Posted in General

On NaNo Prep

If you’re feeling like November is breathing down your neck already, you’re not alone. There’s two weeks left before November first arrives, and with it, NaNoWriMo. That’s something I didn’t realize until sitting down to write this post. Time to complete any necessary NaNo Prep is running out.

Much as I like to write without a plan, it’s important to remember that NaNo is a marathon, not a print. Doing it without any sort of plan is possible, but not recommended. Doing it with zero preparation is absolutely inadvisable.

That leaves only a few options.

Option A, rush through and try to get outlines, character arcs and research done in two weeks. While doable, unloading a ton of energy into just preparing may not leave you enough energy to pour into the actual writing. Secondly, a rush job might leave holes later that need closing up, potentially dragging out the editing portion.

Option B is to hodgepodge things together. A vague outline or a couple of free writes might be enough. In the spirt of Rebel Wrimos, this is also a good place to decide once and for all that you’re going to do That project you keep putting off or finish This novel that you’ve been creeping through. It might mean you spend these last days making notes on what’s happened so far, and ideas of what’s coming up. It’s good for those who can flex well or have works-in-progress they want to put fifty-thousand words towards.

Option C is to dive into the story without a plan. That’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, and it will make your NaNo harder. It’s not something I’d recommend if this is a first attempt at NaNo. If however, you know your personal process well enough and if you’re already brimming with ideas, this is more than possible. It means rather than plotting or developing characters, your focus on the next two weeks is in filling your creative well with as many ideas as possible. Building playlists or creating mood boards is a good way to help with that for the hardcore pantsers.

Regardless of how detailed your plan is, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of work over the next thirty days. That includes making sure you have time dedicated to writing. If you haven’t told your family or friends about it, do it now! Today!

This is also a good time to clean out your space if you need to. Having a clean and fresh space to work from can help you focus on the task ahead, rather than getting distracted.

Finally, make sure you are taken care of. If that means setting up a reminder on your phone to get up and get some water, do so. Get a writing buddy that will also challenge you to stand up and stretch every thirty minutes or so.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo? What’s your plan for November? Let me know in the comments!


Posted in Exercises, Stories

Setting Up a Challenge

With the last few days of March approaching, I’ve been looking towards things I want to do for April. Because I have a tendency to get distracted by new ideas, I’m trying to limit myself to three new project months a year. That should be April, July and November. These nicely sync up with the usual NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo events. Over the last couple of months however, I noticed that while I have a several ideas for larger works, I don’t have too many for shorter ones.

So, for April, I decided I wanted to challenge myself (of course, you are more than welcome and heartily invited to participate as well). For April, I want to try and write thirty short stories.

‘Short story’ tends to be a broad spectrum. From hundred words drabbles to a ten thousand word exploration, there’s a lot of ground to cover in ‘short story’. That’s part of why I find the idea so appealing. It’s a good way to explore new characters and ideas and to get other ideas moving and working.

On the other hand, that broad of an interpretation leaves me open to falling behind if I end up stuck on a short story that does end up being ten thousand words.

To keep myself from getting mired in a pit of a longer story, I’ve decided on two requirements:

  1. Write a total of 30 short stories by April 30th
  2. Shorts should not exceed 5,000.

That still leaves plenty of space to get everything done, if say I have a bad writing day and don’t manage to get anything written. I have a chance to catch up on the next good day if I can instead write two flash pieces or a couple of drabbles.

Just in case I get stuck, I’ve also come up with thirty lists of between three and seven words to help spark something should I need to. The idea is that if I don’t have any ideas already, I should challenge myself to write a story including all of the words on that day’s list. If you want to check out the list of words, you can do so here: 30DayShortsApril2020.

Are you up for a challenge?

Posted in blogging

November Recap

There’s less than a week left in November, and here in the US, the preparations for our Thanksgiving are underway. This year, it falls on the twenty-eighth, which makes things a little more hectic.

As a recap on how my November went: Although I won NaNo, I didn’t end up writing as much as I would have liked. I’m hoping I get a better answer for how to tackle the dual problem of less time and too many ideas for the Camps during 2020. Given how things keep changing, there’s also a possibility I won’t need to worry about it.

Once I switched over to projects that had some basis behind them already, things went smoother. I’ve written several new shorts and I have one more short story to post here. At the moment I’m making finishing edits on it and getting an image together.

Popping over to long-term projects, Crimson and Gold has gone through one last round of grammar and spell checks and I’ve got the cover about 75% done. Check back a little later in December for more news on the launch and a cover reveal.

On a more blog-related note: I’m in the process of making some other updates to go along with the update to my prompts launching in December. Some of the smaller things include updating my about page, some of the layout and a few other tweaks. All of those should be live and rolled out by the thirtieth.

There’s already a lot to do for December, so I’m trying not to stress too much about picking a main project.

How was your November? Any plans for the next month?

Posted in Exercises, General, writing

Mid-NaNo Struggles

Confession time: I haven’t worked on my NaNoWriMo projects for the last three or four days. Despite how excited I was for NaNo this year, a lot of the excitement wore off relatively quickly.

For one, my schedule in real life is packed, and very little of it can be ignored until later. For another, I’ve run into a problem where I have so many new ideas I want to work on and get started during NaNo that I’m struggling to stay focused on any one at a time.

Neither of those are insurmountable by themselves. I’ve noted before that I can write quickly, so I’m in no way concerned about ‘winning’ NaNo even with less time to dedicate to it than I usually have. As for the projects, the hardest part seems to be picking and choosing a project to stay focused on–which is again, where being able to write fast comes in hand. An hour or two might give me enough material that when I lose focus I can re-orientate myself with a quick skim.

That however, is addressing both sides of the struggle by themselves. Combined, it gets a little more complicated. I don’t always have an hour or two to get words down, and when I do, it’s also balancing things like writing a post or putting together an image for a short story. That might mean I only have a few minutes left in any dedicated hour to try and get something written, which might not be enough.

I knew going into this month that I was going to be a Rebel this year. While this should be all-new material, I opted not to work on a singular novel. I’d aimed instead to complete four novellas and perhaps some longer short stories. To that end, I’ve done one novella and two stories under 10k each. Getting started and finding a groove for brand new ideas is difficult.

Which is why for the last couple of days, I’ve been taking a new look at all the ideas I had jotted down to work on this month. Some of them are spin-offs from other short stories, which spun into larger works. Several of them are connected through worldbuilding and setting elements.

Knowing that part of the problem I’m having is based on lack of inspiration because I’m trying to get new ideas down to help flesh them out, tacking the dual problem of ‘not enough time’ and ‘too many new ideas’ means taking out one side of the equation. As I said above, by themselves, they’re not hard to solve. An hour or two’s worth of material adds up (for me) to be around three thousand words.

Which, means on stories that are connected through worldbuilding and character spin-offs, I probably have more than just three thousand.

These are still new ideas, but by choosing to focus on ideas that already have all the groundwork laid out like characters and setting, I’m hoping the last half of the month turns out to be a little more productive.

How are you handling your NaNo struggles?

Posted in Exercises, writing

The Great NaNo Kickoff

NaNoWriMo is officially here! I’m excited to dive in and start writing. One thing I’ve learned from previous years however, is that getting started can be the hardest thing to do, especially for the beginning scenes. That might be because you’re not sure what to put down to start, or because you’re not sure where your beginning scene is. My advice:

Forget about getting it ‘right’. It would be very unlikely that at the end of thirty days of writing you have a perfect draft. This does not have to be ‘right’ it just has to be written.

So, start with a reminder that it’s okay to be wrong. If you’re anything like I am, I know that seems like a horrifying thought, especially for the starting scene. It’s the most important scene in the book, it has to start the plot, intro the characters, build the setting—

Which, by the way, all of your scenes should be doing. They should be moving characters and plot, and solidifying setting. The only reason so much extra importance gets put on your starting scene is because that’s the one readers will see first. Here’s the thing: this only a draft. You are the only reader. You don’t have to impress yourself. You already know this is a good story, that’s why you’re writing it.

If you have to, put up a sticky note with some of your favorite quotes on first drafts from writers you admire. Or, write yourself a note. I set my computer background up as a reminder that the most important thing is getting the words down.

Another way you can help get yourself started is to try freewriting for five minutes, and build based off your freewrite. I’ve found this especially helpful as a pantser because in those five minutes of sheer writing, anything goes. Want a character to wear a clown costume for that five minutes? Stick them in a clown costume. Don’t have a name for the Important Plot Device, then call it the Important Plot Device. Five minutes will give you at least a couple of sentences, which is all you need to get started.

Finally, if you’re still not sure, then don’t worry about writing the ‘starting’ scene. Just write the scene you know the best. Writing doesn’t have to be linear. You can skip around. Write this scene, write the one near the end, come back to write the scene before the climax.

Regardless of what you do to start, even a few words is a step in the right direction. Here’s to hoping your month of writing goes well and you find the words easily. Happy NaNo!