Category Archives: Writing

Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process

art journal art journey nichole rae

I love art journaling, although I don’t have as much time (read: almost never) for it as I’d like. But while I may not bring out the acrylic paints and paintbrushes as often as I should, I do find myself devouring lots and lots of books about art journaling.

My main complaint about many of the art journaling and mixed media books I’ve read over the years is that there’s often a feeling of sameness to them. The color palettes, the basic styles, the overall look – often one book will mesh into another and in my memory they become one long book, the pages virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Not so with Nichole Rae’s Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process. I opened this book and was engrossed from page one. Unlike most other books on art journaling or mixed media, Nichole begins by plunging us right into her journaling process, and it’s a great process on its own, whether or not you decide to take what you’ve written and create an art journal out of it.

Her method of art journaling begins with her journaling process, which she does on the computer. She works with a list-style format of journaling which in her case reads beautifully, like poetry. It’s a very original, organic process, and just reading about it gave me lots of ideas for journaling different themes, which is something else she talks about. I always have so many ideas about various projects I want to work on, and I love how Nichole’s journaling process gives you permission to work on many themes at any given time:

“I often start multiple journal documents on my computer to set the writing process in motion. I save them to my desktop and am able to work on them little by little. Over time I will have a collection to use for my projects. Once I begin these journaling documents, my heart feels content to know they are created and will evolve with time. The simple joy of having them started provides comfort, knowing they are there to visit at any time.”

Once you feel you’re ready to print out one of your journal projects, it’s time to get into the creative process of putting all the pieces into a book. Nichole uses old, hardbound books for this process, and one thing I love is how she also incorporates pages from old books into her journals, in a method that’s a little similar to Austin Kleon’s blackout poetry, but with colour and without having to black most things out.

If you’re not a fan of working with altered books her techniques can definitely be applied to any blank sketchbook. I’ve made a few altered books before but have never really enjoyed the process. I don’t like having to glue pages together, or gesso them either, and I often lost the inspiration while I had to wait for the pages to dry. What I like about Nichole’s method is she doesn’t gesso the pages to give herself a blank canvas. Instead, she covers the page with a page from her printed journal and, in some cases, uses part of the page as her background or as part of the focus of the page.

While the discussion about laying out and assembling the pages is interesting, probably my second favourite part of the book, after the section on the journaling process, is the section on the creative mini projects.

“Working on a mini project while you are in the process of collecting and gathering supplies for your main project is a great way to be creative during this process. … I use mini projects to inspire my creativity and to help jumpstart the creative process.”

The mini project that appeals to me the most is the Inspirational Card Deck. There are just SO many possibilities for this one project. Not just from an art perspective, either. From a writer’s point of view, I can see myself creating writing prompts, mini character sketches, setting cards .. the possibilities are so exciting.

In fact, much of the process Nichole describes will help me with several of my writing projects. I’ve always loved combining my words with art, and Art Journal Art Journey gives me a process I can use without having to worry about my quite amateurish drawing skills.

There is an originality and freshness to Art Journal Art Journey that I really enjoyed. I finished reading it feeling very inspired, and the fact that her journaling process is one I can use for my writing was a huge, unexpected and very wonderful bonus.

Dreambook

I have a lot of dreams, which I usually remember for a little while after I wake up – and then they start fading away. Many mornings I wake up pulled from a really good dream, and then spend some time trying to fall back asleep so I can get back into my dream.

Not that this usually works. But it’s worth a try, and on the odd occasion I do manage to find my way back to the dream, it’s so good.

But one thing I’ve never really done consistently is write down my dreams. I’ve had dreams that were just so epic (and I really mean “epic”, not as in “awesome” but an actual epic) I absolutely had to write them down. But those have been far and few in between.

All this changed early last week, when The Art of Neil Gaiman inspired me to start a dreambook.

I’m nearing the end of this book, a biography of Neil by Hayley Campbell. It’s really good, because it’s based not only on interviews with Neil but also on the trunkloads of papers and notebooks he keeps up in the attic of his house. A real treasure trove for fans (although I must admit to finding his handwriting difficult to decipher!).

And in one section of the book, there is a spread from a few of his dream diaries:

neil gaiman dream diariesFrom The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

A few pages later, Neil had this to say about his dream diaries:

When I was writing Sandman I would occasionally steal imagery from my dreams, almost never got plots, but occasionally images were incredibly useful. And to this day if there’s a dream that’s just sort of affecting emotionally, I’ll write it down. Which was something I learned to do while I was doing Sandman.

… I would write them down partly because you’d never know what was going to be useful in retrospect, or what might be important in retrospect. Which isn’t to say that I ever went back and reread them, but it is to say some of the time the action of writing stuff down moves it from this weird box in your head of stuff that will evaporate … it moves it from being written in melting snow, to being written onto paper. In terms of the boxes of your mind things are in, it’s changed. (emphasis added)

This really called out to me.  … some of the time the action of writing stuff down moves it from this weird box in your head of stuff that will evaporate it. I’ve experienced that fading of a really good dream so many times, and I really liked the idea of moving my dreams out of that weird box in my head where stuff evaporates.

So the next morning, I woke up from a good dream, and thought to myself, no time like now to start, right? So I popped into my office and grabbed a blank notebook, then sat up in bed and jotted down all the bits of the dream I wanted to remember. I don’t have the book in front of me right now, and despite my writing it down, I couldn’t tell you at all what it was about. But it’s there now, on paper, and if I ever get a moment when I get curious about the first dream I wrote down in my dreambook, I’ll be able to go back and read it.

Not to say the whole writing-down-your-dreams-in-the-morning thing has been going smoothly since I started. For the three or four mornings after I jotted down that first dream, I had such mundane dreams. One of them was about going to a BBQ at my sister’s place (and coincidentally, I was going to a BBQ at my sister’s place later that day). I did jot down a dream in which I was merely an observer, although it wasn’t particularly exciting. It was basically an Anne of Green Gables scene, plotted from beginning to end, set in modern times with a totally different but still sufficiently Anne-ish girl.

And then I had a night when insomnia hit me, and there were no dreams the morning after that!

Still, this feels like a good habit to me, so I’ll keep on doing it for the fun of it.

How about you? Do you remember your dreams? Do you write them down in a dream journal or a notebook?

I’m Working On … (A Creative Blog Tour)

on my table rounded

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Adriane Giberson invited me to participate in a blog tour of creators (writers, artists and poets). I was a little hesitant at first. I’ve been busy with work and all the other must-do’s of life, and my creativity has really taken a backseat lately. But I’ve just finished a couple of big deadlines (like indexing an 1100 page AND a 1500 page book back to back – ouch!) and what better way to help myself dive back into more creative work than blogging about it, right?

What am I working on?

The big project on my desk right now is an urban fantasy with the working title “Sweetness and Dank” (the names of two of my main characters – very creative of me, I know). I’ve already written a chunk of this novel by hand in a Moleskine, and started transcribing it (and rewriting as I went) into Scrivener last week.

I’d started a writing challenge recently – 15 minutes of writing a day, which you’d think would be immensely do-able – so this seemed like the perfect thing for me to tackle. Unfortunately, the deadlines got to me, so my plan is to start anew on my writing challenge today. I have high hopes. We shall see.

I also want to start the edits on “Waverley”, which I’d completed for Nanowrimo a couple of years ago. There are massive changes that need to be made, because I kind of wrote two books in one, and need to separate out the story that I’m really trying to tell from the story that belongs in a book of its own. But look what I recently picked up from the library!

Blueprint Your Bestseller

That’s right: Blueprint Your Bestseller, by Stuart Horwitz, which promises to help me “organize and revise any manuscript with the book architecture method”. I don’t know if it will help, but I do have a completed, in-need-of-revision children’s fantasy in “Waverley” and I’ve got really high hopes for this book architecture method, whatever it might turn out to be.

creative lettering

In the artsy department, after working this past year on several doodle quotes, I’ve been really wanting to practice my lettering. I recently had a look at Creative Lettering, by Jenny Doh, and was just so inspired! I’m not going for a calligraphic look – what I want is to develop a whimsical, slightly quirky, not-quite straight lettering style (I’ve already got the not-quite-straight angle covered, by the way) that will work well with my doodle quotes. The artists featured in Creative Lettering (who all, thankfully, seem to have blogs) are incredibly motivational. So motivational, I decided to pick up some unlined Moleskines the other day when I was at the book store getting a Father’s Day cookbook for my husband. My plan is to start practicing my lettering on a daily basis. Another one of those “we shall see” things.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s a tough one to answer. For one thing, when it comes to writing, I tend to write what I like to read, and I’m an eclectic reader, so I’m kind of all over the map when it comes to my writing. But I find that magic does show up in a lot of my writing, even when I’m not writing fantasy. In the past, I’ve clamped down on that (there’s not much place for magic in a murder mystery, right?) but lately I’ve been thinking maybe I should just let the magic show up wherever it wants to.

Why do I write/create what I do?

Ah, an easy question! Because of the ideas I get! I’m not very disciplined about my writing (YET– I’m hoping to change that) but I get ideas all the time and most of them are the germs of stories. I like finding out where each one leads me, although I’m learning that it’s good to let the end point of each one come to me before I sit down to write. I seem to be very good at the whole “two stories in one” thing, and what I need to do is write down one story at a time – mainly, the story that wants to be told in that particular work.

As for the artsy stuff, I’m not very good at it, but it’s very good for my soul, and that’s a good enough reason for me.

How does your writing/creating process work?

I’m just starting to figure this out. Earlier this year, I tried to outline with index cards, and I did get an entire murder mystery down on the cards, but when I sat down to write, I was … bored! So for me, the best way to write is the way E.L. Doctorow described it:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Except that I need to know where I’m headed, as Neil Gaiman recently said:

“Mostly, the creative process is really, really fast. And when it happens, I have a pretty good idea of what something is. I am much more like somebody driving in the dark. My headlights will illuminate a little bit ahead of me, and I know where I’m going. I’m not just driving randomly. I know if I keep down this road, I will get to New York. But what happens on the way, I will find out.”

You see, when I don’t have a clear idea of how things end, I tend to write two or three stories in one. And then it’s a real mess to pull the real story out, and stash all the bits of the other stories away, for when it’s their turn to be told.

And now, please meet …

I’ve asked two fellow writers to play with me on this blog tour. They’ll both be posting their answers to these very same questions a week from today, on June 23:

Suey J of It’s All About Books. Most of you know Suey – she’s incredibly active in the book blogging community (she cohosts Bloggiesta). She’s also a writer, and the leader of a small, extremely motivating writing group that I’m very proud to be a member of. I’ve had the privilege of reading the YA novel she’s working on right now, and it is so good!

Janel Gradowski. Janel is a writer and an artist, and one of my best writer friends. Janel specializes in foodie fiction, and she’s motivated and inspired me over the past several years with her dedication and commitment to the writing craft, Next month sees the release of her culinary mystery, Pies & Peril.

[TSS] The Week That Got Away From Me

It’s been one of those weeks – you know the kind, where at first glance it doesn’t look like you have too much scheduled, and then you find out first glances can be mighty deceptive.

It started with a trio of deadlines – which weren’t, surprisingly, the problem. I met the deadlines with no problem. Post-deadline, though! Dylan turned ten (I know! Ten! If it wasn’t so trite, I’d say time really does fly), and there were all the activities associated with a little guy turning ten – gifts to buy, the perfect birthday card to get, lunch, dinner, get-together with family. And Mother’s Day on top of everything – another lunch, more shopping.

(I know, it doesn’t sound that rough. And it wasn’t. But I just hadn’t been expecting all the running around and eating out, which cuts huge chunks of time out of the day.)

And it’s already time for another Sunday Salon! I never even got around to replying to comments from last week’s post, so I hope you all won’t mind if  I just pretend that I already did and start fresh with this one. When seen from my Sunday Salon perspective, this week actually doesn’t look as chaotic as it really was:

Eating: Ward didn’t have a performance Friday night, so he made roast chicken. To those not in the know, my husband makes the best roast chicken – juicy, tender and lightly flavoured with rosemary and lemon. To make things easier for today (we’re heading over to my sister’s for Mother’s Day), he roasted a second chicken and we’re bringing cold chicken slices and scallion and ginger oil as our contribution to today’s feast.

Drinking: This week I discovered the pleasure of iced mint tea. It turns out Second Cup, my favourite coffee place (even now, when I’m not drinking coffee) will make iced tea out of any of their regular teas, so I gave the iced mint tea a try. It is SO good!

Reading: I didn’t have much time for reading this week, but I did manage to finish one book: Anne Holt’s Blessed Are Those Who Thirst. I know a lot of people liked this one, but it just didn’t grab me. I must admit, I skim-read through the second half rather than DNF’ing it because I wanted to know who did it. It might, however, just be the translation, and perhaps if I understood enough Norwegian to read it in its original, I would have liked it better.

Writing: Totally out the window this week. Not even a blog post to break up the midweek monotony here. (Yes, I’m hanging my head in shame.)

Making: Zilch. Nada. Nothing. It’s been that kind of a week.

Exercising: I finally downloaded a pedometer app and when I went for my run on Monday this week, I came back and told Ward my time. After doing the necessary km to miles conversion, I announced, “I ran a 14-minute mile.” Ward, polite guy that he is, managed a strangled, “Oh, yes?” but I could tell from the look on his face that most people probably could walk faster than that. I’m chalking it up to my using my meditation songs playlist for running (running meditation, get it?) so I put together a faster playlist and I’m happy to say when I went for my second run of the week, on Friday, I ran an 11-minute mile. Much better, although I’d love to get it to ten minutes.

I seem to have developed a consistent walking habit, which makes up for not running as regularly as I’d like to. Most days I manage a brisk 40 minute walk, with some days (when I’m going to Chinatown, mainly) I clock 80 minutes.

Rice_noodle_rollsSource: By Themightyquill (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

(Those 80 minutes walking to and from Chinatown are a good thing, as I tend to head over to dim sum when I’m in Chinatown and it’s a good way of walking off the calories before and after I ingest them. Sadly, rice flour, the main ingredient of my favourite dim sum dish – shrimp cheong fun or rice noodle rolls with shrimp – is very high in calories.)

Anticipating: A more restful week, during which I plan to (1) clean/clear out my desk (a Herculean effort may be required, I’m afraid), (2) clear out my clothes drawers to make room for hot weather clothing and (3) READ, READ, READ!

What about you? How has your week been?

[TSS] One Of Those Funny Reading Moods

It’s been one of those interesting weeks around here, where I don’t feel like I did very much, but at the same time I seem to have gotten most of the things on my to-do list (the one in my head) checked off.  I do love weeks like that!

Time: 9:51 AM

Place: At my desk, which I still haven’t cleaned up yet. I’d snap a photo for you all, but I’m way too embarrassed. Let’s just say my desk is pine-coloured, but you don’t see a whole lot of pine anywhere.

Drinking: Yes, that pomegranate/kale/flaxseed smoothie. This is what I have for breakfast every day, so it’s probably not going to change for a while.

Eating: Ward didn’t have rehearsal last night so he cooked for us! He made his fabulous Japanese gyozas, and also these delicious shrimp and chive dumplings I found online earlier this week. Whenever he makes Asian dumplings, we always have lots of leftovers, so I’m looking forward to more gyozas and shrimp and chive dumplings for lunch.

Reading: Fiction-wise, I’ve still been going through a lot of starts, trying to sink my teeth into a book but just not too sure what that book will be. I’m about a chapter into Blessed Are Those Who Thirst, by Anne Holt, and I’m still working my way through Leif GW Persson’s Another Time, Another Life: The Story of a Crime. I have Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children waiting for me on the Overdrive app on my iPad, and Dylan and I are reading The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, by Nancy Springer during the day, and Peter Pan at night, as his bedtime story.

I did race through Gretchen Reynold’s The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, finishing up the book yesterday, mainly because it’s due back at the library tomorrow, and it’s a book I’ve been really wanting to read. Some really fun, eye-opening stuff in there, and motivating to boot.

Listening: Again, lots of starts – I seem to be in a really funny reading mood this week, dipping in and out of various books trying to find something that suits my mood. I listened to the beginning of 61 Hours, by Lee Child, Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong and Peril at End House, by Agatha Christie before finally settling into David Baldacci’s Split Second. Earlier this week, I did finish another Jack Reacher novel, Gone Tomorrow, which might have been why I just wasn’t in the mood for 61 Hours – just a little Jack Reacher-ed out, I think!

Writing: Haven’t gotten back to my current novel yet, but I’m going to be writing a regular feature at Reel Life With Jane – I’ll be writing about the summer series Rookie Blue which premieres on May 23. Rookie Blue is one of my favourite television shows,  so I’m very excited about this! This past week, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for pre-premiere posts and hope to have my first article up there sometime this coming week.

Creating: Nothing yet, BUT I signed up for Trish’s Pin It and Do It challenge (again – and fingers crossed I’ll do better than the last time, which wouldn’t be hard, as I didn’t do a thing last time …). I signed up for the Timid Pinner level, which puts me on the hook for making only one to three things from my Pinterest boards. Surely I can handle that, right?

Working: I have three deadlines coming up this week, so a lot of this past week has found me working on indexes. Still slogging through that high school biology text, which was delayed somewhat, pushing the deadline from this past Friday to tomorrow morning.

Exercising: After I wrote last week’s Sunday Salon post to procrastinate on going on my first run of the year, I did actually go for my run – yay! And it went much better than I’d anticipated. Usually when I haven’t run for a while, my legs give out – the lungs work fine, but there’ll come a moment when my legs turn into limp spaghetti and all I want to do is flop down on the ground and rest them – but this time around, my legs didn’t tire out. Afterwards, I realized all the walking I’ve been doing must have really helped keep my legs in shape.

This past week, I walked for a total of 250 minutes, which surprised even me. And guess what? The First 20 Minutes suggests doing your workout first thing in the morning, before you eat, so I actually went for a run earlier this morning! And all I can say is, it’s a lot harder running in a fasted state. A lot harder. I’m not sure if I want to do that again – I do like running first thing in the morning, but next time it will probably be with my breakfast smoothie in me first.

carmelites_thumbPhoto credit: Canadian Opera Company

Anticipating: Ward has his full dress rehearsal of Dialogues des Carmélites tonight, and I have a ticket for the performance! So I’ll be watching him on stage – I’m really  looking forward to it! I’m sure it will be worth having to live through my own cooking the past six weeks while he’s been tied up with rehearsals. And opening night is this coming Wednesday!

So that’s been my week. How did your week go?

Itty Bitty: My New Micro-Journal Habit

Okay, so it’s a little too early to say  it’s my “new habit”, but I really want to establish a good, solid journaling habit this year, and if intentions count for anything …

As we headed into the new year, I played with several ideas, hoping to find one that would ease my transition from not-very-consistent-journaler to “why, yes, I do journal every day”.  I’ve had many a new year start with the shiny, enticing new resolution “Journal Every Day” but it’s always ended up being, as my youngest would put it, an epic fail.

It occurred to me that perhaps it might be best to ease into the journaling habit. Start small. And structured. Limit myself to one page a day.

So, no beautiful blank book. All those blank pages all at once have always proven to be too overwhelming.

At first I thought I’d get myself a one-page-a-day daily planner, and commit to writing something on each page. But all the planners I looked at had lined pages, and I really wanted blank pages.

So then I thought I’d go to the art supply store and buy a small sketchbook. I’d prep it by stamping all the days in January in it, and maybe that would become an end-of-the-month ritual. You know, where I’d flip lovingly through all the pages I’d remembered to fill out the previous month and then stamp all the days of the new month, in preparation for all the days to come which I would also remember to fill.

But then I saw this. The Moleskine Daily Diary/Planner. It’s an absolutely ADORABLE teeny tiny book filled with blank pages, one for each day of the month.

Photo 2013-01-04 9 59 31 PM

It’s so small, it fits in the palm of my hand.

Photo 2013-01-04 10 05 40 PM

And the best thing? I only have to fill one 2X3 blank page a day! Not a whole lot of space, so that takes care of the whole being overwhelmed thing.

How have I been doing so far? Well, I didn’t buy it until January 4th, so that’s when I started. But I’ve filled each page since then (although there were a couple of nights where I forgot, and had to write my entry the following morning).

My problem has always been that I have lots of days where not much happens, but I’ve been finding that even a day spent at the computer working madly away at a deadline gives me enough fodder to fill one teeny tiny 2X3 page.

They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit (some say 21 days, but I rather like the 30 day number). I’ve done seven days so far. Wish me luck on this one, because consistently keeping a journal is something I’ve wanted for a very long time!

Monday ramblings: NaNoWriMo Win, Readers’ Workouts and Book Buying Binge

Winner-180x180

NaNoWriMo

It’s a little early yet, I know, but the writing’s been going really well and I actually “won” NaNoWriMo on November 22, the American Thanksgiving, but couldn’t validate my win until yesterday.

I am now firmly ensconced in “Act III” of my children’s novel, and could possibly finish the first draft this week. Or not, as I’m in for a very busy week. I had a number of indexing deadlines scheduled for earlier this month that were delayed and guess what? They’ve been rescheduled for completion this week and next!

Yes. Welcome to my freelancing life …

Readers’ Workout and #30DS

It’s a good thing I’m writing now about the 30 Day Shred Twitter group I’ve been participating in, because one thing I’ve noticed: when I’m busy, exercise is one of the first things that gets prioritized right out the window. Which is very, very sad because it should be in my top three priorities, right after meditation and writing.

Participating in #30DS has been really motivating so far, though, so who knows, right? Just knowing if I do get the Shred done for the day, I can send out a tweet to my #30DS support group really pushes me to simply get it done. That, and telling myself it’s only 20 minutes. (It’s really about 25 minutes if you count the warm up and cool down, which I do, because apparently I’m supposed to be getting 150 (or is that 160?) minutes of exercise a week).

#30DS is part of Joy Weese Moll’s Readers’ Workout challenge. Anyone can join in; the weekly post goes live every Tuesday and you can either blog about your weekly Readers’ Workout goals and successes, or chime in on the comments. If you want to do the 30 Day Shred with us on Twitter, just jump right in. We’re all doing different levels of the Shred so you don’t have to be at any particular level.

Book Buying Binge

I’m sad to say I went on a book buying binge yesterday (well, okay, not really. I’m actually really happy about it and enjoyed myself thoroughly!).

After my big book purge last year, before moving to the city, I swore to myself I wouldn’t go on such binges again.  I think I’ve done quite well, actually, since we moved last November and this is my FIRST book buying binge since we moved. I should be patting myself on the back, right?

Anyway, I blame Memory and Kailana. I saw their tweets about the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale at Bookcloseouts (can you say 50% off already discounted prices? I can, over and over and over again!) and couldn’t resist taking a look – and then I was trapped! I spent yesterday doing indexing, taking a break to browse Bookcloseouts and add more stuff to my cart, indexing some more, taking another break to add more stuff to my cart, and so on.

I was up until 3 A.M.!! Bookcloseouts has only limited quantities of each book, and several of the books in my cart had only two or three copies left. I wanted to make sure I finished up the purchase before bed, because who knew if there would be any copies left in the morning, right?

As it was, I only managed to hit the following categories: Children’s Fiction, Children’s Non-Fiction, Art, Crafts & Hobbies and Cookbooks.

The sad news is, I only got two books for myself – I’m trying to be thrifty, so each time I saw a book I wanted, I checked the library, which had copies of nearly every book I was interested in. Right now I’m trying to buy copies of books that I’ve already read and really really loved, so I just couldn’t justify adding new-to-me books that are already available from the library (there’s also the NOT-ENOUGH-BOOK-SHELVES motivation).

The good news? I checked off a lot of people on my gift list! So that was very, very good indeed.

I can’t resist temptation, though. The sale at Bookcloseouts doesn’t end until tonight, and I still have all the Fiction categories to browse through. I just might end up with a second order!

Rebel!

Participant-180x180-2

Up until three days ago, I hadn’t been planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Some of you know that I got back on the writing track about three weeks ago, and my progress has been really good. To participate in NaNoWriMo officially, you must start with a totally new work, and I just wasn’t ready to step away from my current WIP to start on a new one.

However, someone asked me the other day, “are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?” And before I dashed off an answer, it occurred to me to look up my stats for my current book.

I had written 30,000 words over 17 days, and when I did the math, it turned out I’ve been writing at a NaNo pace anyway.

Well, how could I turn my back on that?

There is a way to participate in NaNoWriMo without following the rules to the letter – you can sign up and declare yourself a Rebel. To qualify as a Rebel, you must break a rule. Which I am, by continuing with my current WIP instead of starting a new one.

So here I am! I’m thrilled to be doing NaNoWriMo this year (especially after last year’s disastrous showing – somehow, NaNoWriMo and major move into the city simply didn’t mesh well).

What about you? Are you participating this year?

Back on Track (plus: do you know this book?)

It’s been a while since I last posted about my writing – and that’s because I hadn’t been doing any writing!

After a good start to the summer (I handwrote my way through a Moleskine notebook) I developed major resistance to writing. And while I kept thinking about my writing, I just couldn’t seem to sit down and actually do any writing.

Luckily, I have the best writing buddy in the world. Janel Gradowski kept the magic of writing alive for me through her daily emails to me. She’d write about her progress in her latest WIP and talk about plotting, outlining, POV, making characters come alive – stuff that made the writer in me itch to get to the keyboard. She’d write about organizing things with post-its and index cards (I love organizing with post-its and index cards). She’d send me links to great writing books and posts and interviews.

She never made me feel guilty, though. It was more like she’d hold open the doorway to the writing life, and just gently made sure I knew it was still there, waiting for me.

All of her support helped to eat away at my resistance. Last week, the last remaining bits of resistance suddenly lifted. I found myself embracing two words that I’m not really that fond of: Discipline and Commitment. (“Not really that fond of” is putting it mildly.)

I decided to make my writing a priority. I committed to sitting down to write first thing in the morning, right after my meditation but before I did anything else. I decided I had the discipline to keep that commitment.

Now, I’ve done this before – say to myself, my writing is a priority. And “I’m going to just do it”. And it always kind of fizzled out. But the strange thing is, when you add a dash of Discipline and a spoonful of Commitment into things, things don’t fizzle out.

I’ve been writing a chapter a day (I’m doing a rewrite of my old WIP, WAVERLEY). I have absolutely no resistance to sitting down to the keyboard.

I’m not making excuses, procrastinating, picking up a good book instead, cleaning the dishes, taking a nap, working on the next index, surfing the net – I sit down and I write. I try to write for at least an hour. Mainly I write until I’ve finished the chapter, which might or might not take an hour.

I’m not sure if I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo this year; it depends on whether I get Waverley finished before November 1. But it’s okay, because I’m back on track!

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In reading news: I just finished Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s a very fun urban fantasy about Constable Peter Grant of London’s Metropolitan Police, who interviews a witness to a murder, only to discover the witness is a ghost. Very tongue-in-cheek, with fun sci-fi and fantasy pop culture references.

Which reminds me of another book I read recently. I’ve been trying to remember the name of it (I forgot to mark it down in any of my usual TBR-recording spaces). It’s a newer release, and it’s about a woman who wakes up in this woman’s body, and all she knows is someone’s trying to kill her. The theme is a little like Midnight Riot, as it’s about a ministry or department in England where people with magical powers police the magical things that are happening.

The woman discovers that the woman whose body she has now, was a doormat, but it turns out her powers are very powerful. There’s a “Court” that the woman turns out to be a part of (and a conspiracy within the court). There’s a being who inhabits a number of bodies all at the same time, and another being who turns out to be a vampire. It was quite an exciting book. I’m hoping the name of it will come to me (if you know what book I’m talking about, please let me know in the comments!) as I’m hoping there’ll be a sequel and if there is, I want to read it!

Update: I was just looking through the latest issue of Shelf Awareness, and I discovered the name of the book! It’s The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for a sequel.