A Late Post

My grandfather was prescribed Hospice Care today. That bit of news, accompanied by the tidbit that his tests all came back saying he wasn’t a match to the genetic profile they needed for a last-ditch treatment effort, has thrown off not just my plans for today but my plans for the next few weeks. When I found out he had only a few weeks left unless he was a genetic match for this special treatment, I planned on heading back to Chicago at a moment’s notice in case something happened and that I’d spent at least one day every weekend in Chicago, visiting family with a particular emphasis on my grandpa. Now I’m planning the same thing, along with preparing a long-term bag that I’ll keep in the trunk of my car and getting my computer area reconfigured so I can dismantle it quickly for travel so I can work remotely if I wind up staying in Chicago for any length of time. We don’t know for sure how long he has left, but it’s probably more accurate to measure in weeks than anything else.

It’s difficult to focus on writing anything, right now. I’ve been trying all day to get my mind into gear for this and it’s basically just grinding the gears rather than actually slipping into gear. Trying to make myself write anything is doing more harm than good and I wasn’t able to create the stockpile of blog posts I wanted to have finished by now, so I’m going on hiatus for a bit.

I hate the thought of stopping, honestly. This decision has been tearing at me all day, despite the fact that it’s been lurking in the back of my mind every time I’ve gotten to my daily writing time and felt the black wave of grief and exhaustion (which are all I have left at this point) wash over me. I want to write more, but trying to make it happen is just making things worse on myself. As is the thought of stopping something I’ve done for four hundred thirteen consecutive days. I’m immensely proud of that streak of daily posts and the daily writing they represent, but I’ve pretty much run myself to the point of a breakdown and I can’t afford to have one of those right now. My stress levels are higher than they’ve ever been, I’m dealing with difficult emotions, I constantly feel run down and exhausted no matter how much rest I get, I’m pretty sure I’m currently sick and only not laid up in bed because I can’t afford to be, and all I want in the world is to keep writing and updating this blog because at least then I can point at it and say “look what I’ve done.”

This past year has been pretty awful for me and it has taken every scrap of willpower I have to make it this far right now. Choosing to take a break feels like giving up and writing this post, making this decision, feels like I’m rolling my soul in a pile of broken glass because daily writing and daily blog posts was all I fucking wanted out of this year. That’s it. My one goal for 2018 was to update this blog every day, write every day, and do whatever it takes to keep those things going. Just thinking about it and everything I’ve worked through up to this point makes me want to delete this entire post and re-write it as a “I’m not going to let this stop me” post. I’m not going to do that, though. I’m going to take a break. I’m going to stop making myself do this every day. I’m going to go back to journaling extensively every day. I’m going to reflect, try to deal with my emotions, deal with my anticipatory grieving, deal with my regular grieving, and then try to come back to this in the new year once I’m no longer traveling every weekend or constantly fighting back exhaustion that makes me want to just dissolve into a puddle of tears on my bed when I get home from work.

I am tempted to leave myself wiggle room for musing posts over the next few weeks, like I did seven or eight months ago when I was stressed and trying to figure out what was going on with my emotions. That might allow me to continue updating every day without the stress of creating new fiction, poetry, and reviewing things, but I think I really need a break from the internet in addition to every thing else as well. I don’t know if that’s going to mean deactivating Facebook and removing Twitter from my phone, or if that’s just going to mean I spend more time away from the computer, but I think I need that right now. Beyond the grief and pain I’m dealing with right now, I haven’t taken a break in over a year. Even the planned breaks wound up not being breaks because I was always working on something during that time. I had a project to do or some writing goal to accomplish. Whatever it was, it pretty much negated the whole point of the break, even if I tried to convince myself otherwise.

So I get I’m concurrently going on vacation and taking a hiatus. The vacation will end on the second of January, so that’s the earliest I’ll be back to writing. The hiatus will end once I’ve dealt with my grief enough to not feel like I’m shaving years off my life and pulling off splinters of my soul to sit down and make something specific. I’ll probably keep writing, but that’ll be expressive stuff rather than following the planned posts ideas I picked out a few weeks ago. I’ll be exploring my emotions and trying to cope with what’s going on rather than writing about pre-established fictional characters or creating parodies of famous poems.

See? I can’t even take a break without planning something for me to be doing while taking said break. Whatever. The point is I’m taking away the obligation and drive parts. I’m just going to create if I feel like and catch up on my giant collection of unread books if not. I’m going to try to figure out better routines for myself, ones that incorporate better physical self-care, and see if I can finally do something about the burn-out I’ve been fighting for almost an entire year.

Or maybe two weeks will pass and I’ll still be tired. Who knows. All I know is that writing feels incredibly painful today and I need it to stop feeling painful. Even if I want to write, even if I’m willing to put up with the pain (which I clearly am, given this blog post), I don’t think it’s going to be healthy to pull more than this out of my for the next couple weeks, at least. Catch you all later. You know how to reach me.

Tabletop Highlight: Breaks, Hiatuses, and How to Fill the Time Between

Like any Dungeons and Dragons group, or any tabletop gaming group for that matter, mine occasionally has a few weeks where we aren’t able to get enough people together for a gaming session. It happens more frequently with my group than with most given that my group is only three players so even one missing player breaks my “more than two-thirds of the players must be present to run a session” rule. At the same time, when I’m incredibly stressed like I have been for the past few weeks, I am not up to running the game even though I usually still want to. I learned not to push it on those days long ago, because they’re inevitably the days when the players get some idea stuck in their head and I’ve gotta re-do half the plot and story I had planned on the spot, even if we’re well past the point when I thought I’d have to change anything like that around. They always find a way.

It’s always a struggle to figure out how to handle gaps like this. If you’re at a plot-critical moment, it gets really difficult to keep the tension and anticipation going when you don’t meet for a month. If you’re between big moments or the players are at a point where they must decide what to do next, then it is relatively simple to skip time since all they’ll need is a refresher. If it is at all possible to time your gaps so they fall at moments like those, I recommend doing it. That being said, most gaps aren’t planned ones but one-week skips that wind up incidentally getting longer, so here are some ways to help fill time between sessions.

The easiest way is to find a way to have smaller one-off sessions so each of the players gets a chance to do something integral to the story that’s unfolding. This won’t work if they’re in the middle of a dungeon or if you didn’t end the session at a point where the various characters can temporarily go their separate ways. This is a great time for rogues to do stealth missions or for the diplomatically inclined to take the time to get to know the local gentry. Even the more mercenary characters can make connections, even if they’re just with the various mercantile forces in the area. If you’ve got a role-play heavy campaign, there’s no such thing as too many connections. If your players tend to be more interested in being murder-hobos than role-players, you can easily make up a small encounter or two that will give them a chance to cut loose while waiting for the plot to resume.

Another thing you can do is more or less assign them homework. Maybe they have some connections they should contact that will help them in this situation. Have them write out a dialogue that represents this interaction and make sure to give them something for it, maybe a bonus on a future skill check, a minor item that will come in handy, or just a smidgen of role-playing XP. This is especially useful if you’re doing a role-play heavy campaign because it lets the players get more into their character and also provides you with more information about their characters that you can then figure out how to work into the game later on.

If you’re looking for something that’s less work for the dungeon master, I suggest assigning them a text-based interaction. There’s probably a decision or two they need to role-play and they can do it via text instead of taking up time at the next session. If it’s a big decision or something that’s going to spark a lot of debate, then it’s even better to get it out of the way before the session so you all can get down to figuring out what happens next. This is useful to you because you don’t need to monitor the text conversation and can just check in on it from time-to-time or read it all whenever you feel up to it. Alternatively, and you should never reveal this to your players (so stop reading this London, David, and Daniel, and just start at the top of the next paragraph), you give them a text discussion to role-play and then you never read it. If it isn’t a super important discussion, you can just skim it for any important bits or let your players bring up the highlights in conversation. That last bit is particularly easy if you live with one or more of your players and they love talking about the game (I told you to stop reading this, David).

Another thing you can do if you’re willing to surrender a little control and need something that takes the burden off of you is have one of the players propose a little side-mission or adventure they can run. It keeps things in your world and will likely be at least tangential to the plot you’re running, but you should definitely work through what that player wants to run if you’re going to let them do it in your game world since you want to make sure they aren’t going to cut off something you’ve been saving. I don’t really recommend this option much because I’ve seen it go wrong more often than right, but it’s definitely an option. If you’re co-running a game with someone or if one of your players is a good DM, then it gets much less risky, but you definitely still need to sit down and talk to them about it before you give them the go-ahead.

As I said, it’s always better if you don’t need to find a way to fill a bunch of time without game sessions, but I guarantee that there will come a time when you will need to get through a gap at an inconvenient time. If you do something else to bridge gaps like this one, I’d love to hear what that is. Please share it in the comments or shoot me an email!

I Think I’m Going to Step Out for a Bit

I’ve spent a lot of my weekend relaxing. As it is a three-day weekend in the US, I’ve been a lot less active that I might otherwise have been and much less directed. I spent Saturday with my girlfriend and her friend until I finally stopped putting off my evening plans, Magic the Gathering with my Saturday D&D group, and then got home in time to basically crash from all of the sun and fun. Mini-golf under the midday sun, three-ish miles of walking in the heat, and then a quick trip to the store so I could get a swimsuit. I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to jump in the pool after spending the previous four hours sweating in the heat. I got a bit of sun-burn despite putting some sunscreen on my face, so that was rather annoying, but doesn’t seem to be too bad.

Then I’ve spent most of my day today puttering about until I remembered I hadn’t updated my blog yet, for today. Played some old favorite games, some REALLY old favorites, and even a few games my friends recommended. Read a bunch, dozed about, and generally just avoided direct sunlight. It has been nice to relax and just lazily drift through the day. I can’t remember the last time I spent a day just doing whatever without getting “bored” and endlessly cycling between things after a couple minutes of considering them because I feel like I’m wasting my time.

While I was laying in bed, waiting to see if I could fall back asleep again and shifting to move my sun-burned bits away from contact with anything but the air, I tried to meditate, but my mind just kept running around in circles. I’ve tried twice more today, but I haven’t been able to get my mind to wind down enough to empty it out. There’s a lot going on in my life and it’s difficult to put all of that aside for even an hour or two. My girlfriend is house shopping; I’m entering my busy month and will be not getting much quiet time, let alone quiet time with my girlfriend; so many different things to reflect on; preparations for my hiking trip and grill-out tomorrow; and my general anxieties that I’m trying to avoid focusing on.

Mostly, I would love a quiet weekend with my girlfriend, hanging out without any particular plans, working on our individual creative projects, watching cartoons or movies, and playing video games. That sort of stuff is like plugging my soul into a recharging station. I’ve got other ways of doing it and recharging myself, but I would really enjoy that one right now. Between the sunburn, smashing one of my toes at the grocery store, and this annoying feeling of exhaustion that keeps pulling at me, I could really go for a quiet day and some peaceful companionship. I’ll probably be fine tomorrow, once I’ve got another good night’s sleep, but today I think I’m going to stop reflecting and just go back to playing games. I’d like to be outside my head for a bit since trying to work inside it has only worsened my mood.

Cracked

It started with a small crack. He had underestimated just how much small cracks mattered, but it made sense. A small crack was all it too to eventually break down any rock. One sentence, said once, and it changed everything.

It was always there, in the back of his mind. Other moments that would have meant nothing now had a way to worm their way into his mind. Fears that previously would have had nothing to latch onto now found a foothold. As time wore on and the crack grew bigger, he started to feel like he was looking at life through it. Everything came back to the crack.

If he’d done something about it when it was small, he might have been able to avoid the eventual breakdown. A small discussion or some work to try to patch things up. Anything would have been better than letting it go.

Eventually, it was ruining his life. The fear and doubt had wormed their way in so that there was almost nothing left to him but the rubble of his once unified sense of self. So he ended it. He broke it off.

It did not go well. She didn’t see what the problem was and she wasn’t willing to talk about how bad things had gotten. He wasn’t willing to try to make her see it. Eventually, after many tears on both their parts, they split up.

In the weeks that followed, as he swept away the rubble and tried to figure out what to do with what was left. Once he started picking up the pieces, it became clear he would never be the same. Eventually, he knew he’d be okay. Different, but okay.

 

Falling

He twisted, trying to get his feet underneath him. The air felt thick as he struggled to control his decent. He knew was going to hit water soon, but he couldn’t see. Every time he opened his eyes, they filled with tears and might as well have been closed. If he wasn’t prepared soon, the shock would kill him.

Finally, he felt his hair whip up around him and away from his face. He turned a bit and stuck out his legs, feet angled so his heels would hit first. As he wrapped his arms around his head, he felt the impact on his legs and the pain nearly caused him to lose consciousness. The cold slap of the water on the his body was the only thing that kept him awake as he shot into the depths.

Once his movement slowed, he opened his eyes. He was lost in a murky blue-green world with nothing around him but the weight of the water about him. He exhaled and watched the bubbles rise. Using only his arms, he pulled himself back up to the surface and crawled onto dry land. He closed his eyes again and lay back, just grateful to have made it out.

“Did you hear me, Martin?”

Marten opened his eyes, his visualization gone. He was in the quiet corner of a coffee shop he and Alice liked. Alice was sitting across from him, expression neutral. “What?”

“Martin, I said I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m moving out tomorrow and staying at my mother’s tonight.”

“Oh.” Martin looked down at his hands. “You don’t want to try to work this out?”

Alice shook her head and grabbed her purse and left, giving him last glance that Martin didn’t see. He was busy falling again.

 

Tabletop Highlights: D&D 3.5 Versus Pathfinder

To be entirely fair, there isn’t a big difference between these two rule sets at a macro level. Pathfinder was intended as the next step of D&D 3.5, trimming down the rules to remove complications and re-balancing the game’s power so the often under-powered martial classes could stay relevant during higher levels. As a result, it is fairly common to adapt things from one version to the other. For instance, most of my D&D games incorporate the character sheets and skills of Pathfinder, along with a few other rules–such as cantrips (the most basic, lowest-leveled spells) can be cast without limitation and all combat maneuvers are performed using the rules from Pathfinder rather than 3.5.

I find that combat runs a little more smoothly, skill allocation is easier, and general player satisfaction is higher when I incorporate these rules. It allows me to bring in a bit more power to skill-based characters without running into what I believe is the biggest problem of bringing Pathfinder rules and character stuff into 3.5. As a whole, the core components (character classes and racial abilities, mostly) of Pathfinder achieved a state of balance by increasing everything’s power. There are exceptions, of course, but it can be frustrating to try to balance a character built using 3.5 rules with a character built using Pathfinder rules.

3.5 can also be hard to adapt to Pathfinder because it has a similar problem. The core components may be weaker, but 3.5 has a wonderful array of extra feats, class variations, racial features, and poorly balanced errata that make breaking the game much easier. I can build character with limitless power in 3.5 and I’ve yet to find a way to even break the game on the same scale with Pathfinder. I can make a character that can easily move a mile every two minutes (and I know I can get it higher if I try) in 3.5 and that’s just silly. I can create cell towers and rail guns. I can do pretty much anything, if my GM doesn’t know to stop me and I’m feeling perverse. The only thing that redeems 3.5 is that it takes very specific knowledge (which anyone can now find online) to build those things and your average player doesn’t want to break the game.

When it comes down to determining which variation you want to play, 3.5 or Pathfinder, I find it breaks down fairly well. Either works great for role-playing and story-telling, but 3.5 works really well for players who want complex builds or have more experience. Pathfinder is great for people with less experience or if you want to keep your campaign simpler and more focused. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to remind a player in one of my 3.5 campaigns that, just because he found it in a rule book, doesn’t mean his character knows about it or would even be able to obtain it. This has been happening a lot in my weekly campaign, which can be frustrating at times because he keeps accidentally trying to min-max his character. If we were playing this campaign using Pathfinder, I doubt he’d be able to get up to even a quarter as much crap as he does.

The few times I’ve played Pathfinder, it worked really well for introducing new players. The abilities were much more clear and I didn’t feel like I needed to spend a few days browsing books, PDFs, and forums to figure out how I wanted to build my character. Every time I’ve gone and done a pick-up-and-play campaign at a game store, it has been a Pathfinder campaign. I’m certain the latest edition of D&D (5.0) would be just as easy to pick up and play, but I feel like Pathfinder has more depth to it for the people who want it. You can still get multipliers to your power level instead of just adding to it.

I really want to play more Pathfinder, mostly to learn more about it. I don’t own any of the books and everything I’ve read about it has been what they released online as part of their System Reference Document (search the version you want to learn about and “SRD” and you should wind up with all the rules you need to play). I’d like more experience, both as a player and as a GM. It can be fun to experiment with different rules and see how far you can go, but there’s also strong appeal to playing without all of the crazy extra stuff. Just like when I want to play Skyrim without any mods sometimes, despite loving what the mods do to the game.

Broken Words (My Self-Titled Post)

I’ve had this blog for over a year now, and I’ve never shared the poem that inspired the title. I think I’ve talked about it in the past, and I definitely remember writing about posting it eventually, but I figured that would be a good way to start my year of daily posts. And a way to solidify Friday as “Poetry Day” for my blog. So, here it is, without further introduction or preamble:

 

“Broken Words”

What point are there in words,
Hear how sweetly they sing,
When they fail to tell a tale
And no understanding bring?

What point are there in words,
So full of heart and love,
When they can be cast away
and easily disposed of?

What point are there in words,
So full of awe and wonder,
When they fall upon empty heads
And lose their flash and thunder?

What power is there in words,
Only so much empty wind,
That tumble out so carelessly
Like peels from an apple skinned?

What power is there in words,
Nothing more than empty lies,
That I will use to quiet
The tears that fall from your eyes?

What power is there in words,
Such simple seeming sounds,
That form the bones of our speech:
Verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and nouns?

What use have I for words,
Such lovely, crafted things,
When no one quite hears them
Despite their melodic rings?

What use have I for words,
So beautiful and bright,
When they cannot illuminate
Or show anyone the light?

What use have I for words,
So difficult and simple,
That cannot change a heart
Or cause an iron will to dimple?

What words have I to use,
A lexicon at my fingers,
To tell you of the thought
That cannot stay but lingers?

What words have I to use.
So many different choices,
To make you hear inside my head
The many clamoring voices?

What words have I to use,
So many and yet so few,
To make you understand
What I’m saying to you?

What point have I to make,
Flimsy as a tin foil,
That cannot be made by action
And take far less care and toil?

What point have I to make,
Nothing sharper than a spade,
When all the words are dead
And all their parts are played?

What point have I to make,
Swift and small as a pin,
That can pierce the patchwork
Armor that you wear within?

What power have I to take,
To steal so quick and sly,
Your mind and heart away
And leave you with a sigh?

What power have I to take,
Remove with nary a sound,
The echoes of your dreams
That hold you to the ground?

What power have I to take,
To shatter beyond repair,
What you thought you knew
And all that you hold dear?

What words are left to say,
To mumble murmur and mutter,
That will leave my thin mouth
Without a drawn out stutter?

What words are left to say,
Hollow sounds of passing air,
That will show you what I see
And teach you how I care?

What words are left to say,
Gurgle grumble and weep,
To convince you of the truth
That I, within me, keep?

What words of point and power,
To take and make and play,
Can I use to convince you
Of the truth of what I say?

The words of power that make,
The words of point that take,
No matter what one may say,
If you use these words,

they break.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 24 (11/24)

Thanksgiving  and my cold now appear to be over and I can ago about my business, finally. Time to write up a storm. As soon as I catch a friggin’ Miltank, anyway… Thing won’t freaking show up and its been half an hour! So annoying. At least I’m failing to get some Black Friday shopping deal. I mean, sure, I can’t get what I want, but at least I didn’t get up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) and wait in line for a couple of hours to fail to get what I wanted.

Trying to make the time to write over the holidays has always been a tricky endeavor for me. I try to balance spending time with my family with spending time on a commitment I’ve made to myself. This is further complicated by the fact that I recognize that chatting over dinner isn’t enough face-to-face time with my family and the fact that my family is fairly supportive of my writing. It’s a fine balance to find and, combined with the unfamiliar environment and laptop writing, I wind up being only about half as productive as I normally would be. At the same time, though, I usually come back ready to write and be super productive, giving me a few days of increased productivity. Like I said, it’s a fine balance.

Even if I didn’t do as much this holiday as I usually do, I’ve always enjoyed the act of driving places. Being able to climb into my car and just go has always been reassuring to me. Knowing I’m never stuck where I am and that freedom is only a tank of gas away does a lot to calm a lot of my less conscious anxieties that’ll just build when I’m getting particularly stressed. During the actual drive, once I’m on the highway or interstate, I can just relax and cruise, let my mind wander as the forefront of my mind is occupied by navigating through traffic on the interstates or watching the scenery as I drive the old state routes.

I prefer the state highways when I can take them. I dislike feeling rushed or hurried and taking a state route somewhere feels like the epitome of my “I’ll get there when I get there” attitude. There are some really wonderful hills and almost deserted back-country state routes in Wisconsin. Route 12, once you get past the Wisconsin Dells, is probably my favorite drive. Sprawling vistas, forests blanketing hills, and some beautiful rock striations when they have to cut through the hills rather than of around or over them.

Now that winter is closing it, it’ll be difficult to find a pleasant drive or get anywhere far away without using an interstate. Even through the state routes are still the only real access that a lot of the small towns in rural areas have to the rest of the state, they’re not always well plowed or sanded/salted. With my tiny little 4-door Mazda sedan, a little patch of ice is all it would take to wipe me out. I’ll miss the almost-silent sound of asphalt beneath my tires (as compared to the loud scream of concrete), but I’ve still got some time until the snows start. Maybe I’ll go for a drive tomorrow, when I need a break from writing. There’s a lot of unexplored state and county routes around where I live now.

 

Daily Prompt

When writing a story, it is important to create conflict for your characters. A story without much conflict wouldn’t be very interesting to readers. There needs to be something going on, something at stake to hold people’s attention. However, as we all know through our own experience, a life full of enough conflict to make an interesting story can be completely exhausting. As a result, you character will probably spend some time trying to find peace. Today, write a scene in which your character either finds some peace or takes refuge in their favorite way of creating inner or outer peace. Try to include some reflect on why they’re trying to find peace or make it harder for them to find peace because the conflict of their life keeps intrude on their quiet place.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is one of my favorite “feel good about the world” songs, “Great Big Life” by Kyle Andrews. I enjoy almost all of Kyle Andrew’s music, as a lot of it sounds positive and upbeat, even when dealing with more complicated or negative issues. Another of my favorites by him, “I Don’t Want a Lump of Coal” sounds almost as upbeat as “Great Big Life” but is about being left by your significant other right around Christmas. He does a lot of the more typical love songs, but also songs about heartbreak and he mixes them so it’s not entirely clear which is which until you take the time to really listen. Even then, some of them are entirely up to how you interpret them. He has some albums that stick firmly to the softer rock/alternative genre while some entire albums start to dip into a more electronic or pop sound. He makes for great light listening, perfect for background music to just about anything.

 

Helpful Tips

If you’re trying to finish your NaNoWriMo project by doing a couple day-long marathons around the holiday, it can be hard to sit in one place for very long and trying to move someplace with a less stagnate environment (like a coffee shop or library) can be distracting given the higher-than-usual number of people out and about. If you’re still determined to try, make sure to break up your writing session with breaks. Write for 45-90 minutes at a time, with a few couple-minute breaks mixed in to prevent you from getting too distracted. Do a little bit of research or look up some music. After your 45-90 minutes is done (and you’ll know its done once you start pulling up Facebook or some other social media), actually get up from your computer and go make a cup of tea. Leave your phone behind and let you mind wander as you wait for the water to boil. If you want a cold beverage, find a window to look out for a bit or have a conversation with someone around your place. Once the tea is make and ready for sipping or the conversation has ended, get back to work. As fun as breaks for facebook or video games can be, you also need a break from your screen and electronics just as much as you need to let your brain rest from writing.

NaNoWriMo Day 4 (11/04)

Day 3 was not nearly as productive as I’d have liked. I got a little ahead in terms of posts and support, but I’ve fallen behind in word count. Today promises to be rather unproductive as well. In a certain sense, anyway. I’ve got a couple of events throughout the day and some travel to do, but I’ll have my laptop and I’ll try to get some writing done in what spare time I have. Tomorrow, though, I’ll have all day and should be able to get some real progress made. It all remains to be seen, of course.

“Writing every day is the real goal of NaNoWriMo.” I’m pretty sure that, for every day of NaNoWriMo, I can come up with a different thing to say is the real goal of the month. Really, though, there are a lot of goals. There are a lot of reasons to do NaNoWriMo. Right now, as I’m trying to pick my writing back up after way too long away from it, I think my reasons for doing it are going to be all of them.

Daily Prompt

Your character obviously has more going on than the story can tell. There must have been some formative experience in their past that pushed them to become the person they are today. What was their most important moment in their life, that led them up to the story? Write a scene as a flashback, where they reflect on that moment and how it has influenced the decision they’re about to make.

 

Sharing Inspiration

In a year where I’ve struggled to do any kind of writing, one book was enough to reach into my heart and stir my desire to create again. “Creativity, Inc” by Ed Catmull (that tells the story of Pixar and its journey from a hardware developer to the movie maker we know today) was a constant reminder of the lessons I’d learned during college about creativity and how to harness it. It also provided me with a useful reflection on how I thought about my own creativity, pushing me to reexamine my old ideations and produce new ones that better reflected my more experience look on life and more difficult creative process. If you’ve got some time to read this month, I recommend picking up a copy. If you don’t have time this month but still want to examine how you create, I suggest reading it next month or early next year.

 

Helpful Tips

Don’t forget to take breaks. Trying to cram now and get as much done as possible has value as long as you can maintain the enthusiasm, but don’t burn yourself out. Take time for something fun and don’t sweat it if you don’t do all of your day’s writing on one day. That’s why we have 30 of them. It’s okay to have a make-up day.