Saturday, October 31, 2015

My NaNoWriMo Essentials

NaNoWriMo has already started in some locations, but I sit at my laptop waiting for the hours to tick by until my time zone can begin.My fingers are itching. I've been imagining my first chapter rather vividly in my head all afternoon. I can't wait.

But until then, I thought I'd share some things that I've decided are rather necessary to keep nearby while trying to type out 1,667 words per day.

If you get hungry or thirsty, going to the kitchen is just a distraction. Don't tell me you'll brainstorm while you pop popcorn, or while you wait for tea to steep. You'll get busy washing dishes or texting a friend and the next thing you know, your popcorn is stale, your tea is cold, and your word count is still sitting at only 300 something and it's almost midnight...for the third night in a row. Get these things taken care of before you sit down to write. An emergency chocolate bar is also a good idea.

Notebook & Pen
Sometimes you just need to scribble out an idea. Sometimes you get stuck while typing. I've heard a change in medium can help with that, so I'm putting a notebook and pen on my list of essentials. I do most of my writing on the computer, but I tend to brainstorm with pen and paper better.

On the technology side, you need something that keeps all your ideas in one place that is accessible from anywhere. If you can manage to keep actual paper and pen with you all the time, use that. For the rest of us, we need something that can be accesses on our little smartphones--those are always in our pockets. Personally, I use Evernote, but you could use Google Docs, or anything else that lets you access from phone and computer both.

This was something I didn't think about last year: tissues. Writing can be very personal, and if you suddenly realize that your plot or character speak to you, tears may ensue. Toward the end of last year's novel I hit some emotional scenes that had me in tears as I was writing them. You don't want to be scrambling for something to wipe nose and eyes if you're writing an emotionally charged scene.  Keep a box of tissues handy.

So there's four things that I consider essential to have near my while writing for this month. What is on your list?

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More about NaNoWriMo?
Four Benefits of NaNoWriMo
This Year's NaNo Prep
What I Did Last Year To Silence My Inner Editor

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Four Benefits of NaNoWriMo

I posted a few days ago about my NaNoWriMo prep time. The anticipation for November first grows daily. Personally, I'm anticipating a lot of fun.

But if you've checked NaNoWriMo out, you know that I'm attempting to write fifty thousand words in a single month. That's a little over sixteen hundred per day. That's more than quadruple one of my normal blog posts. What on earth am I thinking?!

Well...I'm thinking that I've done it before. But for you, who might be trying to decide if you want to join in the craziness for the first time, let me attempt to convince you. These are four benefits I have from participating in NaNoWriMo:


NaNoWriMo provides a community of writers--each attempting the same insane goal. There's a huge community online on the NaNoWriMo boards as well as on Twitter. Personally, I use Twitter the most because it's what I use year-round. (Find me here.) If you're feeling discouraged, you have people readily available to cheer you on. If you're stuck for ideas, there's people that will help with that, too.

The writing itself, however...that's your responsibility.


We all have our quotas to fill. That's another benefit of NaNoWriMo. You're staring a deadline in the face and the only thing you can do about it is write.

You quit thinking about writing. You quit talking about writing.

You write.

Your excuses get pushed to the side and you do what you have always wanted to do. It's liberating.


The knowledge that I have this crazy goal for November, and that it will take work and time to achieve that goal, has made me get organized around the house. I made out menu plans for the whole month...and a master grocery list...and printed recipe cards. I got it together for the first time in I don't want to admit how long. Plus I got a head start on cleaning chores. NaNoWriMo has already benefited these aspects of my life by giving me the motivation to take care of them now instead of procrastinating. It can do the same for you.


One last benefit I would like to mention is getting head space cleared out. I always have multiple stories simmering away in my head. It gets a bit crowded. NaNoWriMo makes me write out one of my stories,get it out of my head, and put it on paper. It was a relief last year to finish a story and know it was out. Not perfect, but out. It doesn't bother me like it did before because I still have it, it's just not taking up space in my brain. It's a wonderful feeling.

So have I convinced you yet? If so, join me! You can find my profile here.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

NaNoWriMo Prep Time

October is fast coming to a close. Some folks are busy with last minute Halloween preparations, and others are already turning their attention to Thanksgiving--or even Christmas.

Still others are listening to a siren call with equal measures of anticipation and dread--the siren call of NaNoWriMo.

I tried to resist that call this year. I really did. I have two weeks that my schedule is going to be so messed up, I'm not sure I will be able to make time to write. Yet, every time someone on Twitter would mention NaNoWriMo, I would go back to second-guessing my decision to not participate.

I kept second-guessing until I changed my mind, and plunged into a short prep time before the month kicks off. I had so much fun last year, I just couldn't contemplate the thought of missing out. I decided that trying and failing was more important to me than not trying at all.

That meant a change of story. I was originally going to work on a complete re-write of last year's story. Over the last year, it morphed so much in my head that it's hardly recognizable. However, I would care too much about not finishing that story, so I had to pick a different one.

Do you remember The Phone Call and it's continuation? That became the inspiration for this year's NaNoWriMo project. I just can't leave the idea of tangent universes alone. There's so much to explore!

While I had no preparation done last year (I decided to participate sometime around 10 o'clock at night on Halloween last year.) I've done a bit this year. I've written about four different outlines and the plot has changed on me at least six times. Characters morphed and combined. I am loving this process.

This week I'm turning my attention to the house and food plans. Meal plans, grocery lists, and giving the house a good cleaning are what's on my list. I feel rather productive. It's a benefit of participating in NaNoWriMo that I'm already reaping benefits.

So how crazy are you feeling? Have you ever wanted to try writing a novel? It's an exilerating feeling to hit that 50k word count for the first time. NaNoWriMo could be the thing you need to get you started. Join me here!

For a few tips I learned from last year, check out what I did to silence my inner editor.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Knowing Yourself

I've mentioned before that I used to think that I was a detail-oriented person. But I was almost literally nicknamed Miss Oblivious in the office. While I can handle detailed tasks, I'm actually much more focused on the big picture. I don't notice details. So how did I come to think I was detail-oriented?

I was raised to value the quality and so naturally desired to possess it. I thought I did. My family was detail-oriented, therefore I must be as well. I did not want to be different from my family in this regard.

I had a bit of trouble being honest with myself regarding this aspect of my personality. Not being detail-oriented isn't bad or good, but my perception made me cling to my skewed view of myself.

I have since accepted this. The main goal now is not to use it as an excuse when I know I could do better. Like leaving salt out of a recipe completely because I didn't read the instructions well enough...

Mentioning food--I recently discovered that I am a foodie. I basically love everything about food. I got excited the other day just because I found polenta at the grocery store... But I haven't wanted to label myself as a "foodie" because I associated it with the word "snobby." Perceptions again. Yet, "foodie" just means that a person is enthusiastic about food...and I definitely am that!

It's making me more aware of the fact that sometimes I really don't know myself as well as I think I do. Perhaps even those around me see me more accurately at times than I do myself. Yet I don't think that it's good to remain completely oblivious to who you really are.

How do you get to know yourself?

You could take all kinds of personality tests, but they only paint an incomplete picture. They're also only as accurate as your answers, and if you are either unaware or in denial about who you really are, the personality tests are going to give skewed results. They can be a fun game, but I don't put a great deal of stock in them.

The one person that knows us for who we really are...and loves us God. Through His Word and His Spirit, He can reveal to us ourselves. The wonderful thing about asking God to show us who we really are is that He doesn't do it all at once. He does it kindly and slowly, leading us to better understanding and helping us to correct faults we didn't even know we had.

My prayer is that I will never shy away from the reflections in His Word.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Even My Desires

Sometimes God uses little moments to teach us big lessons. I had one of those moments three years ago. It feels like a good time to share it now.

I was on a trip with my parents. As we returned to our hotel one day, I suddenly got a craving for peanut butter M&Ms. I assumed that the vending machines wouldn't have them, but decided to look anyways. To my surprise, they had exactly what I wanted. As I was reaching into my purse for the money to buy my desired treat, Daddy handed me some money.

The amount was more than I needed for my candy. I didn't really need the sugary treat. I did have the money on hand to buy it, but here was my daddy wanting me to let him be the one to supply even this small desire.

Later that evening I started crying as God started showing me how He wants to be the one to supply even the little things for me. He considers even our desires. He wants to give us good things.

Whatever faults my earthly father may have had, I never doubted that he wanted the best for me. And God is saying that He--as a Heavenly Father--possesses this quality even more. Remember that Daddy gave me more than enough for my candy. God wants to give us more than enough.

I'm not saying that we always get what we want. Sometimes God says "no" because He sees that our desire is harmful to us or because He has something better to give us if we will let Him. But He does know and care about our desires.

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11)

I remember this lesson every time I look at a package of peanut butter M&Ms now. I hope it will be an encouragement.

Notice: I am not paid to rave about peanut butter M&Ms. I am receiving no reimbursement for professing my love for this specific candy. I just wanted to tell a story.

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Want to read more of my little lesson moments?
Being Still 
Looking Up