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.

Bare List of Writing Prompts

NaNoWriMo is upon us. With only two days left until you’re set to begin the greatest novel of our time, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of putting your words, your characters, into action. Here are some prompts to get you started.

Unfamiliar with prompts or afraid of starting with someone else’s words? Check out some great reasons for using them here

  1. Her brown eyes glared back at me with unrelenting fury and I knew I’d said the wrong thing again…
  2. A butterfly danced across the windshield as I put the car in drive…
  3. I’d heard the story a half a hundred times but still I listened as if it was all anew…
  4. Back on Earth, I’d never be able to talk about this stuff. Human beings shut down so quickly at the slightest glimmer of something truly interesting…
  5. A glistening pair of new Jordan’s were all I saw of him from my spot beneath the bleachers…
  6. A dirge played in the distance as I enjoyed a steaming hot coffee at the Downward Cafe…
  7. She could see the cars whizzing by on the main highway, feet away but oblivious to her pain…
  8. Of course we’re here. I knew we would be. It was the only possible place for us to end up…
  9. Lady Gaga again. We Pandora isn’t the even trying anymore. Turn it off and let’s go down to the Sixer…
  10. The absurdity of it all is that if I had to do it over again I probably would because I never learn and the ride was worth the story…

Bare List on Why NaNoWriMo

Halloween, Thanksgiving, hoodies, changing leaves, the sweet smell of autumn pies baking in the oven. These are a few of my favorite fall things, but at the top of that list is one of my favorite fall traditions: Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. If you’re new to the writing world, you may not be familiar with the 501(c)3 charitable organization encouraging us all to novel out 50,000 words in 30 short days, but you should be…nay, you NEED to be. Even if you’re an experienced writer with a number of books on the shelf, NaNoWriMo is an excellent opportunity to reignite your writing process. Why is National Novel Writing Month how you need to be spending your November? I’m glad you asked because I’ve made a list:

You Can Do It, And You Deserve to Know That- If you’re new to the game, fifty-thousand words may sound like a lofty and even unrealistic goal, especially in thirty small days that include a busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But that’s only because it is an insanely lofty goal, but I promise you it is NOT unattainable. When the pressure is on, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you’re able to accomplish, especially with the wealth of inspiration and information provided by the organization and community. You deserve the pride in a job well done on November 30th and all you have to do to make that happen is get started. Once you’ve got that first 50 out of the way, you’ll have the confidence to take on any writing challenge.

It’s the Wrecking Ball of Writer’s Block- So, you’re an old pro at writing. You know you can write 50,000 words in 30 days. Hell, your publisher expects you to do it in 3. You’re past NaNoWriMo, right? Wrong. If you’re struggling with new material or having trouble finessing an arc with a current project, NaNoWriMo is perfect for you. Pounding through those words with the pressure of a time-constraint but freedom of WHATEVER YOU WANT is an amazing combination for spurring your creative brain into action.

Great Community of Avid Writers- Writing can be an isolating profession or hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. While you might not have many “real-world” friends that share your zeal for character development or unexpected plot twists, NaNoWriMo does. It’s a huge community of people of varying experience levels as passionate about writing as you. You can make friends, meet mentors, or encourage a new generation of writers.

Bragging Rights-  We can pretend that this is a totally philosophical endeavor for self-evolution and improvement (which it is) but come on, you WANT to tell people you did this. It’s an awesome accomplishment. But, it’s not bragging if you can back it up, right? And you can because NaNoWriMo will reward you with an exclusive Winner’s Package.

Great Experience for a Great Cause- There is an exhaustive list of reasons why this is an outstanding experience for writers. Seriously, this little barely even skims the surface, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about what a great mission the organization strives to achieve. NaNoWriMo and it’s various programs promote writing fluency creative writing education, promote communities to ensure the proliferation of the written word, provides free materials for libraries and community centers.

There’s plenty of time to sign up and get your profile ready. I’ll be adding my bare list of 50k words to those of the thousands of other avid writers and I invite you to do the same. NaNo Newb? Share your questions or concerns. Nano Pro? Leave your experience in the comments.