Featured Image: “Sweetheart Ronin” Illustration

Happy Halloween! Originally, I was intending to post my thoughts on literary voice this week, but given that it’s a holiday (and the fact the conference I was supposed to speak at was cancelled), I’ve decided to showcase something a little more spooktacular (yes, horrible pun intended) instead. Some of you may be familiar with the Project REUTSway competition Reuts Publications hosted last year, challenging writers everywhere to pen new and twisted versions of your favorite fairy tales. No? You don’t remember that? Well, you’re in luck then, because it just so happens to have released today. That’s right, FAIRLY TWISTED TALES FOR A HORRIBLY EVER AFTER is available in eBook now! And will be available in a special hardcover edition in a couple weeks. I highly suggest you all check it out; it’s amazing!

But that’s not the point of today’s post (okay, not the whole point). I’m actually going to do a rare art feature. See, I was lucky enough not only to be involved with the selection of the gruesomely fantastic tales in the anthology, but also to create one of the many illustrations included within its pages. And trust me, there are some truly beautiful works of art in this thing. Want a taste? Well then, let me present my illustration for a story called “Sweetheart Ronin” by the talented Suzanne Morgen:

"Sweetheart Ronin" Illustration by Kisa Whipkey


Created to evoke the style of the setting (Japan, in case you’re wondering), this piece is a combination of traditional drawing with pencil and Sharpie (yes, Sharpie. Who knew, right?) and digital vector graphic created in Adobe Illustrator. In order to understand the significance of the elements, you’ll have to read the story, which can be located here. Buy it. Seriously.

And for those of you curious about Project REUTSway, click here. The 2014 competition, featuring challenges rooted in world mythology, kicks off tomorrow and runs all November long. So if you’re looking to flex those writing muscles, but NaNoWriMo is too daunting/impossible, head on over and check it out. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up drawing an illustration for you in next year’s anthology. 😉


Camp NaNoWriMo and the Final Outcome

We have officially reached the final days of Camp NaNoWriMo and my last post in this series. Technically, it goes until the middle of next week, but I figured you guys were tired of hearing about it, and not much is likely to change between now and the actual close of the competition. So I’m gonna call it, throw in the towel, and give you my final verdict on the whole shebang a tiny bit early. Sound good? Good.

What is the final outcome? Did I manage to do the impossible and write the full 50,000 words? Well, that’s a resounding NO. But I’m not sure that’s really the point of Nano anyway. I mean, yes, that’s the goal, but I don’t think it’s the point. I think the point is to learn– learn about yourself, about writing, about stress and time management, about your previously undetected penchant for binge drinking. (No? Not the last one?) Sure, it’s nice if you “win.” But if you don’t manage to cross that 50k word finish line, do you really lose? Does not finishing mean you failed? I guess that depends on how you choose to look at it.

Success is an arbitrary term, defined by a subjective set of measurements. By the definition of the competition’s rules, no, I didn’t succeed. I failed miserably. But that’s just depressing, so I’m choosing to measure my Nano success not by the number of words I managed to write, but by the number of things I managed to learn during the process. Which, you’ll see, is quite a few.

Thanks to Nano, I now know the following:

1) I am not, and likely will never be, a morning person.

By “morning,” I mean early, butt-crack of the day, before the sun rises “morning.” My grand plans of getting up at the same time my husband goes to work, at the ungodly hour of 5 am, lasted for about two days before getting tossed out the window. Turns out, I’m just not functional before 7:30. The couple days I did manage to resist the siren’s call of the bed resulted in a complete lack of productivity and feeling like a zombie for the rest of the day. So I decided it wasn’t worth it and reverted to burrowing back under the covers for an extra hour and a half cat-nap. Lazy? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as self-aware. 😉

I can now say with 100% certainty that my optimal creative time is between the hours of 8 and 11:30 am. (Right smack when I have to be at work. Lucky me!) After that, I battle with Food Comas and the Afternoon Blahs and am really pretty useless until about 5 pm. (Mexico has it right with the whole siesta thing. Maybe I’ll move down there.) I think, if given a lifestyle that allowed it, I would probably find I’m a night owl like my mom. But for now, I’m stuck wishing I had a brain-cells optional job that conveniently needed me only in the afternoon.

2) Nano isn’t really intended for adults.

Let’s face it, being a grown-up is extremely over-rated. Why we spend our childhoods fervently wishing to grow up so we can be saddled with responsibility, burdened by debt and shackled to jobs we hate, I’ll never understand. But I’m just as guilty as everyone else for wishing it and not a day goes by that I wouldn’t give just about anything for a do-over, for a chance to be 16 again and have the boat-loads of time I wasted back.

But I’m getting off track.

I noticed that most of the successful people in our REUTS Publications team competition were young. Teenagers, actually. Which immediately turned my jaded 31 year old self into an emerald of jealousy. Of course they stomped on me! What else do they have to do in the middle of summer? Even if they are working, legally, their hours are limited to hobby status rather than the mind-numbing tedium of a full time job (or three, in my case.) So they have the time to dedicate to churning out insane amounts of words in a short period of time. Therefore, it’s my firm belief that Nano was formed with them in mind, because the rest of us will find it nearly impossible to carve out enough time between family, work, housekeeping/life maintenance, etc. to keep up with the word count requirements necessary to win. And yes, I am a little bitter about that.

3) Plotting works better than Pantsing.

I haven’t outlined in years. Well, aside from a loose blocking-in of scenes so I don’t wander completely off the reservation while writing. But in terms of a true outline? I think the last time I wrote one was in like 2006. So I’ve obviously considered myself a Pantser. (For those non-literary folks in the audience, a Pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, as opposed to a Plotter, who maps everything out ahead of time.) But I knew going into Nano that I didn’t have a chance in hell of actually reaching the goal if I continued that way. So I opted to set aside the complexity of my current projects and work on something different. Something old.

That’s right, I dredged up that outline from 2006 for what could be considered a standard Fairy Tale and proceeded to have at it. Guess what I found? It’s easier to write when you know where you’re going with it! (Hello, Captain Obvious.) Because I knew this story’s plot inside and out, I didn’t have to waste time trying to figure out what came next and just focused on the characters. The result? 868 words in less than an hour. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot to most of you, but that’s a personal best for me. Normally, it would have taken about a week to get that much done on Unmoving. So I definitely recommend becoming a Plotter if you’re going to give Nano a try. I may even be jumping the fence to Plotter-ville permanently after seeing the difference it made in my productivity.

4) Technology is your best friend.

If you, like me, don’t have the luxury of being a teenager or a full-time writer, then listen carefully to this next bit– Technology is your best friend. Seriously. I would never have been able to squeeze in as much as I did without the aid of cloud-computing, smart phones and an iPad. Thanks to Google Docs (which I highly recommend), I literally carried my manuscript in my pocket, so whenever I had even 30 seconds to jot down a couple of words while sitting in traffic, I could. (I don’t actually advocate that. Texting and driving is bad. Don’t do it.) Pretty much everything I wrote happened while waiting to pick up the hubby from work, during my lunch break, while I cooked dinner or just about any other moment I could steal away between tasks. Technology is a beautiful thing, people. Embrace it.

Those are just a few of the lessons I’m walking away from Nano with, along with things like:

  • Writing action in first person is ridiculously difficult.
  • I can actually spew out a rough draft that isn’t complete crap– just mostly crap.
  • Energy Drinks are toxic and will make you look like a tweaker. (I already knew that, but it was reiterated.)
  • Simple narratives are fun but will inevitably try to complicate themselves.
  • Nano is quite possibly the best and worst thing any writer can attempt.

All in all? I’m glad I was forced to give Nano a try. Even though I didn’t win, I feel like I learned some really valuable lessons, things I hope will work to my advantage now that I’m free to return to my normal sloth-like pace. So believe it or not, I actually recommend it. There’s another one coming up in November. Give it a shot and see what things you’ll learn about yourself in the process. And for those of you who’ve already done it, what lessons did you come away with? Did any of them stick?

Camp NaNoWriMo and the Impatience Demon

Alright, week 3 of the REUTS Publications Camp Nano Team Competition is ending, and I’m starting to look like the stress ball I’ve become. My hair has definitely taken on a few more strands of silver, Carpal Tunnel has taken up permanent and painful residence in my right wrist and I’m pretty sure my blood is now caffeine. And don’t even get me started on the pounds I’ve packed on thanks to stress-eating several tubs of ice cream. Yeah, I told you this wasn’t going to be pretty.

Turns out, there’s a downside to curing the Perfection Plague. Just when you think you’re free and clear, it appears. Spawned from the depths of River I-Can-Actually-Do-This located in 50,000-Words-in-a-Month-is-Nothing Land, the Impatience Demon will take every shred of patience you have and maul it into nonexistence. And if you’re already an impatient person, well, sorry to say, you’re just doomed. You may as well have a bullseye tattooed on your forehead, because it’s coming for you, and, like the Grim Reaper, there’s no escaping it.

(What? Every camp needs a good ghost story, doesn’t it? 😉 )

I’ve never considered myself a patient person. In fact, before I discovered the beauty of headphones, I was that kid that asked, “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes on a road trip. So it’s not surprising that Camp Nano’s Impatience Demon found an easy target in me. What is surprising is the level to which it pushed me, sending me so far off the cliffs of bitterness and resentment that I became paralyzed. I’m sure you can guess what happened to my word count after that. Yep, last week was definitely not my shining moment productivity-wise.

What does an Impatience Demon haunting look like? Well, something like this:

You wake up feeling slightly sick to your stomach but sure you’re going to get things done. A few deep breaths and you’re good. You’ve got this. Until you realize that, oh crap, you have to go to work or that empty refrigerator isn’t going to get filled.

Grumbling, you punch in to your daily sentence at the Dreaded Day Job, only to get slammed with things that interfere with even thinking about writing, let alone sneaking a few minutes to do it. But you push through, growing more and more resentful with every paper that lands on your desk.

Eventually, your time is up and freedom is yours. Except, oh yeah, you have to put gas in the car. You roll up to the gas station and it’s got a bazillion idiots in front of you, lollygagging around the pump like it’s an ice cream social. When it’s finally your turn, you run into problems with your rewards points, say “screw it” after a few failed attempts, pay full price and head home– only to get stuck in traffic. Every jerk on the planet decides to cut you off, because apparently understanding the concept of merging lanes isn’t required to obtain a driver’s license anymore and you end up inching feet at a time until that 7 mile drive feels like 200 and you’re pretty sure you could have walked home faster.

You step in the door with a few minutes left before dinner, but you still don’t get to write. There’s a pile of bills you have to deal with first, and you watch your bank account dry up like a puddle in a drought. That’s Ok though, you didn’t really want to eat this week anyway. It’s now dinner time, so you scrounge around in what’s left of last month’s groceries and concoct something passably edible.

Now you get to write, yes? Nope, because there’s laundry to fold, dishes to clean, people to pay attention to, and oh yeah, your DVR is about to implode. You tackle all of these things, growing more and more irritated at anything that stands between you and the computer until finally, you get a moment to yourself to write. There’s only one problem, you can’t concentrate.

Focus? Yeah, you kiss that goodbye as it floats out the window on the laughter of the Impatience Demon.

Sounds a lot like the Procrastination Monster, doesn’t it? Except for one major difference– the Procrastination Monster gets it’s power from distraction, while the Impatience Demon’s comes from a lack of control. You want to write during an Impatience Demon attack, you just can’t, resenting everyone and everything that keeps you from getting to your manuscript.

I was actually shocked at how quickly I went from happily going about my daily routine to uttering streams of expletives worthy of a sailor over every little thing. I have never hated folding laundry so much. Or checking social media. Or answering emails. Or even watching TV! And you know if I’m resenting the DVR, there’s something wrong. That’s when I figured out I was being haunted, that my impatience had reached such a toxic level, I was in danger of burning everything to the ground in frustration.

So I did the only thing I could– I walked away. I disconnected from everything, buried my head in the proverbial sand for a couple days and pretended the Demon didn’t exist. Not my smartest move; it completely backfired. When I came back, the Demon was still waiting for me, except now it was armed with a mess load of things I was behind on.

But if I failed to exorcise the Impatience Demon, how is this lesson helpful? Because, Grasshopper, I didn’t fail.

Yes, I lost the battle, but admitting that I lost allowed me to find my fractured focus, pick up the pieces and glue them back together with a renewed sense of purpose. I called on all the Martial Arts training I’ve had to find discipline and all the tricks from decades of fighting Depression to forcibly change my thinking back to the positive. Essentially, I stripped the Demon of it’s power. And you can too.

When you find yourself starting to drown under the avalanche of things you can’t control, hating everything around you and sending your loved ones scrambling for cover from your fire-breathing nastiness, try this:

Step 1) Find an appropriate outlet for all that pent up rage.

Go for a run, punch something (preferably not your loved ones), escape to the library, the beach, or anywhere that grounds you in tranquility for a few hours. You’ll feel the Demon’s poison leech from your brain, and when you return home, you’ll be ready for step 2.

Step 2) Remind yourself to see the silver lining.

This step is the hardest. It takes a lot of will power and self-realization/acceptance to change your thinking. But it is possible. All it takes is stepping outside of your negative thoughts, realizing that your perspective is skewed and forcibly changing your thought process, focusing on positive things instead. (I make it sound so easy, don’t I? Trust me, it’s not. It took me years to master it.)

For example, say you’re royally ticked off about having to do the dishes, your thoughts swirling around an image of breaking plates on the wall. Recognize that thought as negative, realize that your emotion is far more violent than the situation warrants, and press pause. Now, try to think of what’s good about this particular activity, like the fact that you won’t have smelly dishes stinking up your kitchen, the feel of the warm water, or the smell of the soap. Once you have that positive thing in mind, press play again and your thoughts will take on a rosier disposition. See? Not that hard once you figure it out. The hardest part is recognizing when your thoughts take that turn down Negative Lane.

Step 3) One step at a time.

Now that you’ve let go of all your angst, the Impatience Demon is gasping for life. You’re just about free from its clutches. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, like everything is out of your control, take a deep breath and focus on a single task. Forget everything else. Put blinders on and just get that one thing done. Then move on to the next task on the list, focusing entirely on that one, and so on. Before you know it, you’ve conquered the entire list! Pretty slick, huh?

And there you have it. A simple remedy for surviving the Impatience Demon’s attack. I’ll bet, if you listen hard enough, you can still hear the echo of its last cry as it disappears in a poof of smoke. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? Now take your victory and get back to writing. I know I’m going to. I’ve got one week left and a massive number of words to make up!

Camp NaNoWriMo and the Perfection Plague

Week 2 of my participation in the REUTS Publications Camp Nano Team Competition (Whew! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) is drawing to a close and I’ve fallen further and further behind in word count thanks to the Procrastination Monster’s evil twin, the Time Thief. Just like the Dryer Gnomes, who sneak in when you aren’t looking to raid your socks, the Time Thief steals away minutes from your day. I’m sure you’ve had days where you start off well-intentioned, then life steps in and next thing you know, you look up to see it’s dinner time, and you could have sworn all you did was blink. Yep, that’s the Time Thief’s fault. Sometimes, if you listen hard enough, you can hear him laughing as he runs away with armloads of your missing minutes, grinning from ear to ear like the maniacal little bugger he is.

But that’s not actually what today’s post is about. No, I pledged to write each week about what I’d learned from my time spent at Camp Nano. What did I learn from week 2? That perfection is a plague.

Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me, Mister! I’m well aware that perfectionism is a common topic here on Nightwolf’s Corner, and you probably think I’m beating a dead horse. But hear me out; this time it’s got a different ending. I promise. 😉

The Perfection Plague is an illness that attacks your muse from the inside, slowly squeezing the life out of her like a giant boa constrictor. It’s highly contagious, spreading from writer to writer, and is eventually fatal– for the muse, not the writer. Symptoms include a tendency for alcoholic binging, a refusal to work when called upon, and abandoning you to the wolves of inner editors until you’re so frozen by the fear of writing something less than perfect that you write nothing at all.

If you’ve been paying attention to my posts over the past months, then it should be apparent that my own muse is bordering on being DOA. I’m surprised she hasn’t keeled over as it is. Maybe she’s slipping some kind of exotic cure made from rabid plot bunny fur into those fruity beach drinks she enjoys so much. I certainly haven’t been doing much to help her out, creating such high expectations for my overly-complicated, tangled narrative webs that some days, I can’t even bring myself to open the file for fear I’d just mess it up. Or, if I do manage to write, I agonize over it, revising and editing and sometimes just straight up deleting and starting over. Yeah, I’ve got the Perfection Plague bad. In fact, I’m probably Patient Zero.

But fear not, my fellow perfectionists, the Perfection Plague can be cured. (At least, I think. It’s kind of early to tell.) That’s where exercises like Camp Nano come in.

The whole point of Nano, if you recall, is to simply write. To throw all caution to the literary wind and get lost in the wild abandon of creative freedom like a naked hippie dancing in the rain at a music festival. Or, to be less poetic, to word vomit all over the screen until you hit that hideous goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. And, in case it’s not painfully obvious, that leaves very little room for perfection. In fact, it forces you to break the chains of expectation and just say @#%& it, following your muse down whatever weird and twisted rabbit hole she manages to find. It’s not pretty, and for a perfectionist, it can feel a lot like an exorcism.

But as painful as the process is, you learn something valuable– how to be prolific. Yes, nothing you write will be anywhere near your usual standards. Yes, you’ll feel like you’ve suddenly been struck with Schizophrenia as those inner editor wolves howl louder and louder. And yes, this novel will make your first attempts in grade school look like Pulitzer worthy masterpieces. But you know what? None of that matters. Because you’re writing. Constantly. And that lesson alone is worth the misery, the ulcers, the prescription for anti-anxiety meds you were forced to get when you ended up in the ER with a panic attack.

Seriously, it is.

I don’t know about you, but I had reached the final stages of the disease. I’d become so paralyzed with requirements for myself that my writing had come to a screeching halt. If I was lucky, I might eek out 300 words once a month. Maybe. On a good day. And part of that was due to the fact that I’d somehow gotten it into my head that I needed dedicated time to write. (Hmmmm, now where could I have gotten that idea from, blogosphere?) That I had to have the perfect storm of conditions– silence, hours of availability, limited distractions (I’m looking at you DVR), and inspiration. And if I didn’t have any of that, I didn’t write. The Perfection Plague had progressed from simply attacking the words I wrote to infecting the process itself, spreading like a cancer to overtake everything even remotely writing related. Even my plot bunnies were starting to suffer, dying with weak gasps shortly after birth because they weren’t strong enough to make it past the Gauntlet of Genericness. (Yep, totally made that word up.) A few were even eaten by the others in a fit of cannibalistic rage, combining their concepts into horrifying franken-bunnies I’m honestly kind of scared to write.

Then along comes Nano with a lovely little break from the complexities of Derek or swapping tenses in Kindred, or anything else I’d become mired in, and suddenly I was free. Like an asthma patient’s rescue inhaler, Nano cleared up my constricted creative passageways and I can write again. Freely. But more importantly, I now want to.  I actually look forward to those moments, however brief, I can steal some time to work on my manuscript; something I haven’t felt in years. I’m not saying that I’d stopped enjoying writing. Just that it had lost some of that sparkle of innocence you have as a teenager first starting out. When the pressure of creating a product worthy of charging money for didn’t exist and you hadn’t contracted the Perfection Plague yet. When you wrote simply because you loved it. That’s a nice feeling to remember.

I’ve written more in the last two weeks than I have in the last year, working whenever I can, even if all I have is ten minutes while I wait for my cup-of-noodles to cook. (What? I never claimed to be a culinary genius.) Is it brilliant? Definitely not. I’m embarrassed by the very thought of letting anyone read it. Does it terrify my editor side with the massive amounts of revision it will require? Most definitely. But that’s OK. My hope is that once Nano is over and this manuscript gets shelved in the darkest, dustiest archives of my computer’s hard drive, I can take what I’ve learned about being productive and apply it to my more complicated, perfection-mired projects and actually succeed in finishing them! If that happens, every second of torture endured will have been worth it.

I still don’t believe it’s wrong to be a perfectionist, that it’s a literary sin to edit and revise while you work, and I fully expect to return to that routine. But when that starts to stand in the way of ever finishing anything, when the Perfection Plague has withered your muse into a ghost, it’s time to try something new. After all, they didn’t coin the phrase, “Outside the box” for nothing. Care to join me?

Camp NaNoWriMo and the Procrastination Monster

Some of you may remember my first post about Nano, where I described it as a lesson in self-torture, an insane endeavor that I would gladly never partake in. Well, time to eat those words. Thanks to a friendly kick-in-the-butt sponsored by the REUTS Publications version of the Camp NaNoWriMo competition, I am now five days into self-imposed insanity.

“But it’s July,” you say, “Isn’t Nano in November?”

Why yes, yes it is. Fortunately, the Office of Letters and Light, founders of the original National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo for short) finally realized that November was just about the worst possible time for anyone to attempt this manic exercise in writing hell and created the twice-yearly Camp Nano project, inflicting their misery on writers in April and July as well as November, and thereby enabling my panic-inducing mission during the hottest part of the year, when my brain melts like a tub of ice cream and my muse decides Alaska sounds like a lovely place to run off to– alone.

But despite my cynical sarcasm, I do believe that the idea behind Nano is a good one– for everyone else. It forces writers to duct tape their inner editor’s mouth and just write. To push through that first draft of crap and complete the bones of a novel in a single month. Will that novel be anywhere near publish-ready? Heck no! But it will be done. That feeling of accomplishment can motivate a writer to either revise and edit that horrific mess of a manuscript or more likely, throw it onto a bonfire, roast some marshmallows over its carcass and move on to the novel that will be publishable. Because now they know they can do it. And that’s an enviable feeling. One I would love to experience.

Which is why, when the idea for an in-house version of Nano was raised at REUTS Publications, I foolishly volunteered. It’s no secret that I’m highly dissatisfied with my level of productivity and have been looking for a way to fix it for a while now. Will Nano be that fix? Doubtful. I suspect that I’m just not built to write this way.

Where most people wrestle with an inner editor, I wrestle with the fact that I’m 3/4 editor, making the practice of writing what I instantly know is awful far more difficult. I’ve had to restrain my editor side with a straight-jacket chained to the wall to keep her from getting in the way. And I can still her screaming at me through the duct tape to revise what I just wrote. Needless to say, this is going to be an extremely interesting month.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to document the lessons I’ve learned about Nano and my dangerous dance around a mental breakdown. It’s likely not going to be pretty, but it will definitely be snarky. 😉

What have I learned after week #1? That one of the most sure-fire ways to get the Procrastination Monster to rear its hypnotizing head is to impose a deadline on your muse.

I don’t know about yours, but my muse is the most spoiled, self-centered, entitled brat I’ve ever met. If she doesn’t get things exactly her way, she’ll just straight disappear, pouting for weeks at a time on a beach somewhere, sipping fruity drinks to drown her irritation. So I knew when I said, “be here, this time, every day,” we’d have a problem. And sure enough, she lived up to expectation. As soon as I imposed a strict regimen of focus, she decided to sic the Procrastination Monster on me, resulting in a typical writing day that goes something like this:

Stumble out of bed, grumbling all the way to the shower, where I finally start to wake up. Excitement for all the many tasks I’ll accomplish streams through my head and I start mentally writing– blog posts, scenes from Unmoving, random to-do lists, etc. (What? Some people sing in the shower, apparently I write.) By the time that’s done, I don my super-woman cape, completely enthused and set out to tackle the day.

I sit down at the computer, all those lovely snippets of words still echoing in my head, and do what? Open my internet browser, glance at MSN’s homepage and hey, look, some dude caught a 200 year old fish. That looks cool…**clicks to read stupid article that has nothing to do with my day.**

5 minutes later, I realize I’ve been distracted and close said stupid article. I’m gonna write now. But maybe I should check my email first, just to see what’s up. There could be something important in there. **Logs in to first email account and proceeds to waste ten minutes deleting the pages and pages of spam it attracts like a magnet.**

Nothing good in that one, let’s see what’s up with account number two. **Logs in to second email, reads over all the various blog posts from awesome bloggers I subscribe to, sinking an hour and a half into informative procrastination.** There’s also a new submission for REUTS, a weekly update of all our awesome endeavors with a few discussion points, and some misc. emails from the authors I’m lucky enough to work with. (I love opening my email and finding REUTS stuff. Best part of most days!) So I dig in and start responding.

3 hours later, I’m finally done. (Yes, I’m slow and take my time, what of it?) Woo-hoo! Time to write. This time I do actually open the file, but I suddenly realize it’s laundry day and I’m wearing my last pair of jeans that actually fit. Horrified at the prospect of having to squeeze into too-small jeans, I leave the computer and throw a load of denim in the wash.

Alright, crisis averted, so back to the computer. I look at the title page of current WIP, ready to dig in and be productive. (By now, those glorious snippets from the shower are fading.) Oh, I haven’t checked Facebook yet….I wonder what everyone’s up to? **Meanders away from the document and browses Facebook newsfeed, looking for inevitable drama.** 20 minutes later, I reach the end of anything interesting and, satisfied with my dose of daily gossip, return to manuscript-in-progress only to realize it’s been way too long since I last worked on it and crap, where was I going with this scene?

Since the wisps of inspiration from the shower are now long gone, I decide to read over what I’ve written so far in the hopes of picking up the narrative thread. Who should decide to join me but my Editor-in-chief side, and she’s not going to let me past that sentence until I’ve fixed whatever’s going wonky somewhere in the center. More valuable creative minutes are lost to revisions until finally, task-master EiC is satisfied. Now I get to actually create, right?

Nope, because the laundry just stopped, and I really should eat something.

Another 2 hours pass before I finally make my way back to the computer. The laundry’s folded and put away, and I found something to munch on, so I should be all set. I cue up the spot where I left off, sure this time of where I’m going with the scene and….oh hey, Twitter. I wonder what’s happening over there? **Boots up shiny new Twitter account and gets lost in trying to figure out the intricacy of hashtags and @-signs.**

Eventually, I manage to frustrate myself and log off. I look up at the clock. “Son of a biscuit-eating monkey-nut, it’s 3:30 already? Where did the day go?!” I now have a half hour left before I have to pick Hubby up from work. Frantically, I go back to the neglected manuscript, the cursor patiently blinking at me like it has been all day, and finally manage to write something. Then I log off the computer, call it a day and return to life offline.

Meanwhile, my muse is sitting back, arms smugly crossed, laughing at me. (Yeah, I told you she was a brat.)

By now, I should have 8,065 words to actually be on track for successfully completing Nano. My actual word count? 1,997. (That, children, is what it looks like when someone gets bit in the face by the Procrastination Monster.)

So Round One of this battle clearly goes to my muse. (Well played, Muse, well played.) But I’m not giving up. I still have time to make up the lost words, to find a way to separate the Procrastination Monster from it’s tricky little head. If anyone has some tips from their own battles with the creature, I’d love to hear some victory stories. Leave them in the comments below. I have a feeling I’m going to need some armor to survive whatever else my muse has up her sleeves. 😉