Preptober

Preptober: Time Management

So I’ve been daydreaming about my NaNoWriMo project. I know the kind of story I want to write and I have a pretty good idea who my protagonist is. Which is a win for me because I usually don’t have any idea what I want to write, which of course, means I have no idea who my characters are and then NaNoWriMo comes around and I’m left floundering.

It’s a Dystopian Fiction story. I mean, if you’ve been reading about my work struggles in healthcare these past few months, you won’t be surprised by this. It will also give me a chance to vent my frustrations and air my “conspiracy theories” as well. It will center around a vaccine but my vaccine will be a lot more nefarious and the “United” States of America actually secedes and is at war with each other. Sort of like Hunger Games meets Dr. Fauci kind of story.

I figured out my writing schedule – sort of. Here’s what I have:

Let me talk through my calendar with you.

Mondays and Wednesdays are clinic days with Dr. M. I have to get to work pretty early on those days so writing in the AM is OUT. No way that’s going to happen. I put AM on a few Thursdays and honestly, I don’t know if that’s going to happen either as I will have to get up at 4:00 AM to write an hour before getting ready for work. We’ll see. The bottom line, I want to get at least 1000 words on those days. There is simply NO WAY I’m going to have the energy to write any more than that. My brain is already taxed, I won’t have anything left over for the story.

Which leaves the weekends. As you can see, I plan on writing the bulk of my words on Saturdays and Sundays. You will notice I have 4000 words on the 11th, and the 15th. I have some time off from work and I’ll have more time to put in more words those days. I hope. We’re actually planning on taking a short camping trip so we’ll see how much writing I actually get in on those days.

Overall, if I stick to the plan, (And let’s be honest, I probably won’t), I will have written about 54,000 words by the 28th. I left the 29th and the 30th free because I will likely need some extra time to catch up – it’s my cushion, if you will. Of course, the 25th is Thanksgiving and no writing will be done that day.

I bought Natalia Leigh’s Preptober workbook. If you would like to buy it you can get it here. She has it set up so that it’s a donation-based product, meaning you can pay whatever you can and think it’s worth. Technically, you can get it for free, but Natalia has worked hard on this workbook and offers a version of it every year so she deserves some compensation for it.

She also posted a video of her working some of the pages and I enjoyed working my pages alongside her. It also gave me some additional ideas for my story as well. You can watch that video here.

Anyway, one of the pages in the workbook is my writing schedule.

You can see, at a glance, what my day looks like and when I plan on writing. Again, the weekends are set aside for writing and on the week days I will try and do some writing after work. I planned to relax right after I got home from work so that I have time to eat, watch a few videos, rest my eyes, (cat nap), and then I should have some energy to write a few hours after that before bed. I think the key, for me, will be knowing WHAT I need to write during the week. So I really want to stay on top of my outline so that I can sit down and actually write something as opposed to just staring at a blinking cursor. This will be the first year I’ve really done outlining  so we’ll see how that goes. I just don’t want to waste those few hours and be as productive as I can possibly be.

I’m taking Thursday evenings off to decompress and recharge. And Saturday nights are reserved for the Right From Us podcast that Kevin and I film together.

And in case you’re curious, yes, you’re reading the schedule correctly. I get up at 5:00 AM every day, get ready for work, then I take some time to cool off, relax and chill before actually finishing my routine and going to work. To me, it’s worth getting up an hour early in order to relax and fully wake up before heading off to work. I could try and get in a few words in that time period but again, it will depend on where I am in the story and whether I have anything to write.

I also filled out the Self Care Bingo page in Natalia’s workbook. This is a game of bingo where I do various activities to decompress and once I get a Bingo, I will reward myself. With what, I don’t know yet. But some of the activities on my self-care bingo page are:

  1. Read
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Take day off
  4. Lie in bed and listen to music (this really helps with story ideas)
  5. Watch YouTube
  6. Blog
  7. Buy one Starbucks coffee (Fall tradition. I love Starbucks products but can’t stand the company and the fact their coffees are so expensive, so, one it is).
  8. Podcast
  9. Buy a protein drink (a nurse at work told me about a protein drink place nearby and I want to try it out).
  10. Meditate
  11. Nap
  12. Camp

Anyway, that will be fun to “play” and will force me to relax and recharge which you honestly need during NaNoWriMo because the experience is really fun, but intense.

I’m now going to focus on starting my outline and trolling Pinterest to start boards for my characters. I did that last year and it was fun to put a face with a name.

I’m also Take2max on the NaNoWriMo site if you want to look me up. Once you find me, go to groups and you can join my Write Away group. Writing is lonely and it’s fun to have someone to talk to throughout the experience.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what are you doing to prepare?

Preptober

It’s Time for Preptober!

NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is an annual writing challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November, for those of you that may not have been aware of it’s existence. (NaNoWriMo also offers Camp NaNoWriMo every April and July. The camps are more laid back as far as “requirements.” They are just another tool to add to your writing toolbox to try and motivate you to write).

Here’s a good article to read if you’re waffling on whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Preptober is a term someone clever came up with to prep for NaNoWriMo during the month of October.

First of all, you don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo if you don’t want to. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. But let’s face it, writing is lonely. And I personally need something to motivate me to write, whether it’s this blog, or my bullet journal because I’ve had a bad day and I need to VENT and PURGE my thoughts and feelings because doing so in real life could cost me dearly. *ahem*

You could prep … any month you chose to.  You are the king, or queen, of your castle. There are no rules.

First things first, what project do you want to work on?

  • Novel
  • Short story
  • Poetry
  • Non-fiction
  • Autobiographical
  • True Crime
  • Blogging
  • Other

Whatever you write, whether you’re published or not, YOU’RE A WRITER. If you can put words to paper and make them coherent and/or interesting, then you’re a writer. There are no requirements to this challenge, if you want to write and you’re up to a challenge, then you’re in.

You don’t have to be writing a novel to participate in this challenge. Maybe you want to write several blog posts. Or poems. Or your life story. Or short stories. (I did that one year for NaNoWriMo). Whatever writing project you want to do, you can participate in NaNoWriMo. It’s not about writing a novel, it’s about writing in general. It’s about pushing yourself to do the thing you’ve always said you wanted to do. It’s about unleashing your creativity and shutting down your inner critic. Your inner critic can be released at the end of the challenge. For now, it’s just you and your imagination. This challenge gives your creativity permission to be run naked and wild through the sunflowers.

(Figuratively speaking, of course).

Secondly, when you plan your writing, do you want to use:

  • The Synopsis Outline (a one/two page summary of your story)
  • The In-Depth Outline (the detailed outline that most of us [or me] run from)
  • The Snowflake Method (you expand your story, little-by-little)
  • The Bookend Method (figure out the beginning and the end and free-write the middle)
  • By the Seat of your Pants or Pantsing (little to no planning – you just start writing)
  • The Headlight Method (plan, write to the end of the plan, see where it goes, plan, write …etc)

I’m sure there are other ways, but these are the most common.

It’s important to know how you plan on writing before you actually write. For me personally, I love the pantsing method. I love to see where my characters take me. And they often take me to surprising places. It’s fun and I thoroughly enjoy it.

However ….

I inevitably get to a point in the story where I have no idea where it’s going, how it’s going to end and does it even make sense at this point? I then get frustrated/discouraged and just chock the whole project. This is why I love short stories because I can write to the point where I get stuck and then, well, it’s a short story, it’s SUPPOSED to end, right??

I’d like to flex my writing muscles a bit this go around. I want to combine both the bookend method and the headlight methods. I want a start, a general ending, and then loosely plan the chapters, allowing my characters to take me somewhere, but at the same time, put up road signs for them to follow along the way. I could write a full outline but ZzZzZzzz .. it sounds so boring. But then again, I said I would NEVER outline, in any form, a mere ten years (minutes?) ago, so, don’t hold me to that.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get to the Preptober stuff.

I’ve participated quite a few times in NaNoWriMo over the years, I’ve won a few years. But I never plan ahead and by the time the proverbial gun goes off at the starting line, I’m left in the dust blinking in confusion. Where to start? So. In an attempt to avoid that feeling, I want to actually be as prepared as I can be this go around.

Hence, Preptober.

Because I’m a big child at heart, I like to make things fun. So when I found this Preptober Bingo placard, I couldn’t resist to share it with you guys.

You can find more fun cards at Ink and Times. (I put the free space on there. I figured, free space equals one day off to decompress). The site even offers ideas on what to put on your Bingo card. For example here are the ones that caught my attention from the site and from this site that I think will work for me:

  • Update NaNoWriMo Account
  • Logline and Tagline
  • Brainstorm Your Plot
  • Brainstorm Your Subplot(s)
  • Bookend Beginning
  • Bookend Ending
  • Get To Know Main Character(s)
  • Get To Know Supporting Character(s)
  • Get To Know Villain(s)
  • Get To Know Setting(s)
  • Find Location Inspiration
  • Find Character Inspiration
  • Create Inspiration Board
  • Write A Synopsis
  • Creating A Writing Playlist
  • Research Important Need To Know Facts (1)
  • Research Important Need To Know Facts (2)
  • Find Writing Groups
  • Preptober Workbook

I want to work toward some sort of reward, and I will DEFINITELY reward myself if (WHEN) I win NaNoWriMo, but for now, it feels weird to reward myself for prepping. (Yay! Good job, Karen! You prepared for your challenge!) Uh … no.

But, I thought it would be fun to make prepping for NaNoWriMo more fun. Feel free to copy this for yourself, if you like.

Here are some more helpful resources in planning for NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo? And How to Win in 2021

Helping Writers Become Authors has a good section on how to outline for NaNoWriMo.

I plan on using the SmartEdit program as my writing software of choice. I’ve been liking it so far and best part – IT’S FREE.

If you Google Preptober and/or use the #preptober hashtag on Twitter, you will stumble across many more resources – the ideas are endless. These are the rabbit holes I tend to get sucked into (hence the reason I gave myself two research days because I loves me some research, ya’ll!) and if reading over these ideas and resources doesn’t inspire you then … I’ve got nothing else.

I’ll try and remember to update you on my Bingo card throughout the month of October. I’d like to post excerpts from my NaNoWriMo project in November, too.

I think my biggest challenge won’t be the writing part – I can write/type fast and make my characters do/say all sorts of stupid things, no, I think my biggest challenge is going to have the energy to actually write. Working 40 hours, making time for family, holidays, and you know, SLEEPING, and then finding the energy and time to actually write something …. that’s going to be hard. The few years I won NaNoWriMo I wasn’t working so …. that should tell you something.

We are also planning a short camping trip in November, which we plan on vlogging, so it will be challenging to find time to write while doing that, too.

Anyway. I hope this information was helpful and that I’ve given you some places to check out and poked your writing beast.

By the way, my Wrimo username is Take2max if you want to look me up on the NaNoWriMo site and friend me. I even made a writing group on the NaNoWriMo site called Write Away if you want to chat. (Search for that name when you go to your NaNoWriMo account under “groups.” Send me a note and I’ll send you an invite).

I freaking love this time of year!

Fiction Friday

It All Started With a Cough

“It started with a cough.

I don’t know where it came from but it was annoying, loud and croaky. I could control it at first, take a drink of water, suck on a throat lozenge, but I could feel it start to take hold in my lungs. It felt like a sea monster had a hold of my chest, it’s long, slimy tentacles wrapped around my body and slowly, slowly, squeezing the breath out of me.”

After about two days of this, my cough started to go away but I was having trouble taking a full breath and before long, I found myself panting like a dog just to try and fill my lungs and the simple act of walking across a room was too much and I had to sit down and recuperate before making another trek to the next room.”

I lost my sense of smell, taste, and I started feeling dizzy and disoriented, likely due to lack of oxygen. I had no idea what was happening to me but I’ve never experienced these types of symptoms before. I’m scared. I don’t know what sort of nasty cold this is but I feel different, I don’t feel myself. “

I know it sounds crazy, I feel crazy, but something, some darkness, is taking over my body. There are times I find myself doing something and not remembering how, or why, I’m doing it. There have been times I’ve been ACTIVELY trying to resist and yet, this darkness inside of me forces me to move my limbs and participate in simple activities against my will. My brain is screaming no, my body ignores me.”

That’s why I wanted to write this down. I don’t know where this is going, or why this is happening, but maybe someone will read this one day and learn from my experience. I know this sounds dramatic and I’ll probably laugh my fool head off when I read this back someday, but I feel like I’m dying. Not my body, my body doesn’t feel sick, but my mind, it’s slipping. I feel like I stepped off a cliff and I’m free falling, helplessly watching the world above me get smaller and smaller and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”

Am I dying? I don’t want to die. I want to live! I want to graduate from college, travel, fall in love, have babies – is that too much to ask? Why is this happening to me? I feel like I’m writing a suicide note and if you’re reading this, I DON’T WANT TO DIE!”

I’m tired. I don’t want to write anymore. I want to sleep and I want to wake up and feel better. But I’m scared to sleep, what if I don’t wake up? Please God, let me wake up.”

Detective Gomez lowered the note and looked at the young girl on the bed. She was small and so very thin. He guessed the girl hadn’t felt much like eating at the end and if whatever sickness she had hadn’t kill her, malnutrition would have.

“How long has she been dead, Kingsley?” Gomez said, carefully placing the note in an evidence bag.

Doctor Kingsley paused in his activities and glanced up. “I would say, judging by the rigidity, about an hour. But I can’t be sure, I need to …” he continued to rummage in his bag. “Damn it, I forgot something in my van, I’ll be right back. Don’t touch anything.”

Gomez raised a brow and watched the man shuffle out of the room.

“An hour?” he mumbled to himself as he circled the girl’s body. She was laying in the center of the bed, her legs pulled up toward her belly, her arms over her head. Her long, dark hair was splayed around her. Her face was hidden.

“What did you die from? Talk to me,” he continued to mumble while studying the girl’s clothes. And why was there dried flowers, or weeds, whatever they were, he wasn’t a horticulturist, lying next to her. Did she inhale something that killed her?

She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, like something you would wear under a blazer, definitely something you would wear to work, and shorts. Did she get home from work and kick off her skirt or pants and change into shorts? Maybe go outside and pick the weeds?

Her skin was smooth, young, flawless. She couldn’t have been more than mid-twenties. The soles of her feet were slightly dirty as if she had indeed just come from outside.

He clasped his hands behind his back and stared at her. “Talk to me, sweetheart,” he said quietly. He knew, if he stared at her body long enough, he would begin to pick up little things, little clues, as to what happened. He knew, from experience, that dead bodies spoke, you just had to pay attention.

Continue reading “It All Started With a Cough”
Fiction Friday

FF May Writing Challenge 5-7-21

Hello writers!

Ready for a writing challenge?

Me either. (Ha!)

I thought it would be fun to start a writing challenge, exercise our creative chops and start getting in the habit of consistently writing. I’d love to write every day but you and I both know, that ain’t happenin’, so, next best thing? A weekly challenge!

You can check out the full deets here, but in essence, the challenge for this month is to write a novelette – which is a 7,500 to 19,000 word count length story. I’m personally going to write one story from four different perspectives just because I have a fascination for those types of stories and want to try one myself.

And these “rules” are just guidelines – if you want to do something different, by all means, go for it. The objective is to just write – however that looks for you.

This week’s writing prompt is:

Pandemic!

I know, not exactly original but our lives have been so out-of-control this past year, let’s take a bit of that control back and write a story about either the pandemic we’re currently experiencing, or make up a pandemic – how are people behaving? What sort of symptoms are your characters experiencing? Whenever I have something on my mind, like this crazy pandemic, I find that it’s helpful to “purge” it from my thoughts by writing about it.

Come back on Friday, 5-7-21, and leave a link to your story. I’m looking forward to reading your work!