Camp NaNoWriMo Excerpt 1

Since I have started playing D&D I have discovered that I absolutely love creating character backstories. It’s to the point that I decided to turn the story of a character I haven’t even played yet into a novel. That is actually what I have been working on for Camp NaNoWriMo (as you probably guessed by the title of this post).

Here is a little sneak peek at what I have written so far.  What do you think?

The captain and the bard

“Here you are, Marisol. I am putting your bell right here. I will come to collect you when the market closes.”

“Thank you, Ryan,” she replied, settling carefully into her normal spot on the street in the heart of Neverwinter. Once she was settled she held up her hands expectantly. He placed a small stringed instrument in one hand and a bowl full of cloth in the other. As he turned and walked away she rested the instrument on her lap, spreading the cloth carefully before her and placing the bowl in the center. Then she leaned back against the wall and waited.

People slowly started emerging from their homes, many of them shopkeeps in the process of setting up for the day. A few noticed her and called out greetings, which she received with a smile and a nod. She perked up slightly at the scent of freshly baked goods drifting from the bakery two doors down. Still, she waited for more people to arrive, resting against the cool stone wall, keeping an ear out for footsteps. 

After a few minutes of waiting, a pair of footsteps approached her, causing her to perk up slightly. The feet were accompanied by the scent of fresh bread.

“Gift from the baker, miss. It didn’t come out quite right looking, but chef says it should still taste alright.”

“Why thank you,” she responded, accepting the pastry. It indeed felt misshapen, but it was still warm and smelled wonderful, so she did not complain. The person hesitated.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked. 

“Well, chef and some of the workers are in a bit of a mood. This dreary weather ain’t helping any. I know you usually wait until people show up to start playing, but if you wouldn’t mind…I know your music always puts people in a good mood.”

“Absolutely. It is no trouble.”

“Thank you, miss.”

“You can call me Marisol.”

“Thank you, Miss Marisol.” 

She chuckled slightly as the boy ran off back towards the bakery. The air was indeed cooler and damper than she had expected. Not enough so to cause concern, but just enough to make one feel rather morose. 

A smile slowly spread across her face as she picked up her lute and began strumming. Gentle music started to fill the street, softly at first, then growing in volume. It was a tune she knew the baker was particularly fond of, as he often sent someone to request it when she played near his shop. Once the song was done she paused to eat part of the pastry, stashing the remainder in her pocket for later. 

Around her, she heard the signs of business as people began trickling into the market. As the shop keepers days began, so did hers. She picked up her lute and began to play once more. It was not a particular song that she played, but one that she wrote as she played, mind filled with the notes, reveling in the joy of playing just to play. Sometimes she would dip into popular tavern songs or pieces of epic ballads that she had picked up listening to other performers. 

As she played she listened to the conversations happening around her. One of the perks of living in Neverwinter was the constant influx of travelers and traders from across the known world. That meant her audience was constantly changing in its composition. They also did not always realize that she and her fellow street performers were homeless. It was why they worked to wear the nicest of clothes and had long ago made deals with several of the shop keepers and traders operating in the market square. Their operation was a mutually beneficial one, and it did well to keep the rest of the homeless population fed and clothed at the very least. 

Coins plunked into her bowl sporadically throughout the morning hours. Some people would request certain songs along with their coin. She was only happy to comply. Others would merely drop in a coin and keep walking. Oftentimes people would stop to speak with her between songs, asking about her life and her skill and if she took payment aside from the coin. Hardy fruits and vegetables found their way onto the cloth, as well as a small amount of dried meat. She quickly gathered those into her small satchel to make sure they didn’t get eaten by any animals. 

Around midday, she caught a conversation between members of the crew of a foreign vessel. She perked up immediately upon recognizing them. Their captain brought them into port every few months and many of the crew would stop by her performance at least once. They were nice people, though she was not entirely sure what they did. She didn’t question, though, as the captain was often very generous. 

She heard his distinctive voice coming up the street and changed the tune she was playing to that of a sea shanty his crew often requested. A few of them stopped and began singing along. It ended up drawing quite the crowd, as it was a genuinely delightful and adventurous song that the crew sang quite well. When the song ended, she set the lute down, grinning.

“I had a feeling you all would be in town soon. How was your latest voyage?” she asked. Small showers of coins and trinkets found their way into her bowl as the crew shared their tale.

She always enjoyed it when they came, bearing tales of adventure and sea creatures and mysterious treasures. True, their tales ate up the time she could be performing for coin, but she didn’t mind. She rather enjoyed the break, as well as the coin they donated, along with the excess wares they shared with her. It was often clothing and blankets and bags, sometimes even shoes and accessories. Whatever didn’t immediately get grabbed up by her fellow street performers was dispersed among the rest of the homeless community or sold. 

The captain, as usual, stayed towards the back and did not say much. She knew he was there, though, shifting back and forth, keeping an eye out as his crew arranged their donations around me and spun their tales. After about twenty minutes, he cleared his throat.

“I am afraid we must continue onward. We have a meeting that needs attending. I hope you have a wonderful day, ma’am.”

The crew complained good-naturedly and bade their farewells. She wished them well, scoping some of the coin into my pockets along with the food and other trinkets. They had left a small barrel of mead, which she carefully moved to sit right next to her. The clothing and shoes went to the other side, tucked up next to her so her elbow would brush against them. Long years of performing on the street told her to keep such things close. 

Several hours later things were finally beginning to wind down in the market. Most of the street vendors had already packed up for the day and many of the shops were slowly starting to close things down. Marisol continued to play, though, as she had nothing better to do until Ryan came to collect her. She finished the song she was playing and lowered her lute, sighing.

“Are you going to say something, or are you just going to stand there?” she asked.

“How did you know I was here?” the captain asked, shifting uncomfortably.

“Just because I am blind doesn’t mean I don’t notice things,” she commented. “Plus, I heard you telling some of your crew you would meet them at the ship. You normally go with them when leaving the market, if you don’t already have a room at an inn. That means you want something and the fact that you have been standing there, sighing every few second, means it is something to do with me.”

He chuckled, stepping closer to her.

“I see you are far more observant than I gave you credit, my dear. May I ask your name?”

“Marisol. And you are?”

“Captain Cutler Everit of the PIRATE SHIP NAME.”

“Ah, so that is the name of the ship.  I have been meaning to ask every time you come into port. Where do you hail from?”

“We hail from all over.”

“So you have no home port then? Or is Neverwinter your home?”

“The sea is our home.”

“How interesting.”

“If you don’t mind, I was wondering if you would be willing to join me for a drink at the tavern just down the road. There is something I wish to discuss with you.”

One Video Every Creator Needs to Watch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz4YqwH_6D0&t=39s

A friend of mine shared this video on his audio drama Discord server earlier this week. At first, I ignored it because sometimes the people on there can be super snarky. Then I started seeing other people responding to the video. So I watched it. And it was a giant kick in the butt.

We all go through this. We all deal with it. The toolbox fallacy. That constant fear of failure that keeps us from doing what we want to do until we have everything just right. Everything has to be perfect before we show it to anyone. Before we bring it into being.

I suffer from this myself. Constantly. I agonize over blog posts. I overthink my short stories. I rarely showed any of my writing to anyone. 

It was not until recently that I finally found the courage to just do it. Just get started. Move forward. Create my art and live my life one step at a time.  I started one podcast. And then I started another. I’m looking into audio dramas now. I spend most of my time talking to my people about doing things they are passionate about, both on and off my podcast.

I still have my days where I worry that I am not good enough. Where I worry that my plan has failed, that all of my work has been a waste. Where I start to wonder if maybe there is something else I should be doing.

On days like that, I rely on my network. My tribe. The group of people I have surrounded myself with, who support me in my creative endeavors. They are creators like me. Dreamers like me. Without them, I might not have the strength to keep going. Having that creative community keeps me going when things get tough. 

A lot of the time, the only thing between where you are now and where you want to be is your own self-doubt. We are our own worst enemies. We need to learn to set aside these silly rules we have made for ourselves about how things are supposed to be. 

Sometimes you just need to start creating and figure everything else out as you go. Trust me when I say, you never know what you will find along the way.

But, you don’t get anywhere unless you start. So just start. 

The hard truth about your first draft

All writers, whether they are published or not, tend to agree upon one thing.

The hardest part of being a writer is actually FINISHING the first draft. Its something I myself have done once in all my years of writing. It is kind of sad actually.

So many stories go unfinished because either we lose the inspiration and the drive to continue them (or we get distracted by a shiny new idea). Others get started and restarted so many times that we lose sight of why we started writing them in the first place. Some die the second we tell someone about them and they brush it off as a silly idea.

The reality is, being a writer was never going to be easy. You are going to have to face some harsh truths, especially when it comes to your first draft.

You won’t finish as fast as everyone else

I know there are some people who can write a book in a month, or sometimes all they need is a week. It took me well over a year to finish mine. Some people take a lot longer than that to write the first draft of their book (though they tend to work on and finish others in the meantime).

It can be SO easy to fall into the trap of comparing your progress to that of other writers. I know someone who beat NaNoWriMo in 5 days (she wrote 10k a day). It took me seven years and some fudging of the rules to win.

The truth is, there will always be someone who gets things done faster than you. Maybe they have more discipline. Maybe they have more experience. Maybe their schedule allows for more writing time than yours does. It doesn’t matter

This is your journey and yours alone. So keep your head down, stop checking to see how far along the person next to you is, and get to writing.

It will be the hardest thing you have ever done

As I have mentioned, writing your first draft is going to take a while. This is especially true for those of us with a day job(s). Sometimes it is just hard to find the time to write on top of everything else that we have to do. Add onto that the fact that life is stressful and we tend to continually find ourselves surrounded by people who think writing is a silly waste of time, it can be really hard to stay motivated.

You will also have to deal with the people around you not understanding what you are doing or why you are doing it. I talked a lot about what this feels like in my open letter to the creators who feel alone. This is something that is really hard to face. Hearing the people close to you echoing back your own self-doubts can cripple your creativity and stifle your desire to keep going.

That is why I always highly recommend finding and joining the online writing community. There you will find people who not only understand what you are going through, but they have been there themselves.

Just because you are the only one who can tell your story, doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. Find people who will support you along this journey, with both encouragement and a kick in the rear when needed.

It is going to be hard to stay focused on the story for a long period of time. There will be days when you have neither the time nor the motivation to write. That is okay. But you have to get back to it tomorrow.

There is also that annoying psychological thing that prevents people from finishing things. I personally struggle with this, as evidenced by the amount of random YouTube videos I will have watched by the time I finally finish this blog post. I don’t know if there is a scientific term for this, but it is very much a thing.

A thing that you will have to find a way to power through. Maybe try asking one of your accountability partners to pester the living daylights out of you until you finish the thing. Or tell literally everyone and their mother that you are going to have it finished by a certain time, so then you have to have it done by that time. Because everyone and their mother is expecting you to.

It’s a very stressful yet effective tactic.

Most of it will be garbage

100% guaranteed, no one is ever going to see your first draft. By the time it is finished and you have taken a step back, you will soon realize that it is a steaming pile of garbage. There is no way around it.

You should still be proud of your garbage heap. You put a lot of work into it. That doesn’t change the fact that none of it is even close to being ready to publish. Don’t worry though. That is completely normal.

No one will ever see the mess that is what I wrote during NaNoWriMo. It was a convoluted hodgepodge of plot points and character building. I still keep a lot of the text in the case that I do end up using some of it, but I have since started a complete rewrite. I now know a lot more about the world, the situation, and my characters’ motivations. I also know how not to write and pace certain scenes.

If you feel like your first draft is too silly or too serious, or that you aren’t sure if you want it to be paced/structured that way, that is totally fine. This is your sandbox, so play around in it. Try different scenes from different angles. Dig through the layers of fluff and descriptions to get to the heart of your story. And, most importantly, don’t worry about what anyone else will think.

Your first draft is you telling the story to yourself, so you can come back and figure out how to tell it to everyone else. It is never going to be perfect. It will likely not resemble the end product. It’s most likely going to be a jumbled mess.

That’s okay, though, because you can edit a messy page. You cannot edit a blank one.

Your first draft only needs to be one thing.

Written.

So get to writing. We have a lot of work to do.

A Word To The Creators Who Feel Alone

People don’t always take creators seriously. Even as a kid growing up I knew that my passion for writing could never be more than a hobby. I never invested in my not too shabby drawing skills because I knew nothing would come of it.

I learned quickly to spend more time doing what other people considered to be productive and less time on my stories, lest I get yelled at for being lazy.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to realize that it was even possible to make a living as a writer. By that point, I had it ingrained in me that my focus and my efforts were better spent elsewhere. I still feel the urge to hide these interests when around certain people in my life because I know they don’t understand why I care so much about this.

I was born with a desire to tell stories. A desire to create worlds so fantastical and so lifelike that they allow people to escape into a world that is kinder and more accepting than the world they live in. Yet I still struggle with accepting this part of myself.

We creators get so easily bogged down in our own fears and self doubt that we feel like we are all on our own in our futile efforts to create something that will make a difference in the world around us. We feel like nothing we do matters. We believe the lies that the world tells us about how we should be living our lives and try and hide the pain that comes from suffocating our dreams.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because those around us do not understand our desire to create does not mean we are alone. There are entire communities out there full of people born to create. People with words at their fingertips. People who breathe color and think in song.

People who see the world not for what it is, but for what it could be.

Some people just do not understand this. It is on no fault of their own, and no fault of yours. They are simply not wired the same way we are. They do not see the worlds you hold in your head. They do not see the colors and shapes swirling behind your eyes. They do not hear the haunting melodies in your ear.

It is hard for people to understand something as intangible as art. They do not see the hours and hours of work and stress and tears that go into it. They don’t see the world through your passion.

Instead, they see the world through their own filter. If you think about it, we all do. We were all wired in different ways that can make it hard for us to see things through other perspectives. Some people think more logically whereas others think more creatively.

There is nothing wrong with either way of thinking. It is just the way things are. That means there will be a lot of times when you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t see the world the way you do. It is a hard reality to get used to.

But just because they don’t understand, doesn’t mean they don’t care. Often when people are trying to push you towards a different way of life, they do it because they care. They genuinely believe they are helping you in the best way they can.

It can be challenging to get used to, speaking from personal experience. It takes time to learn to see past a person’s words and hear their intentions. Accept the fact that the way they communicate things and the way you communicate things may not ever synch up. They may never understand exactly why it is that you do what you do.

But that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with what you do.

Different isn’t bad. The world needs different. If everyone saw things the same way, there would be no art, no technological marvels. There would be no growth.

So don’t be ashamed of your passions. Don’t deny your desire to create. Embrace who you are and embrace the wonders you were born to create. Don’t let the world tell you who you should be.

You were created this way for a reason. The world needs you as you are, not as it thinks you should be. Without creation there is no light, there is no growth.

The path will not be an easy one, but then again nothing worth doing ever is. Ask for help. Tell those who love you how they can better support you (because they want too, they just don’t always know how). Find a community of fellow creatives who can help support you and who you can support as you all go on this journey to being who you were meant to be.

The world may feel scary at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if your creating never becomes your career, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create. Life is too short to let your passions die in the pursuit of what the world tells you that you need.

If you are like me, then you need to create. If only for yourself.

Chances are, the world needs it too. So stop hiding behind your insecurities. Stop hiding behind the person you think you should be. Start living the life you want and create the things you were born to create.

The world with thank you for it.

The Lies Writers Tell

If you think about it, writers are natural born liars. It’s basically our job description.

We craft worlds from our words and fill them with living, breathing people who never existed outside of our minds. We imbue them with life and embed pieces of our soul throughout the story.

We twist your expectations to fit where we want you to think the story will end only to turn everything you think you know on its head with a few, well-placed words, leaving you wondering how you did not see it all along.

We have the unique ability to make the familiar seem strange and the strange feel familiar. We can make you question some things while blindly accepting others.

The lies we writers tell are loved by the world because we make people think about things they never really thought about before. We are holding up a mirror that shows the world not the way things are, but the way they could be.

These lies help people become better versions of themselves. They help people connect with others and with themselves in a way nothing else can.

In a way, we aren’t really lying. We are just showing the world a different truth.

The real lies, the dangerous ones, are the ones we tell ourselves.

I can’t make it as a writer

This is often tied to the lie that ‘writing is not a career’ and ‘I am not good enough’. Both painful lies that the world around us has a nasty habit of reinforcing. People look at writing as a hobby. Something frivolous that people do in their free time that is of no real value.

If you are a writer, you are going to have to get used to this. You are going to have to get used to people pushing you towards other careers that they view as more attainable. They are genuinely trying to help. They just don’t understand how painful that kind of job can be to think about. To have people constantly telling you that you will never be able to make it in life doing what you want to do.

It hurts even more when you begin to believe it yourself.

The truth is, you can make a living as a writer. It isn’t easy and is going to take a lot of time and effort, but it is 100% possible. Keep chasing your dreams and you will find a way. You may not be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, but you can still make a living telling stories.

So-and-so is a better writer than me

First off, ‘better’ is subjective. Trust me when I say there is nothing good that comes from the comparison games. There will always be people who have been writing for longer than you, who have more experience in a certain genre, and who have published more books than you have.

I know some people who can churn out 10k words in a single day. I average about 500, maybe 1k if it is a really good day. When it comes to the quality of the content, there really is no comparison. Different people have different tastes. Your style will never match anyone else’s and vice versa.

You have to learn to be comfortable with your own progress and your own style. Lean into what makes you unique. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are a bad writer because you don’t write like someone else. Keep writing. Hone your craft.  

No one cares what I have to say

This is perhaps the most painful lie of all and it is one I still struggle with on a regular basis. I know what causes it too. When people talk over you when you try and tell them about your new story idea. Their eyes glaze over. They zone out, cut you off, and totally change the subject.

Couple that with the sheer volume of novels and novellas and poetry books already in existence, and the fact that most people do not consider writing to be a valid career?

It leaves you feeling like you have no chance. No one is going to like your book, no one will read it. You are just wasting your time.

This is complete and utter nonsense. There are people out there who need to hear what you have to say. They need to hear your story just as much as you need to tell your story. Words have power far beyond what most people will ever realize.

Every single one of these lies ties back to one thing. Imposter Syndrome. That voice in the back of your mind telling you that you are not enough.  The fear and anxiety that keeps you from chasing the life you want.

The important thing to remember, though, is that they are lies. They are the lies we tell ourselves because we fear the unknown of what happens when we take that leap. What happens when we leave behind everything the world tells us we should want in the pursuit of who we truly want to be.

Words have the power and we were born with words at our fingertips.

It is time we use them.

It is time to change the world.

Living a Life on Fire

When you describe something as being ‘on fire’, that can either be really good or really bad. It all depends on the context and the amount of exasperation or sarcasm packed into the sentence.

This is especially true when it comes to life.

I noticed a few weeks ago that I was constantly referring to my life as being “on fire”. What I meant was there are so many things going on all at once that I often feel completely at a loss when it comes to what I should do. The past few months I have felt like I am being pulled in a thousand different directions.

You have experienced that, right? Being torn between who the world tells you that you should be, the person the people around you need you to be, and the person that you want to be? That constant friction between desire in duty? It is a tough place to be.

If you leave your ‘duty’ to follow your dream you face the disappointment and disapproval of those you care about, but if you never allow your dreams to flourish you run the risk of living the rest of your life in regret, wondering what would have happened if you did.

So many people choose to play it safe, sticking with what they know because it is certain. And they spend the rest of their life ignoring that burning desire to do something different, the call to become who they were created to be.

This is something I have been struggling with for a while. The voice in my head tells me that I can never make it on my own, that I need to stick with what I know. Yet the voice in my heart is crying out that I can do this. It may take some time and it will not be glorious at first, but I may just be able to live the life I want.

I don’t want to live my life silently, suppressing that fire inside of me until it eats me alive. I don’t want to be that perfect girl who lives the way the world tells her too.

I want to let that fire loose. I want to live loud. I want to be so unapologetically myself that when people look at me they think “if she did it, maybe I can too.” I know that I was born to create. To craft stories that hold a mirror to the world to show people how things could be. I am done living my life with the thought that I could never make a living doing so. I am going to find my way and I am not going to let anybody stop me.

I know it is not going to be easy, but I am willing to try. This is the kind of ‘on fire’ I want my life to be. I want to live my dream while showing others that they too can live theirs. Too often have I seen other creators struggling with their insecurities, trapped by the thought that they will never be able to live that dream.

The fear that they will never be good enough.

The fear that all of their work is inferior, not worthy of attention.

The crippling pain of knowing their gift will never amount to anything. (which is a lie)

Everyone has a dream. Everyone has a desire to create something to make the world better. And I could geek out about this for HOURS.

That is why I want to create a podcast so I can share my passion and knowledge. I also want to help others share their passion and knowledge.  And I do plan on creating this podcast. I have some work to do to get things ready, but it will be happening sometime this year.

Because I am tired of waiting. I am ready to live my life.

Are you with me?

So You Want to Make a Podcast

Podcasts as a medium are exploding, and I mean exploding. People all over the world are making a living off of their voices. It’s kind of amazing.
I got into a discussion earlier with some friend on Discord about podcasting and what it takes to make one. There were a lot of us who always wanted to make one, but most people don’t know where to begin. It seems scary, complicated.
It doesn’t have to be, though. I have been thinking about podcasting myself. I want to share my love for storytelling and encourage others. I also want to tell stories. For a while, I didn’t know where to begin. Then I started doing research. I asked questions. I learned a lot.
Here is what I have done and learned so far in my journey to becoming a podcaster.
Hopefully, this will help you on your journey.

Step 1: Pick a subject

This can be the hardest part. Picking what you want to talk about. If you are doing a story focused podcast, then this is a little easier. But if you aren’t, never fear.
What are your interests, your hobbies? What are you passionate about? What is something you could talk about indefinitely and still have more to say?
Whatever popped into your mind when I asked those questions, you can make a podcast about that. I don’t care if you think it is silly, because it isn’t. There is an audience who shares the same interest as you.

Step 2: Start planning

Now that you have a subject, it is time to start planning out content. Start brainstorming a list of topics you can cover. Remember, if it is a bigger topic you can break it up into segments. You can do a series of episodes on a topic. There are so many options.
If you are covering a show, you can go episode by episode. If you are doing a more long-form story, like a movie or a book series, do a series of episodes on it.
You also need to start considering a name. When figuring this out, make sure it doesn’t already exist. That way you don’t get emotionally attached to a name you cannot use. Your name can be funny, clever, or simple as long as it is easy to remember.

Step 3: Get your equipment

Before you start worrying about how much this is going to hurt your wallet, take a deep breath. This doesn’t have to break the bank. Audacity is an excellent resource for recording and editing audio and it is completely free. Some people start a podcast using the voice recorder on their phones. Also free.
Buying a good quality microphone doesn’t have to cost a lot either. I bought mine for probably around $50 on Amazon. It may not be the nicest on the market, but it does an excellent job.

Step 4: Just do it

Don’t overthink it. Just do it. Start drafting. Start recording. Have questions? Ask them. Ask Google. Find other podcasters and ask them.
Teach yourself how to edit audio. Pre-record segments you plan on using a lot. Check out what resources are available online.
Don’t forget the music. A 30-second intro jingle can make a big difference. There are plenty of people out there who make music that you can ask to create one for you. You may have to pay for this, but some of them will be flexible for your budget.
Sometimes you need to get out of your own way, stop being afraid of what could go wrong and just go for it. Who knows, it might be a hit.
I am going to do it. Who is with me?

Looking to the Future

There is one question that everyone, at one point or another, gets asked, and it always stumps me. And my answer usually takes more explaining than either party was prepared for.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? X number of years?
My first reaction usually involves a momentary brain choke. Some people may jump immediately into panic mode. It seems like such a simple question but it forces us to stare straight into the great unknown and that can be terrifying.
There are some people who have their whole lives planned out. They know exactly what they want to do, exactly who they want to be. They make those of us who aren’t like that wonder what we are doing wrong.
I wondered that myself for a while. I wondered if I would ever get anywhere in my life.
It took a while, but I finally realized something. There is nothing wrong with me.
I just look at things differently.
You see, part of why the future is so scary is because of the unknown. Often times in stories the most powerful character is the one that has the ability to see the future. We want to have some sense of control over our lives.
The unknown doesn’t have to be scary, though. It can be wonderful.
Things in life rarely go as planned. Life is complicated. It is weird. And above all, it is chock full of the unexpected.
Its okay if you don’t have all the details figured out. Its okay if all you have is a general idea of where you would like to eventually be. It’s okay.
Right now, at this point in my life, given all the variables, I have a general picture of what my life could look like in five years. That is assuming nothing changes.
That assumption is what gives me hope. Because things change. There is no telling what amazing opportunities will wander into your life on down the road.
If you had told me five years ago that I would be sitting here, working on this blog post after finishing a Twitch stream (and the game I was streaming), with a YouTube channel, a few freelance gigs and plans to launch a podcast or two…I would probably have started laughing after the first few items. I never imagined that my life would turn out this way, but I am so glad it did.
Of course, I have plans for the future. A list of things that I would like to have accomplished and a picture of what I want my life to look like. It is all very general, though. Because I want to stay open to whatever comes my way.
There are benefits to being flexible, being adaptable. I learned a long time ago to go with the flow because you never know what will happen. Even when it seems like everything is falling apart, you have to find a way to keep going forward.
Now, I am in no way telling you to not chase your dreams. By all means, chase it. Even if it seems impossible, never stop chasing your dream.
Your chosen job/industry may be hard to get into. I know mine is. It may feel impossible. It is possible, it might be difficult. These things take time, patience, and a fair amount of networking. Find something that will keep you afloat in the meantime. Use that income to fund your dream, and keep your eyes open for any unexpected opportunities.
You never know what life may throw your way. Keep your mind open and be ready for anything.
Never stop dreaming. And never stop hoping for tomorrow.

Write What You Need

Write what you know. One of the most common pieces of writing advice you will ever hear. It’s not wrong either. As writers, we draw from our personal experience to help bring our stories and characters to life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

But it doesn’t always have to be that way.

People are always going to tell you how you should be writing or what you should be writing about. Sometimes they have good advice. Other times they mean well, but they are the opposite of helpful.

Tell the story you want to tell. That you need to tell.

The stories we tell don’t always fit into our personal experiences. Just look at fantasy, sci-fi, and murder mysteries. Literally any form of fiction. While our experiences and opinions influence the stories, you are in no way required to write within your world. Sometimes you need to step outside of what you know and step into what you need.

Writing, in and of itself, is a form of exploration. It is a massive thought experiment full of “what if this…” It is a chance for people to think through things they have always wondered about. A chance for writers to create the world they have always dreamed of. We get to live in a world that is completely our own where, for once, we are in control.

It is a form of escapism for the writer as well as the reader. We all struggle. We all experience hardships. Some of us have struggles that never really go away. We have this baggage that we just have to learn to live with. We all have to face the darkness and there will always be something we wish we could have or experience, that we know will never happen.

Some of the most beautiful stories come from what we wish for, what we want. Writing gives us a chance to hold up a mirror and show the world what needs to change. How the world can be better.

When life gets crazy and things get messy, we don’t need a reminder of how scary the world can be. Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. We are all aware of this. We need to see that things can be better. That life isn’t all bad. That there is hope.

Instead of writing what you know, write what you need. Because chances are the world needs it too.

Just Write

If writers are good at one thing, we are really good at procrastinating when we should be writing. It happens all of the time. I am especially guilty of this. I wrote a story during my junior year of high school and I still have not finished the second draft. I graduated from college in December.

There are lots of reasons we don’t write. We don’t have the motivation. We don’t have the time. We aren’t in the zone. Or, my personal favorite, the story isn’t ready yet.

At least, that is what we say.

We really avoid it because we aren’t ready. There is something holding us back. We are afraid of failure, of rejection. We are afraid to try because we don’t know if anyone is listening.

I know I can’t be the only one who is tired of this. It is time for us to overcome the things that are holding us back and move past everything that is holding us back. It is time for us to start writing.

The thing is, your novel isn’t going to write itself. As amazing as that would be, it is simply not going to happen. You have to sit down, put your fingers on your keys, and get to work.

If your response is “my story isn’t ready yet”, I have something to say to that. I spend about a month prepping a plot outline for NaNoWriMo, got 64 pages through and I could not get the story moving. It was terrible. During that time, though, I created two characters who ended up taking over the story. It turns out I was telling the wrong story about the wrong characters.

My point is, no matter how much preparation you put into your novel the story will change as you write it. It will breathe, grow, take you in directions you never expected. As you write your story will improve because you realize that certain things you have will not work. You find other things that will work better. You find and fill all of the plot holes as you go.

Your story can’t go anywhere if you don’t start writing it.

Another common struggle I see among writers is “why bother writing if no one is going to read it?” We convince ourselves that no one could possibly be interested in what we have to say. This could come from getting shut down when we try and talk about certain things or just a low self-esteem. We think we have nothing to offer.

Sometimes, you just have to write for yourself. Don’t worry about what your friends will think. Don’t worry about your family’s opinion. Don’t worry about what anyone else would say or think. You have a story inside of you, and even if you never show it to anyone else, you should still write it. Get it down on paper. You owe it to yourself to prove that you are capable of writing that story. That you are capable of finishing something.

If you are worried about what other people might think because of the content of the story, you can always publish under a pseudonym. This can also be helpful if you normally write in another genre, to prevent confusion.

Something else to keep in mind if you are worried no one will like your story. Consider this. Are you part of a fan community? Do you share interests and passions with other people? Do you yourself enjoy the story you have created?

If you answered yes to any of these, then I can guarantee that someone somewhere will like your book. I’ll go more into this in a later post, but trust me when I say that if you tell a good story people will like it. They will read it. They will identify with the characters. They will enjoy the plot. They will see that you did it and realize that they can do it too.

But none of this will happen if you never finish the dang book.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some writing to do.