The Ultimate NaNoWriMo Survival Guide (Repost)

(Reposting for NaNoWriMo! Best of luck to everyone participating! And if you are curious about my November/December posting plans, read here! – Lady Jabberwocky)

Hello Writer Bees,

Signing up for NaNoWriMo this year? You’re going to need all the help you can get.

This guide will help you survive National Novel Writing Month.

Find the Time 

To reach 50,000 words goal, you’ll need to write about 1,667 words a day. Come up with a plan, find the best time for you to write.  Make that time commitment. Schedule what part of your novel you will work on each day. Decide whether you are a day or night writer. Create a routine and stick to it as best you can. And don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, it’ll happen to everyone.

Set Up Your Writing Space

Establish your writing space. A place to be organized and creative. A place where you can focus and write and hopefully not be disturbed. Dedicate a work area, with all your research and inspiration materials nearby. Make sure you have all your needed resources close at hand. Whether it’s at home, at the public library, or at the local coffee shop, find your cozy corner of the world.

See the source image

Keep Resources Close

This coincides with creating a great work space. Notes, historical sources, journals, character profiles, outlines. Everything.  Keep all research material organized and in reach, in case you need a reference.  Use time in October to gather information and prepare for the writing ahead. Because I’m writing a story set in a specific time period (1920s), I have bookmarked a couple of historical resources, just in case. I also have a book of photos of Brooklyn in the 1920s that I like to glance through for inspiration.

Writers Require Nourishment

Be prepared with all the snacks and beverages you’ll need to get through a month of writing. I’m talking leftover Halloween candy. I’m talking caffeine, and lots of it. I’m talking the comfort food that makes your heart happy. Also, I’ve heard some even meal prep ahead of time. IF you have time, consider prepping meals in advance and leaving them in the freezer. Look, some would suggest eating healthy, and while that is true, sometimes, you need a bag of salty potato chips. And no one will judge you for devouring the entire bag.

Goals and Rewards

Set smaller goals for yourself. 10k, 20k, 30k, etc. And when you reach them, reward yourself. Whether its with your favorite movie or favorite meal, celebrate those little milestones. During National Novel Writing Month, every word counts. So, treat yourself and do something special for you once you reach a certain word count. Whatever makes you happy and relaxed, do that. This will keep you motivated and encourage you to keep going.

See the source image

Outline

Whether you are a planner or a pantser, have a general idea for a story. Develop your characters. Establish some kind of plot line, even if its a vague idea. Note the key scenes of the plot. It’s important to have an outline. And remember, use the method that feels right to you. Every writer has their own way of planning a story. Do what works for you.

Have a Support System

We all need someone in our corner, supporting us. Find some writing buddies. Consider attending write-ins and writing events. Find the people in your life you trust, who you can talk openly to. A significant other, a friend, a teacher, a classmate. Have someone to express your worry or doubt or just iron out ideas with. Someone to cheer you on through the absolutely ridiculous journey that is NaNoWriMo.

See the source image

Surround yourself with other writers.


What’s a necessity in your NaNoWriMo survival kit? Let me know in the comments!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

What Inspired My Short Stories (Part Three)

Hey Writer Bees!

You guys seem to really like when I talk about the inspiration behind some of my stories. And I love hearing what inspires all of you in your creative works. So today, I’m coming at you with part three.

If you are curious, be sure to check out PART ONE and PART TWO of this series.

Scrunchies and School Bells

When I wrote this short story, many were heading back to school. I’m a 90’s kid who loves nostalgia and at the time, I was watching the Saban Moon documentary. I found myself in the mood to write something lighthearted and silly, packed with nostalgic reverences. And maybe a bit of cringey, relatable vibes too. Because let’s face it, we were all losers in school. Creating a character who was unapologetically themselves was refreshing. Also, it was good practice for me as writer to focus on describing a character’s appearance. How a character presents themselves says a lot about them. In short, wacky 90s vibes inspired this short story.

Pixies and Paperwork

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for my current cubicle job. It’s helping my partner and I save up for future plans, and I write during breaks. However, there are days when work is stressful and soul sucking. I’m sure a lot of other people out there feel the same way, no matter their career. When I wrote this piece, I was feeling down. And like I did with Sunny Day Towing Company story, I wrote out those gloomy feelings. I wanted to cheer up not only myself, but others who may feel the same as I do. To bring a little light and a little positivity into someone’s day.

The Cinnamon Witch

By far, one of my favorite short stories I’ve ever posted on the blog. And just in time for spooky season too! For me, I enjoy writing in low fantasy worlds. Stories like Gravity Falls and Kiki’s Delivery Service have always appealed to me. Taking a single detail of a story and twisting it around is super fun and keeps readers on their toes, that’s for sure. Experimenting in a genre I don’t normally write in, like horror, is good for the creative muscles. For example, in this piece, I considered what if those ingredients aren’t exactly sugary sweet and come from a horrifying source? From that question came came this short story.


Is there a story behind your stories? What has inspired your creative endeavors? Talk to me in the comments.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

Do You Need a Writing Degree to Be a Real Writer? (Repost)

Hello writer bees!

(Summer is over! Since some of you have headed back to school recently, I wanted to repost this. Reignite the conversation. Tell me your thoughts in the comments. – Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)

Today, I’m posing a possibly controversial question.

Do you need a degree in writing to be considered a “proper writer”?

To some, getting a college degree makes you a bonafide writer, or a better writer than most. Others feel they can be storytellers without the diploma to back them up. And some young writers have a hard time choosing what they want to study, and if a degree in writing is even worth it.

I want to share my experience. Hopefully, it can give younger writers a bit of insight. Goodness knows I needed some insight when I was just a fledgling. For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in English. What do you do with a B.A. in English? How did that experience impact my journey as a writer? I’ll be diving into everything, the good and the bad.

Why I Chose to Pursue an English Degree

Let’s backtrack first. When I was in high school, I discovered my love of writing. I had an amazing teacher who encouraged my artistic aspirations. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be a blogger or an aspiring author right now. As I decided what college major I would pursue, no other subject could compare to English and creative writing.

I had a lot of ideas for a potential novel. Writing stories in various genres really interested me. I loved fantasy and mystery and historical drama and everything in between. Ah, to be young and full of inspiration. Wanting to narrow down my focus and find my niche, I thought going for a English degree would help me find the genre I’d eventually publish in someday. Like “Congrats! Here is your diploma! Also, you are a mystery writer! Now go write a whodunit and be on your merry way.”

Earning my B.A. in English was a wonderful experience. It wasn’t easy. Lots of late nights, lots of reading material, lots of stress. And I don’t regret a single minute.

Writing Workshops

While in college, my fiction writing classes were full-on workshops. Gathering around with fellow writers, discussing each other’s stories. I learned how to constructively critique someone’s work and became more mindful of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. We read each others short stories and offered feedback in a really safe and sensitive environment. Don’t get me wrong, I was so nervous letting others read my work. But once you realize we’re all in the same boat, it’s not so scary. That was my first taste of a greater writing community.

Also, the very first draft of my current WIP sprouted in that class. Sharing that story in particular with my classmates was like the ultimate test run for my work-in-progress novel. Let me know in the comments if you want to hear more about that particular workshop session.

Reading Everything

Remember when I said I was looking down to settle with one genre to write in? It didn’t quite work out as I expected. In college, I read everything. And I mean everything. Like I was reading Beowulf and Arthurian legend in the morning and Hemingway and Christie in the afternoon. Real talk? My narrator was born after reading an Edgar Allen Poe story. If anything, my horizon only expanded. Once I graduated, I was even more undecided about what genre I wanted to publish in. I really gained an appreciation for literature across all genres. By reading various genres and styles and time periods, a sturdy foundation was built under my feet. Maybe it’s strange to say, but I felt like I had a wealth of source material I could refer to and be inspired by. If that makes sense.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, is it?

Hard to Find a Job

After I graduated, It was tough finding steady work. I applied for many publications and ended up with a pile of rejection letters. Apparently, a bachelors degree in English isn’t enough to prove you are good at writing. That was a newsflash to me. I wanted to make a living as a writer, and it just wasn’t happening. Frankly, It was a dark time for me. Finally, I fell into freelance work, starting out as an unpaid intern. Around the same time, I started this blog. Then, more freelance opportunities opened up. And today, even though I’m stuck in a cubicle at an office day job, the passion for writing has not ceased. I’m still working on my goal to write a novel, after office hours, of course.

Final Thoughts

The B.A. in English gave me a solid foundation. My brain thinks differently about literature and storytelling because of my time as an English major. It was a valuable, rewarding experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Well, maybe a finished novel.

Do you need a degree to be a proper writer?

In my opinion? No.

You know that quote from Ratatouille, Anyone can cook? I believe anyone can write. A degree doesn’t make me, or anyone else, a genuine writer. We all have imagination and creativity inside of us. Anyone can write a story and be considered a writer.


Do you think you need a degree to be considered a proper writer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you earned your degree in English/Creative writing, how has that experience impacted your journey as a writer? As always, I love to hear from you guys.

Stay safe and keep writing.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

What Inspired My Short Stories (Part Two)

Hey Writer Bees!

So, this week, I tested positive for Covid. I’ve had a bad fever and chills and non-stop coughing. Not a fun time, I assure you. This is my first go-around testing positive with Covid. Don’t worry, I’ve been resting and working from home the past few days. And I’m looking forward to a three-day weekend staycation.

You guys loved my last story inspiration post, I decided to do a part two while I’m quarantining. Enjoy!

Remember The Crazy Times of 2020?

How fitting is it that I start off with this story, huh? While surrounded by blankets and used tissues? Right at the start of 2021, I wrote this 100-word story. We were all in the middle of the pandemic. I wanted to remember this crazy time and captured that in a short story. Because really, years from now, how will quarantine and covid be remembered? How will we talk about this moment in time? That idea inspired this piece. Also, it was an effort to spread some hope through humor. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunny Day Towing Company

Let’s keep the positivity train rolling, shall we? Frankly, this short was inspired by a bad day. I had a stressful and overwhelming couple of days, was in a bad headspace. My mental health was struggling. But the magical thing about creativity is that it can be used as an outlet. Using this blog as a safe space, I channeled all my sadness into writing a short story. I imagined my worries being towed away. And honestly, my heart felt a little lighter after writing this story. Lesson learned, sometimes, you have to write with heart and write what you are feeling. No shame in that game.

A Victim at Midnight

Before I wrote this story, I wrote 5 Subgenres of Horror Fiction Explained. One of the subgenres I talked about was psychological horror. While horror isn’t my favorite, I do enjoy a good ghost story. Taking inspiration from the psychological horror subgenre and my love of all things haunted and mystery, I wrote this story. Plus, I was able to mix in detective fiction elements too. Super happy with how this piece turned out. To challenge myself, I try writing in genres I don’t usually write in. It’s a great writing exercise, I highly recommend exploring other genres.


Is there a story behind your stories? What has inspired your creative endeavors? Talk to me in the comments.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

What Inspired My Short Stories (Part One)

Hey Writer Bees!

I’m always interested to hear where other creators find their inspiration for their stories. What tiny seed of an idea grew into an amazing work of fiction. Today, I’m sharing what inspired some of the stories I’ve posted here on this blog. The story behind my stories, if you will. Hope you enjoy.

The Sleepless Queen

Funny story behind this story. Every Sunday, I play Dungeons and Dragons with friends. My DnD character, Poet the Tiefling Rogue, has made an appearance here once or twice. Character creating in DnD is super fun. Different races and classes have their own unique traits and set of guidelines. For example, Elves don’t need eight hours of sleep, they only need four. And that got me thinking. What happens if your partners does not require the same amount of sleep you do? Like do they just watch their lover sleep? Or do they go do their own thing? I’m speaking in a hypothetical fantasy setting, of course. This simple “What if…” question sparked the idea behind this fantasy piece. A Queen who never sleeps, watching over her king and her kingdom.

This is BEN-G567

This 100 word story is about a robot drifting in space. That’s all. Essentially, this was a writing exercise in quick sentences. Brief sentences reminded me of robot speech. That mechanical, stiff way of communicating. Short sentences paired with an 100 word limit pushed my imagination into overdrive. Also, sci-fi is not a genre I swim around in often. Most of the time, I’m writing fantasy or mystery. As writers, It’s important to experiment with different words and writing styles and genres. Those challenges expand our horizons and make us stronger writers and creatives.

Oh She’s Marvelous

This one is about a clairvoyant wizard who looks into the future of his unborn child. At the time of writing this story, my partner’s family was expecting a baby. My nephew was about to be born. You know, when someone in your close family is pregnant, everyone gets excited. I remember all of us in baby fever. That baby fever surrounding our nephew’s birth inspired this short story. Along with my love of Merlin, of course. If I’m honest, I don’t know yet if children will be in my future. Right now, my partner and I are content being the fun aunt and uncle. But, it’s nice to imagine what a little one’s life will become. That’s what this story is about. And now, I can’t believe that tiny peanut will be two years old in September! Time flies!


At the end of the day, inspiration is hiding where you least expect. Open your eyes and your brain to the stories around you. Is there a story behind your work? What has inspired your writing? Talk to me in the comments.

If you guys really enjoy this post, let me know. Maybe this could become a series on the blog.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Query Letter’s 270+ Best Writing Contests (Repost)

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are staying creative and enjoying the warm weather. Still stuck in the editing trenches here, so I’ve yet to frolic in the sunshine.

This post will be quick, but trust me, it’s a goodie.

The lovely folks at QueryLetter.com reached out to me with some exciting information. Recently, they published a blog post titled ‘The 270+ Best Writing Contests‘. In this extensive list, they’ve highlighted over 270 of the top writing contests around. And the best part? There are contests in a variety of genres and word counts. From poetry to flash fiction to non-fiction, all writers are welcomed. No matter what you write, you’ll for sure find something up your alley.

I highly recommend checking out this list. Even as I’m writing this, I’m looking through all the different contests and am tempted to try it out. Inspiration is already bubbling in my head. Challenge yourself and try participating in one of these contests. There’s no harm in taking a chance and throwing your hat in the ring. You never know.


Have you ever participated in a writing contest before? Are you interesting in signing up for one of contests listed? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Writing my 1st Whodunit Draft in a College Writing Workshop

Hello Writer Bees!

As some of you may know, my current WIP is a 1920’s murder mystery. But what inspired my first mystery story? When and how was “draft zero” born? Here is the story of how I started writing detective fiction.

A flashback to my college days. Because I was interested in mystery genre, I decided to take a detective fiction course. Super fun elective class. We read all the greats, like Doyle, Poe, Christie, and Spillane.  That same semester, I was also taking a fiction writing class, as one of my degree requirements.  

Here’s how fiction writing workshop worked. My professor charged us to write 2 short stories – any subject, any genre – 10 to 15 pages in length. Each session was dedicated to one student’s creative piece. Together, we’d discuss and critique each other’s work, offering constructive feedback. Picture your peers and fellow writers reading and judging your story, dissecting it in front of you. Needless to say, critique day was a daunting, nerve wracking and incredibly rewarding experience.

My first go around at workshop, I wrote The Tale of a Boy and a Mermaid, which I have posted here on this blog. Next turn up at bat, I wanted to write something out of my wheelhouse, something different.

Inspired by the mysteries I was reading at the time, I decided to try my hand at writing a whodunit. I thought, maybe this critique was the perfect opportunity to test drive this vague idea for a detective character I had. And mind you, none of my peers were writing any close to a murder mystery. As always, I was the oddball out.

With Jabberwock mode engaged, I furiously wrote a murder mystery, finishing the morning of my class. College deadlines, am I right? The story centered around the detective and his aid, Mister G.W. Barnaby and Oscar Fitzgerald, solving a case. Set in a 1920s Broadway theatre, an actress is shot with an assumed prop gun that had real bullets instead of fake ones. A bit cliché, I know. But I enjoyed writing a mystery, crafting suspects and leaving clues. Really did fall in love with the genre. Titling it ‘Murder at the Primdove Theatre’, I submitted the story to be judged by my classmates, biting my nails the whole time.

Surprisingly, they seemed to like the story. Peers pointed out their favorite lines and gushed over how fitting character names were to the time period. And that “Wow, what a plot twist!” moment from readers is priceless. However, I did receive some notes, like the pacing being too fast and not much setting description. Even with the notes of criticism, I was still proud of my little whodunit.

After I graduated, I set my sights on my next big goal; Becoming a published author before I turn 30 years old. Since I couldn’t get these sleuths out of my head, I gave them another case to crack, the Case of the Drowned Mermaid. Some elements from the workshop story carried over into my WIP, like the relationship between suspects. So, I always consider my first try at a whodunit as my ‘draft zero’, the little seed that started it all.

Moral of the story: If there is a time to take a risk with your craft, a writing workshop is the place to do it. Seriously, it’s a good place to experiment, to create freely, and to receive some honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to write outside your comfort zone. You’d be surprised what the outcome will be.

In my case, it was my current mystery WIP.


Hope you found my life story interesting. Do you have a story behind your first draft? Have you ever been involved with a writing workshop or class? Lemme know in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative. Happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Four Update & 1,300 Followers!

Hello Writer Bees!

This was my last week at Camp NaNoWriMo. Here’s how it went.

This was my first time participating in the event and I’m honestly happy I tried it out. Sometimes, we need a challenge like NaNoWriMo to push us to our end goal. I’m definitely a lot closer to that holy grail of a final draft than I was on April 1st. Feeling like I made good progress on my WIP. Camp NaNo helped me stay focused and motivated to work on my story a little everyday. With some more editing, It’ll be ready to read through the draft in its entirety.

Also, my devious plans for May of Mystery are finished. I’m super excited. Already dusting off my detective hat. For those new to the blog, May of Mystery is an entire month dedicated to mystery fiction. All prompts and posts will be mystery themed. Now that a posting schedule is in place for May, I’m all set to talk about all things mystery. Hope you all stick around and enjoy. And happy sleuthing!

If you’re feeling stuck, or want to write something new, try participating in a NaNoWriMo event. It’s a great way to get motivated and meet other talented writers. I highly recommend joining in. More the merrier. I had a great time at camp, even if I was in the editing trenches the whole time. Editing can be a difficult process. But this fun little event helped me trudge through.

My head is spinning from the seemingly endless rewrites and edits. I’m looking forward to taking it easy this weekend with my boyfriend. Play some DnD, watch some Sailor Moon, and eat copious amounts of takeout. A writer’s job isn’t always sunshine and roses. Make sure you take a break when needed, to recharge those beautiful creative juices.

On a side note, something else happened this month. This blog reached 1,300 followers. What!? That’s amazing! Thank you all so much for the love and support and positive writing vibes. You guys keep me writing and keep this blog going.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.


How are your creative endeavors going? What progress have you made lately? Are you looking forward to May Of Mystery? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.  

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Three Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are staying safe and staying creative.

Thank you all for the lovely, supportive comments the past few weeks. I really do have the best readers out there. You guys made me feel so much better about my “same name” problem from last week. Maybe I’ll toss my worries away about naming characters and go with my writer gut. Thank you again for all the kind words and positive thoughts.

Life’s been busy this week. All good things, nothing bad. Didn’t have much free time but made do with the time I did have. Only able to get a little editing and writing done during my lunch breaks. Writing wise, I’m filling in tiny gaps and smoothing out transitions. Editing wise, I’m beginning to break down the story into even chapters. Didn’t realize until now that what I considered as chapter had vastly different word counts. Some were too short, some were too long. I’m working on find the goldilocks of things, so each chapter is around the same word count.

I’m still aiming to have a read through of a final draft by the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. I doubt it, but cross your fingers for me anyway. Right now, I’m stuck in a cycle of perpetual editing and writing to no end. Hard to see the end of the tunnel.

Question for the published writers and final drafters out there. How did you go about your final draft before publishing? Was it a lot of tweaking and editing before the plot just grows wings and flies out the nest? How did you know when your story was complete? I’m curious to hear what you have to say.

Aside from editing, my other goal for Camp NaNoWriMo was to plan May of Mystery. All the mystery prompts are scheduled ahead of time. Check that off my to-do list. Every month, I try to post one short story or flash fiction on this blog. Since May is detective themed, I’m playing around with a detective inspired story idea. Already starting the bare bones first draft. Hope you guys like it. If you have any ideas for mystery themed posts, or questions on detective fiction, let me know in the comments.

That’s been my third week at Camp NaNo. Working on both my WIP and on new content. Really looking forward to how my creative endeavors turn out.


How are your creative projects going? How is your Camp NaNoWriMo adventure?  

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Two Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Whose dish is on the chopping block? Apparently, my mystery WIP.

This week has been a massacre. Spent most of the week trimming unwanted tidbits from my story. Chunks of paragraphs are being considered for removal. When I’m editing, I underline sentences to mark that they will either be moved or cut altogether. Looks much better than a scary red pen scratching words out. And I’m seeing a lot underlined, starting to get a little nervous. Despite some self doubt, I continue to march on and eat my feelings in Chinese takeout.

Someone once gave me the advice to not delete words of the story. Instead, to set them aside in another word document. They called it the ‘graveyard’, a place to store material that could be used in future works. Some smaller plotlines and inconsequential sentences are being moved to the graveyard, for safe keeping. Maybe they aren’t right in this story, but they may be useful in another story.

Writing and editing has its ups and down. Last week, I felt great about my WIP. In good spirits. Felt like my work was decent, at best. This week, however, I asked myself ‘who would read this trash?’. Yes, the creative process may be a rollercoaster. But if you ever feel like I do, please, keep working and just hold on for the ride. It’ll all be worth it in the end, I’m sure.

In other news, I have a question for you guys. I’ve considered changing the name of two of my characters. As I looked through potential names, I realized a name I really liked is the same name as a notable real person. Then that got me thinking. Is that alright? I mean, I guess this was bound to happen, since I’m using realistic human names. So, I’m opening the floor to you. What do you think of characters that coincidently share a name with a real-life person? How do you go about that? Curious what you all have to say on the matter.

Let’s s see what week three of Camp NaNoWriMo has in store for me. Hope everyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is making good progress on their work.

Happy Easter and Passover to anyone celebrating!


How are your creative endeavors coming along? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter