Bare List on the Death of Literature

The debate of the future of literature has raged for generations with academics and critics alike claiming novels to be a dying art form. “Thought provoking prose steeped in imagery and symbolism are dead” claim these elite voices from high horses. We are a “receiver” culture these days. We only want to be entertained and produce algorithmic tomes that are easily read and digested over a lunch hour and leave us as quickly as our club sandwich.

I call bullshit. Literature is not dead, in fact, I will claim here and now that literature will never die. I know this because I know and believe in the writer. Giving life to a novel is giving a piece of yourself to the world. It is a grind and the biggest pay off for most of us is that our words can directly benefit another human being. There are far easier ways to make a lot more money than producing a novel. Has it been done? Are there authors churning out cookie-cutter work to turn a profit? Sure, but they are the exception, not the rule. The majority of us wouldn’t toil away, forsaking better reason and judgement to create something for the world to scrutinize for only a paycheck. We do it because we have stories to tell, lives we hope to change, world’s we want to bring to life. We do it because literature affects us as readers and we want the chance to have the same affect on others.

So, why do these naysayers claim our art dead? A lot of reasons, first and foremost being fear. The world is changing, we consume content in ways we never have before and there’s boundless possibilities for how we will consume it in the future. Some older generations speculate that our “entitled” youth will lose patience for sitting down and reading a book. That they will not want to think hard because in the age of Google, you don’t have to. I know this is wrong because I have children. The one old enough to read keeps his nose buried in books most of his waking hours. He’s read a huge chunk of the “classics” and a large selection of the modern masterpieces, and he’s not alone. The vast majority of his young compatriots share his love of reading. It’s not a “dorky” or “nerdy” thing to do as it was when I was young, it’s a center of their conversation.

Enthusiasm can be cited as another reason for the death call of literature. Thomas Wolfe proclaimed that “New Journalism” would replace novels, meanwhile his fellow Merry Prankster, Ken Kesey, wrote some of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion (possibly my favorite novel of all time) were both published amid speculation that literature was dead (1962 and 1964). Did Wolfe believe that Kesey and Thompson were creating mindless dribble that would put the death nail into the novel? No, he believed that the escapades he was embarking on would change the literary world to an extent that novels as we knew them would cease to exist. He had right to be excited. What Wolfe, Thompson, Kesey, and others did was amazing and they have inspired generations of authors and journalists. Their combined works changed the landscape of literature, hell, society, but it didn’t replace literature. It added to it.

Plain old generational snobbery is another factor that keeps the debate alive. The older we get, the more we judge the youth living in our present. Nostalgia and experience dull our senses to accepting new and different ways of doing things. We lose understanding of how Harry Potter could evoke the same emotion as To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s the same across arts, really. Older generations long for the simpler comedies of I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show to today’s Modern Family and New Girl. Does that mean that the sitcom is dead? No. It means that they have changed, evolved. I’m of what I like to call “The Nick at Nite Generation” so I will watch and laugh at any and all of those, but older generations will cling to the first as hard as some younger may cling to the second. It doesn’t make any entity inherently better than the other, but quality is in the eye of the beholder.

Also, and finally, some people are just pretentious little shits who like to claim that all work today is crap because it makes them feel smarter than everyone. These guys are just jerks.

Great works of literature can be entertaining. In fact, it’s best if they are because then they can reach and affect more people. Books are not pain. They are not elitist works meant only to be enjoyed by the academically gifted. They are powerful mechanisms of change. Thought provoking prose and enduring symbolism can be found in many great works of our time. Lives have been changed by thousands of books that have been published this century.

Literature is not dead because writers/readers won’t let it die. If you’re working on the next great masterpiece in literary fiction, keep working. Don’t be dissuade by the condescending voice of the few, write to reach the many that need your words.

Bare List on NaNowWhat?

A week has passed since the #amwriting community closed on NaNoWriMo 2017. You’ve given 30 days of your life to pounding out words, diligently bringing your masterpiece to life. It’s gone from a concept dancing in your brain to a living document awaiting your love and attention. So, now, what do you? Your heart is racing with anticipation for the future of your manuscript. There’s so much work to be done, but where to start? Recruiting a critique circle? Beta readers? Editing? No. None of those. What you’re going to do now with that precious piece of yourself you’ve worked so hard to make happen is break up with it.

Yes, you read that correctly. Break the hell up with your manuscript. 

But why? I love my novel! I’m ready to dive in and make it perfect and watch the future of this perfect prose unfold! I know you are, and that’s why you’ve got to give it a break. You are too emotionally attached right now, too entrenched with your characters. You’ve been involved in a hot and heavy romance with your words and you need some time to cool off. You and your work are going to be involved in a super committed, long term relationship, so you deserve time to sow some wild oats before you’re ready to march down the aisle.

Right now, your work needs to sit. I know you have a lot of ideas bouncing around in your head and probably a stack of notes on what you want to improve, but right now, the work is best served by you forgetting it exists for at least 30 days. I know, it’s horrible to think about. You’ve not worked so hard on this to put it in a drawer and forget about it, but your novel will be better for it. Looking on your work with fresh eyes will give you the opportunity to have a truer sense of the story you’re telling and a more honest regard for the words on the page. You will be pleasantly surprised by some of your choices and mortified by others. That’s the process. If you delve into the editing while you’re still fresh on the heels of every decision you made, you will still have an attachment to those decisions, some of which may be detrimental to your work. You may be in love with something that needs to go or cut something you forced in for deadline that is actually really beneficial. Time helps avoid that.

I know everything in you is screaming at me. You’re already finding ways to sidestep this important part of the process. You’re objective enough, you only need two weeks, you can have beta readers be objective. No, friends. At least this first revision, the responsibility is on you to have that self-restraint and let your novel sit.

So, what can you do while your manuscript simmers?

  1. Write – Never stop writing. You established that you can put the words on the page, so keep doing it. Free write, join writing challenges. December is National Novel Finishing Month, International Plot a Writing Month, and International Story a Day Group. You can join those (and many more all year long) to keep you motivated or start your own.
  2. Read – The best writers are readers. There’s no better way to spend the cold winter months than snuggled up in a cozy chair reading, so hunker down and get to it.
  3. Research – If you want to stay involved with your work, spend your time researching its future. What does the market look like for your genre? How can you best promote your work? What agents best align with your novel?
  4. WIPs – This is a great time to focus on any other work you may have in progress. Edit a novel you loss interest in, expand on that short story you started in free writing last year, send out your older work to some beta readers.
  5. Workout – What? What sweating have to do with writing? A lot. Creativity, focus, and mental stamina are all improved by a healthy workout program. Writing is great for mind and spirit, but sitting at a computer all day is bad for your joints, circulation, and muscles. So, get up and get moving. Yoga is great for flexibility and focus, core training will help save you the back problems inherent of a career in front of the computer, and cardio will give you a chance to brainstorm your next work or get to know your characters a little better.

Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? Share them in the comments.

Bare List on Writing for Free

There’s this insane misconception in the writing world that it is acceptable to be paid in “exposure”. Are there situations where this may be true? Certainly. If the Rock asks you to write a piece for him to endorse and share on his media outlets solely for exposure, do it. Here’s the thing though: Dwayne Johnson is not going to ask you to shlep your craft for free because he is an artist and he recognizes that it takes a lot of work to create something meaningful.

You know who doesn’t respect your hard-earned words? Big content companies like Huffington Post and LA Weekly who want to exchange your grind for the bleak chance that you will be able to build a fan base while earning them the big bucks. I know, as an aspiring author/journalist it can be INSANELY tempting to submit to any outlet that offers the possibility of seeing your story in print. This post isn’t about shaming anyone or getting on a high horse and proclaiming that wanting to work for free makes you a “less than”. It’s not that AT ALL. I completely get why aspiring writers would gravitate towards these outlets. It’s part of paying your dues? There are unpaid internships in every industry, this is no different, right? Wrong. Being published by media corporations hoping to lower their labor cost by piggy-backing on your hard work is not the equivalent of an unpaid internship. Here’s why:

  1. You’re not learning the industry – Media outlets, publishers, agents, etc. do not follow the same process as Content Monsters that just ask you to submit work for them to publish/reject. Internships/apprenticeships/first jobs are meant to give you experience in your field. To grow your knowledge base and make you more comfortable in that world. Free content contribution is like being a cashier at McDonald’s when you aspire to be the next sous chef for Emeril: they’re in the same industry, but it’s a long, complicated road to get where you want to go.
  2. You will not build a network – These companies sell young writers on the idea that by being published with their outlet, they will have the opportunity to gain exposure and that’s more valuable than money. Exposure is valuable, especially when you’re starting out, BUT a microscopic amount of writers actually gain communities from these outlets. You will work your ass off for maybe three extra Twitter followers. However, the outlet still gets money. It’s not a symbiotic relationship.
  3. Your resume will not be boosted One of the MAJOR benefits of internships is that they look good on a resume when you head out into the world to find a job. Being an unpaid contributor to a Big Content outlet will not do the same for you. Agents, publishers, journalists, etc. are familiar with these organizations and 99% of the time will not be impressed that you’ve had work published there.
  4. You risk hurting your work – These companies have a formula for what they want to publish, and often times it is below the grade that you are capable of writing. They either want easy reads that are easily shared or emotionally charged rants that care more about evoking rage than stating facts. This is not what yo want your potential employers to see.
  5. Your work is worth getting paid for – Yes, you are new. You have no credentials and writing is a hard industry to break into for a lot of people. I get that. I do. But hear me: your words are worth money. Your plots may still need work, your voice may need refinement, but you are in this world working and striving to get better, and that’s how I know you are going to make it one day. Do not sell yourself short because you are afraid of going for the paid outlets. Do not be deterred because you’ve got a stack of rejection letters the size of a doctoral dissertation. THAT’S PAYING YOUR DUES. That’s your unpaid internship: submitting, getting destroyed, and getting back up again. Taking the feedback that people who respect writers are willing to give you and moving forward until the RIGHT outlet(s) are ready to publish your work. Believe that. 

Writing is a hard industry. It comes with a lot of rejection and self-doubt and Big Media Corporations prey on that. They know that you are willing to work and grind and do whatever it takes, and they’re looking to get a paycheck they have not earned off of your blood, sweat, and tears. Don’t let them. Your words are worth more.

Do you have experience with any of these media corporations? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Bare List on Addiction

A few days ago, I was scrolling mindlessly through Facebook because procrastination is real and I stumbled upon an update from the Sheriff’s office of the small town in which I was partially raised. Every contact I had from said town had shared the message. It was a warrant notification of a man wanted in association with an attempted armed burglary, and with horror, I realized it was a man that I knew. Well, that’s not accurate. It was a man I had known as a boy. A boy a few years younger than myself. He was one of the underclassmen that hung on the outside fringes of my friend group. A cute, young football player we all lovingly referred to as a little brother. Except he wasn’t. Not anymore at least. The man staring back at me from the WANTED poster looked more like Charles Manson’s insane younger brother than the sweet boy from high school. He bared his teeth in a sinister grin showcasing all of his clearly meth-addled mouth. His hair was unwashed and unkempt. Even his eyes were hollow and vacant, no longer glistening with youth and possibility.

Baffled, I opened the comments to see if this really was the young boy that I had once known. It was, of course, which was heartbreaking in its own right, but more gut-wrenching were the comments. “Hang him!” proclaimed one, “hang him high!” agreed another. “Guess he’s not such a stud anymore,” someone chided. A comment here or there made mention of how sad it was that drugs had stolen his future or of how sweet and kind he had once been and how awful it was that this drug epidemic had claimed another victim, but for the most part, Facebookers gathered to revel in the undoing of one of our own’s humanity.

The scene crushed my soul, not because I had known the boy. We were only passing friends. Truthfully, I haven’t talked to him in over a decade. We weren’t even connected on Facebook. It’s safe to say that had I not seen his mugshot, I would not have thought of him that day or any other. I felt for him, of course, but what upset me even more I guess was that, I wasn’t shocked. While it was jarring to see a name I knew in association with a manhunt, it was not surprising that he turned to a life of drugs. It seems like everyone that I went to school with in that small town either got out or became addicts, and sadly, I’m not exaggerating. Children with straight As and bright futures that stayed within the borders of our small community have almost all been swept up in the free-for-all of opioid and meth use. It’s literally killing the community. I can’t even count on one hand the number of former classmates of mine that have died of drug related causes. Even more than that have had serious injuries and more still have been in trouble with the law.

It’s easy in our society to blame them. To ignore the crushing poverty that kept them out of college despite good grades, to ignore the subpar educational system they’re raised in because it’s hard to find good teachers to live in the poorest county in the state. Hell, it’s easy in my home town to blame them because it’s easier to say “well, they’re just bad people” than to admit the reality that addiction is a disease that know no bounds.

It’s not easy for me, though. I wish that it was. I wish that I could go back to a time where the issue was black and white. I can’t though. I’ve come too far. At this point in my life, I’ve known and loved at least ten addicts that I know of, recognizing that given the percentages, I probably know/love someone that has struggled or is struggling in the shadows. Of all of those people, two are in recovery and have been for a substantial length of time. Two are in the roller coaster of early recovery, three are in jail and the rest are dead. Unfortunately, included in that last group is my father who passed away almost two years ago of what the death certificate listed as “chronic alcohol abuse”.

My father’s addiction changed everything I knew about addiction. My biological mother was also an addict, but she went to rehab and came out the other side clean and sober and has been for well over a decade. I didn’t even know my father was an alcoholic until my stepmother died. He was a highly successful attorney well-loved by countless friends and family, and highly valuable to the community (the big city where I spent most of my life, not the small town). When my stepmother died, though, he did, too. He drowned in drink despite the fact that all he wanted to do was survive. To enjoy his life. To have a damn life. Still, despite every fiber of his being wanting a different ending, despite rehab and therapy and prayers and homeopathic healing and at one point maybe something with an iguana, he succumbed to wet brain and loneliness. Really, it’s too much to even go into now, but suffice it to say that the world’s best father and grandfather became the indomitable alcoholic. I was constantly having to take care of him, rushing to the ER for drunken antics, driving grape juice to him before work but after I dropped my son off at school because he thought he was dying. It was an insane period of time in my life, balancing his addiction with being a single, working mother. It was heartbreaking and infuriating and I have never been so damn mad/sad/defeated in my entire life.

Before my father, if asked about addiction, I would have sad that it was sad, because it is. I was educated and empathetic enough to realize that it was a tragedy and no one ever wanted their life to end in addiction. I knew it was awful, and I was heartbroken every time it claimed another victim, but not like I am now. Not after living through the struggle. I didn’t know the gutwrenching chaos and pain the monster put on. I didn’t know that you could do all of the things, that you could want it SO DAMN BAD and still fail.

That adds a new dimension for me, and while I’m mortified that it took watching my father battle to honestly understand the hell that addicts go through on a daily basis, I get it now. Not just at a “oh it’s shame” level, but at a “this is a goddamn travesty” level. Because NO ONE wanted to end up being an addict.

I’m not saying that my high school friend, or any addict, doesn’t do bad things, and that those things should be overlooked purely because of mental disorder. My father did horrible things in the last few years of his life and we fought constantly, and I was not always the super forgiving, oh-I-understand child. I yelled and screamed and kicked and cussed. When loving his addiction away failed, I tried berating it away, I tried fighting it away, I tried ignoring it away. I tried a lot of things that failed because nothing would work, but still I feel like there’s got to be a better away. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s not hanging. I know it’s not laughing and making jokes and peering down from our high horses in judgement, or even pity.

Anyway, I’m not sure why I wrote this, but a voice has been gnawing at my brain to put this into the world and so it has. Maybe it will help you? I hope it does. Maybe I just wanted to give a voice to the darkness, because for a long time I let my dad live in the darkness. I didn’t talk about his addiction a lot when he was alive because he was embarrassed of it, and no matter how angry I was at him, I never wanted to embarrass him. But you know what? I was never embarrassed of him. I’m still not. Sure, he fought the battle and lost. Sure, I’m still angry that my youngest son will never get to meet his grandfather. Of course, I’m still ravaged by the empty chairs at our holiday gatherings. I am many, many things when it comes to my father’s addiction, but embarrassed is not now, and never has been one of them. His own shame wouldn’t let him believe that when he was alive, but maybe someone out there will. Shame is the food addiction lives on, so I’m not feeding it anymore.

If you’ve loved an addict, if your town is one of the thousands losing this battle, if you’re struggling, whatever and want to talk, I’m here. Comment/private message/whatever. Let’s talk.

 

Bare List on Nanover

Yesterday, I completed the annual challenge so many authors inexplicably take on despite its obvious opposition to better sense and reason. Yes, I’m talking about Nanowrimo. I wrote my way across the finish line yesterday, and despite the lack of trumpets and balloons, it was a thrilling moment for me. While it’s not my first victory, it was my most stressful battle, which is really saying something because past Nano’s I have been either a single working mother at a high level marketing job while also launching my own small business or the married mother of a two month old who just added a new baby to the mix. Now though, I am solely focused on writing and my small business, the is now a toddler in preschool, and the oldest is double digits. Also, I was super excited to use the event to get started on a narrative that had been nagging at me for a while.

“This will be cake!” I proclaimed on November 1st as I banged out the first 3,000 words without even breaking a sweat. Then God laughed and the trouble began. There were some expected obstacles, like the half-marathon I was running in another state. This was a relatively big deal because I am not a distance runner. I am very fit and active (strong body, strong mind, right?). I love 5ks, obstacle courses, and mud runs, but I can think of zero good reasons to run for 13.1 miles. Like, none. Even if something was chasing me, I’d just lay down and let it eat me around mile 6 cause I mean, damn. Unfortunately, one of my best friends created a good reason for me, or more aptly her sister did. You see, her sister, who was only a month older than myself, passed away entirely unexpectedly earlier this year. She left behind a husband, two children, and my devastated best friend. The sister had always wanted to be a runner but health issues kept her from it, so my best friend decided we would run a half and dedicate it to her memory. I would rather write 13.1 thousand words a day for the rest of my life than run 13.1 miles just once, but I did it. I braved the early morning on four hours of sleep, ran all the miles, and made the two hour drive home. Oh, and did I mention I did that while in pain and projectile puking because I have a hormone imbalance that is wreaking havoc on my person? Cause I did. I did that. What I did not do, was write.

So, there was day one with no words. Then a host of other things collided. There were holiday scheduling discussions, meal planning, co-parenting struggles with the oldest father, fall ball, etc. It was a mess, but we survived…until the plague. The stomach bug, that I can only assume is sweeping the nation because it is all over my Twitter, invaded our household via the toddler. This resulted in baby’s first trip to the emergency room and another lost day of writing for mom, which was especially hurtful because we were supposed to be traveling to see my family for Thanksgiving, so not only did I miss them, I missed those valuable writing hours in the car. (I feel like I should throw in here that in life, it hurt me entirely worse to have a sick baby and miss my family than miss the writing. I need for that to be clear, because I am a Nano nut, but I also have priorities).

Then, like it hadn’t done enough, it got my husband and took me down shortly thereafter. It was madness to try to keep the big one healthy while the three other members of his household and over half his class were succumbing to the vileness. Another lost day of writing, and honestly, Zofran was the sole reason it wasn’t even more than that.

Added to that was a litany of other obstacles of varying emotional and creative sizes. My husband worked from home on more than one of my work days, which doesn’t sound like it should interfere and he really does stay the heck out of my way, but just him being there breathing my air makes it difficult for me to get my rhythm. One of my best friend’s daughters has hit the teenage years and is making the WORST choices and we’re trying to band together to be a village in raising this child, but we have no idea what we’re doing because it’s been two decades since we were 14 and there’s obvious communication barriers, my son’s best friend’s mother has been going through a breast cancer scare and we won’t know if we can call it just a scare until tomorrow. The holidays are hard because I’ve lost a lot of super important members of my family in rapid succession and I’m still getting used to the new normal. It was just a lot.

I wanted so badly for life to just slow down, for clients to stop calling, for issues to stop popping up, to have a safe place to worry and grieve, and to not run 13.1 miles. But, those weren’t options. Which, I guess is why I share this with you because all of us are dealing with stuff we’d just rather not. Cancer is an asshole, empty seats at the holidays are heart-wrenching, raising children is scary, work-life balance is a fictional carrot at the end of stick, chasing your passion is a hard fought battle, and running sucks. These are universals. Okay, maybe there are some people out there that would disagree on that last point, but they’re wrong or on better drugs than me. For the most part though, we are all dealing with versions of these hardships. Your cancer may be chronic illness, your missing loved one may be a spouse you’re separated from, but we are all dealing with stuff and we all fight on and that’s kind of freaking awesome. Truly, it’s a victory that we all continue to get up everyday and not just survive, but thrive. It’s amazing that even after the days we fail, we come back for more. We keep getting up, even if we’ve got to lay down for a moment.

For NaNoWriMo, whether you won with 315,000 words (that is an actual number I saw, hand to gosh. That is not my number. My book is still a chapter or two away from being finished and even then won’t hit 90,000) or you didn’t hit the target and ended with 25,000 or less, you won. You won by putting words on the page. You won by breaking through all the shit we have to live through, work through, survive through everyday to put in the hard work to follow your dream. That’s impressive y’all, and I am so down proud of everyone that tried.

Bare List on Writing Through the Struggle

I’ve started this blog 17 different times because I cannot find the words to accurately express the heartbreak today has wreaked on my psyche. While it’s not the most devastating of days I’ve ever survived, it’s been a struggle. Not in the “oh hell it’s Monday” way but in the “oh hell, how am I possibly going to handle my life” way. Between scheduling meetings, working, and hauling the kids to school, I’ve had to make time to have a long and emotional conversation about blending families and holidays. Literally, I found myself in tears three times before 9 a.m.

By the time I sat down at my computer to write, I felt defeated. I was robbed of my inspiration and my anxiety made it hard to even sit still. I was at a pinnacle moment of my Nano novel, a piece that’s been nagging at my peripheral for months, begging for attention and demanding to be heard. I am so excited about this work and this scene is crucial. I looked at the words from last night on the screen and felt like there was no way I could do the story justice today. I wasn’t good enough. Everything I could say today would be worthless anyway and I have so much going on. Did I even have a right to be writing? Thanksgiving is upon us, it’s a short work week and clients want to check-in before they depart for the holidays. My family’s scheduling was a nightmare, I have checks to various charities waiting to be written. The kids have activities. The family calendar hanging to my right hasn’t been updated since SEPTEMBER. There’s laundry to do, decorations to put up, the list goes on. Why should I even be writing?  I’m failing at everything else, why not just fail at writing, too? I mean, I’m going to anyway. I don’t have what it takes to live up to this moment. Not now.

I thought about it. I thought about packing it up and letting today go. “You’ll have time later. You’ll feel better later,” I tried to lie to myself, but I knew neither was true. I’m not going to get any less busy, at least not anytime soon. So, I took a deep breath and I wrote. I struggled through the words, tears leaking from my eyes at the emotional torment of the early day as well as my story. I wrote until I had to stop for an emotional phone call and then I wrote again as soon as the business was handled. I wrote as the word count slowly ticked up-50, 100, 150. I wrote as I fought to piece together the scene the way I knew it deserved to be done. I wrote though I cried, I wrote though I doubted myself, and then…I wrote because I was in the scene.

Without realizing it, my writing switched from pain to purpose. The words came easily and as my stomach ached with hunger, I realized that I had written without pause, without thought of anything outside of myself or the story for almost two hours. Almost 2,500 words had escaped my fingers and I had only fought for maybe 500 of them. It’s not the most I’ve ever gotten through in a sitting. I’ve certainly seen more impressive counts from a host of fellow writers and Nanoers, but it was a count I didn’t believe I could reach when I sat down. It was an achievement my evil inner critic had berated me into thinking was unfathomable.

I share this with you, not because of the pride I feel, but because I know that we all have that doubt. Life throws a lot at us, more than we can ever hope to manage, and it’s so easy to start listening to our fears, depression, and anxiety. Writing can so often be the easiest thing to neglect when those negative thoughts invade our brains because we believe that there has to be this perfect mix of inspiration and desire to do our stories justice. I’m here to tell you, that is untrue. I wrote today, despite the fact I didn’t want to. Despite the fact I felt like I had nothing to offer, I gave myself over to my work because I know that the long term pride I will experience completing this outweighed the short term pit of yuck that I was experiencing. Bonus: I feel better. Maybe I am failing at everything else, but at least I won at writing, and that’s a start. It’s forward motion.

So, friends. Today, or any day, that you’re struggling, I hope you remember that you can write through it. Though it seems impossible, just get to the computer, grab a pen and paper, whatever. Just start writing. Just keep writing. I promise, it will get better.

P.S. I’m not actually failing at everything, my inner voice is just a real f*ckhead sometimes.

Have you been in the struggle? I will grab a drink a settle in to struggle with you.

Bare List of More Writing Prompts

The ides of November is upon us. For many NaNoers, it’s a day of raucous celebration: the halfway mark! The end is in sight and you’re excited to see the finish line coming into view, maybe you’ve already even passed it. For others, though, this day reeks of the betrayal faced by Caesar on that March day. Your inspiration has dried up, your brain has blanked, the cold fingers of writer’s block are choking out your voice. The situation may seem desperate, but I assure you, there is hope! Writing prompts are here to get your juices flowing. (If you’re unsure about using writing prompts, read this). Below is a list of words, phrases, scenes, and ideas to help you get over the hump. Some are ordinary, some are insane. Some are funny and some are serious. Hopefully, there’s something to appeal to whatever sparks the light in your creative mind.

Whether you’re stuck on your NaNo project, finding inspiration for NaNo2, working on your own, or just looking to flex your writing muscles, I hope these ideas can spur something in your brain to trigger the words to keep coming, because that’s all that needs to happen. Persistence makes success inevitable, so just keep showing up. JUST KEEP WRITING. 

Words

  1. Coupon
  2. Fracks
  3. Abject
  4. Supercilious
  5. Phantoms
  6. Promise
  7. Elongate
  8. Placesetting
  9. Coerced
  10. Hedonistic

Phrases

  1. I could feel the heat coming off of it as I approached…
  2. “Neither will do if it’s only us two. A decision must be made”…
  3. Gaping at the blood flowing from the arm, my heart raced…
  4. The canine stalked the edge of my field of vision, sniffing lightly and pawing at the damp ground…
  5. Thoughts cascaded across the void of my blank mind as I doodled the snippets of coherence into my notebook giving life to the words…
  6. “You can keep saying it, but that won’t make it true. A mockingbird may call like a blue jay, but she will be no less a mocking bird,”…
  7. “What is it?” I asked as she held up the strange object glowing red under the beam of the flashlight,”…
  8. The circacelias are tripeds common of our environment. They inhabited Earth for a quarter century but found the air excessively dry with a slight taste of nitrogen, entirely distasteful to their heightened senses…
  9. In the blackened stillness, a sound rose in the distance, quiet at first but steadily increasing in volume and intensity…
  10. “When there’s nothing else to do, you do nothing. Quicker you learn that, better off you’ll be,”…

Scenes

  1. A decrepit old barn on the outskirts of town
  2. A restaurant in the middle of a busy intersection crowded with people
  3. The small star a little to the left of the outer edge of the universe
  4. A luxury yacht, meant to sail the Atlantic Ocean, parked on its rig in the neighbor’s backyard
  5. In bed on a warm night in the middle of August
  6. The arctic tundra just after the sun has risen for the first time in months
  7. The odorous and dirty basement of an otherwise well-maintained mansion
  8. The smokey remnants of the latest town to fall victim of the robot apocolypse
  9. A tunnel leading from the base of an oak tree into the depths of the earth
  10. A pristine dinner table with ornate bone china and elaborate place settings awaiting the hostess to be seated

Ideas

  1. Your protagonist finds a red shirt
  2. Kill a freshly developed character
  3. Introduce an animal into a scene
  4. Your antagonist misses an opportunity
  5. Your protagonist makes a pun involving ducks
  6. A side character has a crazy dream
  7. The protagonist receives an unexpected package
  8. A realistic shared dream unites characters
  9. A male character steals a piece of cheese from a female character
  10. A female character has a conversation with another female character about the Bechdel test  (see what I did there?)

 

That’s it for now. I’m going to get back to writing and hopefully you are, too. If you want more writing prompts, click here. If you’ve got your own to share, please leave them in the comments. Otherwise, JUST KEEP WRITING.