Fear and Repression

low angle view of man standing at night
Photo by Lennart Wittstock on Pexels.com

A lot of fear has been fucking me up recently. I say recently, but I’ve been affected by it since the beginning, I think.

I’ve always been a little odd. A dreamer. Instead of playing with the other kids I made up worlds to live in. When I learned how to read, I also started writing. My first real attempt at writing a novel came when I was in the third grade. What I couldn’t put into words, I put into images, whether paint or crayon or clay. What I couldn’t put into words or images, I put into music, by singing or playing the flute. 

I saw so much potential in the world. I felt deeply about it. Cared about it. But then I was told to put it all away. 

No one can make a living from painting or writing or music, said my parents. Sit down and do as you’re told, said my teachers. Play the way the rest of us do, said my peers. I was harassed and ostracized, isolated from others, and then taken advantage of and hurt even worse when I strayed from the herd.

So I learned to extinguish that which made me me. I learned that to be different is to be offensive and to be offensive is to become vulnerable. I learned to keep my opinions to myself. To keep my emotions in check. To dull my sense of wonder and excitement. This lead to a deep depression and nagging anxiety for my entire life. 

As I grew, I learned new and different ways I didn’t fit in. I’m not straight, I’m not cis, I can’t honestly conform to philosphies and religions around me. My political stances are more extreme than others, and I can’t share any of it lest I, again, become ostracized. 

But what does ostracization mean now? I’m an adult. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and smart enough to see through the lies of snakes. Honestly, I’m fairly isolated anyway, even before this pandemic. I have friends, of course, but I have remained fairly withdrawn from them. I have a spouse, too, but a lot of what I think or feel still tends to go unsaid, if only out of habit.

So here I am, someone who wants to write for a living. Someone who wants to express themselves, their worldview, and their emotions, and then elicit emotions, thoughts and philosophy from their audience, but now…

Who the fuck even am I? What do I actually care about? What am I even feeling right now?

The first thing that comes to mind is grief. I am still so hurt by my dog’s passing, but I don’t mention it to anyone. No more than a, “oh no, it’s fine,” if it gets mentioned. Or I’ll talk about how I only remember the happy times with her now. 

It’s all lies. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my feelings. I didn’t want to appear like I’m an attention-seeker trying to get fake internet points. 

I couldn’t grasp for the longest time why anyone would go online and talk about how they really feel. The only purpose I saw in someone saying how they were sad online was to get pity, likes, money, or all three. But that’s not it, is it? 

There’s definitely some manufactured authenticity out there, of course.. But then there are those who truly are just sharing themselves with the world. Those who know what it’s like to feel completely and utterly alone, who want others like them to know that they aren’t actually alone, just separated by space. Or those who are tired of being alone, and want to reach out to receive vulnerability in kind.

I am slowly finding things out, though. And, now that I’m safely tucked away in my house all the time, I’m gaining confidence in these new findings. I’m realizing that the fear that’s been holding me back has outlived its purpose. 

This fear of rejection for being who I am has stopped me from being anyone. I haven’t cultivated the strength to stand up for others. I haven’t gathered the resources to help anyone else. I haven’t built anything or connected with (nearly) anyone, and I wonder who else has fallen into this trap.

Some of my beliefs or philosophies are childish or under developed as they haven’t had time to be challenged or shaped. I want to share them anyway. Some might be controversial or even offensive to some. I’m slowly learning how to be okay with that, while still open to learning to change. 

I don’t have much else to say right now, except that I’m going to try to change this, starting with taking stock of the emotions I feel on a day to day basis. 

So what is Charlie feeling right now? I’m feeling sadness and grief – not just for my absent fluffball of joy, but for a life poorly lived – and I’m feeling angry that I have to feel sadness and grief for both of those things. I feel a little more bold than usual, hence writing this rambling essay of nonsense, and I’m hoping that I feel just as bold when the time comes to publish it. I feel inspired by my own boldness, hopeful that it will actually help me for the future, and I feel a little narcissistic at being inspired by myself. 

And now I’m chuckling at how completely insane all of this sounds, but feeling just a little more at home in my own skin.

How about you? What are you feeling right now?

NaNoWriMo Week 3: The Second Half

I have officially decided to take the weekends off after melting my brain the first two weeks, so you’ll only see nano updates for Monday through Friday from here on out. I have far more time to write than most other people doing NaNo, so I don’t think that’s going to be too big of an issue. It’s not actually an issue anyway, as I explained last week that I’m going back to basics with the worldbuilding/planning and not really paying too much attention to word count. Or am I? No, really: am I? God, I don’t know. Someone please tell me what to do!

pexels-photo-5939142.jpeg
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

11.16.20

I didn’t want to pay attention to word counts the rest of the time, going back to planning my novel and doing more worldbuilding, etc., but I really took off in writing today and met my new par almost on accident. I noticed I was almost there when I was just 300ish words out from it and still had an idea of what to write next, so I figured: hell, why not? 

The biggest differences today (I think, I’ve just been guessing this whole time honestly), is that I:

  1. took the weekend off.
  2. figured out a way to get deeper into the world I haven’t 1,000% fleshed out yet.
  3. realized that I really needed to just chill the fuck out and have fun writing what I wanted to write and that I could fix it into something more publicly presentable later if I really needed to.

I started off today by freewriting about how I used to have so much fun writing, how I could sit down and easily tap out 5,000 or so words in a day for a story and barely feel it and still have somewhere to go the next day, how I think I might have lost my ability to do this…all things I had been thinking about last night before going to bed, as well. 

Existential doubt is kinda my thing, y’all. 

Anyhow, I was being all whiny in text to myself for about 10 minutes when I realized that I just needed to have some fun. Find a spot in the story I can jump off of, something that sounds like it would be interesting to write, get into the flow of it, and stop fucking worrying about if this person or that person are going to like it. So I found a good mood altering playlist and did exactly that.

Do I like what I wrote? Honestly, I don’t know; I haven’t gone back to read it yet. Did I have fun writing it? Hell. Yes. 

I didn’t get to 5k in a day yet, but that’s okay. I’m still trying to catch up to my original mental stamina. Though this may never happen because I was in my 20s and hopped up on energy drinks all the time. Ah well. I’ll take 2351 words in 3.5 hours any day.

11.17.20

Today was another very successful day at 2,466 words in 2:11. Not bad! This does include a break in the middle somewhere, but no big deal. Again, I haven’t really gone back to read what I wrote, but it was fun while I wrote it. I’ve been listening to some tracks on Youtube of spooky, atmospheric music to match the mood of the scenes I’ve written.

Another thing I haven’t done is update the post it notes on my closet door. They all are written as though I have three extra point of view characters (I’m thinking of keeping one of those and adding one more through journal entries, but I’m not sure), so there’s a lot that has changed. The point that I actually started this novel is about halfway through the sticky notes, too, so there’s a lot that getting hinted at as opposed to directly started in narrative. That’s okay though. I’m not really worried about it much. All I can say is I’m surprised I’ve gotten this far and have exceeded my new par two days in a row…

11.18.20

I had to say something. Today I only got a little less than halfway through par. I’m not too worried about it, as I had already decided to not worry about word counts anymore, but it was such a short clip of writing this week…

Basically I just wasn’t able to concentrate much today. I settled for doing some more business-y work and journaling instead. A first draft for a new post on Tuesday is ready, too. It’s a bit different than I’m used to posting. I also watched a lot of videos on writing craft and finished reading a book by an author I’ve never read before. I really, really like Jenna Moresci‘s videos on writing, but only just recently picked up any book of hers. The one I started reading was The Savior’s Champion, the first in a trilogy, and it’s amazing. I don’t personally vibe much with romance stories myself, but there is much more to it than that, and was devoured in a few days. 

Words today were 1090 in about an hour’s worth of writing time. With many breaks in between. I did manage to design a church and a religion today as well. For the novel. Though I really wish this church were real, too. Maybe one day.

11.19.20

Today has been fucking useless. I’m going to try to get something done today, but as far as my novel goes, I’ve only written 304 words. My head is killing me and other things have been going on, so I’m going to try not to be too hard on myself, but damn, son. 

It also hasn’t actually been “useless” as I know where I’m headed in the novel enough to give myself some momentum when I do finally get the will to liv–I mean, write–again. I also made some more decisions about the church and the characters involved in that part of the storyline. We’ll see how it all plays out. I’m excited, but my brain isn’t wanting to form words just yet. Maybe I’ll just keep imagining everything play out and have even more material for later. 

I just hope that tomorrow goes a little better than today.

11.20.20

Today was…I’ll call it “medium productive.” I got a word count higher than 1667, but less than the 2300 or so words I was supposed to get. 1688 is the official count. So not bad for a normal day, terrible if I actually wanted to finish this novel by November 30th. Which I’m not stuck on. It would be cool, but honestly I’d rather make the editing process easier on myself than adhere to an artificial deadline. 

Keeping up with the NaNoWriMo speed is crucial to getting a novel written if you just can’t stop deleting everything or you are stuck in the planning/researching phases. Otherwise, it’s better to write in “better than chicken scratch” quality than the lightning speed writing of NaNo. 

I have found that, while I don’t require this in order to write, I make a lot of headway when I have music that suits the tone of the scenes I’m writing playing as I go. There are a lot of requirements in this area, though. I have a sensitivity to sounds, so it has to be a very smooth, even track that is not too interesting. If it’s too interesting, I start to just listen to the music instead of writing, or I get really annoyed really quickly if it jolts me out of a creative flow too often. 

I think I might post some links to videos that I’ve been using later, introduce you all to my novel characters through song!

This weekend will possibly consist of some planning and some worldbuilding, maybe even some writing if it strikes me, but I will try to abstain for my own sanity. Then again, my spouse is taking all next week off, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to concentrate enough to get writing done. I might need to get as much done over the weekend as I can. We’ll see. That might be a future Charlie problem.


How’s your week going? Anyone finish their first draft yet? Have any exciting stories to share or do you want to tell us what your novel is about? Join the conversation below!

One Month In

A self portrait

It has been a little under a month since I started to write full time. Or, more accurately, have attempted to write full time. Writing is a very thought-intensive job and after spending what felt like a lifetime of my brain slowly turning into mush, going back to a job where I had enough knowledge to sit down in the morning and keep working until I died has been a difficult adjustment.

I don’t say this to whine. I only want to represent this transition accurately. After all, that was the whole point of this blog. 

Other things I’ve noticed are feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, feeling like I’m not getting anything done, and the overwhelming feeling of calm when I remember what life used to be like.

No idea what I’m doing

I chose an awkward time to quit my day job. Just a week and three days before NaNoWriMo started gave me enough time to sit down, start to plan, and then realize that my next month was already spoken for: write 50,000 words for a novel. You can see this in my retrospective, too. The goal is to write the words. That’s it.

But for that first week, I tried to come up with a schedule for my day. These hours I would write my novel. Those hours I would write blog posts or short stories or edit one or the other. I tried to slip in an hour or two of interaction with the community or time to get my marketing strategy together. It felt official, but honestly none of it really sat right. I tried to put this schedule into practice, but it fell apart in about two hours. 

It was the exhaustion mostly. But I also just didn’t really know exactly how I need to work yet. I based it off of what Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing and so it makes sense that it failed. It isn’t for me. 

So I’ve been researching, trying to see what other writers do all day. I don’t think I’ll have the brain power to try most of the methods until NaNo is over, though. 

Not getting anything done

Again the exhaustion has a big hand in this. I’ll sit down and write for about four hours (staring into space for about two or three of them) and then have to take a nap. Then I realize I’m hungry. Or I realize I hadn’t showered yet today (or for a few days). Then I go do all those things and realize it’s time to start on dinner.

For that first week before NaNo, I also took a look at all the other things I wanted to accomplish. The social media stuff I wanted to prepare, the educational content I wanted to watch or read, the contest I wanted to participate in, the personal essays I wanted to write for Medium, the business plan I wanted to write up for myself…the list goes on. There are so many tasks I want to do and it feels like there’s not enough time to do them. 

However: I don’t despair. I plan. 

Once NaNoWriMo is over, I will be crafting my future. Five years, one year, one quarter, one month, one week, and then keeping up with a daily plan. I already set goals for myself on a yearly/monthly/weekly/daily basis, but this will be a more structured way of looking at it, or a more detailed way to plan for a loose schedule – we’ll see. Either way, I will organize the fuck out of this problem, and hopefully that will work. 

That overwhelming calm

I am one of those people who watch ASMR videos before I go to sleep at night. I had one that I absolutely loved, but she had a very distinct accent – one that matched my boss’s accent. It was fine for a little while, but eventually he started to pile more and more stress on me and it got to the point where just hearing his voice made me go into panic mode. This bled over into those ASMR videos, and I had to stop watching them. After I quit, I feel like those videos calmed me all the more. I would hear that accent, start to go into panic mode, and then remember that I will never have to answer to that man again. 

Another interesting thing: everyone likes to say “never make a hobby your job because then you don’t have any hobbies,” but I have had a different experience so far. I felt a pressure every morning to get up before work and write. On the weekends, I needed to write. On the holidays, on my vacation time, on my sick days, I needed to write write write. Every spare moment I had, I needed to work toward my lifelong goal of being a writer. That meant I was working two jobs, essentially. When I took a day off I felt guilty, like I was throwing away a dream, so I could never truly relax. There was always something that I could be doing to get the fuck away from my office job. 

But then I quit the office job. Writing is my full time gig now. I’m not making money yet, so there’s some pressure to produce something to get me there, but I also have 40 hours a week to do that in, instead of like 15 (if I wanted to retain my sanity). I can take real lunch breaks now. I can sleep in. That also means I can go on a weekend trip (whenever the world decides to stop ending) and not feel like I have to bring my work with me in order to squeeze a few more words out. 

Yeah, I need to find another hobby, but I had like six of them lined up that I felt bad never pursuing anyway, so I can just go down the list.

I don’t have to choose between writing and bathing. Or writing and exercising. Or writing and taking the time to cook a healthy meal for me and my spouse. I can do all of these things and more now. I’m finally free.

There will come a time where I will have a LOT of work to do (hopefully), but for now it’s calm. And when I do get that work, it will be mine. I’ll get to choose what I do and who I do it for and how long I take to do it. That will be my prerogative, and I’m okay with that.

NaNoWriMo Week 2: The Weakening

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

11.07.20 – 11.09.20

These days have drained me so much. As I mentioned before, I haven’t had to use my brain for more than an hour at a time for months now, and then suddenly I’m in the middle of the biggest writing challenge of the year. It feels simultaneously like my brain is leaking out of my ears and I have completely forgotten how to write a story. 

I have started and stopped and outlined and plotted and replotted this book over and over and over…I can’t seem to like it for much longer than a day or so. I can’t quite figure out what about this I hate so much. 

For Saturday and Sunday I mostly did a lot of scene work: starting with a specific thing I wanted to happen as part of the plot, deciding who was going to be in the scene, what they wanted, how the scene affected them, what they did, and how they were changed. Monday I started back into actual writing, using the scenes to help guide me. This worked really well, and is a technique I think I might start to use for the rest of my writing career – it’s really nice to have the important parts of a scene planned out before you start to write it, it allows you to worry about other aspects of writing without forgetting to have a point behind what it is you’re putting on paper.

I don’t really have a word count for the weekend, honestly. Hopefully I’ll get back to sanity before this week is over.

11.10.20

Today I had a little bit easier time writing some bits and such a hard time writing others it was physically painful. I was thinking I might go back and write more, but I just hate this story so fucking much. 

I think I figured out why though. I’m starting waaaay too early in this plot. I’m including too many people’s points of view.Every chapter should add to the intrigue of the plot: makes you ask questions and then teases you with some answers and eggs you on with more questions. This keeps you reading. You also need some kind of progress – a way for you to measure that your characters aren’t just sitting around with their thumbs up their asses. 

While I kind of had progress happening in my story, there were no questions. Even I, as the author, didn’t give a shit about what my characters were doing and why they were doing it. If there was a question, it got answered almost immediately by another point of view in the next chapter. It was just…so boring. No intrigue, no questions, no nothing. 

I’m going to keep what I’ve written so far, even if it’s only to reference later, and I think I might have a prologue from a different point of view just to get the “inciting incident” thing going, I’m not sure. But I’m going to be readjusting everything in this book to make it less painful to write. It still won’t be perfect – this will be more or less “First Draft Part Two: The Draftening.” There will still be some major things to take care of and lots of subsequent drafts to write, but hopefully I can get this going. I’ve only been able to make myself write up to 3 hours a day on this book because it’s so painful, and my word count has been pretty poor, considering the amount of time I’ve been spending on it. Maybe once I start enjoying the story and the characters again, I can spend far more time on it and write it quicker so I can catch back up to where I should be by now. 

I say “should be” but honestly, wherever I am in this book is where I should be. Writing a book is a very personal process for many different reasons. It is hard, and painful, and gruelling. And that’s okay, it’s worth it.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo and having similar problems, don’t fret. You don’t get booted off Writer Island if you don’t get 50k words by November 30th. You get the prize of continuing to be able to work on your novel. So if you’re behind or you hate your book, or it feels like you have Spaghettios for brains right now, take a breath. It’s okay. You can do this. You have all the time in the world to get it done right.

I’m only…mostly talking to you right now…

11.11.20

This morning I got back into the ring, trading blows and ducking punches until…my novel kicked my ass. Again. I thought I had everything figured out. I knew where I needed to start, I took out the excess point of view, I had questions planned…but it wasn’t enough. I struggled with this until about 2 (with a few breaks in between of course). Finally I just decided that I needed to stop and distance myself from writing for a little while. I quit for today and am going to take a full writing break tomorrow. No writing, no reading, no reading about writing…it’s just going to be video games and baking. Or something, I don’t know. What it is, it’s going to allow the subconscious part of my brain pick at this problem for a bit.

11.12.20

Or not. I woke up to a friend asking me about my novel and as I told them more about it I started to figure out more problems I had and different ways I could fix it. Then I started to get excited all over again. I didn’t do any “real” writing, but I did do some more planning. It was still at a leisurely pace so kind of in the spirit of a break. This weekend I’ll try to not write for a bit. I think I’ll go back to that 5 days a week mindset and give it a try.

11.13.20

Today I have finally made the conscious decision to ignore my “word counts” for NaNoWriMo and just go back to the planning and worldbuilding stages for now. I have seen first hand what happens when you go into a novel writing awful words that don’t really have a place in the universe you are trying to build, and it is complete carnage. If your goal is to just have something to do for 30 days, then that’s perfectly okay. If you really really enjoy going back and chipping away at dried word poo to find the diamonds and rubies underneath, then that’s perfectly okay. But I’m not a fan of throwing away 25,000 words out of 50,000 because they don’t make sense in context, and I plan on polishing up this turd enough to publish, so I really have to go back. 

But what about getting something written and not obsessing over details? When I’m excited about what I’m writing, have a good idea of where I’m going, and I have the time, I can easily write 5,000 words in a day. Now that I write full time, that last requirement is met. I just need to meet the first two (which shouldn’t take too much longer now), and then I’ll be on track to get a novel written in a month. It just might not be the month. Another thing is that I won’t be writing a sentence, deciding it’s not good enough and then deleting and rewriting it 80 times until it’s perfect. I still plan on having multiple drafts. But I want to have my story as close to the original vision as possible before I start on draft number two, otherwise I’ll be spending time with the painful parts instead of the fun ones. 

And who knows? Maybe I’ll finish this book and decide that it really wasn’t worth it. That’s fine – I’ll just change it up next time (but I doubt I will go back to pantsing unless I am writing lit fic, honestly).

October Retro and NaNo Updates

Well folx, if you haven’t seen the news on Twitter, I have quit my software development job and am now working full-time as a writer! This…doesn’t mean much in a “employment” sense at the moment. I’m not published anywhere nor have I made any money yet, but I’m living the dream! 

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

That about sums up the blog, and I guess I can quit now – juuuuuust kidding. Not only do I not count this (it was more of a “I’m literally dying in this job and have to bail and we have the funds to do so” kind of thing), but even after getting published and whatnot I want to still blog about what it’s like. Plus there’s always something to say about ways to improve, and I’ll of course always be improving myself as well.

One thing I’ll say for now is that I haven’t had to think too hard about anything the past 6+ months, so sitting down to do writing-related work that all requires thinking and planning and creativity and organizing was a) so much fun and b) exhausting. I am having to do a lot of mental adjustment, but it is well worth it.

So, how did a week of full-time writing pan out?

Monthly Totals

Total words written: 13,620
Days worked: 17
Average WPD (words per day): 801.2

Last Month’s Goals

  • Prepapalooza articles finished
  • Get myself prepped for NaNoWriMo
  • Finish reading research books for novel

What went well

  • I quit! I no longer work for anyone but myself.
  • On the first, I got my first piece of personalized (and lovely) feedback from a submission I turned in, so definitely cause for celebration
  • I have FINALLY figured out the bigger chunks of my NaNoWriMo story, both the basic plot as well as the progress points I want to happen.
  • Got to take a little vacation from writing since I was going to be starting up full time the last week of the month.
  • More personal notes: My birthday happened (I’m old af) and I started to learn how to be a person at work instead of an anxious ball of nonsense. Not that this is going to matter much now…maybe if I even have/want to go back to working for someone else.

What didn’t go well

  • I started burning out again starting at the beginning of the month. This is actually what prompted me to quit sooner than expected and why I really needed to take that break from writing.
  • Now that I don’t have a “real” job to stress about anymore, I’m just finding all new things to be anxious about (this has since gotten under control, so don’t worry).
  • I didn’t meet the goal of getting everything as planned out for my novel as I wanted, including not having all the research done by the end of October as well. That’s okay though! Plenty of time to learn.

Goals for Next Month

  • Finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words at the very least.
  • That’s it. That’s the goal.

This will require me to work in a lot of planning sessions and some extra research occasionally (only when absolutely necessary, mind you!), but that’s basically what I’m focusing on right now. I’ll get more into the business side of working for myself after NaNo is over. 

My plan right now is to get into a groove where I can write a draft of a novel in a month while blocking out the whole world, and then get back into the social media/extra writing game after. I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to do that, or if I’ll want to once I have more experience, but that’s what I envision at the moment.

NaNoWriMo Update

Every day this month, I plan on recording how my day went as far as how many words written, how I’m feeling, how I’m staying motivated…generally anything that comes to mind after getting my minimum daily word count in (or not, we’ll see how it goes!). I’ll probably be brief for each of these entries, for obvious reasons, and then I’ll combine them together for an official update at the end of the week in lieu of a normal blog post. These are the entries for the very first week of NaNoWriMo 2020:

11.01.20

In order to keep myself from burning out, I promised that if I managed to get to write full-time, I would keep my weekends work free. At the very least, keep them writing and editing free if I needed to take care of other aspects of the business I could, hopefully without feeling like I am going to die at the end. This complicated NaNo for me. Today, the beginning of this challenge, is a Sunday, but I really wanted to make sure I got a word count in on the first day (gotta do it for the badge, son!). So I have decided I’m just going to waive this “no weekends” requirement for November, and just concentrate on getting my first draft finished. But how did it actually go?

Being a weekend, there were many different things that needed to be done and time that is set aside for my spouse (yeah I know, even though we’re locked in with each other we still like doing stuff together, go figure). After all was taken care of, I finally sat down to write and…felt like I had done zero prep for this. Every part of my (as of yet unfinished) outline fell flat and seemed so flimsy. I immediately saw all the flaws in my world and the order of events, and this completely took the wind out from me. But I wrote anyway, keeping track of my time spent with Toggl

One word in front of the other, friends. That’s the only way I’ll finish this. And, once it is finished, I’ll be able to figure out what’s wrong with what and fix it. Make it better. Make it awesome. 

Today’s word count: 1679 in 1:41:03. Not bad. Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.

11.02.20

Today was my first full working day that I had to write for NaNo. There are still some other work items I need to take care of (such as the retrospective post and getting my homework worked on for class), but for the most part I wanted to concentrate on NaNo writing. I feel like it was even more difficult for me to complete today if I’m honest. Something isn’t quite sitting right with this story, and I can’t figure it out just yet. It might be the story or it might be me. Some thought holding me back or something. I’m not sure. 

It doesn’t help that today I was battling a headache of stupid proportions. 

Today’s word count: 1746 in 3:02:53. Not…great. But I’ll get there. 

I think tomorrow I might take some time to dissect what’s going on. Hopefully I can get settled into a groove by the end of the week or so.

11.03.20

Election day. I spent most of my morning writing time being angry at Past Charlie for not planning as well as I wanted to, and getting me stuck in a story that was passing harder than a kidney stone. I liked the general premise of the story, but something about it made it painful to write. I kept grabbing a scene from my piss-poor outline and writing like three sentences to cover everything I planned, and then going to the next scene.

While complaining about this to other writer friends (very important that you make these types of friends, by the way, they are the best), I started to form the question I needed to answer to fix everything. It took some exercise and a shower before I finally got it sorted. 

Fixing it got me super stoked to continue with my story and I ended up getting the word count I wanted before it was time to start obsessively checking election counts.

Today’s word count: 1709 in 1:26:49. Not bad at all! I’m hoping to eventually get to where I know enough of my story and know where I’m going with it enough that I can breeze past the 5k in a day mark. That might take awhile though. We’ll see.

11.04.20

Today, I found another issue with my novel, one completely different from the other. It started with not understanding the nature of the universe I was working in, leading me to do a little worldbuilding before I could continue. Just a little – literally just talking to myself in the shower for a little bit. Then today, I realized I had an issue with the story just not being enough. I worked on this one for quite awhile longer. It led to me fleshing out a B plot that already existed, just in a vague sort of way.

These set backs the past two days have inspired me to write an article in December or January all about how to troubleshoot your writing sessions when they aren’t going how you like them to. Basically if you’re sitting down to write and the words aren’t coming, what can you look for in what you’re feeling or how it’s going in order to know what you need to do to fix it? I have a feeling I’m going to have a lot more sessions like these – it’s the nature of the beast – but having a guide ready to help when my brain starts going numb will benefit me. I hope it will benefit you as well. 

Today I’ve hit a little over the minimum word count for NaNo. I’m going to take a little break from everything and then get into drawing up a better outline. Maybe that will help with tomorrow’s progress. A little work now hopefully will save me a boatload of time later.

Today’s word count: 1765 in 1:52:00. I’ll take it!

11.05.20

After spending each of these days kind of floundering around more than I would like, I decided to get to work on an outline and do some “scene work” today. What this means is I’ll actually sit down and write an outline (in the form of post-it notes on my wall), and then decide what scenes need to happen to make each of the major plot points or specific ideas I want to incorporate happen. I’m going to look at what is the goal I have for the scene, what are the goals of the characters in the scene, are they going to achieve those goals, how do they plan to go about it, and will there be some external thing that happens to disrupt what’s going on.

At least, that was the plan. I am still a bit stuck on the outline. Confidence is waning hard. It would have any way, but now this is my job, so I have extra self-consciousness about it. Which is natural whenever you start a new job, but that doesn’t stop it from sucking. 

Anyway, I have a much bigger chunk actually laid out in front of my eyeballs now, so that’s good. I’ll eventually get to what I need, but it’s going to be painful getting there I think.

Today’s word count: technically none. I made up a bunch of post its to map out points in the plot, though, so work has been done.

11.06.20

My spouse took some PTO today so that we could go hiking. It’s something that we’ve been planning and trying to do for awhile now, and we finally got to. It was great, but now I started working at about 1pm today. Time to try to catch up a bit.

(A few hours later)

That didn’t quite go as planned. I have a lot of doubts about this story and whether or not I’ve got enough of a grip on any part of it to actually tell it. I ended up doing a little more worldbuilding and plot hole plugging, and I’ve got it at enough of a place now that I can get some more scene work done tomorrow.

Today’s word count: 1050. Not great. Not bad. But progress is progress, no doubt about that. I kinda forgot to keep track of time today, but I think it was about 1.5 hours or so.

Today’s update will be included in next week’s updates, as it’s still early yet. Until then, good luck WriMos and have fun!


How has your NaNo been treating you, assuming you’re participating? If not, what ways have you been keeping sane in these crazy times? Any plans or goals you’ve made?

Novel Ways to Get Novel Ideas

peeping gray cat
Here we see mittens, about to pounce on a possibly plot line.
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Now that we’ve established what parts make up a story, let’s get to work answering the question that is the bane of many authors’ existence: “Where do you get your ideas?”

It’s not because this is a bad question. If you didn’t have this question, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. But a lot of writers have superstitions surrounding this process and some don’t know how to answer. 

I’m not saying I have all my shit together, but seeing as how I had to get out of a deep slump in order to get ideas again, I have a little bit more insight into how it works than someone who’s never had to coax it out of themselves before.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

What IS an idea?

An “idea” is any thought or a unrelated pairing of subjects that come together to form what could become the basis for a character, plot point, setting, etc. This pairing can be deep, shallow, brief, a flash of an image, or even a super detailed world straight from the forehead of Zeus kind of inspiration. 

Ideally (heh), an idea will come to you, get you started, and then everything kinda rolls out in front of you like a tapestry. Words fall from your fingertips like a stream of water when you pretend to have water laser powers in the shower (what, just me?). Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But you can always take these ideas and save them later.

So then HOW do you get one?

They just happen. This is such a boring answer, but it’s true. Our brains constantly process thoughts, events, and previously consumed content on an unconscious level as we go through our lives and occasionally just…spit something out that you can label as an idea.

The real question is how do you speed up this process?

Yes, how??

Do something different

white socks on white paper
Try writing from a new location!
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

You can’t think differently if you don’t do anything different. Though it’s possible that you are different, in which case your ideas will be unique for now. This doesn’t last forever, especially when you first start using these ideas on a regular basis.

“Different” doesn’t have to be crazy. Listen to different music, take an alternate route to work, try to have a meatless Monday or eat a new ice cream flavor. No matter what you do, be safe about it, and make sure to savor the experience.

Don’t judge

Have you ever been a part of a brainstorming session at work?

“No stupid ideas,” your boss says, but the second you mention duck costumes, they tell you to be serious. pfft.

Judging shuts down your ideas before they’ve had a chance to grow. One undisturbed idea is like a seed for a tree. One stupid seed. Leave it in place – don’t judge it, don’t belittle it – and it will start to produce the wackiest, tastiest fruit you’ve ever had.

What does it mean not to judge it? Don’t say anything negative about it. Don’t try to make it “fit” into something that it’s not. It doesn’t matter if the idea is too childish or gross or even mean itself. This goes for people, too. Try not to say negative things about people and you’re already a step ahead of the game. Let everyone be themselves without trying to make them fit into some arbitrary mold and then be surprised at how easy this becomes.

This doesn’t mean you have to spout some positive nonsense, either. If you have an idea that you aren’t super jazzed about, then instead of saying “this is dumb,” tell yourself, “this is, in fact, an idea.” 

It sounds simplistic, but it works wonders.

Along this same vein, don’t tell anyone your ideas. Not yet. An idea that is still a seed is too unformed for others to understand, and if you aren’t allowed to be negative about your own ideas, you certainly don’t want anyone else saying mean things about them, either. This kills the seed.

What ifs

As you go through life doing weird shit that you aren’t being a negative Nancy about, also consider the “what if” possibilities. 

What if – I were to smack that guy in the face?

What if – character X from that one movie witnessed that person over there complaining to management?

What if – character Y from this movie hooked up with character B from this book series?

What if – there was an airlock in this grocery store and it opened right now?

Always try to think of random scenarios like these (better than these, I hope), and then play them in your head as far as you can. Go deep down that rabbit hole if you need to. The more you do it, the better you get – it’s all a skill, so practice!

CONSUME

Read things that are challenging. Read things that are good. Read things that are bad.

Take them all in and think critically about them – not in a judging way (no judging, remember?), but in a “critical thinking” kind of way. Why did this work here, but not there? Why did this character act this way in response to that? Why did so and so use this word when they could have said this one? 

This will also help you as you try to improve your writing on the whole.

“Borrow” ideas

No, not plagiarizing! 

There is nothing new under the sun – there are anywhere from 2 to 21 basic storylines possible depending on who you ask, so you will probably not find a new one. That doesn’t mean give up! That means you need to take what you find and make it your own.

Think about how you would rewrite something – a fairytale, a classic story, an ancient myth – and keep changing it until it is unrecognizable. Or not, honestly. There are a lot of well done stories that are a retelling of a classic, and they are not lacking in creativity.

Even if you don’t get anything publishable out of this, you have done something different – which is, if you remember, one of the things you can do to generate more ideas. Yes, ideas can generate more ideas.

Prompts and pictures

person in brown coat and black hat standing near white and black floral wall
What is happening here? Who’s in this pic? Why?
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

My favorite way to get an idea is to look up pictures online. Go to google’s image search and type in “scary” or “spooky” and you are going to have pages of pictures to spark your creativity. Use this in conjunction with some of the other ideas in this list and you’re pretty much golden.

For prompts, you can also go to places like awesomewritingprompts where they will have one or two sentences or even a list of words for you to take and use in a story. Most sites and books of prompts don’t require that you credit them with ideas you use (and for the record, I don’t either), but some ask that you do. Please be polite and either don’t use those ideas or credit them accordingly.

Write everything down

Record thoughts, dreams, nightmares, conversations. Even the most mundane of shit can be useful. Remember, no judging!

Keep paper by your bed at night so that when your brain spits out your million dollar idea at 2 in the morning, you can record it before it disappears. Every idea you get, write down. Even if it doesn’t seem like it could go anywhere, writing it down and occasionally reading it over can foster more ideas in the future.

Eva Amsen wrote an article for The Writing Cooperative about a great way to keep track of ideas that I immediately stole for myself. 

 There are so many more things you can do to get ideas, and more specific ideas within the ones I’ve shared, but I bet this is enough to get you started in time for NaNoWriMo.

My NaNo idea

A picture of the author, “writing.”

To tell the story of how I got the idea for my NaNo novel is to tell the tale of an idiot. Or at least a forgetful and/or drunk person. The order of events as my memory serves goes like this:

I was looking through some files in my google drive and happened upon one called “Haunted soul cavity thing??” Inside this file was a description of an idea that I do not remember writing down at all. It talked about a guy who has to go to abandoned buildings and then I asked myself why. 

Then past me rambled on about something like a missing soul and a demon haunting this guy. It was a weird idea. The words were written like I woke up from a dream or severely drunk when I thought of it.

Then I remembered that for a while I was looking at a lot of pictures of abandoned buildings and was wanting to write about someone who went to them all the time, but I couldn’t quite think of a reason why. I guess in my drunken stupor/sleepy haze I came up with a reason.

Now in a more…coherent state, I decided to combine this idea with the world I started building in my first successful NaNo Novel. I’m not sure if I will continue with that part of the idea, but it spurred me on to start with my researching.


Where do you get your ideas? Are there any specific websites or books that you would recommend?

NaNoWriMo Prepapalooza: What makes a story?

photo of person holding book
Photo by Mark Neal on Pexels.com

There are a million different articles and texts written about each component of a story and what they mean, and I’m sure MFAs could rattle them off in their sleep. But this is my blog dammit, so I’ll be explaining it my own way. Who knows? Maybe this explanation will be the one to click for you.

Most of these sections will be the focus of future articles, so don’t worry if I seem to be glossing over them. I only want to point out the basic building blocks. This gives you something to start with for NaNoWriMo, and the rest of the “Prepapalooza” series. Not to mention any other time to start to write a story.

So what makes up a story? My oversimplified version is: It’s something that happens to someone, somewhere, while making a point

A funny thing happened on the way to the theater…

First up, the something/someone/somewhere: your plot, your characters and your setting. Nothing can happen without these. If we were building a building, these would be the bricks in the walls.

Something that happens 

This is the plot, the sequence of events, in your story. If your story was about someone who went to a store, then the plot would be all about encountering traffic, fighting for a parking spot, and so on. 

I say “something that happens to someone,” but there are some options here. If things keep happening to someone regardless of what they do, this would be a plot-driven story: the characters don’t have much influence over what happens, it just kinda…happens. If you have someone who goes out and does things on their own, however, this is a character-driven story. 

There might be perfectly valid reasons for having a plot-driven story, but it is generally considered more interesting to have a character with agency over their destiny.

Side note: this is also something to keep in mind about your own life.

Somewhere 

This is your setting: where and when the story takes place. This can be as broad as the entire universe since the dawn of time stretching all the way until the end of time, or you could have a story happen within a single place, during a fraction of a second. Setting is also a great place to get started with worldbuilding, but that’s another post.

Someone

This is your main character (MC). Besides the MC, you also have supporting characters, villains, disposable characters, etc. They need not only be people, either. There are many stories where there are animals and even cities as characters. 

An important thing to think about when it comes to your characters is their arc – who is this person before the beginning of the story and who will they become over the course of it? It’s rare that a compelling story is told without the transformation of at least one central character, and in fact, you can base your entire story on how they change and why. 

How You Tell the Story

photo of old church building under cloudy sky
The best bricks mean nothing if you can’t hold them together.
Photo by Harry Smith on Pexels.com

If the previous section described different types of bricks you put together to create a building, then this section is the mortar that holds them together. Without the glue that binds your characters, setting, and plot, you won’t know what any of it looks or sounds like, and you wouldn’t understand what’s going on.

What it looks like

This is description, where you talk about how the light reflects off of someone’s hair or the motion a person makes as they swipe with their knife. It’s the way we communicate plot and setting, otherwise it’s just a list of action words and place names. 

There’s a bit of a problem with description: a lot of writers tend to overdo it. Some want you to see every inch of their world how they see it. While that’s not a bad thing in itself, it gets boring fast. I have a tendency to skip over large descriptive paragraphs when reading unless masterfully written (like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods). Too little description, however, and it becomes confusing: “Where are they again? What’s happening? Which guy is talking?” It’s like trying to watch a movie mid Twitter argument. 

What it sounds like 

This is dialogue – what your characters are saying. Many writers struggle with this part, especially when it comes to characters from a different demographic.

Dialogue is not a way to pad your word count, by the way. What your characters say and how they say it can be clues to their backstory, ideals, and morality, especially when coupled with what they do. If someone is always gently reassuring your main character then turns around and stabs them, then you get a better idea of who they are. 

What’s Going on 

This is not plot exactly, but a way to explain the plot or the world, exposition being the technical term. Exposition is outright saying exactly what’s happening. Instead of painting a picture of a military force destroying a castle and killing the inhabitants, you would simply state that a military coup is underway. This is a mechanic of storytelling that has a time and a place and should be used sparingly. It’s usually written as dialogue, in fact, and comes in the form of one character explaining something to another. 

For example, there’s a Sci-fi trope of what I call the uninitiated observer: in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for example, you had the completely ignorant Arthur Dent. He is accompanied by Ford Prefect, who is there to explain how life in the rest of the galaxy works. Arthur also has access to the actual guide mentioned in the title, which does more of the same. 

It feels natural in this scenario, because we’re starting with the same knowledge that Arthur has, learning with him. However, this is easily overdone. “Expositional dumping” is just having paragraphs of information about your world, a character, or the plot, and comes off dry as all hell. “Show don’t tell” is the adage, and for good reason.

The point of it all

beautiful bloom blooming close up
Photo by Jovana Nesic on Pexels.com

If the first two sections were bricks and mortar, this next bit is the reason why everything was built in the first place. You don’t typically start with this why, however. Many writers write an entire story, then on the first editorial pass, they decide which incidental pieces to develop. These inform the first of many rewrites. These last pieces of your story are theme, moral, allegory, and metaphor.

Theme 

The theme is a recurring thought or idea in a story. For example, you can have the theme of loss throughout your entire piece, physical and emotional. 

Moral

The lesson behind the story. If you start writing a story with a moral in mind, you will most likely end up writing something very preachy. Think of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” for example. I mean, do whatever you want, I’m not a cop.

Metaphor 

I had to do quite a bit of reading on this topic to grasp the difference between a metaphor and an allegory. Metaphors are a way to illustrate something else in a simpler way. For example, if you wanted to use a rose as a metaphor for a couple’s relationship, it could slowly die as their marriage falls apart. It doesn’t add any extra information, just simplifies what you already have.

Allegory 

I had to look this up just to make sure I understood it. Allegories are like a metaphor that explains a concept in ways you are more likely to understand. For example, while the rose might be a metaphor for the couple’s marriage, the decline of their relationship might be written in just such a way as to describe, I don’t know, the decline of the millennial’s relationship with capitalism. 

Note: you do not need to have a metaphor linked to an allegory, this was just a way to contrast the two. 

Next Steps

Every one of these pieces has a lot of information to read up on, but I hope this is enough to get you started for now. Please take the ideas you come up with and have fun trying to work some of these in there. The last section you can definitely use as a way to stretch yourself if you are already comfortable with the rest of them. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re still not sure how to incorporate them in your writing. We’ll work on all of these concepts together later.


Do you know you struggle with any of these story parts? Which one and why? Check back in next week when we’ll be talking about where to get ideas.

NaNoWriMo 2020 Prepapalooza

I started NaNoWriMo (“Nano” before I lose my mind typing) in earnest about three or four times since 2008, under two or three different usernames. I mean to do it every year, and I completed it exactly once in 2009. That book is in my WIP list as BS-183. It’s terrible in some ways, great in others. I will most likely tear it apart and put it back together again one day.

Every year has been the same: October 20ish appears out of nowhere, and I realize that Nano’s around the corner. One year I didn’t catch on until November 2nd. But this year, I’ve been prepping. 

If you want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, then follow along! I’ll be doing a series of articles on how I’ve been prepping to hopefully make the 50k mark a lot easier to achieve. 

But what is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from all over the world gather on the internets to write 50,000 words toward a novel of any genre they choose. For more information or to sign up for such an event, head on over to nanowrimo.org.

Who can participate?

Everyone! Anyone! Your cat! Okay, maybe not your cat, but you get the point. Nano has been found all over the world in coffee shops, libraries, schools, and – my favorite – locked away in dimly lit rooms with lots of snacks. That last one will probably be the default this year, if we’re honest.

Huck is already overwhelmed, so it’s best he just skip this year. It’s okay, buddy.

Why should I care?

  1. It’s fun. If you like writing, this is a lot of it. If you don’t like writing…why are you even reading this at all?
  2. Community. This year will not have any officially sanctioned, meatspace meet ups, but you still have the forums to chat on. There are groups on Nano’s site for local groups, teens, moms, LGBTQ+, etc. You can go on there and only talk about writing, but they also have procrastination forums or information gathering forums, writing sprints (a game where people start and stop writing at the same to see who wrote the most words), snack suggestions…you name it, and the forums probably have it. If not, start your own thread.
  3. Excuses! When you have: an excuse to write + word goal + a timeline, you are much more likely to achieve your dream of writing a novel.
  4. What the hell else are you doing in the apocalypse? 

No one can write a novel worth reading in 30 days

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page,” Jodi Picoult

I said the goal is 50,000 words, not 50,000 good words. All Nano is, is writing a first draft. Word vomit. That’s it. The ideal way to do this would be to write a beginning, middle, and end and fill in the rest of it. Then you let it rest for awhile, edit it, rewrite it, etc. etc.

There are also a lot of published novels started during Nano. 

I can’t do this

If you are privileged enough to be able to shift your schedule, or if you don’t need to at all to have an hour or so a day with the odd pocket of several hours on what you consider your weekends, you most likely have the time. 

And even if you don’t, nothing is stopping you from declaring that you are going to start on a novel and then only write a few sentences a day. Even if you only write one word a day, that’s more toward your novel than you had yesterday. Ernest Hemingway only wrote about 500 words a day, so you may as well try. 

The worst case scenario (with the right attitude) is that you’ill now have words toward a novel you otherwise wouldn’t.

Fine, you’ve convinced me – how does one prep for this?

Come Nano time, I have always been a “pantser” – meaning someone who “writes by the seat of one’s pants.” Because of this, I can’t tell you the sure-fire way I prep, because I never have. Let’s go through the process together. At the end, we can compare notes and see what we can do better next year.

But what parts will I talk about? I already wrote about research awhile ago, so you can read about that there. The schedule beyond that is as follows:

  1. What makes up a story? – this is more just a quick run-down of what to keep in mind when trying to write a full novel.
  2. Getting ideas. This is exactly as it sounds. Where do you get an idea for your novel? 
  3. Character Creation. Obvs.
  4. Worldbuilding. This is creating the setting for your novel. Even if you’re writing something that takes place in your own backyard today, you still need to know things you may not consciously be aware of.
  5. Plot development. What happens during this novel? Why?

These posts, a retro, and a Halloween post will get us to the starting line of Nano, ready to slap down 1,667 words a day for 30 days straight. Our plan won’t be perfect, and our prep will not be exhaustive, but it will be enough for an attempt at a first draft. And remember, kids: it’s supposed to be a fun challenge. No breakdowns allowed!


Do you already know what you’re doing for NaNoWriMo? Have you declared your novel yet?

Chi

The benefit of this being my blog, is that I can write whatever I want to here. Usually, I try to post relevant content, but today I’m going to be selfish and introduce you to my dog.

/CHē/

Fresh from the groomers!

We first met Chi when she lived with my brother-in-law. She wore a little purple argyle sweater vest, and demanded belly rubs from anyone who held her. I saw her one time. Then, about a year or so later, I got a message from my spouse. “Hey we have a dog now by the way.” 

It turns out his brother sent a mass text asking if anyone wanted to take her. I was given no choice in the matter, and honestly that was for the best.

At the time, we lived in a small loft downtown with the tiniest “dog park.” Since she was a 12 pound Pomeranian everything fit her perfectly. 

Early Days

She was much more spry in her younger days.

Her ridiculous enthusiasm about everything caught our attention first.

She got so excited about drinking water, she kept knocking over her water dish. Over the weekend, we cleaned it up immediately. We worked all day, however, and we kept coming home to a thirsty pup. We ended up getting her an over-sized hamster bottle to attach to the side of her kennel. It took her several hours to figure out how to use it, with constant guidance and some peanut butter incentive. Eventually she figured it out. As a…bonus?…it made it easy to keep track of her fluid intake as it was the loudest drinking vessel ever.

This enthusiasm also earned her a nickname. When she wanted to sit with us on the couch, she needed to jump to get on top of it. However, instead of jumping straight up like any other dog, she would back up all the way to the other side of the apartment and run as fast as she could. A streak of orange fluff shot across the room and dove right into our laps. Most of the time. Sometimes she bounced off the side, just to try again.

We likened this to a torpedo, which morphed into a “tor-Chi-do” and then finally to what I call her to this day: Chi-do.

Smarter Than She Looked

This is Chi-do trying to get unstuck from under the couch. I call this shot: ACTION CHI-DO.

This dog looked stupid. With her stupid face, and her wall-eyed gaze, and borderline crazed smile, she appears to have zero clue as to what went on around her. Until she noticed your habits.

She knew that whenever the receiver clicked (whether when we stopped watching TV at a respectable hour or if it was at 3 in the morning when I was on a video game binge) that she would be going out immediately after. 

She knew that the clinking of plates meant food.

She knew what the ziploc bag that held bacon sounded like, and would respond to no other plastic bag sounds.

She knew that we were lazy enough that when we put shoes on and it wasn’t in the morning to go to work, that we were most likely going to be walking her soon. 

She knew that it wasn’t me that typically walked her in the morning, so if I got up before my spouse, she wouldn’t bother me, and wouldn’t bother him until he got out of the shower.

She knew that if you said good-bye to her before you left, you were going to be gone longer than just a literal second, so she wouldn’t bother barking until you got back. She also knew approximately what time to expect each of us to come home during the week, and got very grumpy when we were late. She wanted, as much as possible, to keep the pack together. 

And now the pack will never be together again.

The Best Dog

…sorta. She wasn’t actually a very good dog, to be fair. She was a terrible running buddy, never played with toys, was only willing to roughhouse a little, didn’t do a lot of tricks – or if she learned them, promptly forgot them. But she was my favorite dog, and one of my family. 

We’re very lucky to have known her, and there will never, ever be another like her. I’m glad I got to spend some extra time with her over the past few months, even if it was due to the apocalypse. It was worth it to see her happy.

And I’d burn it all down to get her back.

July Retrospective

This retro is a touched up version of what was prepared before July 29, 2020. On that morning, the best and sweetest creature I have ever known passed unexpectedly in my home, and I have been a mess of ups and (mostly) downs since. I appreciate your understanding as I try to recover. 

Monthly Totals

Total words written: ???
Days missed: a lot
Average WPD (words per day): not as many as I’d like

This month was CHAOS – I bought a new house, moved, and have been spending a lot of time not only making the new house a home, but also figuring out my next moves as far as my professional life goes. 

For just a taste of things I’m up to:

  • PATREON! Many times I will bring up that I have a blog to someone I know, and almost immediately they ask if I have a Patreon page. I am a little embarrassed to admit, but I never really interacted much with this site. After the fifth person asked me for a link, I finally decided to get with the times. The tiers and benefits, etc. will evolve as I figure everything out, but if you’d like to take advantage of it while also supporting my goal of being a full-time writer, please take a gander.
  • Medium. If you want to support me, but don’t really have the funds to do so directly, consider checking out (and sharing) my attempt at working with Medium. As an experiment, I’ve just imported a post from this blog into their site, but I will eventually be writing posts unique to Medium as well. 
  • A secret project! I was asked to collaborate with another peep on a project that I am absolutely stoked to start on, but I will not be sharing the information on here just yet. I will definitely be sharing it as soon as I can on Patreon first, naturally, so don’t be shy about being a little Mayhem-curious.

What Went Well

  • I got thrown out of whack in buying and moving into this house, but I am slowly starting to settle back into my writing groove. 
  • I now have my new writing space and it is beyond amazing. No longer am I in a literal closet or on the couch in someone else’s office. I have my own office that is quiet, bright, comfortable, and mine. I haven’t gotten my WRITING WALL set up just yet, but I have some neat plans for how to do this. More to come, naturally.
  • After needing to get myself back together again, I have found the ability to work through being sore, tired, hungover, or otherwise “not in the mood” to write. This is a lesson that everyone who wants to write professionally needs to understand: you can’t just not write every time something isn’t perfect. You will never produce enough work to make a living. I have known this, but haven’t yet seemed to be able to do this until recently. Maybe now that I have a place I can call my own, on top of pursuing other avenues for funding, I finally feel like I can take myself (even more) seriously. I am reading this line now, and I’m keeping it in because it is usually very true. But thinking about my current state, I think I can hear God laughing in my face about this idea.

Lessons Learned

  • I need more time to write! I wake up typically at about 6 am and keep hitting snooze until about 6:30. After which I go make coffee and stare into space until my brain caches up to my body at about 7 – sometimes even actually drinking the coffee in the process. My financially relevant job starts at about 9 am most days, so that gives me just two hours to do what I want to do. So I have changed my alarm to go off at 5 am every morning, and am trying not to snooze any longer than 5:30. It’s only an extra hour, but it feels like I get miles more work done. Miles? Piles? Llamas? I don’t actually know what you measure work in, but it’s more now than before.
  • As you probably already read in my post about research, a lot of what I have published on this blog is fluff, and I’m not a fan. While there’s nothing wrong with fluff exactly, I would like to have a habit and a reputation for writing something of a little more substance. That goes for both fiction and nonfiction. Plus, I’m here to learn, so let’s get to learning!

Goals or Action Items for Next Month

  • Set up my WRITING WALL. This will probably be a temporary set up at first, because I have some plans with magnetic and whiteboard paints for extra fancy, but I need something to get me back on track visually.
  • Get my Patreon more fleshed out and maybe actually have a patron or two.
  • Have a better business plan written up for what is, essentially, my writing business.
  • …learn how to write up a business plan. 
  • And of course: WRITE MORE. SUBMIT MORE. BE REJECTED MORE. Always a goal, not because I want to be rejected, but because the more rejections I get, the closer to acceptance I get!

What are your goals looking like for next month? How did your goals from last month turn out?