Tag Archives: Writers Resources

PrepOutMon-day: Trick-Or-Treat!

Happy Halloween week! Halloween is so exciting now that I have a little one! My little strawberry is going to playdates, trick-or-treating, and sing-alongs dedicated to this not-so-spooky holiday. So much fun!

Strawberry at a Halloween jam.

Strawberry at a Halloween jam.

You know what else is exciting about Halloween week? When it ends, NaNoWriMo begins! We’ll all have sugar-highs and optimism as we dive into these projects we’ve been thinking about for so long. I am ready! I’m through with the planning, wondering, and  mapping! I want to write! (It just occurred to me that some of you are probably child-free and will be starting NaNo with a hangover…probably after making out with a slutty green crayon all night. That is cool too. Let me know how that goes.)

I’m taking my wobbly-walker trick-or-treating as my NaNo prep this week. Mama is going to load up on candy–the fuel of word-sprint-when-I-can writers!

Looking for a fun way to kick off NaNo? I’ll be joining @FriNightWrites #writeclub to get my first 1667 words. Hope to see you there! (I’m @penandstink)

Happy Halloween, Trick-or-Treat, and NaNoWriMo!

PrepOutMon: The Bad Beginning

I spent my Sunday morning in a coffee shop writing. It was great. My writing was horrible. But being out of the house, milking a medium latte, and writing sans child nearly trumped the hair-tearing-out anger I was experiencing as I wrote, revised, and my story didn’t budge a centimeter.

I know what this book is about. I have mapped out the story. I even know how the climax of the story will play out. And am stuck on the beginning. Beginnings used to be my thing. I thought that setting up the bones and foundation of the story would help me avoid the pain of writer’s block. Nope.

I could have skipped to the middle — the part of the book that is organized and more or less mapped out — but I stubbornly attempted to pound out a direction for the beginning. How do I get from the introduction of my character/story to the middle action? You aren’t supposed to answer that. I have to.

My plan is to just write the damn first draft and get on with it. Easier said than done. But that is what NaNoWriMo is for, right? I’ll keep trying to brainstorm-write until November…then it is go-time.

At least I have Writing Workshop tomorrow night. Another opportunity to write and work through this blurgh!

First Writing Workshop

"You've got this, right?"

“You’ve got this, right?”

On Tuesday, I left my child (as pictured above) in my husband’s hands and walked to my very first writing workshop. I won’t lie; I was grinning during that five minute walk down the hill and across the road. I wasn’t nervous about writer’s block, meeting new people, or that I left a very messy baby with my husband for his first solo parenting gig. I was just excited to be walking to a writing workshop on a crisp fall evening.

The hostess of the workshop is just…lovely — a perfect blend of humor and kindness. I felt immediately warm and welcome upon meeting her. She seems like the kind of person you can have a cup of tea with and laugh about anything.

The other writers in the workshop are so, so, so talented. The pieces they came up with in response to prompts were just amazing — detailed, mysterious, tender. My work sounded so different. So light and silly. But that is me. That is my voice. I doubt it will change much.

Writing and sharing work in a comfy sitting room, with tea, prompts, and talented writers, with no interruptions for 2.5 hours…it is heaven. It is luxurious — reading during a rainstorm, wrapped in a soft, worn shawl luxury.

And all of that serene, comfy, luxury walked home from the workshop with me. I opened the front door to hear a welcoming whisper from my husband, “Take off your shoes and tell me all about it!” Our baby had been sleeping for an hour; the house was tidied up; and the dishwasher was running. My husband and I swapped stories about our evening in the quiet of our living room.

PrepOutMon-day: Doctor’s Note

Dear Blog Readers and Spammy-Hammies:

Gilly has come down with the “cold from hell.” Her words. I am a doctor, so I use doctor talk. She has phlegmitis. She asked me to write a note to excuse her absence today. After making a house call, because I’m the kind of doctor who makes house calls from a horse-drawn carriage, I can confirm that she and her entire family have a very serious cold, or phlegmitis.

I have seen first-hand that story mapping index cards have been used as spare tissues. Unfortunately, the blue lines run when damp and left little blue mustaches on the entire family.

The computer was encased in a gooey snot web. It appears it was last used to google “Eastern Equine Encephalitis.” They do not have EEE. They have a cold. The computer is in quarantine…drying out.

Gilly’s new writing pens? It appears the family has used them to clean out their ears and de-clog their noses. These methods are not medically approved. Nor are these methods approved by common sense.

Writing ideas? Gilly asked me for drugs to aid her creativity. I told her that perhaps reading a book, instead of watching My Best Friend’s Wedding, would aid in creativity. She growled, coughed on a pillow, and threw it at me.

So, she is sick, growly, disgustingly aggressive with her germs, and deplete of adventurous writing tales to share with you today.

With doctorly flourish,

Dr. Smart Doctor Guy

PrepOutMon-day: Hello, Sexy!

You guys, I know what my next writing project is going to be!! *Gasp!*

I’ve mapped the story out in a very general sense. And I am going to work on mapping out the specifics this week. I am excited! I love the idea! I love the structure! I’m in love, love, love! I even did a few writing sprints on Friday to brainstorm and get a feel for the protagonist. Did I mention this story is “the one” and I’m in love?

Basically, I have the pre-writing stages equivalent of  a dating profile of my perfect man in my inbox and he wants to get to know me!! Is he too good to be true? Will we mesh? Will he show up to our first date with a popped collar and ruin everything? I don’t know where this will go, but I’m going to put on my hottest pair of jeans, some lipstick, and find out!

Also, thanks to this blog I realized that we have to write TONS OF WORDS each day to complete NaNoWriMo!! A little less than 1700 if you are consistent each day. I am consistently inconsistent, so crap! Hope my project likes “quirky” girls!

Oh! And you are all invited to the wedding if this works out!

PrepOutMon-day: Goodnight

So… How are you doing? Did you have a good weekend? Did you do anything special? Um, I had some major writing plans for this weekend. Here is how that went down:

Friday night: I was all set to participate in @FriNightWrites #WriteClub. It is a space in cyberland, dedicated to writing sprints and motivation via Twitter. I put my daughter in bed and realized that I did not have an ounce of energy left to stay awake, let alone write. I was asleep well before 10:00 pm.

Saturday: I decided to write and  re-map an idea that had taken a turn I didn’t like after a brainstorm writing session last week. Instead, I took a 2 hour nap. I didn’t even feel bad. That nap felt so good. So good that…

Sunday: Took another nap. Football makes me sleepy.

Monday morning:  Here I am with a PrepOutMon update to share and I’ve got nothing. No new story maps. No brainstorm writing sessions to tell you about. But! I did have a great idea for a book upon waking from my nap on Sunday. I will be mapping that this week. Bonus: It is a YA book, which is really what I want to write.

This Week’s PrepOutMon Summary: 0 words written. 0 ideas mapped. 1 new idea. Tons o’ hope that this week will be more productive. Stay tuned!

I need some motivation. Did anyone have a great writing weekend? Breakthroughs? Tell me about it. Heck, brag about it. You deserve it!

PrepOutMon-day: With An Idea And a Bus Pass…

I thought it would be convenient to dedicate Monday posts to preparation for NaNoWriMo, aka PrepOutMon. (If you want to know what PrepOutMon is all about, check out PrepOutMon’s grand unveiling.)

Why Monday? First, there is a possibility that I can write and work beyond nap schedules while my husband is home during the weekend. If all goes as planned, I can share the weekend’s progress with you on Mondays! Second, some writers might want to go through this process with me, but don’t give two stinks about my mom-life or random thoughts. I’ve made it easy. Stop by on Monday! Ignore the other days. Third, PrepOutMon-day is “cute.”

Do you think I am stalling because I haven’t made any progress with PrepOutMon? Wrong! I have begun mapping one of my favorite story ideas onto index cards. This is not writing, but it is work. On these index cards I am beginning to map out the story to see if anything interesting is really there. The original “idea” is a word, a portmanteau. So figuring out if this word is big enough to convey a story does take some work.

So far, I have 20 cards and scrap pieces of paper. The first card has the story idea and the original inspiration of the idea. I included the inspiration to help set the mood of the story and to bring me back to the moment in case I get stuck and/or realize the story or the interest lies within another aspect of that “aha  idea moment.” I have index cards with character points on them. Other cards have possible plot points that I can shuffle to fit the story or remove if they don’t work. I have cards with potential plot problems. I don’t even know how to deal with some of these problems. Other problems may not even become relevant as I get into the writing. That is exciting!

Stack o' mapping

Stack o’ mapping

So I am in a story mapping phase. I have never done this before. Typically, I have an idea and start writing. But this hasn’t worked for me, so I’m going to try a more systematic approach. A systematic  approach helped me with writing up research, so maybe it will help with fiction too. My goal is to start NaNoWriMo with a map of the world(s), characters, problems–a map that I can build upon and tear away at as I write.

Interested in story-mapping but don’t know where to start? Check out The Writer’s Compass by Nancy Ellen Dodd. Obviously, this book is about her “aha” moment in understanding the writing process. We don’t necessarily all want to write like Nancy Ellen Dodd, because that would be weird. But if you are interested in mapping, you might find a technique or approach that you can alter to jive with your personal style. I am using a bastardized version of her index card approach to story mapping. She is a tad too plan-y and index-y for my taste.

Next Monday I hope to have a few more index-card maps for other story ideas. I have adult and children’s fiction ideas, so I need to figure out which age-group I want to choose for NaNoWriMo. So work to do and hopefully I’ll see you back here Monday. If not, I’m happy to write to myself about the process too.