Unlock the Muse – November 26, 2019

At one time all things are new. But old things revived can also be new. This year for my NaNoWriMo project, I chose to continue working on an ongoing project rather than start something completely new. Although this is not recommended by the official website, sometimes, you just got to break the rules. And there’s nothing wrong with revisiting an old project, especially when the new ideas start flowing and everything feels fresh once again.

Whether you’re working on something new, or “new again,” November is coming quickly to a close. I hope you are finding success in whatever you’re working on. Above all, have fun with it!

As a bonus dare for this week, here’s a thought brought to you from Dove chocolates:

Dove chocolate

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Write a journal entry that describes nothing about your day. Pretend you’re living another life.

This is another opportunity to try out something new. Don’t care for the way your life is going today? Try out someone else’s. Maybe you’ll find the “old” is just fine after all.

In keeping with the spirit of “new” this month, I have a new set of Rory’s Story Cubes to share with you today. Here’s a roll of Batman dice for you! I hope you find fun inspiration to keep you writing all the words.


Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – November 19, 2019

I recently tried a new route to work. More and more, urban growth has been impacting my normal route, and things have consequently slowed down. And now, signs have been posted indicating a massive development project will be underway on this route for the next several months. It seemed like a good time for a change.

Of course, new isn’t always better, and in this case, it made little difference. Sometimes in our writing routines, it might be a good idea to try something new. If what you are doing feels slow and stagnant, change it up. Take your laptop out to a cafe or a park instead of writing at your desk. Write in the morning instead of at night. Use pen and paper instead of your computer.

A new routine can shake things loose. If you’re stuck, give it an honest chance. You can always return to the normal routine if things don’t work out. And maybe you’ll return with renewed energy.

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Spend 10 minutes today drafting the beginning of that dream novel or poem you’ve imagined writing.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, you’re likely already deep into that new novel idea that maybe doesn’t feel so new anymore. In which case, it might be better to jot down some quick notes on the “shiny new idea” that hit you in the middle of the night and table it until November is over.

If you’re not NaNo-ing, there’s no time like the present to dive in to that novel you keep thinking about. Write it!


1. Not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.
2. Already existing, but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time.

The word new comes to us through the Middle English neue, which comes from the Old English neowe, niowe, or even earlier, niwe meaning “made or established for the first time, fresh, novel, unheard of, untried.”

I found this bit from etymonline.com very interesting:

There was a verb form in Old English (niwian, neowian) and Middle English (neuen) “make, invent, create; bring forth, produce, bear fruit; begin or resume (an activity); resupply; substitute,” but it seems to have fallen from use.

Apparently, even what’s new can become old. Maybe we should bring it back into use – I’m going to newen a novel!

Make something that didn’t exist before. Experience something for the first time. 

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – November 12, 2019

It’s a new week. November is nearly half over already. When did that happen?

Did you try something new this week to excite your senses? I went to the local art museum and spent a good hour enjoying color, shape and texture. I had a fabulous time examining all the beautiful artwork. I am always impressed by the creativity of other artists. I’ll share more about my experience there later this week.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, how’s your word count? I’ve had a rough beginning, but that is nothing new. I’ve made good strides this week to make up the deficiency, but I remain a little behind. My goal is to get caught up by the end of this week.

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Celebrate Wednesday – the hump of the week – in a poem!

Don’t normally write poetry? That’s okay, we’re trying new things this month. Wednesday isn’t the middle of your week? That’s okay too. Write about Friday. Or Monday. Have fun with it!

I’ll leave you with this thought from Dr. Seuss:

New quote 1

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – November 5, 2019

November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is all about new things – new ideas, new goals, new novels. Whether you are starting a new novel this November, or – like me – working on an ongoing project, I’ll be celebrating all things new this month.

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Excite your senses. Take a day and go to an art museum, a fresh-air market, anywhere that allows you to see, touch, taste, smell or hear new things.

This is a great challenge for this week, or even this entire month. Find an event that focuses on one sense in particular. Write about your experience, giving special attention to the specific sense you chose to focus on. If you’re feeling ambitious, find an event for each of your five senses!

Go try something new this week, I dare you!

New things are exciting and fun – new adventure, new recipe, new shoes. But they can also be challenging and scary – new baby, new roommate, new novel.

Since this is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, let’s take a look at the “shiny new idea.” If you’re starting NaNo this month for the first time, or the tenth, and you still aren’t sure what to write about, don’t worry, the possibilities are endless. Your life experiences – whether they are memories of actual events or those experienced vicariously – are all fair game for novel writing.

However, if you’re genuinely stymied about what to write, or maybe you got ten pages in and just don’t know where to go from here, Sandy Writtenhouse of makeuseof.com has collected some idea generators to help spark more creativity.

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – October 29, 2019

November is only days away. For many this means end-of-year holidays are upon us. Fall has nearly fallen. And football season is in full swing.

It also means National Novel Writing Month. This year I’ll be trying to balance a 50,000-word writing goal with a 100+ books-read goal. I’m still behind on my reading challenges, and I hope that doesn’t translate into a disastrous NaNo.

Of course, before we can arrive at November, we have to get through Halloween. Or All Hallow’s Eve to some. The night we put on our disguises and become the monster within. Or perhaps it’s truly the disguise that falls away, and the true self emerges.

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

You may be thought of as “your father’s son” or “daddy’s little girl,” but are these descriptions true? In one sentence, write a description of yourself through your father’s eyes.

This is an exercise in empathy. Can you think enough like the other person (in this case, your father) in order to describe yourself the way they would?

It’s bonus week, and National Novel Writing Month begins in three days. If you’re participating this year, here are a few thoughts and resources to help you make it through:

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – March 5, 2019

It’s a new month. Spring is trying to emerge in my neighborhood, but it’s still been frightfully cold. I’m looking forward to warmer weather fun. Spring break vacation with my kiddos. Snuggling up with a book. Daylight Savings Time. Camp NaNoWriMo.

Okay, so not all of these things are fun. And some, though fun, will prove to be somewhat trying. Still, spring is in the air – a season of new birth, new beginnings.

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Write a journal entry about someone close to you who is no longer in your life.

This exercise is potentially a difficult one, but it could lead to a moment of catharsis. Let emotion loose on the page.

Newton’s first law of motion: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

This month, I’m focusing on MOMENTUM. If an object in motion stays in motion, than a writer must stay busy as well. Too much inactivity tends to stay that way. This is where I find myself of late. I allowed myself to take a break following November’s NaNo frenzy. The problem is, once idle, it is very difficult to start moving again. So what I need is that “unbalance force” to act upon my inertia. What do you do to kick your writing back into gear after staying away for too long?

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – December 5, 2018

It’s the beginning of a new month. The final month of 2018. And it’s a busy one, full of holiday craft bazaars, concerts at the elementary school, lighting candles, cookie exchanges, singing Christmas trees and secret Santas.

This time of year can also be difficult for a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons. Wherever you’re at, I hope you’ll find an outlet in writing.

Here is your writing prompt for this first week of December:

What elementary or high school teacher most influenced your decision to write by helping you with your work or exposing you to great literature? Write a letter of appreciation thanking him or her. If you can locate the teacher, mail the letter.

Maybe it was a parent, or another relative who inspired you to write. A neighbor? A friend? A coworker? Whoever it was, write them a letter.

After the frenzy that is NaNoWriMo, it can be all too easy to step away from the daily writing and let “taking a break” become consistently not writing. To avoid that, here are some great tips from prolifiko.com on how to continue (or create) a daily writing habit.

December can be a busy time filled with lots of traditional activities. My question for you this month is, how do you build these types of traditions into your fictional world?

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing a link to your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask!

NaNoWriMo Week Five: Books, Basketball and the End of All Things

This week was our final in-person writing event for this November, and I was determined to finally get my word count caught up to par. And I did it! Thanks to the huge slog on Black Friday plus three days of writing 3,000+ words, I finally managed to catch up to where I needed to be to win.

I have been hugely distracted the past week and a half or so with the 2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The new list of reading prompts was recently released, and I have been unable to resist working on my reading plan for next year. I am looking forward to getting back some of my reading time since NaNo is over. Especially the precious reading time I get to have with my kiddos. Oakland and I can’t resist a good story.


Speaking of the kiddos, all three of my sons are playing basketball this winter, and their first practice came this week. They are on two different teams, but fortunately, both teams have practice on the same night at the same location. After the soccer/football season we just had, this is a huge blessing! Oakland and I were hoping to get in a few words, but alas, there was simply too much chaos for writing.


I made it to 50k! It was a rough go for most of the month, but now it’s finally over. I have 50,000 words of a novel I didn’t have just 30 days ago. It is the End of All Things!

Okay, so reaching the end of the first draft isn’t really THE END. It is, in fact, only the beginning. Now, I will move on to the next stage in this process and begin turning this hot mess of a novel draft into something more palatable. Rewriting, revising, editing. Rinse and repeat. I may, however, take a bit of a break in December to catch my breath, reintroduce myself to my husband and children, catch up on my reading, and celebrate Christmas.


I went into this NaNoWriMo November with an attempted plan for the novel I intended to write. The planning didn’t go as planned, but I think the novel still came out stronger in the end for all the pre-NaNo pondering. I have a lot of work still to do, but I’m now more excited than ever about this series of stories I’m writing.

For me NaNoWriMo is a place where anything can happen, and often anything does. Now that it’s finished for another year, I plan to move forward with this series in a less mad-dash sort of way until it’s finished.

NaNoWriMo Week Four: Family, Feasting and Crazy Impossible Things

I have continued to be so far behind on my word count, so I set myself a goal to write 4,000 words on Sunday to open week four of NaNo 2018. It was our local NaNoWriMo write-in day, and at the three hour long write-in, I managed to write 2,400 words, leaving me with 1,600 left to write. With Sunday Night Football going on when I got home again, and children clamoring to be fed, I didn’t get to write much more until the kiddos were off to bed. In the end, I managed 3,000 words for the day. Not quite what I’d hoped for, but not a bad total after all.

Despite my dismal word count, I allowed myself to attend my book club meeting this week. Ours is not a traditional book club. We don’t select a single book to read and discuss it all together. No. Instead, we all read whatever we want then come together and talk about our favorites. Our group is called the Dragon’s Hoard Book Club, and our focus is fantasy and science fiction books, but we read pretty much anything. This week, I met some new members. And it turns out, one of them is a fellow Wrimo!


Who doesn’t love a huge feast? But I’d venture to guess, fewer of us enjoy the hours of prep and the mountains of clean-up that go along with the feast. My family has chosen the last several years to gather at a local church that has a large enough facility to accommodate our extended family. We each prepare some part of the traditional American Thanksgiving Day meal and bring it to share. My assignment this year was to prepare a green bean casserole and a cheesecake. I think Oakland enjoyed the dessert making process, but it made for a very late night with little writing accomplished.


The first year I participated in National Novel Writing Month, way back in 2010, I ran across a forum thread on the NaNo site labeled “10k Black Friday Challenge.” I thought then, and I still do, that this is a crazy, impossible idea. I loved it! Of course, I had to work on Black Friday back then, so writing time was minimal. I failed quite spectacularly in reaching 10k words. In all the years since, I have endeavored to do this crazy, impossible thing. I have managed it only once. This year, I desperately needed the 10k (actually, I was aiming for 12k), but managed the slightly less impressive total of 8,300 words written in a single day.


Oakland and I finished the week with a trip to Shari’s with my sister to celebrate her birthday and get in a few words over pie and coffee. Saturday was my semi-monthly writer’s group meeting. I ended up being the only one there this week, but with a cup of coffee and my laptop, I got in a couple thousand more words! I’m ready to finish NaNoWriMo 2018 with a win! This was my wordiest week yet this November, and I ended it just shy of 40,000!!!


Unlock the Muse – November 21, 2018

It’s the time of year for family gatherings, feasting and giving thanks. It’s also the time for school conferences, progress reports and book fairs. Who doesn’t love a book fair? Progress reports, maybe not so much. Especially when they show how much room there is for improvement. If your NaNo – or other writing endeavor – is going as well as mine, the progress report isn’t so great. Okay, let’s take an honest look at where things stand: I’m currently at 21,000 words. I should be at 33,000 words. Ouch. Still, it might be bad, but it isn’t hopeless.

Here is this week’s writing prompt:

If you could have a conversation with yourself, what would you say? Write down the dialogue. Then read over it. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself if you only take the time to listen.

If it makes this exercise easier, imagine yourself as a child talking with you as you are today. Or have this conversation with future you.

This is just about the hardest part of NaNoWriMo. If you’ve made it this far, don’t give up! Whether you’re well ahead, right on target, or woefully behind – Don’t. Give. Up.

Though the website focuses on business and financial success, this article from lifehack.org offers some useful tips that can be applied to NaNo.

  1. Revisit your purpose.
  2. Remember your accomplishments.
  3. Understand that obstacles and setbacks are necessary.
  4. Focus on what you do best.
  5. Clear your head.
  6. You are not alone.

So there you have it. Remember why you started this adventure in the first place. Look back at all that you’ve already accomplished. Setbacks only make your novel stronger. Whether you write dialogue best, or description, go with it! It’s okay to step away from the novel and recharge. Reach out to other Wrimos, either locally or online and get the support you need to finish this month strong!

Today’s vocabulary word is: Challenge.



1. A call to take part in a contest or competition, especially a duel.
2. An objection or query as to the truth of something, often with an implicit demand for proof.

1. Invite (someone) to engage in a contest.
2. Dispute the truth of validity of.

The use of the word challenge as a verb predates its usage as a noun, dating back to c. 1200, from the Old French chalongier, “to complain, protest, haggle, quibble;” and from the Vulgar Latin caluminare, “to accuse falsely.” From the late 13c., it came to be used as “to object to, take exception to,” and later still (late 14c.) as “to call to fight.”

As a noun, challenge was original used to mean “something one can be accused of, a fault, blemish,” again from the Old French chalonge, “calumny, slander; demand, opposition.” According to etymonline.com, accusatory connotations of the word died out in the 17c., and it didn’t come to mean “a difficult task” until 1954.

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing a link to your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask!