You Can Do This – Even if You’ve Stopped Writing

How’s everyone doing?

Is your stuff going in directions you didn’t expect? Or is sailing along?

Did your project change or hit a dead end? Did you lose the muse or decide to just stop?

If the latter, how would you feel about about picking back up on your love of writing, just for this last week – or any days in this week- to do what you LOVE. To fulfill your dream of writing, just for these last few days.

Forget word count. Forget that your story didn’t grab you. If you’ re stuck on a piece, why not journal through it?


Or just write your thoughts about the project, or food and the holidays coming up, what’s worrying you, or what you’re distracted by or happy about. That is a tool of the writers life to get them past it.\


Or, take the luxury of writing some stuff for yourself. What’s going on in you with Covid, family, how cold it is, or bucket list things you’d like to vision in detail, the best concert you went to, or the antics of your dog/cat/horse/bunny/snake.

How about reacquainting yourself with what made you start NANO to begin with, finding that spark that may have gotten buried under an inner critic, the holidays, getting the flu, or feeling it’s not ok if you don’t hit your numbers?

Did you go for it to try to make time for writing in your life? Was it the dream of seeing your book published? Was it that you needed to try your hand at writing so you know you gave that secret hope a go once in your life?

Whatever it is, we’re all still here to cheer you on!

This no judgement group wants you to not judge yourself either!


TWO MAGICAL SUGGESTIONS:

1. If you’re stuck, put up a post about it and see what amazing comments come in. One might be just the thing, or spark a new path.

2. There’s a write in from 10am-2pm today, and all day Saturday and Sunday from 10-4. There has to be a little time over the weekend for yourself right? In addition, you have 3 days next week before Nano is over to treat yourself: 7am-9am Monday, Tuesday night from 7pm-10pm and a last day blast on Wednesday 11/30.

All the info is on the North Shore MA Region Community Events on the nano.com site, or on the WriNoShores Facebook page.

If you haven’t tried, them, it’s mystically motivating, just to see your compatriots, who totally understand, accept and support you, sitting there writing with you.

However you do it, I encourage you to not think fo this as a contest, but of making a little room for YOURSELF to do what you do want to do: write!

This wicked sincere encouragement written by Rochelle Joseph

Important Dates for Nano 2021

WOW! Our ML @kildeer and the Wrino supporting committee have planned a fabulous month this year, all geared toward fun and productivity.

Besides live Write Ins planned 6 days a week, all at different times to assure something works for all schedules, there are FOUR special events in addition that you should note. It’s on the NANO forums and event lists for our region, but here they are again for easy reference:

EVENTS

KICK OFF PARTY: October 30, 6-9 PM

This is where this year’s theme is revealed and we all meet, talk about our projects – including that you have no idea – and get energized for what’s ahead. Even if you don’t attend live write ins, it’s nice to see faces of who are behind names, and know who you will be doing this with – after all, one of those people might just inspire you or jump in to encourage you,or talk you off the ledge. And there are giveaways! Details at NANO home page >Community> Home Region>North Shore Nano Forums> Kickoff Party.

This is a welcoming group that is all encouragement and acceptance of anything. It’s awesome. Imagine there being no need to worry if you’re shy, stuck, think your writing is a pipe dream or you feel like crap. Instead, just think about how you can blossom and flourish in that environment!

FIRST DAY FRENZY: Monday, November 1 from 10:00 – 8:00 p.m.

It’s the Opening Day Write-In! All are invited to a Manic Monday of of National Novel Writing hosted by the Hamilton Wenham Library and our @slauderdale!  Click here for more information Join any time or for the entire time!

THE FAMOUS ALL-NIGHT WRITE: Saturday, November 13, 6 pm- 6 am

This is a very special event. It’s done in 4 blocks with 4 different hosts to get us through an all night pajama party with fun markers along the way- like Midnight Madness where at the stroke of midnight all can read (or just enjoy listening to) a few pages of what each person is working on. It’s a blast. Another is the sunrise walk outside. This used to be at a lake near Lynne and Paul’s house but last year different people got on the zoom and walked outside to wherever they could go. It’s worth it to share this pretty amazing thing with everyone. Come to any or all parts of it. I’m hosting 6-10 pm, and WILL be in Pajamas. Find details on our NANO home page >Community> Home Region> North Shore NaNo Forums

THE TIGO PARTY: Saturday, December 4, 6-9 PM

Woot! This stands for Thank God It’s Over and we celebrate any and all words together with food, libations and festivities.

Live Zoom Write Ins

This year, we’ve scheduled live Zoom Write Ins for every singe day of the week. There’s something for everyone’s schedule – We have one hosted by Satin (@satinr) Monday from 7am-9am if you want to get words in before work, or once the kids are off or fed. Night Owls can start at 9:30-11:30 pm hosted by Sarah (@disquiet) and BOTH Saturday and Sunday are Marathons from 10 am to 4 pm – so you can catch up if you haven’t written all week, or choose your time to pop in and out as it suits you. And Friday midday @Kildeer just added 10am- 1pm hosted by Swampscott Library.

For now, here’s the skinny:

Mondays 7-9 AM

Tuesdays 7-9 pm

Wednesdays 9:30-11:30 pm

Thursdays 7-9 pm

Friday 10am -1 pm

Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm

Sundays 10 am to 4 pm

MEETING LIST ON NANO SITE:

Find the list of write ins by going on the NaNo Site, clicking on your home region and once there, clicking the little tab that says events on the middle column on that page. You can click the “Count Me In!” button or just show up. That helps to give the hosts and idea of how many are coming. NANO home page >Community> Home Region>Events.

It’s set to be a seriously GREAT month! Leave any questions in the comments.

Look forward to meeting and writing with you!

by Rochelle Joseph

The Beauty of the Live Write In

It has been decided: This is going to be the most awesome NANO ever. Are you in?

Last year, all the write ins were taken online, but that did not stop either our usual fun or getting down to serious work — all the while cheering each other on. NANO decreed we’d do all our parties and meetings on line again in 2021. That should not be a bummer. We’ve all gotten used to a little online visiting – whether using Face Time or Skype with family, Google Hangouts with friends or Zooming for work.

WriNoShores is meeting via Zoom this year, as it seems easiest and most universal for all.

And why not aspire for this to be the best ever? The silver lining to the pandemic was that during lock downs many contemplated who and what’s really important, and looked at what we spent our time on, and how.

Did you? Was writing on your list? It was front and center on mine. Turns out what I’d regret in life if I hadn’t done it was to not have finished editing my Nano project from 2016-18! And to complete several compilations of shorts and essays I had begun.

BAM!

If getting words on the page is important to you, National Novel Writing Month is a super-special opportunity for the sole purpose of focusing on your dreams, your priority, supported and encouraged by the collective energy of like-minded peeps around the globe, who are doing the same. And of course your home group – all of us here at WriNoShores.

There’s no perfect way to do NaNo, but TO do it. Some may find they do this just fine alone. After all, writing is a largely solitary pursuit, right? I’ve spent my fair share alone scribbling away at hidden desks in a library nook, or holed up in my room. But what I learned when I started doing NaNo about 12 years ago is that attending the Live Write-Ins super charged my productivity. All I had to do was show up. And now that I am not driving to write-ins, I save that round trip time to write, and can do more on days when adding driving and parking time would make it impossible to fit one into my day. Online write-ins are so much more convenient and time effective.

On days I am dragging or feeling uninspired, a write in makes me show up. Often if I tell myself, just sign on for 15 minutes and you can hop off if you’re not feeling it. I end up staying for the entire time —and have words to show for it! Yessss! But even if I sign on late and hop off early, I still end feeling accomplished. I showed up.

Then, as others begin to accumulate words, it’s catching. I’m not a competitive person, but when others are getting more and more words racked up, it inspired me to do push for more words too. And there’s nothing but encouragement. People cheer on 200 words as well as hitting a 5000 word milestone.

And that is a two way street. Did you ever think your presence at a write in actually is an act of inspiration and support to your compatriots? Others do better because you are there! Another reason to give it a try, and see if it works for you.

We all have imaginations -here’s a good place to use them. Look at the Write Ins like meeting at a big library table (or coffee shop, or someone’s living room). After an initial hello from the host, we get down to business, and for the most part remain quiet – writing, or trying to. People can join in or hop off at any time. You’re still writing in your own space in quiet, but feeling the presence of others, or seeing their heads bent, engaged in the same thing, can make a motivational difference that pays out in usable words.

Some meetings do a few word sprints -20 minute segments to help. And that’s what this month is really all about. Getting words on the page that were not there before, giving way to your unique voice, all of which can be edited after November.

If you’re new to Write Ins, try more than one. If you haven’t been in a while, why not try again? Each has a different vibe – a mix of people and the host leading it. We have one every day this year. Check out the calendar of events on the NaNo site, on our regional page (sign in to see this link). Hope to see you there!

By Rochelle Joseph

The Elements of Story

NaNo 2021 begins in 10 days. Right about now, story structure might be on your mind. Lynne Favreau, who co-founded Writers of the North Shore (that’s us) with Sarah Leahy, has written a really wonderful wealth of blog posts here that you’re invited to pursue any time of year – especially if you’re staring at a blank screen in need of direction, encouragement, or a shoulder to cry on. Or if you need someone to virtually hand you a mug of tea and lovingly say, “Now now, get your ass in the chair – You can DO this!”

Lynne has done all of those things and her blog posts were just one of the ways! They likely cover a topic on your mind right now, and each provides extra resources to check out.

Thought it might be timely to pull the below from that cache.

STORY

(an excerpt from Lynne’s blog post So You Think You Want to Write a Novel)

Where do ideas come from? Everywhere, and anywhere. They appear while you are reading other things, writing a grocery list, driving to the dentist.

Get in to the habit of jotting down the things you observe everyday. The way someone walks, the color of a flower, a scene taking place before you. The people in line at the grocery store. Extrapolate information from the little quirks, mannerism, word choices, that you see and hear. Turn them into character sketches. I insist…you must have the means of capturing your thoughts at all times.

Record a message on your phone, or have a small notebook in your purse or pocket. I have them everywhere.  I’m serious about this being a must. You will forget that crucial and inspiring plot point the second it leaves your consciousness…except for knowing that you had it. That will drive you crazy. Write it down.

There are different elements of story you can start with.

1. Primary Event

2. Story Arc: Beginning, Middle and End

3. Intriguing Situation that Immediately Suggests Cast of Characters in Conflict

4. Character

5. Genre: Type of Story You Want to Write (found in detail HERE)

It doesn’t matter what comes first, so long as it inspires you to ask, “And then what happens?”

I’ve written fully fleshed out characters inspired by photographs of homeless people, from random observations (a woman running with her dog that was carrying a dirt old shoe prompted a profile of a killer who happens to see them and knows the shoe is a clue to where he buried the body. What is he going to do about that?) Ideas are everywhere. You just have to keep asking the question: AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?

And there you have it! Try one of those ideas (in her blog post about genre) and apply it to one of the other five elements of story she listed above.

Are you forming a story idea, and is it all mapped out or just going to wing it on November 1?

Do you have a way to jot things down wherever you are (Lynne insists!)?

Have you asked: And then what happened? for anything you’re working on? If so, did it help you get to the next place?

Please, tell us in the comments. We’d love to hear!

By Lynne Favreau and Rochelle Joseph

How To Make Room for NaNo

While “Preptober” invites planning your NaNo project, it’s as important to also prep your life to get the best out of this month.

MAKING TIME

The biggest stumbling block can be finding time. But you can do it, even if you think you’re swamped. A lot of it is in your power to make choices. How? Take 5+ minutes right now to write down the major events, and tasks that will vie for your attention in November. Family, Doctors, Holidays and prep), sports, etc.. and your writing goals.

Excellent! Now look at the list and designate the top priorities, down to the low, with a simple star or number system.  Once done, focus on the top priorities.

CREATE A CALENDAR

One clean month – ahhh. Now fill in ONLY the top 5 things to see where they land and how much time is devoted to them. If your writing is in the top 5, great. If not, this will show you the free spaces to write – or the space you must clear TO do so.

ASSESS NANO SLOTS

First, determine when you have the best energy. If you are able to arrange to write in those times, even if only a time or two a week, that would help you feel extra good about your words.

Visit to our regional calendar to see when our live write ins, kick off, all night write, and wrap up events are scheduled – all of which will again be held virtually this year… which was really successful last year.  Pencil in the ones you are interested in.

Now you have a complete calendar to assess.

ELIMINATE

Too much to do? Look at the calendar and ask: What can I cancel just for this month – or miss just once to make time for writing? What can I reschedule?  You will be amazed of what alternatives you think of. I’ve even rescheduled non-essential docs visits. It’s easy to just call to check if you can reschedule without waiting long. There are cancellations all the time.  If you’re in book clubs, you COULD just skip one month to write, right? Can a haircut in a good writing slot be booked on a different day?

DELEGATE

For the rest, like laundry or dishes, you could ask aloud, “Is there anyone who could do this (once or one day each week in Nov)? If alone, can someone come in to clean, can you switch to paper plates (recyclable natch), or have groceries delivered?  Or this month, shop for shelf stable items and make things like lasagna or soup that you can freeze in portions to free up time you’d spend in prep and cooking time. With things a friend can do, like walking the dog or picking up dry cleaning, you never know till you ask! And you can do a favor back… after November. Get creative! You can to do this!

SOCIAL LIFE

You can handle this two ways: If people are on your priority list, then schedule time with them at intervals, do get your writing time in-between. Then you can use the upcoming visits as motivation to jam on your word counts so that social time can be spent free from feeling being torn (a.k.a mental anguish).

Or you can tell friends/family in advance that for 4 weeks you’ll be devoting any free time to your writing. Thank them for supporting you by putting invites on hold for drinks, outings, hikes, whatever…  See them in October or book them in December! There should be mad respect for you.

Tell anyone living with you – whether a partner, roommate, children or whatever – the same.

Not everyone gets it, and most people react to change, even if they support you. Help them (and yourself) by dealing with this early and working out any compromises needed. After all, you’re not just changing your schedule, it changes theirs with you. Remind them that it’s only for a few weeks, but weeks that will make all the difference to you. You may even want to make a November calendar showing your NaNo time highlighted to put on the fridge or the door to where you’re writing, so there is zero confusion.

If you have a writing space with a door that will close, a sign on the door helps too. Or, sit with your back to the room and face a wall or corner to be your own “door.” If you must write where others are, putting headphones on – big, visible ones if you have them – will clue them in, even if you don’t play music through them. Better yet, join the live write ins, where people DO get down to work. Seeing that you’re engaged with others in a “meeting” on Zoom may be the ticket to less interruptions from others.

NAYSAYERS

If you have an unsupportive family, co workers or friends, then you should guard your dreams. Just say no, you’re booked if pushed to do something in your sacred writing slot. Stay committed to yourself. You can also get out somewhere to write. During Covid, when going to libraries or coffee shop was not available, I know folks who drove somewhere safe to park (the outskirts of their local shopping center), and wrote in their car! That can be nice with a thermos of tea and a lap board in the back seat or passenger side. Or find a park with a picnic table or a secluded spot in the sun with your own folding chair and warm clothes (even a blanket across your lap). You can do it!

THE INTERNET

Now that you’ve created precious time for your dreams, vow to guard it with yourself! Social media, Google and your phone are the biggest threats.  Turn off the internet while you write.  This is not a time for Facebook, IG or a research rabbit hole. Silence the phone and turn it face down. If it vibrates and you’re still tempted… hide it under a pillow or leave it in another room. Then, if you need a break or a moment’s distraction, do what every writer in time before the last 20 years has done: get up and stretch. Look outside. Open a window. Put on a song, take a sip of something, pace and talk through your project out loud..  No matter what you do, return to the page.  All of them are far more productive FOR your muse.

Get the best of November by planning now. You have something special that only you can get on the page, no matter how many words it is. It’s the best gift you can give to yourself… and others!

If you’re struggling or succeeding with any aspect of this, we’re always here! Let us know in the comments.

By Rochelle Joseph