A Final Thought on the Close of November

 

One final quote for November:

“Each day provides its own gifts.”
Marcus Aurelius

As with gratitude, I often forget to look for the good things in each day. I have come to believe in the ordinary moments of life becoming the most important. Therein lies the gifts.

I hope you can see the gifts in your own life.

Angela

P.S. NaNoWriMo ended successfully. I was able to validate a couple of days ago. Thank you for your thoughts and support.

A Return to Writing Includes Searching For Balance

Searching for Balance

I’ve returned to writing and the hectic pace I’ve had in the past. I have something “writerly” planned for nearly every weekend in October. November marks NaNoWriMo so that month is full and also begins the holiday season. In the meantime, I am deep in the middle of a marketing class.

Whew!

I’m tired already.

And, therein lies the search for balance.

It would be easy for me to look at my plans for the next several months and let my anxiety overwhelm me. It’s happened before, hence the unexpected hiatus from writing.

Unfortunately, keeping myself from being overwhelmed is often on my mind as I strive for balance in my life.

Tips for Balance

Here are some thoughts that have kept me going in the past and I hope are still helpful during this especially busy time.

1. Do the next thing. This one takes a bit of explanation. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I tend to look at the big picture rather than the small bites of life. That is where doing the next thing comes in. If the next thing that needs to happen in your life is to make the bed or do the dishes or make lunch, do that. Life happens in small moments and getting something done, even for that moment, will have a positive impact on your peace of mind.

2. Stick to your ritual. Every writer I know has a ritual that has evolved over time. My tends to follow the same things each day. I make coffee, light a candle, and write morning pages. Those three pages each morning are my warm up. Once those are complete I write. During normal times (i.e. not NaNoWriMo) my goal is 500 words and in November that bumps up to 2000 words each day. If you have other rituals, stick to those.

3. Keep your downtime. For me, downtime is crucial as too much to do and lots of chaos creates an unbalanced me. I have a building where I can escape but even there, if things are too noisy, I will struggle. Even if the chaos is positive, like having my grand babies over, it still creates stress in me and I need to deal with it.

A Final Thought

One last thing that I need to remember – Be Gentle With Myself! There is always tomorrow.

I am sure there are more ways to find balance during the busy times but having too many things to think about, again, even if they are positive, creates a struggle.

 

Catching November Up

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner_congratsNovember has been a hard month. My life has changed in a lot of ways, and I’ve been incredibly busy. It is my expectation and belief that I will return my weekly posts in December. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Part of what makes November busy is NaNoWriMo. This year I took a different path than what I normally do, or at least have done in the past.

NaNoWriMo 2016 is my third year of participating and also my third win as the above banner states. By far, this year has been the most difficult but not because the work was hard.

Life! Life is hard.

Sometimes I forget the lesson never to give up and need a reminder.

Thank you November for the reminder.

See you in December when life becomes rough in different ways!

How To Gear Up For NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant-2

National Novel Writing Month begins in just a few weeks and if you haven’t begun to think about participating, it is time.

National Novel Writing Month is a challenge that allows you to stretch yourself and grow and finally reach that dream to write a novel. The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. If you’ve participated in the past, then this is another chance to take the next step. As writers, we are continually learning and improving our craft, NaNoWriMo is another opportunity for growth while completing a piece of writing.

All that being said, November is not an easy month.

However, you can start right now to prepare for the difficulties that come with fast drafting a novel. Here are a few ideas:

Begin now: I’ve spoken to many writers who don’t cultivate the habit of writing every day. I subscribe to the thought that writing a minimum of words each day will improve your craft indescribably. For NaNoWriMo, the best thing you can do is develop this habit of daily writing before November arrives. Beginning today, write some words, decide on an amount, whether it is 100, 500, or 1000 words each day, and continue into November and after. Writers write. It is that simple and that difficult.

Make a Plan: A debate rages between planners and panthers on the value of planning out your novel. Planners, the extreme ones, prefer to have every chapter and scene outlined. Pantsers prefer to discover their story as they go. If one way or the other works for you, go for it. But if you are a pantser, having an idea and a place to reach won’t hurt you. A simple plan may make November a bit less stressful. For me, I will go somewhere in the middle, having a 7-point structure and some thoughts and ideas written out, means that I can let my characters tell me what is happening.

Find a Community: Writing is difficult, especially since it is done alone. Finding and connecting with a local or online group will create camaraderie and a bit of fun during what can be a challenging time. The NaNoWriMo.org site has a forum if you live out in the boonies as I do, to discover and connect with others who are furiously writing during November. Many regions have NaNo groups and offer events during October and November, it’s a great way to plug into others who share your aspirations.

Writing your novel during National Novel Writing Month is a challenging, and rewarding, endeavor. Whether or not you actually publish this particular piece of writing, you still showed up to the blank page.

And, that is worth celebrating!

Please let us know if you are participating!

What’s Next???

fountain-pen-447576_1280

Where do I go from here?

This is the question I’ve been pondering for the past couple of days?

I’ve just finished my NaNoWriMo 2015 project. While that one is resting, I’m thinking ‘What’s next’?

I could work on Anger Road, my 2014 NaNo project. This was my first novel and is currently in need of revision. Desperately!!! I still like this story and would like to finish it.

Brenna’s story, based on a flash fiction piece I wrote a couple of years ago and can be read here, is in need of planning. Is this my next project?

While I was working on my most recent piece, the ideas came for a sequel to the story. Although this is in the very early stages of planning, this is something I could get into.

Or, I could jump right into revisions for my current, as yet unnamed, novel.

Oh, and then there is a “short” story I wrote during October. I laugh at the word short. My normal “short” is anything under 1000 words and this one sets at about 15,000. It is in the rough draft stage and needs editing.

I’m not sure if you were counting, but that is five projects. What am I thinking?

All I want to do is this:

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I think I am on a mental vacation after being so focused on my novel. It probably isn’t helping that the holidays are here and my family will be arriving soon. There is so much to be done that I’m feeling scattered and am not sure what to focus on.

How do writers, or anyone, choose their next project?

I’m sure that everyone has their own process in choosing their next project. Part of my process is to open a journal and begin by making notes. I have a notebook for each of my larger projects when I am ready. Today is not that day, I think.

What I am not stopping is my daily word count. When I am not working on a novel, that goal is 500 words. This is doable even while things are so busy.

Of course, I still have blog posts to write and flash fiction to write, edit and send out to markets.

Yeah, I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

I think I will begin by printing off both my novel and the short story I wrote in October. That way I will not have any excuses as I move on to my next project.

Which I will decide on after the holidays. I may even set some goals in January instead of waiting until my birthday, as is my normal habit.

I’m excited to find out “What’s Next.”

First Draft Blues

typewriter-801921_1280So, I did it. I managed to complete the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel. The thing ended up being just over 91,000 words. I can now rest.

Oh, wait. It’s Christmas time. There is no resting.

We did manage to get the majority of our shopping done this weekend. That just leaves the rest of the shopping, including food shopping, wrapping presents, cookie making, and house clean up. Somewhere in the middle, I need to work and to sleep.

Okay, just breathe.

This is normal for me. Christmas happens every year and as much as I try I am still unable to make it as simple as I want it to be. Again, this is just normal for my life.

I made some plans for the week since my kids will be coming up for the weekend. I took a day off to allow myself time to complete some things, like the cooking that I will be doing.

That leaves the rest of the week to complete my to-do list. There is just a holiday party that I am going to attend. I also have a yoga class that I need to attend, as part of my own self-care. So, I’m down a couple of days to get everything done.

Okay, just breathe. You can do this.

At this moment, I am basking in a finished novel. I’m trying not to think too much about my to-do list or the revisions that I will need to do. I have a completed manuscript and that is worth celebrating.

I will work on the rest tomorrow.

 

My helper in finishing my novel.
My helper in finishing my novel.

 

The Post November Hangover

typewriter-377042_1280I feel as if I am hungover and need to recover from a long night of drinking. I’ve never made the correlation between NaNoWriMo and a really good party, but there it is.

It’s the end of NaNoWriMo and the beginning of the holiday season.

There is a let-down after all the hype of November, at least in the writing world. The build up begins during October and, if you are lucky, lasts all the way through the end of the month.

It did for me. I spend the month of November, happily typing away on my novel reaching my required 50,000 words before the end of the third week. I kept going because the story wasn’t done. Finishing the month strong, I still had nearly a quarter of my novel to complete.

Then came December. I’m still in novel writing mode which means I have a goal of 2000 words each day until I’m done. Fast forward to today and I’m feeling the downward swing.

I’ve just had my second day of not working on my novel. I can see the end, I have about 10,000 words to go. Only I seem to have lost any drive to go on writing.

Welcome, to the NaNo Hangover.

There is such a community of writers coming together during the month of November. The excitement tends to wane throughout the month, but there are always a group that hangs on until the end. It is a wonderful experience.

Once it is over, the community doesn’t go away but the excitement tends to. Everyone has the post-November hangover.

The energy is gone and all that is left is to finish all the words. Now, I just want to sleep.

The end is in sight. I can see it, I can even taste it. My intention is to let my novel rest when it is complete and I can type “The End.” Only making it to that point seems to be moving further and further away.

At this moment, the most difficult thing I am doing is walking to my desk and putting one word in front of the other.

I want to recover from all the excitement, energy, and focus that November requires.

I want to print out my novel and put it on my bookshelf so I can get some distance.

I want to skip to the end to be able to begin putting that distance between writing and editing.

I want to focus on the holidays, which are approaching faster than I want them to.

I don’t remember last year being like this. Of course, I finished my story within the 50,000 words and was able to let it rest. I could then move on to a new project, namely this blog.

I had hoped to finish my story by this weekend, but that seems to be a bit delayed. It may take a few more days but I this is my goal.

Of course, I have a couple more novels to plan but that is another post. That’s what being a writer is all about.writer-605764_1280

Midweek Distractions

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2Today I wanted to talk about all the distractions in life in honor of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Being the first Wednesday of the month, that is what is supposed to happen.

I wanted to talk about the things that I struggled against during the last month. The things that pull me away from the stuff I want to do and the things I am supposed to do.

Things such as:

Social Media – I feel the draw each time I sit down to write or knit or anything other than that. It is a big time waster for me, and I’m not sure I have enough courage to shut it down. Maybe limiting it will be better.

Friends and Family – This time of year is fraught with events and frolicking; it is distracting when you have goals. I’ve managed to keep up my word count through sheer stubbornness. Some days are harder than others.

Stress – So many things bring stress into my life. I am distracted by the need to neutralize all of that stress. I managed to make it to a yoga class tonight. The fact that it has taken me a couple of months to do this is crazy.

The Endless To-Do List – I’m not even sure I have to go further on this one. This list is just distracting.

These were the things I wanted to discuss.

Instead, what is on my heart is my writing friend, Josh.

I met Josh during my first NaNoWriMo. I don’t know how long he had been writing but was impressed that he chose an ambitious project for November. I don’t know if he ever finished that particular novel. I do know he had some other goals he was working on in his life.

None of that will happen now.

You see, Josh was found dead this week. It doesn’t matter why or how, not to me. I am saddened by a life cut so short that held so much potential.

These are his words:

“Life needs no justification, its not a means to something, every moment of existence is an end in itself. So lop up that bliss, lop up that misery, soak every feeling you have in because its the stuff of life and its mighty tasty. Its all right here for everyone to relish in.” – Josh Wieczorek

Josh had the best smile and that is what I will remember most about him.

This is the most distracting thing of all.

TC WriMo's 2014
TC WriMo’s 2014

November’s End

November sunset
November sunset

It’s the end of November, and I realize that I haven’t posted much. That has mostly been to NaNoWriMo.

But November is over, and it’s time to get back to a normal life. Well as normal as it can be for me which can be a challenge

I am still working on my novel, still writing every day. One of the issues with NaNoWriMo is that most novels aren’t 50,000 words. I think mine will be somewhere around 80,000. I still have about 20 thousand to go.

I spent most of the month trying to forget that the holidays were coming up fast. We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, which is forcing me to think about Christmas. I’ve done some, but now I have to focus on it. I like this season, but I tend to stress myself out. My goal for the next month is not to overwhelm myself.

Since November is coming to a close, I thought I would give you five of my favorite things about November even though this post won’t be on a Friday. I must say this was a difficult thing to do. November is one of those middle months that not much stands out, even so, here is my list:

  1. Pumpkin Pie – November has traditionally been the month for pumpkins. Pumpkin Pie is my favorite method for tasting pumpkin. Other favorites include pumpkin roll and pumpkin bread. For Thanksgiving, I made pies, and they turned out fabulous.
  2. Thanksgiving – As crazy as it sounds, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Though I am a vegetarian and don’t eat turkey, the traditional (for my family at least) sides are some of my favorite foods. For me, the best part of Thanksgiving is when we are all sitting around a table, my brothers adjusting for being lefties and passing all the food around. I don’t get to celebrate this way every year, and I look forward to it when I can.
  3. Cold, wet, rainy weather – Again, this may be a crazy favorite, but I love weekends where it is cold and wet, and I have nothing to do outside my house. Snuggling down with a book or movie in a cozy house is the best day ever.
  4. The Friday After Thanksgiving – I’ve been able to take this day off for the past several years. Black Friday shopping is one of my least favorite things so to have what is essentially a free day is fabulous. This year, unfortunately, I had a bad headache, but the fact that I didn’t need to go anywhere was the best.
  5. NaNoWriMo – It’s no secret that I am a fan of this particular event so it should be no surprise that this made my list. As this is the end of the month and I’ve “won” it is even more my favorite. It helps keep my writing focused.

Well, there you have it, some highlights about November. I am hoping that December will be a better month where I post on my regular schedule. It will also be a month of editing as I have several stories desperately in need of major revising.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. December is arriving, and things will get crazy, but perhaps not too crazy.

That is my goal for December. What’s yours?

A “Win” at NaNoWriMo

NaNo-2015-Winner-BannerFirst of all, a “win” at NaNoWriMo means only that a writer has managed to get through the minefield that is life. That means that a person managed to write amidst piles of laundry and other household chores. It means that they have been able to say no to nights out with friends, social media and coherent conversation with their loved ones. Late nights, early mornings and too much coffee are all part of the struggle during November.

Winning means beating all those things that pull against the dream of writing.

Well, I’ve done it. I made it through all those things and validated the words to my novel over the weekend. Therefore I’ve “won” according to the NaNoWriMo website.

I always have a bit of anxiety before November begins as to whether or not I will be able to achieve this goal. I think that simply may be part of my process.

As far as my novel, it isn’t complete. I’m only about 2/3’s of the way through so I’m still working on it. It’s exciting to see things unfold.

Using Jennifer Blanchard’s story structure planning method, I’ve been able to stay on track. The interesting thing is that, even with planning to this extent, my novel has still managed to surprise me.

My hope is that I will actually be finished with the first draft by the end of the month. I’m not sure if that can happen especially with the holiday coming up. It is still my goal.

As usual, I have learned quite a lot during this month of writing so many words. That, however, is another post. For now, I’m going to continue on to complete this first draft.

I’m sure there are many more lessons to be learned. There always are.