When is a Writer Not A Writer, Because It’s Not When They’re Not Writing. Or is it?

Did that make sense? I mean, I always defended my right to call myself a writer whenever I go through long stretches of not writing. I get defensive and prove–with novels and plays and stories and poems already written–that I am indeed a writer. Even when I am not anywhere even remotely nearby the actual literal act of writing. But is that all just one big cop out? Am I justifying the owning of the title by pulling up historic data that makes it seem like it’s so when it isn’t actually so?

Wisdom from graffiti found on the Camino de Santiago…

By that measure, I should call myself a professional double-dutch skipper. I mean, I was REALLY good at it 45 years ago…so I should in fact still call myself a double-dutcher, no???

Maybe we should consider ourselves writers only while we are writing. The act of writing makes it so. I am writing at this very as we speak moment, typing these words out…so, therefore and ergo, I AM A WRITER. But once I click PUBLISH on this post…maybe I should just become Breather again. Human. Non-Writer.

Would it motivate me more to only call myself a writer while in the act of writing? I need something to get me to keep on track. I am between novels. One was just released. Three are near completion. One is completed and without a home. And I sit and do nothing writing related for far too many hours of the days I have left.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

I keep hoping for an Elves and the Shoemaker scenario. I mean, aren’t the statistical odds in my favour that this could eventually one day happen? I’ll wake up one morning and all three WIPs will be completed! Perhaps the elves will even leave a lovely pair of slippers across the top of the manuscript, which will be neatly tied with a pretty purple ribbon, and finished off with a bow. Or, no…that is perhaps asking too much. Maybe they’ll just leave me a chocolate. After all, I can’t expect them to make me a pair of slippers and finish the drafts of all three manuscripts, can I?

See…this is me typing words now. I am fulfilling my claim that I am a writer, simply by typing this gobbledygook. Thereby tricking myself into not being required to dig into those manuscripts and get cracking. I’m so good. There should be awards for WRITERLY PROCRASTINATION!

How’s your writing going? Are you on task? Are you getting things done? Are you calling yourself a WRITER?

It’s NANOWRIMO 2020 in precisely 9 days from now. Are you participating? Are you planning? Are you going in with an outline or cold turkey pantsing it once the day (NOVEMBER 1st) arrives?

I need to commit to something, so I suppose NaNoWriMo it will be. Sometimes just thinking about calling myself a writer when I’m not in fact writing is stressful enough to motivate me to get back into the game. I keep thinking about that little saying, if you don’t use it you lose it. Man, I would hate to lose writing just because I’m too lazy and unmotivated to write RIGHT NOW.

Once I stop writing this post, I will be a non-writer again. Until the next time I write something. Here’s to motivating myself to have less time in between these two realities. Or at least slipping into WRITER now and then. I’ve been so bad lately. Let’s see if waving this threat of removing the title from myself is the trick that gets me back in the business of word slinging. Wish me luck!

Oh! And good luck with NaNoWriMo, if you’re imbibing! And don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s the journey, not the destination. It’s the writing, not the having written. It’s the time spent in the web of words, not the word count. Just enjoy yourself this NaNo! 2020 is enough of a mess without imposing self-inflicted punishments on ourselves for something as arbitrary as word counts. Just enjoy the words you DO spend time with.

Happy NaNo, writers who are writing!

Novel Aesthetic for NaNoWriMo, Explained

So, one of the prompts for the #LGBTQwrimo hashtag calendar over on Twitter for the month of November is to create a novel aesthetic for your WIP (work in progress). I don’t usually do these, but I’m attempting to do all the month’s prompts. So, here is the NA for my current WIP, which is tentatively titled Aaron With an E:


Novel Aesthetic – Aaron with an E

I didn’t really get a chance to break the aesthetic down on Twitter, so I thought I would do so here. So, my novel aesthetic…in six photos. (The six photos are referenced below and are highlighted in the pseudo-synopsis below:

In the top left corner, we have my main character, Aaron. Aaron is going through the discover process of realizing they are non-binary. They are in Grade 7 at Riverside Elementary. Every year Aaron has gone to a different school. Their father does not have his shit together and he’s moved the two of them around from city to city in his attempts to stay employed and sheltered under a roof. Aaron is always the new kid in school. On their first day of school, Aaron finds out that Grade 7s always have a talent show. Every year, there is the annual Riverside’s Got Talent show. The talent comes from the grad 7 class and participation is mandatory. The behind the scenes crew are the grade 8 class. Aaron is lumped in with Conrad and Zack and together the three students need to discover their talent and produce something to showcase it for the competition. Aaron realizes up front that the biggest competition is the hottest boy in the whole class and his group of friends. Billy is the lead singer of the actual band his group comprises of. Aaron has a super crush on him and also fears competing against the hottest band since the beginning of time. Aaron, Zack and Conrad discover a mutual love of manga and graphic novels when they come across The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang in the school library. Each has dabbled in drawing comic books and in a last ditched effort to come up with a talent before the teacher automatically assigns one, the three students decide to create a new comic and turn it into a short video by utilizing each of their talents.

We shall see how this goes.

Happy Nanowrimo’ing, writers!




Nano Nano – Shazbot!

I use the Orkian curse word because, well, I haven’t been a good Nanoer this November.


Speaking of shazbot, did you realize it was the last thing Bon Scott of AC/DC ever recorded. At the end of Night Prowler, he said, “Shazbot, Nano Nano.” And then, he blinked out. Imagine, telling the world to suck it in Orkian right before you buy the farm. “Goodbye, cruel world.”


But I digress.

In ways, I’m disappointed in myself for not trying to nano more this month. But I also keep in mind that I finished a novel and submitted it to my agent at the beginning of the month. I did my Nano in October…in a huge way. And then I got lazy and justified my laziness with my October accomplishment.

How’s your Nanowrimoing going? Did you have a good story when you died? Enough to base a movie on?

I have been processing a lot. I feel another race to the finish line coming on with one of my perennially unfinished novels. I just have to get there. I have to get to that place where I feel the imperative of finishing . I am the kind of lazy that has to trick itself into action. I can go a whole eight or nine months NOT writing. But when I need to have a novel finished, nothing will stop the drive to get it done. The struggle is real. The hunger is real. I have been mapping the next chapters of my Camino de Santiago novel in my head for the past few weeks. Tweaking. Rearranging. The desk in my head is a hot mess. When I get things in order, I will be able to stream it through my fingers and on to the page. My Nano will happen when it happens.

Still, I like to make myself feel the anxiety and motivation of that November Feeling that NaNoWriMo has become for me. It’s the time of year when I force myself to feel the guilt of not writing, and to contemplate getting my BIC to write. I like the threat that the month carries. It moves me. If not to write, then to at least think about writing.

I’m winning NaNoWriMo. I can feel it. My word-count may tell a different story, but I have yet to figure out a way to count the words in my head. They’re there. They’re real. They matter.

As you continue to reach for that 50,000 word count for your 2016 NaNoWriMo, remember what the NaNo is about…motivating the writer. It serves as a reminder that time is valuable and that all you have to do to write a novel is sit and write. NaNo is about getting shit done. The real goal is to put Bum In Chair. Once you’re there…you can find a habit and carry NaNo with you throughout the year. Don’t make it about 50,000 words…make it about finding a home in your writing life. Make it about being kind to yourself and enjoying your writing life. Make it about telling a story. Make it about becoming friends with your inner-writer. Far too often, I see people talking about NaNo as though it were a war…I hear harsh words and self-hatred and self-shaming. Get over yourself and write. Shut the Negative Nelly up and put your bum in your chair and write.

30 days has November. This means that your daily goal to reach 50,000 words in the month of November is 1,666.666666666 words per day. If you don’t reach that goal every day, ask yourself if you wrote more words than you would have if it had not been NaNoWriMo. Ask yourself if you lived in your writer head that day. Put value on the words you imagined, even if you didn’t get them down. Don’t approach NaNo as though it were your enemy that you had to slay. Chill. Write. Or don’t write. Just be more WRITER.

Have fun. Embrace writing. Let’s be careful out there…


Be kind to your writing life. And have fun with your imagination. NaNoWriMo – the month of kaleidoscope eyes.

Listed: 2015 NaNoWriMo – How Not to Knot Your Shirt. Chillaxing the Nano…

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

It’s been a while since I listed. I think. So, I thought I would list a few ideas to make your upcoming NaNoWriMo experience an enjoyable one. NaNoWriMo itself is an exercise is productivity. I’ll leave that motivation crap to the experts. I haven’t had a motivating day in my life. I’m of the JUST KEEP SWIMMING variety, myself.

Before the list, the explanation for the newly initiated. If, indeed, there are any of you left out there in the big wide open.

NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month

I will take the very succinct ABOUT info from the NaNoWriMo site and direct you there for any further explanations and investigations about/of the yearly November event.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. 

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

After I found my very first NaNoWriMo experience in 2003 so incredibly fruitful, I decided I would keep doing it every November. That first NaNoWriMo was the drafting stage of my first published novel:


Before my first NaNo I always tried to write here and there. That doesn’t work for me. In fact, NaNo is even a stretch now, since I’ve been doing the novel-in-72hrs Muskoka Novel Marathon (MNM). But I still do the NaNo. It gave me one of my favourite stories and it showed me that there are many ways to write a novel. I need a frenetic pace…NaNo taught me that. MNM cemented that. I just cannot do the novel in a year…or two years…or three.

Oh, a list! Right. Almost forgot.

How to Thrive & Enjoy Your NaNoWriMo Experience Without Losing Your Head or Knotting Your Shirt – Listed: Chillaxing the NaNo

  1. Do not make the 50,000 words a threat. We writers beat ourselves up over so many things. Let’s not take a fun productive endeavour and make it our enemy. The whole concept of NaNoWriMo is to get BIC (Bum in Chair). We aim for a fruitful November, filled with the joy of writing and creating and exploring our imaginations. Pure and simple. Don’t hold the loaded gun to your head and scream at yourself when you don’t meet a daily/weekly word-count goal. Just sit. Just write. Or dance when the words aren’t coming. Don’t pull the trigger. The favour you are doing yourself is participating in an exercise in productivity. The take-home should be a thoughtful introspection of your own process and perhaps a new regime of daily writing time. Not anxiety, self-hate, and mutilation. Enjoy this month of creativity.
  2. See #1. It deserves the top two places on this list.
  3. Find out where/how/when you write best. Ask yourself who you write for. Ask yourself why you write. This month of dedicated writing time should not be wasted on the mere task of writing. With myself, I felt that it helped to shape my future writing ‘career’. It was during my first NaNo that I discovered my magic hour. I wrote in the tiny hours of pre-6am for years after my 2003 NaNo year. During my NaNo, I set myself the task of finding a daily time to write…to stay on task and meet my 50K word goal. I had no time, so I made time. Much like the Netherlands found land where once there was none. That 5am hour is GOLDEN for a full-time person attempting to write on the side. And I found my creativity surged in that hour as well. While you’re finding the time, look for the place too. Hop from one place to another in your living quarters, in your neighbourhood, in your country. Find the nook(s) that most suit your writing requirements. Do you like silence or mayhem? Are you a coffee shop writer? Or a subway writer? Or a library writer? Or a kitchen table writer? You have a month…go forth and discover your prime writing land. How? Any damn way you please, actually. NaNoWriMo can be done in a sketchbook, on cafe napkins, in a laptop, on a tablet. It can be done with a pen, a pencil, a stylus, a crayon, or a keyboard. Discover your how this November. Whatever works for you. Permissions—that’s what NaNo is about for me. While you’re dealing with the other questions, it’s also fun to ask the WHO YOU WRITE FOR and WHY YOU WRITE questions. Just for, you know, fun. These questions are all about finding yourself as a writer. What better month to do that than during the month that celebrates writing?
  4. Remember that the end-goal is about writing. It’s about taking the thought, ‘I’d like to try to write a novel’, and making it a reality. Sure…there’s an end-goal of 50,000 words during the month of November. Yep. It’s there. But the real goal is to get yourself writing…to form a habit. Let me break down the monolithic word-count goal for a second. 50,000 words. Sounds like a lot, right? Wrong. That’s 1,666.666666 words a day. I always think to myself, ‘if I can write one page a day, that’s a novel a year’. If you break down the seemingly impossible it becomes not only probable but possible. And then it becomes doable. But still…keep your eyes off the word count goal and on the BIC goal. Just sit. Just write.
  5. Community. Get yourself over to the NaNoWriMo website and register. There’s an active FORUMS section where others the world over are trying to do the same thing as you. I discovered long ago that writing is as much a community thing as it is a lone venture. My days with the WCDR have taught me the value of community when you’re a writer. Don’t underestimate it. Join the forums, join in on the discussions…you don’t have to do this alone. Writers support writers.
  6. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun. Put the gun down. Don’t pressure yourself. Get into a healthy habit of writing every day. Use November as your jumping off point to the rest of your writing life. You’re writing because you like to create. No matter how professional you come in this endeavor, never make it a job…never make it a horrible chain around your neck. Despair is not needed to be a productive enthusiastic creator of worlds through words. Just be yourself and remember why you write. And BIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  7. Chillax and have fun. Don’t lose your head or get your shirt in a knot. Sit. Write. Repeat.


NaNoWriMo – My Own Take

It’s NaNoWriMo time again. To those who don’t know what that means, it’s NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH. It takes place every November. The idea is to write 50,000 words during the month of November (that is equivalent to 1,666.666666 words per day). Not really a difficult thing to do for someone like me. I say someone like me, because I do the Muskoka Novel Writing Marathon every July. That’s a 72-hour novel writing marathon (that works out to 16,666.66666 words per day – a little more tricky!). But in November my writing skills are almost non-existent. So it’s just as hard for me to do 1,666 words a day this time a year as it is for me to do 16,666 words a day in July.

So…in order to cut myself some slack during NaNoWriMo, I have always taken a different look at this event than others have. I know some take the same view as me…but I also know that some take the win/lose side of NaNoWriMo very seriously. I’m just not the kind of person to take stuff seriously to the point of chastising myself…writing is my hobby. It’s something I enjoy profusely, but it is not something I’m going to start using as a weapon. Ever.

For ME, NaNoWriMo means getting your bum in a chair (B.I.C.) and getting some writing done. If the goal is 50,000 words in the month of November, I give myself a pat on the back if I manage to get 20,000 words completed. It doesn’t mean I didn’t win…it means I have 20,000 words that I otherwise would not have. Yay, Me! I refuse to see 20,000 words (or 10,000 or 15,000 or 45,000) as a failure. People have to give themselves CREDIT for getting B.I.C. during NaNoWriMo. The idea is to get writers writing…not to get them to beat themselves up if they don’t write enough.

When the starting whistle goes off tomorrow (NOVEMBER 1st, 2011), please don’t go in with the desperate feeling that you will win or lose. Go in with the knowledge that you are going to give the writer in you some extra time to get more words down. Give yourself a pat on the back, no matter how many words you end up with on November 30th. The idea is to get B.I.C., not make yourself feel terrible about your writing. It’s actually an event that celebrates writing. Remember this…and give credit where credit is due.

Be kind to yourself this NaNoWriMo. Forget the word count. Lose yourself in the words…not the quantity of the words. Output only matters in the sense that you are having output.

enjoy your NaNo experience! I know I will.

My first NaNo Project:

My 2003 NaNo Project – Published 2011