Tag Archives: priorities

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!


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.

Life After NaNo: Making New Goals

My blog post regarding NaNo ending and making new goals is on the #amwriting site today. It’s useful whether or not you did NaNo. Goals should be reviewed as we evolve and learn more about our needs. There are five goals to kickstart the process detailed in the post.

Tips for Wrimos:

  1. Write more than 50k before you verify your word count. Many people, including our heroine, are surprised by a lower count than expected.
  2. VERIFY ASAP. Don’t wait until the last moment so you can verify with a higher count. Get your work verified early to avoid possible server lag when everyone around the world is trying to get verified, too. I’ve seen people “lose” NaNo due to server lag near midnight.

Take care,


NaNoWriMo 2012 Winner

It’s Never Too Late

Getting Your Writing Groove Back

Photo by Mike Vondran

When it comes to writing after time away, it’s never too late to be on time. Take it from someone who took a fifteen year hiatus from writing: getting started again is like coming home and finding your bed made with your favorite linens, freshly washed. It’s been there all along, patiently waiting for you to notice. It doesn’t take a long hiatus for you to lose steam, though.

Routines are important. Did you carve out a specific time for writing? Maybe it’s early mornings or late nights, when the world is quiet and you can hear your muse think. Your lunch hour at the dayjob or time at the coffeehouse each day? Crises of all sizes come up at times, ones which can knock you off your game.

Perhaps you’re so busy with life / work / family, your routine consists of random spare moments when no one is tugging on your sleeve and demanding attention. Writing in that case requires a special sort of commitment. There are naturally going to be days which provide zero spare moments. By the same token, you may need the few available so you can be quiet and sew together the shredded edges of your sanity.

Even if you’ve just been away a few days or a few weeks, getting back into the swing of things can be difficult. I tend to place too high a standard on my return, one I can’t possibly accomplish. I end up walking away, shaking my head in disgust, putting off getting back into my routine even longer. Many of us have ways of sabotaging ourselves. I finally came to recognize this stumbling block and try to go around it. Sometimes it even works.

How do you turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones? I can only tell you what works for me. I start small. Hanging out with other writers on Twitter, that lovely timesuck, puts me in the right mind for writing. Keeping an open doc on my computer so I can track ideas, phrases or bits of dialogue is helpful. They often grow into a blog post (like this one), a flash or – if I’m lucky – a part of the novel I’m writing or revising. Other writers turn to pen and paper or notecards at times like this, finding motivation in seeing the inked lines accumulate.

If necessary, start small with the amount of time you devote, too. Grab what time you can in whatever fashion gives you joy. Small amounts add up. They get the writing body into motion. A body in motion is more likely to stay in motion and all that. Momentum is everything when it comes to writing. Get your motor purring and become the Little Engine That Could, having faith in yourself: I think I can, I think I can. Chugga chugga chug.

Still can’t get started? Remember, writing isn’t just about art. Writing is also a job. That means sometimes you just have to make yourself show up. “Butt in chair,” as they say. Grab a little time, sigh elaborately, roll your eyes. Make your fingers cooperate on the keyboard or pen by writing whatever comes to mind, even if it’s just how useless it is because you can’t think of anything to write. Free write, get it all out there, let it be what starts the ball rolling. Momentum!

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Do something goofy and fun, try something ultra structured instead or just go clear off the reservation and try fingerpainting a scene from your story. Anything which kicks you in the creative butt and gets you going.

Stick to it! You’ll ride your momentum back into a writing routine.

“Never give up! Never surrender!” – Galaxy Quest

This post originally appeared on the #amwriting site.

A Little Ramble

You may have noticed I haven’t posted anything here for a good while. It’s the oddest thing – well, there are odder, to be sure, but it’s odd to me. I no longer feel it’s appropriate to post on the blog unless a) it’s a FlashFic or b) something incredibly important happened.

My good friends will point out two things.

  • It’s your blog, Jess. Write what you want, when you want.
  • Something important is happening.

They’d be right, as good friends are wont to be. (Did I just write “are wont to be?” Yes. Yes, I did.)

I try not to think about it and definitely not call attention to it. Here’s the second part of my friends’ reminder: What I often put off as “a health issue” is actually pretty serious. It’s an infection which used to respond to medication, but no longer does. No point getting into the gory details. Suffice to say the battle is heated and taking a huge portion of both my time and energy.

All in all, I’d rather be writing. Instead, I’m easing back into it all by doing some beta reading with an eye to reading one of my manuscripts to see if it’s pure crap. Or not so pure. The goal after that is some brutal edits of a different manuscript. No holds barred. Okay, maybe some holds barred. For style purposes. Hush.

Thank you for your patience, if you’ve shown any, or your tolerance, if that’s more your speed. I don’t kid myself that my writing makes or breaks your day, but I hope it adds to it a bit. I’m trying to get back to that adding.

Take care,


The Art of Living

Due to health issues spinning out of control, our heroine spun out of control, dear Reader. I participated in the artful world for precious yet brief times, stringing them together to form a piece of flash. I got my work done for Escape Into Life, too. I can’t say my thoughts were so much on the art. Rather, they were furious attacks against the situation which kept me from the artistic world.

Tuesday afternoon, I will be getting the Botox injections for the first time. They’re supposed to work immediately. The treatment will keep me migraine-free for three to four months. Rinse, repeat. As migraines were the root of it all, the difference will be nothing short of amazing.

I find myself in the curious position of gathering the little bits of life I lost over the last three years. All the things I miss doing for myself. These little bits of independence, of my life, I place in a colorful woven basket in my mind. They are formed into colorful stones, each a different design.

I plan to take the pieces out of the basket and use them to create a mosaic. More stones will likely join them as I recognize other areas of independence. This will be the symbol I carry in my mind to help me keep perspective when needed. The mosaic is my Art of Living.

What is yours?

“Out of Not So Great”

No doubt you’ve noticed by the rare posts here on Girl Meets Word that our heroine has been struggling with some offline challenges, Dear Reader. One might say I’ve been living in “interesting times,” per the ancient Chinese Curse. I’ve not lost my sense of perspective, though. People have and are surviving much more interesting times. The Chilean miners come to mind at the moment.

Michael Pokocky responded to a post in a touching manner today. To my hope he’s having a great time, he responded that he couldn’t say great, but being “out of not so great is great.” Truer words were never spoken. It is a blessing to be beyond the not so great. Thank you for the perspective, Michael.

Have I come to the end of my downward spiral? Honestly, I don’t know. I am prepared to fake it till I make it, though. Circumstances may attempt to derail me again. I recognize this. I’ll just have to get my attitudinal self motivated to get beyond it.

I am a writer. A writer writes. Just in time for #NaNoWriMo, a celebration of the creative spirit.