NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 13 (11/13)

Well, I wound up not doing much writing last night. I was going to play a game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, for a couple of hours and then get down to writing, but then it was almost midnight and I’d written nothing. So I wrote a bit so I could maintain my National Novel Writing Month streak and then went back to gaming. Between the last two nights, I’ve gotten about seven hours of sleep. Needless to say, I’m no longer allowed to play that game on week nights. It’s too addicting. I literally made excuses to keep playing for just one more quest/fight/look at the kingdom map/trip to the shopkeeper to sell something I decided I didn’t need from seven until one thirty in the morning.

Today, Fallout 76 comes out and I get a long anticipated book, Seth Abramson’s Proof of Collusion, so I’m going to be doing my best to stay focused and writing tonight. We’ll see how it goes, though. I have been using a therapy light at work and its been helping enormously, but it can’t exactly make up for the low amount of sleep I’ve been getting. That being said, it’s been helping far more than I anticipated or even hoped. For example, it’s telling that I forgot there was a difference between being tired from not getting enough rest and being tired because I’m incredibly depressed. I now remember what the difference is and feel more capable of handling my lack of sleep because I’ve been spending thirty or more minutes every morning with the lamp on while I do stuff on my work computer. I like it so much I’m going to be getting myself one for home use since I do not want to be without the incredible benefits of this device. I’m willing to bet some of this is the placebo effect, but it’s such a big change that I can’t write all of it off to that. It’s like night and day. I was down and ready for a long week of feeling depressed on Monday morning, but then I plugged in the therapy lamp.

If you can spare the money for one and struggle with depression that is generally worse in the winter months when you’re getting less sunlight, I suggest getting one for yourself. If you suffer from any kind of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I suggest getting one of these therapy lights. It’s really helpful and the UV protected ones don’t hurt your eyes if you wind up looking into them. I’m still figuring this whole thing out so I can’t speak to all of the benefits since I’m having trouble pinpointing exactly how it makes me feel, so I’ll probably write about this again sometime. Plus, I want to give it some time to see its effects in the long-term.

I’ve had so much going on lately that I really enjoyed being able to set everything aside to just play video games for a couple of days and there’s still a part of me that wants to keep doing that since writing for any length of time is hard work. With my grandfather, the changing seasons, the slow shift of my country’s government toward authoritarianism, the uncomfortable truth that we’re probably dooming our planet, and the unfortunate truth of life that every relationship I have won’t necessarily be what I want it to be no matter what I do, I’ve had a lot of big subjects on my mind. Video games are a way to escape them and writing, for me, is a way to come to terms with them. To process them. Which means it’s a lot of work to write anything because there are all these weighty emotions struggling for attention inside me and I need to be mindful of their influence so I can address them properly instead of having them spill into everything. I just feel like my mind is pretty cluttered right now and trying to pull out the right bits for writing is taking a lot more work than it usually does. It’s really tempting to not do that work and focus on resting instead. It’s also probably healthy to do that since I probably need an extended break from all of this writing and day job stuff since I use a break from one to focus on the other or just try to jam both into every day of my life.

As I told someone this morning, my main trait is will power. If it’s an absolute thing, like posting or writing every day, I can do it. I talked with them about this other thing in a more complimentary light originally, but further reflection has made it pretty clear that, tied in with the will power thing, my main vice is obsession. Surprise, the guy with severe OCD tends to get obsessed with things easily. I can make it work for me, usually in the form of making me stick with habits no matter how difficult or tiring they sound at any given time, but there are times it gets out of hand. Any time I push myself too hard with my writing or my work, any time I get too focused on details or minutiae, any time I get a dumb thought stuck in my head, that’s the obsession. It’s also why I have a hard time relaxing or doing nothing. It’s why I never just take vacations. I mean, I haven’t taken a day off of posting or writing in over a year. That’s a long time to go without a break. I’ve tried to get a blog post buffer set up so I can take a few days off of writing, but I always wind up writing anyway.

I don’t really have a conclusion here, I’m just trying to be more honest with myself about the positive and negative aspects of my life and how I spend my time. It’s almost as if I’ve had to confront mortality lately. Sure, it’s indirect, but it’s there. Nothing lasts forever and I want to make sure I’m acting in my own long-term best interest without (and this is the new part) making too many sacrifices here and now. The long-term is great, but nothing is worth three years of misery or living like a pauper or constantly engaging in a vicious cycle of burning myself out and subsequently crashing until I’ve recovered just enough to start working again.

Sorry if you came here looking for something upbeat or positive. I’ll pencil that in for later this week once I’ve gotten more sleep and untangled the web of emotions and thoughts that’s tying me up right now. I hope your month is going well, though, and today especially. I hope your writing goals are going swimmingly and I want to remind you, as I’m constantly reminding myself these days, that goals are important since they give us something to strive for, but make sure they’re something within reach and don’t be afraid to reassess if something changes your reach. Good luck!


Daily Prompt

Everyone needs to blow off some steam occasionally. Stress tends to build up rather quickly when you’re the protagonist of a story. How does your protagonist try to relax when it seems like they’re drowning in stress? Do they even get a chance to catch their breath, or are they constantly being harried and unable to take a break to get themselves in order? Write a scene in which your protagonist tries to relax. Whether they succeed or not is entirely up to you, but show us how they handle their stress and their success or failure since a failure is bound to only make them feel worse and success could give them an opportunity to reflect and grow.


Sharing Inspiration

One of my all-time favorite books is “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. In terms of complex and skilled writing, I’d rank him near the top of all writers I’ve ever read. I’m willing to concede this is just my opinion, but I could make a strong argument given the foreshadowing, complexity of storytelling, and just how much information there is that could be foreshadowing but maybe is just world information. We don’t know yet! The story isn’t finished and there’s just so much left to resolve that it’d be impossible to wrap it all up in just one book. There’s no guarantee that all of it will get wrapped up or nicely tied together, but I can hope. I love his writing because it gives me something to aspire to as a writer.


Helpful Tips

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Trying to work through a difficult passage? Grab a book that does something similar to what you’re trying! Not sure if what you’re trying to convey is coming out in your writing and it’s a big enough thing that you want to get it worked out right now? Find an alpha reader! Share your work with them and get their thoughts! Not sure how to move along with the current scene and unable to figure out where you can skip ahead to? Ask other writers for advice or suggestions! My inbox and the comments on my blog are always open if you’ve got questions or just need someone to talk to who gets the struggles of writing. There’s nothing wrong with opening up a bit to dump out some of the stuff going on in your head. That’s part of why I write this blog. There are many reasons, of course, but it’s super helpful to have a place I can dump all this out. I can’t promise I’ll always respond right away, but I can promise I will eventually respond.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 12 (11/12)

Well, I had a marginally effective day yesterday, despite deciding at 10:45 pm that I was just going to do maybe two hundred words of writing so I could keep my daily update streak going on the National Novel Month writing website. I wound up doing ten times that in about an hour and then decided to also write the blog update for today before going to bed as well, instead of waiting until the morning to do it like I’d planned when I’d decided yesterday was going to be a low-key day. Honestly, I really needed it. Yesterday was the only day I had that wasn’t stressful in one way or another since I got news that my grandfather’s cancer was back in a way that meant all the treatment options were more about making him comfortable rather than curing him. Also, I did enough processing around the video game playing to finally get my feet under me and get myself to a place where I can be open about what’s going on. All thing’s said and done, yesterday was a really productive, good day for me.

I was supposed to go back to my alma mater for the yearly important event for my social group (a fraternity that only exists at one college, basically). I decided I didn’t have it in me to spend six hours driving, three of which would have started around the same time I started writing today’s blog post. The worst part, aside from missing the event that was the reason I joined the group and continues to be my favorite part of the group, is that I suggested a group education activity for the active members of the group (the ones still in college who pay dues) that was supposed to happen today. It was supposed to be a talk about mental health focused on suicide prevention and how to support people who are struggling with their mental health. As someone with a lot of experience with both of those things and tons of personal experience with the latter, I was planning to be there as sort of “witness/personal experience” voice to help bridge the gap between the actives and the alumni who were sharing their professional experience working in the mental health industry. I’m sure they managed it quite well on their own, I have the utmost faith in the people who volunteered, but I was looking forward to a more literal approach to what I try to do here on this blog.

I’m not famous in the group or anything, but people who are active still feel the effects of some of the stuff I did while I was active (namely, I created a new position in the group and gave it such a rich fake lore that everyone just assumes it has been around for forever). It would have had a humanizing effect on a lot of the stuff the professionals talked about. I probably could have also shared some coping strategies because I’m great at those. Mostly, I would have answered questions and talked about what to do when nothing is working and you don’t know what to do next. I have a lot of experience with those moments, both in my personal life and as a member of the group that people went to when they were struggling.

Instead of doing all that, I took my own advice and spent a bunch of time and energy on my mental health. I did laundry, tidied up my room a bit, made myself a delicious meal, and played several hours of Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I also spent some time with my pet bird who is finally, after almost three years, starting to want to interact with me. I pushed my face up against her cage, my latest approach to trying to get her comfortable with physical closeness since she’s finally grasped the idea that nothing can get through the cage to her unless I open the door, and she came right over to me. She’s never done that before. It seemed like she actually wanted to be right next to me. She even went so far as to nibble my nose a bit and pull at my beard hair. It was adorable and the most time she’s spent in close physical proximity to me in the entire time I’ve had her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she spent more time voluntarily that close to me yesterday than she’d spent in all the months between when I got her and yesterday. It was a sweet, touching moment that reassured me that I still have a reason to keep trying to coax her out of the terror PetSmart instilled in her of every person who walks by her cage.

Yesterday was a good, relaxing day. I need more of those. It was nice to be able to get to a point where I wasn’t writing because I felt I needed to keep an obligation to myself. I actually chose it over the game I had running the background for an hour and a half. My poor computer, forced to split its attention between the game and greedy Chrome. I could hear its poor fans working to keep up with the processor demands of holding the game in stasis while I wrote in a web browser notorious for using extra processing power with a program that dynamically saves in such a way that it makes the browser’s load even heavier on the computer. I’m just glad everything ran smoothly.

I hope today is a good day for you! I hope you find the love of writing that lead you to this challenge and that you’re able to continue working with a renewed love for the craft as we work our way through the middle third of this month. We’ve got eighteen days left still, plenty of time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind. Just take your time, keep working every day, and you’ll get there. Good luck!


Daily Prompt

Everyone has pet peeves. My roommate’s pet peeve is people who make noise when they eat. One of my coworker’s pet peeves is when people ask for his help on something and then they let him do it all himself instead of assisting. My pet peeve is people piling dirty dishes on the side of the sink where we put the clean dishes. Does your protagonist have any pet peeves? If so, how tolerant are they when it comes to other people when they play into the protagonist’s pet peeve? Do they blow up or do they brush it off? Or do they just complain about it to a third-party and never address it with the person annoying them? Write a scene showing us how they’re respond to a pet peeve.


Sharing Inspiration

One of my favorite video games of all time is Majora’s Mask. I’ve written an entire blog post about it, which isn’t saying much, and I’ve considered using it as the basis for a master’s degree creative writing focused on storytelling in visual mediums like TV shows and video games. The complexity of the story is inspiring, especially considering they had one year to make and release the game and used mostly visual assets from the prior N64 Legend of Zelda game, Ocarina of Time. Time travel, the chance to reflect on and fix past mistakes, the opportunity for growth, and the final lesson that you ultimately need to move forward if you want anything to really change. It’s also one of the best stories about mental illness I’ve ever seen, let alone seen in a video game, so there’s that, too.


Helpful Tips

Everyone talks about finding the right music, or the drink snack, or the right drink, but few people talk about the right keyboard. The steady pound of keys is just as much a part of the soundscape of your writing environment as the music you pick to play. Something like a squeaky spacebar can entirely ruin what is otherwise a pleasant experience. The “chakt” of a mechanical gaming keyboard can really start to grind after a while. I don’t know how some people do it. Even my roommate uses a different computer to do most of his writing for his classes. He uses a laptop instead of his comfortable chair, custom keyboard, and top-notch headphones. Membrane keyboards may not be as cool or as fun as mechanical keyboards, but they make for a much better typing experience in my opinion. Everything from the sound to the feel of repeatedly pounding keys is superior. Plus, I’m less worried about breaking it. That’s my own paranoia, but it’s part of why I take special care to only buy keyboards I can use in a store first or that I’ve previously owned. I’m on my second iteration of my current keyboard. The squeaky spacebar drove me nuts for six months before I broke down and bought a new one.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 11 (11/11)

Well, yesterday was a bit more productive than the last few days have been. I was super wiped by the time midnight rolled around so I didn’t stay up much, but I still got plenty done. I’m only scratching the surface of making up for the days I’ve barely written anything, but I’ll take any progress I can get right now. I need to get the ball rolling again and last night went a long ways towards that. Hopefully, but the time this posts, I’ll have gotten some more writing done, but who knows. I am dozing off as I write this, so it’s entirely possible that I wound up sleeping in super late to make sure I get a full eight hours of sleep. I need it pretty badly at this point, thanks to spending the day helping my friend move and my neighbor playing really loud music again until well past midnight.

I did most of my writing in my National Novel Writing Month project, “What You Know You Need,” instead of in the romance novel. I need a good deal more clarity to figure out how I want to restart that but being half-asleep makes it a littler easier to keep the worlds rolling on a project that’s better established, like “WYKYN.” As long as I don’t actually fall asleep, being half-asleep means getting more words written because the aware parts of my brain shut down a bit. My fingers know my keyboard well enough that I can maintain my typing pace easily enough, even with my eyes closed and my mind approaching dreamland. I can’t always understand exactly what I meant when I review whatever it was that I wrote, but it usually sounds pretty interesting. Take, for instance, the original end of this paragraph that I wrote while falling asleep last night. “but I can be surprisingly coherent most of the time, when it comes to killing stuff and staying alive.”

Classic sleepy Chris writing. If I was writing anything other than a blog post for tomorrow, that would be great. I’m pretty sure I was thinking about the video game I spent most of yesterday’s free time playing. That’s all I’ve played lately when it comes to killing stuff and staying alive, so that would make sense. Well, as much sense as any of this makes.

When it comes down to it, all I’m really trying to do every day is get more words written. I try to avoid staying up so late that I start to feel loopy and in danger of falling asleep at my desk, but sometimes I’ve just got a lot of momentum going and I want to get just a few more words in. I was making such good progress on “What You Know You Need” and I’ve finally gotten through a difficult scene so I just kept writing until I’d eventually done two thousand five hundred words for the night. That’s a good number to end on for a day of getting back into the swing of things, you know. I’d also dozed off in my chair three times, but I still got my words written and they seem to make sense so far. I then wrote this post and dozed off another handful of times, but I still got it done in what I hope is a sensible pattern.

Anyway, I hope day eleven of National Novel Writing Month is going well for you. I hope you’re getting enough sleep and taking care of yourself. I hope you’re making progress on your goals, at least, if you wound up deciding to forego sleep for more writing like I did tonight. Whatever you’re doing, good luck!



Daily Prompt

The idea that you need to appeal to the five senses is just as much bullshit as every other writing rule (they’re more suggestions that rules since none of them apply absolutely), plus a little bit all its own. There are way more than five senses and you can really add to the reader’s suspension of disbelief (the way readers voluntarily choose to believe the story you’re creating) if you appeal to them. Sense of balance is a good one. The sense of where your hands are when your eyes are closed that lets you touch your nose on the first try. Sense of temperature, sense of the passage of time, sense of thirst or hunger, even! Throw in as many senses as you can! But not all at the same time, or else you’re going to be slowing down the story a lot.


Sharing Inspiration

As someone who tends toward negativity in my internal narrative, I often turn toward upbeat music to help shake me out of it or get me working on stuff when I don’t feel like doing anything. My favorite musician for that is Kyle Andrews. His music is reliably upbeat and even the slower stuff still has a cheerful vibe to it. Even when you start listening to the lyrics and realizing the cheerful Christmas song is about breaking up with your girlfriend and burning everything she ever gave you to fight off the chill you feel as a result of her treatment of you. It’s great! They’re clever and actually thoughtful songs, on top of all that. They very much adopt the attitude of “this is bad, but that isn’t the end of the world” and I need that sometimes. There’s even a song literally about that. Check him out if you need that. Or just want some good electronic pop/rock.


Helpful Tips

There are a lot of things that get in the way of writing every day. Some of them are the unfortunate requirements of life. Things like your day job, paying bills, doctor’s appointments, and grocery shopping all need to happen no matter how much writing you have to do still. Identifying these things and building time into your schedule for them can go a long way to mitigating how interruptive they can be. The biggest problem involved is actually figuring out all of the things that interrupt you or take time away from writing. The best way to find these things is to journal your days. If you keep a careful record of what you do and how it impacts your schedule over the course of a few weeks, a pattern will eventually emerge that could give you some interesting insight into how your mind or days work. For instance, my neighbor playing loud music late at night has the most impact on my schedule since it essentially renders me useless for the entire day after he does it. On the other hand, trying to play Pokemon Go actually makes me more productive because it’s something distracting that gets me out of the house for some exercise every day. Thanks to three months of journaling, which has used up half a notebook, I’m finding a lot of interesting patterns in my life. I hope you find some as well if you take the time to journal.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 10 (11/10)

Expectations are heavy things. One or two are alright, if you’re up for them. Once you start to collect a lot of them, though, the weight can crush you. The thing is, not all of them are yours. Sure, your expectations can be problematic when you’re looking for something you probably won’t get, but other people’s are usually heavier in my experience. I can simply put my own down. If I drop someone else’s, I feel like I’m letting them down or disappointing them. They can come in the form of wonderful compliments, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone has their eyes on you. I love that I’ve inspired people, but I feel like now there’s pressure to continue inspiring people.

That’s sort of why I do this blog, though, if I’m going to set aside the main goals of “public accountability when it comes to my writing goals” and “having a place to put the stuff I write.” The reason I write the things I do and unabashedly post about my mental health and personal life is that I want to create a place where other people who are struggling can find some comfort, rest, or understanding. I know my audience isn’t huge, but I’ve got my own little corner of the internet and I’m doing my best to shout so anyone who wanders by can hear something that is supportive and hopefully helpful. If I’m inspiring people to write, that’s great! I’m so happy to be able to have a positive effect on the world (and that’s my real life goal right there). If people think of me when they hear about someone who works really hard, then I guess that’s pretty apt because I work my ass off most of the time. They might feel like expectations sometimes, but that’s my own problem to deal with. I’m the person who is taking them that way.

When I want to give up on writing, when nothing else is helping and the little voice in my head that constantly fills my thoughts with “nothing you do will ever be enough” and “there’s no point in trying because you and everything you do is worthless” is winning, I take the time to sit down and write out a list of reasons why I write. There are a lot of consistent things on the list that hearken back to my reasons for beings. Things like “to help make the world a better place” and “to give other people what my favorite books gave to me: a place escape and hide away from a world that sometimes felt like it was out to get me” are usually first. Then there are things like “because storytelling fulfills me in ways that nothing else ever has” and “I need something meaningful in my life and telling stories is more full of meaning that anything else I’ve ever considered” that come and go as the way I view my life shifts. The last things are the ones that change from one year to the next, or even one month to the next, like “because I’m going for two years of consecutive days without missing a blog post” or “I want to wrap up this project by a certain time.”

The list helps because it’s all about me and why I write. It has nothing to do with whoever reads my stuff, with people involved in my life, or what might be going on the world. It is focused entirely on the intrinsic value of writing and that little voice in my head has nothing to say about whether or not those things are true or worthwhile. Plus, it tends to lead to some really productive introspection that helps me center myself. Between yesterday and today, I think  I’ve gotten my feet underneath myself again. Hopefully this next week of November will be more productive that the last.

I’m still not ready to talk about what’s going on in my life, but now it’s because I kind of want to focus on writing for a bit. There’s a time and a place for everything and sad stories that are going to require me to spend some time on emotional recovery should not be a part of trying to right the writing ship of this particular National Novel Writing Month. I’ve done almost not work on this weekend’s goals, so I’m going to forego sob stories and instead focus on trying to get a daily allotment of words written. Which is my new goal. Get words done every day. I need to dial it back while I’m getting back up to speed again. Otherwise, I’m just going to burn myself out getting nowhere. I’ll hopefully be able to write about my real progress for Monday’s blog post, but we’ll see.

I hope your weekend is off to a good start and that you’ve managed to continue making progress on your National Novel Writing Month project! I also hope your weekend continues to be good or improves and that you can make the time and energy to get some writing done. Good luck!


Daily Prompt

Action sequences can be really fun! Maybe there’s a fight brewing and your protagonist finally gets to show off their moves or maybe they drop a jar and, through a lucky combination of juggles, grabs, and kicks manages to keep it from hitting the floor. Whatever the reason there’s action, show it to us today! Write about the way the characters involved move through space, the way people respond to their movement, and make sure we know where everyone is so we can make sure that the person walking down the stairs who manages to securely catch the jar at the end actually had a clear line of effect from the person who gave it a last desperate kick to hopefully land it on the couch in the other room.


Sharing Inspiration

One of the most complex (in a good way), detailed stories I’ve ever read and enjoyed (sorry, Silmarillion) is Erfworld. It has been going on for ages and the amount of foreshadowing in every chapter is staggering. The attention to detail, the way every single thing in a page is important, and the fact that you’re usually right if you see something and wonder “is this important?” is mind-boggling. And the best part is that most of the twists are STILL unexpected. Or, if they’re expected, they’re still deeply satisfying. The characters are amazing and I’ve never been more hooked on a story and the characters taking part in it for as long as I can remember.


Helpful Tips

Like I mentioned above, creating a list of the reasons I write is super helpful for me when I’m having a difficult time staying focused over a long period of time or when I’m feeling particularly down. You should spend some time to do the same. It can be incredibly helpful as a mental exercise because it will hopefully help you figure out why you’ve decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Once you have the answer to that question, pushing through some of the bigger slumps or more difficult days will be easier because your reasons will be clear. If your reasons for writing are “to become inundated in attractive people I am sexually interested in” or “so I can make tons of money and build a bed out of hundred dollar bill” like some kind of nest-based Scrooge McDuck, then you should probably reexamine your choice since neither of those things happen to most writers. I suspect Neil Gaiman could do the former and that J.K. Rowling could do the latter, but both of them write because they love stories. The desire for money or a cadre of beautiful people isn’t really a motive that’ll help you push through a difficult day.

That being said, I’m not gonna judge you if those are your motivations since they might actually help you write. I’d just recommend setting some more reasonable expectations for the results of this month of writing.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 9 (11/09)

I bit off more than I could chew yesterday. I got home and tried to focus and write for four hours and got nowhere. I wish I’d just called it after the first hour because I’d have at least done something relaxing with my time. But I just wanted to get it all done like I’d planned. Which is the downside to goals, I guess. Especially big ones like the ones I was throwing around yesterday. It’s important to know the difference between “possible” and “likely.” I leaned too hard on the possible part and paid no attention to how unlikely it was that I’d have the energy and focus to do that much writing after a full day of work and stuff. I probably need more sleep, a bit of actual relaxation, and then I’ll be good to write.

I think the goals are good, I’m just still recovering. So I’m going to dial them back a bit and aim for that. The blog post counts are pretty much going to stay the same since nothing is going to stop me from updating my blog every day, but I probably won’t pre-write all the Tips for the rest of the month. It’s a bit of a pain to try to come up with them at the end of a night of writing, but it’ll still be easier to do that once a day over this weekend than to try to jam out nineteen extra at some point in the next few days.  I’ll aim for reaching fifteen thousand words in my National Novel Writing Month project, which is pretty much what I should be writing every day according to the NaNoWriMo thing, and I’ll drop my word count for the romance novel down to six thousand. Sure, I’ll have most of tomorrow afternoon and evening to write since I’m up a few hours at work, but I’ll be busy most of Saturday so I’ve really only got two days to spend on writing. Saturday, like yesterday, will be just about getting as many words done as possible before or after helping my friend move to her new house and then doing the requisite amount of hanging out before I bounce. As much as I’d love to spend some time with my friends, I would also like to get some writing done and rest up for next week. Next week is when I’m going to try to get back to it, hardcore mode.

I say “hardcore” mode like I’m going to step up my game to some new insane level, but that’s kind of the theme of the entire month. I’ve had three good days out of the last eight and I wrote twenty-three thousand words in that time. If I kept up that pace every day and wrote just my NaNoWriMo project, I’d have the whole thing done in a week.

Maybe that’s what I should do. Set aside the romance novel and just do the next forty-two thousand words of my novel over the next seven days (leaving a little room for blog writing), and then swap to my romance novel to do the same. That could work. Except for the fact that I know it won’t since seven-thousand words a day is an unsustainable pace during a work week and I still also want to do my Coldheart and Iron weekly posts, so that’s an extra two or three thousand words. Plus, as I said above, there’s a big difference between “possible” and “likely.”

So let’s just stick to my tame goals and then, when I’m rested, I’ll figure out how to fix up my plans so I can still accomplish all my goals for the month. I know I can still do it. I’ve been off to worse starts than this, percentage-wise. I doubt I’ve ever been this far off on word-counts, though. I should be at about thirty-two thousand words for the month as of the end of yesterday, but I’m only at twenty-seven thousand five hundred. Which isn’t a bad place to be, it’s just behind on all my metrics because I’ve only been consistent about blog posts and I can’t ride that minimum daily count for any longer before it starts to put me way behind. I mean, I’m only five thousand words behind schedule and that’s about five hours of work if I can focus. So who knows, maybe I’ll catch up. I feel pretty far behind, though, so I’m not sure the “projected total” and “actual total” are actually giving me the information a quick analysis says they do.

Okay, I crunched the numbers and everything’s further off. I should be at eight thousand words for my romance novel (at a minimum) and I’m only at two thousand and all those are getting tossed out because I need to fix how I’m writing it. I’m at eight thousand five hundred words in my National Novel Writing Month project and I should be at thirteenth and a third thousand words. So I’m essentially thirteen thousand words behind my word count totals. Which is about what I’d make up if I’d actually gone with the goals I stated yesterday.

I think that I’m going to keep my more reasonable goals for this weekend and just see where I am when I get there. Maybe I can push for some extra words every day to make up for being behind. An extra thousand every day would catch me up in no time. Four thousand words a day plus blog posts. Doesn’t seem like much when I say it like that, looking at my daily totals from past days, but it’s going to be difficult.

I’m going to take my advice from a few days ago and just focus on non-numeric goals. No time, no word count, just moving down the page and marking off story beats. It’s good advice. I should listen to myself more often. Anyway, I hope your day goes well, that you make good progress today, and that you can find the time to step away long enough to breathe and prepare yourself for the next dive. Good luck!


Daily Prompt

Unless you’re trying to write period literature based on stories from over one thousand years ago (if you are, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you let me know because I live stories from back then), your characters are probably going to grow and change. Maybe the entire story is about your protagonist growing and changing. Whatever part of the story it is, growth is important to show. For today, write a scene showing your protagonist growing. You could show them reflecting on a time when they would have made a difference choice or you could even show them growing by having them change the way they’re responding to whatever situation is causing their growth. It can be as little or as big as you want, but show it to us, don’t just tell us about it.


Sharing Inspiration

Sometimes, you just need to have an uncomplicated fun time. Most people don’t really think of Twitter when they think of places they can go for a fun time, especially considering how many nazis infest the platform these days. But me? I go check out #BadBookIdeas. Two of my Twitter friends are responsible for the resurging popularity of the hashtag and they occasionally have duels that always result in a spike of people Tweeting. It’s a great place to go for ideas. You shouldn’t use the ideas other people are posting because that’s kind of rude, but they have pun titles usually and they do a great job of getting you thinking about quick little stories. Participating is also great practice for coming up with stories ideas for your own use, so check it out and try it out!


Helpful Tips

Take some time away from your screen, typewriter, or notebook. Walks are great, but sometimes you just need to center yourself. Your mind needs to be tidied up every so often, just like the place you live, and the best way to do that is some kind of non-specific writing or expression. Maybe have an open-ended philosophical discussion with your friends. Maybe draw something or make some non-word based art. Maybe write a poem. Maybe do a little writing in your journal. Maybe meditate. You’ve got a lot of options and I’m sure you know which will work best for you. Don’t continue to push yourself when the words won’t come. Take a break, tidy up, and get your mind in order. This doesn’t mean play video games, read, or watch TV. You need to take the time to intentionally order your mind. Get things out of it.  Put some of it away. All of that. It’s not always easy and it’s not always possible, but there’s usually benefit to it. I’m planning to do a bunch of it after I leave work today since I’ve been putting it off all week. I’m going to make a phone call, have a good cry about this week, and then clean up my mind. Maybe then I’ll actually be able to write what happened in my life.

Anyway, this is a bit beside the point. Take the time to reflect on what’s in your head because that’s where the stories come from. You need to clean it up and care for it if you want to keep producing. Sometimes that means not accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, but that’s okay. Your mind is your best tool and it’ll work better once you’ve put some work into caring for it.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 8 (11/08)

What a fucking morning. Jesus Christ. Wake up and find out that not just all of the terrible stuff I mentioned in yesterday’s post is gonna be in the news all day, but there was also another mass shooting and Ruth Bader Ginsberg is in the hospital? I mean, is the world going for a new record number in their recent “Bad News Combo?” I feel like we’re approaching a point where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. It’s horrifying and incredibly draining. I just wanted to have a month where I could put everything else aside and shoot for some crazy-pants writing goals instead of trying to set up a sustainable writing habit like I did last November. I was so excited for those goals and now there’s so much going on in my life and my government that I can’t just tune it all out. There are so many things competing for my time and attention–I want to give my full time and attention to–that I wind up feeling pulled apart and unable to focus on anything.

I played a lot of video games last night, but that would up being less relaxing that I’d hoped. The game I’ve been playing, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, is a lot of fun and the story is great (I’m planning to review it next month, once I’ve gotten further into it), but it is nigh-impossible to get through this game with my character being a sorcerer! Spell-casting is powerful at later levels in the tabletop version of Pathfinder, but it isn’t super weak at earlier levels. It is limited, sure, but I shouldn’t be struggling this much. The real problem is how difficult it is to recover spells. Camping supplies are heavy enough that I can barely carry any since I’ve got a couple of low-strength characters in my group and they’re required for resting unless I want to let a bunch of hours fly past while someone in my party tries to hunt for food. Which doesn’t make any since because there’s also a “meal prep” section of the camping interface and you can make actual recipes if you have the raw ingredients in your inventory so I don’t know what is even going on here. Maybe they’re hunting for firewood? But there’s no fucking way that takes six hours. Honestly, I think the whole system needs to be reworked if they want to make casters a viable option. Otherwise you’re restricted to only buff casting and that gets super boring. Honestly, I might just restart my game and make a ranger or dexterity based fighter. Martial classes benefit the most from this system because very few of them have powers that get used up and health potions and such are cheap enough to buy in bulk. I mean, I have about three dozen at any given time since my cleric’s healing sucks constantly (his “rolls” for hitpoint restoration are so bad that he could use Cure Moderate Wounds and heal less than the bard casting Cure Light Wounds and has literally every time he’s done it) and the fucker keeps getting knocked unconscious because SOMEHOW, despite having a barbarian with double the movement speed who stands RIGHT NEXT TO HIM, he is ALWAYS the first person to reach melee combat so all the enemies latch onto him. I mean, fuck.

Anyway, this is what happens when you try to play a tabletop game like you play a video game. I would have loved this game if it was a turn-based game where everything moves in order like you do in the tabletop version of Pathfinder. I don’t care about grids or any of that stuff, but just being able to more easily line people up since I wouldn’t need to manage everyone at once would be nice.

I’m going back to writing tonight, once I leave work. I want to start catching up on the writing I haven’t been doing and, if I can get through today without anything horrible happening, I might be able to get some done. At the VERY LEAST, I’d like to avoid falling further behind in my goals. Sure, I’ve written a total of twenty-five thousand words this month, but I should be higher by now. That’s only twenty to twenty-five percent of what I want to do this month and I’m already past that point in the month. I know I can still recover from this. I’ve done almost thirty thousand words in a single weekend, friday night to Sunday night, before and I can do it again if that’s what it’s going to take. I just need to get my feet under me after this past week so I can start working again. If I can have a single calm day, just one, I can find a way to catch up this weekend.

Ultimately, I can’t count on that. I’d like it, but there’s too much going on right now to expect a calm day. I mean, I’m probably going to a protest at five this afternoon as a part of the public’s response to the recent shit Trump is trying to pull, and protests are generally not a part of a calm day. So I’m going to set myself some goals for the next four days, I’m going to mentally gather my power, and I’m going to do everything. I had my day of exhaustion and moping, so now it is time to work.

These are my goals to be hit by the time I go to bed on Sunday. I’m going to get my National Novel Writing Month project up to twenty thousand words. I can do fifteen hundred to two thousand words in an hour if I focus a bit and swap between projects to give myself a break. If I do that twice a day between now and Sunday, I can reach that goal without a problem. I’m going to re-write my romance novel with the tone I should have been using since the beginning and I’m going to get that up to twelve thousand words, which will also be about two hours of focused work a day between now and then. I’m going to continue updating my blog every day because nothing has made me miss a day in three hundred seventy-eight days and this isn’t going to stop me either. I’m also going to pre-write all of the “tips” for my blog posts so I don’t have to spend time figuring them out every day. Since they’re only one hundred fifty or two hundred words each, they’d make great breaks from working on my two book projects. Which means I’m going to find a way to write thirty-one thousand words in the next four days (or only thirty thousand if you exclude today’s post). That’s more than I’ve done so far this month, thanks to spending half my days trying to recover from everything going on. And it’s totally possible since I ALREADY did twenty-three thousand words in just the four days I actually worked this month.

I’m going to do this and I’ll keep you all updated on my progress as I go. I hope you can find your centers today and use it to push yourself forward as you work on your goals today, whatever they are. Good luck!


Daily Prompt

How do your protagonist’s friends view them? How does the world of your story view your protagonist? Your protagonist may have a very solid identity and you may know exactly who they are, but the world often sees people differently than they see themselves. The same is true of friends. Today, focus on the difference between the way your protagonist sees themself and the way their friends see them, along with the conflicts that can cause when a friend makes an assumption about the way the protagonist would react that clashes with the way the protagonist views themselves. These moments can be incredibly moments for growth, so don’t hold back!


Sharing Inspiration

My favorite video game, Breath of the Wild also tells one of my favorite stories using a wonderful and different method than most. Instead of telling most of the story through a strict narrative unlocked through steady progression through the game (like almost every video game I’ve ever played), Breath of the Wild hits the major plot points using a mission progression, but actually tells most of the story passively, as you wander through the game and learn the names of the various places on your map. Destroyed villages and overgrown ruins paint a picture of destruction generations old that most of the world is still unable to properly recover from. The people wandering through the world have kept their spirits up, but they’re constantly being attacked by monsters and, for most of them, their only recourse is to run away from the beings that destroyed their world one hundred years ago.


Helpful Tips

The act of setting goals, as evidenced above, can help you move from spinning your wheels to making progress. It’s the same idea as putting some research or part of an outline in the blank page of a new project. Once you have something, anything, to focus on, it makes it a lot easier to get started. Blank pages are terrifying, even after several years of writing I still hate coming face-to-face with them, and trying to make progress on a giant project without small steps to work on is the mental equivalent of a blank page. Break it down into steps, give yourself a time to get each of them done, and adjust your schedule and goals as time goes on and your progress requires. They’re supposed to help you motivate yourself, to change the giant task of “write a novel” into simple things like “write a full page” or “finish the chapter” that can be accomplished in a couple of hours of work. You want measurable progress and a list of goals is the best thing I’ve ever found for that.

Bonus-tip: If you need help getting fired up today like I have, listen to the first half of the Hamilton soundtrack while you’re working out your goals. Specifically, only the first half. Trust me on that.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 7 (11/07)

As you can see from the lateness of today’s post, I’ve encountered a hiccup. As a result of work, the things going on in my life, and my writing, I have over-extended myself. I spent yesterday evening trying to enjoy playing video games instead of writing in an effort to relax, but any recovery was offset by the stress and anxiety that resulted from yesterday being election day. I would normally be able to ignore that, but already being mentally and emotionally exhausted meant I was unable to do more than take it out of the forefront of my mind by playing video games. Because of how active my mind was, I was unable to sleep until the results were in and the anxieties about the day had been resolved. So I was up until two in the morning and I woke up four hours later. And then went in to work were I had to manage the second half of a meeting that was the culmination of over a year of work on my part. The first part, a major contributing factor to how tired and exhausted I was last night, was yesterday. Thankfully, all that is done now. Election results are mostly in. Sure, there’s still a ton of bullshit tied to most election results because my state (among others) is gerrymandered to the point of being completely fucking undemocratic and there’s tons of instances of blatant corruption and voter suppression, but the elections are over now and trying to change things with voting isn’t an option for another two years.  Plus, apparently democracy doesn’t matter anymore, the rule of law means nothing to a huge number of voters in this country given their support of a political group that has unabashedly allowed the most corrupt federal government in living memory to do whatever the fuck it wants, and apparently we’re no longer even pretending that the shit-show we’re living through right now is any kind of “normal.”

So I’m trying again tonight. Emphasis on “try” seeing as it’s doing to be difficult to relax while I’m waiting for the country to fall apart. Still, you gotta keep trying to live, right? So I’m gonna post this and then play video games until I get tired enough to sleep (which, in this case, means staying up until 10pm so I actually sleep through the night as going to sleep now means waking up at 9pm and being unable to sleep until 3 or 4 unless I just dose myself with NyQuil). Progress and forward movement are important, so I’m going to get at least a few hundred words in today between this post and doing some work on my National Novel Writing Month project. Maybe aim for one thousand words total, if I can. Or just focus on finishing the thoughts behind this post and doing enough to make it worth updating my word count on the National Novel Writing Month website. Whatever I can do without pushing myself too hard.

I hope day seven of National Novel Writing Month is going well for you and that you’re making progress on your goals. Even if it feels so small as to be entirely pointless, it is still progress. Write only one word, if you can’t muster more than that, and be proud of the fact that you managed to accomplish something today.


Daily Prompt

Humans are often very emotional beings. A lot of us let a few emotions have a lot of say in our lives because we tend to respond habitually unless we are consciously trying to change our behavior or taking the time to sort through our emotions before reacting. I tend toward anxiety and worry. One of my roommates tends toward exasperation and concern. One of my friends tends toward intense interest and nonchalance. What are the emotional habits of your protagonist? Are they aware they have a tendency to respond in certain ways or would it come as a surprise to them if someone pointed it out?


Sharing Inspiration

If you want to have a good time and don’t mind a certain degree of meta humor, and a really long-running gag, you should check out One-Punch Man. The story itself isn’t anything particularly amazing, though it’s still pretty clever, but the main reason I read it is for the way it makes fun of superhero comics and shonen manga. The comic is full of crazy villains yelling out their backstories as they commit stupid, petty crimes and heroes who do the same thing while busting said villains. It features a man who never fights seriously and still wins every fight in pretty much one punch (actual number may vary, but it’s only ever one vaguely serious attack per fight). It is full of great little jokes, a decent amount of well-conceived parody, and it still manages to stress the importance of heroism in ways that don’t get old even as it makes fun of most heroes.


Helpful Tips

There are these things called “sprints.” They’re essentially the same thing for writing as they are for running: quick bursts of speed and focus in order to get as far as you can in a predetermined amount of time.  Most people do fifteen minute writing sprints, since anything longer tends to stray away from something people can expect themselves to easily stick to. Personally, I prefer five-minute sprints. That’s about the amount of time it takes for my brain to get so far ahead of my fingers that it actively starts to impede my ability to write words. After a five-minute sprint, I update word counts, do a little math for whatever form I’m building to calculate the over-complicated formulas I produced to track my writing progress this month, and then do another one. Five minutes of writing, one minute off. I repeat that until I need to use the restroom or I’ve done five sprints. After the fifth sprint, I take a five-minute break and then get back to it again.

Ideally, you’ll figure out what period of time works best for you. If you’ve already done sprints before or you have some knowledge of how to cater to your natural attention span, you should be good to go. Otherwise, just try different lengths of time until it clicks. It’ll be obvious when it does because you’ll notice your word count start to climb quickly. Just make sure your breaks don’t involve anything distracting or else your sprints with turn into strolls.

Coldheart and Iron: Part 36


“What?” Camille blinked rapidly and stared at me

“Like, we talking Power Rangers or Pacific Rim?” Lucas arched an eyebrow and looked like he was about to bolt through the door to where I’d just been.

“What’re those?” Tiffany shook her head. “Never mind. A robot? Like, a monster kind of robot or like the things people used before the Collapse?”

“The lower half is built a lot like the monsters. Same sort of amorphous body with a bunch of limbs that flow around as needed. Except they’re one hundred times bigger. Thing’s at least one hundred and fifty feet tall, if not taller.” I wiped my hands over my face and cracked my neck as I tried to guess more accurately using the remnants of the skyscrapers in the Chicago Enclave. “Probably about one hundred seventy when I saw it. It might be able to get taller though, if the lower half really works the same as the monsters do.”

After a moment of silence, Camille prompted me. “And the top?”

“Oh. Entirely humanoid. It’s got a face that looks like someone who didn’t understand Human features tried to give it a face like ours. Two arms, but they’ve got a dozen joints instead of two. Hands that seemed pretty normal, but I didn’t get a good look at them since it was wrecking buildings with them. No hair, just normal head-shaped. Maybe a little more cylindrical. Chest was probably to scale from Lucas.”

“It’s attacking the Enclave?” Lucas stopped looking toward the door and directed his attention toward me.

Camille started unslinging her rifle but then paused as if realizing she was too far to shoot it and it was unlikely to have much effect. “Shit.”

“Yeah.” I pulled myself to my feet. “What do we do?”

“Leave.” Lucas shrugged. “We have enough supplies for a couple more days and there’s a hideout to the north we can get more from. Enough to last until the rampage is over and the blizzard has passed.”

“Lucas.” Camille threw his name out like she was throwing a dagger. “We can’t just abandon them. Or Natalie!”

“What are we supposed to do against a fifteen to twenty story monster that can just smear people on the ground whenever it wants! This must have been what the army fought at the bases and they lost! There’s a reason they lost and we don’t know what it is so let’s just save ourselves and tell everyone what happened here so no dumbass with a rifle ever causes this to happen again!” Lucas was shouting by the time he stopped. Chest heaving, face flushed, he glared at us all in turn. “I just want to stay alive. That’s it. I stayed as a Wayfinder until it seemed more likely that I’d die out here than survive so I retired and now even that looks like it’s not the bastion of safety everyone assumed it was.

“So now let’s leave. We can survive and maybe even do some good with our lives if we can make it through today and tell the rest of the Enclaves about what’s hiding in the storm. Maybe they can figure out some way to stop it, then. I just know that one more old man with a gun isn’t going to make a difference so we should do what we can to help Humanity instead of just the people we see in front of us.”

Lucas was purple in the face and his jaw worked for a couple of seconds after he finished, as if he was about to say something he decided to keep to himself. He glared at us each in turn and neither Camille or Tiffany had anything to say to him. I could see the despair of the situation weighing on them all, Lucas more than the others.

I looked down at the ground for a moment and then back up at Lucas. “You’re right.”

Camille and Tiffany looked over at me, surprise clearly written on their faces. Before they had a chance to speak, I carried on. “You are correct, Lucas. Someone needs to make it through today and give this information to the other Enclaves if we fail. You’re the fastest of us, the best at surviving alone, so it should be you.”

I dropped my pack to the floor and took all of the food out of it except a few of the protein bars and the water. I offered it all to Lucas. “Take it. You’ll have a better chance of survival if you take the rations.”

“But what about you?” Lucas’ face had gone from purple to pale.

I shrugged, still holding out the food. “I won’t need it. Either we succeed or we don’t. Either way, I won’t need food for tomorrow.”

“But what if you survive and the Enclave is wrecked?”

“There’ll be plenty of food hanging around. I won’t need this.” I stood up from my crouch, walked over to Lucas, and stuck the food into his backpack. While I did so, Camille and Tiffany started unloading the food from their packs as well. I looked at their food and what Lucas had in his backpack. “You should be good for about ten days, using all this. Longer if you ration it a bit. That should be plenty.”

While I loaded him up with the food Camille and Tiffany handed off to me, Lucas looked down at his feet. When I was finished, I walked around to the front of him and stood shoulder to shoulder with Camille and Tiffany. After a moment of avoiding us, Lucas looked up. I could see tears in his eyes for a moment before he wiped them away. “Fine.” He coughed and cleared his throat. “I’ll go. But only if you promise to meet me at the Wayfinder cache just south of the Wisconsin border sign ten days after the blizzard has cleared up.”

“It’s a deal.” I held out my hand for Lucas to shake. After looking at me for a split second, he grabbed my hand, pulled me close, and hugged me. “Stay safe.” I squeezed him tightly.

“I always do.” He hugged me even more tightly for a moment before letting go. “Don’t take any stupid risks.”

“I never do.” I smiled at my oldest friend and then watched him say goodbye to our other companions. Camille hugged him tightly and they each mumbled something to each other. Lucas awkwardly walked up to Tiffany after legging go of Camille and Tiffany held out her left arm. She’d attached a glove to her stump and Lucas, without a moment’s hesitation, grabbed it to shake. When it came away in his hand, his eyes bugged for a moment and then he burst out laughing. Tiffany leaned over and hugged him tightly for a moment before he pulled away, still chuckling, and disappeared through the door.

I watched the where he’d disappeared and then turned to my friends. “You could have gone with him.”

“Sure.” Camille nodded and Tiffany shrugged.

“I mean, it’s not like we’re going to be able to do anything.” I tightened the straps on my backpack and got my rifle into a comfortable position for a lengthy run.

“Well, now we can all do nothing together.” Tiffany smiled and adjusted her straps as well.

“Very true.” Camille nodded sagely. “I find it is best to be with people when you are doing nothing. It makes it much more enjoyable.”

I stopped what I was doing and looked at both of them. “Seriously. I’m going back for Natalie. If I can save people, great. If not, I’m going to do my best to grab Natalie and get out. There isn’t anything you two would add to this effort since it’s not like you can distract the robot while I do find Natalie.”

“What if we can, though?” Tiffany hoisted her machine gun and shrugged. “This shoots a lot of bullets.”

“And it’s bound to have a weak point somewhere. If it has one, I can find it and shoot it.” Camille grabbed the machine gun from Tiffany and strapped it to Tiffany’s pack. “You never know.”

I took a deep breath. “Fine. Just… Stay alive, alright? If it looks bad, just get out and go find Lucas.” I started at them until they both nodded even though I knew they were lying. I contented myself with sticking the idea in their head. Maybe that’d be enough to convince them to leave if things went as poorly as I expected them to go. I took another deep breath to fortify myself and then stepped through the door.

I jogged through the building to the stairs down and took them at the same pace. It wasn’t quick, but I had a couple of miles to cover and I needed to do them in less than an hour if I wanted there to be anything left of the Enclave by the time I got there. I ignored the urge to count the steps and landings as I went, focusing just on putting one foot in front of the other.

By the time I’d gotten outside, I could hear the booming in the distance once again. I took half a second to orient myself and then took off toward Chicago at a sprint. I heard Camille call out after me, but I didn’t stop or look back. They could take all the time they wanted. They could conserve energy in case they needed it later. They could even turn around right there and go after Lucas. I was on a mission and I wasn’t going to save anything for later.

If I didn’t get there in time, I might never see Natalie again. Even if we both survived the attack, somehow, we’re have to count on luck to bring us together again. Even if we both went to the fall-back rendezvous point I’d set up with her, Lucas, and Camille, we’d still have no idea if the others made it out alive or if they’d even be coming. We’d set it up years ago, back during the chaos of the Collapse. There’s no telling if any of them remembered it. There’s no telling if they’d be healthy enough to get to it.

So I ran. I ran toward a giant monster that stood for everything that had gone wrong in the world since I noticed it starting to fall apart. I put all of the rage I felt at the loss of my friends and family, rage I still felt about being one of the few people who saw the Collapse coming and was unable to do anything about it. All the rage I felt at idiotic people who paid for guidance from one Enclave to another and then recklessly endangered others when they felt like they weren’t getting their way. I put all that rage into each step and used it to propel myself forward. Even the little bit of rage I felt at a dumbass student so caught up in trying to impress us that he signed the death warrant of tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands. Everything was used to keep me running past the point I should have collapsed.

By the time I staggered to a halt, gasping and my vision going dark around the edges, I was only a couple of blocks away from the edge of the Enclave wall. The nearest entrance was a few blocks further south, so I still had a good half of a mile to go, but I’d crossed about two miles faster than I ever thought I could. I gave myself a sixty-count to catch my breath and then staggered onward. As my attention returned to the area around me, I finally noticed the constant gunfire and the rumbling crash of some massive weight crushing buildings. The screams that followed it were enough to get me jogging again.

Once I got in sight of the door, a new problem presented itself. The door was clogged to bursting with people trying to leave the Enclave. They were streaming out carrying everything they could hold as they ran out the door and turned south. There was another Enclave, relatively close, in Indiana. Unfortunately, it was one of the smallest and would be filled to bursting by just the people I could see right then, not to mention all the people streaming out the other doors.

I made my way to the door and then just dove into the crowd, shouting at them to get out of my way. No one gave me any space, but I was gradually able to work my way through the door and into the Enclave by staying pressed up against one wall and bodily pushing people out of my way. Getting through the fifty-feet of tunnel into the Enclave took more time than the jog from where I stopped running to the doorway here and it felt like an eternity.

When I finally popped out the other side, tired in more ways than I knew how, I glanced over my shoulder. I caught sight of Camille, her face towering about everyone trying to escape, and waved. She waved back and shooed me onward. After nodding, I turned to face the city and the robot inside it. Even having seen the robot from far away, I was still caught off guard by the immensity of it as it towered over the Enclave. It stole my attention so completely, I didn’t look away until I stumbled over the first corpse. That brought me back to the task at hand and I kept my eyes down as I moved deeper into the Enclave, looking for Natalie.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 6 (11/06)

Well, day five was pretty much typical of how I expected a standard National Novel Writing Month day to go, despite staying at work a couple extra hours to prepare for a meeting I’m supposed to run today (and am running as this blog post goes up. Yay technology!) I’ve gotten over three thousand words written before working on this blog post and it should put me over four thousand. After this goes up, if I still have some energy, I’m going to do a little romance novel work or write another two hundred and fifty works in “What You Know You Need” so I’ll only be about three hundred thirty-three words behind, which is about the average amount of “extra” words I write in a standard day.

That being said, I’m still super wiped out from not sleeping enough over the weekend and still pretty emotionally distraught about what’s going on in my life. I may have had a busy enough day to avoid thinking about anything too deeply, but it’s still there, just beneath the surface, waiting for the right moment to rise up and make me want to cry again. I usually manage to keep my face pretty much neutral, which is important at work. It’s hard to run a meeting about the process you’re trying to implement as a part of your software coup if you look like you’re about to cry.

My German coworkers are in town (which is why we’re doing all this stuff now instead of waiting a bit longer) and it’s frustrating to need to be putting on a social face when all I really want to do is keep my head down and work alone. Coincidentally, they were also in town the week after I broke up with my ex and I had to do the same thing then. If I were a more superstitious man, I’d find it entirely plausible that their visits to the US are harbingers of pain and sadness in my life. I’ll have to watch out for it in future just, you know, to make sure. Honestly, I’d kind of like a bit of quiet in my life, next year, so I’m hoping that this year was the only year were we have my German coworkers are harbingers of doom. I need to work with those guys. I can’t do that if my every interaction with them brings doom and loss upon my life. I’m got pretty good emotional fortitude, but even I don’t think I could manage that amount of tribulation.

Anyway, writing is going well. I’m making good progress despite my emotional state. I’ve passed the twenty thousand word mark and I’m rapidly approaching the twenty-five thousand word mark. I still suck at writing romance novels, but I think I’m figuring it out. I’ve already read two of them this month, so I’ll figure it out eventually, I’m sure. I even managed to wrap up a draft of a Coldheart and Iron post for tomorrow! I’m still waiting on review, but it should be up at some point! Two updates in ONE DAY! That’s a first. The only other thing of note going on is the ongoing war with my computer chair. It refuses to stay at its maximum height so I need to continuously adjust it and it also makes this incredibly creepy, animalistic squeak if I lean on the left arm just right. Which I do. Constantly. Because I forget it’s there. And then my heart-rate skyrockets and my lifespan decreases.

I’m rambling. I’m going to go sleepy-write some words for my other projects until I actually fall asleep at my computer. I hope day six goes well for you and I hope you’re making progress on your goals. Good luck!


Daily Prompt

Despite the fact that Humans are incredibly complex individuals, our first reactions to surprises or big news tend to fall into a bit of a pattern. I tend to give placebo responses immediately and then either give a genuine response after catching myself being non-specific or give a genuine response after taking the time to examine my feelings about it. One of my roommates tends to respond logically first, entirely devoid of emotion, which he adds later on as needed. My other roommate tends to respond emotionally first but then fills in reason and shows you the logic behind his responses upon request. How does your protagonist respond to something unexpected or portentous?


Sharing Inspiration

Sometimes, I really just want some good music to stick in the background with an upbeat tempo, a fun sound, and a great rhythm. On those days, I always turn to Matt and Kim. Their music, which I’m pretty sure is “electric pop,” focuses on a delightful mix of keyboard synth and drums for some great dance music to listen to in your own home. Their early albums have a great deal of similarity to their songs, but that words really well for when I want to shut down the busy parts of my mind so I can focus on my writing. Their more recent stuff has a greater variety to it and it’s really good for jamming along to and signing when I don’t need to focus as intensely.


Helpful Tips

If you’re struggling to come up with what to write and taking a fifteen minute break isn’t helping, I suggest going for a walk. The soothing back-and-forth motion of a steady walking pace coupled with the movement of both sides of your body stimulates both sides of your brain. While you’re walking, try to think about stuff other than the story you’re working on or the frustration you’re feeling at not being able to figure out what comes next. Focus on the trees or houses around you. Do you best to be present in the moment and watch the world spin its way through the universe by observing it all around you. You may not find the answer to how to continue your story, but it’s a lot like unclogging the drain in your mind. Once things start to flow again, eventually the right idea will show up. Stagnation is the enemy and the best counter to it is a simple walk around the neighborhood. Seems too good to be true, right? That is where you’d be wrong. There’s actual science behind this that supports the reasons why the therapy I use for my OCD and PTSD is effective. Stimulation of alternating sides of the brain is linked to processing thoughts and feelings and emotions that feel stuck in your head. Clear whatever’s stuck on your mind up and you should be good to write again.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 5 (11/05)

Well, yesterday was an entirely normal day. I got everything done I was supposed to do for that day. There’s still more I could have done, but given how my weekend went prior to yesterday, “normal” is a damn good accomplishment. Middling productive, only marginally stressful, and entirely too long. Seriously. Daylight Saving Time always screws with my ability to perceive the passage of time so I feel like it is several hours later than the clock tells me. It was worse yesterday because of how terribly I’ve been sleeping lately, and I went to bed a good deal earlier than I normally would.

Today’s going to be a busy day, too. It’s my first day back at work after my break and I’m concerned about how I’m going to write my four thousand or more words in just the time I have after work since I might need to stay late at work on account of the projects I’m trying to wrap up. I also generally have D&D on Monday nights, but I’ve cancelled my participation in it on account of the stuff that happened over the weekend. I’m not going to have fun, nor will I be any fun, so it was best to just stay away for a week while I try to focus on getting my stuff worked out. Plus, it’s going to be difficult to maintain my nightly pace of four thousand words on nights when I have anything else to do. Ideally, I could do all that in about four hours, but the ideal is rarely the case. Planning on six hours is much more likely. And I still want to write the Coldheart and Iron post that’s supposed to go up tomorrow and that’s another two to three and a half thousand words worth of writing that almost always takes a little over an hour per thousand to write since I need to look up stuff and reference past chapters. I tried to get some of it done last night, but I just hit a wall.

I’m still really worn out, despite the sleep. This emotional stuff is taking quite a toll on me. I’m worried I’m entering the loop I took all of last week off to avoid. I’m still technically behind from Saturday’s day of rest, thought I’ve already taken steps toward catching up in almost everything. I’ve gotta confront the reality of whether or not I can actually write three stories at once (What You Know You Need, Spicing Things Up, and Coldheart and Iron) because wanting to do it isn’t going to get me through the nights of lessened sleep it’ll probably require. I’ve already got enough of an extra challenge between National Novel Writing Month blog updates and the romance novel. I don’t need to keep doing weekly updates for a Science Fiction story almost no one reads. Tuesdays are my worst days for views because almost no one cares about the story I’m writing. I know a few people who all say they’ll read it once it’s complete, but those are the people I talk to who are the closest to reading it. I could skip a month of updates, leave the last four chapters for January instead of trying to wrap it up on Christmas thereby saving myself some time and sanity… It’s certainly an appealing thought. It’s not like I don’t have enough other crap to do.

The question just remains to figure out what I really want. More rest and downtown, or to have the story finished on Christmas Day. My initial reaction says the latter, but my common sense says the former. It’s hard to argue with either side since they both have good arguments. Not writing it would be limiting myself. Writing it would be pushing myself toward a vicious cycle of doing nothing but writing and sacrificing sleep on the altar of potential productivity. To make it all worse, I’m still super tired and probably not in the right frame of mind to make a decision since my tired impulse always says “do it anyway” but also “just go to bed and sleep for a long time.”

I mean, I’ve already written over eighteen thousand words. It’s not like I’ve gotten nothing done or I’m not already doing enough. I’m doing plenty. I probably should dial it down a bit. But having time and energy for a little more is easier to allocate when I’ve got projects to switch between with smaller goals rather than “spend the extra time doing an open-ended extra amount of typing in your NaNoWriMo project!” I do most of my extra writing by rounding out word totals to interesting numbers, finishing scenes, or letting the writing carry me along when I find bits that are easy to add. Concrete extra projects and definable goals are my thing.

Anyway, I hope you’re making progress on your goals, whatever they are, and I hope the fifth day of National Novel Writing Month goes well for you! Good luck and know that you’re doing a great job! Keep it up!


Daily Prompt

Before your protagonist became a protagonist, they had some kind of life. Maybe they were a sad orphan with no home and nothing but verbal abuse and child labor to fill their formative years, or maybe they lived in the lap of luxury with a silver spoon in their life. Maybe their life was entirely unremarkable before this point aside from a few key traits that set them up for the circumstances of the story. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know who your protagonist was so you can figure out how to turn them into the person they’re supposed to be by the end of the story. Today, write about your protagonist’s past and how it’s relevant to the story you’re telling today.


Sharing Inspiration

One of my favorite books that has an amazing character building experience throughout it, is Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen (Aka, Delilah Dawson). There’s a plot involving the protagonist trying to avenge a murder and bring down some kind of terrible monster in the Old-Time Fantasy Wild West, but most of the book involves the protagonist exploring and developing a sense of self that they find comfortable. Even as the story draws to a close, the protagonist is learning more and more about themselves and their past, which in turn informs the person they’re becoming as they are pushed to the absolute limits of what they are willing to put up with or what they can learn to live with. If you want to read some masterful character development, you really need to check this book out.


Helpful Tips

If you’re struggling to focus because you’re tired or you can’t seem to get your brain away from whatever thought it’s been picking at all day, try taking a nap or meditating! A short nap, about fifteen to thirty minutes, should be plenty to get you feeling awake and alert again, unless you’re like me and don’t actually sleep so much as crash as a result of your sleep debt every time you lay down your head. If you’re someone like that, you should probably skip the naps and head straight to the meditation. That’s what I do. A simple guided meditation (plenty of which you can find on YouTube) can go a long way to clearing your head or making you feel more mentally focused and physically relaxed. Naps are good, but meditation is usually better if you’re any good at it.