Well, good [insert relevant time of day here] to you!

I must say I’m impressed with myself today. Since getting back in (feels like it should be ‘on’, says the Grammar Police) the writerly saddle in November, I’ve reconnected with my WIPs, created new ones, and have been consistently maintaining my writing schedule here, as well. It’s gone by as slowly as it’s gone by fast, but I’d still like to give myself a pat on the back.

Many moons ago, I joined a few associations to cement my commitment to writing. It was as though that by making the investment of paying these membership dues, I’d be telling myself that I was truly on the writing path. Being a member of such organizations has many benefits and can open new doors to more writing opportunities, but I think there is more intrinsic value to being a part of something bigger than yourself.

The moment I got the inspiration for the post title and topic, Pat Benatar’s song “We Belong” instantly popped into my head. Sorry, Mariah. Not yours. You’ve already taken over the Christmas season airwaves that I need to seek out my gold standard “Mary’s Boy Child” by Boney M. to get my true holiday musical fix. Besides, I haven’t met a Pat Benatar song I didn’t like. When it comes to rock anthems, she really gets me motivated. Holy digression, Batman.

Enjoy the song stylings of one Patricia Mae Giraldo (née Andrzejewski) whom you may know better as Pat Benatar.


Back to the topic at hand. A sense of belonging. Writing, as part of what fuels me, also anchors me to this rock. While I may sometimes write about fantastical and otherworldly things, writing has given me a sense of connection to the global community. Writing has reminded me of my purposeful existence in this world and what I need to do to thrive within it.

Sometimes it feels like all the obstacles in the world chose you for that guinea pig that day. It’s easy to stop writing. All you have to do is stop. If it were easy to write a novel, I’d be spitting out at least three a day. The universe knows that I’m thinking up ideas for at least twice that each day! Writing can be a lonely experience if you choose that route. Lonely and being alone (to write) are two very different feelings and experiences. Being part of a writing community, in any form–association, online writing group, writing on a blog and sharing your thoughts on the interwebs–can have such a positive effect on your writing life and life, in general, if you let it. The fact that I can come back here week after week and share my thoughts on my creative process, my joys and fears on this writing journey, is truly liberating. And I’ve thanked those who’ve returned to my blog in the past, but I want to express my gratitude again. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read up on some things going on in mine.

We’re at the tail-end of the first month of this fabulous and opportunity-filled year. Returning to this writing routine, being committed to the tasks and responsibilities that come with being a writer, has reminded me that I’m not alone on this journey. We are all part of a collective of like minds and interests, some of whom have decided to express themselves creatively through the written word. It’s giving me the motivation to keep working on my WIPs and hopefully, when I’ve gotten over the hesitation of putting more of my writing out there, to share that side of things with you. It’s so rewarding to know that having this creative outlet, being able to share my art with the world, gives me a chance to truly feel like I fit in somehow amidst the organized chaos around us.

I hope you’re all safe and well and that you’re continuing to work towards the goals you set out for this year. If you’re winging it, that’s okay, too. We all see something on the horizon and are taking our own steps to get there.

It’s easy to have doubts about our abilities, or second-guess our choices for fear of failure. However, knowing that we belong overpowers any of those negative thoughts. We need to remind ourselves that whatever we bring to the table, it has meaning, it has an impact. There’s no single way of existence. We belong to the global community, we belong to the group of people who are contributing to the artistic development and nourishment of our culture.

Our thoughts matter.

Our words matter.

Our actions matter.

We belong.


Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: A Picture’s Worth

Hello, fam!

It’s been a few days into the Get Your Words Out 2021 Challenge and things are going well. I don’t feel the intense pressure of word counts, so I’m glad I chose the Habit Pledge instead. Though sign ups are done for this year, It’s worth a look to see what’s entailed in such a challenge. You can then decide if you want to partake next year. Meanwhile, feel free to do a variation of the challenge right along with us!

I’ve been continuing my dabblydoo with the planning software called Plottr, the software created by writers for writers. I think I need to do more than take it for a test drive before I can do an in-depth review, so stay turned for that in a later post. So far, I’ve found that it’s a robust program that can help you visually plan your stories more efficiently. Now, of course, most of it is visual in the strictest sense, but with the use of timelines and the ability to track subplots and every character’s journey throughout the story, you literally cannot miss a beat, because you’ll see everything laid out in front of you. More on that later.

What I did want to talk about today was the use of photos in story creation. As a visual learner and writer, I find that the ideas flow more readily when I have a face to go with a name or a visual representation of a place in which my characters live and explore.

I’ve gone through my WIPs and have created character sheets with corresponding pictures to help bring the characters to life. To do this, I’ve done a deep dive into the the interwebs to look up actor photoshoots, magazine spreads, or even more helpful, actual stills from television and film that show them in similar attire to what inspired the character I’ve created. In addition to the people in my “neighborhood,” there are a plethora of photographs, artistic renderings, and stills that capture the places I’ve visualized for my stories.

I’ve created folders on my desktop to organize these visuals. I have a folder called Story Settings that contain anything from landscapes, cityscapes, post-apocalyptic suburbia, ethereal forest dwellings, to mysterious and ominous castles. My Character folder has a slew of subfolders with some of my favorite faces from the big and small screen already attributed to characters for the different books and genres I’ve got brewing. Included therein are unique animal pics that go well with the Middle Grade Adventure that involves talking animals, because why not?

In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to do some recasting. I’ve mentioned in previous posts the lack of diversity in books, TV, and film I had growing up, so it’s my chance to be proactive in my writing. I do believe that a character’s ethnicity is secondary to the story. If cultural references are necessary to the plot, then I want to make sure those are woven in organically so that nothing seems forced upon the reader. And if such references are merely part of their routine, I have that earmarked as well to smoothly incorporate details where needed. To that end, having a visual of what these characters look like somehow switches on something as I write and things they would do in their daily life seem to reveal themselves more naturally.

Another way pictures have proved useful are as writing prompts. Whether it was an actor in a known moment from their show or film, to a visual that might set the scene in a chapter, these pictures are the spark that can ignite a very fruitful writing session.

How are things going on your side of the screen? Do you use actor photos as character inspiration? Do you have favorite websites where you curate the most beautiful landscapes to represent the world where your characters live and breathe? We’re lucky to be in such an evolving technological era that allows us to be everywhere and with everyone in an instant. That fact alone is truly inspiring.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Get Your Words Out 2021

Hello, fam!

Earlier this week, the Sestra messaged me a link to a writing community of sorts. I read the words Get Your Words Out 2021: Writing Decathlon and my mind began a-stirring. When I had a chance to do a deep dive the following day, I was surprised to learn that it had been around for 12 years. Just goes to show how far-reaching the interwebs can be. There’s a community for and about anything. Bits and bytes for everyone.

I found myself perusing the site and I was immediately intrigued because this was right up my alley in terms of writing accountability, motivation, community and goals for this year and beyond. The community is free to join and the deadline for making your 2021 pledge is January 18, so I had to share this with you now.

What’s the pledge for, you ask? There are two pledge types: Word Count and Habit, each with multiple options. It’s certainly diverse enough to provide the opportunity to make a realistic goal for yourself. There’s plenty of information on the site but I’ve taken a couple screencaps for quick reference. Here are the breakdowns:

For those of you who feel that these word counts are daunting, like a NaNoWriMo meets Fast and Furious, I hear you.

Me trying to wrap my brain around maintaining the intensity of a monthly wordcount challenge for a full year.

I was glad–read: relieved–to see the Habit Pledge option. For me, that seemed to be more of a realistic and reasonable first go at this challenge. Of course, when I initially read the options, I considered the Master level. However, in lieu of gun-jumping or leaping before I looked, I decided to go for the Apprentice level. Approximately 10 days a month was doable, actionable. And when, not if, I exceeded the goal of writing 120 days in a year, I could gauge my goals for next year.

What I like about the Habit Pledge is that it can help me maintain the writing goals I restarted for last year’s NaNoWriMo. I don’t have to think of the quantity of my writing but establish the quality of a consistent writing routine. The main purpose of this writing community is to increase a writer’s productivity and output, so I appreciate that they’re giving us every possible chance at success.

Sign ups run until January 18, 2021 and you have the option to change your pledge up until that point. You’re only allowed to choose one pledge and after the cut-off date, that’s the pledge you’ve got until the year’s challenge is over. While, there is technically no penalty if you don’t reach your goals, having such a large community of almost 2,000 writers in the same boat as you is encouraging. Also, they said you can have a second unofficial goal. So, you can track your wordcounts with your habits and vice versa, in order to see what pledge is a more fitting challenge for you next time around.

I’m cautiously optimistic about my participation in this collective. However, I’m fully excited at the concept and intent behind what they’re doing here. It’s a beautiful thing.

I hope you join me this year. So much has happened on a global scale, I know writing can be a therapeutic and purposeful endeavour. Let’s come together to Get Your Words Out!

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

The Hangry Muse

[DISCLAIMER: Minor spoilery images below. If you’re not yet up to date on the Disney+ Original, The Mandalorian, you might want to avert your eyes. I’m not discussing show details, but want to warn ya, just in case. We good? Good. Onwards…]

So, here I was, all revved up to start hacking away at my NaNo project, when I caught a case of the “ooh, shiny!” I got a story idea and it was just sitting there in my head, waiting to be explored. But I had a plan in place from last month’s work, didn’t I? Sidelining that now couldn’t possibly be a good idea. Unless, it was the perfect idea.

But it’s shiny. I want it.

I think any writing is good writing. If something interests you, it’s important to see where it takes you provided you’re not under any pressing writing deadlines. This is what happened over the weekend when while showering—the usual time great story ideas come to mind—I started crafting scenes for some fanfic featuring our favorite lil’ guy.

I had a different story idea bouncing around my head after the first season ended. The characters created for the fanfic had different origin stories. This time, and especially due to the latest developments from S02E06, I decided on a different take. Will it change again based on what happens in the final two episodes of the season? That remains to be seen. I’ve also lured myself into late night/early morning rabbit hole research with fan theories, discussions, and articles on the expanded universe created by this show.

Words are good for you. Satisfy that hunger.

For now, the muse is hungry, so it’s important to keep feeding with words. The act of creating art should never be cast aside. Remember, it’s not to say that deadlines aren’t important, and if you’re writing on a deadline and you get the case of the hangry shiny detour, please write responsibly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There are some software programs and apps I’m using to help me on my musey “food trip,” as it were, and I’ll share my experiences with these writing tools in future posts. It’s encouraging to feel a renewed sense of energy to keep up with these creative bursts. It’s what’s keeping me going when life’s been such a 2020, you know?

I’ve gotten back to a writing routine and have used these writerly opportunities as part of my recovery (maybe more on that later). This is my version of self-care, at least part of it, anyway. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, yet still doing something creative to get back to a sense of writing normalcy.

This is the way.

I’m going to see where this fanfic takes me and when it’s all nice and as shiny as I’ve envisioned it in my cranium, I might share it with you lovelies.

Whatever your method to increase your word counts, always remember to take care of yourself along the way. Feed the hunger, find your passion, and keep going.

As always, stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

New Month, Who Dis?

Hello, all!

Winner winner, [insert preferred food item here] dinner! According to NaNoWriMo, the word count goal was met and festive banners and badges were awarded.

Now that the adrenalin rush has worn off and we’ve had some time to address the hand cramps and potential carpal tunnel issues…

Tackling such an out of the box (for me) writing project after some time away was like jumping out of a plane THEN asking yourself if you’ve got your parachute. Yes, I churned out the words, but trying to write a short story anthology with little prep, was probably not the best idea. When I say this, I mean it was Halloween and I thought, “I’m going to do NaNo this year, but let’s try something completely different.”

Yeesh. That’s not to say that different can’t be done, but I probably should’ve gotten my feet wet with a less ambitious endeavour first. What I learned from this experience amplified what I already knew. Short stories are not to be taken lightly.

I’d grown accustomed to the meandering ways of long form writing with novels–and all the sidetracks where “research” can lead–that I barely had time to fully grasp what I wanted to do with a short story, let alone the half dozen I had bouncing around the month of November.

I discovered that a few of the short story ideas were better suited as novellas or longer. The hours I spent asking myself more questions about the characters and settings took over the actual drafting of scenes. Could it have been due to the lack of preparation? Perhaps. Could it have benefited from a deeper dive into outlining? Most certainly.

To that end, I’m going to reverse engineer what material I’ve amassed for NaNo and give it a proper dissection and analysis. Much like finishing any draft doesn’t mean you’re finished, I feel that pulling apart this monkey bread of an idea will make for richer storytelling in the end. (Great, I now want to bake some monkey bread, but I digress.)

Something important to remember when doing an intense writing challenge is that no word is wasted. You got those words out for a reason, now it’s time to make sense of them and organize them in such a way that can weave an interesting tale for your readers. Trim off the excess but don’t delete anything. You never know when it might come in handy (now, for you, as the writer, or later on as bonus material for the reader). This is the time to continue with what you started and refine it further. Unless you’re a writing aficionado, and you somehow ironed everything out in the first pass, it’s okay and encouraged to get that draft and polish it until you can see it from space.

For those who met their NaNo goals, great! For those who didn’t, how can we plan for success next time? My NaNo experience didn’t go according to the quasi-plan I had. I’m sure what with the 2020 of it all, no one’s months, plural, have been going as planned. And so we enter a new month, but it doesn’t mean we need to shelve it for another NaNo. Keep going while the ideas are fresh and learn from the snags you hit along the way. No writing path is perfect and you’ll find a method that works for you. We’re also part of a greater writing community of like-minded creative types that know that the struggle is indeed real. The continued support of this amazing collective is a great way to keep at it in the days and months to come.

Congrats to everyone who met their goals. For those yet to reach those goals, keep going! What are your writerly plans for December? Share them in the comments below.

Now is the time to stay positive and don’t lose focus. Just because November’s over doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to challenge ourselves. That’s why it’s important to have writing events such as NaNo to serve as a reminder that if we want to be writers, we must write.

As always, stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.