Trying (All the) Times


It’s a big HOT TIP for writers: find out when you work best. Experiment and find out that secret segment of time when you are the most productive, when the creative juices are absolutely at their gushiest (ew).

I know every single of one of you probably went, “Sure! But…morning time isn’t happening. For obvious reasons*.”

*obvious reasons = warm blankets, constant zzz’s, Mr. Sandman.

Or, as a variation, “Okay! But…night is not going to work. That just isn’t for me*.”

*because the house is creaky or my wife gets cranky if I stay up or…

Look. You have to try everything.

Recently, we’ve headed into the busy time of my day job. We’re in the middle of the season where we get most of the workload. We are required to do overtime. We work on weekends sometimes. And at this point, there have been many days where I’ve gotten done, wandered downstairs and melted my butt into the couch. I’m not too proud to admit that.

Over the past week, however, I’ve started getting up an extra 30 minutes. That’s all. 30 minutes. That’s not even a whole episode of “Cutthroat Kitchen.” I’ve made myself stay at at least an upright sitting position and I have gotten shit done.

It works. Try it. Or, if you’re on the opposite end of the scale, try staying up a half hour later. It’s not much, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But you will have tried.

Is there a time of day that you have avoided because it just seems utterly impossible? Have you tried a different one and been shocked and awed by the results? Tell me about it in the comments or on my Facebook page!

5 Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo

Wow. I have been away. I’m sorry. I was busy getting a year older. But now I’m into the first day of being a thirty-something, and I have news:

This year, I am doing NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who think I may have just had a seizure, November is National Novel Writing Month, in which writers from all around the world will write 50,000 words, which is the equivalent of the Great Gatsby. All while trying not to be “that relative” who hides in the closet on Thanksgiving.

I’ve accomplished this feat before, but I believe I did it a March a while back (while back = years ago now). It’s not easy, y’all. But here are a few reasons why you should get in on this sweet word-crunching action:

  1. Focus: I have been all over the place the past year, what with buying a house, changing jobs, all kinds of stuff. My writing has, as a result, also been a bit all over the place. By taking this month out, I am going to really focus in on getting the rough draft of my next novel done, and I think that’s a good thing.
  2. Blood-pumping: I tried skiing once, and I somehow managed to point myself straight down a mountain. As I realized there was no slowing down, I leaned into it. It was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating experiences of my life. NaNo is kind of like that. Suddenly you’re all, “Gottawritegottawritegottawrite ohgodohgodohgod!”
  3. Drop and give me 2000!: NaNo is a great test of discipline. It means putting your head down, getting your hands on your keyboard and going the distance. CUE THE OBLIGATORY CAKE SONG. It’s, like, the novel-writers marathon.
  4. Love and community: You are absolutely not alone, no matter how much it may feel like it when you’re actually writing. This has become a huge movement, and you need only search on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or any other pick-your-poison social media site and you’ll immediately get to see other people who are as crazy as you!
  5. Fun fun fun fun fun: Go back and read that in your best Tigger voice. Reach deep in your meaty chest and grab your passion and do-si-do. Write naked. Write with coffee. Write without sleeping. You can do anything! And it’s a lot of fun. It really, really is.

Are you trying NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear about it! I’ll be blogging about my experience throughout November. Stay tuned as I try to get as much prep work done as possible between now and Halloween.

Writing About Buying a House About Writing


Recently, life has been a lot about breathing.

Stopping and taking long, deep inhalations. Drawing out heavy, whooshing exhalations. Saying, “Yes, I will freak out for this few seconds, and then I’m going to get back to work.”

My husband and I are buying a house. They tell you about the money part of it, how you need to have cash that will sing, that will tell people, “How about this guy? She is ready for this piece of property to be hers.” What they don’t tell you, though, is how much time you need.

How did people buy houses before smartphones and text messaging? Did people have to actually spend as many hours as I have just in text dialogues alone stepping away from their lives to get all this down? I have thanked a lucky star every time I’ve been able to sign a document electronically because if I had to actually go somewhere and do it in person every time I would have already lost my mind.

Getting overwhelmed has been easy. Casting one eye across a home that has been my hidey-hole, my magpie nest, my asylum for eight years…I can’t even believe how much can be accrued in that long. But here it all is. And it needs to be processed, looked at, decided upon, weighed, judged, tossed, packed, rehomed.

And I have to stop, take one of those breaths, and say, “Just one box. One box at a time.” And that’s made it easier.

When taking up a writing project, it’s easy to only see the sprawling expanse of words, letters, and keys. You start to go cross-eyed considering how many paragraphs are going to go into it, how much time it’s going to take just to get through a chapter, let alone a whole damn part of the thing. How are you going to get all the stuff that’s mashed into your brain compartmentalized enough to get on paper? You start reconsidering your life’s journey. Maybe information technology should have been your major.


Don’t do that to yourself.

You can’t pack an entire house in the blink of an eye. And you can’t write a book in one sitting. You are both the person eating the elephant and the elephant itself. Take one bite at a time. You’ll be okay.

You are the king of time. Rule.

May Haikus: 21-30

Respecting writers
Means accepting mastery
While expecting flaws.

A big city life
Means compromising your space
For promised culture.

Through the dappled wood:
Our footsteps a steady beat
Accented with breath.

Sundays are the best
When Monday is not in sight.
Save work for Tuesday.

Fireworks, cookouts:
Celebrations in order
To recall great lives.

The shoes of adults
Are not meant for the barefoot;
Laces too binding.

Darkest before dawn,
The deep breath after the sobs.
Come on. Time to work.

Lots and lots of wings:
A Pittsburgh delicacy
Best served in small hills.

Sushi for dinner
And a Target run for fun?
Weekend preamble.

May springs into grass,
Forget looking for it now.
June? Rabbit rabbit.

Finder Friday: 5 Things Worth Reading

It’s Friday. Aren’t you glad? I know I am. This has not been a great week in the news. I’d like to say things can only get better, but saying that sort of thing out loud never ends well. Or typing it.

Here are a few things I found this week that you might want to check out:

1. Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves — Sorry this one isn’t particularly cheery. Definitely not the normal fare. Thoughtful and well-written and so very, very true.

2. How Not to Write Your First Novel — Lev Grossman’s honest, poignant look back at his early twenties. I feel that any person who mocks millenials for their quarterlife crisis should give this a read. Every generation goes through this. This one just happens to have Instagram.

3. 10 Simple Ways to Become a Better Writer — Don’t let the simple title fool you. This one is a treat. I like 4, 6 and 10 the most.

4. How to Put on Your Face by Anna Akana — Again, not what you’re expecting. Believe me. Is that the theme for this week? Or just coincidence?

5. Notes from Austin Kleon’s Tumblr Office Hours — Read this. All. Of. This. Now. Please.
Did you know I actually already shared this in my weekly newsletter, “How to Have a Day Job”? You can hear about that sort of awesome stuff and more tips on maintaining your writer’s/painter’s/sketcher’s/whatever’s spirit by signing up right here!

5 Valentines for Writers

Ah, Valentine’s Day! A special time of the year when sweethearts do what sweethearts are supposed to do: throw money at each other and make the people who work with them nauseous! But no, really, I like Valentine’s Day. It took me a good 10 years to start getting behind it, eschewing my black clothing and glowering persona for a, you know, positive attitude.

Now, as my gift to all of you, here is a list of 5 Valentines for Writers: things to watch, listen to, enjoy and appreciate for it’s important message about twue wuv.

1. (500) Days of Summer: Stop shrieking! I hear you out there. “This isn’t appropriate! They say in the first five minutes that it’s not a love story!” While that is true, I feel that this movie is the epitome of a love story’s caricature: the sweeping joy, the disgusting infatuation, the devastating falling apart and then…hope.

Also, the soundtrack is pretty amazing.

2. The Fault in Our Stars: I recommend the audiobook, as I really enjoy listening to Kate Rudd read to me. It’s a cancer book, with all the things that make a cancer book a cancer book…there’s even a cancer book in it! Pretty meta, right? It’s YA, but it’s so beautifully written that through about half of it, you forget. And that sounds like a way to go, but…uh…yeah, you won’t actually stop reading/listening anyway. It’s that good.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

3. “The Bed Song” by Amanda Palmer: don’t get just this for your Valentine, because you’ll look cheap. Get the whole album it comes off of.

Sorry it’s a boring video, but just go with it.

4. Chocolate or an Edible Arrangement: who doesn’t love these things? I refuse to be clever here. They are delicious. People deserve these.

5. Eat, Pray, Love: either the book or the movie or both. Oh God, stop rolling your eyes. I’m actually not recommending this because of the love story snuck in at the end, although that’s nice. No, the real reason is that the deepest, most meaningful truth in this story is how much you are worthy of love. You deserve the right to be so in love with your life that you lose yourself in it.