Rushing Through Halftime: Nano Update #3

We have officially passed the day 15 mile marker and have started the Nano descent; love it or hate it, we are now sledding down the mountain to our inevitable conclusions. And of course: what a week it has been!

Truthfully, my week didn’t start out all that strong on the writing front. I was caught up in some good books I was reading (and listening to on audibles), and was stealing spare minutes to page through to the next chapter. One of them was equal amounts fascinating and disturbing. ‘This is Your Brain on Parasites’ will not only educate you, but convince you that you have little critters in your brain controlling your movements like a robot. It will also teach you that your cat is an evil mastermind. And washing your hands is vitally important. In spite of the fear enduring moments, I loved it nonetheless, and would recommend it to anyone interested in finding some good fodder for a sci-fi thriller or zombie novel (if you are working on the latter, you also have to give ‘Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep’ a shot).

On Friday morning I almost caught my hair on fire. Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but my hairdryer did start changing it’s speed and then smelled strongly like burning plastic. I opted to risk getting a cold and ran out of the house with sopping wet, stringy hair because I was terrified my little drier would explode in my face. I also left it in the sink far away from any flammibles just in case spontaneous combustion decided to become a thing in my house while I was at work. Good news: it did not.

A weekend dentist appointment (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment apparently) left me with a deep appreciation for things that I generally take for granted. First: whoever created localized anesthetics was an amazing human being and I owe them an immense gratitide for all that they did in the name of pain management. Based on the sounds I heard coming from my gaping mouth, it’s a good thing I was so numb I could barely blink my own eye. I walked out of that office feeling like two-face from Batman- the entire right side was totally numb and unmanageable. I attempted to act like a normal human being while walking through Target (on a mission to replace my aforementioned hairdryer) though I suspect they noticed something was a tad off when I kept running my hand over my mouth to see if I was smiling with both sides. I also rediscovered the importance that I put on the spoken word in my daily life. How, you ask? Well, when your tongue is numbly rolling around in your mouth like a water wiggle, it takes a concentrated effort not to lisp or bite it. Repeatedly. In situations like that, silence is truly golden.

Last night was also a bit of an adventure: started out by going out to a rare little date night to see ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’ Word of advice: get up right now, find the nearest showing and go see it. Feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt- I am a hardcore Harry Potter fan and love anything and everything about that world. But nonetheless- still see it. It’s cute, it’s fun, the settings are gorgeous and the actors did a phenomenal job adding memorable quirks to their characters. I loved it.

On the way home, however, the real adventure began. It was only about 9:30 at night when we say a car almost hit another while changing lanes in front of us. The offending vehicle veered away before things went south. I thought that would be the end of it- it happens to all of us, I’ve been guilty of those mistakes myself. But then the weaving started- back and forth across two lanes of highway traffic right in front of us. At one point he was driving right in the middle, straddling the line between the lanes. And then he started tailgating an older woman in her car. So I did something I have never done before: I called the police. We kept an eye on him until our exit. I don’t know what wound up happening. He looked really young, too young. I can just hope that nothing happened after we lost sight of him.

Needless to say, it was a relatively eventful week. My writing, however, was starting to suffer; perhaps ‘starting’ is the wrong word- my writing was continuing to suffer. The week two slump hit me hard. And I used my week one progress as an excuse to relax, to do other things, to let my project languish. In fact, I spent a good portion of this past week behind schedule. I had lost all of the lead that I had gained in the first few days on Nano. I had been halfway through my goal before week one was out- a huge lead; I lost all of that. 

But then, this weekend; I rallied. Yes, in the midst of my regularly scheduled life, an amazing thing happen: the muse decided to grace me with her presence again, that fickle little fairy that she is. I had been burnt out- it always happens to me in week two of Nano, I hit a slump and fell face first into a literary rut. Climbing back out feels amazing. I didn’t add as many words as I had originally wanted to over the weekend, but I have the drive to push forward. Last night when we got home I even went straight back to my laptop and started tapping away. I finally had to force myself to put my work away and go to bed at 11:30 (this is late for me).

I’m trying to run with this for as long as it holds out, because that muse does not tend to stick around long. I’m not moving as fast, but I would like to think that I’m getting out higher quality content. At the very least, I’m working through some stronger ideas and plot points than I had originally figured out. So I’m running with it. 

I feel like I’m really going to do it this time, if I can just keep up my momentum and keep the work going steady. I’m afraid to get too excited though; I’ve stumbled at the finish line before. I have had years where I made it up into the 80k range and then fell off the cliff when I tried to fly. The key is to focus on one day at a time and not get too far ahead of myself.

So let’s peek at the numbers and see how it’s going:

Word Count: 81,721 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 81%

Current Mood on Project: feeling like I just drank a Monster energy drink and I’m ready to rock the keyboard (or cry trying)

Still Surviving: Nano Update, Week Two

Wow, my friends, what a test this last week has been! And yet, we have all survived- perhaps a bit haggard, a tad battle worn; but we are still standing tall. Don’t worry, I won’t be delving into anything political, today we are going to keep things light because I think that’s exactly what we need. That being said, when I wrote my update one week ago, I truly thought that the election madness was nearly at an end. This just goes to show that I always jinx it. I’ve been a bag of mixed emotions lately, but I am getting back into my groove because that’s what will be best for me right now.

So, my first week had gone better than I could have imagined. Going into week two, I knew that I was not going to be able to keep that momentum up. I was okay with that. For starters, I was sick, and didn’t really kick the crud until Friday. Tuesday, naturally, was a lost writing day for me, given the historic implications of the day, I think that can be forgiven. And I will be honest, like a car wreck, I have been unable to look away from the news since then. It’s bad for me, I know this And I’m starting to think I’m a bit addicted to my social media- the best cure: focus on my writing, and when I want to look on my phone, I have to open my kindle app and read a little bit of my book instead. 

Saturday was pretty awesome though- we spent a ton of time in the car, but we were able to drive down to the coast for an early Thanksgiving with my extended family. I always forget how much I miss them until I’m around them. We got there just in time to join them for a delicious dinner, and after that we went with my aunt and cousins to take all of their kids out onto the beach for a walk. I missed them- just talking, laughing. They’re great people who I really need to start breaking out of my box and making more time for. I had a blast, and realizing that my cousins brought water bottles of mimosas on our walk just reminded me that these ladies are my spirit animals. After that, we had a long drive back home- but it was lit by a big bright moon the whole way. It was gorgeous. All in all, a successful day, even if there was no writing involved.

I have hit one little snag that has me a bit worried though. You see, every nano I run into some kind of technical difficulty. For the first few years, back when Link was just a puppy, I had a slew of years where he would attempt electroshock treatments and chew through all of my charging cables. Repeatedly. Lucky for me, this is a phase he has finally grown out of. But this year, my laptop decided to make its own political statement. Apparently it is sick of the state of current events and it has cut off all communication with the outside world until further notice. Even my fiancé- who is a master in computers- wasn’t able to get it to change its mind. Hence why you may have noticed a slight downfall in my number of posts this past week. I am currently typing this out on my phone, which, needless to say, isnt particularly ideal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. My laptop isn’t that old, but I can’t do the things that i have to do if it won’t connect to the internet. It makes this blog difficult. And I have no idea how I will be able to validate my nano if I can’t get my words copied to the website. But I am not going to panic yet. Nope, one more week in willful ignorance will not kill me. I can be in denial until the panic attack hits.

So, on to the writing: the real purpose of this post. I didn’t really get a lot of writing done until yesterday. I finally sat down for a few hours last night and was able to crank out a few thousand words. I tapped into the myriad of emotions I’ve been feeling this week, and it flowed like wine. And I hit a pretty momentous goal. I made it to 50k yesterday, which means that I am still on track to get my illusive 100k this year. I am thrilled! But, honestly, I’m also a bit terrified. This is the first time my goal has really felt tangible. And I am so scared that I will flop in these coming weeks and mess it up. It wouldn’t be the first time. I fizzle and pop. I am so scared that I will ruin the advantage I was able to give myself. I’m trying to keep the anxiety away and let myself just enjoy the fact that I’m still hanging in there, but those moments of doubt always find their way back in. 

So, without further ado, my goal update, by the numbers:

Word Count: 57,649 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 57%

Current Mood on Project: Starting to wear out, but still smiling 

Nano, Week One: The Update

We have survived the official first week of Nano, my friends! Whether you hit a home run or are whittling away one word at a time- we have all accomplished a lot so far on this adventure. I think we deserve a cookie…or two…or perhaps an entire cheese pizza, which is what I am about to eat because I mysteriously forget how to cook in November. (The best part: I’m not even cooking it, my fiancé’s best friend is. Shout out to him and his mad pizza wielding talents, this ‘starving artist’ thanks you. I’ll be sure to write you into my very first dedication. If I remember, because let’s face it, I forget everything).

This week was a record setting one for me, and I am so unbelievably proud. Although I know that I owe a lot of my success to a few lucky circumstances. For starters, I was fortunate enough to have a few days off from work at the beginning of November. When you couple those days with a very understanding fiancé who was kind enough to limit distractions as much as possible (constantly fighting the dog who’s sole purpose in life is to get me as far away from my laptop as possible). I was able to just sit and work, and since we were still in the enthralling beginnings, those words actually came easily for once. Now, I know a lot of that is because this is not my first rodeo with this story. This is essentially a complete re-draft of the project I worked on last Camp, which meant that I was already familiar with my characters, I already knew where the plot holes were and I’ve had several months to figure out how to pave them over. Even though the original content was all scrapped and a lot of the previously used plots were completely changed- I still know how I wanted the beginning of this story to play out. As of this weekend, I have hit the uncharted territory, and I know that my progress will begin to start creeping once again. The rest of the month wont even come close to my first week, but that’s okay. This was exactly the kind of week that I needed to have after the past two months I’ve spent floundering.

With one minor exception: too many late night writings led me to finally catching that cold I’ve steadily avoided for the past month. I felt it coming on the other day, but I opted to keep on pushing through and working in spite of it. As it turns out, my body is actively rebelling against my lack of balance, and is demanding a change. One that I am more than willing to give it. As of right now, I am ahead of schedule on my goal, and I can afford a bit of self-indulgence until I’m running on 100% again.

So cheers, my friends, I raise my glass of Emergen-C to you (because that’s what I have, sorry, no hot toddy’s from me today). May you have a happy and healthy month, and may the words flow easily from your pen (or keyboard). We can do this!

 

Current Stats:

Word Count: 47,572 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 47%

Current Mood on Project: Smiling in spite of the sniffles

dumbo-sneese

 

Word Wars, Sprints and Crawls- Oh My!

I had never heard of word sprints, word wars or really any form of writing game before Nano. I was oblivious to the tricks of the word count game. And then one year, as I was roaming through the message boards willfully ignoring my project, I came across the section that contained these magical little creations. You seen, while Nano is one of the most exciting challenges that I have taken part in, there reaches a point (some years it strikes much sooner than others) when you find yourself with a 100-yard stare and Cheetos stuck in your hair. You are exhausted, your creative juices are tapped, and you cant help but wonder if you should be carted straight off to the nearest mental health institution for simply signing up for such an impossible task. It doesn’t matter how great your start was- you will hit this wall, you wont be wearing a helmet, and it will hurt. Bad.

When this happens- there is only one thing to do to keep your word count on point: play a couple of games. I don’t know who began these creative ploys to reignite that competitive spark, but they deserve to sit in the Iron Throne and control all of the realms- they are that good. Over the next few weeks I am going to be periodically posting some of my own creations, but, as none of those have been completed or tested, today I am going to share just a few of my favorite pre-existing challenges that have helped me through some rough writing patches. These are pretty versatile and can be used in just about any first draft you could be working on- blogs included.

  • Word Sprints and Word Wars: This is one is very simple, you pick the length of time you want to write for, set your timer and hit the ground running. It’s best if used while competing with another person using the same time limit. Although I tend to prefer a ‘time trials’ version where I compete against myself. Rewards are optional (personally, I strongly suggest Rollo’s if you beat your previous ‘high score,’ but I am very food driven.)
    • Carrot and Stick: This can fall into the sprinting category, although technically you can use it anywhere. This is a very simple reward/punishment premise. You set a goal (for example, 500 words in 10 minutes), and then you have a reward or an punishment hanging over your head (perhaps if you meet your goal you get to watch an episode of your favorite show. If you don’t then you must do the dishes). This can also come into play with your daily word goals.
  • The Fifty-Headed Hydra: Legend has it that the creator of this challenge made the attempt and the only correctly spelled words on his paper after the carnage were ‘fifty’ ‘headed’ and ‘hydra.’ The challenge: to write 500 words in 5 minutes. Obviously spelling doesn’t count, don’t use the backspace, just start flying and correct things later. This is an insanely difficult challenge, but it’s fun when you are speeding so fast that you can’t get too far into your own head.
  • Word Crawls: This is my all-time favorite challenge, and it comes in many different forms. A word crawl is basically like an interactive writing game. There is a little bit of a plot, and as you read through it you are given random challenges to complete as you proceed. My favorites tend to revolve around fandoms, though they come in all shapes and sizes. Here is an example from one of my favorite Harry Potter crawls, creator unknown (I will gladly give full credit if I ever learn who made it). This one is a bit more involved than some, but it’s fun nonetheless, if you care to try.

Extreme Harry Potter Crawl: Year 1

 

Welcome to the Extreme Harry Potter Crawl: Year One! Depending on your writing speed, pick your blood status.

Muggleborn: Slower

Halfblood: Medium

Pureblood: Faster

Galleons can be used to purchase round skips. If you don’t want to do a specific challenge, spend a Galleon in order to move on to the next one.

You receive your Hogwarts letter by owl and are completely ecstatic to head out for your first year at Hogwarts. Sprint to 100 to let out your excitement and energy.

You arrive in Diagon Alley and your first stop is Gringotts, wizard bank. Write for ten minutes. The amount of words you write will determine how many Galleons are in your vault.

Muggleborns

Less than 100 words: 1 Galleon

100-200 words: 2 Galleons

More than 200 words: 3 Galleons

Halfbloods

Less than 150 words: 1 Galleon

150-250 words: 2 Galleons

More than 250 words: 3 Galleons

Purebloods

Less than 250 words: 1 Galleon

250-350 words: 2 Galleons

More than 350 words: 3 Galleons

You step into Ollivander’s wand shop. Roll a die and multiply your roll by 100. Sprint to that many words.

Finally, you’re done shopping! But before you leave, you decide that you want to purchase a pet. Write for 15 minutes as you search for the perfect animal for you. Pick one: owl, cat, toad.

After months of waiting, you’ve arrived on platform 9 ¾ and boarded the Hogwarts Express! Write to the nearest thousand as you settle into your seat and get ready for a long ride. If you need to write more than 500 words for this challenge and choose not to skip this round, take one Galleon.

Anything off the trolley, dear? Buy some sweets to help get you through the ride! Depending on your candy, find your challenge below!

Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans: Participate in a Fifty Headed Hydra as you frantically try to get the taste of vomit out of your mouth.

Chocolate Frog: Write for five minutes as you chase down the frog.

Licorice Wand: Sprint to 150 words

Pumpkin PastiesRoll a die and multiply by 50. Write that many words.

If you take the lot and complete all the challenges, take one Galleon as well. If you have a toad, you may skip this round for free.

You arrive at the castle and wait in the hall with the rest of the first years. You notice a boy with messy black hair and glasses talking with a redheaded boy, a girl with bushy hair whispering to the people around her, and a boy with pale… well, everything. Write for ten minutesas you attempt to socialize with the people around you.

Professor McGonagall escorts you and your peers into the Great Hall for the Sorting. After the Sorting Hat sings its song and several students walk up timidly, your name is called, and you sit yourself down on the stool, timid and worried about what is about to happen. McGonagall places the hat on your head, and you are sorted into your House. Pick from the four Houses- Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

Gryffindor: Are you brave enough to write ten times your typing speed in 10 minutes?

Hufflepuff: Remain loyal to your word count and write steadily for one hour with no breaks.

Ravenclaw: Calculate how many words it will take for you to write to the nearest 1000.

Slytherin: You’re an ambitious one, aren’t you? Write 1000 words in 30 minutes!

The feast is delicious! Do the Three Digit Challenge as you eat at your House table and talk with those around you, as well as your House ghost. If you have an owl, you may skip this round for free.

You’ve settled into your dormitory quite quickly and nicely, and your first couple weeks of class go well. Write for an hour as you grow accustomed to your new classes and all of the magic you’re learning.

Muggleborns: If you write 750 words within the hour, take 2 Galleons.

Halfbloods: If you write 1,000 words within the hour, take 2 Galleons.

Purebloods: If you write 1,250 words within the hour, take 2 Galleons.

On your way to Potions, the messy haired boy who you now know is Harry Potter stops and asks you if you know where Professor Binns’ classroom is. Write 200 words in 10 minutes as you try to remember where his classroom is.

If you succeed: Harry hurries to Binns’ classroom and gives you a Galleon as a thank you for your help.

If you fail: You spend so much time trying to help Harry that you are both late to your next class. Write another 200 words as you apologize to Snape and try not to lose any points for your House.

You get locked out of your common room and Mrs. Norris finds you! You run with Harry, Ron, and Hermione to the third door corridor, and you find a giant three-headed dog! After making it back to your dormitory safely, roll a die, multiply your roll by 100, and write that many words as you try to calm down. If you have a cat, you can skip this round for free.

Troll! In the dungeon! You go with Harry and Ron to find Hermione and end up fighting the troll with them. Sprint to 500, and try not to get yourself killed.

You go down to Hagrid’s hut to have tea with him. When you try his treacle fudge, your teeth get stuck together! Write for twenty minutesas Hagrid tries to help and Madam Pomfrey magically loosens the cement-like effect the fudge had on your mouth.

Months pass, and it’s Christmas morning! You receive 3 Galleons from your parents, as well as a challenge from the Weasley twins. Write 1000 words in under an hour.

If you succeed: they give you a Galleon.

If you fail: they hit you with snowballs until you’re buried under heavy amounts of snow and make you write 250 more words.

During the Gryffindor vs Slytherin Quidditch game, you get incredibly excited. Roll a die. If even, you’re cheering for Gryffindor; if odd, you’re cheering for Slytherin. Word war for fifteen minutes with someone cheering for the opposite team. If you beat them, you win your bet, and you take 2 of their Galleons. But be careful- if you lose, you give them 2 of your Galleons. A bet’s a bet.

Harry tells you that he suspects that Snape is going after the Philosopher’s Stone and you decide to go with the trio to try to get to the Stone before Snape does. But before you can even go down the trapdoor, you need to make it past Fluffy. Write for ten minutes as you lull him to sleep sneak through the door.

Oh no- you and your friends are trapped in a patch of Devil’s Snare! Hermione tells you that you need to write 250 words in five minutesin order to safely escape.

If you succeed: You make it out of the deadly plant without a scratch and even spot a Galleon on the ground. What luck!

If you fail: Hermione has to set the plant on fire to get you out alive. She thinks very poorly of your skills now, so write another 250 words to impress her.

Harry catches a flying key and opens a large wooden door. Inside the next room is a giant wizard chess set. You and your friends need to replace some of the pieces and play the game. Ron takes the place of a knight, Harry becomes a bishop, and Hermione takes over for a rook. Pick a chess piece and complete the challenge below!

Pawn: You know you won’t be of much use to the game and think it would be wisest to be taken out early. Complete a Fifty Headed Hydraand take a fifteen minute writing break to recover from your injuries.

Rook: You take the place of the other rook and spend the game running across the board, strategically taking out important pieces of the other side’s team. Sprint to 200 and take a five minute writing break once the game is won.

Bishop: You take the place of the other bishop and sneakily take out pawns on the other team. Write for 20 minutes and take a five minute writing break once the game is won.

Knight: You take the place of the other knight and become the wild card of the match. Write 300 words in 15 minutes until you’re taken out by one of the other team’s rooks. Take a fifteen minute writing break to recover from your injuries.

Harry and Hermione move ahead into the next room when you stay with Ron. When Hermione comes back, sprint to 300 as you run to find Dumbledore and explain the situation to him.

The word gets out that Professor Quirrell is the one who wanted the stone, not Snape! Rumors also spread of your bravery in helping Harry, Ron, and Hermione as you four went through the challenges the professors set to protect the stone. Dumbledore awards you fifty points for your courage. Write for five minutes as your peers congratulate and admire you.

Summer vacation is here! Take an hour long writing break– you deserve it! In the meantime, post your words written during your first year at Hogwarts as well as how many Galleons you have left in your vault, and stay tuned for the Extreme Harry Potter Crawl: Year Two!

And there you have it, my friends- some more fun and games to keep you motivated throughout the month. There will be some original ‘games’ coming your way in the next few weeks, if you care to take a gander at them. I am also toying with the idea of a work-out version (ugh, the adult inside is beginning to feel guilty for these long hours in front of the laptop), and perhaps and adult drinking version- although I suspect that would not yield the best results.

Cheers my friends, and may the odds be ever in your favor this writing season.

Ready for Another Adventure: Nano, Day 1

I adore the beginnings of an adventure, whether it be the moment that plane takes off and you get that odd jolt in your stomach, or that first step when you are ready to jump from a diving board, or even the first few pages of a crisp new book providing you with promises of what will await your future. Oh yes, my friends, much like the first few months of a new relationship, there are the nervous jitters, the steady stream of pleasant surprises and new experiences that these endeavors will unveil to you. I love beginnings. There is nothing like the enthusiasm of a fresh start, a promise unmarred by past experiences, a tale whose ending is still deeply shrouded in mystery. As much as I love the comfort of the known, there is nothing as invigorating as the first step of a new adventure. It makes you feel alive.

Today was yet another beginning for me, one that I have been selfishly anticipating for the past year. My favorite writing challenge has commenced, Nanowrimo is back! I raise my mug of tea and send a ‘cheers’ out to all of my fellow participants; may we be the Sam to one another’s Frodo, the Sherlock to our Watsons, the Tock to each other’s Milo (okay, that was a Phantom Tollbooth reference that I suspect only a few of you may have understood). This is an adventure that we may walk together, though the battles are fought individually. It is the people, the support of those who follow this trail with us that make Nano what it truly is. I can take any month of the year and pledge to write 50,000 words, but it is the community that keeps me going this month, that gets me excited enough to do a midnight happy dance. So to all of you- thank you for joining, you make this whole adventure what it is. I hope this month goes as beautifully as you planned, and if any wrenches find their way into your work, well, I hope they lead you down some daring paths that will make your words all the richer for their struggle.

The beginning is always the hardest, we work so painstakingly at what we do that taking the first step can be daunting, and yet, much like riding a bike, it is that first push you need to get the wheels going that will be the most difficult. It’s a lot of pressure, trying to figure out the best way to introduce the ideas you’ve been carrying inside, percolating in your mind- how ever will you be able to do it justice with only a few sentences at your disposal to hook the unsuspecting reader? And yet, here we are anyway, already a day in and slowly finding our way through the challenges that we must face head on.

I was fortunate this year and managed to get a few days off from work, which gave me the rare opportunity to stay up late and jump straight into a midnight start. I am ashamed to admit that I almost didn’t make it, 11:00 became a bit touch and go for me thanks to a few good movies and yummy food that left me far too relaxed and content. But alas, I rallied, and when the clock struck 12, my fingers began to dance across the keyboard. Oh how I missed it! I’ve been working on editing projects for the past two months, with varying levels of success (okay, so October was a bit of a struggle and I really didn’t get much done on the editing front). I didn’t realize how much I had missed simply writing. There is a unrestrained fervor that comes with a first draft, a feverish excitement when you are simply collecting the sand to build castles with later. You get to keep your focus trained on the idea itself, not the presentation or the packaging that it comes in. I find this draft to be the most liberating, when you are physically unspooling the story from your soul so that you can create something beautiful. It is liberating, and damn, did I miss it. I feel whole again, as strange as that may sound. Even typing away on a silly piece of fiction makes me feel more authentic than I have in months. So I kept typing, stringing one word after another until my eyes couldn’t look at the screen anymore without crossing. And when I woke up, I went back and did it again.

I am so thrilled with how my project is going this time around. Let me start off by saying that this is not a fresh idea I am working on, so I have a bit of an unfair advantage in that department. This is a project I began last Camp, and it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I decided to keep my characters and some very basic plot points, but everything was scrapped. I started fresh with the added benefit of knowing my characters a bit more intimately than someone working on a pristine, untouched piece. I must say though, the distance that I took from the project has made all the difference in the world. I have a clearer idea of how I want everything to play out. I know the direction I want to take and I have figured out how to tease out the important details in this story. I finally pushed through the wall that kept knocking me back down last time around. I came back ready to fight, and so far, I think I’m winning.

I must admit, today wasn’t completely issue free. You see, I wanted to sit down for the whole day and see what I could accomplish without distraction. Silly me forgot all about my writing time’s arch nemesis, which comes in the form of a bat-eared four-legged K-9 companion. Link, my German Shepherd, is a sweetheart, truly. He is my cuddle bug when I am sick, my partner in crime when I am in search of a midnight snack, the guard who keeps the cat out of the closet when I’m folding laundry, and my safety net when I’m home alone and can think of nothing except those scary movies I’ve watched. He is my caped crusader, my ride or die. He is also my biggest distraction in the best possible way. Today was no exception. You see, he would much rather be out in the world creature a real life adventure instead of laying at me feet as I pen an imagined one. He is my constant reminder that life must occasionally be lived outside of my head. Once he has decided that it’s break time, he starts sounding off like a broken alarm clock. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a German Shepherd once they start feeling ‘chatty,’ but barking is no longer in their vocabulary. They start yipping like Dino from the Flintstones. On repeat. Over and over and over. Until they have broken you and you give in to all of their demands. I’m telling you, if he wanted to, this dog could take over the world. Luckily, I believe he would be a benevolent ruler, so we have that in our favor.

As it turns out, the walk that he forced me to take wound up being exactly what I needed to refresh and reenergize myself. Who knew that my four-legged friend knew more about what I needed that I did? not only that, it was a beautiful day outside. When we got back he was ready for a nap and I was able to cruise through another few thousand words unhindered.

Day one will be counted as a success, and I am going to ride this wave as long as it lasts, because I know when the tables turn, they will turn hard. And I really want to hit 100k this year.

Current stats:

Word count: 11,075

Out of: 100,000, which puts me at: 11% complete.

Words remaining: 88,925 (in 29 days)

Current mood on project: Excited and rolling with it while it lasts

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Happy Halloween! (and may the odds be ever in your favor, Nanoers)

Happy Halloween to all of my ghosts, ghouls and goblins out there this lovely day! It’s hard to believe that October is coming to a close, and in a mere few hours the hustle and bustle of Nano (and the upcoming holiday season) will be settling in.

I will be honest, I did not accomplish everything that I set out to do in October. My editing projects floundered a bit, but I did get some good ideas ready to go for my Nano project, and got some fresh content for this humble little blog sorted out. All in all, I would rate it as a successful month. After all, I did get to run through downtown Portland dressed up as a banana while being chased by Gorillas.

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And I got to spend a little bit of time visiting one of my favorite spooky spots, Halloweentown:

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Not to mention trying on a few costumes at Target, and carving pumpkins with the family. I didn’t hit all of the holiday things that I wanted to do this year, but let’s be honest- there isn’t enough time in the month to do everything on my list.

I had a blast and went out into the world instead of spending so much time lost in my own thoughts. Sure, I could have managed to get a bit more work done, but every now and then we need to stop and remember that life is about more that a word count. And sometimes the best inspirations you will encounter will be out there in the world, not at home staring at a screen.

Now we are quickly hurdling towards November. I already went over my goals for the month yesterday, so I wont bore you by repeating myself. But I cannot believe that Nano will be here in a matter of hours! I feel like a little kid at Christmas, only instead of getting presents, I’ve been invited to work a season in Santa’s workshop- it’s a lot of hard work, but its also a dream no self-respecting child would pass up.

I planned ahead this year and even managed to snag a few days off from work so that tonight I get to indulge myself and stay up late for the midnight start! Woohoo! I think I’ve only managed to do that once or twice in all of the events that I have participated in.

So tonight, I will be dressing up the dog and taking him for our nightly walk. I will come home and eat pizza while I watch Hocus Pocus. I will glance at the clock every five minutes or so to see how close I am to midnight. And when that clock strikes, poof- I will turn into a moonlight writer, chasing my dreams through the flitting words on the page.

Good luck, my dear friends, have a safe and happy Halloween. And when you get a chance to sit down and start writing, my wish for you is that the words flow smoothly, the ideas never wane, and the characters dance through your dreams with a lively enthusiasm. This is what we do, this is why we can’t stop. We spill our souls onto the page and hope someone will read their own when they see the words. May the odds be ever in you favor.

Nano is Coming! November Goals Unveiled

Hidden amidst the costumes, the piles of candy, and the pumpkin spice coffees, dodging past Winnifred Sanderson, Michael Myers, Pennywise and Chucky- just beyond the veil of Halloween, a mystical adventure awaits the daring writer brave (or crazy) enough to wield their pen like a scabbard and charge into the unknown foray of the blank page. That is right, my dear literary lovelies, Nano is just around the corner. As in a couple of days away. The hourglass of October is nearly spent, the precious Nano prep time is coming to a close, and soon the curtains will part for November as the main attraction commences.

I will be honest with you, for all of the time I have spent organizing myself for November- I still don’t feel anywhere near being ready for the month. I don’t think I have ever starting November 1st feeling fully prepared, and perhaps that is where the adventure truly is. It’s all about walking into the challenge with the nervous anticipation clawing at you, asking whether you can make it or not. Will you take the castle, or retreat to find a dragon to help you slay your literary foes in December? We shall find out together, my friends.

As per the usual, it is time to make my writing goals for the next month. The past few months I have been working on finishing old projects- mainly in the form of editing. And while I haven’t found as much success with these projects as I had hoped, I think this is a theme that I need to carry on with throughout the year. This is a year of finishing, of tying up my loose ends so that I can move forward with confidence into whatever 2017 has in store for me. And so, my Nano project is going to be an old one that needs some new life breathed into it. I’m going to be picking up a project I started in Camp Nano this last summer. I didn’t get very far into it, and what I did manage to do needs a complete re-write. So I’m taking that old idea and creating something new. The benefits: I know a little bit about how these characters act and how to make them translate on the page. The cons: everything that I had before is essentially being scrapped, so I will be starting with a clean slate. I’m excited to get it going, to finish it. It’s an idea that I find intriguing, and I am curious how it will play out. I have my general plot figured out, but I always leave a lot of extra wiggle room when I plot so that I have the ability to adjust if the story starts steering me in a new direction halfway through.

In the spirit of the ‘out of this world’ Nano theme we have going this year, I am going to be shooting for the stars: it will be a ‘go big or go home’ Nano. This could either be an epic year, or it could spark and fizzle out before the month is up. I guess we shall see. So, on to the goals:

Naturally, my minimum word count goal is 50,000, courtesy of the Nano challenge. But this year I am going to make yet another attempt at the crazy, coveted goal of 100,000 words. I have tried to hit this mark for a couple years now, but I have not managed to make it. I usually start to slow down and come to a screeching halt at about the 75k mark- a milestone I am still incredibly proud of, but I deeply desire to hit that ever illusive goal, mainly because I have tried and failed so many times in the past.

Second: I am going to try to post every day of the month (gasp). This is yet another goal that I have striven for the past couple of months, but haven’t even come close to. I’ve been struggling lately with the blog, and I think it’s been pretty apparent. Life has been incredibly busy, and I feel like I’ve lost my voice. The best way to fight this little struggle is to embrace it. I need to nurture my daily habits until I start to see myself again in my work. I have to push through my self-imposed barriers to remember who I am as a writer. So if you see me waning on occasion, feel free to leave a comment and kick me in the booty- there is nothing more motivating than the people who are fighting right alongside me.

I am so excited and yet also incredibly nervous. I am terrified that I am taking on more than I can handle, after all, the holidays are upon us, and that has always been a busy time for my family. Then again, if I want this type of life, these are the challenges that I must give myself every single day. This is my favorite time of year, and I get to immerse myself in my favorite activity. Whether I get a gold star on my goals or not- at least I am still out here trying. That’s really all I can ask of myself.

So today- after the football game, of course (GO HAWKS!), I will finish getting myself ready for November. I will work through the Mount Everest pile of laundry I have waiting for me (it’s embarrassingly awful at this point, but I wasn’t kidding when I said life has been busy, I haven’t even had time for this simple chore). I will clean the house and figure out a few simple meal plans for the moth. Then I will be off to the store to stock up on some of my favorite snacks and drinks (tea time for the win! And perhaps a few Hershey kisses as word count rewards). I will go on the Nano website and stare longingly at the travel mug I hope to reward myself with if I hit 100k. I will go over my prep work one more time and make a few minor adjustments. Then I will take a little bit of time to relax with the book I hope to finish by tomorrow (otherwise it will be a long month before I get a chance to read the conclusion).

Tomorrow I will let myself fully enjoy the excitement of Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. I will settle in and watch Hocus Pocus and The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. And then when the clock strikes midnight, I will begin my daring adventure. Care to join me, my friends?