See you next year, Wrimos.

November is over. You made it Wrimos, congrats. For those of you who stuck with us all the way, we’re proud of you. For those of you who who did not, we’re still proud of you.
No matter where you ended up at the end of your NaNo journey, you are at least a few words closer to a novel than you were when you began.
But no matter what Wrimos. You are all amazing. You stayed dedicated to something for a whole month. A whole month of writing. A whole month of community. A whole month of supporting your fellow authors, of brainstorming, writer’s block, killing your darlings and caffeine highs.
A whole month of thinking of something great, of something you love.
We can’t wait to see you again next year.


Don’t forget to save!

We’ve all experienced the tragedy of word loss. Typing along, as happy as can be when suddenly, a catastrophe of some sort happens—the writing program crashes, the cat spills tea on our journal, we drop our phone into the river—and those words are wiped from the face of the earth.

Backing your words up in multiple places (along with saving often) is a very important part of nanowrimo. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read about someone getting more than halfway into their novel, only to suddenly lose it to hardware failure, or dog teeth, or any of the myriads of unexpected ways you can lose a novel.

So this is a weekly reminder to all of you to:

1) Those of you that are working on something and haven’t saved in hours, do it now (I know you’re out there!)

2) Immediately back your novel up on google drive, a flash drive, or email it to yourself, photocopy it, print it out, or whatever else you can think of to save it, and

3) Don’t forget to take a moment and make a list of all the things you’re thankful for this week.

Thank you for being awesome Wrimos, and good luck as you race to the finish! (No really, SAVE NOW!)

Nanowrimo and self-care

Wrimos, we are halfway through the month. How are you feeling? If you are still chugging along, no matter how slowly, give yourself a hug, you’ve earned it! For those of you who are considering giving up, or have not written in a few days (or even since the first day), that’s ok! Even if you don’t make your final word goal, you still have half a month to write many more wonderful words than what you started with. You have all gone further than the person that never started Nano!
But, this wouldn’t be a pep talk if there wasn’t a deeper issue to address here.
Today’s topic is self-care during Nano, which is most important when it comes to our mental health, especially when we start getting further into this grueling month. Most of the time, Nano will go off without a hitch—you’ll write your novel, be challenged, meet some neat people, and learn some amazing things along the way. But sometimes, especially for veterans, expectations start to build and we can put too much pressure on ourselves to live our daily lives, with all its stressors, and excel at the ridiculous goals we set for ourselves during Nano.
Well, I know this may sound counterintuitive to the spirit of the month to say this, but if you are stressing out over your word count, having anxiety, panic attacks or any other sort of negative emotions rising from this event—step away. This is supposed to be a fun writing event; NaNoWriMo is about the spirit of the joy in the challenge of writing a novel in 30 days, not the pain in the hardship or driving yourself to agony.
So step away from your novel. You need to rest. Your novel will be there when you return, but your mental and physical health is important and damage done can sometimes be permanent.
If any of you are having issues, feeling irritable, tired, lashing out, panicky, anxious or a myriad of other symptoms, I have some homework for you.
When you get home, put your writing materials away—no, you can’t take notes or outline either—and make a cup of your favorite beverage. Now pick your favorite activity that is anything other than writing.
Work out.
Play games.
Play with a pet.
Play with your kids.
Watch TV or a movie.
Get your mind off your novel and do something relaxing.
Those of you feeling guilty that you’re falling behind, or that you’re not keeping up with your word counts and can’t relax, ask yourself this: if you don’t enjoy it, or aren’t having fun, then why are you doing it in the first place?
Those word goals are just arbitrary numbers in the end. Yes, they normally represent something that is amazing, but no one at HQ, and none of your MLs would be happy in the knowledge that someone is unhappy and the cause is Nano.
So if you are feeling undue pressure because your word count hasn’t gone up in a few days, you’re starting to feel anxious because your novel only has a few thousand words, or you’re afraid of breaking your writing streak so you stay up three extra hours to get your words in and wake up sleepy, relax. No one will think any less of you for taking care of yourself. Slow down and remember what it’s like to get lost in the novel, not in the pressure.
For those of you on your merry way, carry on. The rest of us will catch up when we catch our breath.

Story block

You’re seven days deep into your novel. Things are going splendid! Making your word goals—exceeding them even—when suddenly, you can’t seem to write a full sentence to save your characters life. You’ve reached sudden story burnout! We’ve all been there (or will be there) at some time or another. So how do we combat this?

There are usually a few reasons why we reach that roadblock—10k in and the shiny newness wears off, or we’re so mired in meandering trails we can’t figure out where the story is going and interest is flagging. Here are some symptoms and how to combat them!

Issue) Your story has you so confused and meandering you can’t figure out which way is up. Or down. Or sideways.
Solution) Sometimes pantsers and plantsers and plotters know what kind of writer they are from the get-go. But if you are working on your first novel, or this is your third and you can never seem to get more than a ¼ or halfway through a novel before getting so tangled you are forced to throw your hands up in defeat, consider taking the time to plot out a few points of your novel. I personally have a journal this year that I’m jotting down notes in, and then backing up digitally when I get enough notes to substantially write down. Physically writing your notes down not only gives you a visual reference for your plot, characters and world, but also the added benefit of sensory input. After all, the act of writing things down will help you remember it better than just typing it on a keyboard.

Issue) Figure out how you currently feel about your story. Are you bored with the plot? Characters inconsistent? Pacing is too slow?
Solution) Change things up. Its ok to rip characters from their pages, or completely repaint settings. Throw a wrench into the system with a plot twist or an unexpected character introduction. If you’re bored with your story already, it’s likely that your reader will be too. Prompts and twists will liven your story up not only for your potential reader, but also for you. If you’re bored with parts of your novel, it’s completely fine to abandon or change it. Nano is all about finishing the novel you set out to write, but if you’re not interested in it, or engaged, then that might not happen. Finding ways to get the story written is what this month is about.

Issue) Complete and utter lack of motivation or inspiration. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles an author can face. You have the time, you might even have the ideas or a vague urge to write, but the drive—the “why”—has gone from your writing.
Solution) Sometimes the answer to your problem is to just force it. In fact, that’s what I encourage you to do. Which may sound counterintuitive to all the other things that I just talked about, but when all else fails and you’re stuck with what seems like absolutely zero will to write, sometimes just making yourself write down one word at a time—even in the most banal and lackluster way—can often make way to that one sentence that sparks the flames of inspiration and motivation. Take a look at this pep-talk for example. I definitely did not wake up this morning with the motivation to write it (or anything really). But as soon as I started putting finger to keys, I had things I needed to say and the words slowly spilled out.

The biggest point to remember about nano, you are writing a first draft and will most certainly be going back to edit something anyway, so writing your best words the first time isn’t necessary. As long as you can get your story out and into the world, you will be the nano champion we know you can be.

Of Pinterest, Spotify, and a whole lot of coffee

Greetings Wrimos! Its that time of the year again. When it starts to get a little chilly in the northern hemisphere. The sky is hazy and the air a little drizzly. The halloween candy is taunting you from the other side of the room. The calendar ticks to that giant Nov. 1. Its Nanowrimo. Bring it on.

So, when I’m prepping for nano, I like to get sidetracked. Like, constantly. I’m always off in definitely-not-the-story-I-should-be-working-on or some other such place. So I find there area few different techniques or strategies or other sorts of trickery I’ve collected in my toolbox over the years to help reign in my overly exuberant attention span and get you prepped for nano.

1) Visual boards. Pinterest in particular. Yeah, you read me. Pinterest. I definitely have an addiction to pinning things. I had to make two accounts, one for my books and one for the other random things in my life so that my account didn’t have too much of an identity crisis after my thousandth pin. But each of my novels has a visual board, and you can tell immediately, each one has a theme, a look, a “feel”. You don’t have to use an app, you can print off images or cut them out of magazines, whatever catches your fancy and imagination. Try it if you haven’t, it’s fun *and* inspirational (just don’t procrastinate too long).

2) Music. I often write to music. I usually make a playlist for each new novel I start, and sometimes I make multiple ones for different moods. Royalty-free music is sorely underappreciated when it comes to lyricless music, and you can listen to music on a huge array of free platforms now, from spotify to pandora to youtube. If music doesn’t strike your fancy, ambient sound apps are an equally nice choice, and many now have customizable sounds and atmospheric noises that give you the ability to create your own perfect auditory writers retreat.

3) Work-space. Cleaning my workspace is another odd habit I find that either gets me back into writing in no time, or gets me a really clean desk, and serves as both a distraction and a deterrent to procrastination, depending on how dirty my desk is. This definitely won’t work for everyone, but more often than not, I would rather go back to writing after five minutes than keep cleaning.

4) Stay hydrated. And last but not least, keep your brain lubricated! Water, tea, coffee or what-have-you, keep a drink in hand (though your body will thank you if its the cold clear stuff). You’ll be better able to write up a storm with a clear, hydrated mind.

I hope these help you get a little more focused on your mad-dash to 50k. Good luck!


Over the Rainbows

Have some Montana Rainbows to brighten up your evening 🙂

Lost Gods

Image Prompt. 30 Minutes

[ ]

Isla could always see them, hovering on the outside of her vision, hungrily waiting to emerge from slumber. She didn’t understand how she knew, but she always had. The gods from long ago, waiting for the word to break, that they may tear free from their slumber.

“Time for dinner honey,” Islas mother called to her. She had been watching the sea again.

Shapes swayed just on the outside of her vision, always eluding her when she turned to look at them. Ever just out of view. Her mother smiled in the distance.

“Come on, you can come back after we eat.”

Isla scuffed her tiny feet and kicked pebbles as she headed for the simple house with its pointed roof. Sometimes the flicker was little more than a thin shadow, but today was not one of those days as the constant flickering caused her eyes to constantly dart around. Her mother’s warm smile greeted her at the door and a soft had caressed her blue black tresses.

To her dismay and alarm, the flickers suddenly faded.

“Go wash your han—“

A sudden, violent shaking rocked the earth threw them down. Isla sat back hard, glad she hadn’t been standing on the steps. Her mother tumbled off the stairs and landed in the rock-littered sand with a sickening thud.

“No, they can’t have you,” her mother groaned and the tiny girl looked over, searching her mother’s horrified expression and the hand that she held over the gash on her head. She was watching the sea. Isla looked behind her, at the world shredded and cracked sea. Isla smiled.

She heard her mother’s sharp intake of breath as she stood up, adjusting her bright red raincoat and walking towards the vast expanse of water.

“No, Isla, not yet. Don’t leave me yet. You can’t go back!”

She left her mother in the sand, clutching crimson stained skin. She felt a tug, an unbearably urgent need to move towards the writhing mass that had erupted from the water. The voice shouting her name faded and now she could only see the great gods, emerging from their slumber.

Forging ahead, skipping from rock to rock with uncanny balance, she neared the edge, as far as she could go without being swept into the water. She waited, watching the last of the sun dip itself behind earth and clouds and sending fire to bathe the last of what it touched. She reached the last rocky outcropping before the sea swallowed the remainder.

She waited, arms outstretched, for Gods that were no longer flickers in her vision to take her home. She waited, welcoming them with open arms and a smile.