The Challenge That is April

Well, I’ve done it again.

I’ve overloaded myself during a time when I should trying to simplify my life.

What I’m talking about is April and all of the challenges that seem to present themselves during this month.

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvibAs I wrote last week, I am participating in the A-Z Blog Challenge again this year. You will be hearing from me often, and I am looking forward to this. The cool thing is I get to see a bunch of new blogs and “meet” new bloggers.

I have also decided there will not be an actual theme this year. I will attempt to write about one of the three subjects I presented in this post along with a few others ideas. I can’t wait to see what happens. Even though I knew this was coming, I am not writing posts ahead, at least not very far.

Another challenge that I wasn’t going to do is Camp NaNoWriMo.CNW_Participant_Facebook

Camp NaNoWriMo is part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but on a smaller scale. Camp happens in April and July. It is one way to keep some momentum going throughout the year. Fewer people participate and, this is the cool thing, each writer gets to choose their own “goal”. There is no race to 50,000 words which makes it just a bit less stressful.

The story I am currently planning may or may not be a full-length novel. We’ll see. I’m still in the planning stage and won’t know until it is finished.

Camp NaNo includes many of the same components that NaNoWriMo does; it has one thing that November doesn’t: Cabins. Participants have the ability to sign up for a cabin of friends or strangers as support. Since I am a late arrival to Camp, this will be my only writing companion:

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Writing and my life should be fun this month.

Both of these challenges are on top of an incredibly chaotic work load including critical deadlines. My only release will be yoga and perhaps walking. I may need both.

My life will be overloaded but that is okay, I can deal with that. Once May hits, I will probably wonder what to do with my time.

Wish me luck.

30 Days of Flash Fiction

Are You Up for a Challenge-2It’s the beginning of another month and I’m ready for a challenge. I seem to work better when I have an actual challenge rather than simply writing on the things I am “supposed” to be working on.

For June, I am challenging myself to write a flash fiction piece every day. That’s it. No other rules.

Flash fiction is a complete story written in under 1000 words.

There was a flash challenge that ran in April that I wanted to complete. It would have been interesting if it hadn’t been for the two other ones I had going already, i.e., The A-toZ Blog Challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo. There was little time left after all of that, not to mention energy after working all day also.

It’s been a struggle to balance all of the areas of writing that I prefer to do. Between blogging and working on my novel, there has been little time left over for working on my flash fiction.

I’m not sure what appeal to me about flash except that I like things in miniature.

I find myself drawn to things in miniature such as doll houses, tiny houses and fairy gardens. Each of these is a complete blog post in and of themselves. I’m not going to begin to analyze my attraction to tiny things.

This past weekend I wrote a piece of just over 300 words and by the end I had tears in my eyes. I often wonder if, when I have an emotional reaction to the writing, it is the words or that I am to close to the content of the story. The story is one that I hope to be able to publish but it still needs a little work. And a title.

One issue I am concerned about is how do I decide on things to write about. As a general rule I don’t have a list of ideas to write about, at least none that inspire me to sit down and write.

I have a couple of cups of ideas to draw from that I made last year when I was preparing for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have to use them but I’ve saved them. They may come in handy now.IMG_0064

I think this is a question that every aspiring and experienced writer has. Where do the ideas come from? How do you know that an idea is viable?

Generally I don’t worry so much about this as when I need to the ideas often come. But since I am attempting to write a flash piece each day for the month of June I will need some help, especially since I write the first thing in in the morning. Ideas don’t just float around in the early hours of the dawn.

My plan is to use both my idea cups and the Story Spinner. What is the Story Spinner, do you ask? It is a fantastic idea creator made by Bonnie Neubauer. This seldom fails to help me get writing. I’ve even used it as exercises for writing retreats. One side has recipes for exercises and the other has sections for starters, settings and words to add to a story. The possibilities are endless.

I won’t guarantee that the work I do in the next month will be quality but it will be a practice in story building. I am hoping this gives me a bunch to choose from to begin sending work out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

That will be my next goal – to send work out for publication. That is a slippery slope indeed.

Where do your ideas come from?

Anyone else up for this challenge?

Rather Be….

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At this moment, I would rather be doing anything but writing.

I would rather be in bed, sleeping next to my husband.

I would rather be playing computer games

Or

Reading, knitting, talking on the phone. Anything but writing.

However, since I am not one to back down from a challenge, here I sit. Writing.

It isn’t that I hate the words, though they’ve come slowly today. Its that I’ve put in my quota for the day. I should be done but I’m not. Yes, I have a quota of words each day.

My muse is a reluctant ally tonight. Kicking and screaming, I’ve dragged her from the bowl of triple peanut butter ice cream she insisted on after dinner, to write. Sometimes, you just have to show the muse who exactly is in charge.

So, though I would rather be doing anything but writing, I am sitting here keeping the promise I made to myself. Thats what this challenge is. My promise to myself that I would write a post for each letter of the alphabet. And that is what I am going to do.

No matter how tired and full the muse is.

How do you write when your muse is reluctant?

Ice Cream and Updates

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As I sit here with a bowl of triple peanut butter ice cream, I’m pondering the challenges I’ve set for myself.

Its official, we are 10 days into a double challenge and I think it is time for an update on progress and what I’ve learned so far.

One of the things I’ve learned is that in order to complete these two challenges, I need to continue getting up early in the morning. It gets difficult when I find myself exhausted and unable to sleep at night – 5:00 am comes so early.

I am also reminded that I enjoy this process. I mean the drive of the challenge. Nothing lights a fire under me like deciding to set a goal or two and then telling people about it.

There is lots of advice rolling around the inter web about writing and a million how-to’s to go with it. One that I’ve been reading a lot lately is to show up and write, to not wait for the muse to begin writing. That is never more important than when one is in the middle of a double challenge. It is definitely a must if I am going to complete these challenges.

I’ve also hit the dreaded second week of the challenge. In November 2014 I began NaNoWriMo and heard about the swing that often comes during the second week of the challenge. This is where the words slow down and often stop. The weight of the 50000 words seems to crush some people and they can’t continue. I didn’t really experience it then, however, I have now. Writing a blog post each day is more difficult and I struggled with my novel. I’ve still hit my goals but there have been times where I’ve fought for each word.

For the official update:

I’ve managed to complete blog posts to this point. I’ve even really liked a few of them. I’ve also been visiting blogs from the other challengers. Its been wonderful to see all of the different ideas for the same letters. Amazing. I’ve also enjoyed all of the comments I’m getting. Thanks to everyone who has visited and left a note of encouragement.

I’m nearly half way to my goal of 20000 words on my novel. I’m even excited about where it is going. Again not all the writing is fabulous but some of it is really good. I’m excited to see where the rest of the month takes me.

One of the best things about these challenges are the things I learn about myself and my writing process. I’m looking forward to the rest of the month, though I will grudgingly get up each morning to do so. As long as I have enough coffee I can do anything.

What have you learned about yourself this week or during this challenge?