Posted in For the Aspiring Writer

Preptober – Week Three

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”

Andrew Carnegie

It’s Goal Week, ladies and gentlemen. This week, our third one of Preptober, we will be establishing our goals, setting up a reward system, and gearing up for making NaNoWriMo 2020 as easy to participate in as possible.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

As stated in my other Preptober posts, (here’s Week One and Week Two) my project will be one that has been in the pipeline for years. I already have 8385 words written and this year’s NaNoWriMo goal for myself is completing a 75,000 word rough draft. This means, I have 66,615 words remaining.

I also know that I will be out of town for five days in November. (Technically four but I do not plan to write on the day that I return home.) That means, I am removing those five days from my writing schedule. That leaves me with 25 days in which to draft my novel. 66,615 / 25 = 2,665 words a day. This is significantly higher than average as I typically write about 2000 words every time I sit down.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

How do I ensure that I am able to write 2,665 words on each of my writing days?

I’ve already created my weekly meals / grocery lists for November. They are currently situated on the refrigerator and easy for me to check over the day before so I don’t waste time wondering what to cook/shop for. This should shave off 10-15 minutes or so a day where I’m looking into the pantry wondering what to cook for meals and snacks.

I plan on writing after dropping my children off to school in the mornings. They only attend school for a couple of hours each morning during the weekdays so I have to use that time wisely. Since I run a home-based business, I’m moving my processing/shipping time from that morning slot to the night before. (I own an online fabric shop.)

If I don’t pen my goal of 2,665 words during the morning time allotted, my plan is to sit back down after the kids head to bed that evening and type away until the daily goal is met. I will also be using the time my husband is home from work on weekends in order to play catch up if needed.

Hitting my daily goals will allow me to enjoy the perks of a reward system I’ve set up. I generally finish my evenings with a single glass of wine so I figured that should be a reward for completing my daily word goal. (It’s simple and silly, but I like my night cap so it definitely works as an incentive for me.)

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Once I hit my halfway mark of 33,300 words, I’m going for a pedicure. Yes, I can go out and get a pedicure any old time I want but I rarely take time for myself nowadays and this will be an enjoyable reward. If you get regular pedicures, think of something you haven’t done for yourself in awhile and insert that reward here.

Finally, once the last day of November rolls around and I’ve completed my 66,615 word goal, I’m taking my husband and kiddos out to dinner. We’ve spent so much time cooped up in this house this year, this will be a treat for the whole fam.

How do I prep my house for NaNoWriMo?

Remember in Week Two when we cleaned off and decluttered our work space? Well, now it’s time to kick that motivation into overdrive and prepare the entire house for what I like to call November neglect.

Every October, I perform an Autumn purge as I’m getting the house ready for the holidays. Throw away / upcycle any decor from the previous year. Give stuff away that has been collecting dust in closets that you’re never going to use again.

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

Decluttering your house in the next two weeks will help it feel cleaner during November when you’re spending more time in front of your computer. If you take the time now to scrub your house until it shines while thinking about your writing project, you’re knocking out two birds with one stone. Starting November 1 with a bright and shiny house/apartment/whatever, simplifies spot cleaning at the end of each day and will give you more time to devote to your art.

At the end of the day, your goal is to get your ideas on paper. If my version of Preptober gives you anxiety, don’t stress! This is what works for me. I am a meticulous planner and have a bossy personality. I love helping people determine a way to accomplish their goals, typically by telling them, “This will work. Do this.”

That being said, your story deserves to be told. No matter how you choose to bring your project to fruition, I can’t wait to hear about it. Join me on Facebook or comment below to reach out.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer

Preptober – Week Two

“He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Read it again.

When you are prepared and ready for the creative process, wouldn’t you agree that’s when you get the highest quality output completed?

Imagine your house is dirty, your desk is covered in papers, you haven’t showered in awhile, and you’re hungry. You’ve given no thought to your creation in awhile and all of the sudden, you sit down and decide you want to write.

Yes, you’ll get some words on paper (or on computer in my case) but how much more productive would you be if you were clean, comfortable and nothing on your To-Do List weighed on your mind?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I’m currently in the second week of my Preptober. If you haven’t reviewed what I did in the first week of October to prep for NaNoWriMo, you can find that blog post here.

For the next seven days, I’ll be delving into my R&D chores for the upcoming 30 days of writing.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Planner, Pantser or Plantser (like me) at this stage. You have things to put in your research queue.

Planner – Get your outline on paper. Determine your structure and plot lines now in order to work out any kinks you may stumble across during the writing process. Flesh out your characters in detail. (Reedsy has a good character profile creation guide, btw.)

Plantser – Figure out your bare bones story structure. Imagine your characters and how they’ll fit together / work against each other. I use the Reedsy character guide linked above because I LOVE knowing the back stories of my characters before I start writing. Their language, expressions and actions jump onto the paper when I know my characters well.

Planner, Pantser, and Plantser – Research anything you’ll need to have inside knowledge about. Think about your characters and setting. Do you need more information about what your characters do for a living? What their hobbies are? What the weather is like in their environment? If you’re developing an entirely new world, create a map. Determine how magic/physics/etc works in your world. Figure this out now, rather than throwing something subpar together as you write.

For every novel I’ve written, I have a Pinterest board created. I pin photos that speak to me about the esthetics of the environment, the clothing worn by my characters, and even the interior of homes. I get a lot of fodder for my writing doing this.

SELF-CARE

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

I should have mentioned this in Week One but alas, I’m always late to the game when it comes to taking care of myself.

  • Vitamins – If you take vitamins and supplements on the regular, good for you! As a 39-year-old child, I’ve only recently started a daily regiment. Let me tell you, I can TOTALLY tell when I haven’t had my little pills. Do yourself a favor and start a vitamin plan if you don’t have one in play. Your doctor can help you to determine what is best for you at your age. I take a women’s one-a-day, Magnesium, and fish oil. My ability to think-on-the-fly and remember words skyrocketed after only taking them regularly for a week.
  • Meal Prepping – Make sure and generate a meal calendar for the month of November, especially if you are typically in charge of feeding your fam. If you have the option of delegating meals to your partner or roommate, great! If not, take some time to map out the food plan for next month so it’s one less stress on your plate. Choose meals that are quick, easy, and nutritious to keep you focused on your writing. I meal prep close to Halloween with stews, soups, chilis and casseroles, then put them in the deep freeze. One bag salad and an oven timer later, my tribe has a home-cooked meal that’s easy to clean up.
  • Exercise – Get your blood flowing with walks or cardio. There is nothing better than brainstorming your next piece of writing while you sweat! (I say this while drinking a glass of wine.) Seriously though, you’ll be doing a LOT of sitting in November and you’ll want to create a habit of movement for your in-between-writing breaks.
  • Announce your plans – Make sure your friends and family know what you will be undertaking throughout November. Explain to them how important it is that you get your alone time in order to create. That way, you don’t feel guilty about taking the time for yourself to create your labor of love.

CLEAN YOUR SPACE

Photo by Ken Tomita on Pexels.com

Get your desk locked and loaded and ready for action. Now is the time to Marie Kondo your work station. Does the space bring you joy or do you feel confined and annoyed every time you sit down?

This week, go through your work area with a fine tooth comb. Toss any old papers and remove any debris that does not stimulate your creativity. Dust! Clean your monitor(s)! Make sure you have everything you need nearby in order to write, write, write!

I keep a few things on hand at all times:

  • Music or white noise – I have a Spotify playlist of instrumentals that keeps me focused on forward movement and blocks out anything that may be happening in my home that would sway me from my word goal.
  • Big ol’ tank of water. Literally a tank. I am part camel.
  • Notepad and pen – This helps me to quickly make note of something I want to check out later. When I stop in the middle of my writing to research something, I lose momentum every time.
  • Photos of my main characters – I use Google to find photos that resemble the characters I’ve created in my head. I’m not sure how much it helps but I like having them nearby.
  • Comfortable seating – This is super important. Make sure you have a supportive chair that will keep you aligned throughout the month of November. There’s nothing worse than getting sore from a poorly constructed chair.

I’d love to hear what you do during Preptober that helps you accomplish your goals during NaNoWriMo.

Feel free to join me on Facebook or leave a comment down below. I can’t wait to meet you and cheer you on throughout your writing process.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, Uncategorized

Preptober – Week One

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.”

William Shakespeare

For the first seven days of Preptober, I create a structured plan that will help me not only to prepare for NaNoWriMo but the remainder of October as well.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During this first week I:

  • Determine what project to devote to NaNoWriMo – In my last post, I hadn’t decided what I would be using for this year’s 30 days of writing. I was wavering between the three choices of:
    • a brand new project
    • my unfinished works that had the highest word count
    • my most favorite unfinished works (I went with this choice, btw)
  • Create a NaNoWriMo Binder/Project Folder – Before Scrivener, I kept a physical binder for all of my notes, research, character creation, and thoughts. I still keep a notebook by my bed so I can immediately jot down something I think of before hitting the sack or upon waking. Use this month to take as many notes as possible. Bring your world to life.
  • Create a GOAL SHEET – I have a tendency to veer off track of my goal mid-November. My propensity for proofreading as I write slows me down and I lose momentum easily. Having a goal sheet, one situated next to my desk that I can physically look at, allows me to combat some of my known creativity killers.
  • Break down your word goals into chunks – Look at your calendar for November and take note of any time you know you won’t be able to write. For example, I’m going camping November 20-24. It’s a huge chunk of time where I won’t be in front of my computer. It’s not normal camping where I can sit around a fire and write, either. The hubs and I have a giant four-day event planned where we will be in the woods hitting other nerds with sticks. (I’m a LARPer. Don’t judge.) That being said, I’ve had to set my daily word goal higher so I compensate for those lost days.
  • Get to know your genre – If you are writing in a brand new genre, take this time to curate a few highly rated novels or short stories in the genre. If you’ve written in this genre before, take a look at some of the recently published reads. What did the author do that excited you about the story? What would you have done differently? Were there any surprises that you wouldn’t have thought of? Did the novel/story keep you from putting it down? If so, what made it so readable? What were shared aspects of every story? How can you incorporate those aspects into your writing?
  • Get to know your story – If you are rewriting or continuing a WIP, take this time to reread what you currently have. If you are starting from scratch, use this week to imagine the setting of your story. When your characters go about their daily lives, what do they see? What do they smell? Imagine a normal day in the life of your main character from waking until going to sleep. Immerse yourself in your imagination.
  • Sign up on the NaNoWriMo website if needed or update any information on your current account – Are any of your friends joining you for NaNoWriMo? Add them as buddies to help each other stay accountable.

It’s time to get excited about your writing. Lay the framework down now so when November 1 rolls around, all you have to do is put fingers to keyboard (or pen to paper). Please like my Facebook page to share your adventures in writing and keep track of my progress. I’d love to meet you!

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, Uncategorized

First Day of Preptober 2020

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

If there’s been any year in our lifespan that has afforded us more opportunity to write, I can’t think of a single one. Holed up in our homes, the availability of alone time has been plentiful and we have a myriad of current events acting as fodder for our creative minds.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

On this, the first day of Preptober, I’ve debated with my internal man about finishing a fledgling novel that’s been in the pipeline for years or starting from scratch as I normally do during NaNoWriMo. On one hand, devoting my time to an open project where I will see forward movement is enticing but starting a project at the very beginning is always a challenge I love.

This week, I’ve run the gambit of emotions as I finished up September and readied myself to spend the entirety of October prepping for our 30 days of writing.

As my readers know, I use Scrivener to plan, make notations, create timelines, and ultimately write. The husband and I recently purchased a NAS in order to save our files and last week I began the arduous task of moving every single file over to the new system.

The move was almost complete when I got to my writing folders. My Short Stories transferred flawlessly but when it came time to move my massive Novels file, I received an error message stating the entire folder was corrupted. I could not open a single novel, note, piece of research or submissions spreadsheet. I was mortified to say the least.

Three days, many hours spent on Google trying to fix the problem, and a few pieces of recovery software later, I chalked it up to a loss. This morning, I was staring at the offending file at my computer and thought, “How would I try to fix this if I didn’t have Google?”

I right clicked the file, went to properties, then ran a scan in tools. When Microsoft informed me the file had problems I rolled my eyes and clicked the close box. Another box appeared asking if I wanted the computer to fix the file. With trepidation I clicked yes and immediately, my file was accessible.

Y’all. I beat Google.

My emotions have competed a marathon this week.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

All that being said, I now have access to all of my half-finished projects again and I feel like this year should be about bringing something to completion. With all of the tumultuous events that 2020 has brought about, it makes sense that this would be the year I see a NaNoWriMo to the end. Make lemonade out of lemons, I suppose.

I’ll come to the decision tomorrow morning about how to best utilize NaNoWriMo to complete a rough draft. Right now, I have three options:

  • Start brand new
  • Continue with my highest word count project (43584 words)
  • Continue with my most loved project (8385 words)

I’m leaning towards the third choice as I’m very interested to see which direction the story goes and learn more about how to pen a whodunit (It’s a cozy mystery I started last NaNoWriMo.)

Now that my children are one year older, I feel like I have more of a chance to complete the 50k word count goal this time around. A clingy two and four year old really put a damper on my writing last November. I remember telling myself to write after they had gone to bed but to be honest, at the end of the day I was exhausted and fell into dreamland and soon as my head hit the pillow.

I have a roadmap for October’s planning schedule and I’ll expound upon it in more posts as the month tromps on.

My first goal is, as mentioned above, to determine which project I will be working on this year. Tomorrow’s post will bring about that answer and I wait, with baited breath, to see what I will choose.

Feel free to leave a comment here and let me know what you plan on doing for this year’s NaNoWriMo. You can also like my Facebook page to see more insight into my writing life.

Posted in Excerpts

Favorite Phrases Thread of NaNoWriMo 2019

Because if it ain’t fun, there’s no use in doing it. Unless it’s crunches.

Below you will find my favorite excerpts from my newest cozy mystery novel drafted during this year’s NaNoWriMo event:

Pearl’s house, if you could call it that, was the picture-perfect embodiment of what would happen if Count Dracula and Sarah Winchester had a baby and it turned out to be a building.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, Uncategorized

Things To Remember As You Write

While preparing for NaNoWriMo 2019, I read more books in October than I had all year. I looked at each novel with an Editor’s eye in order to better differentiate what works and what makes a manuscript get shelved before finishing.

The amount of words my brain has trudged through in the past month is vast.

In no particular order, here are the five main story-telling problems I found during my Great Book Devouring Event of 2019:

  • INFORMATION DUMPING – This was the biggest problem I had and would shelve a book almost immediately if the author cheated and dumped a ton of info on me right away. Let your reader find out backstory via dialogue and short tidbits from time to time. Copious amounts of text explaining what happened in the past is a cop-out. Good writers are better than that.
  • EXTREMELY DETAILED SETTING AND WORLD BUILDING – Show me the world, don’t tell me about it. A good writer knows that the reader is going to devise their own idea of what the environment looks like in their mind. Don’t try and force your made-up world onto someone else. Share the mood, atmosphere, and locale with your reader and let them create their own landscape. You will draw in a reader much more effectively once they have put some work into the story and created their own stage together in their imagination.
  • SWITCHING FROM POV TO POV – Some authors can do this properly. Many can’t. If a writer is of the latter group, there is nothing that confuses the reader more than a poorly-strung-together story from various points of view. (I recently picked up a cozy mystery where three different POVs occurred within two paragraphs. It was so confusing, I shelved it after only halfway into the first chapter.)
  • DIALOGUE THAT SOUNDS FAKE – When editing your novel, read the dialogue aloud. Have friends read the dialogue aloud. Read it aloud again. If the words on paper sound silly when you actually speak them into existence, re-write it.
  • PLOT THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE – It kills me when a main character acts against his/her nature and nothing in the story explains why that choice was made. Also, subplots that trail off and never come to a conclusion are maddening. If you leave your readers open to a “how/what/why?” question once they are done reading your book, you have done them a disservice.

I would love to hear reasons why you shelve books before finishing! Feel free to leave a comment or join my Facebook author page to expound.

I hope this helps as you continue with your novel creation! If you are currently participating in NaNoWriMo, I wish you good luck and ample writing time. ❤️

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer

3 Days until Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo begins on November 1 and during the thirty days of this eleventh month, I will be creating the rough draft of my very first cozy mystery! With the help of my dear friend, Mr. Google, I have compiled a list of things to remember while I write myself into a stupor.

Gearing up for my second Nanowrimo adventure!
  • Set a goal before you start – This is the easiest to-do as Nanowrimo encourages you to write at least 1667 words a day in order to make your goal of 50k words by November 30.
  • Start with an outline – There are 3 different types of writers: Planners (they use rigidly constructed outlines, character sheets, and plot points), Pantsers (those that type by the seat of their pants in order to quickly get the story to paper), and Plantsers (the type of writers that have a basic idea of where they want the story to go but they allow the characters to create their own futures as they come to life). It’s been proven that when a writer has at least the basics of an outline down before they start writing, their writing speed increases and they don’t suffer as hard from the muddle of the middle.
  • Free Write – Ignore spelling mistakes or grammar issues and JUST WRITE. Get the story down. Don’t review anything you’ve written in order to edit. Your writing may sound absolutely awful and that’s normal. Focus on completing the first draft quickly so you have something to go over with a fine-tooth comb at a later time.
  • Get a First-Draft Friend – Pairing up with someone who will hold you accountable, whether it’s another writer or a coach, is a great way to instill a sense of purpose. Share daily triumphs and setbacks with your FDF in order to stimulate yourself and offer motivation.

No matter what genre you’ve chosen for your Nanowrimo project, all of these tips will work to help you be a more efficient writer. Feel free to join my Facebook Author page in order to follow my 30-day Nanowrimo journey and possibly find your own FDF there!

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, plot ideas

Nearing the Finish Line of Preptober 2019

For those of you participating in this year’s Nanowrimo, we have only a week remaining of Preptober. How are you faring?

Planning, planning, and MORE planning!

This is the time for us to flesh out our plotlines, subplots, character arcs, and every other detail that goes into writing a full-fledged novel.

For those of you that aren’t aware of the term “Nanowrimo”, it’s where you spend the entire month of November churning out a rough draft for a novel. Aspiring novelists commit to writing 1667 words a day in order to have themselves a 50,000+ word manuscript come November 30.

If you are interested in joining me on Nanowrimo 2019, let me know. I would love to support you on your writing journey! Feel free to join me on my Facebook author page to keep up with my progress AND share yours!