Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Things to Eat and Drink During NaNoWriMo

If your brain is working overtime and your creativity is starting to wear thin, consider what you’re eating and drinking. Both activities have a remarkable influence on creativity, stress handling, and overall brain function. Here are a dozen things to consider ingesting beyond a cup of coffee when you’re trying to get your mental muse in gear.

  1. Water
    Starting off with what to drink, we’ll begin with something that makes up around 80% of your brain. Making sure you’re hydrated can boost mental flexibility by 14% (and it’s the least expensive on this list!)
  2. Green Tea
    Besides a jolt of caffeine, green tea has an amino acid called theanine that can reduce creativity crashing.
  3. Alcohol
    There’s a reason why so many writers drank alcohol, and it wasn’t always talking to their publisher. Alcohol reduces executive thinking, relaxes the body, and is known to increase creative thinking. The problem is you shouldn’t drink it while driving or in excess, so no going to any NaNoWriMo write-ins with a jug of moonshine.
  4. Fish, especially non-farmed Salmon
    The amino acids and Omega-3 oils help to increase the size of the hippocampus. Fish is brain food, so it makes a good meal and can build the gray matter. Try not to get fried fish though, as that can decrease the good stuff and add calories.
  5. Egg Yolks
    Egg yolks contain choline, a nutrient that is crucial to creating some neurotransmitters that boost memory and brain speed. Yolks also have a good dose of Omega-3 oils.
  6. Popcorn
    Popcorn is a good snack unless you soak it in the tasty but not healthy stuff like heavy salt, butter, oils, or ranch. My favorite was popcorn dipped in yellow mustard (sounds weird, but is surprisingly delicious and addicting.) Whole grains help regulate glucose, and the additional B6 and B12 vitamins can boost concentration.
  7. Pumpkin Seeds
    Halloween is over and you’ve made a pile of pumpkin seeds in the oven? Good for you! (If not, add it to your list for next year’s NaNoWriMo!) Pumpkin seeds make a great snack because they contain zinc, an essential mineral that boosts memory and critical thinking. For some folks, they can also act as an anti-depressant and boost your mood.
  8. Berries
    Berries are brain food, plus they’re tasty and healthy for you. Some of them, like the tiny blueberry, have lots of antioxidants. Berries have nutrients to help maintain communication between brain cells and to promote survival and growth of new neurons.
  9. Seaweed
    Seaweed-based snacks (or even a meal of sushi) contains tyrosine, a nutrient that promotes abstract thinking.
  10. Avocados
    Avocados or dips like guacamole enhances blood flow and oxygen to the brain, so feel free to order up a delicious bowl to share with your writing buddies.
  11. Walnuts
    Since walnuts look like miniature brains already, you shouldn’t be surprised to see them here. They contain lots of neuroprotective compounds like melatonin, antioxidants, and those familiar Omega-3 oils. Studies show they increase cognitive performance and inferential reasoning skills.
  12. Dark Chocolate
    I saved my favorite for last. Dark chocolates contain flavanols, a nutrient that increases the blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels. There’s also a little jolt of caffeine and the mineral magnesium, which releases serotonin and endorphins.

Now that you know what to eat, add some of them to your Thanksgiving feast this year and get a few extra hours of writing instead of falling asleep with the tryptophan blues.

 


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Writing Stories – One Layer at a Time

Shrek - LayersI love in Shrek when he tells Donkey that ogres are like onions. They have layers. Even though Donkey suggests layered cake would be a better image, the onion analogy really works.

Books can be like ogres, onions, or cake, depending on the day and how your current scene is going. They’ve got lots of layers, and sometimes discovering a new layer can dramatically affect how we approach a work in progress.

Diving deep into a new novel during a focused writing burst like Nano can really help the story come alive in ways impossible to do when we’re outlining or planning or just writing a chapter a week. When we get deep into the zone, we can see things about the story we might have never imagined. We peel back the outer layers of plot, setting, and outer conflict to some of the deeper layers of motivation, inner struggle, and world view of our characters that shape their decisions and how they react to the world.

Those moments of discovery are awesome for both pantsers and plotters, and they’re key to ensuring that a story is deepened as well as broadened. We need to feel the heart of a story and make sure all of those layers align. Until we know those layers and make sure they build upon each other in a solid, optimized way, there’s at least one more draft that still needs to be done.

I’ve learned the hard way that even when I thoroughly outline a story, I don’t really know that story until I’ve worked through all those layers. I might write a huge 200,000 word draft that only touches on the outer layers. It’s not until I begin working edits and diving deeper that the true story emerges. Sometimes that requires some pretty substantial rewrites, but that’s a necessary price to pay for producing a professional quality story. If we quit before that, we’ve cheated the story and ourselves.

Here are a few things to ask yourself about your story to check your progress and make sure you haven’t missed any important layers:

  • Is your plot finished? Do you have a solid arc, including your plot points? Do you know the ending?
  • Is your setting well defined? Are the locations where scenes take place fleshed out with sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch? Is your blocking clear and easy for readers to follow?
  • Is your main protagonist’s challenge clearly defined, with a clear antagonistic force in place, with rising stakes.
  • Do you know what motivates your protagonist? Your antagonist? Other main characters? Why do they see the world the way they do, and are they open to changing that world view, learning, and growing, or are they fixed, closed-minded, and set in their ways?
  • What is your protagonist’s inner struggle?
  • What do other characters struggle with? How do they handle stress? How do they handle change?

If you can answer all of those questions with confidence, you’re well on your way. Keep charging ahead to the end. If you’re not sure, take a few minutes to think about these layers and consider how answering them might add depth and meaning to your story.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

You’re Halfway There!

It’s the midpoint of NaNoWriMo. How are you doing so far? Are you way ahead of the curve? Have you fallen behind? Fear not, fellow writer, because there is plenty of time to get that 50,000-word first draft completed on time!

Remember to tie your editor muse up and stuff him into a cupboard under the stairs. Let your writing muse work her magic on you. Don’t worry about typos or if you want to change the name of a character from X’lat’on to Nhylat. There’s plenty of time and space after NaNoWriMo is over. Focus on getting words on the virtual page.

Make sure you enjoy yourself. Why not get a giant bucket of cappuccino, or maybe a delicious chai tea? If you work well with caffeine, keep a cup at your elbow filled with your favorite version. Light a nice scented candle. If you’re The Funky Werepig, light up one of your trademark underwear-scented candles. Put a drop of essential oil where you can breath it in.

In the end, no matter how many words you’ve written, you ARE a winner because you’re X number of words closer to your finished manuscript.

Are you stuck? Have a character do something unexpected. Have someone betray the fellowship. Set a python on your annoying cousin Dudley. Do that in real life, it’s fun and you can stream it to YouTube. No, wait, don’t do that in real life, it will take you away from writing.

Have someone important to the quest get lost and write a short separate arc that gives the reader more insight into the character’s character.

Keep at it, because in the end, this is what you may discover on your desk in the not-too-distant future:

 


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Write Like It’s Your Job

For many of us, writing isn’t our primary job. We have day jobs, night jobs, side jobs, odd jobs, freelance jobs, and job jobs. While we’re working toward writing becoming our full-time job, we just do not have the luxury of having it yet. In the meantime, we seize our free hours and moments, developing stories and getting better at our craft.

But this month? No. This month, writing is your job. Priority uno.

The truth about NaNoWriMo is that while 1,667 words a day for a month seems perfectly manageable, it’s realistic that you will not get to write every day. You might miss one day a week, and then you have some extra words to make up. You might miss a few days in two weeks, and your word count will continually snowball from there. It can become overwhelming very quickly.

I’ve only done NaNoWriMo twice, but I have some tips for success so that you won’t feel overwhelmed during November.

  1. 1. Sit down with your loved ones. Tell them you will be writing every day, and it will take at least an hour. That hour is yours. That hour is damn-near holy. Tell them they cannot disturb you during your writing session. Assure them they will survive your absence for that hour.
  2. Write more than 1,667 words per day. When you’re in the zone and you’ve reached your 1,667-word goal, keep going. Go until your brain starts to get tired and fuzzy. Keep going until your alarm goes off or your kid storms in and demands you change his diaper.
  3. Treat yo self on days you’d rather be doing anything but writing. Promise yourself a cookie when you finish your word count. Get a drink at the bar after writing. Ignore the rest of your to-do list and take a magical bubble bath and listen to your favorite podcast.
  4. Go to the library or coffeeshop to write. If you live in the middle of no where, go outside and write. Sometimes, staying in the same place to write can be distracting. Being in our house, apartment, or space can be distracting. There are a hundred other things you could do in your space instead of write. Don’t let yourself become tempted to do something else.
  5. Close all tabs in your internet browser. You can now only use the internet to Google a fact or for research during your writing sessions.
  6. Turn off your phone, or at least silence that mofo.
  7. Commiserate with writing buddies. Don’t have any writing buddies? Sign up on the NaNoWriMo website and find your local chapter. Research a Facebook group or a forum dedicated to NaNoWriMo.
  8. Plan a big reward at the end of November. A small trip, a vacation, a tub of your favorite ice cream, tickets to see your favorite band, a camping trip. Whatever it is, make sure it’s a big deal to you, and make sure you don’t buy your tickets until you have officially written 50,000 words in November.

Got more tips or tricks for staying focused during NaNoWriMo? Write them in the comments below!