NaNoWriMo Day 10: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

You’ve made it to day 10. How are you doing? Kickin’ ass? Barely getting by? Maybe you need some support. As writers, we are a solitary creature by nature. Maybe you haven’t quite announced to the world (or even your family & friends) that you are, in fact, a writer? Well, everyone needs some kind of support, especially when embarking on such a momentous goal as NaNoWriMo. My tip for today is to get some support & encouragement.

You can get support from any number of places. Family is great. Nobody will cheer for you more than your family. They are the ones who will brag about you, encourage you to stay the course, and make you sour cream enchiladas to fuel your creative energy (OK, not really, that’s a subtle hint in case my mom is reading). But, unless they’re also writers, they may not really know what you’re experiencing right now (the stress, the self-doubt, the absolute absence of words at some times).

Do you have a critique group that you can turn to? Try checking into a local NaNoWriMo group, you might be surprised how many people in your area are involved in NaNoWriMo. And, if you are the sole inhabitant of a mountain top in an inhospitable environment that supports no other life than your own, the internet  is always a great place to find support. Try the NaNoWriMo website and forums.

The important thing is to reach out, talk to others, commiserate about your journey. And then get back to writing! You only have 20 days left!!

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NaNoWriMo Day 9: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Todays tip is brought to you by a rockin’ selection of music.

At some point you may find it difficult to keep your mind in the right place to write. It can be hard to get into your characters minds, or to imagine the world or events in your story. This is where an inspirational play list comes in handy. Having a selection of songs that represent the time or region of your story–or songs that simply inspire you and put you in a creative mood–can be a useful tool.

When I was working on my prohibition era, Louisiana-based novel I set up a playlist of zydeco and jazz that kept my mind in the time and place. Right now, I’m relying on some ass kicking songs (Nine Inch Nails, Disturbed, Three Days Grace, Sick Puppies, Linkin Park) for my NaNoWriMo project.

Don’t just listen to the music while your writing, try listening to your playlist while walking or driving. During those times your brain is relaxed and as you listen you may find more inspiration for a plot point or be better able to work out a problem.

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NaNoWriMo Day 7: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

At some point you’re going to need to step away from your project to breath and refocus. You’ll want to some activity that has nothing to do with your manuscript. The most timely and important tip I can give you for today (and into tomorrow) is to get to the polls and vote!! I don’t care who you vote for, but your vote counts (unless you’re voting for the person I didn’t vote for). So get away from the computer, get to your local polling location and cast that vote!


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NaNoWriMo Day 6: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

One concern that a participant mentioned today, and others may be feeling: After 6 days she still doesn’t feel like she has the character’s voice. That can be frustrating as it’s hard to push through when that inner voice just isn’t helping.

At some point we all rely on our characters to take over and tell us where the storyline is going and what their role in the events is (and if you’re not a writer, it’s true, we hear voices, but they tend to go away when the story is done, so don’t fear!).

So, what can you do to try an urge your character’s voices to come through. Some tips that were offered today:

  • Drop your character into a completely different scenario and write what he/she is like there.
  • Explore your character more: gather images (what your character looks like, where they live, a favorite pet, where is his/her saddest memory), listen to music that your character would appreciate, any details to make your character more multi-dimensional
  • Write a short story of something you have done, but through the eyes of your character.
  • Some people find benefit in quiet meditation with the character until they’ve reached a better knowledge of them
  • Write a letter from your character to you, or your readers. Start with “My name is _____, and these are the things you need to know about my journey.”
  • Continue to push forward with your manuscript but do everything from the perspective of the character you are trying to work out (if you have multiple POV or a different MC). If this is your MC include internal dialogue and reasoning as you write. It can help flesh out your character’s motivation and history, applies to your word count and can be deleted later during your edits.

Remember that anything you write during your effort to connect with your character can be included in your word count. It’s part of your process. You can delete it during revisions–at which point you’ll be more intimately connected with your character’s voice.

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NaNoWriMo Day 5: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

If you’re with me now, congratulations! You’ve made it to your first NaNoWriMo weekend. Today’s tip is USE YOUR WEEKENDS.

Weekdays are stressful. You have work/school, running kids to their activities, helping with homework, maybe you take care of your parents or have friends that rely on your help. Meeting your word count goal every day can be added stress. That’s where your weekends come in handy. During the week, continue to write as much as you possibly can. On the weekends make it a priority to get caught up (or, better yet, ahead, with your word count).

  • Consider setting your alarm for the same time you wake up during the week. Use that extra time to do nothing other than write.
  • Spend the hours you typically work during the week (ie- 9am to 5pm) and dedicate that time to writing. You can factor in a “long lunch” and do something fun with family and friends before going back to “work”.
  • If you have small children enlist your spouse or other family members to help out. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Allow yourself the freedom to say “No” to requests or invitations.
  • Factor in smaller goal/reward cycles during long days of writing. For example: When I hit 2500 words, I’m going to take a 1/2 hour walk; I have to get 1,000 words before I can check my social media again; I’m getting 2,000 words before I fold a single pile of clothes; and–because we are fueled on caffeine and chocolate, are we not?–I can have another cup of tea/coffee/soda/mini candy bar in 1,000 words, but not until then.

NaNoWriMo is a big goal, but it’s absolutely something that you can achieve. And keep in mind that, yes, you are giving up free time and extra sleep, but it’s only for four weeks. Thirty days. At the end of that time you’ll have an amazing thing that you created (in only 30 days!!!).


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NaNoWriMo Day 4: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Today’s survival tip is brought to you by the letters F, L & U.

That’s right, it’s not too late, get your flu shot.  Nothing will put a damper on productivity more than the flu. Take care of yourself (for this and every other month). Stay hydrated, wash your hands regularly, give yourself time to rest, and for the love of all that is Holy, get a flu shot!

If you find yourself becoming sick, take a day or two to rest. You really can make up the time & get your word count back under control. And now I will retreat into my ginger ale and tylenol cocoon, be well NaNoWriMo’ers!

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A Horse With No Name

I was on my way to pick up my 8-year old from school when I had the kind of experience that a person just has to share.

As I came over the hill of a busy four-lane road I had to slow to a stop. Although the light was green, traffic was barely moving at a crawl. I strained my neck, looking for the sputtering jalopy or student driver who must be trying–and failing miserably–to find first gear. My automatic response systems kicked in, along with all the names I could call the offender when I finally honed in on him. And then, I found them. Not just one, but the four responsible parties who were impeding the flow of traffic.

I saw the first one when he peeked around the corner of a truck with a camper shell. His dark mane hung over the right side of his face, his dark eyes cautiously assessed traffic as he stepped toward the center line. His errant friends galloped along the cars on the outer lane before darting into traffic as well. That’s right friends, I said “galloped”, because today, by the grace of all things good, wonderful & bizarre, there were four horses on one of the busiest intersections in town, literally destroying the timeline of some very pissed off commuters.

Adding to this glory were the men who were chasing them. Four men and a police officer, all on foot and in hot pursuit–dodging in and out of traffic. The horses were evading the law. How many times can  you say that? How many times in the short time I am granted on this earth will I ever get to see a uniformed officer involved in a foot pursuit…with a horse?

This was truly a blessed day that was gifted to me by a greater power. One who has a disturbed sense of humor and could think of nobody better to share it with. And, for that, I am eternally grateful.


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Cleaning My Desk. Or Not

I had a very productive day. I cleaned my office.

Actually, I cleared off my desk. 
Technically, I just went through a stack of papers on my desk.

Ok, it was a sticky note. It was laying on top of my desk and I threw it in the trash. Quit judging me.
For the record, I also wrote this blog post today…On that sticky note.


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American Airlines and the Case of the Missing iPod

It is Tuesday afternoon and my family is on the final leg of a very long summer adventure. We are hours from home and the spirits of the Middle have been lifted again.

Early yesterday morning, after waking up at 4 am to catch an early flight, our traveling carnival group of seven boarded an American Airlines flight from Honolulu to LAX. As seems to happen more often these days, our group was seated in different rows. The Oldest & the Middle (who seem to have found a new appreciation for each other as traveling companions, if not as brothers) begged to sit together. As we landed in LA I reminded them to check for their belongings.
It wasn’t until and hour later, as our connecting flight to Las Vegas was getting ready to board, that the Middle realized he’d left his iPod in the seat back pocket. He began crying right away. It’s important to note that this iPod wasn’t a gift. The Middle saved his Christmas and birthday money until he could afford to buy it himself. He’s had it for a year, so he was 9 when he made this very special purchase. What upset him the most though, was that his vacation pictures were on his iPod.

I ran back to the gate we had arrived on and went to the agent desk. After standing there (and being blatantly ignored by a female agent) for six minutes, I asked another agent who was by the door, if the plane was the same one. I explained what had happened and told him which seat my son had been in. He let it be known that he didn’t want to help and that he had no interest. He essentially told me that it was our tough luck. The plane had been loaded and was set to return to Hawaii. After I begged he said he would check “in a minute”. He walked down the ramp, returned & told me it wasn’t there and “must have been cleaned out when they cleaned the plane”.
Late last night, still mulling over the lost iPod and with a nagging suspicion that the seat back hasn’t really been checked, I took a chance and turned to Twitter. American Airlines responded right away and requested the flight, seat and item information. An hour ago I was notified that the iPod has been found in Hawaii and arrangements have been made for its return (not to be bitter but, had the agent really checked for it this could have been wrapped up in LA and without a shipping charge).
Anyway, I am very grateful to both Twitter and American Airlines for making it possible to locate The Middle’s iPod so quickly. The boy has learned his lesson and will always check the seat back pocket on future flights. And he will have to forever live with the knowledge that his iPod has been to Hawaii more times than he has.

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