NaNoWriMo for the Win!?!




Almost there. . .


It’s that time of year. The gourds are littering the front entrances to the market, cinnamon and allspice are being piped into the space at every shop in town, and your writer-ly friends are all heavily caffeinated, mumbling to themselves about word counts and singing the calendar song from grade school to see if November somehow sprang an extra day at the end of it.

Yes, this week will bring with it the consumption of succulent eats for all of us American writers (either meaty or veggie–all are welcome at the table). And it will also bring the home stretch of NaNoWriMo.

Many writers start out the month like a shiny new penny, with plot-line drawings and excel spreadsheets of word count / story arc intersection points. And then. . . well, you know. We oxidize.

Life happens.

I found myself swamped with grading and more grading for my courses, a deluge of wonderfully vibrant (albeit hectically scheduled) concerts for my children, and a scraped-up pinky finger from a dog-walking incident that left me slightly handicapped at the keyboard. You never realize how much you use ‘a’, ‘q’, and ‘z’ until you have to experience a shock of pain every time you try to get them up on the screen via the traditional “typist” pose you learned in high school typing lab.

But, I made it through and so did many other writers. Six more days, 7,000 more words, and an ending that allows me to go to bed at night thinking ‘That works’ before drifting off to sleep. Which is the best compliment our subconscious can give us, right?

If you are still in the beginning stages, or right there in the middle–keep going. Nov. 30 isn’t the end–it’s only the beginning.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Story Ideas: Mining for Podcast Gold

I *heart* you, podcasts!
I *heart* you, podcasts!

NaNoWriMo is coming, as you’ve probably heard, which means all of us writerly types are scrambling for ideas so that we don’t face the dreaded writer’s blockade once it turns to November.  One place I have always found inspiration for stories, characters, and plot points are podcasts.

Now, I know we are in an age where you can find a podcast about pretty much anything (here’s looking at you, podcast inception), but below I list a few of my ultimate favorite sources of inspiration.  Since my writing tends towards examinations of human behavior and relationships, many of these podcasts focus on exploring our own complex species.

  1. This American Life.  Classic tight reporting with a thematic focus each week. Covers everything from immigration to murder to holiday stories.  Not to be missed, and their archive is absolutely worth the dive down the rabbit hole.
  2. Fresh Air.  Terry Gross is a phenomenal interviewer. Listen to enough episodes in a row and you’ll feel like you’re at the most eclectic and delightful dinner party with its masterful hostess keeping the good conversation flowing.
  3. StoryCorps. It doesn’t get more approachable than this podcast.  Ordinary people sharing how the extraordinary touched their lives. It regularly makes me cry out of its sheer realness.
  4. On Being. Listen to our world’s top thinkers, artists, and activists share their thoughts on faith, spirituality, and human connection. The interview with John Lewis changed my view of the world, and my writing, in profound ways.