Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

9 Writing Prompts to Jump-Start Creativity

With the end of Camp NaNoWriMo in sight, some have already reached their monthly goals while others are still reaching for the finish line. Don’t fret! It’s not too late to get some more words in, even if it’s not on your original project. After all, one of the main points of the NaNoWriMo challenges is to get you to write everyday. With that being said, here are 9 writing prompts to carry you through this last weekend and hopefully the finish line.

9 Writing Prompts

  1. Local townsfolk see a witch fly over the moon on a broomstick…literally.
  2. A loved one is reincarnated as their widow’s (or widower’s) house plant. Tell a story from their POV.
  3. Start a new scene by finishing this dialogue: “If we get this money…”
  4. A woman who has been missing for three weeks suddenly reappears with no memory of where she has been for that time.
  5. “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” Local teens wander onto a “vacant” lot.
  6. A woman receives a fortune telling her to be more daring, “Fortune favors the brave.” She takes the advice to heart and shows kindness to a man who breaks into her home. What happens next?
  7. Tell a story from a house’s POV or even just the stories from one room.
  8. “When her head hit the floor, it bounced slightly then came to a halt as her eyes stared blankly ahead. She wasn’t supposed to die. Not like that.”
  9. A person stumbles across a tombstone with their name on it…and perhaps their birth year.

I hope that some of these (at least one) will benefit you and help get the creative cogs turning in your brain. Sometimes when I read  writing prompts, I have new ideas. Did any of these stand out to you? If so, which ones? Did they spark any creative fires? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy writing!

-RB

NaNoWriMo: How to Increase Word Count

The end of July’s NaNoWriMo Camp for 2018 is fast approaching. And with that in mind many writers are looking for ways to increase word count. Myself included. I don’t know what the weather is like where all of you are living but for me I am headed into a weekend of heavy downpours and cloudy skies. In other words, perfect writing weather.

I figured for today a good blog post would focus on ways that we could all increase word count. Next week is the final inning… The home stretch. Personally, I’m about 13,000 words away from my monthly goal of 50,000 words. However, I have spent most of my writing this month on my blog and my morning pages as opposed to working on my WIP. With that in mind, I’m hoping to have an overly productive weekend of words, words, and more words. But we all know how planning for a productive weekend goes. It often results in getting nothing done. With that being said let’s help one another cross the finish line using some of these prompts and ideas.

Tips, Tools and Tricks to Increase Word Count
The Harry Potter Word Crawls

I should saved the best for last but seriously, this one is just too good. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you haven’t heard of these, you’re missing out. A forum on Reddit has a complete list of links to all of the word count crawls. There has never been a more magical way to increase word count.

Write from All 5 Senses

For real. Go back into every scene and use more description. What are the characters smelling? Is it pleasant? Is it malodorous? What are they seeing? Use adjectives like they are going out of style. You will come back to edit and clean it up later. For now, I expect you to be describing mole hairs. Describe every sound…even the quietest places have sound. For example, my home is quiet right now but I can hear the AC running, my fingers on the keyboard and water trickling from the turtle tank filter. Leave no stone unturned!

Kill a Character – Or Several!

I’m talking Game of Thrones style! Kill three main characters off at once. Take no prisoners. Sacrifice your lambs. BURN THEM ALL! Or you could settle for torturing one of them, brainwashing him, then castrating him. Your choice.

Introduce a Character – Or Several!

I guess this could also be Game of Thrones style as that series has so freakin’ many!

Word Sprints

Word sprints, as painful as they can be, really do help. Why? Because they don’t allow you any time to think about what you’re doing. Even as someone who is a “planner,” when I’m forced to try to write as much as I can within a certain time frame, I start coming up with all sorts of crazy goodness. And by the time the buzzer goes off, I usually want to keep going. Embrace that and run with it. That scene might not make it into the final draft but it counts for this month.

You don’t have to have an account on Twitter or Facebook to participate in them either. Host your own within your cabin! That’s what my kick ass cabin does! I almost feel like we should have a team name…

Write from a Different Medium

Sometimes I type. Other times I write long-hand and sometimes I use dictation software. Each method has its own pros and cons. (Can we say new blog post topic?) All levity aside, don’t be afraid to switch things up. If I get tired of staring at the computer screen and feel stuck or don’t know what to write next or how to write what’s next, I get up and move. That’s when I go lay on the couch or the bed with a notebook and start writing by hand.

Perhaps I know what I want to write and I’ve got the whole scene worked out in my head but it’s so long and my fingers are exhausted. Then I sit at my desk and turn on the microphone. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking but I’m sure there are many other dictation programs out there, this is what works best for me. Sometimes I catch myself rambling but it’s a great way to get the words out quickly!

I hope these tips help you reach your goals for camp this year. And please check out those Harry Potter Word Crawls! They are entertaining.

Happy Writing!

-RB

Suffering from Writer’s Block? Try 750words.com

Today I wanted to share with all of you a little tool I stumbled upon called 750words.com. I don’t remember how I cam across it but it has completely changed my writing habits, more so than NaNoWriMo. As most of you know, NaNoWriMo has the intention of helping you create a writing habit – to write every day. While I have participated for many years, I could never develop that habit. Maybe I was trying to do too much at one time? Maybe 30 days just wasn’t long enough for me? Who knows?

The snapshot above was taken a few days ago. I normally find that I can write 750 words in 11 minutes. However, there have been days I’ve been exhausted and in order to not break the streak, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate my words. I’m not ashamed. The words still got written! But that is why it says that my record time is 5 minutes because I talk twice as fast as I type.

I tried everything.

I was the queen of procrastination – I read blogs about forming a writing habit. Searching online, I sought out apps for productivity. I read books on writing. None of it ever caught on. I really thought that I was a lost cause and despite the fact that I wanted to spend my lifetime writing, that I was doomed for failure because I was lazy and just couldn’t motivate myself to get my butt in high gear! …Until I was introduced to 750 words.com.

When I first signed up, I had actually forgotten that I signed up. It wasn’t until months later when I was cleaning out my inbox (a minimalist cleaning ritual) that rediscovered the site. I’m so glad I did.

Due to badges like the ones above, there is a sort of reward system for keeping your streak going. I think it goes up to 1000 or 2000 day streaks for the badges – in other words, pretty freakin’ long.

Monthly Challenge

You can even sign up for their monthly challenge to write 750words a day for an entire month. If you succeed in writing every day that month, you are put on the “Wall of Awesomeness.” If you miss one day, you are placed on the “Wall of Shame.” And every one will know! How humiliating. It’s funny how little badges and rewards like these can keep us going!

 

As you can see from the picture above, there are all sorts of statistics that show up after you’ve written. This post won’t cover all of them but it’s very interesting to see and compare things like what you were writing about vs time it took to write it. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I saw this demographic I thought, “This isn’t accurate!” But the more I wrote, the more I noticed that it is actually pretty insightful and on point.

It appears that this particular day I was feeling affectionate, upset and self-important and concerned mostly about success, work and death. Not sure what that says about me.

What else can it do?

Your writing is completely private. No one else can see it but you can go back and view old entries if you’d like. Also, if you donate you earn points which are represented by coffee cup icons. Cups allow you to post testimonials and encourage other writers. Another feature is the metadata. In every post you can track things like where you were writing that day, what your energy level was, stress level, how much alcohol or caffeine was in your system, etc. Do it enough and the website will help you track the differences in your writing when you have 3 red bulls instead of 2 whiskeys.

Overall, it’s a pretty unique site. You have the option of becoming a member for $5/month and trust me when I say that it’s completely worth it. Thanks to 750words.com, I cannot miss a day of writing. And the writing can be about anything! You don’t have to spend it working on your novel, you can rant and rave about work, traffic, your children OR you can dream of lying on a beach or hiking in the mountains. You could write a short fiction piece or a few poems. The choice is yours!

So if you’re like me and you struggle with writing every day, I challenge you to 750words.com! Need some perspective? This blog post that you just finished reading it 750 words. If I can do it, anyone can!

Happy writing!

-RB

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Hello readers! In keeping with this month’s blog challenge of writing a new post everyday for the month of July, I am finding it difficult to stay ahead but I will keep pushing through. Now that we have sailed into the doldrums of week two, that primal energy of week one has faded, leaving some of us to splash and flail to keep from drowning. I am one of those and it’s only the beginning.In order to not bore you with a long intro, let’s get straight to the point. Here are the top ten things I wish I knew before I started writing.

1) Don’t let others tell you what your book should be about.

You will come across people who want to dictate what you write. Sometimes these people are other writers, sometimes they are not. The ones who are not will never be able to comprehend why you just don’t listen to them and their great ideas for a fiction masterpiece. Yet instead of trying to write anything themselves, they feel the need to try and pull your puppet strings. Don’t give in.

Write the story that’s in your gut. It’s okay to listen to feedback from others but that doesn’t mean you have to follow every single things others say. Stay true to your vision.

2) The mind is a dark place. You don’t need to stand in your own shadow.

Self-sabotage is real and we all have done it at least once in our lives. Many of us do it on a daily basis. Stop talking down to yourself. There will be enough other people doing that for you. Some of them will be “friends,” others will be family.

3) The inner editor is a quiet drunk.

I don’t drink as much as I used to but I’ve noticed a single shot of anything is enough to quiet that pesky inner editor. It’s the fastest and most efficient way to shut it up.

4) You get out what you put in.

If it were easy, every one would do it. Don’t expect it to be a road of rainbows or double rainbows. Writing is challenging. No matter how skilled you are, it’s always a challenge. Put the work in. You have to just like a workout routine. Put the work in for a great body, get a great body and a better quality of life. Put the work into your writing, become a better writer and produce more material. It’s a simple equation.

5) “What if?” is not an evil question.

I had an English teacher in the seventh grade who refused to answer a question if it started with the words “what if.” For a long time after that I grew up thinking that “what if” questions were some kind of bad. “What if” is the creator’s greatest question. Always ask, “what if?”

6) “There is no magic hand.” or “I’ll write that someday.”

No one else will do this for you. Even if you hire a ghostwriter, it won’t be your voice. It won’t be you. Only you can write your story. This “no magic hand” quote I often saw written by self-made millionaire, Amanda Hocking. She often says that she realized this shortly before she kicked her butt into high gear.

Also, I’ve been a firm supporter of the whole, “I’ll write that someday” or “I’ll finish the book one day.” Guess what? “One day” and “Someday” are not days of the week. Saying that means it will never get done. Set a date. Get ‘er done!

7) Everything you need is already inside of you.

Yes, I love traveling and exploring and being inspired. Who doesn’t want to be inspired? But what you need to write your story is really already inside of you. You don’t NEED anything else. You already have it. It’s called sorcery.

8) Writing is not a sprint or a race. It’s a marathon. Community counts.

In high school, I ran cross country and distance track. Like writing, running can be very solitary. After all, every run is usually about competing against your previous run. Being alone, training in the middle of the woods, I never felt alone. I had a team with me, scattered along the trail.

Writers have communities. Find yours. Even though you’re not competing with them, you need their support and encouragement. It’s a long journey. Let your team help you along the way. Let them help you across the finish line. Propel each other.

9) Education is priceless. Read all. Study all.

Okay. I did just say in a previous point that everything you need is inside of you, which is true. But I wished I would have paid more attention to the opportunities given to me through my education. Instead, I was always in a hurry to grow up and get out of school. Slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Literally. They are lovely. Absorb everything. Take it in.

10) Only other creators understand the creative process no amount of explaining will do.

I am cursed. Every day I walk into a day job where no one reads or writes. No one creates. No one understands. I didn’t think it would be possible to find this many book-haters in one place. But it exists. I work in a place of rigidity. Or rules, regulations and procedures. It’s a prison for me and I’m surrounded by enemies. I’m surrounded by people who mock the artsy or ignore us because “we’re weird.” Don’t waste your breath on these people.

“Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.” -Frank Ocean.

Happy creating!

Blog Art from Dreamstime.

The Pre-Writing Ritual: The Work Before Work

Hello readers! Today is the first day of my self-imposed NaNoWriMo blog challenge for the July camp of 2018. If you follow my blog for topics other than writing, don’t worry. I will be posting about minimalism and travel throughout the month. However, for today’s first post I want to focus on the pre-writing ritual. Personally. I don’t have a pre-writing ritual that I do every day. I do have a pre-NaNoWriMo ritual.

For those of you competing in NaNoWriMo this time around, you may have already started, or you may be procrastinating, or you might be taking part in your pre-writing ritual as you read this. Whatever the case may be, I would love for you to share what your ritual is in the comments below.

What is a Pre-Writing Ritual?

As human beings we can be very superstitious. By nature, we are ritualistic. Perhaps we wear the same socks or racing flats for every cross-country race? Maybe there’s lucky underwear involved or a lucky hat we wear when we sit down to write our academic essays? I for one have never had a pre-writing ritual. However, with NaNoWriMo it’s a different story. Being that NaNoWriMo is a whole month and I try to focus most of my spare energy towards it, I don’t like to spend a lot of time paying bills, cleaning and cooking. You know those daily chores that tend to add up?

I have a pre-NaNoWriMo ritual. Whether you started your NaNoWriMo challenge today, are waiting until tonight or next weekend, it’s still not too late to complete your ritual.

My ritual usually lasts the whole day. Luckily this month’s challenge started on a Sunday. I was on the NaNoWriMo forums yesterday and saw some other writers talking about their pre-writing rituals and what they did to get ready for the month ahead.

Suggestions from Others

Some of the ideas I got from other writers included logging out of Netflix and Hulu, Facebook, and other social media accounts. Some of you may think what’s the big deal? If you wanna get on, just log back in… So many of those programs and social media platforms keep us logged in so we forget our password. Manually logging back to succumb to hours of procrastination and wasted time becomes a chore when you’ve forgotten your password. Fail too many times and your account becomes locked.  That turns into logging into your email before the “reset” link expires… it’s not worth that much trouble to not write. And trust me, writers spend a lot of time avoiding writing. (Non-writers don’t understand that).

Other writers that have large families participate in a 30 day meal preps. I feel like this one is a little bit easier for the winter months because it’s easier to make casseroles, chili, stews and thicker, heavier meals in bulk and then freeze them for the month. Summertime is a little bit different. Usually we don’t eat as heavy. We rely more on fresh fruits and raw vegetables – things to keep us hydrated and cool which may pose to be a bit of a challenge for a meal prep. If you’re looking for ideas I’ve put a few links below to some 30 day meal preps.


30-Day Meal Prep Links:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/22226/mealtimes/dinner/best-30-day-meal-plan/slideshow/the-best-30-day-meal-plan/

https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/30-day-shape-your-plate-challenge-easy-healthy-meal-planning

https://girlinhealing.com/how-to-plan-30-days-of-meals-in-1-day/


My Pre-Writing Ritual

Those are just a few suggestions that I received from the forums. Though they don’t really apply to me, you have to know what works best for you. We’re all a little different. Some of us are better at saying no to distractions than others. As a minimalist, I have removed a lot of distractions from my life. But there are still certain things I need to take care of for the month. While I know that there will be times laundry will pile up, I try to keep it at a minimum as best as I can.

Yesterday was Saturday and my day was filled with cleaning the apartment. We have a small two bedroom apartment and as mentioned before no children or pets so I’d like to think it stays  orderly. Below is a list of things and tasks that I completed that you may want to take a look at to help you determine what needs to be done in your household before you commit a month of your life to writing 50,000 words or more.

1. Wash, dry, put away as much laundry as possible.

As always, minimalism helps because we don’t have that many clothes. Take the time to put fresh sheets on the bed and clean all of your dirty laundry.

2. The dishes…

I’m terrible about letting dishes pile up in the sink or not emptying the dishwasher once it’s done cycling through. And I get fussed at for it… It’s not in my nature. The kitchen really isn’t my area, I usually let him do the work. However, I contribute to the mess and I know that I can’t really concentrate when I know that there’s clutter somewhere. It drives me nuts. Run the dishwasher through once or twice, put all of the clean dishes, away scrub the countertops and the floor, and empty the trash.

3. Buy groceries and clean your fridge.

I’m not talking about junk food. Of course, buying healthy food can be frustrating because it goes bad before you can eat it all. I’m used to going to the grocery store 2 to 3 times a week to get fresh produce. Perhaps for this month switch it up a little bit. Buy a lot of frozen fruit and vegetables instead. It’s the next best thing to fresh. I rely heavily on home-made protein shakes for meals during the NaNo months. So frozen fruits are a must in the house!

4. Wipe down all services and vacuum.

There’s something about an uncluttered room or home that just brings peace of mind. Albert Einstein famously said, “if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

I’ve never liked this quote. As a minimalist, I like things empty, neat and sorted. I feel like I can’t be creative or think straight if there’s clutter and disorder. Maybe clutter and disorder works for some people? Obviously it worked for Einstein. But I know me and I know that doesn’t work for me. If you have others in the household with you, have them help.

5. Take the trash out and clean vehicles.

By now this list is probably sounding more like your mother’s list of chores than a pre-writing ritual. I’m not talking about giving your car a wash though. I’m talking about the inside, which can also be a hording place for clutter. Some of us spend a lot of time in our cars driving back and forth on long commutes to work. Or stuck in traffic. Do yourself a favor clean out your car.

6. Pay your bills for the month.

The last thing you need is repeated phone calls or text messages from your credit card company saying, “Hey your payment is late!” It’s very easy to lose track of what day it is during NaNoWriMo. If you can afford it, pay everything a month ahead of time. Don’t just consider any credit card bills, take into account rent/mortgage, property tax, vehicle registration, utilities, memberships, insurance, etc.

7. Clean out the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Things accumulate over time. It’s only natural. But sometimes that medicine cabinet doesn’t really get looked at too closely. Before long, all sorts of creams, ointments, serums, different size bandages, and medicines stack up. Look under your sinks as well. Throw stuff out!

My pre-writing /pre-nano ritual is basically to do a huge, massive and thorough spring clean on the home. I’d love to know more about how every one else handles their pre-writing time. Perhaps it involves reading a blog post or wearing a funny hat? Please share in the comments below!


#NaNoWriMoBlogChallange #NaNoBloCha
NaNo Challenge for the day:

Use the word PENUMBRA in today’s writing session. [It means “a half-shadow”]

Happy Writing!

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