Lots of fun holiday stuff going on this weekend. The kids live for the dressing up, and the harvest fun. Halloween is really a great kid holiday. Which is why it kind of bums me out to see it being run over by Christmas.

Christmas stuff is out in stores. You can even, I kid you not, buy a tree already. (Wouldn’t it be a fire hazard by Thanksgiving if you did?) I like enjoying all the holidays, not being rushed through as if only one matters.

The early Christmas stuff brought about a minor crisis. Costco always puts out little girl holiday dresses at Christmas and Easter. We tend to scoop these up as they are always beautiful and fabulous deals. This year, we noticed the size cutoff and realized…Tall Kid is getting too tall and really should have the next size up.

Her little world is now off kilter. Too big for the holiday dresses? There will be no holiday dress at all, she just knows it, she has outgrown childhood. Reassurances have failed, so tonight she gets stuffed into her princess costume to be reminded that she’s still a kid and by the time we get to Christmas, she’ll have a dress with the ruffles and bows she’s entitled to as a member of the Small People Coalition. Early Christmas displays and unfair ruffly dress size-ism notwithstanding.

NaNo warm up

I’m not “really” doing NaNo this year, since what I’ll actually be doing is tackling 3 books in ready to finish stage and finishing them. It’ll meet the word count requirement but not a new or single project, so thus not “official”. I’ll still be using the mindset to get things done, because I’d really like to start off 2011 with a bunch of books crossed off my To Do list.

However, those books are a difficult place to start, so I’m doing a warmup. I’m writing a novelette because I want to, and I dragged some friends into it with me. We’ll be putting out a combined effort in the not too distant future, but I thought I’d talk about why this makes a good warmup and how to get started.

First, it’s not contracted, so there are no expectations and no pressure. It’s not going to be subbed anywhere, either, so again. I’m free to do whatever I want. Knowing that nobody will be looking over my shoulder, judging whether or not I fulfilled requirements, makes it a safe project for creative risks. And creative risks are what make projects succeed, so it’s good to make a safe space for that. It’s really what NaNo is all about, that freedom to create and not judge. Finally, it’s short so it can be finished quickly to help me build momentum for finishing bigger projects.

The story has a theme and a setting, and today I’m working on the action/character checklist. I swiped this from Absolute Write and it’s a very handy list of things to consider before you start a project, even if you don’t have answers to all the questions.

 1. Protagonist’s overall story goal:
 2. What stands in his/her way of achieving this goal:
 3. What does he/she stand to lose, if not successful:
 4. Flaw or greatest fault:
 5. Greatest strength:
 6. Hates:
 7. Loves:
 8. Fear:
 9. Secret:
 10. Dream:

If you follow the Absolute Write link, you’ll see that depending on which answers come easier, you are action or character oriented. Knowing that can help you work to your strengths.

Next, I listened to music that helps me get into the right mindset for the story. My soundtrack is made up of Pink and Taylor Swift. Music works for some people, doesn’t for others. Experiment and see what works for you. Maybe visuals, images of your setting or people who resemble your characters. Whatever helps you get your brain into the story, use it.

You don’t have to write a shorter project to warm up for NaNo, but it’s not too early to start doing the writer equivalent of stretches, limbering up your writing muscles for November!

chicken soup and words like fuzzy slippers

Flu season seems to have hit early, as in before we managed to herd everybody in for shots. So it’s time to put on a big pot of chicken soup, drink tea and juice, and work on a story because it takes my mind off the present. Fiction’s a great escape hatch that way. Sometimes slipping into a story is just like curling your toes into your favorite fuzzy slippers.

5 NaNo Prep Things

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Here are 5 things to help you get prepared.

1. Read the BIAW how-to. You have a whole month, some crazy people stuff a novel into a week. The same techniques work.

2. Get your tools in order. If you think you’re going to want to work in something like
, don’t wait until Nov. 1 to install it. Get it downloaded and running now, and take time to work through the tutorial. Whatever program you’re writing in, make sure it’s up to date and working before the kick-off.

3. Have a backup plan. I recommend using
if you don’t have anything else set up already. This will keep a copy of your ms. saved externally in case of fire, flood, cats on keyboard, etc. Dropbox is free, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you won’t lose all your work halfway through the month is priceless.

4. Some people are outliners. Some people are story-boarders. Some people figure out the story as they write. Whatever your style is, embrace it and give yourself whatever you need to get ready to write.

5. Take 12 minutes to watch “Falafelosophy” and learn to listen to your own inner Neil Gaiman. Trust yourself. Trust your story.

Writing quote for NaNo

I’m going to keep this on a sticky:

“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway