A Journalism Major in a Poetry Class

There are so many different ways to write. But sometimes it’s easy to forget the complexities of these different writing types.  When I started college, my writing experience wasn’t the vastest. It consisted of MLA formatted essays and the beginnings of stories left unfinished. I didn’t step out into the wide writing world until college. I learned APA, how to write press releases, and after a while, poetry writing. In a move that was both scary and exciting, I managed to weasel my way into an English major’s class as a Journalism major. I had pitched it to my advisor as a great way for me to hone my writing skills in case I wanted to be a copywriter. Whatever it takes right? 

Before I took this class, I had mildly ventured out into the world of poetry. When an emotion became too vivid, it was somehow easier for me to channel into poetry than anything else. I even got a few published in my university’s publication. But I didn’t consider myself enough to be a poet. The world of poetry is vast and intimidating, especially for a girl who doesn’t consider herself a writer. Because my poetry wasn’t deep or full of clever author choices, it didn’t feel good enough. Needless to say, my imposter syndrome was pretty high when I walked into my poetry class. 

Thankfully, my professor was encouraging and not at all condescending towards my writing. Which was a blessing to me, because my writing felt juvenile compared to some of the works we were reading. During that time, we kept a journal and had the task of writing a few poems in it a week. As the semester progressed, I felt less perturbed by the blank page when it was time to write. In fact, I sometimes found myself jotting down an idea on my phone to write in the journal later. It was so exciting to feel the current of creativity flowing out of me. Even if my writing wasn’t as “sophisticated” as my classmates’, I was happy with what I had. 

I found that my PR classes helped a lot with my writing instead of hindering it. In a press release, you have to include as much information as possible within a limited word count. Because of this, you have to be strategic when choosing your words. I found this also true when I was writing poetry for class. When you craft a poem, each word you choose matters. It was challenging, but also comforting in its familiarity. I channeled the wisdom I learned from my JMC classes to help me, especially when I was editing my poetry. 

Taking a poetry class also helped my writing skills in my JMC classes. This class allowed me to explore a new writing style that was actually super helpful in my JMC classes. During the time of my poetry class, I was working on a campaign for an advertising competition with my class. The writing experience I got in my poetry class helped me edit the copy for the ads we were pitching. I  discovered that it also helped with my brainstorming process. I guess they both pull from the same pool of creativity! 

In the end, I found my experience in my poetry class to be a big help to my writing and creativity. What about y’all? Have you ever taken a poetry class, and what was the experience like? How did it help out in other parts of your life? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing everyone!

Why I love Fairy Tale Adaptations

Did the title of this blog post give you déjà vu? If so, then you know that I’ve already nerded out once before about adaptations. What can I say, they’re a fun genre that I can’t resist.  But I’ve scratched the smallest surface of the genre. Last time, I spun a tale of my history with mythology adaptations. Today, it’s time to jump back down the adaptation rabbit hole. I wanted to nerd out over my first literary adaptation love: fairytale adaptations. 

Like many kids, I grew up reading fairy tales. My personal favorites were Grimm’s fairy tales. I loved the countless little stories about animals, heroes, and magical creatures. My childhood book of fairy tales had a worn spine by the time my sister and I got older. Even as a 25-year-old, I still have a book full of the complete Grimm’s fairy tales. But I did go through a phase where the traditional fairy tales seemed a bit stale. Sure, I loved the classics, but there are so many times that you can reread The Golden Goose. During that time, I began to notice a lot of fairytale adaptations entering the reading scene. There was Y.A. rom-com adaptations, more adult takes, and the classic “dark-retelling” of some classic tales. 

One of the first adaptations I remember reading was Cinderellis and the Glass Hill by Gail Carson Levine. It was a fun twist on the story of Cinderella, with some elements of other stories sprinkled in with a bit of humor. Levine has done many other fairytale adaptations, like Ella Enchanted and Fairest. Her versions of these classic tales made me interested in the art of storytelling. When I was older, books like Geek Charming introduced me to a fun and quirky way to retell some of my favorite fairy tales. 

Reading these stories excited me because of the creativity involved. Sure, these stories aren’t new, but it’s so fun to see where the twist comes in. Sometimes it’s witty humor or a deep sense of world-building.  Or it could be genderbent characters and modern settings. These elements give fresh life to the stories, and even expand on some parts of the original tales.   You could read the banter of characters interacting who are from different stories. Or you could enjoy a steampunk version of a classic story. The possibilities are endless!

One day, I want to write my own fairy tale adaptation with a twist. In the meantime, I’m delving into interesting fairy tales from many different cultures. It’s so fun to learn about the folklore of these parts of the world. I also love seeing how iconic stories translate in different cultures. What is your favorite fairy tale that you’d love to see adapted in some way? What’s your favorite fairy tale adaptation? Let me know in the comments below! I’m excited to hear your thoughts, and hopefully learn about some new tales. Happy reading everyone!

A Novelist Learns How to Write a Screenplay

The world of writing is vast and full of many different mediums. I have placed myself in the part of that world for novelists and blog post writers. But I often wonder what it’s like for the other worlds of writers. After all, even if the process is similar, the product is so different. In my quest to learn more about writing, I wanted to visit a new section of the writing world: screenplays.

To assist me in my quest to learn more about screenplay writing, I referenced Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. He takes interested scriptwriters through the process of writing, pitching, and more. I’ve read Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, which used Synder’s book as inspiration. I decided to use these two books to compare the processes for writing a novel, and writing a screenplay.

When reading these two books, I discovered that the writing process is very similar. Not a huge surprise, but interesting when you consider one is more of a visual medium. It’s also the case when you consider that Brody’s process took inspiration from Snyder’s book. There are similar genres with the same beats when you are plotting them on your cards and storyboard. The story structure is also very similar, with the classic three acts like the hero’s journey. Dialogue for both types of writing is very important and vital, but “show don’t tell” is still king. 

It was interesting to me that one of the big differences in these processes is the prep and pitch work. When prepping for a screenplay, you focus on a one-sentence pitch to get the story across, aka the logline. It has to get the point across, and tell executives the target audience and how much it’ll cost. Also, you have to be able to picture the movie poster from your logline. A very hefty sentence! In novel writing, you have a bit more wiggle room, and you don’t have to worry about cost and target audience as much. Snyder says that you have to test your logline out in the real world to see if it fits. Instead of passing it along to your peers like you might do for your novel, you pitch it to anyone. Strangers in line with you at a coffee shop? Check. Your neighbor who you see when you take out the trash every morning? Also yes. It’s a more extroverted approach to testing the waters, and it makes more sense. In screenplays, the target audience aims to be as mass-market as possible. This makes it simpler to sell to executives and audiences. So testing it out with a bunch of different people is a great way to see if it falls into that realm. 

The pitch work has some overlap. You sometimes need an agent, but who you know can be the most important thing. What interests me is how creative you can get with the pitches. Sure, you can get creative with novel pitches, but not like the examples Synder lists. Synder and his writing partner sold a movie with a unique approach. They sent kids to executive’s with backpacks full of fake money and the pitch to help visualize the story. He mentions many other examples of how writers get executives in the mood to hear their story. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s still a fun and interesting approach to marketing. As someone who works in advertising, these out-of-the-box ideas are exciting. 

Did reading this book give me hope that someday I could write a screenplay? A bit. I still have a lot to learn before I can cross that off my bucket list. Have you ever written a screenplay? How was the process different from novel writing in your eyes? If you haven’t, what kind of screenplay would you like to write? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

Researching as a Writer

Writing a story involves a lot of steps. That’s stating the obvious to any writer who’s ever gotten a story idea. With things like world building, writers spend immense time on stories before the storytelling begins. Character design? With the character sheets out there, who knows how long that could take. Depending on the story and writer, one of these time-consuming steps is research. 

Research is the bane of some people’s existence. There are those who write and then decide to go back and research later to confirm. I am not one of those people. As you’ve most likely gathered from my previous posts, I am a fan of research. In fact, I find myself journeying down research rabbit holes instead of writing.  I can sit down for an hour of writing and spend thirty minutes of that time researching historical facts. 

During my trips down the research path, I’ve learned some very random and strange facts. Many of these things I have found through the glory of writing boards on Pinterest or the land of Google. If you’ve ever befriended a writer, they will tell you that the research is only for storytelling. And remind you often. This is not to concern you, only to make you less freaked when you check out their Pinterest. I’ve had friends ask me what I was up to because I kept pinning stuff about gunshot wounds and fighting tactics. Now they know not to ask questions because I’ve taken to pinning these oddities to my writing board.

Researching leaves you with information that’s useless outside of writing and trivia games. As someone who loves learning, I get excited when I have the opportunity to tell someone one of these facts. Is someone curious about ways to find out if someone’s lying via body language, I have a few suggestions. You never know, your research may pay off in the real world too.

What is something interesting you’ve learned while researching for a story? Do you like to research before or after you finish a rough draft? Let me know in the comments below! I’m excited to learn about other people’s process during this stage. Thanks for reading everyone, and happy writing!

Rejuvenating with Writing

 It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that things have been a bit rough for a lot of people recently.  We’re all grasping at straws to find some hint of what used to be normal, while trying to grow and change at the same time. On the whole, it can get a bit exhausting. Sometimes you have to take a break from the glaring reality flashing in your face. Whether it’s gardening, Zoom calling your friends, or reading a book, you need something to rejuvenate your spirit. To keep you on the path towards a brighter future.

For the longest time, the only thing that fell into this category for me was reading. Then music joined the mix, but it’s a bit difficult to quietly practice a clarinet in an apartment complex. Especially when everyone is at home to hear your cringey attempts at relearning scales. Reading has been a comfort to me, but I’ve also found that writing has joined the ranks as well. When I write, that is. Writing can ebb and flow in my life to extreme degrees. So, when it is in my grasp, I snatch it up like a child catching a lightning bug. Cupped firmly-but delicately- in two hands, to see the glow of inspiration between fingers. 

Writing this blog has been a mixed bag for me right now. Some days, I can feel the ideas for future content flowing from me. But only when I’m in a location where writing said ideas down is an impossibility. Most days it feels like a chore, but one that I enjoy doing once I’m in the middle of it. I’m sure you have something in your life like that right now. 

But the nice thing about writing right now, despite my lack of inspiration, is time. Time to focus on research rabbit holes about 1920s archaeologists, or invent an underground network of spies. If you feel stuck in the rejuvenating hobby, try a new strategy. For me, this new strategy is research or character sheets. I can pull myself into parts of writing that normally won’t cross my mind until I’m in the thick of a writing session. Researching might not add words to the page, but it can add ideas to my mind that I can pluck out later when I’m stuck. Designing a new character might put their words on the page in a new way. It’s also a great way to learn about how your characters will interact differently with each of the characters in your novel.  

If you’re like me, staring at your lack of life progress in frustration, take time to rejuvenate. If you feel stuck, try that new strategy. Take a new look at another piece of it that will help the big picture. Rabbit holes of researching or learning about writing are some ways that I’ve kept my big picture. How will you help yours? What are you doing, or are wishing that you could do, to reignite your spirit? Let me know in the comments below. Stay safe out there everyone, and happy writing. 

 

6 Tips for Naming a Character

There are many things to figure out when creating a story. Where does it take place? What’s going on? Why are your characters involved? One of the most important aspects to figure out is something that can be deceivingly difficult; your character’s names. Naming a character can be a walk in the park for some, but others can struggle to find that perfect name. Even when you find a good name, it might be up in the air. It might not work for them later on in the story, and then you’re back to square one. When faced with the character-naming struggle, there are a few ways you can find the perfect name. Here are a few tips to help get you on the right path.

1.  Consult the Census

If you are writing a historical novel, or even one that takes place in our modern world, the census is a great asset. This is especially true if you are in the United States and your story takes place in the US as well. First, figure out when your story is taking place. Then, look up “census names for” and then the year or decade of the story. Try to focus on the top 100 or top 150 names when considering your options. This gives you a lot of options, and allows you to use a more unique name if you want. It can also be fun to switch it up a little! If you’re writing a fantasy novel, it might be fun to name your characters names from the 1920s or 1800s. Keep your mind open. You never know what you’ll find!

2.  Graveyards 

This option is a bit creepy, but many authors have used this tactic to name their characters. If you are visiting or live in a city with old graveyards, it’s a huge bonus. Take a notebook with you and write  down names that you find interesting. Write down first and last names so that you can mix and match when you get home. You might find a great name for a character among many tombstones. This option is great for any novel, not only historic ones. If you do this, there are of course a few rules. Most important, be respectful. Don’t write down the name of someone who’s family is in the cemetery with you. Also, only visit when the cemetery is open and you are able to go inside. As long as you follow these rules, this is a great option to get those creative juices flowing. 

3. Baby Name Sites

This a more obvious option, but still a great way to find a name for your character. You can search baby names by region, time-period, origin, and meaning.  If you’ve already figured out some attributes of your character, try searching names with meanings that match. Or, you can name your character a name that represents who they will become by the end of the story. Baby name sites are also great because they have an endless list of names that can expand your horizons. If you want your character to have an E name but you’re avoiding Emily or Edward, these sites will give you some great options. They also have names by region and origin, which you can use to find names that match your character’s family background or location. 

4. Shakespeare…and other historical texts

He’s back on my blog already! This might not be ideal for all genres, but Shakespeare is a great resource for character names. His plays have interesting names and names that are common even today. You can edit these names to fit in a modern setting, such as a character named Titania who goes by Nia. Many of these names also work in a fantasy setting. After all, Hermione from Harry Potter got her name from Shakespeare! You can also check out classics novels and mythology for name inspiration. 

5. Name Generators

When all else fails, these are a great inspiration for character names.  There are generators that spit out completely random names. They’re both fun and helpful for characters in our world. There are also generators where you can narrow down the name options by many factors. Either way, you should get many name ideas from this option. As you go, write down the names that the generator recommends to you. Then you can go back to these options later and choose between them. You can also get inspiration for other characters in the future! There are so many generators to choose from, but I found Name-Generator.org.uk has some good options. You can check them out here

6. Family Tree

This might seem a bit weird, but it’s a great way to find names. If your story takes places in the 1930s, consult your family tree (if you have one) for the time that your characters were born. So if your characters are in their 20s in the 1930s, look at your family tree for peopl born in the 1910s. If you have the information available to you, looking at names on both sides of your family is a great way to come up with a unique name. For one of my stories, I named a character after the first name of my great-great paternal grandmother. Her last name was from my maternal great-grandmother’s side of the family. This is also a great way to get to know your family better while you’re writing a story! Or find some wacky names in your family history. 

Have you ever tried these tactics to name your characters? What is your favorite way to find names for your characters? Let me know in the comments below! If you’ve found a way to name your characters that I haven’t mentioned, leave a comment. I’m always looking for new ways to approach the writing process! I hope this post has helped you jump start your character-naming process. Thanks so much for reading and happy writing!

Impostor Syndrome: A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

It’s that time of the day. Time to crack open a notebook or open your laptop with a mission to write. Before jumping into the creative pool inside your mind, the blank space makes your brain pause. Your brain starts to buzz, thoughts blurring together into a frenzy. Among the sound of trapped bees buzzing in your head, one thought is loudest of all. Can I really do this? 

Creativity is a vast and diverse landscape, but people still deal with this question. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of pulling stories or notes out of thin air to create new projects. While it’s prevalent in all fields, it blossoms in creative ones like a weed. If you’re not careful, it can kill the flowers in your garden of creativity. Impostor syndrome is a tricky thing, after all.

Impostor syndrome is hard to ignore. When all you want to do is write, but you can’t help thinking about those who are better than you. It doesn’t matter that those authors have been practicing for ages to get where they are. The evil impostor syndrome plays a Jedi mind trick on you to miss those obvious facts. As someone who often faces this looming figure, it can be a daunting obstacle. Especially in a creative city.

A few years ago, I moved to the creative and bustling city of Nashville, TN. It was so exciting to surround myself with music, art and writers. When I did my first year of NaNoWriMo in Nashville, I realized that so many people had the same skill as me. But they wrote like they had perfected their writing skills at Oxford or Yale. Meanwhile, I was in the corner creating middle-school level stuff in comparison. Instead of meeting with groups to discuss my writing, I hid in a local Panera and worked by myself. I felt terrified that they would look down on me for my writing, even though I never met them. I was an impostor in the writing community, and it was only a matter of time before they found out.

Not much has changed since I first dipped my toe into the writing world. I often look at the wonderful, creative people and have that same question floating in my head. It even almost prevented me from starting this blog. I started it four times before I finally shut up that doubting voice and hit post. I have to remind myself that practicing is as important for writing as it is for playing instrument. I can’t reach my potential without taking the time to fail. 

That’s something I would encourage everyone in a creative field to remind themselves. You have to fail to learn, and it’s okay if you keep stumbling. What matters is that you get back up and keep going. Who knows what might lay in store for you down the path you’re traveling. When impostor syndrome blocks the path, you have to stand tall and deal with the obstacle. The other side of it might bring out something new in you that you could never predict.

Happy writing everyone! Never let impostor syndrome stop you from doing what you love.

The Mind of a Writer

To the outside world, writers can seem like an enigma. They pull plots and characters out of thin air. Creations that pull us into new worlds and exciting lives much different than our own. How can a person scribbling into a notebook or typing like a madman on a computer create these new worlds?  People have been doing it since we learned to write, but it can still be baffling to those lacking a writer’s brain. What is it like inside their heads? 

A writer’s brain is different from person to person, much like their writing process. Some writers have a fountain of ideas that they can pull out of their mind on a rainy day. Others have ideas pop into their heads rarely and at inconvenient moments. They have to scramble to get things down, otherwise it will flutter away on the wind. 

Despite the varying ways writers approach writing, the minds of writers are similar. Most people pulling characters out of thin air have brains full of little details. Details about the world and the people in it that they use to build characters. I’ve often found myself people-watching to figure out how people walk or speak to file away for later. Or I’ve taken a gazillion pictures of an area that I want to include in a story. Writers have a knack for observation. You never know, you may find a story idea in the color of a flower or an overheard conversation. 

Writing also calls for an ability to come up with tough situations for your characters to deal with. Some are familiar to the writer, while others are out there in a magical realm with no context. Some writers have an overthinking brain, which they can use in this situation. Writers with this type of brain can come up with worse case scenarios for anything. While it’s not great for everyday life, it can create compelling stories. It’s also helpful for those with writer’s block needing to up the ante on a story. If a writer can’t figure out all the details, Google is their BFF. It creates a weird search history, but helps get the job done. 

One of the most important things in a writer’s brain is empathy. Sure, creativity is up there, but compassion is key. Empathy helps a writer get inside the head of a character who is nothing like them. It’s hard to create someone who appears to be a fully-fledged human in the world of the story. With an understanding of those different to them, writer’s can create those characters. It’s more interesting to learn about characters who are different from their creator. Yet they still came out of that person’s mind. 

If you think about it, writing is weird, especially fiction writing. Pulling these things out of thin air takes a mind geared for the challenge. Across the genres, writers have to tap into a side of them that others might not use often. It’s how we’ve been able to visit our favorite worlds and meet the characters we love. Without a writer’s brain, weirdness and all, the world would be a boring place.

3 Ways Reading Improves Your Writing Skills

If you talk to a writer in the throes of their writing process, you’ll hear a similar thought: “writing is hard”. This is especially true when you’re kind of new to writing, like me. If it’s a writer with the cursed writer’s block, the feeling is tenfold. There are many different ways to help improve your writing skills. Among this list of ideas is one that some writers stay away from like it’s the plague; reading. 

Reading, believe it or not, can be a huge asset to your writing skills. This is a fact that most writers know well, but some still shake their heads at the idea. Reading novels, especially ones in the same genre that you’re writing, is a great way to hone your craft. Think about a book that you love the most in the genre. What do you like about it?  Why do you return to the novel over and over again? Considering these questions can help you improve three aspects of your story. 

1. Stronger Characters

Oftentimes our favorite stories give us examples of how to improve our characters. Reread the novel and consider a few things as you read. What are the strengths of these characters? What are their weaknesses? Are there traits that make them especially likable? If it’s a villain/antagonist, how do they challenge the protagonist? Also, how do all the characters add to the plot progression?

Keep a notebook or laptop beside you and take notes. Consider some of the questions I asked and any others that you feel are important. After you’ve compiled a list of these traits, think about how you can apply them to your novel. Make sure you’re not copying and pasting these characters into your own story. They are inspiration, not parts of a story to recycle. If I recycled traits from Poirot and created a similar Belgian sleuth, it would be obvious. Instead, use general descriptions of the characters you admire and adapt them to your own. Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes? Instead of creating a carbon copy of the sleuth, hone in on what makes you like him. If it’s his observation skills, use that to create a character with sharp skills in a different way. They could be a smart socialite who can read people from their years of training. Or, they could be a dedicated Doctor who spends hours studying their patients to be the best Doctor they can. 

In some genres it can be hard to take inspiration without people noticing, like the mystery genre. If you have an observant person solving a case, people are going to think of Holmes. Make sure you add other traits to your characters to make them more than a carbon copy.  

2. Honed Writing Style

Deciding on a writing style can be a tricky task. You have to consider the genre, the story, the characters, and what you want to say with your story. This is when consulting books in the same genre is a must. When reading them, pay attention to their style. Are they witty? Is the writing painting a vivid world, or one left up to the reader’s imagination? What kind of words and sentence structure do they use? Is it more light-hearted or serious?

Get that notebook or laptop out again and keep the notes flowing. Jot down some keywords to describe the writing styles you gravitate towards. Do this for stories within and outside the genre you’re writing. Use these words to find the commonalities. If you find the witty and punchy style of Terry Pratchett up your alley, think about why. How can you adapt it to help improve your style? I find it also helps to read the novel that inspires you right before writing. If you have the style and vibe fresh in your mind, it’s way easier to channel it in your own story. Make sure you’re not copying, instead use that style to pull a similar vibe out of your own writing skills. 

3.  Well-formed Plots

Plotting has always been the bane of my existence. I can jump around and write scenes, but putting them into a coherent plot is another story. When I’m lost I look to stories within the genre that I want to write. If you experience a similar situation, ask yourself a few questions while reading. What plot structure are they using? How do they build the story so that the end makes sense? If it’s a mystery, how are they dropping hints to the readers? What about the story structure makes the climax impactful? 

As you’ve suspected, it’s time to take notes. Think about some of the questions I’ve asked, as well as any others you find important to your story. Also, pay attention to how the plot impacts the characters. A good plot has to include character growth! If you can get your hands on a book on plot structure, it’s also a great help. I read Save the Cat Write a Novel by Jessica Brody. It was a real lifesaver! Once you have all your notes complied, try plotting out your own novel. Writing key plot points on notecards and placing them on a wall is a great way to organize. If you want to challenge yourself, try using this method to visualize the plot of the novel you studied. Once you have it in front of you, take notes or pictures of the sections of the plot that you want to put into your own story. With these ideas at hand you can get off to the races!

How does reading improve your writing skills? Is there a novel that inspired you to write? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that you can apply some of this advice to your own stories in the future. Good luck with your writing, and happy reading!

4 Fun Writing Activities to Pass the Time

The past few months have been a crazy time for the world. With the quick spread of COVID-19, many are taking to self-isolation to slow it down. I have been under self-isolation for a little over a week. Working from home has been nice in some ways. I don’t have to put on makeup, my alarm goes off later, and I am steps away from all the snacks. But like most, I am feeling the side effects of being in one place by myself. I’ve found myself refreshing social media every ten minutes, hoping for something new. Despite the endless fountain of content, I’ve been stuck on mindless YouTube.

Today I decided that I needed to use this extra time to my benefit. I will take the time to work on crafts I haven’t touched in months, to watch new things I’ve been meaning to check out. Podcast marathons? Yes, please! One of the most important crafts that I want to focus on is my writing. Writing is something that both stimulates the mind and helps pass the time. In an attempt to help myself focus on writing and preventing my mind from turning to mush, I have made a list. A list that I thought might help my fellow writers keep their craft going. If you need some inspiration, these four ideas might help you get the creative juices flowing!

1. Writing Prompts

As most writers know, writing prompts are a great way to get yourself into the writing groove. They allow you to exercise your creativity and explore new story ideas. If you feel stumped by a story you’re working on, writing prompts are a great way to refocus your mind. They’re also full of intriguing situations that are fun to write about!

There are many ways to find writing prompts. You can find books full of prompts on Amazon. Writing Prompts on Tumblr and Instagram is another great source for prompts. They also post responses sometimes, which is a great way to get inspiration from others. Also, some sites offer writing prompt generators. It keeps you on your toes and might even give you a great story idea!

2. NaNoWriMo but in March!

Looking for a challenge to keep your writing mind sharp? Try doing a mini version of NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo challenges writers to write a novel in November. There are many of us who don’t know how long they will be social distancing, so a month challenge won’t work. Try doing a two-week version, focusing on a story idea you want to flesh out. Challenge yourself to write around 1,500 words a day if possible. 

There are countless ways to enter the NaNoWriMo challenge that you can adapt to the mini version. If you did the November challenge last year, you can take this time to edit and expand your current story. Or, you can go in with nothing at all. Use this mini-challenge to build characters, worlds, or form new ideas. It’s surprising how much writing you can get done in two weeks! If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo, you can check it out here.

3. Write about what’s around you

People always say to write what you know. You can take that advice and use it to describe the world around you. This is a great exercise to help improve your descriptions in writing. Try focusing on one side of the room or section of your backyard. Include more description than you think necessary. Or, if you need to work on character descriptions, focus on people or pets in your house.

This exercise is also a sneaky way to get you out into nature. As long as you are social distancing, visiting nature great for both your writing skills and mind. Nature often has a multitude of colors, textures, and sounds. It’s a gold mine for writers!   Smell the flowers! Listen to the birds chirping. Take a notebook with you and jot down words and phrases to describe them. You can also take pictures on a walk and describe the objects you captured. Taking a few minutes to observe nature will also be a nice break for your brain.

4. Collaborate with other writers online!

Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary practice. If you have fellow writing friends, try hosting a Zoom writing party. You can talk about story ideas, read sections for editing, and have a great time! Try creating a theme for each online hangout. One might be all about worldbuilding. During another, you could talk about building characters in fun ways. You can also do the other things on this list with other writers online. 

If you don’t have friends who are fellow writers, try searching around the internet. Many writing forums are already created on Reddit, Tumblr, NaNoWriMo, and more. Make sure you do your research before joining an online forum. What are they talking about? Do the people meld well with your personality? Are you comfortable sharing personal information or writing with the group? Like in-person groups, these are important questions to ask yourself before joining. If you are positive that this group is for you, a fun future awaits you!

What are you doing to keep your writing brain active during this time of self-isolation? What other ways have you coped with the long days? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that this post has given you some groundwork for good ways to spend your self-isolation. This is a crazy time for the world right now. For many of us, the best thing we can do is self-isolate to prevent the spread. During this time, you’ll get bored and miss some aspects of daily life missing due to closures. But this is the right thing to do. Call a friend. Play a board game. Have a writing party with your friends online. We’ll beat this, and soon will be enjoying the lovely sunshine with our friends and family close to us. Happy writing and stay healthy!