first section I usually hop to is their posts over blogging - even if I already feel like I know most of it. That's how I got to where I am now.

12. BLOGGING IS TRULY FUN. I love writing new ideas out. I love taking pictures just for my blog. I love talking to other bloggers. I love reading your comments. Sometimes it feels like a job, but at the end of the day I keep coming back, so there must be SOME good things in there. ;)

13. BLOGGING HELPS YOU RELIEVE STRESS. When it's not the one causing you stress... First of all, writing helps me relieve stress, and it really doesn't matter what I'm writing about. I would not recommend your blog being your diary, but sometimes we have to vent. I think you should, but make sure either a) they stay in your drafts, or b) if they're published, turn them into something positive or a lesson or just something real. Not your diary. Do that on Facebook since that's what it's become.

14. BLOGGING IS WORTH THE EFFORT. All of this learning, all of that extra stress - it's worth it. You really don't understand that until you actually blog, so the choice is yours. Choose wisely though. You don't really realize that blogging actually changes your life until it's already changed. :) Some of that's good, some of that's bad. We'll get into that another day. ;)

When You Have Writer's Block

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Ever get that feeling of signing onto your blog and just being like soooo...now what? Or what I do all the time: yeah this list of blog post ideas is crap today. This is none other than good ole writer's block. It can actually be a good thing without the sarcasm. Here are some things you can do when you have writer's block. I'm giving you quite a bit of options!

Option #1: Write About Writer's Block!

Examples: make a list of blog post ideas, make a list to help people in general, or just randomly post. All blogs need to have a focus and topic of things that they blog about, but sometimes it's just nice to not put a lot of thought into a post idea. There are a few bloggers who have posted randomly, and they are still really fun posts to read!

Option #2: Do a Let's Catch Up Post!

I did one of these (see it here), and it was so much fun! You're basically doing a virtual chat with someone about your life and what's new and just whatever is on your mind. I hope to be doing more of those soon! Seriously, when all else fails, do one of these!

Option #3: Go Outside and Wander Around

Or perhaps you have another place where you do your deep thinking. It's important to tune out sometimes and get some inspiration.

Option #4: Browse Social Media

I know. This is something we usually do to try and get out of writing, but it can also give you ideas. When I browse social media, one of these three things happen: 1) I get happy about something, 2) I get mad about something, or 3) I get bored and do something else. If your case is 1, then write about what made you happy! Maybe it's something like the awesome new Mockingjay trailer being out. Seriously, that movie is going to be epic, and I can't believe they're making us wait until November 20. Maybe your case is 2. Without turning your post into a rant, talk about a topic in general that you wish would change or you don't agree with or whatever. And if it's 3, well, proceed to another option.

Option #5: Don't Blog

That's totally fine. It won't kill anyone, and it won't kill your blog. If you have awesome readers who just want to listen to you, then you could basically blog about anything. And if you are in the writer's block position again, reread this post. Now class is over.

Happy writing and blogging!