The Ultimate NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

(With Preptober and Nation Novel Writing Month right around the corner, I’m reposting these tips to help you survive this crazy writing challenge. Stay safe and stay creative, writer bugs! – Victoria aka 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.

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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.

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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.

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Surround yourself with other writers. And hey, feel free to add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website. My username is LadyJabberwocky.


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

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Should a Writer be the Same Race & Gender as Their Narrator?

Hello Writer Bees!

So, the other day, I was scrolling through Twitter when a post caught my attention. It was a #WritingQ. The question was: Does a writer need to be the same race or gender as their narrator?

As a female writer with a male narrator, I felt the need to dip my toes into these controversial waters. Let’s talk about this for a second.

My Opinion.

Does an author need to be the same gender, race or sexuality as their narrator? In my opinion? No. That’s part of creative writing. We use our imaginations to create realistic characters, even if they’re much different than us. A narrator doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of the writer. And a writer doesn’t have to limit themselves and write only in a box. Don’t be afraid to write out of your comfort zone. When we do create characters outside of our own experience, it’s important to do them justice. Here are some quick tips for writing a character from a different background.

  • Be aware of stereotypes. Step above the stereotypes. If it comes off as cliché, a character will lose their authenticity. Also, if it’s not done properly, a character could come off as offensive.
  • Do your research.  – When a character comes from a different cultural background, research that culture. What names are common in that ethnicity? What are some typical meals? Do they have certain habits, rules, or traditions? Dig deep, you may actually learn something.
  • Be open to writing a character unlike yourself. Challenge yourself and stay open minded. The fun part about writing is stepping into someone else’s shoes – someone else’s brain – and telling their story.

My Experience

As many of you know, I’ve been writing my murder mystery WIP for quite some time. Many times, my main characters have made appearances on this blog. On paper, my narrator and I are completely different.

  • My narrator – Oscar Fitzgerald – is a young Irish man living in the 1920s. He/him pronouns. Attracted to women.
  • I’m a Puerto-Rican-Italian millennial. She/her pronouns. Attracted to… Mister Jabberwocky.

And maybe some readers will be put off by that stark difference. How can a woman writer do a man justice? Impossible!  I can understand why some readers feel that way. I’ve seen some men poorly portray women in fiction. Truth is, choosing a male narrator was barely a thought to me. I honestly thought nothing of it.  When I began crafting my detective duo and their dynamic, both characters being men fell into place naturally. If it works, it works. Why fix it?

How do I go about writing in male perspective? Frankly, I don’t set out to. That’s the secret. When I sit down to write, I don’t go “Okay, let me pretend I’m a dude now.” For me, gender isn’t often considered. Usually, I focus more on the character’s personality more than anything else. I keep our similarities and our differences in mind at all times. That mindset guides me through writing a male narrator. And look, I’m not perfect. I’m sure I’m missing some nuances of being a guy, especially one from the 1920s. But I do my best, that’s all anyone can do.


I want to hear from you. How do you go about writing a character from a different background? How are you similar to your narrator or main character? How are you different? Let me know in the comments.

I understand this can be a touchy, controversial subject for some people. Everyone has their own opinion. Please be respectful in the comments. I’d appreciate it.

Stay safe and keep writing!

— Lady Jabberwocky

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How to Consistently Create Content for Your Blog

Hey Writer Bees,

I received another great question from my Q&A, this one from dharkanein. They write:

Congrats dear. I just want to know how you keep yourself on track…of course of writing daily that too for such a long period. As I have gone much up and down through this journey and stop writing…and I too have completed my 4 years of blogging a week ago. So basically I want a tip for the consistency.

First off, congrats on your 4 years of blogging. That’s awesome!

Its a lot of pressure to create blog content consistently. Other bloggers will probably agree. Regularly pumping out content can be stressful sometimes. Here are three ways I keep myself on track and stay consistent.

Have a Schedule

Calendar GIFs | Tenor

Maintaining a posting schedule is super important. When you set yourself up with deadlines, you fall into a rhythm. Choose a specific “post day” and find a schedule that works best for you. For me, I post prompts on Monday and on Friday, I post writing tips and stories. That 2-posts-a-week routine fits my life. I try to stick to that plan as best I can, but things happen. And when they do, you can’t be too hard on yourself. Scheduling posts ahead of time helps manage that posting plan too. I have a couple weeks worth of prompts pre-scheduled for September. If you can’t write ahead of time, have a general idea of what you want to write about on posting day. Honestly, most of my Friday posts are written Thursday night. I’m a self-proclaimed procrastinator, but I’m a procrastinator with deadlines and those deadlines keeps me on track.

Knowing Your Voice

Own Your Voice GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

In every post, I use the same tone and voice. When I started this blog, I wanted to write about writing in a candid, conversational way. I didn’t want to sound like a professor giving a lecture. I wanted content to sound fun and relaxed but also informative and honest. Readers should expect the same kind of content each time they read a post. When you write a post, remember who your audience is. Remember the tone you are going for. Keeping the overall vibe the same is a big part of being consistent as a blogger.

Brainstorming Ideas

Brainstorm GIFs | Tenor

Easier said than done, but brainstorming posts ahead of time helps with consistency. Sometimes, post ideas happen when you least expect. I always keep a scrap of paper or notebook handy, just in case inspiration strikes. Lately, I’ve been daydreaming about blog ideas while brushing my teeth or doing the dishes. I’ll just stop for a second and think ‘huh, that’d be a good post for the blog’ then write it down. If you build up a stock pile of potential posts, ideas that suit your niche, you’ll have ideas ready for when you need them. And you won’t be scrambling to write a post last minute. Because, let’s be real, we’ve all been there.


Thank you for the awesome question. Hope you find these tips helpful.

To my fellow bloggers out there, how do you keep consistent with your blogging? How do you stay on track and manage it all? Share your experience in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you guys.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Celebrating 4 Years Blogging with a Q & A

Hello Writer Bees,

Hope you all are doing well.

Recently, my little blog reached it’s 4 year anniversary here on WordPress. Even more recently, I hit the 1,000 follower mark. That’s crazy. The other day, I was looking through my first posts and talking to my boyfriend about it. We both couldn’t believe it’s been that long. Maybe this pandemic is messing with our concept of time.

Thanks for sticking around, writer bugs. This blog has kept me writing all these years. It’s also been a platform for me to help others in their creative endeavors. I genuinely don’t know where I’d be without Lady Jabberwocky.

To celebrate, I’d like to have a Q&A. Ask me anything you want, about my life, my WIP, my blogging experience. Whatever you want, I’m pretty much an open book. Never really done a Q&A before, part of me thinks no one will even responded, but why not give it a go? Leave your questions in the comments and maybe I’ll answer them in a future post.


Sorry Friday posts are still sporadic. Life has been… Life. I’m still figuring out the best schedule that works for me.

Thank you all again for the love and support over the years.

Stay safe and keep writing.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Thank you to 1,000 Followers!

Hello Writer Bees,

I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this.

My little blog has reached 1,000 followers.

Thank you very much for all the love and support and well wishes. I truly have the most wonderful readers out there, I’m so incredibly lucky. For me, it isn’t about views or follower counts. I just want to inspire and encourage others in their creative endeavors. Hope to get back to doing that soon.

I’m currently on a break. Still figuring out how to juggling everything – a blog, a day job, a WIP – while keeping my mental health in mind. Learning to not be so hard on myself. Maybe the world won’t come to an end if I need to occasionally miss a Friday post.

I’ve been taking the time to focus on my mystery WIP. Editing is a challenge, but it’s coming along. Who knows? Maybe someday it will be ready for an actual audience.

Oh! And next week, my boyfriend and I are going on a little weekend vacation. I think he’s been feeling burnt out lately too. We’re both overdue for a break. We’ll take some time for ourselves, to relax and to forget about real world responsibilities. Everybody needs that once in a while right?

Once again, thank you all for… Everything. Really, you guys are amazing. I’m grateful to have an outstanding readership of fellow creatives.


Got a question for me and my experience as a writer? Ask away! I’m an open book.

Got a problem with your WIP? I’m here to help!

Got a question about fiction writing or freelance writing? Lemme know in the comments!


Stay safe and keep writing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Taking a Break from Blogging (Mental Health Check)

Hello Writer Bees,

Ever feel like a candle burning at both ends?

Yeah, me too.

For some time now, I’ve being feeling stretched thin. Pushing myself and trying to everything until my battery depleted.

Keeping my mental health in mind, I need to take a step back from blogging. That might mean no Friday posts for awhile, or posting every other week, or reposting old posts. I’m not sure yet. Prompts of the Week will still be happening on Mondays though. The next few weeks will be up in the air. Sorry about that, I hope you guys understand.

This is such a hard post for me to write. I feel guilty. Creating content and encouraging other writers is my passion. I feel guilty about taking a break, like I’m letting you guys down. But when your head and heart need some time off, it’s not about when it’s convenient for others. It’s about taking care of yourself, so you can take care of others. Guess I’m still learning that.

I need to focus on life outside of the blog for a bit.

Thank you all for understanding and supporting my humble little blog. It means a lot to me.

Stay safe and keep writing.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

5 LGBTQIA Books to Read for Pride Month

Hey writer bees!

(This is a repost. I wanted to once again shine a spotlight on some wonderful literature celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. – Victoria)

Diversity in storytelling is so important. Every kind of person should be represented and represented well. No matter the story, the characters need to feel realistic. That includes their sexuality and gender identity.

In honor of Pride Month, I’m sharing some colorful books that celebrate the LGBTQIA community.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the “Fun Home.” It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

I’ve read this book, and let me tell you, it’s an outstanding story. Alison Bechdel is an exceptional and brave writer. Full of humor and heartbreak, I couldn’t recommend this graphic memoir any higher. You don’t have to be queer to feel touched by her life story. Seriously, Fun Home is a must-have in your book collection.

Amazon.com: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic eBook: Bechdel, Alison ...

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

On the first day at his new school, Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan–especially because Leo is a trans guy and isn’t out at his new school.

Written in first person narrative, Lisa Williamson tells the story of two transgender students who are navigating their gender identity. Based on reviews, it’s a great exploration of what it means to be transgender today. This one is definitely on my To-Be-Read list!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - review | Children's ...

Prince and Knight – Daniel Haack (Author), Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)

In this modern fairy tale, a noble prince and a brave knight come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love in a most unexpected place.

Not every prince is looking for a fair maiden. If you want to introduce the youngsters in your life to inclusivity and the LGBTQ community, look no further than this charming children’s book. This fairytale is colorful and magical and incredibly sweet. Frankly, I might buy this book for my nephew, so he can learn about acceptance and love in all forms.

Prince & Knight (Mini Bee Board Books): Haack, Daniel, Lewis ...

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, was raided by police. But instead of responding with the typical compliance the NYPD expected, patrons and a growing crowd decided to fight back. The five days of rioting that ensued changed forever the face of gay and lesbian life.

For all the history buffs out there, this is the book for you. A masterful, powerful retelling of the Stonewall Riots and the first gay rights march, written by historian Martin Duberman. With everything going on in the world right now, this piece of work is so relevant and on the pulse. Learning about our history is important, now more than ever.

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBT Rights Uprising that Changed America by [Martin B.  Duberman]

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

There’s a long-running joke that, after “coming out,” a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

Lighthearted and informative, this is the unofficial guide to being gay and/or curious. Inside, there’s candid answers to any and all LGBTQ related questions. No matter your sexual preference, this book makes for a great gift and an even greater addition to your bookshelf.

This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

As writers, as readers, as humans, let’s expand our horizons and promote inclusivity in everything we do.

What’s your favorite LGBTQIA book? Lemme know in the comments.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Month of Mystery Wrap Up!

Hello Writer Bees!

May of Mystery was awesome, in my opinion! Thank you all so much for stopping by and celebrating mystery fiction with me. All of your comments were wonderful. Felt like you guys really got into the spirit of detective fiction. In case you missed it, here is a wrap up of all the posts from May of Mystery.

Mystery Prompts of the Week

Main Friday Posts


Another Genre Themed Month?

This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for awhile now. May of Mystery was fun and all you amazing readers really seemed to enjoy it. If I do another month dedicated to a specific genre, what genre should I focus on? Fantasy? Horror? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Apologies for the short post this week. I’ve been feeling sick and exhausted, but I didn’t want to let you guys down. What do you want to see next on this blog? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and keep writing!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Thank You to 900 Followers!

Hello Writer Bees!

Exciting news! The Lady Jabberwocky blog just passed the 900 follower mark. Which means my humble little blog is nearing 1,000 followers. This is not a drill! Seriously, I never could’ve imagined so many of you tuning in every week to read my nonsense posts.

Thank you all so much for all the love and support.

Thank you for every like and comment.

Thank you for following my journey as a writer.

Frankly speaking, I’ve been feeling a bit burnt-out lately. Work is overwhelming sometimes. Dealing with writer’s block and self doubt can be overwhelming too. You have no idea how much I appreciate all the kind words and positive vibes from you amazing readers. If it’s alright with you guys, I’m going to keep this post short, curl up with a book and sleep. Some sleep sounds pretty nice. Haha.

But, I may need your help brainstorming something else. You guys are way smarter than I am. Recently, I’ve thought about creating some sort of virtual writing workshop / writers room. It’d be cool to have a space where writers could talk about their work, ask specific questions on their stories, gain some feedback and help each other. I want to reach more writers and encourage their creative endeavors. Not exactly sure how to go about that yet. Maybe a Discord? Maybe a Skype group space situation? Maybe an old-fashioned advice column? I don’t really know. Sorry if that doesn’t make sense, my brain is still trying to figure it out. Feel free to pitch your ideas.

Don’t forget! May of Mystery starts this Monday. I’m dedicating an entire month to writing mystery fiction. Prompts and posts with have a mystery spin to them. Detectives and femme fatales and clue hunting, perhaps a little murder. If you have any questions on detective fiction or any ideas for mystery themed posts, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Once again, thank you all so much for the support. You lovely readers keep me blogging. Hope you all enjoy your weekend. Stay safe and keep writing.

Onward to 1,000 followers!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Do You Need a Writing Degree to Be a Real Writer?

Hello writer bees!

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.

Also, get your magnifying glasses ready! May of Mystery is right around the corner, less that 2 weeks!

Stay safe and keep writing,

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky