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After discussing their difficult first week of National Novel Writing Month, Jeff and Will discuss some podcasts, videos and blog posts that focused on some mindset shifts. They hope these tips help them (and you) navigate NaNoWriMo and the writing life in general.

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Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.

Show Transcript

Jeff: Welcome to the “Big Gay Author Podcast,” the show that invites you to follow along as two writers attempt to make the transition from part time to full time authors of gay fiction. I’m your host Jeff Adams, and with me is my fellow writer and husband, Will Knauss.

Will: Hello everybody. Today is November 9th of 2019 and we are so glad that you could join us today. We’re going to be talking about mindset, but first, let’s discuss our past week.

Jeff: And I think the mindset discussion came directly from how our week actually went. It was a bit of a wonky week here in NaNoWriMo land. I certainly had my own personal meltdown on Thursday as I kind of got stuck in a head spiral where I could not quite decide what I needed to do and when I needed to do it. There was a ton of stuff on my to do list and I ended up… I don’t think I did any of it. Actually on Thursday, I think I retreated to watching TV because it was about all I could handle.

I was kind of back on track by Friday because I did have a conversation with one of my co-writers who’s in the shared universe with me. That not only sparked some ideas between our two stories because we’ve decided that our two main characters are going to be best friends. But, overall it really sparked some creativity and some imagination. By the time I was ready to write on Friday, I actually made words again. So I enjoyed that.

And I have to say in my own little way, even on Thursday when it was wonky, that I’ve been enjoying doing our little live NaNo updates, which you can find Monday through Friday, 9 PM Eastern on our Facebook page. It’s been nice connecting with some people, getting some feedback and comments from them. Overall, I’ve enjoyed our first week of doing that.

Will: Cool. Good. I’m not feeling it at all. I don’t want to talk about any of this stuff because… Let’s be perfectly honest, I am a white, cisgendered American male, and I do not want to talk about my failures in front of people.

Jeff: And yet he did so this week on the Facebook stuff, so that was, I thought, pretty cool. As I told Will while he’s like, am “I even contributing to this?” I’m like, I think you are, because there are other people who are in the exact same NaNoWriMo boat that you’re in. They really want to do it and they haven’t been able to pull the trigger yet.

Will: So here’s the thing. I do think honesty is important, and in sharing my particular struggles, even if I can’t quantify why I’m struggling, I think being open and honest is, in its own small way, helpful. Even if it is, you know, tinged with schadenfreude or whatever. You can all watch those videos and say, well at least I don’t have it as bad as Will.

Jeff: There you go.

Will: I had a really strange, wonky week as well. It was kind of filled with ups and downs. And if you’ve been keeping tabs on our live videos on our Facebook channel, I have not generated any words during the very first week of NaNoWriMo 2019, which shouldn’t honestly be particularly surprising.

I don’t know what I was thinking, because honestly I had not changed a single thing. Going into this year’s NaNoWriMo, I thought I could just charge forth and slay the challenge blindfolded. That’s never been the case in the past. I haven’t changed anything or prepared in any way, shape or form.

So the fact that I thought I could do NaNoWriMo without changing a single thing either speaks to my eternal optimism or my blanket stupidity. Who knows? It’s probably a little bit of both.

Jeff: I was gonna say it’s somewhere in the middle. I think some of the things that you’ve looked at this week that we’ll be talking about here in a few minutes might help you get into the right space for this coming week and the rest of the month.

Before we dive into that though, I want to give one more shout out for this week. Our dear friend Racahel Herron wrote the cover story for the December 2019 issue of “The Writer” magazine. It’s called “For Love and Money,” and it’s about how she brings home six figures without a day job and how you can too. She really breaks down here the difficult ways to get it, such as getting a six figure advance, which of course in these days of publishing very few if anybody’s getting that. Then she breaks down how she does it, what her multiple streams of income are and how she’s utilized those to get to this six-figure place she’s in. Plus she gives some great tips on how you can do it too. So as we record this, the December 2019 issue of “The Writer” is on newsstands now and we highly suggest you pick it up cause it’s a great read.

Will: So a quick caveat before we jump into this week’s discussion of mindset. We’re talking about a lot of specific podcasts, videos and blog posts. If you would like links to any of those things and would like to read them or experience them for yourself simply go to the shownotes page for this episode because we’ll have links for absolutely everything.

The first thing I want to talk about this week is a wonderful episode of the “Self Publishing Show,” specifically episode 199. James Blatch interviewed author Sarah Painter, and it’s an absolutely lovely, charming interview. First of all, because Sarah has a very light, lilting Scottish accent, so…

Jeff: Accents make everything better.

Will: …the episode is actually particularly soothing. She talks about her own experience with anxiety and mindset issues around the practice of writing. So that’s very, very helpful. If you are having any anxieties or issues or, maybe writer’s block on any particular project, I think this is a terrific episode to listen to. James and Sarah really get into the idea of comparisonitis for one–not comparing yourself to someone else’s highlight reel.

Jeff: I think that’s so important during NaNoWriMo too, because you see all these people, whether it’s on Facebook or on Twitter or your buddies on the NaNo site who are like, “I did this many words.” “I did this many words.” “I did this many words.” Maybe you didn’t do that many words. Or even if you didn’t do the number of words you thought you wanted to do for the day, that it all kind of compile up in your head.

Will: Yeah. The main theme of the particular episode that we’re talking about was about being kind to yourself. Sarah talks about that there are certain times when the carrot and stick approach will work whenever you’re facing a particular challenge, rather using a positive reward to look forward to or using some form of negative reinforcement to force you to do some thing.

She speaks about those as they might work in the short term, depending on your particular philosophical bent, but eventually as human beings, those types of techniques are going to stop working and you need to learn to be kind to yourself.

What Sarah was saying spoke to me specifically in that I think everyone listening to this is a creative and we experience a lot of negative self talk. I have you certainly experienced this my entire life though I genuinely believe I am an optimist and look at the possibilities that life has to offer. There are still a 47 years worth of negative self talk that I have not learned to…

Jeff: You need to kill that self critic that’s in there, and somehow stab those vampires and put them aside.

Will: Well, that’s all well and good, but when you’ve been doing that for 47 years, it’s sort of hard to get off of that train quite frankly.

So she was talking about being kind with yourself and allowing yourself a certain kind of grace, especially when it comes to creative projects. So I thought this episode of the “Self Publishing Show” with Sarah Painter was particularly helpful, especially this week.

Jeff: Yeah. It sounds like something I might want to listen to because maybe it would help me avoid some of those spirals like I had this week.

Will: Yeah. Part of the being kind idea was using your work or using your art as a way to have fun and to play and to practice. It’s not exactly about the end goal. It’s about enjoying the process. The journey towards your destination, essentially.

Jeff: Right? Because if you don’t enjoy the process, then it’s just, it’s work if you don’t enjoy the process.

One that we listened to together this week that I really enjoyed was “How Do You Write?” episode 149, where Rachael Herron talked to Adrienne Bell. Now a week or two ago, you mentioned in the NaNoWriMo prep, “The Misfits Guide to Writing Romance” where Adrienne was talking about her new project, which was to write hella words in the coming year. I thought this was a tremendous idea because who would not want to write hella words. And in this episode, where “The Misfits Guide” was more about that she’d had this idea, with, “How Do You Write?” Adrienne really broke down with Rachael what the plan here was. There are so many pieces to this that I like. The first one being that hella words is whatever you want it to be. Adrienne has this amazing goal that she wants to write half a million words in the next year. She wrote down the math. If she writes every day, I believe her number was in the 1300s, which is actually less than the NaNoWriMo 1667 that you need to write per day within November to get your 50,000 words. I believe she said that she’s only written about 250,000 words in the past, so she’s really looking to massively up her number of words.

The way that she’s broken it down into what is essentially a bite size nugget is really helpful. I found her eternal optimism and excitement for this made me excited. I know if I sit down and have a writing session, I can come really right on top of 1300 within an hour of dictation and it made it seem like an attainable goal within the realm of what I already tend to do when I’m actually writing.

One of the areas that I know I have issues in, and Rachael talked about this, is that when I’m in revision, it’s very hard for me to write because my brain is very much single, focused on trying to get the thing done that I’m doing. I’m not very good at multiple projects at the same time. I need to try to figure out how to shift my brain so I can get words in a day, but also potentially work on other things, whether it’s business or podcast or book revisions or whatever that thing is.

She’s also growing up a community around the concept of this writing hella words. There’s a website that we’ll put in the show notes for it. There’s a Slack channel where people can join up and talk about their experience as they’re trying to do this, hold each other accountable and, and things like that. So it was, it was a really an interesting podcasts. I enjoyed that we listened to this together because I remember your excitement having heard about it on “Misfits.”

Will: Yeah. I found this particularly inspiring as well. I think it helped me reassess how I am approaching the month of November and whether I’m going to continue NaNoWriMo in a traditional sense or as a NaNo rebel. I’m probably leaning towards the second. If you’d like more information about Adrienne Bell’s write hella words, all you have to do is go to and she’s got all the information about the challenge and the groups that you can join there.

Jeff: Very cool.

And remember, I think this is the key thing, hella words is a self-definition. You don’t have to do the half a million that she’s doing. You could be doing a hundred words a day because that might be the timeframe that you have to get your hella words done.

Will: One of the things I experienced this week that helped me reframe what I was going through creatively was a video called “How I Trick My Brain to Like Doing Hard Things.” And this is from Joey Schweitzer of the Better Ideas channel on YouTube. He mainly talked about two things specifically. One, dreaming is easier than actually implementing frankly anything. That is part of the resistance I have faced my entire life, as specifically around creativity and writing.

It’s frankly much easier to sit on my butt and thinking about being a writer and having written an amazing book and actually kind of doing the thing.

Jeff: I think everybody could find that cause it’s much easier to go, wow, this thing, I have this idea and even imagining that idea turning into a book is a lot easier than sitting in front of the keyboard having to actually generate it.

Will: Which calls back to what Sarah Painter was talking about. Fun and play and enjoying the practice of whatever that may end up being. In the specific instance of this particular video, he was talking about going to the gym on a regular basis and reading more.

He uses the idea of habit stacking, which is the second thing that he focused on in that particular video. When it came to going to the gym, he used listening to a specific type of music as his reward. The only time he could listen to a particular album was when he got up and went to the gym and did that thing. Also he wanted to get smarter and read more books, so he tied that particular new habit to drinking his daily cup of coffee.

He also talks about nebulous goals, specifically getting smarter by reading more books. What does that look like? What does that even mean? So he spent some time talking about deliberate practice and enjoying the journey rather than the destination. I think that’s something that I’ve always particularly had a problem with, especially when it comes to goal setting. It’s wonderful to have a direction in which to go, but that big goal can be a long way off. And if you work at that thing every single day, you’re essentially failing every single day until. One day, poof, you’ve achieved your one thing. That’s just not motivating for most people.

I will say this a thousand more times in the future. I think that’s why smart goals fail for most people and why habit stacking and the ideas in atomic habits are much more reasonable and most more practical for people. That’s what I plan on doing for the rest of 2019 and 2020 is creating a deliberate practice, not necessarily being a writer or working towards a certain level of success with my writing, but just being a person who writes.

Jeff: That makes a lot of sense. The other thing I really appreciated in this video was how he frames things. A lot of us will approach things from not the mindset of abundance. But that we’re missing something. The fact that you need to get smart implies that you’re not smart, so you don’t have the smart.

Will: It’s scarcity mindset versus abundance mindset, and this is a big deal. I think most of us don’t realize that we’re doing it because a scarcity mindset is the default for most Americans. I was thinking about this after I watched the video the very first time. I was thinking scarcity is essentially the default partly because of marketing. As Americans, we are bombarded with marketing messages 24 hours a day, all day, every single day. Scarcity is the cornerstone of American marketing, and I think that has seeped into all aspects of our lives. So I think one of the most important things is realizing that that’s how we filter and view a lot of our lives. And trying to flip that and look at things from an abundance mindset.

Jeff: I hadn’t even really realized it until he laid it out in the video that saying, I am reading to get smart… my brain didn’t even click on it as being scarcity. It was more framed to me as a goal at the time, but that was just wrong.

Will: Well, words have meaning and words have power in saying, well, I’m going to read more books in order to get smarter. That immediately infers that you are not smart. And that’s how you self identify as a person who is not smart and you have to do the work, meaning read more books in order to achieve your goal. It’s like the carrot and stick approach. That may work in the short term, but over time you’re going to probably get real tired of that.

Jeff: But yeah, I really enjoyed Joey’s video and got stuff out of it that I didn’t expect when we started watching it.

Will: One last video, quickly to mention. It’s something that kind of came across my feed this past week was a video from the Corridor Crew. If you don’t know who they are, they’re best known for being a CGI artists and they sit down and they watch bad examples of CGI and movies and they pick it apart and they talk about how they could be done better.

Jeff: Are these the guys that did the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer breakdown?

Will: Yeah, they’re really funny. Really talented guys.

And one of the videos they posted this past week was called “CGI Artist Makes Masterpiece Every Day for 12 Years.” All of the guys in the Corridor Crew we’re really excited because this digital artist, a guy named Beeple was going to come visit them. Beeple has literally made and posted a piece of art every single day for 12 years. So keep in mind, that’s a really damn long time.

Jeff: That’s thousands of pieces of art.

Will: Thousands and thousands. That’s like before even the advent of social media. He’s been doing this for a really long time. They were all excited. It was a really big deal.

Just a quick side note, Beeple really funny and a little bit eccentric as you may expect. He’s sort of nerdy guy in this blue collar shirt, but he walks around swearing like a sailor. It’s the funniest thing ever.

So he gets there and they talk about art and everything and Beeple hasn’t posted his a piece of artwork for the day. So they all sit down. And the challenge is to create a piece of digital art and post it within 45 minutes.

So the video was not only funny and entertaining, but I also think it kind of addresses the idea of play and fun while doing your work. And also the sort of unique, wonderful things that you can create and explore within a specific set of parameters. In this case, they were trying to create art within a specific timeframe.

Jeff: I can’t even imagine, and it actually, it even ties back to something that we saw in Joey’s video where he was talking about John Mayer, who doesn’t even considered that he practices guitar. He just plays guitar because it’s something he enjoys doing so much.

So yeah, that’s kind of our look at. Some things that have come across our feed this week to help with mindset. Certainly the things that I saw helped my mindset and I hope to be in a better place to write even more words next week as I go forward in NaNo. Hopefully they’re going to do some good stuff for you as well.

Will: Exactly.

So guys, quick reminder. If you’d like links to anything we discussed this past week, simply go to the shownotes page for episode 19 at On the shownotes page you’ll also find the links to our individual websites and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Jeff: Speaking of social media, you can follow us on Twitter @biggayauthor or where you’ll find that we’ll share things during the week that catch our attention. Plus, if you want to give us feedback on the show, have suggestions on topics or anything else, you can message us on those platforms or leave comments on the show notes page. And one last thing, be sure to subscribe to this show so you never miss an episode. We’re available anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Will: To wrap things up, I’d like to share a blog post that Dean Wesley Smith did on his website. It actually speaks to some of the things that we have been discussing today. The blog post is entitled “Have Fun!” Here’s what Dean had to say.

[Read “Have Fun!” at]

I think that advice from Dean is worth remembering as we navigate the muddy, difficult, fraught waters of NaNoWriMo during the month of November.

Jeff: I couldn’t agree more.

Will: So guys, what will you create in the next seven days and how will you have fun?

Thank you everyone for listening. We hope you’ll join us again next week. Until then, keep writing.