I’m not sure of when Tamara and I became friends via YouTube but it’s been quite some time… a few years now. She’s more than one of my writerly friends, and try as I might each time she’s come home (from Hawaii to West Virginia) I’ve wished I could make the trip to West Virginia to meet her in person. One day I will. For now though, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Tamara Woods, otherwise known as T.A. Woods or PenPaperPad on social media.
Tamara is a published poet and author. She’s a YouTube creator. She hosts writerly chats via Tweet Chat on Tuesday nights at 9PM EST by using the hashtag “writestuff.” (#writestuff) She also annually hosts #writetube every year in October to help people learn about and prepare for NaNoWriMo in November. Every year Mr. Rockstar and I look forward to Tamara’s weekly videos during #writetube–she makes them worth a second watch, and she’s one of the few people on YT that I watch that he’ll sit down and watch the video with me.
The most popular bit of advice given in regard to writing are:
Put your butt in the chair and write.
Write one word at a time.
Each year I participate in NaNoWriMo (and NaNo’s Camps) to keep myself motivated to write everyday. Developing the habit of writing everyday is one of those crucial aspects of a writing career that is essential to success. Recently I heard someone say “If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer.” I think it’s important, as a creative person, to remember that there might be days when you don’t feel like writing, or being creative in general. When depression, anxiety, or life’s curve balls happen and the last thing you want or feel like doing is writing (or being creative). But if you want to thrive and survive as a creative person you have to find a way to get past those, to not only survive them but to thrive.
I love reading and writing. I also love drawing, painting with watercolors, coloring, writing in my journal… the combination of words and art help soothe my soul, they provide me with a healthy way to reduce my anxiety, stress, and help to keep the depression at bay. I’ve also noticed that journaling about my writing process, as well as my day, help keep me focused (and believe me, that’s hard to do since I have ADHD). When a shiny new idea pops up and tempts me to quit what I’m currently working on to go work on that shiny new idea, I just jot down the shiny new idea into my notebook, then go back to my current project.
When I’m afraid that I don’t know what to write next, or the fear of the blank page sends my anxiety into overdrive, instead of freezing and letting that fear overtake me I take a walk, read a chapter in the current book I’m reading (right now I’m re-reading the Stand by Stephen King), take a bath, get a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, eat a snack like cashews or a banana–during that time I’ve cleared my mind. The ability to write isn’t as super power. It takes commitment, diligence, resilience, and determination.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given in regard to writing is two parts:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~Stephen King
“Just write, and keep writing until it’s finished.” Miss Franklin, my 9th grade English teacher.
King also said, “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.” I firmly believe that. If you don’t understand the basics of storytelling, of a book, how can you write one, especially a good one.
And when it comes to the actual writing, if you don’t write… you won’t have a book, and you can’t edit a blank page, can’t publish the book you don’t write… And the first draft isn’t going to be perfect, or as Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” I remind myself of that daily. I also remind myself that the worst thing I’ve written that day is better than what I didn’t write. Letting go of the perfectionism is one of the best ways to survive and thrive during NaNoWriMo. Turn off your inner editor when you’re writing the first draft. It’s called the Fugly First Draft for a reason.
Back in April, I started my Writer’s Bullet Journal in a large (well, it’s the Master) Leuchtturm 1917, but it was just too big to handle easily. Forget taking it anywhere. And it didn’t fit in my Writer’s Bible, which is a custom Jonelifish TN (traveler’s notebook). I tried the softcover Leuchtturm 1917 and loved it, but it became harder and harder to find, so when I got down to the last few pages of it I decided to use a Midori A5 grid notebook I had, since it could also be housed in my Writer’s Bible and replace the filled softcover Leuchtturm1917.
With NaNoWriMo quickly approaching, I needed to get things together. I had 6 weeks to prepare for November 1st and when I really thought about it–that just didn’t feel like enough time, but HEY! a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. So I got my butt in gear and started preparing. My husband said, “It’s not November yet, why are you doing Nano stuff now?” I looked up at him with my serious face. “It’s almost the end of September. I’ve got to get things ready…” I said. And then I looked down at my Writer’s Bible and said, “I’m excited and there’s a lot of work to do.” And like Jake at the end of the Gunslinger, my husband nodded and said, “Well go on and do your NaNo stuff then.” It’s not as good as “there are other worlds than this,” but it made me happy. And since I’m using Arwen’s 33 Days to Finish Your Novel course again I knew I’d need to start at least 33 days before NaNoWriMo. I really do love using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey to outline.
So here I am, preparing for NaNoWriMo once again. Only this year, I know so much more than I did the previous years… with each passing year I learn more about myself as a writer. I’ve learned more about writing, outlining, pantsing, branding oneself, the writing community, editing videos, taking pictures, planning and using a bullet journal, what works best in my Writer’s Bible, and what I need in order to survive NaNoWriMo. Not that I don’t aim to write between 1000-2000 words per day during the rest of the year, but there is something about NaNoWriMo and the various writing communities that pushes you do do more, to try new things, to expand your horizons, and to get your ass in the chair every day and WRITE! And the planning community, especially the bullet journal community has given me such great ideas for how to plan out things in my Writer’s Bible and Writer Bullet Journal.
When I first talked to Jonel Imutan about making me a Writer’s Bible, a TN specifically for my writer stuff, I knew I wanted something unique, functional, and that fit me. I told her what I wanted, and left it up to her which style of typewriter to engrave on the front, and how to coordinate the colors, and once it was done I got to name it–Shakespeare. Thought I’d have named it something from a Stephen King novel, huh? Nope. Though I love King’s works, and he’ll always be my favorite and he’s a genius, there’s something about Shakespeare that has always spoken to me.
I have done numerous videos that have featured Shakespeare (my Writer’s Bible), and over time it has become even more supple and pliable, more functionable because I’ve learned what works best for me, and it’s always subject to change if I find that something isn’t working.
Inside my Writer’s Bible, the first notebook is the Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I’m using for my Writer Bullet Journal. I printed what you see on the cover, which I found on Pinterest. I love what it says: Punch Today in the Face. Some days you just have to do that… and I know there will definitely be days during November when I am going to feel like punching something in the face. 😀 Don’t get me wrong, NaNoWriMo is awesome, but it’s chaotic. I’ve tried pantsing during NaNoWriMo, writing by the seat of my pants, and I failed. I love the idea of pantsing…of writing intuitively with no outline, just writing, but I was flailing around like a fish on land by the middle of November when I did that. Since then I’ve been working on the method of planning that works best for me. It feels like I’ve found it–using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey, Arwen’s method specifically, has really helped me find my groove with outlining. I used it last year and I’m using it again this year. I’ve also tried the Save the Cat method, along with a few others.
On the inside, the cover page, I pasted a picture that I got from NaNoWriMo 2015 for inspiration… it reminds me of what I’m supposed to be doing… WRITING, plus it has fun things in the picture like Coffee, Pens, Ink, a Notebook…and let’s not forget my Coffee magnet bookmark. I love how this picture makes me feel. So below is a gallery I created of the rest of the inside of my Writer Bullet Journal. I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures. It’s still a work in progress though.. and I made a few boo boo’s… but overall I like it. I can live with the mistakes, it just gives my Writer Bullet Journal character. 😀
Next is the Index, and then the Future log. Nothing complicated about either of those. I have been working on this new Writer Bullet Journal since September 20th and so far I’ve gotten a few things done, but there’s still much more that I need to work on. I’m trying to stay organized. There’s so much to keep up with that I had to get organized if I want to get things done, especially if I want to be efficient. It’s about working smarter not harder.
The next notebook in my Writer’s Bible is the “new shiny ideas” notebook for writing. If I get an idea about a character, a novel, a scene but I’m not sure it goes in the current WIP then I write it down in this notebook.
And here is the third notebook in my Writer’s Bible.
The first page is my NaNo Prep YT video list
And the next page is the NaNo Prep Blog Post List:
And the last notebook in my Writer’s Bible. Its a Clairefontaine notebook and I use it as my Writer Journal. I write down how my writing or outlining is going. What I think, etc.. The pages are wonderful for fountain pens. 😀
And last but not least, is my Writer Notebook. It is where I write out what I’ve learned from using the outlining method. I am not sure of where I got this notebook. I believe it might have been Walmart. I love the paper for writing. And I love that the pages are sectioned by different colors, and that at the top it has a little section where you can either write the date or the page number. I’ve chosen to write the page numbers.
And that’s it… at least for now. I have a lot of work to do this afternoon and this evening to write down what I learned about the Call to Adventure. I go back through my notes from my Writer Bullet Journal and then summarize it in the Writer Notebook.
Links to some of the things I’ve mentioned are below. Note:
**This post contains some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you subscribe or purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!**