5 Ways to Manage NaNoWriMo Stress

Well, NaNoWriMo2017 is well underway and I have been extra busy, hence why this is my first post this month. This is my second attempt at the 50,000 word goal in 30 days. My first attempt in 2015 ended with 22,877 words and a feeling of disappointment on December 1st. But this year I vowed to try it again and this time I was determined to surpass my first word count and complete the 50,000 word mark. So far, so good. I have surpassed my 2015 word count (current count: 27,714). But my momentum is shrinking with the holidays approaching and family obligations weighing down on me. There are a few things I have been doing to counteract the mounting stress:

blackandwhiteopenbook

1) I have read books that are in a different genre than what I am writing. Enjoying a good book can spark ideas for your story line.

2) I write in my journal. I have found this to be extremely helpful. By writing about what is going on in my daily life, goals that I have and tasks that I want to accomplish has freed up some of my mental clutter and whole scenes for my characters have come about, increasing my word count.

3) I attended a poetry reading to get away. Once you start to feel stuck in your writing it is good to be able to get away and focus on something else, enjoy other’s creativity.

4) Soak in a hot bubble bath. Sometimes this can be a cure-all for everything stress related. The hot water relaxes your body while the scent of the bubbles relaxes your mind, allowing you to relax and then the words will come to you.

5) Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. A tired mind cannot write all the words and the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write all of the words in 30 days or less. Get rest even if you have to sneak in a couple of 15 minute cat naps during the day. Get your sleep on so your mind can recharge and process the words you have already written.

NaNoWriMo is fun and we all have to remember this is not life or death but a month-long word sprint. I have discovered new writers whose work I love because they participated in NaNoWriMo. I am discovering that this draft doesn’t have to be perfect – that in fact i can guarantee it won’t be perfect because it is a draft. Meant to be reread and corrected. In the event I discover that maybe novel-writing is not for me that doesn’t mean I can’t write. It means I may be more suited to shorter, more concise stories. I still love the written word and using those words to express myself. Remember why you signed up for this challenge and use that to help guide you in your story.My life, My Words, My Way(1)

James Richardson

James Richardson stood speechless when the oak door opened. Virginia stood gracefully, her five foot, six-inch frame, draped in a purple cardigan with a tank top, skinny jeans and ballet flats. His eyes drank in every nuance of her. Even the empty tumbler in her hand, which probably had apple brandy in it, he thought. The smoothness of her caramel skin invited in a flood of memories of when Virginia lowered her guard for him…

Staring into her brown eyes, I couldn’t help but silently thank God for sending this woman into my life. Her skin was electric, as though she could power all of Philadelphia by herself. I was magnetized to her. Jealousy filled me as I watched the dress caress her as it fell to the floor. I leaned in and kissed the length of her neck and felt her gasp. I stopped to look into her brown pools of hypnotism. I wanted her right then and there. I wanted her to know I wanted her. I wanted Virginia to see my hunger for her in my eyes not just my crotch.

Without any more hesitation, I clasped her face and kissed her as though my life depended on her breath. Her hardened nipples strained against the fabric of the bra, inviting me to play with them. Gently biting her bottom lip, I gazed into her eyes and my hands drifted across the swell of her breasts. I love her skin, so soft and creamy. Pulling her into me, I unclasp her bra and drop it returning my attention to her waiting skin. Letting go of her lips, I lean down and clasp a nipple into my mouth. Feeling Virginia shiver and grip the back of my head let me know that I struck a nerve of pleasure. I tugged the nipple enough to elicit a gasp and began flicking my tongue back and forth across her hard nub. “Oh James…”

“James!” The sharp irritation in Virginia’s voice snatched me back to the present.

“Virginia. Hi. You look great. May I come in please?” I just wanted to kiss her but I know that is the last thing she wants from me right now. If I want to say my piece I have to be cool.

Virginia looked at James and wanted to kiss him but she remembered he had betrayed her, “The clock is running. You have eight minutes since you wasted two of them staring like some stalker.” She stepped to the side so James could enter without touching her.

Walking through the door, James saw that Virginia had moved almost everything out of her place. He turned slowly, “Where are you going?” Virginia closed the door hard, “Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to wonder whether we’ll bump into each other. I’m making sure that we don’t.” The finality in Virginia’s words hit James like a gut punch. Instinctively James stepped toward Virginia to embrace her and she stepped back tapping her watch, “Five minutes. Start talking or leave.”

Taking a deep breath James began. “Virginia. I love you. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have gone out drinking with Ted and Brian. I know how they are and I should have seen them for who they are.” James took one step forward, “Ted was trying to get to you and I should have trusted your instincts. I know I messed us up and cost you your position and for that I will not ever be able to forgive myself. If it takes the rest of my life, I will find a way to make it up to you because I don’t want to be with anyone else.” James got down on one knee looking at Virginia, his eyes pleading for forgiveness, “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with anyone else but you. I found my forever in you. Please baby. Forgive me.” Pulling a small black box from his back pocket, James opened it, “Will you marry me?”

Virginia Slim

Virginia glanced over her shoulder when the phone rang. Sitting the photograph onto the table, she slowly walked toward the ringing. Heart racing, she looked at the caller ID display and saw his name. Hesitantly, she picked up the receiver, “Hello James.”

“Slim. I thought I’d missed you. Can I come see you?”

“For what James?”

“I need to talk to you. Please?”

“Anything you need to say to me, say it now before I hang up.”

“I need to say this in person. If you’ll let me. Please?”

Taking a deep breath and exhaling slow, Virginia responded. “Okay. You have ten minutes to get here and say your piece. Not one minute more. Do you understand?”

“Yes. Thanks Slim. On my way.” The dial tone resonated through the empty room. Placing the phone back in the cradle, Virginia headed towards her kitchen. Reaching in the cabinet above the sink, she grabbed a glass tumbler from the shelf. Turning to her stainless steel refrigerator she drifted into her thoughts as the clink of the ice falling into her glass. Grabbing the bottle of apple brandy from her cabinet above the stove, she quickly poured herself a glass. As the sunlight reflected from her glass, Virginia thought about her two-year relationship with James. Fear that she made a mistake agreeing to let him stop by one last time stirred up a flood of memories…

Sultry laughter and heated arousal filled the kitchen as James suckled Virginia’s right earlobe. Wriggling underneath the pressure of his body holding her hostage against her refrigerator elicited mixed feelings. The tingle coursing through her veins with each nip on her ear and the coolness of the stainless steel on her bare back made her giggle like a school girl. James’ left hand casually slid the strap of her black evening gown off of her shoulder.

His right hand shortly mimicked the motion and the other strap slid off of her right shoulder. As the silk dress slid from her body James’ eyes lit up like a furnace. Caramel brown skin now only dressed in a black, strap less bra and panty. Virginia felt goosebumps surfacing along her arms while other parts of her began to warm up. James suckled and kissed the length of her neck, stopping long enough to look into Virginia’s eyes, letting her know this would be no quick affair…

The doorbell ringing snatched Virginia back to reality. A quick look at her watch told her that only five minutes had passed since she had hung up the phone. Meaning James was already in the area.  She took a long drink before going to answer her door. The sweet, brown liquor produced a shiver as she turned the doorknob.

And there he was. Five feet, eleven inches tall. Deep mahogany complexion with the most hypnotizing brown eyes she had ever seen in life, standing in her doorway. A place she vowed to herself she would not ever allow him to cross again in life…

 

If you enjoyed reading about Virginia Slim, leave a comment below. Thanks!

Realistic Glimpses

Staring at this computer screen I want to throw it across the room. The cursor blinking at me, accusingly, while writer’s block has me mentally paralyzed. Images flicker. Characters show glimpses of themselves but not enough to flesh out anything solid. It’s like they are taunting me. Laughing at my ability to capture them on paper.

I walk away from my laptop in frustration and turn on the television. Mindlessly flipping through channels, I stop at a home improvement show. One of those home fix and flip shows. At the first commercial break I shut the television off in irritation. Why can’t I write? What is blocking me from grabbing this story and putting it on paper?

Sitting back at my laptop, I stare again at the blinking cursor. Snatches of the argument I had earlier that morning surface in my mind. Defending my choices in life is tiring. Realizing that the time, money, effort and dedication I invested into my current relationship has not yielded the results that were advertised has left a bitter emotional residue. I’ve seen many quotes on Pinterest about life, one in particular, that if you don’t fail then you haven’t tried.

I get it. You have to fail a few times in order to get it right. I get it. I don’t like it. Relationships are not supposed to be a constant battle. Describing characters on a page should not be a battle either. Don’t they want their stories told? Glimpses. Flashes. But nothing concrete. Irritation. Anger. Frustration. Feelings of throwing out any idea of writing and turning to something, anything mundane but regular. But I know I won’t survive the mundane. I suffocate with monotonous routines. I hate feeling like I’m suffocating. I guess this is my caterpillar phase of life. My chrysalis is forming and I feel like I am suffocating under the current circumstances.

And my cursor continues to blink at me. Another glimpse of character. A whisper. This time a name: Virginia Slim. Who is Virginia Slim? What does Virginia Slim want? Where is Virginia Slim? When is Virginia Slim? Why the name Virginia Slim? Another glimpse. Sophistication. Business attire. Heels. Brown skin. So I know Virginia Slim is a woman. A business woman. A woman of color.

Okay, now we have something. Who is she? Where is she from? What does she want? What is her occupation? What are her goals? What is her motivation? I know her story will have some bumps in it because she is a woman of color. Who are her parents? What do they do for a living? What stories do they have to tell? Does she have siblings? Does she have close friends? Does she have any pets? Significant other(s)?

If she can show herself to me more solidly I can flesh out her story. Just from this it feels like an interesting one. Maybe NaNoWriMo will be up my alley this year after all. Stay tuned for updates on Virginia Slim. My cursor is still blinking but it’s not accusing me (much) any longer…

The End of NaNoWriMo 2015 is Here

keepcalmandwriteThis month has been crazy. I heard stories of how intense this month is when you accept the challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days but… WOW! I have read so many posts on facebook and twitter about writing challenges and writing stumps as well as people who had a running faucet of story line so they completed the challenge within the first two weeks.

I am in awe of them all. A women in the NaNo group on Facebook just started the challenge a week ago and already hit 50,000 words! I’m not upset though. I didn’t reached 50,000 words but I participated in the challenge and wrote more words in thirty days than I thought was possible. I finished with 22,877 words and my record word count for one day is 3,520!

I am not upset at all. I did what I set out to do and that was to participate in the challenge. I am realistic about my home life and that presents many nanowrimochallenges in and of itself but I still found some time to get my ideas on paper. I met some interesting characters on this journey. With this being my first year, I have set my bar high for next year! NaNoWriMo 2016 I’m waiting for you!

Listening to Say by John Mayer for NaNo Inspiration

“Even if your hands are shaking. And your faith is broken. Even as your eyes are closing. Do it with a nanowrimoheart wide open. Say what you need to say…”

I try. As best as I can and when I believe it counts. Life is about the little moments that take our breathe away and collectively become big moments that wow and inspire. I love the little moments. Many times my hands were shaking. Many times my faith has been broken. But each time my heart has been wide open and I took that leap. When it comes to using that to fuel my characters I stumble because some of those tender moments are mine. Just for me and I feel selfish keeping them to myself but those moments are precious and priceless. I want to share but at the same time I don’t and that is where I am stuck.

How do you keep your characters separate from yourself and still keep them authentic and true?

“Take out every wasted honor. Every little past frustration. Take out every so called problem. Better put ’em in quotations. Say what you need to say…”

“Walking like a one man army. Fighting with the shadows in your head…”

NaNoWriMo has me losing sleep…

The first week of NaNoWriMo is completed and I hit the 10,000 word mark a couple of days ago. Some writers in the chat groups are toasting their 50,000 word completion and marching onward to 100,000 keepcalmandwritewords. I say congratulations to them! I don’t know how they accomplished it that fast but I am happy for them. Meanwhile my characters are doing the do-si-do in my mind at night while I am trying to sleep. And when I wake up to tend to my two toddlers (one in school and one at home) I am super exhausted.

But in true NaNo fashion (although this is my first one) I am trudging onward. My characters had a drama filled tale to tell and who am I to deny them? Participating in NaNoWriMo has definitely introduced me to a lot of interesting writers. And the fun part is we are all eager to help each other out.

Okay a brief breakdown of what’s going on with my NIP (novel in progress):

“Hello?”
“Hey baby. How are you?”
“Paul I’m not your baby and what do you want?”
“I just want to know if you were busy. I want to come see you.”
“I am busy and no you cannot come see me. Why don’t you go see Joanne, Jennifer, Shanta, Ms. Smith, Cindy, Mellie or Rebecca? Take your pick.”
“Don’t be like that. I miss you. I need to see you. Rocky NEEDS to see you.” Rocky is what Paul named his penis when he wanted sex.
“No Paul. Call Jana from Hawaii. Why don’t you call your ex-wife? Oops, my bad – your legally separated wife you lying sack of shit. I told you I am done with you and your games. Go find someone else to play with and I don’t miss Rocky. Who names their dick Rocky anyway?” That last part made Mia burst out laughing.
“Yo, who is that laughing? Don’t make me come over there.”
“I’m about to hang up on you. And FYI: stop mimicking the porno movies you watch. You’re not learning anything.”
“Don’t be cold like that. Let me taste you.”
“Bye.” Click.
Marissa and Mia spent the rest of the night laughing at men and their schemes to get laid.

Mia is hilarious but doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life but is secretly jealous of her best friend, Marissa. Marissa admires Mia’s free spirit and openness to trusting people and situations. There are quite a few twists and turns coming in the next 20,000 words. I just haven’t written them yet. With Marissa’s ex-boyfriend, Paul, she broke up with him for cheating on her and lying to her. What do you think should happen to Paul? Post in the comments below. Thanks!