Hump Day Prompt #1: Your Hero’s Spirit Animal

Hump Day Writing Prompt- What is your hero's spirit animal-

I thought we’d try a new feature here that crosses over to our Facebook page. Any excuse to put your butt in a chair and write, and connect with the Ninjas, right?


So every Wednesday, I’ll post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

This week’s prompt:

Write about your main character’s spirit animal.

My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern-day Las Vegas. Rob Huntington’s spirit animal was hard for me to figure out. Rob is aristocratic, in that way that American children of privilege tend to be. But he’s also clever and resourceful, and when push comes to shove, he rises up and becomes a leader. I thought maybe his spirit animal was a peacock–something proud and beautiful, but ultimately a peacock isn’t very useful beyond being nice to look at. I finally settled on a dog. Not just any dog though. A pure-bred dog. And not just any pure-bred dog, either. A pure-bred working dog. Like a German Shepherd who works with the police or a Golden Retriever who works as a service animal. Beautiful, high-born, but hard-working and useful, too.

Your turn! Come share with us on our Facebook page. I can’t wait to read what you come up with.

If you click the little ‘get notifications’ tab on the right side of your screen, you’ll get a notice when the next Hump Day Prompt goes live.


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Ninja Writers Academy: Putting Your Inner Editor in Their Place

The Ninja Writers Academy: Putting Your Inner Editor in Their Place. Come learn how the Blythe Assignment can help you learn to deal with the voice inside your head that insists that you're a fraud.

Since I’m deep in revision at the moment, I thought this was a great time to talk to you Ninjas about your inner editor.

Your inner editor is that voice inside your head that tells you that your sentence isn’t perfect enough, your story is stupid, you’re a complete hack–a total fraud–and what exactly do you think you’re doing anyway, writing down your stupid story full of imperfect sentences?

Your inner editor will try to convince you, when you’re working on your first draft, to leave the writing to the professionals.

You have one of those, right? I know you do. I have one, too. Every writer comes with one, standard.

Today I’m going to teach you my trick for coping with mine.

First though, let me tell you something that’s super important.

You actually need an inner editor, so you don’t want to make yours go away completely. It’s only when that voice kicks in too soon that things go pear-shaped. When your first draft is finished and you need to look at your story with a critical eye? That’s when you can invite that editor out to play. And I promise, when the time is right, it won’t be so awful having that voice around.

The Blythe Assignment

Today I want you to personify your inner editor.

Seriously, go ahead and give them a name.

Mine is Blythe. She’s middle-aged and too made up, a bottle blonde, kind of trying too hard not to be frumpy in a weirdly Gothic way. She’s also super smart and really knows her stuff, but she can be a bitch about it. She’s kind of a cross between Mrs. Havisham and Joey’s agent on Friends. Remember her?


Now, I want you to give your inner editor a safe place to live when they aren’t working.

Blythe lives in a gold cage in my head. Like a bird cage, with a pretty lavender velvet cover that keeps her quiet until I need to bring her out to do her stuff.

When I’m in revision, and actually need Blythe, she doesn’t have time to tell me that I suck or that if I’m not careful everyone on Earth will realize what a Grade-A fraud I am. She’s too busy doing what she’s really good at–making my story shine.

Here’s what I want you to do: get out your notebook and free write about your inner editor. Give them a name and a description–and then imagine how you’ll keep them in line inside your own head. You can borrow my bird cage, or maybe you need a well to lower them down. Or an underwater palace for them to live in with their Mermaid wife. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s something that lets you imagine having control over when they come out and when they stay locked up.

Remember, when you’re drafting your Blythe needs to be on lockdown. When you’re revising, let them out to do their job. And, always, always, always, YOU are in charge.

Your Turn

Come on over to the Ninja Writers’ Facebook group and introduce us to your inner editor. Tell us about how you keep them in line in their off time. I’ll be around the Facebook group tomorrow (3/27) from noon to 1 p.m. PST for office hours if you have any questions about how to control your Blythe.

Want to join the Ninja Writer’s Academy? Click here to get notification when the next lesson goes live. Members get a PDF of every assignment.

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The Ninja Writers Academy

Ninja Writers Academy: If you have a story to tell and the ability to tell it well, you can change the world. Come learn how to tell it well.

Ninja Writers Academy

Get an assignment on Saturday, share your work in our Facebook Group for feedback, then come back on Sunday for office hours. Are you in?

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The Ninja Writers Academy is completely free.

Imagine blog posts, only interactive and full of way, way more awesome.

Here’s how it works.

–Most Saturdays (I won’t say every, because life and soccer tournaments happen, you know? But, definitely MOST) I’ll post a lesson here.

–You can take it in, ponder it, maybe produce a little work. If you want to share what you’ve done, come on over to the Ninja Writer’s private Facebook group. Trust me, you will LOVE it there. Post what you’ve come up with. Comment on other people’s posts.

–Then, on Sunday afternoons I’ll hold office hours. I’ll be online a specific time for an hour and we can talk, you can ask questions, I’ll answer them.

How fun does that sound? Seriously fun, right?

This is not going to be a high-stress, turn-in-your-assignment type thing. It’s a low-key, super supportive way to learn a little something. The lessons will have a PDF version that you can print out and stick in a binder, so after a while you’ll have a bunch of them you can refer back to.

It’s also a good reason to put your butt in your chair on a Saturday and work.

And one more excuse for Ninja Writers to activate.

Are you in? If you want me to shoot you an email on Saturday mornings when the posts go live, just fill out the form below.

Ninja Writers Academy

Get an assignment on Saturday, share your work in our Facebook Group for feedback, then come back on Sunday for office hours. Are you in?

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How to Be a Ninja Writer

Ninja Writers Manifesto: Ninja Writers start, we persevere, we finish. Are you a Ninja Writer?


There are a lot of people in the world who would like to write a book some day.

Ninja Writers are the ones who get it done. Ninja Writers actually start. We push through. We finish.

We keep going, even when we feel like frauds.

We learn, when we aren’t sure how to do our stories justice.

We are more than a community.

We’re a revolution.

We believe that stories are important. They matter. They can change the world.

In fact, we know that stories are really the only thing that ever really has.

Being a Ninja Writer is the difference between dreaming about being a writer, and actually being one. There are three steps to being a Ninja Writer. Are you ready to take them?

Click here to download the Ninja Writer Manifesto.

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Accountability 101: Give Yourself a Gold Star

CLICK HERE + download my favorite accountability tool

When it comes to writing, productivity and being able to stay on task through a very long process is KEY. Here's how I do it. It works like a charm, every time.

Dear Ninja Writer,

Sometimes I feel like I should have “if you want to be a published author, you have to finish” tattooed on my forehead. That’s kind of long though, and it might look weird on dust jacket pictures–so I’ll just have to settle for saying it over and over again.

If you want to be a published author, Ninja Writer, you MUST finish your first draft. There is no way around it.

I want to share with you my favorite accountability tool for getting that done. It’s something so simple, you learned to respond to it in kindergarten.

Give yourself a gold star every day.

Victoria Schwab is a YA author who has a deliciously simple strategy for keeping herself motivated to write, and keeping track of her daily word count goals. It’s so easy and so effective. I wish I’d thought of it years ago.

All you need is a calendar and a pack of small stickers. I like the nostalgia of stars, but use whatever works for you. I think Victoria uses owls in her video, which I’ll link to below.

Seriously, all you do is write your goal on the calendar. I do it every morning, because I know myself well enough to know that trying to plan ahead in this case will lead to me stalling out if for some reason I can’t do something next Tuesday that I was sure today I could.

When you complete your daily goal you give yourself a sticker.

Victoria made a video about it, because it worked so well that people started asking her about it.

Trust me. Watching that calendar fill up with shiny stars is addictive. You won’t want a gap just because you didn’t feel like working that day. The stickers will be a nice visual reminder to plan your writing time into your week. It’ll give you an incentive to prioritize those hours.

Victoria uses a sticker for every 1000 words and looks to me like she has one or two stickers for just about every day. We’re not writing that fast. Remember, A Novel Idea is the slow road to a finished novel that doesn’t suck. I simplify it even further and just give myself a star for completing whatever the writing task I set for myself that day is. One day, one goal, one sticker. If you wanted to, you could use a sticker for ever 1000 words–that would work if you’re only writing a couple of times a week. Or every 250 words (that’s one double spaced page) or every 500 words.

I personally like the momentum of doing at least something on my book every day when I’m writing one. I’m going to lay down the law right now, though, and say you’re not allowed to feel bad if you’ve decided that you’re only doing to designate two or three nights a week for working on your book. Your goal might be doing a little research, or watching a TV show from your inspiration list (Click here if you’d like that exercise. It’s a good one.)

I want you to promise me that you aren’t going to let missing a sticker derail you. Not completing your goal is a learning experience. It means that you need to work on your time management. Just write tomorrow’s goal in the morning and work for that star. Writers have a tendency to be right-brainers–and I can tell you from deep personal experience that right- brainers have a habit of letting guilt completely derail us.

Not. This. Time.

Say that out loud, Ninja Writer. And mean it. We are all going to finish the first drafts of our Works in Progress. And we’re going to have fun and build community and kick some ass while we’re at it.

So, get yourself a calendar and some gold stars. Today if possible. By far my favorite tool for this kind of accountability is my FRED (that’s a Folder for Reaching the End of my Draft.) It’s just a simple printable calendar and writing log, stapled into a manila folder. Over the course of the month, I use my folder for notes, lists, brain dumping, mind mapping–whatever I need it for. Artistic, super effective, and FUN. You can download your own FRED here. Or use your planner. Or a wall calendar. Whatever will motivate you.

(Note that I didn’t get a star on March 11. I had a weird day and I just didn’t do what I’d planned to do. But I didn’t let it stop me from moving forward.)


Okay, Ninja Writer. Go forth and write good stories. 



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Meet the Writing Planner

Meet The Writing Planner--the only planner designed just for fiction writers. If writing a book is on your list--you need this! Come watch the video to see what's inside.

I’m willing to bet that I’m the most right-brained person you know. Even if you don’t know me, I’m more right-brained than anyone you know. I can (almost) guarantee it.

My head is SO FULL of ideas and I’m constantly starting things with huge amounts of excitement. The trouble is that I have to work really, really, really hard at sticking with something through to the end. If I didn’t do that work, I’d have a million (okay a hundred, at least) half-written novels and nothing publishable. Because publishable = finished.

It’s so easy for my brain to side track me onto the next thing before I’ve finished this thing. So, I have all of these little systems for making sure that when I start a book, I actually finish writing it.

The one thing that has helped me the most when it comes to being a right-brained writer is The Writing Planner. I developed it about two years ago and it has just been the biggest help. It’s like an accountability partner, a log book, a traditional planner, and a story planner all rolled into one awesome package.

Since it’s nearly impossible to adequately describe The Writing Planner to you, I made a little video showing it off. (Be warned, I suck at video. This isn’t a slick, fancy, video. It’s just me, showing you The Writing Planner while I’m sitting at my desk.)

There you have it. The Writing Planner, in all of it’s awesome glory. You can buy one by clicking here. If you’d like to get it at a huge discount, I’d love to send you a coupon code. Just click the yellow button!

Click here to get a big, fat discount on The Writing Planner!

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Want a Spot in A Novel Idea: The Full Course–for Free?

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Hey, Ninja Writers!

I wanted to let you know that you can enter from now until March 25 to win a free spot in the spring session of A Novel Idea: The Full Course (worth $750.)

If you win, you’ll take part in a full year novel-writing adventure. You’ll work with me and the other Ninja Writers as you plan, write, edit, and prepare your first (or next) novel for submission to literary agents.

If writing a novel is on your list for 2016, this is a great opportunity to actually get it done.

As an added bonus, when you enter, you get a lucky URL that you can share with your friends. For every person who signs up using your URL, you get THREE more entries!

If you’d like to enter CLICK HERE.

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Thunderclap Campaign Update

Here are the results of my Thunderclap campaign--crowd sourced social media support for my book Wasted.

First, I want to give you each a big, fat, virtual hug. Thank you for helping me with my Thunderclap experiment. My Thunderclap did go live on March 9, thanks in huge part to you guys.

Sadly, though, it was kind of a big sad-trumpet, meh sort of experience.

Thunderclap is a way to crowd source promotion. You start a campaign (for free), and if at least 100 people sign up to support it, it goes live on a date and time that you choose. Going live means that a message that you wrote goes out on everyone who signed up’s Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account (depending on how they chose to support your project.) This was my message:

“Nominate the dark YA thriller WASTED by Shaunta Grimes on Kindle Scout & get it free when it publishes. #amreading

The link goes to my Kindle Scout campaign, where people can nominate my book WASTED in the hopes of helping it to get published by Amazon.

The end result was that 103 people supported my campaign and the message went out to just over 118,000 people via those 103 social media channels.

I won’t say that Thunderclap was a negative experience. It was super easy to set up. When someone wanted to support it, it took less than ten seconds and zero technical ability to do it. The message went out as it was supposed to.

But, for a few reasons, it wasn’t as I’d hoped it might be.

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