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NaNo

NaNo- NOT!

books-690219_1280NaNoWriMo, NaNo for short, is a non-profit organization that organizes  the month-long write in to encourage participants to tell their story. The goal is to sit and write 1,167 each day with the hopes of developing a lifelong habit. So each November thousands of people work hard towards an almost impossible goal; write 50,000 words towards a novel. I say “almost impossible” because I have done it twice. But this year… well… it just didn’t happen and that’s ok.

We are committed to creating real-life, vibrant, literate communities. (NaNo website)

I tried to prepare myself mentally, by creating outlines and several character sketches. I researched the best notebook to use and if it was better to write longhand or type it all in a computer. I got the NaNo book, No Plot? No Problem and read every word. (It’s a good book, by the way). I thought I cleared my schedule. I even arranged to be away from the kids for a week to visit one of the most literary towns, New York. I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but I just couldn’t get behind anything. I had some great ideas, but none of them screamed at me in the middle of the night. I wish I knew some spell or I could flick my wand and make everything better (maybe that would be something like “Expecto Justdoit”). 

I suppose I could come up with several good excuses, but November is over and like I tell my children I have two choices. I can continue in whatever funk I’m in or I can try to move beyond it. I first need to except that for me writing is not just a matter of sitting at a desk and writing or typing a random collection of letters to create sentences. For me, it feels like I always write in blood and I expose a little part of my soul each time. Even writing the posts for this blog feels over personal sometimes. I have to take the “I” out of “WRITE”.

What?!

No, I am not creating new words nor am I trying to create the next viral meme. I just need to stop taking everything so personal and worrying about what everyone will think. I have read so much about the art of writing, it is no longer fun. I focus too much on choosing the right word, creating a smooth flow of events, and developing strong characters. Writing has become more work than anything else.

That is why NaNo didn’t happen for me this year- analysis paralysis. There’s too much information about how to write and each person claims that their information is THE WAY. Now please don’t get me wrong. I think it is important to increase my knowledge in the craft, but it gets to be too much. I think I need to slowly back away from the huge stack of writing books on my desk and the even bigger collection of writing links I have saved.

One of the best parts of this blog is reading great stories. The authors who share their books with me have stories inside them that need to come out and all of them have done the one thing I’ve wanted to do since I was in the second grade. I think each of them, and every author for that matter, has done something that seems almost impossible for me to do and that is each of them have just let go and opened themselves up to share their story. Don’t really know why it is so hard for me to completely let go and just go for it. If I had to make a guess, I would say that it stems from my fear of losing control. But what would happen if I let my characters and my stories take control and just followed along? Would I finally be able to write that book?

So like I said before, I have two choices; continue down this road of not getting any writing done or fix it. I don’t think I have an instant fix, but this NaNo I did take a good look at how I spend my time. I discovered that doing homeschool in the morning right after I exercised actually gave me a bigger chunk of time to work rather than working a few hours in the morning, then homeschool, then working again. That system has too many transitions. I now make sure there is time in my schedule to exercise. I think better for longer periods when I exercise on a regular basis.

I plan on setting “the book” aside for a little bit and focusing more of short stories and flash fiction. I think the instant gratification these shorter pieces provide will motivate me more. I’m still addicted to writing books. I just bought James Scott Bell’s new book, How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing CareerI justify it by claiming that seems to fall into my new plan, but really? I guess for some people it’s shoes and for me, it’s writing books.

Maybe by preparing for NaNo 2017 now, I’ll do better. It’s a shame it didn’t work out this year, though- I really liked the t-shirts.

Twas the Night Before NaNoWriMo

once-upon-a-time-719174_1920Twas the night before NaNoWriMo

When all through my house

My family was sleeping

While I found my muse to arouse

I thought I was prepared

I thought I knew

But 50,000 words

Oh man, I’m screw(ed)

My snowflakes were aligned

My outline, clear as a Bell

I’d consulted the Masters

And dug deep in the Patterson well.

There was now way I could Butcher this.

For my Moleskine was in hand

I declared

I’m the King of this land.

So for the next 30 days

I’ll follow my plan

I think my main character

Will have A Tan

No matter what

It’s the fun of it all

Whether I fly cross the finish line

Or end in a crawl

Oh, by the way, have you seen my pants?

 

10 Reasons All Book Lovers Should Do NaNo

typewriter-1240422-1280x8501. To see your name on a book that someone else reads.
2. To appreciate what goes into putting a book together.
3. Ya know you have a story inside of you that needs to come out.
4. Rogue 1 won’t be out until after NaNo.
5. It’s fun.
6. All the cool kids are doing it.
7. You will  fall more in love  with books.
8. Learn about new genres.
9. It will feel great when your book club reviews your book.
10. Nothing beats the thrill of setting a big goal and nailing it. 

Writing with Friends is Way More Fun

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In September 2014, my husband and I enjoyed a small piece of quiet between dinner and bedtime. This doesn’t happen often, but we’ve had the best talks during these stolen moments of time. During this one, I lamented, again, to my husband how much I hated my job. I worked as an assistant manager for a popular convenience store. I fantasized about poking my own eyes out so I wouldn’t have to go. I took this job out of necessity but really didn’t need it anymore. I was good and there were pretty big hints about letting me manage my own store. I enjoyed the idea of being in control, but really hated the work that went with it. So my husband asked me, “Well, what do you really want to do?” I told him I wanted to write a book more than anything. He encouraged me to do what I needed to do and so I quit the next month. I discovered this little thing called NaNoWriMo and I’ve never looked back.

That first NaNo showed me just how hard it was to actually write a book, but it also introduced me to a group of local people who met two times a month to learn about writing. The group had been meeting for awhile before I joined. I was scared the first time I went. I just about had a heart attack when the moderator asked me to read something that first day. I went back the next time and since then I’ve only missed once.

Joining Prolific Pens, has been one of the best things I’ve done in my writing career. I love going and move heaven and earth to make sure I get there. Some writing groups are more critic groups. Each participant writes, shares, and critiques. The group I belong to does that and more. That is what every writer needs. We spend as much time, if not more on learning the craft of writing and how to apply it to what we are writing.

Each of the main branch libraries here host some kind of writing group and there are several run through “Meet-Up”. If you do not live close to a group, find one the Internet. Internet groups are a little harder to break into because so much is left open for interpretation. What is meant as helpful genuine critique can be seen as mean and flipped when reading on the Internet. It is important to give more than you want to get, if you join an Internet group. Connections make writing groups more successful.

Writing in isolation is equivalent to playing chess by yourself. It is possible, but doesn’t seem to be much fun or challenging. Learning to give and receive criticism has helped me a lot. Overcoming fear of reading aloud has made me a bolder writer. Collaborating is exhilarating. For me, it is a type of group therapy.

My advice to any writer out there is FIND A TRIBE; BUILD A SUPPORT GROUP. These people will become your friends, your mentors, and sometimes will be the first people in line to buy your book.