Topical Tuesday: ComiPo Conundrum

Season’s greetings, everyone! Can you believe it’s getting so close to the end of the year? I was thinking about how much I’ve changed over the past year, and I realized something… the most major change, I’ve found, is that I’m using ComiPo a lot less than I used to.

Now, It’s not like I never use it at this stage. I still play around with it, mostly to make backgrounds for my computer based on projects I have… But it’s not my only comic making program anymore. During a sale, I ended up buying Kuma Kuma. Each program has its perks and downfalls, but this isn’t a review or comparison post by any means. I’m here today to talk about why I’ve grown to use ComiPo less and less… And why I don’t consider myself necessarily part of the community anymore.

You see, the ComiPo community was strong for a long while. I felt comfortable there, and I was using ComiPo so much that it felt only reasonable that I take part in the community. But, when I had a major case of burnout from writing, my comic work also plummeted. I began to use ComiPo less and less. And, the less I used it, the less I felt a connection to the community.

Of course, there are other reasons I left the majority of the ComiPo community. There was a lot of drama and stress in it after a certain point. I’ll spare you the details, but the basic point is that certain members showed different kinds of quirks that weren’t exactly comfortable for me to be around. And, as the ‘quirks’ led to drama, I became more and more stressed just watching from the sidelines. So, I basically left to preserve my limited sanity.

I’m not completely outside the ComiPo community, however. I have high hopes for a trip to Canada in 2020 to do a panel about the program with some friends that use it as well. I have no idea if it’ll come to fruition yet, of course. If it does work out, I’ll have a lot of preparations to do, including getting myself a passport, making my part of the presentation, etc.

Now, I’m totally looking forward to the panel assuming it happens. If not, a friend said she’s trying for an artist alley booth that we can share, too. That said, I haven’t really been sharing much of my ComiPo work on my deviantART or here. And the reason for that, besides not really having much to share, is my anxiety. I’m honestly scared of returning to the community- I’ve vanished for so long, and I can’t help but have doubts about whether I’d be welcomed back or come back to a new set of stressful scenarios. And, it’s not like my focus is on ComiPo- though I do have some stories I want to make into comics again, but I don’t feel I have remotely enough skill or planning to make it work well.

So, what am I working on lately? I’m glad you asked (no, I know you didn’t, but I’m pretending you did anyway). I got a nifty new program for planning out stories and have been using its worldbuilding pack quite a lot. I’m making languages, fleshing out cultures and religions, and many more things. I’m also doing a tiny bit of game dev every day, as dad said he’d like to work on it with me at some point, and I’ve met people on Twitter who are thinking of making a group that I’m invited to join. I’m still working on my novels, but they’re mostly in the planning stages again, as I try to figure out if they’d make better scripts than novels.

And, finally, I’ve been entering writing contests again. I have a paid one I want to join, but I can’t seem to come up with a third poem right now. I’m going to keep working extra hard on poetry until I write one I think sits well- and I hope to spend a lot more time on writing contests in the next year.

What kind of creative projects are you up to, guys? Do you prefer to write or draw, and no matter which, what’s your favorite medium for it? I want to hear more about you guys- I want to become a part of your community, as you are part of mine. I hope you’ll comment to share your thoughts- I love to hear them!

Soulful Saturday: Counseling

It’s hard to believe it’s already Saturday, isn’t it? Looks like it’s time for a soulful conversation! I was struggling to decide what to talk about as usual today when I suddenly came upon a youtuber talking about things they won’t promote… and something really resonated with me when they mentioned online counseling.

I’m not against online counseling, mind you. I admit I’d try it- but that’s not what I intend to talk about today. I want to talk about counseling in general, and how counseling and therapy have played a part in my life over the years. I’ve been in and out of therapy and counseling since I was six years old.

I’ve always suffered from notable anxiety, ever since I was small. I think when I went to my first therapist, it was after an incident where my social anxiety made me vomit because it got so bad, but I can’t quite remember for sure what really started me on the journey. The journey only got more confusing and convoluted as time went on though. Here are some anecdotes as to why.

My first therapist was a man- and we often played with dolls and stuff as part of my therapy sessions. It was the good ol’, ‘show me what a typical day is like through these toys’ type of thing. But, one night, I had a bizarre nightmare. The content was something that may be a bit triggering, so be forewarned before you read the next sentence. I had a nightmare that I was raped.

You’re probably wondering, how at such a young age did I know what rape was? I can tell you right now I have no memory of it ever physically happening to me. The thing is, in case you’ve forgotten… I have exceptionally strong hearing. And, it just so happened that around that time, my aunt was telling my dad about a time she was attacked, or so my father recalls. We’re pretty sure it’s from me overhearing her talk about it from across the house, looking back. But, that didn’t change that over the course of a single night I became terrified of men, including my therapist.

So after that, all my therapists were women. You probably don’t see how much more I can talk about this subject- and you’re right, I can’t talk about the nightmares anymore. But therapy has had its ups and downs in my life. I was in a group therapy at school, and one year, I ended up ruining my relationship with one of my cousins through it.

From middle school onward, I was in a special group therapy for kids with divorced parents. It was hosted by my school itself, so we kids in it were taken out of classes for our group sessions. This group continued into high school, when my aunt and uncle were starting divorce proceedings. Our therapist asked us in one group session if we knew anyone that might benefit from the group. Considering I knew how hard it was on my cousin, I mentioned he might.

That was a big mistake.

Someone went up to my cousin at school surprised to hear his parents were divorcing. He got really upset finding out I talked about it, even though he knew my heart was in the right place. For a long period of time, he stopped talking to me. All because I thought he could make use of some therapy like I had. But understand, I knew it was hard on him. He came to my room upset numerous times when visiting our grandma’s house, where I lived, when the proceedings first started. He’d always been there for me during my parents divorce and my father’s illness. He was like a big brother to me. That’s why, when I saw him suffering, I wanted to help him. And I thought I was… But clearly, I wasn’t.

Don’t worry though- we’re on better terms now. I don’t talk to him that much, but when we see each other, we chat. High school’s a stressful time enough as it is, that’s all. As adults, we’ve grown a better understanding of the past.

Therapy isn’t always helpful for everyone. Sometimes, it’s the method the therapist works with that doesn’t work. I’d like to share one anecdote about this as well. You see, I was needing psychiatric and psychological help in 8th grade. Yes, I’m going out of order with these stories, but please be patient with me regarding that.

In 8th grade, I moved across the country to live with my aunt for six months. I’d only just started psychiatric help when it was decided I’d be moving… And my aunt didn’t believe I needed it. She also didn’t think I needed the kind of therapy I was getting, or so I suspect. See, she did get me a psychiatrist- but the psychiatrist wasn’t there to deal with my mental health issues. She took me to him for ‘family counseling’. Also, ‘family counseling’ was just her complaining about the things I didn’t do as she said, and him telling me to do them.

At the time, my aunt truly believed that with structure alone, I’d get fixed up and turn into a perfect mini adult. But what she didn’t count on was the fact I was a teenager… a teenager who needed help. A teenager that would rebel if necessary. And, as I rebelled, the therapy showed it was working less and less. My aunt filled my schedule to the brim with activities she wanted me in, that I had no say over. I admit I enjoyed some of them, but with a packed schedule of school, homework, and extra curricular activities, I didn’t have time for my own thoughts or coping skills that actually worked for me.

I started to do worse in school, I started sneaking snacks (she was very against snacks and sweets, which while understandable, isn’t always the best thing to just stop eating cold turkey as a kid). I felt like I had no say in my own life, and the therapist we were seeing wasn’t making me feel any better about it. It all ended up leading to me returning home to New Jersey after just six months, with me feeling quite aggravated with my aunt. We’ve started to fix our issues together since then- she realizes she could have done things differently, and that I did really need the help she was told I needed. She even started admitting some of her own problems, which I’m very proud of her for.

The truth of the current situation is this: I do still need therapy. I see a psychiatrist, but he can only do so much. I’m working on finding a therapist that takes my insurance with my case manager’s help. I found out, also, about a specific kind of therapy that would help me most likely more than other forms, thanks to a friend. I need to talk to my case manager about that still… But the end of the story is this: everyone’s needs are different, and so everyone’s counseling should be different as well. If you need help, make sure not to give up just because your first therapist isn’t helping you enough. Try another one, who has a different method. Therapy and counseling isn’t one size fits all. It’s a lot of trial and error, and actually trying.

Are you in counseling or therapy? What kind of counseling do you find helps you the most? Share what you’re willing in the comments- I want to learn more about you, and you never know how your story might help someone else!

Throwback Thursday: Obsession

Hey everyone! Today’s topic may be a bit recent, but the problem in general stems way back in my childhood. You see, I’d like to talk about my obsession issue: I unconsciously collect things, because I’m just obsessed with the type of product. I’ve had this problem since I was young, and I know for fact I get it partially from my dad. I want to share with you today the things I’ve obsessed over in the past, and the way it affects me today.

When I was in my school years, I had two great loves: bags (especially messenger bags) and stationery. It was a common obsession between me and my dad, so we always had lots of bags, notebooks and pens around. When I was in high school, my apartment had a small room attached to the main part of our basement… and it was filled to the brim with school supplies. My friends used to say we owned a miniature Staples (though we never sold anything- though we did give things to friends as gifts). In our current home, we don’t have that room full of stationery, sadly… But we do have quite a number of notebooks, binders, pens, coloring tools, and many other things we’d managed to keep during the move here. But that’s just one obsession. One reason our house is a disaster (besides my laziness).

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved bags as well- and while it was mostly messenger bags when I was young, I’ve come to enjoy all sorts of bags- though messenger bags are still probably my favorite of all time. I have a lot of bags now, including three I got as part of the bags of clothing my neighbor has been giving me since I’m heavy and they’re too big on her now. One bag has a lot of metal on it, so I’ve been touching that as a form of therapy for my metal aversion (yes, I’m quite serious about this issue). I also use a computer bag I got recently a lot as a general out-and-about bag. It’s really handy, because it’s not too heavy but fits my essentials in it, including a drink or two!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more obsessions. I’m mad about make-up nowadays, and once spent 80 bucks on it at a drug store during a manic episode. I work really hard not to buy much now, as I shouldn’t need as much as I do- but whenever I buy something I’m out of, I tend to find sales that require buying multiple products, so… I end up buying more to enjoy and make use of the sale instead of, you know, just buying what I need like a smart person.

I recently have been obsessed with one other thing: writing programs. Okay, that’s not really all that new… But it’s only recently I’ve been spending a fair amount on the stuff. For years, I’ve loved finding new free writing software, but recently, I found two programs outside Scrivener that cost a pretty penny… But I loved them, so invested in them anyway. I didn’t do it without talking to my dad, of course- we share our finances, so we discuss all purchases before making them most of the time. The first one I got, Liquid Story Binder, I’d used in the past and really enjoyed, so when it was half off, I asked and was allowed to buy it. Then, just the other day, I learned about a program called Campfire from a friend… And as a NaNoWriMo participant, I got a small discount on it. It would’ve been a bigger discount, but dad and I felt the heavier duty version would be a better investment than the plain pro version. And so far, I’m using it a lot for world building!

I do have other obsessions, of course. I’m obsessed with games, books, and many other things. But of the ones that cost me money the most often, I naturally wanted to go into more detail on those today… But if you want to hear more about any of these, let me know!

Do you have any obsessions or collections that are crowding your home or just taking a toll on your finances? I’d love to hear your stories about obsession and the like as well! But until then, and until Saturday… See you later!

Topical Tuesday: The Winner Train

Oh hey there! As you all know, I am a winner from NaNoWriMo this year! That means a lot of things to me: it means discounts to get new writing programs to try, and gives me the right to pat my own back for finishing when I thought I never would. I’ve always liked competition, but especially competing against myself, you see. Sure, some people make rivalries even in the writing community, and yes, I did team sports and such in middle school… But I didn’t like that form of competition. There were insanely loud cheers and it felt more aggressive half the time. It was stressful because people were relying on me, too. That’s why, for the most part, I’ve spent my life focusing on competing with my own self, rather than joining something more interlaced with aggression.

The reason I’m bringing up competition is two-fold. First off, a friend recommended it while I was struggling to think of a topic for today’s blog. Second, though, is I’m spending the end of the year finding and joining writing contests that have some form of meaning or interest to me. I joined my first ever short story contest (and my god, writing such a short story is hard!). I also found a poetry contest I plan to enter this year as well. I’m going to be getting 3 entries, so I need to decide on two more, or write them. My first poem for it is already secure.

What’s funny is when you compete with yourself over time. The poem I have set for the poetry contest is actually one I wrote a long time ago when I had a murderous migraine. I reread it since I planned to enter it, and just… my god. Why was this my favorite poem I ever wrote? I don’t get it. And yet, it still served its purpose, and I still plan to send it in.

I do miss some other forms of competition. I really liked discus when I wasn’t getting hit in the knee by a moving disc of six pound rubber. Basketball wasn’t bad either. In fact, I get jealous when I walk to the park and there are kids playing basketball because I want to join… But asking them would be far too scary. So, I just watch.

Also, competition can be great for things like household chores! I sometimes treat the dishes as a competition. They’re no longer my job, but I inspect how my dad did them and always feel eerily pleased when there’s a mistake he couldn’t see but I can. It’s pathetic, I know- but it makes me feel a little better about myself in some weird way.

I’ve watched videos about motivation lately, and a lot talk about a ‘ten minute tidy’, which is a competition with yourself to clean more in ten minutes than the last time. I was really into them for a while, but I kind of just stopped. I hope to start doing them again, maybe during word sprints other people do. I have plenty of tidying to do- so focusing on just a bit for ten minutes would probably make it easier on me.

Do you consider yourself a competitive person? What kinds of things do you like to compete with, and with who? I’d love to hear your own stories of triumph over rivals, whether that rival be your friend on another basketball team or yourself in getting a task done. How do you find competition helpful in life? Comment below to tell me all this stuff and more- I love hearing about you guys, and learning from you too!

Take care!

Soulful Saturday: Daddy Dearest

Hey guys. Welcome to another Soulful Saturday! Today, I thought it’d be really good to talk about my relationship with my father in a bit more detail.

Most people know me as being very close with my dad- we tell each other everything, and we get told we’re a lot like a sitcom family by people that meet us and see us together. We make fun of each other a lot, but it’s all in good fun. In fact, my dad encourages it. But, before I talk about how close we are, I feel I should talk about a time where we weren’t so close… Which would be the time when I was a small child.

See, my dad used to yell a lot, especially at my mom. With my hyper acuity syndrome (that makes me hear up to ten times louder than normal), I could hear it through the walls and make out words being said. I didn’t understand many of them, mind you, but… It wasn’t just yelling I heard. I heard thuds like someone falling.

I know it’s sexist to assume the man is beating the woman, but that’s all I saw in the media at the time, so that’s what I wondered. It made me fear him, both from how my head and ears hurt from overhearing things to fearing the thuds were my mom being harmed. I also had androphobia after around the age of 6 caused by nightmares I had- all of which were about being assaulted by men sexually. I’d never had it happen to me, but somehow I saw it clearly when I was in my sleep… And it terrified me. So yeah, I had a lot of things on my plate that made my dad seem like a monster to me.

I forget when I found out, but dad finally told me that, while the thud was my mother, he was just trying to push her away from him because she was hitting him! She attacked dad verbally and physically, even if she was fairly weak. My mom wasn’t in perfect health by any means, and she also was very inactive. She constantly used her medicine as a drug rather than what it was intended for, lied about quitting smoking constantly, and just generally wasn’t a great role model. She was my main role model at the time though- dad worked insanely long hours on and off based on the job he was consulting with, and there were times I didn’t see him at all because he’d go to work before I woke up and come home after I was already asleep. So, my neglectful mother was what I knew best. And sometimes, in some ways, I’m a lot like her. Just saying that makes me detest myself, but let’s get back to dad.

While we weren’t super close, we did grow closer after my mom left. Dad was my rock, always taking care of me during my crying fits, and reminding me my mom, who had supposedly just left to go to rehab in Florida, was doing a good thing by going there.

Then, 9/11 happened. I was in… third or fourth grade at the time. Dad saw it on the news and immediately took me out of school just before the school went into lockdown mode. I was really confused at the time, because dad just took me home out of nowhere. Then, he sat with me to watch the news of what happened. He wanted to be there for me when I learned about it- so, he took me home to see it in a safe environment where he could relax me more easily.

I cried a lot that day. I didn’t know anyone personally that was there, but something about it just terrified me to the core, likely the visuals of explosions, which with my hearing and pyrophobia scared me shitless. Hell, they still scare me shitless half the time. Watching Mythbusters, I always had to alter the volume or cover my ears to handle them remotely. I digress again though. Let me return to the story at hand.

My dad became disabled when I was in 4th grade. We were in a number of car accidents when I was a kid, and the lingering spinal/nerve damage he had from a previous accident was emphasized by the most recent one at the time, and he had to get surgery to use things together. Dad couldn’t work for a while because of it, and with his pending divorce, he wasn’t going to be able to keep our condo or car. He also wasn’t allowed to drive since he had to wear a neck brace, so we moved in with his parents for me to go to middle school in a stable environment. Not that it was stable at all.

The house was chaos. There was constant arguing and shouting. Then, dad got sick. He just started having trouble staying awake, and slowly but surely, he started going in and out of comatose states. I was scared he was going to die, honestly. By then, my fear of him had dwindled down, so I spent a lot of time in his room at the back of my grandma’s house, wanting to be with my father. But slowly, as his health deteriorated and he was constantly bedridden, I found it too hard to watch. So, when my aunt offered to take me in to live in California for a while, I agreed.

The transition wasn’t smooth and my time with my aunt was a mixed blessing that I won’t get into today. Point blank, after my last year of middle school ended there, I was sent home to my grandparents house. My dad’s health had turned around after he got a special blood test: it turned out his blood ammonia was the highest ever seen in our county hospital! They called him saying he had to be in a coma while he happened to be awake. It was insane! This happened while I wasn’t around, of course- but when I got home, my dad being better than he was was a godsend.

We moved out of my grandparents house since dad was doing better and my grandmother didn’t want to have to take care of us anymore (I’m just assuming that’s why she demanded we move). We had to stay in town due to custody issues, but we had our own apartment and it was just the two of us again, meaning less yelling by a longshot. I had a rough time throughout high school and even now am still struggling as an adult… But my dad has always been and always will be by my side, cheering me on, giving me advice when I need it, and just generally be there for me.

With all that’s happened in our lives, I still worry dad will get seriously ill again. He’s had MRSA twice now, has psoriatic arthritis, and a laundry list of other issues and conditions. He takes more medications in a day than I take in half a week most likely. However, while he has his off days, he does his best on the days he’s well to be with me and work through things together. He may be disabled, but he doesn’t define himself that way… And I’m grateful to be able to have him by my side.

To me, he’s everything: my father, my mother, a good friend… Everything.

How do you guys get along with your parents? I’d love to hear how different people have different relationships with their fathers and mothers. What have you guys been through together with them? Leave me a comment so we can learn from each other!

Throwback Thursday: Learning and Me

Good morning, friends! Today, I’d like to talk to you about a subject that’s always been a bumpy ride for me: Education. I’m not proud to say it, but I’m a high school drop out. I’ve always had issues with absenteeism in my life, because I get sick easily, have chronic migraines, and a number of other issues. I’m not actually intending to talk much about that, however: what I want to talk about is the fact I wasn’t always a bright student. In fact… I was pretty bad at being a student in my early years.

Throughout elementary school, I was a lot slower than my classmates, physically and mentally. I couldn’t seem to write well no matter how hard my teachers tried to, well, teach me. I was always clumsy and struggled with my physical education from regular falls and lack of muscle compared to my heavyset physique. It got to a point where it was decided I needed both physical therapy and occupational therapy while I was in school.

This was an issue that continued through part of middle school. My two therapists came to see me and would pull me out of classes to get my work with them done. While occupational therapy involved all sorts of things, including simple movements like lunges and wall facing push-ups, occupational therapy focused mostly on my reading and handwriting skill. To this day, my handwriting remains notably messy, but at least I recognize the letters now, which I struggled with in my early years.

I have a learning disability or two. I’m dyslexic with a side of dyscalcula. Words and numbers always felt they were moving around on the pages in my text books, so I always ended up making notably errors, even if it made sense if they looked at my work. I also just have a bad memory. In high school, I was given a number of tests- IQ tests, memory tests, things like that. It was noted to me afterwards that I had a low(ish) score on information retention, which honestly didn’t surprise me. I don’t know why that is, but it was already fairly obvious to me- in middle school, I had to ask my friend every hour what day of the week it was.

I have one more health issue that doubles for causing me issues in classes. I have a form of OCD mixed with ADD. For me, I’m quick to change what I’m thinking about at any given time, under one condition: there’s no spelling or grammatical errors on the papers or the blackboard I’m looking at. I had a lot of teachers who’d make mistakes, and when I caught it, I could no longer concentrate on anything- I was fixated, praying I could alter it with telekinetic powers or something. It did and still does drive me crazy! I can’t finish paperwork if I don’t edit the fields that have typos- that goes for doctor’s offices and government documents I’ve had to fill out n the past, too.

So you see, I had a lot of issues with learning. From my inability to focus after noticing and error or just not really soaking in information very quickly, school wasn’t easy for me… but I loved it. I’ve always loved learning, and I still do. I have plenty of things that set me back, but I make an effort to learn something new each day.

What was school like for you guys? Did you have issues with learning in general, or just certain subjects? What were things that helped you to learn more easily? I’d love to hear all about your experiences! Whether you’re currently in school, graduated, or dropped out like me… I want to hear your story. I’ve already shared mine- now it’s your turn!

Have a great day, guys! See you on Saturday!

Topical Tuesday: NaNo is Over! Time for Project Updates!

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, hasn’t it? And I mean actually written a post. It may be the last day of November when I’m writing this, but I have so much to share from the past month that I’m not sure of where to start.

Well, for one thing, I WON! I finished writing 50k words in record time, all thanks to my working on multiple projects at once. I can’t fully believe I managed to finish, though none of my projects are done. I think that’s one thing I’d like to talk about today, in fact… The projects I’m working on, how, and what I hope they’ll do if I publish them.

So, my first project I’m going to share is Pure Blood, a supernatural romance that was my original focus. I wrote a few chapters, but I got stuck and was basically bouncing all over the place. I’m not going to give up on it, but I’m taking some time from it until I feel I have more direction… Apparently I didn’t plan enough.

The second project, which has become my main project, is Luna Blue. This story is a sci-fi, quasi dystopian story about the world humans left behind due to destroying it with radiation and pollution, only to return to it once it seems the chaos has died down. The story has a lot of characters, because the colony it focuses on will be growing as the story goes on. There will be bizarre creatures due to the destruction of the gene pools and such, and a war between the mutated humans that’d been left behind and the colonists trying to start a new life for themselves. I’m recently working on a beastiary for it- and I gotta say, it’s pretty hard, but a lot of fun.

Another story I worked on for a short stint is Monochromatic Secret, another sci-fi, but this time focused on modern or maybe futuristic times. In this story, a girl can see up to the molecular level due to mutations done to her as a fetus. It follows her story of the loner moving up to be a friendly, confident woman.

I honestly don’t remember much else that I’ve written this month. I wrote a few paragraphs of a Pokemon fanfic, but that’s just for me at this time, and it will stay that way either way. I want to test more writing styles and programs, so more stories will help with that… But I hope to focus enough to finish one one of these days!

A lot has happened on the non-writing front too. I went to a few write-ins (okay, so those are writing related. Shush.) I got some neat prizes over the course of them, including a couple notebooks, a signed book by a fellow WriMo that I really like, and some other nifty knick knacks and stickers to go with the theme. I also went to a party upstairs this past Wednesday. They called it ‘Friendsgiving’. It was basically a small group of people hanging out, snacking, and a fair bit of alcohol. I woke up Thursday a bit hungover, but it was a fun night, and I’m glad I went. I should spend more time with the neighbors- they’re nice people.

Now that NaNoWriMo is officially over, I have a couple plans to put into place. I’m still going to write, but it won’t be my focus as much as it has been the last month. I also plan to work hard to motivate myself to declutter, as well as work on other art/development projects, namely game dev, a bit a day. With ComiPo having an update recently, I may use it to make a visual novel at some point- I have software for it, I just haven’t really played with it yet. I may start with just a kinetic novel… Honestly, I’m not sure.

What do you guys think I should focus on? I mean besides writing and my health. Yesterday (or what will be yesterday when you’re reading this) I went for an eye exam and to get some new glasses. So, hopefully, I’ll be seeing properly very soon! But besides my focus on writing and health, what should be my primary goal? And what projects do you think I should work on (both type of project and details if you have any)?

I need your help, my wonderful readers. How do you make a decision on what to work on? And what do you do to motivate yourself? Please leave a comment below to share with me your two cents. Also, if you have ideas for future blog topics or videos you’d like to see, let me know! I need all the brainstorming I can get!

NaNo Special: Writer’s Block

Good morning, my special friends! It’s time for another NaNo Special! Today, I’m going to talk about probably the most frustrating thing a writer can go through (in my opinion, at least). Yep, we’re talking about Writer’s Block.

I like to envision writing a bit like driving… Which is funny since I can’t drive. And yet, in my mind, I’m driving with my characters along the road that is the story’s plot. Sometimes they take the wheel and drag me through detours, while other times they just sit back and let me work. But sometimes, the road leads to a dead end. And, upon that dead end, I imagine a massive stone monument: a slab of Writer’s Block.

I try to keep my toolbox full of things to break the block down, naturally. Sometimes it requires a hammer, sometimes it needs to be set aflame. Many times, though, the only way I can get past a writer’s block is another detour. That, or take a trip to another story that has less blocks on its course.

See, I find detours and changes in direction the best methods for me to deal with writer’s block. If I don’t do those, I just end up sitting and staring at the block for an hour with absolutely no progress. By either jumping to a different road in the story or taking a route to a different story for a while, I manage to give the block time to sink into quicksand on the road, and return to it later with much clearer ideas and abilities to conquer it.

Another helpful thing is to have creative snacks. I remember reading once that someone recommended blue ice cream as a good writing food, but there’s a lot of options to get some sugary goodness that’ll get your motors going. For some reason, sugar is helpful for creative projects like this. Whether it’s blue ice cream or interestingly shaped cookies, there’s all sorts of snacks out there just waiting to be devoured for your writerly pleasure.

If you’re really hitting the wall with a hammer and having no luck, sometimes it’s good to take a break from writing altogether. Take some time for self care- go take a soothing bath or do a facial mask. Take a nice walk outside if the weather permits, or maybe just chat with a friend. Relaxation is a good way to help ease out of writer’s block and avoid burn out. Don’t forget it’s good to take a break once in a while either way, both for your stress levels and your eyes!

I know this isn’t much, but it’s all I can think of that might help. These are things that help me a lot, but they may not help you. Still, they’re things to try. If you have any tips for writer’s block of your own, share them in the comments so I can try them! If we all work together, we can all get a lot more done, don’t you think?

NaNo Special: World Building

It’s that time again today. That’s right- it’s time for a NaNo Special! Today, I felt like talking about something I worked on for a good chunk of September and October in preparation for this year’s NaNo: world building. It’s a difficult and tedious task depending on how you go about it, but in my experience, it can feel so worth the time and effort!

One of the first things I worked on, personally, was religions. I only knew one religion on the world my story takes place in, but I also knew that my characters followed something different. So, I had to come up with a new religion or two. With that responsibility comes the requirement to note down things like their myths, their holidays, their rituals- and to be honest, I didn’t finish as much as I intended to. It can be pretty hard to come up with all those details! But as of this moment, the world I’m writing in has three religions. I hope to use all of them in the stories I write someday!

The next task, to me, was to make a calendar. You see, my stories take place on another (made up) planet. Time moves differently there. And naturally, the religions and countries have their own holidays and things to celebrate throughout the year. So, I made a calendar. A calendar full of the world’s important dates highlighted.

That calendar was a pain in the ass to make, however. It was tediously daunting, and I had issues with my local spreadsheet programs eating and just deleting the calendar after I finally got it all prepared. In the end, it’s on my google sheets, and will eventually be put in my writing planner when I feel it’s filled to the brim with important information.

Another major task was getting to know the countries of this little world of mine. I had to know not just their names, but their layouts, governments, and other details relating to local vs broad spectrum holidays and such. I drew really crappy maps, set up the sections with numbers, colored the maps with a key for the different terrain, etc. I set up holidays for single countries and the world as a whole. I set up a monarchy, and two distinct forms of democracy of sorts. I laid out some of their laws, and up to 400 years of history depending on how far back I felt I’d need to deal with my immortal heroine in this year’s NaNo project.

With all that said, there’s still a lot of things I need to do. I need to adjust character birthdays, which are currently set on the Gregorian calendar. I need to finish fleshing out rituals and holidays, and write more lore of the land in detail. I haven’t plotted out the resources that are abundant or lacking yet, and while I’ve named all the primary politicians and capitals, I haven’t laid out where on each map the stories are set when they’re not capitals or anything of the sort.

As you can see, world building has a lot of details it can include. I think it really depends on the writer as to what details to focus on and how to go about planning things out. I put so much work into it the past months because I felt having the world better set up would give me more to work with when I write my stories in it. I get stuck with a lot of plot holes and writing blocks when I’m working on a story- but I think maybe, just maybe, better knowing the world will give me ideas of what could happen, or at least become good dialogue.

So today I have questions separate for my readers and writers out there. Readers, what do you consider the most interesting or important information to have about the world you’re reading about? And writers, how do you prepare details about your world? Do you use spreadsheets, make maps, or a number of different things? I want to hear this topic from different perspectives. Please share anything you’d like or can, so that I can learn it from you!

NaNo Special: Me and My Characters

Hey there everyone! Having a good November so far? I’m writing a number of these NaNo Special posts in advance, to give myself more time to write during NaNoWriMo… But I’m sure I’m having a lot of fun and frustration in your present and my future. “But wait, Jaluna, why are you so certain you’d be frustrated today?” Well, writing is hard… Especially if your characters seem to have a life of their own. You’d think that’s a good thing, but it’s not that great when they go off script and lead you in a direction that’s interesting, but blocks you from getting to what you needed.

To me, my characters are like my children- and I have a LOT of children in this case. They love to take me down alleys I wouldn’t have thought t, as if they’re trying to find a shortcut to their conclusion. Sometimes, my kids from another story idea start to whine about not getting enough attention. Basically, I feel a lot like a parent with many children, perhaps like my doctor whom has eight of his own. And yet, I’m not a parent. I’m only a writer- a writer with childishly defiant characters that won’t accept the rules I enforce on them.

I think this way often, however. I remember that my characters are my kids- and some of my kids have kids of their own already. I ended up becoming a fan of parenting blogs and following twitter accounts that talk about their kids a lot. I always make it clear when I respond to them that I’m not a parent, and most of them are totally understanding when I describe my characters the way I do, surprisingly. Some of them give me advice on behaviors I can do for myself that will improve my connection with them, in fact. I’m lucky parents can be so understanding- just like my father is.

Of course, another big issue when writing about a character is generally knowing as much as possible about them. When is their birthday? What makes them tic? What color was their favorite when they were 5 compared to when they were 25? No matter what inane piece of information, I want to know it all with my ‘children’. I want to know their life story and then some. I want to know their goals in life outside the plot. I want to know what led them to the plot, and what the plot means to them compared to me.

For me, the built in template for character development in Scrivener works great- but there’s always a sense that something’s missing. I can edit it as I please, luckily, but I often just keep a separate character form I can fill out for each character that’s more extensive. I’ve seen character charts that are a hundred questions, and others that are two-hundred fifty. What I like to do is take one of the larger forms and crop it, taking only the questions that fit my needs. I’m not likely to need to know anything about magic if it’s a fictional world without it (though this is just an example- my work always has some fantasy and sci-fi inside it!).

I think the things I often find myself cropping are things like specific body parts that don’t fit, such as scales, tails and all that fun stuff. I do have occasional characters that need those parts, but for the most part my characters tend to be humanoid, so I’ve yet to need those particular sections.

That’s all I can really say about my characters. They’re the proof of a lot of things: my love of children, my dark side, my inquisitive side and my thirst for control that I still can’t seem to get right. Writers, tell me about yourself: what do you think of your characters as? Are they just characters, or are they something more special? I’d love to hear how others plan out their characters and think about them in general. I could use some new tips to get to know mine even better, that’s for sure!

Until next time! Happy NaNo!