Writing a Novel: When Starting Is the Hardest Part

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This month, I’ve decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, or Camp National Novel Writing Month. If you remember back in November last year, I wrote about regular NaNoWriMo and the joy that fall brings to writers. Summer can do the same. During the months of April and July, a different NaNoWriMo takes place. Instead of writing 50,000 words in a month, you can choose to write as many words, pages, or how long you write. It’s a fun, intense, and exciting time because you set the limits and get rewarded for completing them. What more could a writer want?

Well, a good way to start the story would be nice. For this Camp NaNoWriMo, I decided to restart a sci-fi novel I had started way back when I was 14. Needless to say, it needed a restart. So I sit down July 1st and start writing. I’ve got the prologue down flat and am just about to start the first chapter when…. I stall. How do I start a novel when I know I need to get from point A to point C, but have no idea where point A is and where point B needs to be?

This is can be the real struggle for any story writer, even  those who have been writing for years. Writer’s block is never something to pass off as something only new writers deal with. The only thing difference in writer’s block between a new writer and a veteran is that a veteran has some techniques for dealing with writer’s block that the new writer doesn’t. That’s it. So how do you push past it?

Well, to be honest, you push past it. You throw something unexpected in, continue down the path you’ve started and see where the story’s taking you, or stop writing that scene and start working on another. As I said, everyone deals with writer’s block differently. But you still have to push through it. Otherwise, you’re stuck for good with no way out. But how do you push through when you have no idea how to continue? Lots of people have different tricks, but they don’t work for everyone. The best way to break through writer’s block is understanding how you write and how you get ideas.

For me, I go back and forth between pushing through by just writing or through throwing something new into the scene. Sometimes the pushing through works on its own, but sometimes the story needs a little something. A new character, a plot twist, or even something tragic can take the story in a new turn to get it where it needs to go. What about you? Have you figured out your writer’s block breakthroughs? Or are you still looking for new ways to break it? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned on social media this August for an update on the blog!


Top 6 Video Games for Writers

Top video games for writers from worldbuilding to character creation.

Yes, you read the title correctly. Not many people connect writing with video games unless they’re thinking of distractions. However, as someone who both loves writing stories and someone who loves video games, I’ve found some games can help one extremely important part of writing: Worldbuilding. So figure I’d cover my top video games for writers to help with worldbuilding from character creation to literally building the world.

Plus with the upcoming Steam summer sale, you guys can also get copies for cheaper than usual. For those of you who don’t know, Steam is an online game superstore, where you can find all sorts of games for your Windows PC or your Mac. It’s my top place to search for games to play. Now, let’s get to my top 6 video games for writers.

(None of this content is sponsored, even for the Steam sale. All opinions are my own.)

6 – The Sims

One of the most well known games out there is The Sims. It’s got everything you’d want to live out a virtual reality: a customizable character and control over where they go, get a job, who they date; all kinds of neighbors; and even the ability to build homes, parks, and recreational buildings. Basically, it’s a one stop shop for literally building a character in the modern world. It’s basic at best when it comes to character traits, but it’s a good starting point. Add family building, learning skills, and the job, and you’ve got a surprisingly balanced character.

5 – Civilization series

While not among the most popular games, turn-based games like the Civilization games give you a good chance to build, well, civilizations. Again, it’s basic at best, but it allows you to plot out your reign of the ultimate empire. If you’re working on a world with a ruling empire, or have a character who is working towards that goal, you can learn different techniques to use in your story. Did they use superior war tactics? Trickery? It’s your choice. Just watch out for Gandhi.

4 – Fallen Enchantress

Want a situation like in the Civilization games, but with an added element of fantasy? Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes combines turn-based empire games with a little added magic and fantasy creatures. Other games also exist, but I prefer Fallen Enchantress for the range of characters, the range of magic, and the range of how many ways you can win in a given game. Play as the bad guy conquering everything in their path or as the good guy just trying to keep the peace. Either way, it’s a great option for fantasy worldbuilding.

3 – Terraria

Now for some literal worldbuilding games. Terraria is a side-scrolling, mining game. Think like a 2D Minecraft with no creative mode. You go questing, mine for materials, kill zombies and slimes, and defeat bosses. While there isn’t an alternate universe, there are plenty of places to explore, from underground temples to battling huge monsters. You can also shape the land through digging on the surface, build homes for you and the NPC shopkeepers, and more! Definitely one of my favorite over all games.

2 – City Skylines

Want to create a setting, and not worry about the characters for now? City Skylines lets you literally build a modern city from the ground up! It’s similar to Sims City, with more features and control over the environment. If you’re working on a modern fiction piece in an urban setting, City Skylines will let you build that city from the ground up! You can also simulate disasters if you’re incorporating those in your story.

1 – Minecraft

It’s very hard to live in the modern world and not played or at the very least heard of Minecraft. The crafting ability, mining features, and monsters have made Minecraft staple of gaming around the world. And it’s also fantastic for literal worldbuilding. There almost isn’t a limit to what you can create from basic villages to homes to castles to cities. It’s also one of my favorite video games to play, and I definitely recommend it.

And those are my top 6 video game for writers. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other games out there to choose from. In fact, almost any story-driven game can also be used as a writing tool, looking at where character development fell flat, where the setting shines bright, and all sorts of other story specific details.

Video games are often tossed aside as learning material because they’re virtual, new, and to some controversial. As a casual gamer myself, I’ve seen firsthand how a game can jump start creativity. So as a gamer and a writer, I say we shouldn’t discredit the potential games have to fuel creativity and the writing process.

What about you? Are you a fellow gamer-writer, and if so what are your video games for writers picks? Or do you think games shouldn’t influence writers? Let me know in the comments, and until next time!


Finding the Motivation: Writing in College

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(It’s a little ironic that this is a post about writing motivation, and it’s late because I have little motivation to write anymore. Welp.)

As anyone who’s done personal writing during college can tell you, it ain’t easy. There’s homework that need attending to, a body that needs cared for, and sleep to be had. And that’s just the beginning stuff. Then there’s papers, projects, presentations, and other random homework that pops up out of nowhere. Between all those assignments and the need to take care of yourself, writing non-school-related things can be hard. Add the dreaded writer’s block, and boy does it get messy. So what’s a girl, or guy, to do about it? How do you stay motivated to write when school builds up?

There’s no set way to get back into writing, since motivation varies between person. For me personally, reading through old stories sometimes sparks my interest and desire to write. Sometimes, the sheer anticipation of an event like NaNoWriMo helps a lot, too. In general, I try to peak my interest back on what I’ve been writing. When it comes to new stories, it can be a little more tricky.

If I don’t have a set idea, writing a new story can be kind of a pain. I always try to flesh out the main characters, the general plot, and the setting before I start writing. So far, that technique has worked pretty well, but sometimes I can’t even get those things to cooperate with me. Instead, I’m left with a blank Word document, trying to beat the characters I very lovingly crafted onto the page without so much as a peep from them. It’s annoying to say the least.

Sometimes, just the characters show up. Sometimes, I can only get the setting right. And sometimes the plot starts out okay and two pages later, I have no idea what I’m doing and how I’m getting to the next step. Even nonfiction can be a pain, when the scenario I wanted to write about suddenly stops being a source of inspiration and starts being a source of bland sentences piling up on a page. Motivation definitely doesn’t come as easily as it used to, and it hasn’t gotten easier. I also don’t have a lot of time to write personally, between the reading and papers. I’m hoping that after I finish this last semester, I’ll have more time to sit down and write more often, but we’ll see what happens.

So what about you? How do you stay motivated to write despite life’s craziness, especially if you’re still in school? Are there specific triggers you try to get the creative juices flowing? Or do you set time aside to write everyday? Let me know down in the comments, and until next time!


The Signs of Autumn

Whether you call it fall or autumn, the time of year between September and December is almost magical, or perhaps bewitching. The cooler weather, the crunchy leaves, the colors, the eeriness, and the ultimate joy of wrapping up in a blanket with warm food or drink and a good book or movie. It can bring an immense feeling of nostalgia and joy to those who love the cooler temperatures and beautiful eeriness of fallen leaves and bare trees.

But there’s another sign of fall that is rather subtle, and only really apparent to those who look and listen closely enough. The sounds of writers everywhere getting things set up for National Novel Writing Month in November.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an exciting time for writers and authors. It’s essentially one month to buckle down, turn off the unnecessary distractions (most of the time), and just write. Most writers chose a story for a novel, and some do nonfiction like memoirs or poems. Still others do fanfictions, short story collections, thesis papers, or all sorts of other writing formats. But the main motivation is always the excitement. There’s something thrilling about getting together with a bunch of other writers in the fall. We gather with our coffees and hot chocolates over computer or paper and just write our hearts out.

Autumn is always a magical time of year. From the transition from summer to winter, to getting cozy with a blanket and warm food or drink, to the writer’s excitement that November is coming and with it, a journey into a new realm of writing. These are the things that make fall magical and enthralling.

So I’m curious. What are you’re favorite things about fall? Or if fall isn’t your favorite season, which one is and why? Let me know in the comments below!