Real Research: Writing about faraway places – Guest Post by Stuart White

 

Tales from the Falkland Islands…and writing research tips!

I am proud to present a guest post by my friend and mentor, Stuart White. Please read his impressive biography HERE.

Real Research: Writing about faraway places

A guest post by Stuart White

I’ve been up since dawn and I’m peering across a grim, rain-swept bay to a small mist-shrouded harbor as a ship’s tiny tender battles against the buffeting gale towards the shore.

And not for the first time in my travelling-writing life I wonder,

“What the hell am I doing here?”

“Here” in this case happens to be the Falkland Islands, 8,000 miles from my home in England.

It’s off the tip of South America and there’s nothing south of it except Antarctica.

And the answer – or excuse perhaps – is, I’m doing research on a film script whose locations all lie in South America, the South Atlantic or the Pacific west of that continent.

And my trip is all the more strange perhaps since I actually wrote the script two years ago!

It’s about two now mostly ignored World War One sea battles a hundred years ago involving the British Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy that were pivotal to the eventual Allied – including American – victory.

It’s also a dramatic story of intense personal and international rivalry involving figures like Churchill and the German Kaiser.

This trip will take me from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Montevideo,

 

Montevideo

Anchor from the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in Montevideo. The Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate just off Montevideo in 1939 after being badly damaged by British ships. It’s relevant to my research because the ship was named AFTER (or for, depending on usage) Admiral Graf von Spee who is the subject of my film script – an Admiral in the First World war. (photo property of Stuart White)

 

Uruguay; the Falkland Islands; round Cape Horn,

 

Cape Horn

Cape Horn (island) where one goes ’round the Cape’…the very tip of South America. (photo property of Stuart White)

up the Magellan Strait…then the Chilean fjords

Chilean fjords

Chilean Fjords – photo property of Stuart White

ending at the large port of Valparaiso and the country’s capital, Santiago.

 

South American Street Scenes

photo property of Stuart White

photo property of Stuart White

It started like this: I was commissioned to write a script called Death at Sea for a Hollywood production company, and duly did. The project is in development right now.

So far the script has had rave reviews. But….I know there’ll be re-writes, there always are. And something nagged at me. I am never comfortable setting one of my books or scripts in a location I’ve never visited.

I’m lucky in that respect as during my career, especially as a journalist and foreign correspondent, I’ve visited more than eighty- five countries, lived in three, including the United States for a total of more than eleven years. (And I’ve visited forty-four of America’s states, too).

I’d even been to four countries in South America. But…I was writing about Montevideo and I’d never been; about the Falkland Islands and…I’d never been. Valparaiso, Chile. Ditto.

So when I happened upon a ship that was visiting all those places on a 15 night voyage I knew I had to take that trip, so that when I eventually come to do the re-write I’ll be better informed.

“How so,” I hear you cry? “Come on Stuart, get with the times dude. With Google anyone can find anything about anywhere; statistics, history, maps, satellite photographs.  It’s child’s play. No need to leave your desk.”

Well yes, but in my view also – no.  Statistics and dry facts don’t tell you everything. You can’t hear them or see them – not really – and you can’t smell and feel them.

Statistics and dry facts don’t tell you everything.

I’ve read novels and scripts set in places such as Paris, New York, London and I just know the writer has never set foot there. They don’t have the sense of it, the smell of it, and the feel of it.

Absolutely nothing gives you the true sense of a place like going there…then it becomes real, and your book or script leaps from the possibly banal and clichéd (and frequently inaccurate) to one with verite.

I wanted to go to the Falklands because our script centers around two battles. In December 1914 a British fleet sank four German warships and drowned 1,800 German sailors about 40 miles off its coastline.  Six weeks earlier a German fleet had sunk two British ships and killed 1,500 men off Coronel in Chile.

I wanted to see exactly where those men died, witness the cruel sea as they did.  

I needed to feel the juddering, pitching of a ship beneath me as it battled high seas and howling gales, and try to imagine the terror of being sunk there!

And later in my voyage I had the thrilling – if eerie – opportunity of knowing the exact moment I was sailing over the precise locations where the battles had taken place; and where fathoms below me, the wrecked ships and the hundred year old remains of those brave men lay.

To me that is research. It sends a shiver down my spine now as it did at the exact moment I passed over the locations, to think that what I had written about had one day been cruel reality for these men.

When I come to the inevitable re-write, that will inform and inspire my work as nothing else can.

Next time: Precisely what I did in the Falklands and later locations in terms of actual research; and what the producers had me do also to help with the project.

And how if you can’t afford the time or expense of visiting a location, the best way of putting spice, and smell and feel and atmosphere into your research.

 

Still loving Scrivener and trying to stay sane

I’m still using Scrivener every day, and I gotta say, I love the little bugger. It’s so convenient.

  1. I can work on my computer *if* I get a chance to sit down at my computer during the day.
  2. If (more like WHEN) I get sidetracked, I can have my book in my pocket. Even if I don’t get a chance to do any hard-core writing, I can still go back and at least review my outline to keep the story and characters fresh in my mind. For me, that’s so important. Even if I don’t get a chance to sit down and do any writing for a week because I’m so burned out, I at least don’t lose the story. It’s so hard for me to come back from that because I feel like I have to start over when that happens. Jeff Goins explains the importance of writing every day on his podcast here.

For all you breastfeeding mommas out there…this little app, Scrivener for iOS, is a godsend. It syncs with the computer and the computer syncs with my phone. Brilliant.
Yes, for me there are a few little kinks. I’ve gotten some weird “conflicts” registered on my phone and computer. This happens if I don’t sync immediately after I’m done writing and then I switch to the other device to continue writing. It takes a little getting used to, but I’m loving it. Moral of that story is to sync immediately upon finishing writing on whatever device so that it syncs to the Dropbox. From Dropbox, everything syncs and it’s all good.

Today, I got another THOUSAND words done. I didn’t think I’d have the energy. It was a long day, but a good day with my kids. I love to be a SAHM and I’m writing at night now. It’s kinda killing me because I’m up so much at night nursing the baby, but I feel better after writing. If I don’t write, I might feel less tired because I sleep instead, but I feel more FULFILLED when I write.

I know there is a balance and a breaking point. If I write and don’t  sleep, sleep deprivation will catch up to me. I pushed that yesterday. I pushed myself too hard after staying up all night with the baby. My husband gets the brunt of my bad mood when I do this. Thankfully, he’s a very patient man and very supportive of my goal to finish my book. Don’t get jealous ladies, but he cleaned the house, did laundry and the dishes for me. Because he knew I was tired and stressed.

I’m tired because I’m nursing my 9-month-old all night. I’m stressed because I’ve been fighting to find affordable health insurance for my youngest son. I know there are many families with the same or worse challenges, but I’m bummed with this. So far my search has been fruitless, frustrating and depressing. But I always feel better knowing that, at the end of the day I can go write on my book for an hour or so. If I ever make money from this book, the proceeds will likely go towards funding my youngest child’s health insurance premiums. It’s more of an incentive to finish right now than anything else.

To the end of writing-to-keep-me-sane, I highly recommend using Scrivener in iPhone app and computer program form. It’s helping me knock those words out even on difficult days like my last few days have been.

I’m finishing this post while nursing my son back to sleep. He’s so sweet.

Everyone, keep writing especially if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. The world needs your stories!

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone: 5 Useful Apps

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone

Write Your Novel on a Smartphone

You cook your own simple meals and iron your own shirts. You know, like normal people. You clean your bathrooms and do your own dishes. You don’t have the money to “outsource” your everyday chores to make time to write.

You certainly don’t have a ghost writer. The only person who will get your writing done is…you.

When I sit down to write, I remember the literal laundry list of dirty clothes and folded laundry. The sticky floors, the dirty dishes, the overflowing trash is all calling my name. It’s hard for me to be tied to a chair in front of the computer for 30 minutes when I know I have to get lunches packed for the next day.

Does this sound familiar?

Sure it’s hard. It’s a fight every day for mommas to carve out time to pee much less to write for thirty minutes. I do sometimes write on my phone WHILE I’m peeing. As long as the baby is in his playpen and not crying (he cries because I’ve put him down for literally a minute.) He’s been very attached lately. He’s an eight-month-old so I can’t really blame the poor little guy.

Lately, the best time to get a little revision or hurried writing in is while I’m breastfeeding. If have more energy than the bare minimum that allows me to scroll aimlessly through Facebook in order to keep my eyes open, I will whip open one of a few apps. Here are a few that I find useful to get some writing in while I have a few minutes during my day.

Scrivener

The app that I use most often lately is Scrivener. The app has only recently become available at the time of this blog post. It’s awesome. Well worth the money I spent. It syncs with my computer via Dropbox.

Google Drive/Google Docs

Google Drive allows me to basically brain-dump ideas for books, articles and blog posts. I have designated folders for blog ideas and creative writing for books.

Notes

Notes occasionally serves me well as a quick spot to write down a story idea. Mostly I use it for grocery lists and copy/paste recipes from Facebook.

WordPress

WordPress is an excellent way to post pictures from your phone onto your blog without having to upload them to your computer. It’s also nice to do some last minute revision.

Evernote

I used this for a while. It didn’t do anything for me. But you can check it out for yourself via the link above. It’s supposed to be like a notecard and file folder all-in-one.

Also helpful are some pointers from Michael Hyatt on strategic iPhone use.

I hope you find these useful and get some writing done, especially if you plan on doing NaNoWriMo this year. Every extra word counts!

 

Why I use a smartphone to write my novel


I’m a mom to two small children. I understand the struggle to find time to write.

Most writing advice includes many references to “just do it” involving the phrase, “get your butt in a chair” or “sit down and do it.” This advice is all well and good, but if you DO NOT EVER SIT DOWN because you’re a mom, this advice doesn’t work for you. In fact, this advice can become downright discouraging. If you can never sit down, this post is for you, mommas!

Sitting down at the traditional “writer’s desk” to get a significant daily word count is next to impossible for me at this stage of my life. Especially since #secondbaby, my 8-month old, is still #breastfeeding. He’s up eating every two hours. #nanowrimo is almost upon us and this year, if you want to participate, I say go for it! Go for it even if you have no time to “get your butt in a chair and write.” Here’s how I did it!

I’m so busy. I still want to pursue my passion for writing and become an author despite limited time. Over the last year as I experimented with time savers I realized I needed something that would allow me to multitask. That something is a smartphone.

Over the last year, and especially the last 8 months, writing on my smartphone has helped me stay on track with my novel by enabling me to write every day, even if it’ only a few words here and there.

I am a SAHM/WAHM so I stay busy with my two kids and housework. But I found that I can use a few ten minute to thirty minute time slots throughout my day. Breastfeeding is a great example of time that can be used to multi-task. I also can write while my boys are playing quietly together (this is rare). Or, and let’s get real here, during bathroom breaks. Just remember, when you’re determined and crunching time, you gotta take time where you find it. Just sayin’…

Over the past year I’ve used my smartphone to write. Even hunched over a baby nuzzled to my breast, bleary-eyed at 3am, I can still text words into my smartphone. That’s mostly how I made it through #nanowrimo2015 (aside from my husband’s heroic efforts to buy me time. @knightsbayne ) It works.

I tried using a laptop computer while breastfeeding but the “clack, clack” of keys as I typed one-handed woke up the baby.

While I looked for ways to get extra word count for #nanowrimo before the baby was born, I used Google Docs for iPhone to write. Now, since I find myself using my smartphone more and more for novel writing, I’ve explored several apps. There’s a lot out there. I will cover what apps I found most useful in my next post. The app I use now for novel writing is Scrivener by Literature and Latte. This is a link to a FREE TRIAL. I DO NOT get any money for sharing this. It’s just a great program.

I’m a mommy and I’m a writer. Mommy-writers, especially of small children, need all the help they can get to achieve their goals. I know I do. While I have far from mastered writing or time management, I hope to help in my small way by sharing my experience, even if only to provide encouragement. Writing can get done even when you have no time to “get your butt in a chair.” You just have to think outside of the “box” where the traditional writer’s space is concerned. Maybe even if your writer’s “chair” is a “white throne.”

Making Time to be a Writer When You are a Parent to Little Kids:


You CAN be a Parent and a Writer!

It’s REALLY hard…but you have to ask yourself, what do you really want?

Being a writer has been my dream since I was a little kid. I want to use writing as a way to make income from home as a WAHM. 

  • What do you want?

If you DON’T want to be a writer, then do yourself a favor; don’t do it! There are lots of ways to make an income from home. INSTEAD: Find something that will make your heart sing. That’s where you belong. ❤️

But if you DO want to be a writer and you have small kids, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

How to Make Time to Write When You Have Small Kids graphic3

  • What Are Your Priorities?

Crystal Paine in a interview with Jeff Goins on his podcast, My Portfolio Life With Jeff Goins said,

“I think you make time for what is a priority to you, and if it’s not a priority, you make an excuse.”

This speaks to me about how I make time for my writing. If you don’t really want to do it, you’ll find some way not to. Sure, you’ll have off-days where you get nothing done. That’s the nature of parenthood. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about consistently carving out time for yourself to do what you know you need to do despite obstacles.

  • What Will I use to Write With?

As moms/parents, we rarely have a hands-free moment. If you want to be a writer, you need to find a way to get your ideas down on-the-go.

I use a smart phone. I’m using a smart phone this very second to type out this blog post. It’s 3:30am and I have a sleepy nursing baby in my lap who cries the instant I set him down. But with a smart phone, I can use this down-time to write. If you can text, you can write. E.L. James wrote much of Fifty Shades of Grey on her blackberry!

There are a few essential Apps I use to write on my iPhone, but it’s whatever works for you. You can even use your email feature or the “notes” app that comes with the phone. The idea is that you should be able to transfer your writing to a computer.

If you don’t have a smart phone, don’t despair! If you still want to write on a one-handed apple device, the old iPod touch models and even just an iPhone that’s not connected to a phone service (wifi is helpful) would be excellent tools. I saw one offered for as low as $50 used and refurbished on Amazon.com.

If you’re not a smartphone user, consider a notebook and pen that can fit in your pocket. The downside is it requires two hands for these tools. If you can do a vocal recording to transcribe, a mini recorder might be best for you. You can also do vocal recordings and even voice-to-text on an iPhone. That way you can still be one-handed.

  • How Can I Create More Time?

Streamline

Writing takes up a lot of time. Sure, you can get a lot done if you do a little at a time, but there is something to be said for MAKING a dedicated chunk of time. That chunk could be as small as ten minutes as long as you have focus. But how will you come up with that time? Streamline!

Is there a chore that could be delegated to your spouse/significant other?

Can you pre-make freezer meals in batches to give you an hour or two of free time on other nights?

Can you turn of the television and give yourself that time?

A great resource for mommas trying to find time is The Fringe Hours. I loved this book.

Budget Your Time

You can start by budgeting your resources to make sure you don’t over-commit. Make a list of only a few things. Only what you can accomplish in one day. I have a list nowadays if about 3 items. Sometimes I get more done and that’s great. But I’m not overwhelmed with a huge list.

A great resource for this is Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.

Set Priorities

Everyone only has so much time and energy. Don’t be afraid to say, “No!” Here are some tips by Crystal Paine on how to say no in a productive way.

Think About money

Also, be sure to budget finances. That way if you need new writing software or want to purchase a domain name for your blog, you will know if you can afford it. A great resource for financial budgeting is Dave Ramsey. He changed my life with the audio cd set, Financial Peace University.

It’s very hard to concentrate on writing if you’re not sure if your rent check is going to bounce! Do yourself a favor and use a budget.
My family uses an easy and free app/website by Dave Ramsey www.everydollar.com. 

Another great resource is The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.

  • Decide

Decide that it is a priority to be a writer, use a tool to make it easier, and budget your resources.

You CAN be a mom and a writer!

What better example for your kids than to have a dream, make a plan and follow through?

Are you a parent and a writer?

Please share your struggles and successes in a comment. 

 

Additional resources:

Michael Hyatt Podcast on Productivity

 

How to Make Time to Write When You Have Small Kids

Editing #Nanowrimo2015 novel – Editing day #2

Scout Semmes here! Writing early this morning

After doing the #makoveryourmornings course with @crystalpaine I’ve been in the habit of getting up early and I want to get up early to finish my book! Today, I went through my manuscript and made templates for each character. They are still blank. All I have is the character’s name, but I will be able to go back and fill in the details later.

My #nanowinner2015 novel in Scrivner

My #nanowinner2015 novel in Scrivner

As you can tell in the side bar, I have separated 8 chapters so far as I’m going along and I have A LOT of characters that I need to flesh out. But I’m really LOVING this program. You can also see that the main story is in the top pane, but I can still manipulate a character template in the bottom. This has already been incredibly helpful as I go through. I’m making notes on revisions too as I go.

Day with #firstbaby

image

Husband, @knightsbayne had a guy’s day today, so it was just me and my little man. We did great! He usually cries when daddy leaves, but today I guess he wanted to spend some time with mommy! Yay! Daddy is usually his absolute favorite person. But today he spent an awesome day indoors with mommy.

We did a lot of activities after I got back from the grocery store. We ate lunch and he actually said eat. : ) He’s still learning to talk and communicate his needs. He’s doing super super well!

He likes his quesadillas that mommy makes for him. It’s corn tortillas, buttered, with melted cheese between them on a skillet. Nothing super fancy or complicated. Thank goodness! Did you notice I’m referring to myself in third-person? LOL #mommyproblems

He loved coloring today! He usually doesn’t have that much of an attention span for that, but today it was rainy and cold outside, so we opened up his bag of markers and got to drawing. He kept saying, “I did it!” Super, super cute.

#firstbaby, my 3-year-old toddler, fell asleep finally on the couch after I had tried to get him to take a nap for an hour. He also pooped his diaper right before falling asleep lol. When I walked by, tiptoeing (no small feat with me being 32 weeks pregnant with #secondbaby), and smelled that, it was in that awkward deciding moment…

My thoughts: Change his diaper and risk waking him up? Or let him sleep in his own poop?

Ah, #motherhood. When you have to make the hard decisions. I did go ahead and change him and by the grace of God, he went back to sleep. I tried to sleep with him, since I had been up since 5:45am after a late date-night last night with husband @knightsbayne. I don’t know why I couldn’t fall asleep…I at least rested for about an hour.

After we woke up, we played and had dinner. We read Narnia tonight for about 30 minutes. He wandered off after listening quietly. He was super quiet, so I followed him to his bedroom…

#firstbaby put himself to bed! He was down at 8:45pm tucked himself into his covers. It is 10pm now and he only just actually fell asleep after playing with his toys for a while, but he was ready to get into bed without any fuss at all. Considering how much he has resisted going down for naps and bed time for the past few days, I was shocked. Especially since he had a late 2 1/2 hr nap today.

Grocery shopping and couponing

Sure, you might not think it’s all that glamorous. But hey, a writer has to eat! And as a writer about to quit her part-time day job, it’s even more important to score those deals baby! It took me about two hours this morning to sort through gathered coupons from the past two weeks and pull the ones I needed for the #Kroger mega sale. Many thanks to @krogerkrazy for all their hard work to gather deals for me to look up! It saves me SOOOO much money and time to have a blogger specifically for my favorite store, especially since she does the unadvertised deals which few bloggers do.

I also made a list for Albertsons to get the sale produce. Apples, onions, carrots, tomatoes, pears and bananas. I consider anything $0.99/lb and under a good price for produce.

My #kroger haul today included stocking up on diapers for #secondbaby! Ended up spending $40 on two bags and two boxes of diapers for both boys. Saved myself about 50% on diapers thanks to coupons, sale, and a Huggies catalina generating at #kroger for diapers!

We also needed the normal stuff, toilet paper (scored @ $0.21/per roll!), cereal ($0.89 per box), Tide laundry detergent pods ($1.50 each bag), bread (FREE Friday coupon, NLA), discount canned pumpkin ($0.49/can), discounted Heinz gravy ($0.69/jar.) Also got some salad making stuff: lettuce, cucumber and spinach.

Also, scored a sweet deal on our favorite pasta sauce, Classico, which is usually the more expensive brand of sauce. I stocked up 5 jars for $0.99 each! We has just used up our LAST jar of pasta sauce when my husband @knightsbayne made me some delish spaghetti the other night. Just in time!

I had already cooked for myself for the week using what we had in the pantry. See my recipe reviews HERE

But, we have plans for everything I bought. I mostly practice very loose meal planning because my son is a picky eater and my husband mostly likes to cook for himself.

The red pasta sauce will end up in spaghetti and on pizza. I use a slightly different recipe, but @crystalpaine has a recipe for breadmachine pizza dough. I roll mine out, top with cheese and pepperoni and sauce, etc. before I freeze, but I do make my own frozen pizza.

The white Alfredo sauce I plan to use for a chicken alfredo and spinach pasta for an at-home date night with @knightsbayne. Nice thing about the recipe is it is totally a freezer meal!!!! I love this recipe by The Virtuous Wife.

We’ll be eating a lot of salads because I’m trying not to gain more weight than I already have with this pregnancy. Stocked up on fruit for snacks and for #firstbaby who eats fruit at each meal.

Exercise

I am SOOOO sore from yesterday’s workout that I could barely move my legs this morning. So, I’m taking today off. I’ll get back to it tomorrow though!

Editing #Nanowrimo2015 novel – Editing day #1

Last night, I was too tired to get much of anything done on my novel. We had a very long, but productive day.

Accomplished yesterday:

  • Spending time with my husband
    • I will absolutely admit that my husband is head-and-shoulders hands-down a better cook than I am. Totally. So, my husband cooked for me last night. Yay!My husband made us an awesome tuna steak and shrimp dinner. My parents, for Christmas, gift us with food we would otherwise not be able to afford. Like TUNA STEAK. Omg. So delicious. my husband made this marinade concoction for the steaks and I ate almost the entire thing. It was amazing. Also, my husband can boil shrimp like nobody’s business. So, we had an at-home movie-and-dinner date after the little guy #firstbaby went to bed. : )Husband @knightsbayne and I are obsessed with the Amazon Prime tv show, The Man in High Castle. I love alternate realities, dystopian of course. This one is one of the best I have ever seen! Anyone else a fan? No spoilers!!!!
  • Getting food ready for the coming week
    • I have been experiencing pregnancy-induced pleurisy, so I’ve been trying some home-remedy type foods. Since, you know, I’m pregnant and can’t take ANYTHING. So, I’ve made this Indian spice tumeric chicken recipe, with a little modification. I subbed coconut milk for chicken broth and diced tomatoes for tomato sauce. I’ve never made it soupy before. I usually just omit everything but those ingredients. This time it turned out like soup. I also made it in my crockpot. Delish…
    • I also made this lentil taco recipe in my crockpot yesterday omitting just the salsa. Also amazing. Beef seems to aggravate my condition, but I LOVE burritos. So this seems to be a great alternative. I had this topped with cheese in a  tortilla yesterday. A+
    • I tried making my own pita bread in my bread machine using a recipe that wasn’t exactly FOR a bread machine. Eh…They didn’t come out with the big air pockets I was looking for, so I’ll be trying this recipe later. What’s good Indian food without pita bread? I love pita bread, so any excuse to eat it. Also, I don’t know what it looks like in your area, but in Louisiana at least, premade pita bread it SOOOOO expensive. That’s why my quest for a good recipe.
    • You probably noticed that I love my crock pot and my slow cooker…a lot.
  • Getting the house cleaned and ready for #secondbaby
    • My husband and I are doing some organizing and purging of our bedroom to make way for our #secondbaby crib. We cleaned up A LOT yesterday, so the spot for our baby’s bed no longer looks like this…
    • IMG_6208.JPG
    • Sure, it’s not finished yet, but it’s progress! We’ll moving the cabinet soon and have space for #secondbaby in our bedroom!
  • Spending time with my #firstbaby, my three-year-old
    • I try to do fun and educational games with my three-year-old. We played and went for a walk yesterday after he INSISTED that he did not need a nap. Then, promptly at 6pm, fell asleep on top of me. His bed time is at 8pm, so of course we had to keep him up and awake for 2 hours. Oy! Children, so contrary. LOL
  • Excercise!
    • I tried out this preggy exercise video. It uses yoga and pilates (which I have never tried before) and seems like a doable routine for very pregnant me. (32 weeks guys!)
  • A little writing time
    • By the end of the day, I was pretty tired and sore from my new exercise routine. But I managed to get a little work done on Scrivner in the form of playing with the character templates. Hopefully, my writing time will be more productive tomorrow!

Goals for 2016 – Becoming a Writer WAHM

By Morgan Paige Allain aka The Inkling Girl

Artwork By Morgan Paige Allain aka The Inkling Girl


Hi! This is Scout Semmes. 

The new year is only two hours away at this point. I’m so excited for the new year, 2016. This is the year of change for me and my family. We are taking a leap, my husband  especially is taking a leap of faith…in me.

This year, after #secondbaby is born in March 2016, I will be a WAHM (for those who don’t know this acronym, it’s Work at Home Mom). My husband believes in me, so much, that he wants me to write from home instead of working part-time. I’m so excited for this new stage of my life. I don’t have to start from scratch either.

In November 2015, I participated in in #Nanowrimo2015, so I’m working with 50K+ words of story. This is a lot of “something” to work with . My awesome husband also bought me Scrivner!!! I’m incredibly excited and I’m writing in the program RIGHT NOW. It’s something that I have been wanting for so long, to be a writer. And I have an opportunity to be a writer.

My writing goals for 2016:

  • Write 30 minutes per day, 4 days a week
  • Post one blog post every 2 weeks

I’ll be posting about my progress with #editing my book from #nanowrimo2015.

What are your writing goals for 2016?

Decluttering is Part of My #nanowrimo Novel Editing Process

CONTINUED FROM Part 1: 3 REASONS DECLUTTERING IS PART OF MY #NANOWRIMO NOVEL EDITING PROCESS

I’ve made it a goal to reduce clutter and get organized so I can have room in my life to write. I need to write! Here are the goals I’m working towards to make it easier for me to accomplish my writing goals. #wordcount!

My goals:

  1. Reduce Physical clutter
  2. Reduce Mental clutter
  3. Improve Organization

GOAL #1 REDUCE PHYSICAL CLUTTER:

I’ve made some progress with physical de-cluttering as you can see below…

Before:

declutter part 1

 

And after:

 

AFTER DECLUTTER PHOTO

 

This is kind of reminds me of those games they have. With the two pictures and you have to spot the difference? Yes. I know the progress is small, but it is forward progress! Our house is lovely and small, so we store stuff where we can. Including a baby mobile and a stroller behind my writing chair! LOL We’ll find better spots for these as I work on cleaning out, reorganizing and tossing stuff. But progress is just that…progress. And I’m 31 weeks preganant. So, GO ME!

As is somewhat obvious from the photos, I’ve gotten rid of some stuff. I’m not finished, keep in mind, but I’ve made progress with reducing physical clutter. Here are the highlights:

  • 2 large bags of shredded documents
  • Old envelopes
  • Outdated coupons
  • Blank recipe cards
  • Kid’s toys

GOAL #2 REDUCE MENTAL CLUTTER:

My husband came through for this one! He bought me Scrivner for Christmas! Yes, this is a writer’s dream-boat program used to write ANYTHING and it can be used, unlike regular word processors, to write in a non-linear fashion with ease. Hence reducing mental clutter.

I don’t write in a a very linear fashion. I like to move scenes around and follow characters around. Somehow, I ended up writing in a more or less linear fashion for #nanowrimo2015, but I can assure you that I will not be #editing in a linear fashion. No way…I’ve only had the program downloaded for a few days and I’m already in love with it!

In addition or organizing my writing with Scrivner – thank you@knightsbayne! – I’ve organized my 2015 paperwork in preparation for tax season. So that’s a weight off my chest! I’ll be getting to that in January. I have to think ahead since I have #secondbaby due in March2016!!! And seriously, who on Earth wants to deal with taxes while trying to nurse a barely-month-old infant? Show of hands? *hint* (not me!)

GOAL #3 IMPROVE ORGANIZATION

I got some some super pantry organization tools for Christmas!

One for cans:

One for small food items:

My husband also built me…AN HONEST TO GOODNESS PANTRY! We had been using a bookshelf to store all our pantry items, but my husband crafted me a pantry. This was especially necessary since I’m in my second year of couponing and stockpiling is, well, a thing now. LOL

My new pantry in progress:

 

pantry in progress

 

Finished product:


As part of improving organization, my next project is to make room for #secondbaby, which means clearing out stuff.

Where our baby bed is “supposed” to go!

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me! Wish me luck and check back to see how I’m doin’!

What are your declutter and organization hurdles?

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Winner 2015

I won #NaNoWriMo!

I won #NaNoWriMo!

This year, after trying since 2008, I finally won #Nanowrimo. It was a long hard month, but after 7 years of failed attempts, I was able to finish. It felt so amazingly wonderful to know, even if it is absolutely terrible, there is a completed 50K book waiting for me on my Google docs.

My husband @knightsbayne was absolutely my cheerleader for this venture along with my very good friend Stuart White. It helps to much to have people to encourage you, especially when you don’t feel like going on.

I would sit at my computer some evenings (and 5am mornings) and just wonder if it would be worth it in the end. But my husband, by turns (helpful)slave driver and lover/cheerleader would always encourage me to sit my butt in the chair and get ‘er done. Even when I was a day behind. I can tell you, facing that blank page in mid November was very difficult. After skipping a day, because I was just feeling so sick, I was facing completing over 3K words in one day in order to stay on track. Word sprints did help, but mostly it was just sitting down, sometimes with a timer, and not letting my fingers stop going on the keyboard.

And Stuart White was always incredibly encouraging telling me what a great job I was doing despite obstacles like pregnancy, husband sickness, toddler’s sickness and my own weekend where I felt like I was so sick I was going to curl up and die.

Thank you also, to my wonderful local #nanowrimo participants who welcomed me to their write-in. : )

Now, it’s on to editing. Happy writing!