The “Secret” To Winning NaNoWriMo

I have an insight.

Just hear me out.

There’s a widespread secret to “winning” NaNoWriMo (in the traditional sense). And it’s actually numerically true. Like, it’s measurable and about as scientific as you can get when you’re talking about something like noveling.

Here is the secret:

Survive Week Two.

Without fail, every single NaNoWriMo, the sharpest drop-off occurs after Week One. People can go strong for 5 to 7 days. That’s easy – it’s practically like a Creation Vacation! WHEE, NOVELING! But then… you realize… oh geez, you have to DO something with what you’ve just created. The characters have to… exist. And live. And breathe. And do something… interesting. Like, a plot or something. Right? NOOOOOOO!

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But how can they do that when you feel like you’re starting to write complete crap? Your creative resources are starting to flag, right? You’re feeling drained, maybe even a little resentful? Oh geez, ANOTHER night in front of this computer/notebook? I WANT A BREAK. (table flip, lots of screaming)

Here’s the thing: Most people who manage to survive and slog through Week Two end up “winning” NaNoWriMo. THIS IS A FACT, we see it every November. Maybe not with 50k words, but they manage to actually write most of the 30 days of the month, hit an admirable word count, AND they shockingly find they’ve built up so much momentum that they can keep going, even after the deadline of November 30th is over.

This phenomenon has been present since the beginning of NaNoWriMo, if you read the founder’s book, No Plot? No Problem! (by Chris Baty, this book seriously changed my writing life). I personally think there are scientific reasons surrounding this, related to what we know about habit-building and behavioral modification, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

So, if it helps at all, if it gives you even the teeniest tiniest bit of motivation to hang on and keep going, despite the part of you screaming to just stop and give up, just think of it this way: if you survive week two, you’re probably going to “win” NaNoWriMo – whatever that means to you. And isn’t that kind of pretty awesome?

 

Guest Post by Kari Trenten

NaNoWriMo: Rough Drafting in the Shadow Forest

Guest Post by Kari Trenten

Perhaps it was a mistake to attempt to write a rough draft of My Tool, My Treasure for NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t finished my revisions on the first book in my Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest series (Stealing Myself From Shadows). Nor have I completed them on the second (The Hand and the Eye of the Tower), or the third (A Godling for Your Thoughts?)

Why take on the rough draft of the fourth book?

Because it’s NaNoWriMo, a time set aside for rough drafts. All of the energy and encouraging posts (and believe me, writers, I find them encouraging, thank you) are aimed at people trying to churn a story out in its rawest, most creative form.

This draft needs to be written. Now seems like as good a time as any to do it.

I’m working on a series, a magical journey based on Tarot card imagery. My Tool, My Treasure is part of it. I’ve only got a hazy idea of where I’m going. Writing this rough draft clears more of the path to that destination. I need the bones, the framework of the overall story before I flesh it out.

Everything I’ve read and listened encourages me to think long term. To have a long term plan. Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest is a major part of that long term plan.

Readers don’t like to wait too long for the next part of a story. I’ve already taken more time than many of them would like. I still think it would be better to release Stealing Myself From Shadows when they won’t have to wait too long for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, A Godling for Your Thoughts?, My Tool, My Treasure, Blades of Thought, and My Cusps Runneth Over afterwards.

Yes, I have that many books planned. Originally the first book was going to be inspired by the Greater Trumps, the second by pentacles/coins/diamonds, the third by spades/swords, the fourth by wands/staffs/clubs, and the last by cups/cusps/hearts. Only I ended up with two books inspired by Greater Trump imagery. At first I thought they’d be companion books, concurrent with each other, until I realized that Stealing Myself From Shadows was the first book. All the preludes I’d posted at inspirationcauldron.wordpress.com were urging me to tell Christopher’s tale first. The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, Danyel and Tayel’s story was second.

I’m still confused by the association of swords and spades with air. I’m equally confused by wands and clubs being different faces of a similar suit, one affilated with fire. The sword feels more fire-like to me while the wand feels like air. I’m not always sure of this, especially since the wand might also be a club.

I’ve been struggling to learn about the symbolism of these cards for years, yet I still have much to learn. The crippling fear of my own ignorance slows me down in my path to self publication.

I’ve got to move forward. I’m not writing about the Tarot cards themselves. I’m writing a series of ambient fiction novels inspired by the cards.

That’s the story I want to tell, the story which needs to be told.

Best move on with it.

 

 

Nano-eve is tomorrow

“Nano-Eve is Tomorrow”

by Malik, your 2018 Nano Cheerleader

 

Nano-eve is tomorrow and all through the land the writers were waiting, ideas in-hand.

With outlines and research the Planners they sit, patiently waiting for Day One to hit.

While Pantsers are waiting for the starting bell to discover what story their mind will tell.

However they write – with desktop, phone, or pen,

one thing in common for all is the when.

On the first through the thirtieth, heed this small advice -

During Nanowrimo, never miss twice.

:)

2018 Never Miss Twice

 

Hem and Haw About NaNoWriMo

“Hem and Haw About NaNoWriMo”

A Poem by A. Catherine Noon

The Self: I have an idea for NaNo, but I don’t know about it…

Hem: Yes, write it!

Haw: No, dummy, that’s a horrible idea.

Hem: Really? I have an idea?

Haw: No, that’s not what I meant. Don’t write it.

Hem: Don’t write what?

Haw: The idea.

Hem: I thought you said there wasn’t an idea?

Haw: No, there’s no idea! No writing!

Hem: So the idea is that there’s no writing?

Haw: Oh my god, shut up!

Hem: I get it!! Write the idea about the Silence! Once upon a time…

Haw: No! Stop it! Don’t!

Hem: ~typity~ Did you say something?

A. Catherine Noon
2018 Co-Municipal Liaison, Chicago Region
National Novel Writing Month
10 Events, 7 Wins
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

Guest Post by ChiWriMo Member Jennifer Worrell – “I have to get this sentence just right.”

I have to get this sentence just right.
On the first try.
But really, I need to go back and read everything I wrote up to this point first…
…and fix all these mistakes too.

Where are all my edit-as-you-go brothas and sistas?  He-ey!  Holla!

*Slap slap slap*  This is NaNoWriMo.  You’re doing it wrong.

I can’t divorce writing and editing!  I admit it!  I go back and reread what I wrote last time because it helps me recapture my mood and tone.  And if I see a mistake, it seems pointless to take notes and revise it later.

NaNo is different.  It says to hell with conventions and honing skill and trying to write the next Great American Novel.  Instead, it begs you to do the opposite.  Your first draft will not only be garbage, it’s expected to be garbage.  If it isn’t, the other participants will hate you.  Just sayin’.

Serious writing is like going to the symphony.  You dress up in your finest and hope no one laughs at your attempt at class.  If you’re lucky, beautiful music happens along the way.  NaNo is like making mud pies in your backyard.  It’s messy, it makes no sense, and you’d be horrified if someone saw it.  It’s recess for your inner child.

It’s been said that first you should tell yourself the story.  That’s great advice for NaNo participants.  Tell it like an old coot: Ramble.  Write about it in casual terms, without the thesaurus adding flourishes to your prose.  Bore yourself with information in both senses of the word: drill it into your head, over and over, until you know every corner of your story’s world, every freckle and flaw of your characters, every color and shade of the setting.

Freewriting is your friend, and it’s just that: freeing.  Worrying about getting it perfect is a waste of precious time.  You only have 26 days left!  There’s no room for procrastination or fine tuning.  Quantity is the name of the game here.  Quality comes later.  Somewhere in that unholy mishmash, you’ll unveil a nugget or five you can polish up and worry over on December 1st.  Until then, beat it!  Go play in the dirt.

And So It Begins…

2017-10-31 Blog Pic 1

It’s All Hallow’s Eve, or as we in ChiWriMo like to call it,

The Day Before NaNo!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not actually ready.

Wha?

No, really.

But here’s what I’ve learned from NaNo’s past:

Don’t panic. All words count during NaNo.

What does this mean in my case? I’m a pantser, which means I write “by the seat of my pants.” As much as I’d like to be more of a planner, my personal process doesn’t seem to work that way. Yeah, I can plan. But when the rubber meets the road, I’m a pantser.

NaNo will start whether I’m ready or not.  Which brings me to:

You don’t have to “be ready.” You just have “to write.”

Write is a verb. As a matter of fact, it’s a nice, crunchy, active verb – and if you’ve read how-to articles related to writing, you’ve probably heard exhortations to use active verbs in your writing.

Very well.  I shall to write.

Or something like that.

But see, this leads me to my next point:

Rough drafts are Rough Drafts: equal parts “rough” and “draft.”

What happens when you order a draft beer?  (No, really, stay with me here.) The barkeep pulls the lever, after putting a glass below the spigot of course, and poof.  Beer shows up.

Writing is kind of like that. You put the paper or word processor (the glass) in front of the fingers (the spigot) and pull the lever.  It ain’t gotta be pretty; it’s just gotta be words.

Pretty soon, a rough draft becomes a draft of a novel. But don’t rush it.

It’s just the start of NaNo.  All you gotta do, wrimo, is write 1,667 words tomorrow.  You don’t even gotta write ‘em all in the same sitting.  You could write 500 here, 250 there, a thousand after that… Which, for you math-inclined folks, is actually 1,750.

See how that happens?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Okay, I didn’t say that, a really smart guy named Lao Tzu did.  But it’s true, nevertheless.  And even the longest novel begins with the first word.  And the English language, assuming that’s what you’re writing your novel with, has lots and lots of words.  And a great many of them can be used to begin sentences.

Just start.

To paraphrase the famous Nike ad, “Just do it,” just start writing.

You can DO this, wrimo.

WE can.

Write on.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

An Interview with ChiWriMo Member, Bree M. Lewandowski, Author of Under Winter Lights, Part One

I had the opportunity to interview one of our ChiWriMo members on her recent release, (well, okay, I kind of pounced on her and wouldn’t let her get away until she agreed to be interviewed).  So here, without further ado, is what we’ve all been waiting for:

Bree M Lewandowski

The ChiWriMo Interview

2016-11-25 Book CoverCWM: Which came first, writing or dance? How do they inform each other for you?

BML:  Dance definitely came first for me. It was one of those things my mom put me in because she liked dance, the same as her mother. And whether it be nature or nurture, I liked it too. A lot. And specifically Ballet. In Ballet, the dancer takes a melody and brings it to life. The invisible becomes physical and tangible. If that’s not the closest thing to real magic in this world, then I don’t know what is. Perhaps that wonder extends into my love of writing. Like Ballet, it should be impossible. When I sit down to tell a story, I lack touch, sound, taste, color. All I have are words on a blank sheet of paper. But through those words, I can take the reader to new places, introduce them to new characters and make them feel in new ways. It’s amazing!

CWM:  Your new book is Under Winter Lights: Part One. What was the inspiration for it?

BML:  There is a wonderful film from 1948 called, The Red Shoes. It is an imaginative re-telling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and features my favorite ballerina, Moira Shearer. I can’t count how many times I have watched that movie and it made me want to take a world rarely portrayed in literature and bring it to life.

CWM: How many Parts can readers hope for?

BML:  Two. The story, as I originally conceived it, proved to be a bit too ponderous as a stand-alone novel.

CWM: How has participating in National Novel Writing Month changed your writing?

BML:  Oh my gosh, so much! Before I tried National Novel Writing Month a few years ago, my writing habits had capsized. I wanted to write, but I lacked the self-discipline to make myself sit down and flex those creative muscles. Then one day, while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a friend mention she was doing NaNoWriMo. I asked what she was talking about. When she explained, I couldn’t shake the idea. Here was a chance to right a habit I wanted so much to reclaim. No excuses. I signed on and have not looked back. National Novel Writing Month gives writers a chance to flourish and fight for what they want most-to create. NaNoWriMo helped me take control of my sinking ship and steered me towards other writers trying to do exactly the same. And as if that wasn’t enough, I am now able to proclaim that I am a published author, a title I never once believed would be mine.

CWM: What are your plans for your dance and your writing in 2017?

BML:  Do both more and with increased creativity and efficacy. Hopefully.

CWM: Coffee or tea?

BML:  COFFEE.

CWM: Dark or milk chocolate?

BML:  Milk chocolate. But the good stuff. Not some waxy $.99 chocolate bunny from 7-Eleven.

CWM: Deep dish or thin crust?

BML:  Deep dish, please. I like my gluten.

CWM: How ’bout them Cubs, man? How do you feel about the Cubs winning the World Series?

BML:  I can’t believe it actually happened. For as long as I can remember, my father has joked about what a hopeless mess the Cubs are. When I got married,even though my husband was a die-hard fan, he admitted what a disappointment the team was. But they did it! And it’s been really nifty seeing a city rally around the Cubs. Signs everywhere, people cheering in bars together. In such a social media world where people rarely look up from their devices, it felt wonderful to come together as a community, to feel that sense of camaraderie. Go Cubs, Go!

CWM: Your profile says, “furry baby mommy.” What’s your perfect furry baby?

BML:  All of them. If I had the space and disposable amounts of income, I would have sixteen cats and seven chow chows. My ideal snuggle fluff purrs, has a blue tongue, and holds my heart on a string.


Thank you to Bree for taking the time to share a little about her writing, and her new release, with us!  Guys, she’s even got a book trailer.  How cool is that?

Blurb: The world of Ballet had always been Martina’s world, made of music and magic. But the seasons are changing and like the snow tumbling over Chicago, Martina’s music-box world is swirling.  Director of The Bellus Ballet Company, Alan Jung, can offer her luxury and fame. But Russian rebel Maraav, “a wolf with gray eyes,” has everything Martina needs.  Three hearts made of hope, flesh, and stone…  With the curtain set to rise…

Under Winter Lights: Part One

Book Trailer

 

Self-Care During NaNoWriMo

Self-care.

You may have heard the term before. A generic definition for the term is “the practice of activities that are necessary to sustain life and health, normally initiated and carried out by the individual for him- or herself.”

Picture1If we break that down a bit, we can see there are a few day-to-day activities that fall into that category: eating, sleeping, personal hygiene, some minimal level of physical activity. These days, having a steady source of income can also be considered self-care, so you can provide a roof over your own head and other comforts. That said, it’s well understood that a steady source of income comes with its own stressors that can interfere with other parts of your self-care, but that’s a topic for another day.

As novelists and artists, we have additional components to our self-care that may not be obvious at first. We are the custodians of our own creativity, and it is up to us to guard that creativity, the same way we might guard the time we need to sleep and to eat meals. As you might have guessed, doing the basics and checking them off the list may not be enough for us. Did you sleep? Yes? Great. Was it only for five hours last night? ….. Well, how about food. Did you eat? Yes? Good start. Was it nutritious, energizing food, or something greasy you’ll probably regret later?  …..  If these snippets sound like you, you may need to re-examine your self-care habits and adjust them.

At the first sign of heightened stress and activity, self-care often goes out the window. We short-change ourselves on sleep, eat unhealthy convenience foods, don’t exercise, and forget to take quiet time for ourselves.

The articles on adequate sleep, good nutrition, and a proper exercise regimen, all for stress-management, are plentiful. If you haven’t done any basic research in those areas, I invite you to take a quick look.

So, let’s say you manage to master those basics – get enough sleep, have a pantry full of healthy food, and get a little physical activity each day. Even just those simple things can go a long way to boosting your mood and, thus, your creative productivity. But if you’re still struggling, it can be because you need to widen the scope of your self-care, to not just your physical needs, but also your mental needs.

Here are a few things that we, as writers and creators, might need as critical components to creative self-care:

1)    Take a break. Set aside some time just to relax. Try it just for 30 minutes. Watch a TV show that’s non-toxic and makes you laugh. Read a few pages from an inspirational book, even if you’ve read it before. Meditate. Organize something. Whatever you do, make sure it’s soothing to you. For this kind of activity, hopping on social media can be helpful for some people, but if that’s your choice, be sure to steer away from profiles and posts that you know will suck you into stressful, toxic discussions. If you know you can’t do that and will be too tempted, then maybe seek a different activity. The point is to avoid getting riled up and to let your brain just rest for a little while.

Picture22)    Do something you know you’re good at. Whether it’s playing piano or guitar, cleaning the kitchen, gardening, painting or drawing, cooking, or patting your head while rubbing your belly, doing a familiar task that you know you are capable of doing will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem and renew your sense of creativity.

3)    Visit somewhere new. If you are mobile, try going to a new location, perhaps one that you have been meaning to visit but never got around to it. Is there a local museum you’d like to explore? A park or garden that you’ve admired as you’ve driven past? A local shop you spotted but never stopped in? Let yourself explore.

4)    Take care of something that’s been bugging you. A stack of clothing in the bottom of your closet you’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill; the pile of leaves in the backyard that needs to be bagged or composted; dusting; getting an oil change. If you’ve been putting something off that you know you need to do, it can weigh on you in unexpected ways. Check one thing off of your list this week by just gritting your teeth and getting it done.

5)    Journal. When the words won’t flow, sometimes you need to unclog the bottle. Try handwriting a few paragraphs of whatever comes to mind – all of a sudden, you may find things flowing freely. A few ways to start out if the blank page is staring at you judgmentally: “What I really mean to say is….” Or “The reason I don’t want to write is…” Whatever comes out, listen to yourself. Act on it.

Picture3For any activity you do, just remember to limit your duration to avoid overdoing it. A spare half hour to watch some TV should not turn into an 8 hour Netflix binge. Cleaning those clothes out of the bottom of the closet should not turn into an entire afternoon spent re-organizing the whole bedroom. Do what you need to do, enjoy the time you spend doing it, then get back to writing. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll feel.

What To Do in the Middle

2016-11-11 Pic 1

 

It’s the second full week of NaNo, and we’re inching up on the halfway point.  For many of us, that means we’re hitting the middle of our manuscript and reality has set in.

What To Do in the Middle

What DO we do in the middle of a manuscript?

Well, that depends.  What makes sense for our story?

And that’s where, sometimes, our brains go spung.

Don’t Trust Boredom: It’s a Block

If we get suddenly bored with our story, that’s likely a creative block and not actual boredom.  Don’t give up!  Don’t turn on the television, or numb out on Facebook, or read a book.  Keep going.  This is the point at which our inner critic has woken up to the fact that no, we really were serious, and yeah, we’re writing this here book thing and holy crap what do you mean you think you can write a novel?  Who do you think you are?

You Are Too a Writer!

Ignore all the voices that say you’re not a writer.  Who are you kidding?  You’re a dilettante!  You never finish anything.  Who wants to read what you have to say?  All the good plots have already been written.  There are too many books out there, don’t bother. IGNORE ALL THAT.   It doesn’t matter where it came from – Mom, Dad, Kids, Uncles, Aunts, Siblings, Teachers, Bosses, the Internet…  KEEP GOING.

A writer is someone who writes.

The definition is in the action.  The action defines the definition.  If you write, you’re a writer.  Ipso facto.  (That’s just Latin fancy talk for “by that very fact or act.”)  (You can use that, if you need to, to defend your nascent writerlyness: “I’m writing, ipso facto, I’m a writer!”)

Keep Going

The only way to get to the end is to keep putting words after one another, occasionally followed by a period.  Or, if you’re me, an overabundance of exclamation points.  (No, I’m not kidding; ask my editors.)  But the story that you’re trying to tell will not reveal itself to you unless you keep writing.  Quite frequently, it will only reveal itself after a bunch of what feels like wrong turns.  You put Bob in a bar, he sees Lucille, but then you realize he’s gay and Lucille’s a black drag queen, but the biker gang from scene two is going to come in and they’re going to want to shoot Lucille and Bob can’t have that and…

Don’t be afraid to take wrong turns.  Don’t be afraid to put a porcupine in your story.  “Bob looked down and froze.  Standing not two feet in front of him was one pissed off porcupine.  What had pissed off the porcupine wasn’t immediately apparent, but Bob was damned sure the porcupine was pissed at him and he didn’t know what to do about.  It’s not like he could pick the thing up, pet it and snuggle it, and apologize.  Of course, he couldn’t really do that with his cat, either, but at least Mister Buckles didn’t stay mad for long… and the porcupine looked like it had a lot of endurance.  Bob walked forward and…”  What next?  “What next?” is your friend.  If you’re stuck in one place, drop back a couple pages and find some action, then take it another direction.  “Bob turned the corner too fast for the porcupine to see.  Good.  He lost the little spiky rodent.  But then…”

Interview your characters.  “So, Bob, it’s me, Noony.  I’m volunteering for NaNoWriMo, and I’m writing this article for Wrimos about what to do when you get stuck in your story.  So tell me, Bob, what’s it like to be a porcupine?”  “To be pointed, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  On the one claw, you’ve got all these quills.  But on the other claw, you can’t really cuddle with your loved ones, now can you?”  “Good point.  So tell me, Bob, where do you think this article should go?”  “Tell them to keep writing.  Just sit down and write what you think your story’s about.  Keep going, and add more stuff.  Write crap.  Don’t worry about grammar.  If you hear a voice in your head say it sucks, let that voice write for a while, until it runs out of things to say, then go back to writing your story.  All words count during NaNo, so put all the words down on the page.”

See?  You heard it here first, wrimos.

Bob the Porcupine Says, “Keep Writing.”

So unless you want a face full of quills, you know what to do.

Keep the faith.  Fifty thousand, we’re coming for you.

Write on!

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings
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A Guest Post from ChiWriMo Member Chris Deane

Chris Deane posted a lovely essay series this morning on Facebook.  I asked her if I could post a large excerpt of it, because its clarion call to write is one of the things that NaNo is all about.  We don’t get political here at NaNo, and my intention isn’t to do so; my intention is to share some inspiring words from a valued member of our wrimo community, words that I think all of us need to hear today – whatever place on the political spectrum we occupy. – A. Catherine Noon


A Mom Talks You Down

We have taken the bait. We have been fooled. We have fed our fears, our anxieties, our psyche. Someone has created articles that affirm that it’s us against them. Let me tell you something.

It is just us.

We will get through the next 4 years and we will all be better for it. We will be better informed or I should say we NEED to be better informed by good sources and locally. We will volunteer for the things that inspire us, the things that need to get done that can’t without us. It will get done because we can put all that energy however negative into something worthwhile. We as a country can (sorry about the language) bitch about what is wrong or we can roll up of collective sleeves are start making it right ourselves.

So Hillary didn’t win and Donald did. So what? Do you honestly think that Congress is going to let him do all the things that he said he’s going to do? NO, of course not. If Hillary had won (and I say this for my other friends who would be equally as upset, believe me)–if she had won, do you think everything she wanted to do would go through? OF COURSE NOT, CONGRESS WOULDN’T LET HER.

Our country has checks and balances and frankly they are politicians. They will promise things that they cannot possibly deliver. Oh, they can try. Sometimes they succeed but most of the time, think about it. They change their minds or they negotiate and they (excuse me) piss of their constituents because of some compromise they made. That is how it is. That is how it will be.

We have had a lot of things going on here in Chicago with the Cubs and now the election. I live on the south side with all the city workers and firemen and police. I don’t need to tell you what has been going on just down the street from my church. You have jobs. You have school. If you are me, you have driving to all over the flipping Midwest for auditions and stressed about all the driving and getting lost in spite of your GPS.

We have to live our day to day life filled with the highs of pennant and now the lows of the election. And when I say lows, I mean the dirty, mean spirited, bullying, nasty comments that one politician said against each other and the click bait wants us to say against each other so that we will read their inflammatory articles again and again.

STOP READING THOSE ARTICLES RIGHT NOW. STOP IT. They are not helping you. They are, to put it mildly, upsetting you and keeping you from your goals.

What. Are. Your Goals?

Your goal is to write. Yes, yes, the 50k words. You get a badge. That’s so wonderful. It is. But your goal is to write. It is to create. You have set aside the month of November-Thanksgiving month-because that’s what a single guy in California dreamed up and what a lovely, noble dream it is.

You have these beautiful ideas and you are trying to “write them down on paper.” Maybe you’re still working on those ideas. Maybe this year it’s really hard for you but you still want to try.

Ok. You are going to explain to me how the baloney of this election with the bipolar high of the pennant is going to help you get down those creative, one of a kind ideas. Here’s a hint–they won’t.

Turn off that social media. Turn off the television and if I were you, I’d turn it off for a couple of days. Nothing. Process. Talk a walk in this glorious weather. Sit alone in the park and let your mind unwind itself. I can’t go in your room and take your chargers. You can. That’s your job now.

You have embarked on a journey, like a ship. Like Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl. If something, anything is hold you back, anything superfluous, throw it OUT. Go through your house and take out all the garbage. Order take out today. Pizza, Chinese. Run over to Mariano’s. Give your mind a break and listen to some music. Run a load of laundry like you would on a Saturday morning. The normalcy of these routines will comfort you and remind you that we are going forward.

Write. Write anything. Write your anguish about the outcome of the election. Write about your emotions when the Cubs won and now the Donald has won and how this whole Black Pearl of the month of November has made you seasick from highs and lows of emotions. Write about driving on the Dan Ryan because it all comes back to that-for me, at least. Write. Pour it out. You will feel better because writing always makes you feel better.

Then, you go back to your work in progress, no matter how far you’ve come or how little you have done. You think this is about writing. Well, maybe it is. Nanowrimo is about challenging yourself, it’s about taking chances, it’s about doing something brand spanking new and seeing where it leads because it may be the most anarchistic thing you’ve ever done.

Do it because all that disarray, all that chaos, all that creativity is propelling you forward in other areas of your life. You will be more open to new ideas. You will be more willing to hear other people’s ideas, even if you disagree with them. You will be have a little more sympathy for Stephanie Meyer and be a little happier for her, even if you will never read her work. You will cringe at Associated Press’s lousy writing and you will thrill when you read a beautiful sentence written by Simon Winchester. You joined NaNo to explore writing and to explore your capabilities.

Explore and don’t let the seas toss you around. The ups and downs of those very seas are opening you and are part of the exploration.

So yes, feel sorry for yourself. Process. And GET IN THERE and WRITE because that is what you said you were going to do. It is the 9th already. How much have you written? How much energy are you going to expend towards something that is keeping you from doing what you set out to do? Throw it over board, savvy?

And unload the dishwasher like I told you to last night.


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