#Nanowrimo: Day 0 – The title of my novel, what it’s about, and how I prepped

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Woot! Super excited to take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, NaNoWriMo is an annual writing event hosted in November that encourages aspiring novelists and writers to write a novel in 30 days. I first heard about NaNoWriMo in December 2013. I was a month too late, but I liked the idea of completing a book and found their challenge to be doable.

Fast-forward to last year when I completed an entire 50,000+ word novel. You can read all about that here.

Today on Day 0, while everyone is out trick-or-treating or getting wasted in their best scary or sexy getups, I’m hammering away on my laptop putting the finishing touches on my outline. What’s the novel called you ask? Loyalty is Fiction. I started writing this story years ago but never finished. The title back then was She Said. I wrote up to 70 pages on a laptop I no longer have and the disk I saved it too has gone missing like bobby pins I once owned. Crushing right? Not really. I never had an outline for the story and wrote it off the top of my head. I never finished because I got stuck trying to figure out what should happen next. While that process may work for others, this sister needs an outline.

What is Loyalty is Fiction?

Here is the synopsis of Loyalty is Fiction straight from my MissWriteItAll page on the NaNoWriMo website:

Loyalty is Fiction is a story of three women who learn that happiness and loyalty while in love is what you make it and not what’s owed.

Meet Madison – a “happily” married woman who is expecting her first child, Courtney – a virgin engaged to her first love, and Laila – the very single friend in love with a married man. Their lives are different but they all have one thing in common and that’s trying to find out who they are independent of the men in their lives.

Madison is living the picture perfect life that everyone dotes on but she’ll discover that there’s no such thing as perfect. Courtney will learn that the man she loves and is about to marry isn’t who she thought he was. And Laila will discover that her married boyfriend isn’t as loyal to her as she’d like to think he is. They’ve all got pressures coming from all angles of their lives, influencing their decisions that will ultimately make them happy or hate themselves. They’ll soon learn that loyalty, in love, can be fiction.

The synopsis is a work in progress but I believe it’s a good start.

Although my last novel was a romance meets spirituality story, I’m going women’s fiction with this one. I want my characters to connect more with women since their situations are crazy but definitely not unique to them. And the scenarios presented here are so not romantic. But I assure you, it will be a good read!

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What I’m doing to prepare

During last year’s NaNoWriMo, I used Scrivener and I’m using it again this year. It’s a writing software you download off their website and it’s AMAZING! I’m not affiliated with them but I just love how effective using it makes my writing and it helps to turn your dream of typing The End a reality. You can either choose to write under their blank project, or you can write under the novel project. I chose the latter since it gave me more options and it looks organized.

I started by creating character templates for my main characters and the characters they interact with the most. Their names, careers, personalities, what they look like, their internal and external conflicts, the works. I’ve also created setting templates to create a clearer picture of the locations they frequent throughout the story. This just helps prevent confusion and me writing “so and so” is arguing with her mother in chapter 15 but her mother died in chapter 3. This might work for a different type of novel though! I’ve also mapped out my scenes, what’s supposed to happen in each scene and in what chapters the scenes belong. I haven’t finished with this part yet but I’m hoping to complete it by tonight.

How I’m planning to get to 50,000 words

Consistency! With everything you want to achieve, consistency is key. I also plan to participate in their writer sprints that they have on Twitter and to use the Pomodoro method (writing for 25 minutes, taking 5 minute breaks, rinse and repeat until I get to my daily word count which is 1668 words), which is similar to their writer sprints. Eat right, dress warm, drink lots of water, and treat myself whenever I’ve written a certain amount. I will be popping champagne, god willing, and doing a Drake “Hotline Bling” dance when I get to the end.

My NaNoWriMo writing schedule

I’m a freelance writer in my “day job” and I’m a stay-at-home mother to a toddler who I’m also a teacher to, so as you can imagine time will be of the essence. I want, no I NEED, to write when I have little to no distractions so it must either be early in the morning before anyone wakes up or late at night when everyone is asleep. It might be in the morning, but I have to see how everything works with my workout schedule because this girl’s got to work on her fitness no matter what. You’ll be able to follow my journey to 50,000 words as I’ll be updating my blog 3 days a week (maybe even more than that) about my progress, woes, and possible emotional breakdowns during the challenge.

Oh! And if you want to download Scrivener and use it during NaNoWriMo, they are offering a special trial edition where you can download it for free and use it throughout the 30 days of the challenge *clapping emoji hands.* After the 30 days, you must buy it but if you win the challenge, they are one of the many sponsors. This means you’ll get the program at a 50% discount which amounts to about $20. And if you don’t win, you can still get a 20% discount. Aren’t you glad you read to the end? Lol. Here’s a link to download both the Mac or Windows versions.

#Turning30: 7 ways to cope with not being where you thought you’d be at 30

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Three weeks ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday. I told myself on my 21st birthday I would be in Las Vegas the moment the clock struck midnight on October 16, 2015. That didn’t happen. If you asked that little girl in the photo above where she thinks she’ll be at 30, she’d say rich, living in a house the size of a mansion, and retired because 30 is old. That didn’t happen either lol.

This is a natural feeling wanting more in your life and not being 100% satisfied with where you are. That’s what leads you to seek better and live the life you truly believe you deserve.

There is a lot of 30+-year-olds who are where I am. Wishing they had more and dealing with the fact they are in a new decade of their life not having accomplished the things they thought they would have, or worse just settling for the way things are. This can be a source of unhappiness. But I’ve discovered that there are ways to cope and fix this.

Here are 7 ways I’m coping with not being where I thought I’d be at 30. Hopefully these tips will help you too.

Come to terms with the fact you want more

The first step to recovery in anything in life is to admit that there is a problem. The longer you say you’re fine or pretend to be happy is the longer it’s going to take to get to your goal. I drowned myself in positive quotes when I was in my 20s. But I didn’t work on making sure my inner happiness was on point so that what I read really stuck with me. You can curate a fabulous life on Instagram, Facebook, twitter or wherever else you publish your thoughts and doings on social media, but once you turn off your computer or put your phone down and are left alone with your thoughts, the truth of knowing you want more from your life can be suffocating when you’re in denial. Come to terms you want more, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Understand that it takes time and dedication to make necessary changes

Time is a commodity. I know this more than ever now as a mother. I have so much more respect for my time now. Something simple like running in the park alone with myself for an hour is a treat. To reach the goals you didn’t achieve in your 20s, you’ve got to stick through it in your 30s. It may take 2 months or it could take 2 years to get where you want to be. As long as you’re working towards it, that’s all that matters. Sign up for the gym and keep going, you won’t see results next week, but 8 weeks or more from now you’ll fit into those jeans you haven’t worn since you were 23. Or apply for your bachelors or masters. You won’t graduate next year but four (maybe more, maybe less) years from now you’ll have that job you really want. Whatever your goal is, understand it takes time to get it. It’s the hard work you put in that makes you appreciate how far you’ve come. Plus the time you are spending working on your goal is preparation for you maintaining your new lifestyle.

Write a list of things you are grateful for and that you’ve accomplished

Wanting more is great, but let’s not forget how grateful we are for the things we have in our lives now. Are you breathing on your own? Can you see? Did you turn on your faucet this morning and water came out of it? Then boo, you’re blessed! No matter how small the thing you are grateful for is, speak it into the universe and you will get blessings tenfold. The best way to do this is first thing in the morning or last thing at night. You can sit at a table and write it pen to paper or use the notepad on your phone. Personally, I find it resonates more with me when I write it down because I’m thinking and jotting down my gratitude. Do the same for your accomplishments. Promotions, new baby, helped your best friend plan an epic wedding – write any and everything you’ve done that made you feel great.

Create a list of things you want in life and things you want to change about your life

Lists are everything! They help you organize and paint a clear picture of what exactly needs to get done. The most successful people in the world swear by lists and create lists for all facets of their lives. Writing for me is therapeutic and having my stuff together and right in my face in list form is an amazing habit. Ok, now back to creating your list. Create this list when you have little to no distractions. I like to write my lists when my son and husband are asleep that way I don’t have to stop doing what I’m doing to get something for someone or help the other look for his tie lol. Set up your area so it’s super Zen. Light a candle, burn incense, or meditate. Whatever you got to do to get you in the mood to create the list that will change your life, do it. Everything you want in life no matter how big, silly or crazy it may be, if you want it, write it. If your list is just one page that’s fine, if it’s 10 pages, that’s fine too. You make your own rules, this is all you, so be nice to yourself.

Next, write everything you want to change about yourself. Sometimes you have to look deep for this. At one point I wanted to change that I was selfish. Admitting I was selfish was hard because I associate selfishness with being a bad person and I think I’m a sweetheart. But you’ve got to be honest with yourself. You’re great just the way you are, but you could be better. We all can. Click To Tweet So if you feel you could lose a little weight, switch up your hair, change the way you think from always seeing the bad in people to seeing the good too, then write it down. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING you want to change, write it down. Another helpful way to do this, is to think back to negative things others have said about you. Don’t consider it all because people can be petty and some of their criticisms could be their own flaws they refuse to deal with. But consider the negatives that have been said about you and see if it is also an issue for you. Be honest with yourself and this list can be a godsend.

Draft a step-by-step plan of how you will get the things you want and how you will change certain things about yourself

Now this is my favorite part! We all got a lot of problems, but not enough solutions. This step-by-step plan will be your solutions! I got this idea from my husband who is militant about making plans. You don’t have to be about yours but you need to create one. So let’s take a simple example for instance. Let’s say one of your goals is to get your driver’s license. The plan you would make would go a little something like this:

Step 1: Learners permit
Step 2: Take 5-hour class
Step 3: Sign up for lessons
Step 4: Take those lessons
Step 5: Schedule road test
Step 6: Pass the road test, the end.

You’ll also want to set realistic deadlines for when you will complete each step. Just as simple as that plan is to set up that’s how simple it will be for you. Pick five wants from your list and write a step-by-step plan. Or pick more wants and write steps for them. Go at your own pace. Know how you want to get these things and set yourself up for success. This task may take a day or maybe even a month, but once you have your plan, you’ll have an agenda every day and anything that doesn’t align with your plan or goals will be seen as a waste of time for you and not even worth it. It’s a really liberating feeling. And if you see that your plan isn’t working for you, revise it as many times as it takes until it does. The more proactive you are in planning, the better things will unfold for you.

Share your plans with the ones who support you

The last part of the tip is important. There are real dream killers walking the streets. So you can’t share your plans with just anybody. People’s thoughts can be toxic and your mind is like fertile ground. Those toxic thoughts can mess with your drive and influence your decisions, and not for the best. It’s important to share your plans with people who support you because they care about your growth and progression towards happiness. They will also hold you accountable because you can bet they will ask you how things are going with whatever you have plans to accomplish. These people are gems. They’ve showed their support for you in other things and they are the ones clapping hard and loud for you when you win at whatever you work hard for. The smaller your support group, the better, so if you only have one or three people, that’s fine. Share your plans with the ones who really support you.

Just do it

Nike isn’t the top selling brand with sustained brand loyalty for no reason. They’re slogan is so powerful for just three words that are less than five letters each. Once you’ve done coming to terms with wanting more, understanding the time it takes, creating lists, plans, and telling the supportive friends or family what you plan to do, you need to just do them. Don’t wait until December 31 to say that next year will be your year. It won’t if you keep procrastinating. Tomorrow is unknown and today is a prize. Click To Tweet The more you put things off the longer it’ll take for you to get to where you really want to be. I wanted to get in shape and not look like I was in my 30s, so I decided I wanted to become a runner. I came up with a plan, downloaded and bought the tools, and was outside on the day I said I would be and have been out there three days a week ever since. I won’t lie to you – the first day you do any of the things you planned will be hard. You’ll face obstacles and feel like giving up. But the more you do it, the easier it will be. Experts and professionals don’t become that way overnight. Work on your goal every day and you’ll get better at it. I told myself in 2008 that I wanted to get paid for writing. It took time, but now I’ve got clients, I’m getting paid to contribute to websites, and I even landed a gig on TV once. Now I want to be paid more for my writing and receive residual income from it, and I will make that happen by first coming to terms with the fact that I want more.

#NaNoWriMo: How to write a book in one month and still have a life

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Writing a book in a month might sound like a dream or even a time consuming task but you’d be surprised. I’ve always wanted to write a book but could never finish. Either I’d start it, get to the middle and not know how to finish it or let life get in the way. That was until I discovered NaNoWriMo – an event that takes place in November (National Novel Writing Month) that helps you write a 50,000 word manuscript.

Before NaNoWriMo, the thought of writing a book in a month had me thinking that I’d have to be locked in a room all day and night just typing away on my computer. You can imagine how relieved I was when this wasn’t the case.

I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time last year and finally finished my romance novel! I haven’t buckled down to edit the damn thing, but that’s another story for another time. As to how to write a book in a month and still have a life, it’s very possible, and it all comes down to preparation.

So how did I do it? By planning out exactly how I wanted the book to begin and end, fleshing out my story so that I could see it clearly before writing. I began by writing what the purpose of the story was. Then I broke it down by scene, what events I wanted to happen in each scene and what conflict my main character would have to work resolve. Then I organized the scenes and settings into chapters.

It’s a good idea to start planning your book at least a month before you write it Click To Tweet. Give your characters personalities and your settings so much life that the characters seem like they could walk right off the page and your settings are described so perfectly that your readers see it when they close their eyes.

Next, decide on a daily word count (a certain amount of words to write per day) and never miss a day no matter what. CatchiFor me, this was difficult at times. I’m a mother and I am a freelancer with clients, so having to do client work and then commit to a word count every day was exhausting at first. But you get used to it. It becomes a habit, a healthy habit. And when you meet your daily word count you feel a sense of accomplishment.

So for me, I would commit to at least 1667 words a day. If sitting down and typing up 1667 words sounds like too much, split it up and do half in the morning before work and the other half at night right before bed. Make things easy for yourself so that you finish your novel. Click To Tweet I usually exceeded the word count because I’d get so deep in my story that I didn’t want to stop which was great. There were NaNoWriMo participants who wrote more than 50,000 words. I’m talking over 100,000 words – typical for fan fiction. If they can do it, so can you!

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For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I already have my story fleshed out. I’m just going to work a little more on my characters and their personalities. I’m also writing in another genre, I’ll talk more about that in another post.

If you’re planning on participating in this year’s NaNoWriiMo it’s best to find writing buddies from now. I had two writing buddies last year, and they were lifesavers. One suggested I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and that was the best advice I’d ever received. I didn’t get a chance to read his autobiography/writing how-to during the challenge, but I did after and it has changed the way I write fiction.

Writing a book in one month is very possible. Just plan out your story from beginning to end and commit to a word count every day. Tell everyone you talk to that you are writing a book in November so that you have people to hold you accountable. Get excited about your book and really fall in love with the plot and characters. And most importantly, make finishing your book a priority and you’ll get it done!

Btw, my name on NaNoWriMo’s website is Miss Write It All, let’s be buddies.

#Life: 20 things I learned in my 20s that I’ll never forget

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Carrie Bradshaw knew what she was talking about when she said your 20s are when you make the mistakes. When you’re 20, everything you do in life should serve as a lesson. It’s confusing why that decade of age is glamorized and called the best years of a person’s life. Though I had great moments, even I know it gets better.

I experienced major events in my 20s. I graduated from a university, I gave birth to my son, and I married my best friend – in that order. But if someone asked me if I wanted to relive my 20s, I would tell them hell no! My experiences weren’t terrible, but the only repeats I enjoy are on TV.

Since your 20s are when you test life the most, here are The 20 things I learned in my 20s and that I’ll always remember.

Money flows where attention goes

I noticed that when I gave all my attention to anything, I experienced the most success. When I wanted to make money as a writer, I focused all of my efforts and attention on making it happen and it did. In fact, the results exceeded my expectations and taught me you can struggle in something if you don’t master it.

Choose your friends how you choose fruit

I didn’t make this mistake in my 20s, but I know many people who did. I would hear the term thrown around so loosely. Like literally, I would meet and talk to someone one day and they would introduce me as their friend the next. Not my style. Your friends are the people you choose to be in your life. The ones you choose to share in your happy and sad moments. Pick them wisely. You wouldn’t knowingly bring home a bruised apple.

Don’t take everything personal

I got my feelings hurt a lot in my 20s. From not getting the jobs I wanted, to losing the big opportunities. Those events in my life almost made me bitter because I would take their rejection personal. You get what you want based on how bad you want it. Smarts has little to do with it. It’s who wants it the most and are willing to go the hardest who get it.

Live in the moment

I suffer from always living for tomorrow. Everything I did was for the future, and I never just lived in the now. Living in the now builds the memories you’ll never forget and helps you enjoy your youth. It’s called the present for a reason.

You need not say everything you think about out loud

That’s just plain rude. I went through a phase where I didn’t have a filter. Exactly how I thought it, was exactly how I said it. I had Kanye West of the mouth. Surprisingly, I got away with it in my 20s, but I had a few close calls. Say the wrong thing to the wrong person and you’ll wish you bit your tongue and shut-up. Follow this basic rule: If you think it’ll hurt someone’s feelings, keep it to yourself or try the safe route of starting your insult with a “don’t take this wrong way but…”

Appreciate the people who are there when you’re at your worst

Be wary of the people who are only there when you’re at your best. They don’t know you the way others do. And chances are when you need them, they won’t lend a helping hand or show support. This is another thing I was lucky enough to avoid. Everyone in my life has seen me touch rock bottom and have been there through every step I’ve taken to rebuild, especially my husband.

Listen to the old folks

In my 20s, I swore I knew everything. Or I would say the stupid thing of “let me make the mistake so I can learn myself.”  If you have an older person in your life who is giving you advice, listen. They’ve been there and done that and what you are experiencing is nothing new.

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Always be yourself

The beauty of being yourself is that no one else can be you. People can have similar experiences as you but you are unique. When you are yourself no one can fault you for that. Well, they can, but you’ll know that you’re you and if they don’t like it then that’s too bad. When you act like anything other than yourself you face experiences you are unfamiliar with and don’t know how to handle. Avoid that by being as authentic as possible.

Go where you’re celebrated not hated

This is a lesson I’m still learning. I know that I am energy so I can feel when I’m not wanted somewhere. But sometimes I have to be there due to obligation or expectations. So start out small and cut the things, places and people who don’t make you happy then take it from there.

Know your friends from your enemies

It’s fine to have frenemies. Competition is healthy, but it’s important to know your friends from your enemies. I learned this the hard way. I thought that certain individuals were my friends. But those friends were enemies with friendly faces. Click To Tweet As long as you can name your friends from your enemies you will get far and avoid a lot of stresses and disappointment.

Be proud of your flaws

I learned that my flaws made me, me. Growing up, I was super self-conscious about the gap in my two front teeth. In my 20s, I learned to see the beauty and uniqueness in it. Plus, my maternal grandmother also had a gap and everybody tells me I bear a striking resemblance to her, so keeping it makes me feel like she’s still a part of me. That and I believe I look damn good with it!

Celebrate your accomplishments

This is kind of relative to living in the now. I focused on getting to a perfect place that when I accomplished small things, like getting an article published on a major website or landing an interview with a celebrity I admired, I never celebrated it. This was because that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Celebrate all of your accomplishments no matter how small they are. Click To Tweet You’ll feel encouraged to continue going after your dreams without paying too much attention to how long it’ll take you to get there.

Be positive but don’t fake it

I used to drown myself in positive quotes thinking they could fix what needed work deep inside. There were times I would fake it. And really, it’s easy to fake it when you can curate your life into a perfect picture with websites like Instagram and Facebook. But I’ve learned that I did myself a disservice by not working on myself so I could keep the positivity I read. So I looked within myself and asked myself what would make me happy and moved closer to attracting real happiness. I’m a work in progress, but the good news is that I’ve started the work.

Your partner should be an asset not a liability

This is another thing I experienced vicariously through others. I watched some of my friends and even family give their hearts to individuals who were liabilities instead of assets. Whether you’re dating someone or are married to them, the people you let into your life should serve a purpose. Say no to moochers and dream killers. If the person you are with has no goals, they are a liability. If they support you in the things that make you happy and offer advice and sometimes guidance, they are assets. The end.

Having family is important

This is something I always knew, but I understood more in my late 20s. Your family knows you from when you were a blank slate. And I’m not talking about the family you don’t speak to or never met. I mean the ones who have been in your life. You need not talk to them every day or see them every week, but when you do, you guys just pick up right where you left off at. Your family is a permanent fixture in your life. They’re the people who will definitely judge you too, but they’ll still accept you as you are.

Have a 5 and 10 year plan

I’ve learned that if you don’t make a plan for your life, life will plan it for you. And as random as life can be, it’s important that you have a handle on it. The best way to do this is to have a 5 and 10 year plan for all aspects of your life (e.g. career, family, health, travel, etc.). The goal is to be balanced because once you are balanced, everything will fall in line. I’m learning that every day must have a purpose to get me closer to my goals. Once you do this, you’ll never feel you’re wasting your time or worse, your life.

Have a side hustle

Depending on your job to still be there in the morning isn’t a safe bet. People work 9-to-5’s because it’s secure. It’s nice to get a check every week or every other week, I know firsthand how comfortable you can get. But when you rely solely on your desk job, there’s a chance you’ll hate it. Then you’ll hate your employer. And then you’ll be miserable. Having a side hustle not only gives you an added stream of income but it also serves as a safety net in case you get fed up of punching a time clock. Everyone should strive to have their own business. The freedom that comes with it is priceless.

You’re not really too busy

As soon as I entered my 20s, I felt I was too busy. I was always on go. From working full-time in retail and going to school full-time, I was exhausted. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have enough time to pick up the phone and call my parents. Or at least that’s what I would say. You’re never too busy. Are you too busy to brush your teeth in the morning when you wake up? I will guess no. You make time to brush your teeth and to go through your morning routine, so you can do the same with other areas of your life that matter to you. Adjust your priorities and you’ll see that 24 hours is enough time to do everything and get a good night’s rest.

It’s ok that not everyone likes you

I used to be a people pleaser, sometimes sacrificing my happiness to make others happy. That was until I was working so hard to earn the approval of others, only to find out they still didn’t like me. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. The person will just have an issue with you for no clear reason. At this point in my life I say that a person not liking me is none of my damn business and they should handle that shit within themselves. Realizing that your world doesn’t end if someone doesn’t like you is liberating

Spend more money on experiences and less on things

If there was anything I would’ve done differently it would be travel more. In my 20s, I’ve traveled out of the country twice and have visited almost every city in the U.S. But I didn’t travel enough. I did, however, have every in-season shoe, foundation and lip gloss for days, along with a wallet full of receipts from H&M. I shopped a lot but where can I say I’ve been? Experiences are so much more valuable than things. Going places and seeing people are excellent conversation starters and if you are looking to network you have to talk about more than what you got on your feet. If that’s all your circle of people are talking about, what they have, it’s time to get some new friends.

Figure things out as you go

I added a bonus lesson I learned. Just as random as it is to see this 21st lesson is just how random life in your 20s can be. When I found out I was pregnant with my son at 26, I was terrified. I cried tears of horror. Not because I didn’t feel blessed, but because I didn’t think I would know what to do. I read the books, I went to the classes, but when the time came for me to show all I read about, I had to learn everything from experience as it unfolded. Same thing with college. When it comes down to it, you have to be flexible and go with the flow. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.