Touched by Christmas Spirit

Assorted-color Dice Decors

I was a little late to join in on the Christmas cheer this year. 

With images of beautifully decorated houses and overdone Christmas song covers flooding my Whatsapp, I felt like I had received enough of the holiday spirit through the virtual medium of the Internet. With the happenings of this year, my parents and I trailed behind on getting our own decorations in place. 

The tradition is we’d get up bright and early on December 1st, set up a big ol’ Christmas star in our front porch and string the decorative lights along the outer steel bars of the windows and the vines facing our pathway. This would be followed by ramping up the interiors with cute Santa and reindeer stickers, setting up the crib in the hall and saving the best for last; the Christmas tree. 

Decorating the Christmas tree has always been my favorite part. With Michael Buble’s Christmas album rocking on in the background (overlapped by my parents’ favorite Boney M songs), we’d gather around in the hall and joke around, snack and sing along while jazzing up the tree. 

This year is the first in my life where we didn’t respect our family tradition and ended up spending the first of the month like any other. Truth be told, it wasn’t until December 3 rolled on by (commemorated by a close friend’s birthday) did I realize that we were well into the last month of the year.

christmas spirit gifs | WiffleGif

Where was the obsessive playing of Christmas songs? The excited chatter of presents? The abundance of hot cocoa, not particularly because the climate here requires it, but as an excuse to feel more acquainted with the holiday spirit? 

Fifteen days passed with no Christmas cheer. While we got around to hanging the star and some of our lights, it just didn’t carry the same sentiment it always had.  The start of the month brought with it new stressors and tasks, keeping the entire household bogged down with work and other activities; further delaying our decorations. 

That is until yesterday. 

With a great amount of sadness, my mom realized that I had bought zero new dresses or fashionable items of clothing for myself in 2020, courtesy of the work-from-home lifestyle and, of course, my laziness. It is no surprise to my mother that I am not a fashionista but the exact opposite. I would choose my overused tracks and hoodie any day, and this remained my stylistic choice for all of this year. 

This, however, would not do for Christmas or New Year’s. When I tiredly declared I’d just throw on an old dress for Christmas mass, my parents both looked at me like I was insane.

“You cannot show up like a hobo to church.” 

With much reluctance and after days of delay, we went out shopping for the first (and last) time all year. The day started off with me huffing and puffing (no thanks to the slight fever wreaking havoc on my body) but as it progressed, I captured the happiness and glow on my parent’s faces.

It was the first time in forever; for us to step out of the house together as a family and go on a little outing, just the three of us. Even if it was shopping, an activity I dreaded with all my heart. 

Hate Shopping GIFs | Tenor

I memorized the way my mom’s eyes lit up when I recommended a sari she liked, how my dad would sometimes stare at her like a love-struck teenager even after 33 years of marriage, how they’d both look at me sometimes with expressions of utter hopelessness written on their faces. 

I think it was then, half a month later, that the feeling of Christmas set in. Which is why, even when we got back home from shopping, utterly exhausted, I somehow found the energy to go on a lengthy bike trip with dad around town to buy some new decorations and house fixtures. 

All the while, I enjoyed the feel of the rarely cool breeze in my hair, rested my chin on my dad’s shoulder and took in the humble life of my hometown, one I’d turned a blind eye to all throughout this year. Dad and I are both great talkers, but it was probably the first time we drove around in silence with minimal conversation, simply enjoying each other’s company with the occasional dad joke and quips. 

While carrying the exhaustion that had accumulated through the day, we set up our new Christmas lights in front of our house. I turned on the TV and hit play on the long overdue Michael Buble album, and the three of us worked together on the decorations, swatting and mosquitoes and sometimes at each other when the silliness got out of hand. 

Office Christmas GIFs | Tenor

This year has been a roller-coaster for most everyone, and as it draws to a close, I’m sure a lot of us carry a certain degree of disappointment on how underwhelming 2020 may have been. Some of us are separated from our loved ones, forced to celebrate through Zoom calls and exchange gifts from a distance. 

But I’m sure if we all look hard enough, we’ll find that silver lining. 

I went to sleep last night, worn to the bone but with a wide smile on my face – not because we finally got around to honoring our family tradition. I smiled because I was grateful to have a family to honor it with in the first place.

My two wonderful parents: that’s my holiday spirit right there. 

What’s yours?  

A Penultimate Update to My Reading Challenge

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on how the past twelve months have progressed. While 2020 was a slowdown for the entire world, courtesy of COVID-19, in some ways the ‘pause’ was very much needed.

I gained a lot more time to spend with my family and work on myself. Being rooted in my hometown for the first time in my life, I’ve spent almost a year here and it’s the longest I’ve ever been in my city; no longer a stranger to it.

The at-home routine also provided me the opportunity to dedicate more energy to my personal goals; one of which was to get back into reading. For the first time in years, I finished my reading challenge for the year and can proudly say I read books from varying genres, expanded my mind to different literary style and had a very wholesome reading journey over all.

I’m starting to think about the types of books I want to read in the coming year. I’ve shifted away from YA and Romance, no doubt thanks to my growth as I venture into my mid-20s (something that has also reflected in my personal writing). I am more keen on exploring in Literary and Sci-Fi/Fantasy in Fiction, and memoirs and autobiographies in Non-Fic.

Earlier in the year, I also joined a couple reading communities like NetGalley, Reedsy and the Online Book Club. Being a writer myself, I can relate to the struggle of getting your book out there and building word-of-mouth for it. I would like to pitch in and help those newly publishing their novels, especially through self-publishing and independent publishing houses.

Surrounding more of my reading time in 2021 around supporting up-and-coming debut authors in their publishing pursuits seems like a good start. This may even involve the creation of a separate blog just for voluntary book reviews, and the restructuring of this one to be a place for contemplation and personal writing.

Either way, whatever happens, I’m glad to say that 2020 was a nourishing year reading-wise and I look forward to seeing what 2021 has in store.

Bring on the books!

in | somnia

A piece I wrote at exactly 3:23 a.m. The inspiration behind it lies in the timing.

I used to see the brightest colors in my dreams.

They were blinding; vibrant and lively rays of sun intertwining with the aesthetics of this bountiful universe. It was Beauty at its finest, brought to me at the edge of my mind; night and again. 

Sensory explosions of burning stars in the back of my eyes, the trail of the finest silk on soft skin. I would still taste heaven at the tip of my tongue as I came to, floating for a moment between the states of consciousness as if in a trance. 

This unfiltered splendor of dreams was a gentle tap of euphoria on my soul that I can only find through the limited reach of my mind conjuring it.

Fantasy.

They were an escape from Escape itself.

I can’t remember the last time I found that rainbow; the last time I felt color wrap around me like a blanket, like a friend. The warm, comforting touch of familiarity is now replaced by the darkness of the unknown. 

It is not fear that eludes me; I know it. We’ve equated darkness with Bad and light with Good. But it is not an abyss that now beckons to me each night as I drift in solitude, in want of something more than this Earthbound reality I live.

The shadows cradle me like a mother would its youngling; a tender, merciful embrace. Tendrils wrap around me and swing back and forth, as if I were lying in a hammock, imitating the feel of the clouds. I am no longer in the skies. 

(Am I dreaming yet?)

When I open my eyes, I am cloaked in darkness. The same darkness of my mind and so, I can no longer tell if it is sleep that beckons or the blank canvas of my ceiling – calling, calling, calling for comfort.

Perhaps it’s all the same. Rainbows and shadows, reality and fantasy. Perhaps, that line blurring the two worlds has vanished. The veil lifted, the delusion of one seeping into another until nothing feels the same. 

(Am I awake yet?)

And so I lie. Asleep, but not quite.

Just standing on the edge of where that line used to be. 

And wondering – how did I get here?

Where do I go
when it finds me?

Malers what is ur dream in Life? - Forums - MyAnimeList.net

A Bookworm Revived

讀書 唸書 認真 翻頁 考試 圖書館 GIF - Studying Reading Books - Discover & Share GIFs |  Ghibli artwork, Aesthetic anime, Ghibli art

When I was a kid, people called me a bookworm a lot. Most of the kids meant it as a taunt but I would get this wide, impish little grin on my face, jut my chin out and go “heck yeah, I am”. Bookwork to me was a badge of honor, as it should be.

I still remember, clear as day, all the hours spent after school digging into Nancy Drew’s latest adventures in that one cozy corner of the school library. Or how I’d snuggle up in bed, wait for the light to go off from the crack under my door before turning on my tiny night-light and rebel past bedtime with my favorite fictional characters.

black and white, gif, and books image

Back then, reading wasn’t the luxury it is now. The grown-ups would warn me that there would come a time when I wouldn’t be able to jump into the pages of a book and surrender myself to literary abandon. I scoffed at them. Me, the bookworm, ever walking around without a book in her hand or on her mind? Blasphemy! I staunchly believed that day would never come.

Oh, how I miss that blissful ignorance of my adolescence.

Long gone are the days I could let myself be whisked away by the pages on the surface of a page, falling into the spaces between the lines and in tandem with the story being told. Over the years, a block formed, manifesting from different things; be it work obligations or household chores, family plans or over-due catch-ups with friends.

The bookworm faded.

But in the past week, I revived her.

Following the end of NaNo and the completion of my latest draft for my novel, I needed to give myself some space from writing before I jumped into it again. For me, that requires at least one week of absolutely zero writing-related tasks. It isn’t so much a detox as it is immersing myself in other creative activities. I decided, instead of bingeing TV shows and cinematic masterpieces, I would revisit the pleasures of reading.

I started reading The Illuminae Files.

And oh, how I read.

I can’t remember the last time I opened a book and hungrily turned the pages, unable to tear my eyes away from the page. I put my phone on DND mode, snuggled into a comfortable fortress made of pillows, and gave into the adventure the book(s) promised. There were moments I gasped and dropped the book, not expecting the twists. Others where I reached for a tissue to wipe my eyes, realizing I don’t have one and then going “to hell with it” and reading on.

Best Cry Reads GIFs | Gfycat

Even in the hours that followed, my mind buzzed, alive with inspiration and I found myself grabbing my journal and jotting down rough ideas of my own, suddenly concocting up subplots for other stories I have planned or finding answers to plot holes I had discovered and buried in the back of my mind.

The best part wasn’t the result of reading – it was the experience itself.

I forgot how much I loved disconnecting from this world and jumping into another. There’s a sense of security I find in the pages of a book, the creation of another inspired artist who is an absolute stranger to me and yet someone capable of conjuring up worlds, characters and stories that make me feel at home.

That’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? To connect and be so deeply moved by these pieces of someone’s heart and imagination, etched into ink, dancing across the pages and coming alive in your mind.

I could travel to a hundred exotic cities, experience everything this world has to offer, and still never find that serenity I capture between the pages of a book in anything else.

I don’t know if Bookworm Beatrice is back to stay, but the past week has been eye-opening. The grown-ups were right. It’s hard to find the time to read when adulthood hits, and there are a hundred other responsibilities to tend to. But I can make the time, if I put my mind to it.

In the coming year, I intend to do just that.

I Completed My Draft. What Now?

Woman with planner and laptop sitting on blanket in park

Let it soak in; that fulfillment as you take in the completed draft in front of you. You did it! Whether you slayed your draft as part of NaNoWriMo or in your own free time, you have in front of you a fully formed draft of your novel.

Finished GIFs | Tenor

No longer is the vision of your novel a fantasy thriving within the corners of your mind. Nor is it compressed into the bones of an outline that you thought you’d just “eventually” get around to fleshing out.

You did it. You wrote it out. And while you should definitely do a celebratory little dance and even treat yourself to your favorite meal, don’t book yourself a one-way ticket on the hype train just yet. While you may be done with your novel, that novel is certainly not done with you.

The End: On Novel Writing – The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough

Two days ago, I caught up with a good friend of mine and we discussed how NaNoWriMo 2020 went for both of us. He told me how he’d struggled to meet the word count requirements because the very nature of his novel flowed a different way and word count, in itself, was not the focal point. We talked about what victory meant to each of us and how several writers we know sometimes believe the completion of the first draft equates to their novel being on publishing-ready.

But here’s the zinger: writing that first draft is the easy part. What comes after is the real challenge.

You have to prepare yourself to put your manuscript under the microscope. Get ready to write a second, third, maybe even a fourth draft if the need arises; because plot holes, character discrepancies and other flaws you didn’t notice while writing the first draft may become more clear to you through the editing process. Battling self-doubt and your demons is also a very real struggle as you immerse yourself in your editing work.

Homer Simpson Episode 6 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

With your adrenaline buzzing from the completion of your first draft, you might be all fired up to get started on the next step and strive hard to close that gap between you and your dream of being a published author.

But here’s my advice: don’t cave. That’s right; put your pen down or get your keyboard out of sight and take a break from your manuscript.

You’ve been so connected to your story throughout the process of creating that draft that rushing into self-editing would be unwise. Why? To put it plainly, you’d be biased. Putting aside that draft can help you eliminate that.

Take A Break GIFs | Tenor

When you start editing, you don’t want to be viewing your manuscript through a rose-filtered lens. Chances are, you’ll miss out on the areas that need improvement because you’re still caught up in the excited flow of having written and finished your first draft.

Instead, come back to your manuscript after at least a week’s break with a fresh perspective and renewed energy to tackle the editing round. In the time you set your draft aside, it will breathe.

Don’t imagine: your characters frozen in place, aching for the spotlight to come back on them so they can be revived. Instead, picture them all chilling at the beach with the whole shebang; shades, coolers and towel spreads on the sand. “Finally!” your villain would go, patting your protagonist on the back.”I can take a break from wanting to end you.”

Let them have their space. Trust me, they’ve earned it too.

Chilling GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

How long should you let this draft-cation last? That’s totally up to you but you’d want to balance the time it takes to refresh your mind while still maintaining that fiery energy and passion to come back to it. For me, this is usually a week to two weeks for a 50k word novel. Others take a month, or even more, but to each their own.

Remember that taking a break from your novel does not equate to you taking a break from being creative.

There are other ways you can keep your creative juices flowing on the side. For example, you could indulge in reading more genre-fiction so that when you come back to your novel, you have a wider angle and perspective to tackle editing from. Maybe there’s another project you could work on, a short story or novella; another world and characters to get captivated by.

All the while, your draft will breathe and so will you. It’s like that age old phrase.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

So, take a break from that draft you just completed. Trust me, when you choose to return to it, your characters will welcome you with open arms and you will be that much more prepared to do ’em justice.

Welcome Back Minions GIF - WelcomeBack Minions - Discover & Share GIFs

Post NaNo Contemplations

Road Surrounded by Green Trees

“It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey in the end that matters.”

I crossed the 50k word count for NaNo on the 26th, but it was into the beginning of the 30th that I truly accomplished my goal.

This NaNo, I aimed to complete the rewrite and creation of my final draft for my novel The Closer. At the beginning of this year, I had written and edited my fifth draft and believed that one would be the last. I was pumped to get it professionally edited, polished, and start querying agents – my first foray into the traditional publishing world.

Things took an ugly turn when the first editor I hired ended up being a fraud and scamming me $1000. My entire timeline for the novel disintegrated as what followed was months worth of stress, strife, and conflict. The conflict wasn’t just with the editor in question; a lot of it was internalized.

There was a lot of love lost between me and the novel itself. By the time I picked myself up from the harrowing incident with the editor, I was drained and had little motivation to rework the draft on my own.

Finals Stressed GIF - Stressed Omg Headache - Discover & Share GIFs | Homer  simpson, The simpsons, Homer

This NaNo changed all that.

After seven months, I returned to my book. Equipped with constructive critique from beta readers, I decided that I’d use NaNo 2020 as an opportunity to work on finalizing the draft, rewriting and changing up some major plot elements and, all in all, perfecting the draft on my own.

What did I learn in the process? Perfection doesn’t exist.

It was halfway through the month that I realized the draft I was working now, the one I so hoped would be the last, is far from finished. As I ruthlessly killed my darlings and rewrote several chapters, I identified other loopholes in this new plot; things that will merit another round of editing after NaNo.

This time, I didn’t stress over the realization. Sure, my timeline for querying agents and potential publication is severely delayed following the editor mishap and other events but…maybe that was for the best.

Through every round of self-editing and rewriting, I haven’t just been refining the novel and honing my craft; I’ve also been learning a lot more about myself. Over the past five years, I’ve grown as a person. The 18-year old that penned the first draft of The Closer had a very different understanding of love, a very different relationship with the novel and its characters than the 23-year old woman I am today.

The story in itself has matured alongside the woman that wrote it. I reflected upon that while working this draft.

Some novels require just three or four edits; others might require hundreds. But what counts is that, no matter what stage it’s at, you pour your love and passion into your work.

I completed the draft yesterday – having managed to successfully reduce the manuscript length from 138k words to 98k. It’s still far from complete but I took a moment to celebrate my success.

While the journey has been a long one and there is still no definite end that I can make out ahead of me, I’ve learned to take things in stride and cherish everything I’ve learned throughout it.

The novel’s vision evolved a great deal, and so has mine. Rather than fret about how much closer I am to The End, I’m going to take a pit-stop and give the manuscript a few days to breathe.

My journey is far from over but now, it’s time I treat myself to a well-deserved break.

Victory Is Mine, 2020!

When I won NaNoWriMo 2020, I didn’t even notice it.

I was banging away at the keyboard, determined to finish the chapter I was in the process of writing. Caught up in the emotional turmoil of my characters and the Winter Wonderland setting of my scene, I lost track of the word count.

Earlier this week, I thought it would be a miracle for me to complete NaNo on time as my daily word count wasn’t as impressive as I’d hoped for it to be. I figured I’d do the bare minimum and just inch my way over the finish line on the 30th.

But somehow, at some point, I got sucked into the world of my novel, The Closer. Abandoning my self-doubt and hesitation in a pursuit to write “the perfect final draft”, I fully invested myself into the mere act of writing and allowed my characters to breathe freely.

What followed was a huge jump in my daily word count and next thing I knew, I was right up at the finish line.

While taking a break to hydrate and stretch out my arms, I glanced over at the clock. The time read 11:57 P.M.

“Welp! Time to update that word count!” I thought and raced to the NaNoWriMo site, quickly inputting my current session’s count. The page refreshed and I was looking at this:

Image

I stared at the screen, slack-jawed. How…what…when?

The notification popped up at the top right corner of the screen and before I knew it, I was watching the NaNoWriMo 2020 victory video play out, still in a state of shock that I’d actually done it.

This year has been challenging on many counts and this month, especially so. Finding the will to write again, reigniting my passion for a manuscript I’ve been working on over five years and taking more serious steps toward fulfilling my literary goals is what this NaNoWriMo’s been about.

The 50k for me doesn’t just symbolize the sweat and tears I’ve poured into writing this past month, but all my life. To pick myself up from the ground and keep believing in my writing, in my resilience to make a goal and stick to it; that’s what I’m proud of.

I still have a long way to go before I accomplish the goals I’ve set for my writing career. But it’s important to take a moment to recognize and celebrate these milestones along the way.

Thank you NaNoWriMo 2020 for giving me the opportunity to renew my passion in writing again. I will take this victory in stride and pave the way for greater ones.

Reaching the Mid-Way Point

Season 6 Episode 20 GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants - Find & Share on GIPHY

We are three short days away from the mid-way point to this year’s NaNoWriMo!

To my immense relief, I managed to make up for Week 1’s slow writing and reached the mid-point to my novel yesterday.

At some points, I push through the writing even when I don’t feel like it. Some scenes come out clunky and very “mechanical” in ways. Others flow easy and in an effortless manner. But what matters is to keep writing anyway.

The challenge for me this time around has been suppressing my urge to edit compulsively.

I reread the chapter or scenes I wrote the day before and inevitably end up making a large number of changes – some that are minor fixes and inconsequential to the plot, others that end up impacting other linked scenes and require future rework.

Quite a bit of my word count has been repeated edits and scenes cut out, restructured, rewritten, and recycled all over again. While this is by no means a bad thing, it certainly does make that final destination seem that much farther away.

I expect that even after November 30 comes around, this cycle of self-editing and rewriting won’t end. While I fully intended for this draft to be the final one for my novel, I’ve made my peace with the fact that there is no hard cap on how many drafts to write.

What matters is having fun with it – with every stage, whether it be that first draft fresh out of the creativity press of your mind, or if it’s the repeated editing and rewriting toward the end of your novel’s journey.

With that in mind and spirits high, I’ll sign off this quick blog post with happy vibes and wishes for all the other Wrimos out there. We’re tackling that word count and just days away from grabbing that first 25k!

Stay inspired and keep writing folks!

Gearing Up

Commando Arnold GIF - Commando Arnold Preparing - Discover & Share GIFs

It’s time to pull an Arnold.

As I wrote in my previous post, Week 1 of NaNoWriMo was largely a bust. There should be badges on the NaNoWriMo site for “no-writing-done streaks” because I think I’m running into three-days now.  

Not to say I didn’t get any writing done. I’m at 11k words and only 1.6k behind where I should be at this point but my writing came in spurts, fuelled by intense days of creativity and then unproductive follow-ups. 

But as I sit here on my bed and stare dramatically off into my future (and by that, I mean stupidly fixating on a spot on the wall), I can foretell that the remainder of this month will not pass in a similar fashion.

You just want to tell them you miss them. | Joey friends, Joey tribbiani,  When your best friend

I will not allow it to.

I’ve been dragging my feet writing-wise. This isn’t something I can even attribute to just NaNoWriMo but over all. The year’s been rough and my literary motivations have been at an all-time low. I intended to use the 50,000 word writing challenge to my advantage and kick myself back into shape. I had the drive and every intention to do just that, but then work picked up. 

I’ve used this Sunday to rest and recharge, read some books for inspiration and get myself in the zone again. I read my first Danielle Steele novel, a book by the name of “Palomino”, revisited one of my all-time favorites “Pride and Prejudice”, and have now moved onto Nick Hornby’s “How To Be Good Again”. Consuming art gets me all fired up to create more of my own, so it’s a good way to gear up for the rest of November.

Rubs Hands GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Starting tomorrow, the write-off will begin. As focused as I am on getting to that 50k word count, this is probably the one year where I’m not making that my primary target. I simply want to write every day and find my groove again for creating on a regular basis. 

The last three weeks of November will be a celebration of words, one I hope will never end. 

Turning Down the Pressure

by all means move at a glacial pace, you know how that thrills me | me to  the kids | meryl streep | Just for laughs, Haha funny, Sick burns

Is it just me or has this week been passing by at a snail’s pace?

For our friends in the Northern Hemisphere, the impending results of the US election have been stirring up a lot of tension and unrest. Of course, these turbulent emotions aren’t just felt by Americans but people all around the globe.

A few Wrimos I spoke to have been too anxious to write. Others have been using the opportunity to NaNo as a getaway – a temporary reprieve, of sorts – from the nerves.

Big Bang Theory Hyperventilating GIF - BigBangTheory Hyperventilating  Stressed - Discover & Share GIFs

For me, this week had a particularly challenging start. Earlier during Preptober, I drew a resolution to avoid late-night writing sessions. And I have been sticking to my decision, as best I can, but this has led to both Day 4 and Day 6 being writing-free.

Regarding word count, I have nothing to worry about. I’ve written almost 11,100 words so far, putting me above the word count required for this stage.

When I do sit down to write, I tend to burn ahead of the daily word count requirement of 1667 words, so I am certainly ‘safe’. Thankfully, all the time I spent outlining and planning ahead during Preptober worked in my favor. Even on the days when I’m feeling completely uninspired, I have something to help guide me write my scenes – a roadmap, if you will.

But this may not be the case for all writers, or for you!

Writing during a time when you’re stressed due to the political climate, work or even personal affairs is tough.

On Day 3, I couldn’t bring myself to write as much as I wanted to and ended my day with just 1000 words, all of which, I ended up scrapping the next day.

Does that make it any less valuable? Any less ‘worthy’ for NaNo? Certainly not!

Not just this week, this entire year has been a roller-coaster ride for everyone. Cut yourself some slack if you’re not able to write as much certain days, or aren’t pleased with your results. I’ve been stressing this throughout Preptober and NaNo so far, but your creative health is fuelled by keeping your mental and physical health top-form.

Mental Health - Opening Up by Jake Hawkins | Design Inspiration

I had this one neat little trick I used in a previous NaNo when life had given me a doozy and writing was a particular challenge.

Some days, if I couldn’t find the drive to write my story, I channeled the block from my emotional energy into, what I like to call, creative journaling.

I would write myself into the story and the world I created. My characters became my go-to guidance counselors. They would listen as I vented about my anxieties. Sometimes, we’d go on adventures completely irrelevant to the plot and yet, an exercise that would help me get to know them better while simultaneously getting a load off my chest.

I have at least 10,000 words written from one NaNo with scenes completely revolving around character building and self-therapy.

Did I use these in my the final manuscript? No. But did it help me get back on my feet and write the story later in a stress-free and liberating manner? Did it help me further, not just my novel, but my creative health over all? Yes, it very much did.

You might wonder: “can I count these creative journaling exercises as part of my word count?” I say yes.

There are certainly no ‘hard’ rules as to what qualifies as part of your word count or not in NaNo. But I think if you’re writing anything that’s helping you build the vision you have for your novel, it should be included! Especially at times like these when life seems crazy.

Are we tired or are we triggered?

So if you, like me, are having a rough first week of NaNo and you’re beating yourself up about it: don’t. If you lost your writing streak because you needed time to regain your footing, that’s a commendable decision. Because you’re putting your creative health first and not succumbing to unnecessary pressure to deliver words.

How to create a Self Love Date Night - The Happi Empire

As much as NaNo is about the word count, it should never translate to pressure.

Write, have fun and make the most of every day of this month, even the ones you choose to spend on yourself.