15. Know Your MO | 31 Days

This is post 15/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

On Day 7, I wrote about how I’ve decided to commit to NaNoWriMo next month. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the community at all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. I know, right?

In the world of NaNoWriMo, there are two camps: those who are Planners and those who are Pantsers. In laymen’s terms, those who plan their book ahead of time and those who fly by the seat of their pants and wing it on November 1st. Neither is right or wrong, it’s simply preference. 

I’m a planner. I remember when I was a teen working on my first novel, having character profiles, numbered outlines, chapter summaries, the whole nine. Otherwise, I was just meandering along the pages of a story that I had no control of. Some writers take delight in a story that just goes where it may but my planner’s heart can’t do it. While I don’t have the time for all that intense planning these days, my need to plan ahead of time still calls to me as the November 1st gets closer and closer.

Dwight Eisenhower once said that “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” I don’t know the context from which he said this but it’s an intriguing thought. Planners plan because we believe that the plan is going to help accomplish a goal. But so often life gets in the way and you have to make changes and tweak your plan.

It definitely happens when you write a story. It happens when you plan your day. It happens when mapping out a large project. But while I think that the ability to go with the flow is an important one, planning fulfills an important purpose. It makes you think about the task in front of you. It makes you consider many variables, options, and angles. Planning forces you to slow down and let your mind process the possibilities and address your desired outcome.

Good planners plan as an act of engaging with life and what they want to accomplish. That way, when life does get in the way, they know how to respond, how to get back on track, and where sacrifices and compromises have to be made. 

But you have to know your mode of operation. Are you a planner or a panster? Do you like lists and outlines or do you prefer to just deal with whatever comes to you? I think there needs to be a good balance between the two but you gotta know which comes more naturally to you so you know how to make that balance happen.

Whether it’s writing a 50,000 word novel, creating the menu for the week, planning an event, or drawing up your business plan, understand your MO and determine whether it’s going to serve you best or if you need to make some operational changes.


8. My Writer’s Heart | 31 Days

This is post 8/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I love pencils. Brand new #2 pencils. Ticonderoga are my brand of choice.

I love fine tip pens. I have a hard time with ballpoint. Pilot G-2 07s are my staple. 

I love books. Stacks of books. Stacks and stacks. They follow me everywhere.

I love new notebooks. Spiral bound are comfortable, old friends but legal pads and stenos have quickly found there place in my writer’s heart. 

I love autumn. It’s my favorite season and one of the biggest things I miss about my Chicago childhood. Texas season just aren’t the same. 

I love peppermint tea. And ginger tea. Oh yeah, ginger tea!! And I love hot cocoa. With sweet cream.

I love the way handwriting looks on paper. There’s something about long hand writing that has such beauty. Perfect type on a screen doesn’t convey the same unspoken feeling as an individual’s personal handwriting. Emails and texting have earned their place but I wish letter writing was still a thing. 

Did I mention I love books? I love how they look lined up on my shelves.

I love libraries, and office supply stores. I love quiet coffee shops and bookstores humming with people perusing shelves and flipping through periodicals. 

I love words. Written and spoken. The way a painter must paint and a scientist must experiment, I must write. It’s an interesting pull. It’s insatiable. It’s natural. It’s lovely.

I think anticipating NaNoWriMo is making me extra reflective and introspective and a bit nostalgic for years gone by. But I dug this old piece out 3 years ago. It’s not very good but it’s still true.

I Write In the Morning

I write in the morning when the sun peeks through the trees.

When the air is brand new and the world revived.

When my words are fresh, when my slate it clean.

I write in the morning.

I write when there’s a song in my heart.

When His Word is foremost in my thoughts.

When birds sing.

When wind blows.

When all is peaceful.

When all is well.

I write.


7. The Next Step | 31 Days

This is post 7/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I’ve just committed to NaNoWriMo. Again.

I mean, I’ve got a working title and everything. 

Two attempts in past years and I’ve never finished NaNoWriMo. And my Inner Idiot is poking furiously at me cause he’s totally indignant.

What do you think you’re doing? You have no business trying to write a novel in a month!! You think you’re going to write 50,000 words? Really? When are you going to have time for that!?! You’re kidding me right now!

Yeah, I know, I have no business writing a novel in a month but you know what? It’s a next step. 

Writing for 31 days in a row is a step in the direction of really owning this thing called being a writer. I know that when I get up in the morning, a blog post needs to be written and published before I go to bed that night. Intellectually, it sounds so basic and it is but in reality, it’s so hard. But it’s day 7 and I haven’t skipped a day yet. And I’m committed to the next 24. Who says I can’t crank out 50,000 words in 30 days?

Oh yeah, my Inner Idiot. But who’s listening to him anyway? Moving on.  

I’m a write… Oh, it’s so hard to write or say those words, like I haven’t earned the certification or something but *clears throat* let’s try again.

I’m a writer. But practice isn’t included. I want to be a good writer. I want to treat it like it’s a real thing not just something I do here and there. I’m not trying to write the next American classic, I’m just taking on the challenge of honing in my craft. 

Because writing’s my art. 

I’m kind of on this kick of doing hard things whether or not it’s your passion or are particularly good at it. And that’s just a function of what I’m personally going through. First steps are hard because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Next steps are hard too but now you’re gaining some momentum and that’s got a freak factor all it’s own. But you have to take that first step. And then you have to take the next step. And for me, NaNoWriMo is the next step. 

In college, I had a rhythm to my work. One test after another after another. One set of classes this term and another set the next term. The work was hard but I pretty much knew what the next step was.

But that’s so not how the real world works. More often than not, you take the next step not knowing what you’ll find or how it’ll turn out. You just pray you’ve done your research, asked the right questions and prepared as best you could beforehand.

But you can only prepare so much. At some point you just have to do. Yeah, it’s scary as all get out and yeah, maybe you have ‘no business’ doing it but if you feel that pull, that calling, that’s a real thing and it deserves your notice. And when you get to a point when you feel like God’s placed something in your heart to do, and you can’t think about anything else, then take that first step. 

And then take the next.