2019 NaNoWriMo

It has been ten years since the last time I participated in National Novel Writer’s Month. So far, it is going really well. I’m keeping up despite a virus knocking me down (literally) on the second day of the challenge.

I have tried for months to build an outline for the novel, maybe longer. However, I had to give up and admit that I’m simply a pantser. The world building I’ve done is huge. There were many scenes and characters and I had them all tied together, but until I just started typing the first scene, I simply couldn’t write out an outline. Still can’t. I think that writing the middle of the story without the outline, but with the ability to explore the world with the characters and randomly build subplots is what the art of writing is all about. I don’t believe I can give that up for anything. It might make editing a real chore, but I’d rather do that than give up the rollercoaster ride of pantsing.

I think Scrivener may have been developed for outliners. It will certainly help me during the editing process. I’m going to use it alongside Google Docs because Docs has nifty addons that supposedly help with writerly things like flow, word choice, grammar, etc. Plus, Docs has the ability to leave behind comments. You can also share them in real time for purposes of editing and whatnot. If I could afford it, there are a couple of programs I’d use to run the manuscript through just to catch words that are used too many times, and for other things like that.

More news. My son bought me a new laptop last Christmas and loaded Linux Ubuntu as the operating system. I’d been wanting to make the switch for years. He didn’t realize that getting Scrivener working on it was going to be a real hassle, but he got it running just fine, right before the big update that fixed some of the problems. I’d already downloaded everything he would need, but he wiped it all out and got stuck at the same spot I did. LOL

If you plan to do the same thing and use WINE to emulate Windows, you will get to a point where each step needs to be preceeded by two steps. Literally, one step forward and two steps back because you’ll need to fool around with some internal files. My problem was that I didn’t know how to get to those files, but my son did.

Manuskript, Linux’s version of Scrivener, just didn’t have everything I wanted and seemed to be a pared down version of Scrivener. It hurt my eyes, too. I had thought that Linux wouldn’t be constantly annoying me with updates. Right. Every single day, except it doesn’t take an hour or two like the Windows OS. I don’t think I’ve had an update take more than a couple of minutes to install.

I’m sure you can tell by this entry that my brain is working much better. It is. A lot of the progress I’ve made can be directly linked to a new medication I started in June of 2018. The improvements have been remarkable and I hope that this will be permanent.

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Posted in Writing

Hello Strangers!

Oh wow! It has been over 2 1/2 years since my last post. This is what happens when health kicks you into a tar pit. It has been a long and slow process climbing out of the muck and I’m finally feeling a bit normal. And! Working on my novel, or rather, three book series. Hah! Big dreams.

I hate making outlines, but with the degredation of my memory, it’s a must. I can remember when writing the next sentence on a story would require I read it from the beginning. Tens of thousands of words. For the next sentence, I would need to do it again. My memory is better, but I never know when it will get wiped clean.

How about you?

No matter how many times you fall down, get back up again. It’s how you learned to walk, so you can do it!


Posted in Writing

Setbacks & Comebacks

Between my last post in October of 2015 and this post I have had what might be considered a major setback.  We all have them, those of us with brain injury even moreso.  Our minds seem to begin working normally and we get so excited!  And then, bam!  All of our progress has disappeared.  Poof!  Back to the drawing board.  Whatever I had been doing in October 2015, it is gone from my memory.  I feel like crying just typing this.

During the past year, I learned some valuable lessons.  Don’t assume all of your physical symptoms are related to your brain injury.  And, if a doctor casually diagnoses you with something outside of your brain and orders testing to gauge the severity, make sure you get the tests done.  Sometimes you need to personally call the insurance company, especially when they keep denying the test requests.

I nearly ended up permanently paralyzed and went through a lot of suffering because I didn’t realize the importance of what a previous doctor had attempted to do for me.  I should have been more involved.  Of course, my brain was barely functioning at the time and I never thought to be more assertive.  That is a frequent problem for those who are seriously ill and insurance companies take advantage of it.

On top of major surgery, my brain has decided to lie down on the job.  Short-term memory has taken a huge hit.  The neurologist has put me through many grueling tests in order to get to the source of the problem.

We may have found and fixed one issue.  I’m feeling better and the familiar rush of starting over is beginning.  Perhaps you’ve experienced that.

I’ve been trying to get myself organized and have learned that Google Keep might be able to help with reminders, lists, and such.  This Android program is on my phone and has a search function.  I don’t need to worry about organizing files.  Imagining words I might use to search for information could be a challenge.

There are other programs out there, and no, I can’t afford Evernote.  It looks more complicated than my mind can handle anyway.  Don’t you hate having to admit that you need to continually simplify everything about your life?

I’ve been researching programs that might help me stay on track and learning better efficiency with the electronic devices I have.  Amidst all of this organizing, I’ve discovered—or maybe rediscovered—how my mind works best.  I’m looking for poor memory coping strategies.

Here’s some ideas.  It’s okay to make a list of things to do that requires regular rewriting.  However, it’s imperative to admit that I can only be effective when I focus on one thing until it is finished.  That seems to be how I work now.  No more multi-tasking.  Otherwise, I get lost and things fall by the wayside.

No matter what I’ve tried, I lose my lists, don’t remember that they exist, don’t remember that I have designated notebooks and files.  When normal, daily must-do activity wears me out or starts causing pain, my mind wanders off into a daze.  That must stop.

This week has a couple of goals.  Use reminders on Google Keep.  Send myself a reminder to focus only on one project at a time.  Give projects a time slot only for how long I’m typically able to focus.  List other job reminders for when I lose focus.  Remind myself of other things I can do outside of the big project, but don’t make them an imperative goal that will exhaust me with guilt.  Eh, maybe that will work.  My strategies will need testing.

Considering my mind keeps falling back into the immediate of here and now, and otherwise just drifts, having these regular reminders will keep me moving toward my goals.  At least, I hope it will.  Let’s see how long this lasts.

I’ll let you know if Google Keep reminders are successful.  You’ll know it is a failure if I fall of the face of the planet for a lengthy period of time.  Heh.  Feel free to comment on your experiences with tools and strategies that could help others with the handicap of brain injury.

In my search to crawl out of the mindfog, I found a book that I thought would help motivate me to get back to work on my story.  My wonderfully supportive daughter made a present of it.  It’s amazing!  (She received an excellent book in return.)  Woohoo for book shopping!

Story Trumps Structure by Steven James is excellent for those whose minds are not clinical and formulaic with their writing.  Mr. James has excellent credentials and his book is a breath of fresh air for me.  Few writers make a point to write reference material for those of us the industry refers to as ‘pantsers’.

Yeah, I like to start at the end, flesh out the beginning, and build a rollercoaster inbetween.  The rollercoaster is the joy of writing.  Sometimes I don’t even know what my characters have planned.  They take on a life of their own.  That is what began happenning in my mind while I was reading ‘Story Trumps Structure’.

I’m very grateful to find a well-published author willing to educate outside a classroom or costly seminar, a storyteller with a Master’s degree who knows how to communicate simply and honestly, and a writer who can bring back the memory of my own writing process when my mind is fractured and failing.

The manner in which he imparts knowledge doesn’t hurt my brain!  Hahah.  Truly, this guy speaks my language and shows that I’m not doing it wrong.  The manner in which he organizes his book helps me organize my thoughts.  For those who find outlines take all the fun out of writing, this book is for you.


P.S.  A little reminder:  You are not a failure, even if you choose—or are forced—to take a different path.  That is adapting, not giving up.  Good luck on your new road!  Never give up!

Posted in Health, Progress Report, Resources, Writing

The Importance of Marketing

Beyond keeping track of your progress with writing, there is another important reason for blogging and social networking.  A publisher is going to have little to do with marketing your novel, short story, poetry, etc.  They will not want to publish you if you don’t have a market base.  Also, if you self-publish, you will be solely responsible for sales.  The only way to sell your work is to have a network of individuals or groups who want to purchase a copy.

I completed all of a degree in business management, except for classes in accounting that I’d already had for my accounting degree.  The college claimed they couldn’t find the transcripts, which was ridiculous.  Nevertheless, one of the things I learned is that word-of-mouth is the largest contributor to sales.  Those who like your work will recommend it to others.  Your reputation will spread.

Then there is SEO–Search Engine Optimization.  This will help to spread your name across the internet and make you easy to find.  Tagging posts and assigning the proper category helps with getting your blog into search engines.  It is also helpful to have profiles on professional and social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Pluse, etc. that you can manage to use properly.  There are as many ways to optimize your presence on the internet as there are helpful articles on the subject.

Joining writer’s groups not only gets your name into the writing community, they have a lot to teach.  The Writer’s Circle on Facebook is a great resource.  There are many groups on social sites where you can find new reading material, new book discounts, etc.  You might try Google Plus, and other blogging sites as well.

Another important thing is reviewing the works of others within your own genre.  Learn how to properly critique.  Not only does this get your name out there, but it also teaches you what to look for in your own work.  You benefit in many ways.  Plus, you are supporting authors who share the same interests.  Your critique will also help authors understand what their readers want.  That’s something you would also benefit from.  Comment sections on posts from other authors are invaluable.  Don’t skip them.  You can learn a lot.

Places to start are Book Country and Goodreads.  I joined some time ago and did some simple critiques, but was unable to continue.  I hope to get back into it soon.  Found some great material that ended up published!

If you are mobile, you might be able to find writer’s groups in your city.  Some of them bring in published authors for seminars or have writing camps, editing/critiquing/brain storming sessions, etc.  These are a great resource.

Don’t forget NaNoWriMo.  They have many available activities.  The one they are famous for is National Novel Writing Month in November.  During the month of November, you challenge yourself to write a novel of at least 50,000 words.  That’s 1,667 words a day.  You can organize it any way you want, writing the entire thing in the last few days of the month!  The novel is encrypted so that it can’t be read, but a program counts the words.  There are entire communities built around this and there is probably a chapter in your town.

I’m certain I’ve missed important areas, but it is late and I can edit later.  There are more articles on marketing than I could possibly count.  Use your favorite search engine to hunt them down.

Until next time, never give up!

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Posted in Blogging, Marketing, SEO, Social Networking

The End is the Beginning

I’m so excited about making significant progress with my novel.  To understand why, you need to know how difficult it has been (these past several years) to keep two thoughts together at the same time.  If you read my ‘About’ page, you will see why that is an issue.  A second brain injury caused the past year to be particularly difficult.  I’m finally seeing a specialist who is interested in getting me back on track and she is doing a great job so far.

Then there is the family, too religious to support fantasy novel writing, even though they watch all manner of television fantasy shows.  I’m going to get real…hypocrites.  And when you’ve been so home-bound that you can’t cultivate a local support group, it gets hard to keep going with your work.  Nevertheless, I’ve waited too long to give up.

Last night, I was searching for a notebook that had quite a bit of writing in it, mostly exploring my own inner workings.  The last time I had it was on a weekend trip to the country.  When it fell between the bed and nightstand, I remember thinking I would get it in the morning.  I must have forgotten or a relative swiped it and never gave it back.  It’s gone.  They probably burned it.  Fahrenheit 451 is real in some circles. That ticked me off.

Fine.  I’ll stop beating around the bush and get busy.  I’ll show them.  I’m so contrary when I’m angry.

When I get hyped up, the emotion seems to oil the cogs in my head.  I decided to buckle down and get to work.  I’ve been trying to learn how to use Scrivener and have loaded six chapters into it.  However, I also loaded a new novel template as well.  As I went through the template, I made a few notes in a brand new notebook.

Hah, I fell asleep not long after getting started, but took it up again immediately upon waking in the morning.

I pulled out the new notebook, flew the mental bird at family, and went outside.  Seriously, don’t let those who think you’re Satan for writing worldly material bog you down.  Get angry and get to work!

I began writing about the characters, which led to world building.  Again!?  I have done this routine time and time again, only to splutter out and switch things around until I could no longer recognize what I was looking at!  So, I asked myself, what it is that I’ve been doing differently?  Why haven’t I been able make this stick the same as my earlier stories?  My characters were always having adventures and conversations. I couldn’t get beyond my first scene with this one!

Well, duh!  Back then, I had an ending before I had a beginning!  With this novel, I kept futzing around with world building, concepts, character building, and none of it got me to the point of actually outlining and writing scenes!

I wanted to bang my head against the siding!  Preferably the brick rather than the aluminum.  Gah!  I’ve been doing too much research and not paying attention to how my own mind works.

After a few deep breaths, I ignored all these years of starts and stops.  I had to do some serious meditation to force my mind to stay on track with how I wanted my story to end.  Happily, yes, but with some conflict to leave the possibility of a second book.

Within minutes, I was writing up a storm.  Getting the ending on paper opened up the world of my characters and introduced me to new characters.  They only need names.  And my world building suddenly solidified into something cohesive.  I have so much to sort through!

In just a few minutes, everything came together, and all because the ending was already decided. The lesson?  The end is the beginning.

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Posted in Getting Started, Novel
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