Get ready for NaNoWriMo--or any novel project--with some advice from author N.M. Kelby

Publish date:

It’s back!

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Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series launches today. I’ve combed all of our 90th anniversary issues for the quote-worthy quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines throughout the year, and selected my biased favorites. The tips will run twice a week and range from the practical to the pensive to the inspirational, and, of course, will always be followed by a regular Promptly writing prompt.

Today’s offering comes from novelist and friend-of-WD N.M. Kelby (Whale Season, The Constant Art of Being a Writer). A simple but vital reminder for those hoping to start a book, those working on a work-in-progress (aside: if we were in a classroom, I'd self-consciously raise my hand), or those gearing up to bang one out in 30 days for NaNoWriMo (aside: incapable; I salute you).

So here’s to that novel—and meditations on life.

No. 20: Gaining Focus
Make your workspace your sanctuary. Keep office hours. Close the door if you can. If you can’t, put on earphones and listen to music. Writing is a meditation on life. You need to feel alone in the world so that you can be objective about it. Don’t ever panic. Keep in mind that even great writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway needed editing. You can always go back and fix what doesn’t work.”
—N.M. Kelby, “Taming the Beast,” January 2010 (click here to check out the issue)

And, as a bonus, also from Kelby’s “Taming the Beast”:

The best way to write a bestselling book is to write a book that you could give to anyone, including your mother-in-law and that salsa-dancing neighbor. Novels that really work are books that people can see their own hearts in. They’re books that make people feel that you’re writing about them. The best way to write such a genuine work is to write from an authentic part of yourself, rather than being distracted by what’s selling and why.”


:Fear Factor
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a
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you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

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