Tag Archives: author

The Real Spirit of #NaNoWriMo

 

 

Here we go into the dreaded Week Three of NaNoWriMo. Are you still with us? Are you gung-ho? Yes? Fantastic! No? That’s okay. Our heroine is here to tell you it’s not too late.

The 50k is not the be-all-and-end-all of NaNo. No, my friends, the whole purpose of NaNo is to get you writing. Write what you can when you can at your own pace. JUST. WRITE. Simple as that. Sure, there’s a number goal set for supposedly winning NaNo. It’s the carrot on the stick for many if not most of the participants. But maybe you just don’t need that carrot and can enjoy the carousel ride without the brass ring.

Take into account your studies/work/family and set your own goal. Maybe it’s a word count, in total, per week, or per day. Maybe it’s an amount of time spent writing per week or per day. They can be small. Just make them reasonable for your own life and lifestyle. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back when you are able to reach that goal. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to adjust the goal to suit your life as needed.

Pick up that file, that notebook, those post-it notes. Take a deep breath. And just write.

Remember, that’s enough. You’re writing. You’re not an aspiring writer, you are a Writer. And that, my friends, is the Real Spirit of NaNoWriMo. You are already a winner.

Write on!

Advertisements

Fall Cleaning

 

Blog Fall Cleaning

 

Nice to see you again. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I’m afraid politics has been a shock to our heroine’s system, stopping me from being able to do many of the things I love. I’ve been in ostrich mode for a little while, though. Keeping my head in the sand (only to some extent) has allowed me to reclaim some of my energy.

It’s that time of year when an old writer’s mind turns to NaNoWriMo. As such, it’s only right to blow dust off the keyboard and get ready to give the blog its annual fall cleaning. Oh, I know, most people do spring cleanings. I’ve always done mine in the fall, from household to blog. There’s something magical about Autumn, when the air turns crisp along with the changing leaves that skitter and scuttle about as little eddies of breeze waft through.

I had once again hoped to have a collection of my spookier stories together and up on Amazon in time for October’s Halloween / Samhain season, but it is already mid-September. I think that ship has sailed, but I raise my fist to my rallying cry, “Next year, by the gods!”

Can you think of any themes in my flash fiction which might lend themselves to a collection? I’m probably going to dive into the uncomfortable position of reading through my blog and trying not to edit everything to shreds as I explore that topic.

In the meantime, it’s the mop, bucket, duster, and vacuum for you, Girl Meets Words! It’s almost time for NaNo, my friends.

 

 

 

Politicizing the Girl

A Woman's Place Is in the Resistance

 

You may have noticed our heroine’s twitter feed has much less to do with writing and much more to do with politics these days, Dear Reader. Fear not, I have not forgotten about writing. I’m trying to pace my outrage and get back to writing.

When I was quite young, my parents were grooming me to go into politics. Specifically their politics. They were stoic Republicans, very conservative Nixon backers, and therefore so was I. In our house, it was unheard of to think for yourself. And hey, I was 9 years old. So I went to the political meetings in my area, I campaigned with my local Congressman and did photo ops with him, and I thought I was doing my part for the country.

When I was 14, I was perhaps the youngest person to intern in a Congressman’s office in DC. Everyone thought my high school class ring was a college one and assumed I was older. I was served along with my co-interns in other offices when we went out to clubs. My Congressman, who knew me from the campaign trail, was a leader in the Conservative Union. He led the way in a treaty with the Soviet Union. While in his office, I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was what he and my parents stood for.

I was appalled.

That summer, Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” was popular and it spoke to my anger and disillusionment. I could not tell my parents how learning what their values were had sickened me. I dreaded going back home after the internship ended. Luckily, I didn’t have to get my Congressman’s approval of the research project I did for the internship program. My position was polar opposite his stated one. (Perhaps it’s small of me to note, but I’ll do it anyway: this same Congressman, who violently opposed gay rights, was later disgraced when he was arrested for propositioning a minor male for sex and left office. He went on to come out and, as far as I know, is a liberal who champions LGBTQA+ rights.)

That’s the history. I could go on, such as talking about my future involvement in campaigns after I left home for college at 16 and was no longer forced to hold my tongue. When Reagan was elected, my friends and I shared a few bottles of cheap wine and formed a small procession through the campus, carrying candles to the flagpole, where we extinguished our candles in a dramatic gesture of dismay for the country. More recently, I campaigned for Obama and helped people who were voting for their first time, young and old, to be prepared for the ballot process. I confess, I teared up with some of them, both nervous and excited to be electing him. Oh, looks like I went on after all. Sorry. Stream of consciousness blogging.

None of this prepared me for what’s taken place in our country, our world, over the last year.

My outrage is too great to let fly here. It seeps through my Twitter feed. I believe we need to stay aware of what’s going on, stay involved in the process however we can, and fix what’s wrong deep down in our country. Hearing others and healing the great rift this election exposed is a primary need for the United States. (Brexit voting shows similar trends and other countries are facing conservative backlashes. A nice way of saying racism and other bigotries are influencing the world in horrifying ways.)

But writing. I got nowhere with NaNoWriMo in November. The election devastated me. I was sick almost immediately and then both my older son and I were hospitalized at the same time. The story remains to be written and it’s entirely escapism, especially for me as the writer. As yet it is untitled. I call it the Historical Romance Trope Novel.

The real issue is getting my head out of my outrage, into my hopes for our world, and into my story world. I’m taking advice from Gareth L. Powell, who wrote a great blog post: How to Keep Being Creative in a Crisis. He writes: Art doesn’t stop for history. In some ways, art is history. That has become my reminding mantra. (Thank you, Gareth.)

Of course, when I really need a kick in the ass, there’s also Chuck Wendig‘s Art even harder, motherfucker!  (Thank you, Chuck.)

I’m going to continue to be politically active. I can’t imagine not being involved to the best of my ability. Keep making those calls. March if you can. But take time to be creative, too. It’s healing, both for you and for our world.

Are you struggling to be creative in this climate, no matter where you live? How are you coping – or ARE you coping? I’d love to hear from others who are doing well, not doing well, or just getting by day to day.

#NaNoWriMo: The Spirit of NaNo

 

The Real Spirit of NaNo, by JC Rosen

It’s November 10th. We’re now in the thick of NaNoWriMo.

Many shook their heads and threw up their hands during that first week. I can’t blame them. NaNo is a big challenge. The first few years I peered down that trail toward the goal line, it was so far away, it was nearly invisible in the distance. I miserably gave up within days the first two years and just plain skipped it the third. It was so bad, I don’t even remember the years – I repressed the whole thing.

Doesn’t sound like much of a pep talk, does it?

Here’s the pep part: I won the first time in 2008 when I finally tried again. I won a week early! I almost put away my keyboard five days into it, though. I was sick and miserable. The last thing I wanted to do was write a million words each day. A good friend refused to let me give up. “Just write something today. I don’t care if it’s 300 words. Write something.” So I did. Then I crawled back into bed with my cold medicine and my teddy bear. When I woke up, I hazily did it again. A few days later, I was healthy. I was behind, sure, but I kept writing. With a little extra each day, I could catch up.

Need more pep? All right, you asked for it: my NaNo Soapbox.

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the Spirit of NaNo!

Look beyond the fifty thousand word goal. It is not that shininess. No indeed, it is within you already. You have only to let it free and let it flow.

Does that sound ridiculous? Stay with me a minute.

It’s the Power of Writing, my friends. Just feel The Power of Writing, let it flow through you, let it catch up your imagination and run out your hands without the demon of the Inner Editor making you second guess it! That is indeed the Spirit of NaNo. Grab that and you’ll JUST WRITE. Here’s the secret: write every day, make a habit of it and you’ve won the real shiny prize.

If you commit to writing when you can, writing around your obstacles toward a goal you set for yourself – that’s how you embrace the Spirit of NaNo!

 

Stick with it, everyone, and may you all win the Real Shiny Prize.

photo credit: Anant N S (www.thelensor.tumblr.com) via photopin cc

#NaNoWriMo: Beyond the Words

 NaNoWriMo: Beyond the Words by JC Rosen

 

Whether prepping for or deep in the depths of NaNoWriMo, we tend to focus on word counts and stifling the inner editor. Don’t get me wrong. These are important issues. The latter helps with the former and the former is what gets you beyond that official finish line.

Let’s talk about what you can do to improve your experience. These are techniques which have little to do with plotting and wrangling words. These are meant to rejuvenate your energy stores, to lift your spirit, and to freshen your sense of purpose. They make it so much easier to do the stifling and the writing.

Simply put, I’d like you to consider what you can do for your comfort and pleasure. Self-care is greatly overlooked, especially during NaNo. We wrimos tend to develop tunnel vision and I’m telling you, it’s easy to feel the walls crowding you when you’re in a tunnel. What do you do when you’d like to treat yourself? Not a spa weekend, but rather a small pick-me-up. How do you like your environment so that you’re not distracted by it?

If I didn’t make lists for these situations, I’d get lost in the tunnel vision. I make two lists: Get and Do. I enlist my kids in helping me so the Getting and Doing don’t become chores themselves. Asking those close to you to help prepare you for and refresh you during NaNo also reinforces how important it is to you. One stone, two birds there.

I’m wary of stereotyping genderwise, so my disclaimer is these are examples which work for me. YMMV. I hope some of them inspire you to finding your own way out of the tunnel vision.

Under GET:

  • Crepes on NaNo Eve (at least!)
  • Good coffee and creamer
  • Warm socks
  • Fingerless gloves (I tend to write when it’s cold.)
  • Peppermint lotion (It’s as invigorating on the hands as it is on the feet.)
  • Good microwave meals and/or easy meal supplies
  • Incense
  • New nail polish

When you make your list, keep in mind the little incidentals. Will you need change for laundry machines? Getting quarters means one big step I can skip at laundry time.

Under DO:

  • Fresh linens on the bed
  • Clean bathroom
  • Do laundry (Yes, these are chores, but they make my life easier and more pleasant.)
  • Find comfy sweaters
  • Give myself a manicure (or go out and get one)
  • Crank up the music and dance and/or play air guitar (or a real one!)
  • Spend some time with family and pets
  • Watch some entertainment (WARNING: Do not start a tv series. Far too easy to binge.)
  • Read a book. (I strongly recommend setting a timer, but this is one of my favorite items.)

What helps you cleanse your writing palate? Maybe cooking a special meal or going for a run? Just as important, you can list items just for fun, ones which aren’t really options.

  • Buy that Jaguar and take a ride down the mountain to see the leaves
  • Have a fun evening at the local with <insert celebrity name here>
  • Pitch a no-hitter during a crucial game in the World Series

When you feel a little frantic about writing, your writing gets bogged down. Lighten the mood and your outlook by looking at your list and picking something you enjoy. Taking a little time away from writing may be just what you need to get your head back in the game.

What is on your list? Please share and inspire other wrimos at the same time.

 

 
photo credit: nicola.albertini via photopin cc

#NaNoWriMo: Stop with the Waffling!

This originally appeared on the #amwriting site a couple years ago, but bears repeating.

No More Waffling about NaNo by JC Rosen

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek

November 1st is just around the corner, a mere handful of days away. For wrimos, Halloween / Samhain is spent in anxious anticipation of the stroke of midnight. Wrimos spending this time alone talk to themselves, coaching themselves to jump through that midnight gate with vigor. Those at write-ins with other wrimos? Well, they experience a group dynamic I like to call hooting crazitude. (Come on. It’s fun to say.)

You – yes, you – can still be caught up in the excitement that is NaNo. Have you been compiling pro and con lists? Perhaps you think you just don’t have time for it. Maybe the idea of writing that much in one month is too daunting to contemplate. Are you in the midst of a work-in-progress and simply don’t wish to step away from it to start something new? Do you sigh and wistfully say you just can’t do it?

There are so many reasons people state to explain why they don’t want to do NaNo. Don’t get me wrong: I respect another’s choice in the matter. A simple “I don’t want to do it” makes me nod and back off. NaNo’s not for everyone. It is, however, for many people who think it can’t work for them.

  • The spirits of encouragement and camaraderie during NaNo are not to be underestimated. Put those on your pro list and underline them for emphasis. Whether you’re in it to be utterly nuts and compile a novel full of “plot bunnies” and challenges (see nanowrimo.org Forums for more info) or you’re working on a more conventionally legitimate project, you’ll find people ready to support you and keep you going.
  • The NaNo Rebels group is going strong again this year. Check out this link about NaNo Rebels on the nanowrimo.org site for official info about the Rebels. If you’re in the middle of a WIP and don’t want to set it aside, write nonfiction, or write in formats other than novel-sized ones, you can participate by being a NaNo Rebel. The goal is the same: 50k new words on your project(s).
  • Consider setting a different goal for yourself. No one says you have to write 50k words. No, you won’t “officially win” NaNo by writing 20k words. You may write your heart out during the hours you have available, though. You may be pushing yourself in ways you never have in order to reach the goal you set for yourself. That’s NaNo, baby!

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to push yourself and just write. Gag and tie up that inner editor who makes you go over everything you write as you write it. Just. Write. No matter what, it’s a great exercise for anyone who gets into ruts because of that inner editor. If you need to set a different goal for word count, no matter. The exercise and purpose for it are the same.

So no more waffling! Whether you’re a pantster, a plotter or somewhere in between, it’s time to stock the cabinets with food for easy meals and snacks, get your favorite source of caffeine ready and clean off your writing space. (Trust me, it’ll become cluttered enough during November.)

Write on, wrimo!

I have done NaNoWriMo for several years. It’s a huge reason I began writing after a 15-year hiatus. On the NaNo site as JC_Rosen (isn’t that clever?), I’m open to buddy listing. I usually use the #NaNo hashtag in addition to #amwriting during November. Join us! We do sprints. Progress measurement is up to you.

#NaNoWriMo: Writing Prep

 

Writing Prep by JC Rosen

 

With NaNoWriMo less than two weeks away, our heroine thought it might be helpful to share some tools. They can be used for any project, of course. Some may work for you, some may not. Just as we all learn differently, we all approach our projects differently. As an example, clustering only works for me as I unsnarl a plot point rather than for huge swaths of plotting. I tried the method and learned how to label it for my writing toolbox. Other methods have been tossed aside when they didn’t work for me at all.

I’m a hybrid, neither pantser nor plotter. I call my prep process “outlining,” but that’s a misnomer. My outlines are basic and very loose. I use the outline to describe story and character arcs in general terms. I also input bits of research I don’t want to lose in the process. I fill in a spreadsheet of characters’ information as I go. Okay, I *try* to do that.

While I may explore major plot points and characters more deeply using other methods, I don’t do the intense planning many do. There are times I wish I did. Most of the time, I’m grateful for allowing the story and characters to wander into places I didn’t know existed in the story’s landscape. Secondary characters take on whole lives. It never fails, and thank heavens for it. As such, I don’t plot so tightly there’s no room for breathing within the structure of the writing.

Johanna Harness, founder of #amwriting on Twitter (archives for the site), explores many plotting methods. Her blog and YouTube channel are often my go-to for inspiration. Her info is always accessible and useful. I’ll share a couple as well as some other plotting methods.

 

Clustering:  Johanna first suggested clustering for a snarled up short story because of the effects of my migraines on my writing. I can go full tilt writing with a migraine, but cannot plot or edit for beans. She sees clustering as a right brain/left brain processing difference. To do it, one uses (*gasp*) a pen and paper, drawing bubbles of thoughts all over the page, willy-nilly. I found it helpful when I had a migraine, though mine looked more like a flowchart. I guess I just think too linearly. Check out Johanna’s blog article as well as her video (embedded on page) for more on clustering.

 

Snowflake Method: Known as “The Snowflake Guy,” Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for novel writing is immensely popular. He calls his process “designing a novel.” Take a look at this article which is full of interesting ideas. As no two novels are exactly alike, no two snowflakes are, either. The article teaches how to design a novel which is perfectly individual. Please read the whole article for full impact.

 

Phase Drafting:  This article by Lazette Gifford, It’s Just a Phase, is from 2003. It’s no less helpful today. Lazette’s ideas about outlining a project are fresh and inspiring. She leaves room for growth and fleshing out the story. Don’t miss this one.

 

Big Board Planning: This is one of my favorite methods. It’s another by Johanna Harness and you can see the video about it. Do you organize your ideas on note cards or post-it notes? (Do you think you should, but don’t?) I started the post-it note habit when Johanna turned me on to Big Board Planning. It’s as simple as taking a large poster board and putting your cards or post-its on the board. It’s handy for juggling bits of your story, putting them together like a puzzle, or for putting reminders amid the storyline notes. I use a tri-fold poster board so I can fold it up and put it somewhere safe. Johanna shares ideas on how to organize using colors and placements. Scrivener has a version of this, but I like it being tactile.

 

There are plenty of methods to try. Read about each you find and glean which bits might work for you. You may end up – probably will end up! – creating an entirely new method, one based solely upon your needs as a writer. With NaNo breathing down my neck, I’ll be trying new combinations of tools. I may use clustering to get the basic outline of plot points figured out. (Bet it still looks like a flowchart.) I’ll use a spreadsheet for data on each character’s physical and personality characteristics. Big Boarding may help me if I get stuck during November.

Who knows? Anything can happen during NaNo!

 

Interested in adding me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo site? Please do! I’m JC_Rosen. (clever, huh?)

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Simply Bike via photopin cc