500 February- Day 9

The quick facts:
Day: 9
WC: 578
Total WC: 4,219
Time: ~30
Music: None

Thoughts:
Today’s session took me a little longer than normal, because I kept getting distracted by thoughts of other projects. I probably should have been about to get that amount done in about 20-25 minutes, but 30 still isn’t bad. The writing went really well today, though, and I’m really happy with what I produced.

Additional Thoughts:
I also want to point out that I’ve been doing this challenge for exactly seven days (I didn’t write over the weekend), and in that time I’ve amassed over 4k words. Those are four thousand words that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I really love how much I’ve felt like I’ve gotten done just by taking half an hour (pretty much) every morning to write. I also really feel like I’ve been living up to my title of “writer,” this past week, because I have actually been writing. Before my “writer” status was based on the things I’d written in the past and thought about writing, but not on my current projects. Now, I feel very content saying that I’m working on a project, and I imagine that I’ll be mostly done with it in a month. I’m really excited about it. T

hat said, if anyone wants to try this challenge (to write 500 words a day) with me in the next 20 days, you could write ~10,000 words by the end of the month, which is a huge amount.

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500 February- Days 5-8

I’ve been trying to do the 500 February challenge, where you write 500 words a day. Inevitably, I slipped. Over the weekend (6-7) I got sick, and it took a massive amount of energy just to finish the homework I needed to get down. I didn’t have the energy to write, and I realize that that’s a lame excuse. I should have made the time, but I didn’t. It happens sometimes. However, this morning (the 8th) I’m back on track with writing, and I think that it’s to remember that missing a day or two isn’t the end of the world, as long as you get back to work in a timely manner.

Day 5 quick details:
WC: 533
Total WC: 3,007
Time: ~30 minutes
Music: none

Day 5 Thoughts:
I didn’t feel like working on my novel at all on Friday. I wrote about 12 words for it, before switching to write an idea that had been nagging me to write it all week. So I wrote a little more than 500 words of that different idea. Will I continue to pursue it? I don’t know. My new idea is very much based off the style of The Martian. It’s about a magazine sending a journalist to Mars with a NASA crew. I don’t really have a plot for it, so I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I do know, though, that I don’t want it to turn into a “being trapped” on Mars story line. That’s way to similar to the The Martian, and I wouldn’t be able to achieve it to the level and accuracy that  Andy Weir does.

It was fun to write, though. I might go back to it, if I hit another wall on my current novel again.

 

Day 8 quick details:
WC: 634
Total WC: 3,641
Time: ~25 minutes
Music: “Viral Hits” playlist by Spotify

Day 8 thoughts:
After not writing at all over the weekend, I was expecting to have trouble getting back into the groove of writing. I didn’t have that problem at all. I had the best writing session that I’d had all month (save day 1). I didn’t run into the same block that I had on Friday, and the words just sort of flowed today. They went in a direction I hadn’t expected them to, and I’m really happy with the result. I can feel the ending is almost here. I have to finish the scene I wrote today. Add one scene of the different characters leaving, and then the final one of my character leaving for his plane. Then it’ll be done. Of course, I’ll need to go back and add some additional scenes, and finish up scenes that I’d left unfinished. I’m getting close to finishing my draft, though, and it’s really exciting.

Additional Thoughts that I enjoy adding:
– Using the List app on your phone is a super helpful place to write down ideas for blog posts, stories, and your novel. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure that out.
– I’m still working on that Plot blog post I promised to put up a week ago. It’s taking longer than I thought, and I’ve been busy.
– I feel like I’ve made a lot of excuses in this blog post.
– I wished that tea/coffee/latte vending machines existed, and I wish that one existed within a ten foot radius of me at all times. @Starbucks get on that.
– Has anyone ever invented latte flavored chocolate bars? Because I’d love a vanilla latte chocolate bar, oh my goodness.
– I swear, I got like nine hours of sleep last night, why am I tired?
– If you feel like procrastinating on writing, Steam (and maybe other video game sites?) are having sales right now. I got three different games for just under $10. I also got one game for $20, but that one wasn’t on sale.
-Should I be encouraging people to procrastinate? … probably not.

500 February- Day Four

The quick details of today’s writing session:

Day: 4

WC: 543

Total WC: 2,474

Time: ~20 min

Music: Hamilton soundtrack

** In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, I created a writing challenge for the month of February. The goal is to write 500 word every day of the month, and I’m updating my blog with how it’s going. If anyone wants to join in, it’s not too late! If you’re doing it/ about to start it comment below so I can follow your blog and cheer you on!**

 

Thoughts on the writing session:

Today went much quicker than every other day so far. I think that was partially, because I was writing a lot of dialogue. One of the things that I’m trying out in my draft are thought conversations, which is basically when my main character, Vincent, talks to himself in his head. I think that it’s fairly common for people to have conversations with themselves, especially when trying to make decisions. (E.g. Should I have the burrito or the salad? Well you haven’t eaten any vegetables today. Alright, I should have the salad, then.) Or maybe that’s just me, and now I’ve admitted my craziness to the world.

Either way, I decided to have that internal dialogue running throughout the book. Today the conversation in Vincent’s head was about waking up next to his crush and oh my god what should I do?? I’ve done other conversations in the past, and my absolute favorite happened when Vincent was feeling really, really out of it. I had the internal conversation breaking down the tasks he had to do to take a shower, and gently trying to guide him to feel better. That might not have been the best description, but, trust me, it was really cool.

 

Additional Thoughts that kind of have to do with writing, but have more to do with my love of talking when no one can interrupt me (why do you think I’m a writer?):

I told everyone to listen to Hamilton yesterday, and I’m going to say it again. Hamilton is ridiculously amazing, and you should listen to it. A lot of the songs have very different moods to them as well, so if you’re stuck when writing a fight scene you should listen to “Ten Duel Commandments” or if you’re writing a scene where your character is about to meet the love their life you should listen to “Helpless.” Your character just lost a child? Listen to “Stay Alive- Reprise” (for the fear of the parent/ actual death of the child) and “It’s Quiet Uptown” (for the grief of a parent after a child’s death). Seriously, there’s a song for every emotion in this musical.

Sticker charts are incredibly rewarding. I have one going for this writing challenge, and it’s honestly why I’ve been very on top of writing and posting about it.

Also waiting until after I’m done writing to get a drink (like a latte…) from Starbucks is a good strategy. 1. Because I want to get through my writing quicker, and 2. Because I don’t get distracted by the drink when I’m writing. (Have I mentioned how distractible I am?)

I’m going to spend some time looking for a literary/ literacy based charity this afternoon. The club I run- a college literary magazine- has to do a fundraiser this semester, and I’m going to talk to some administration people about donating that money to a charity.

Also I really need to buy a reusable Starbucks cup, because I’m trying really hard to cut down on my trash production.

 

Alright, that’s enough rambling from me. I hope you all have a great day.

Happy Writing!!

500 February- Day Three

The “dirty” details for today’s session (the phrasing of that sentence makes this seem a lot more raunchy than it is):

Day: 3

WC: 562

Total WC: 1,931

Time: ~25 minutes

Music: none (I didn’t feel like taking out my headphones)

 

Thoughts:

Today was the easiest day so far. I finished in about 25 minutes instead of the 30+ that it’s taken the past two days. I also managed to get to about 275 words before I felt compelled to check my word count instead of about 100. I still feel like I’m writing too much after the “climax,” and I’m wondering if maybe my climax isn’t where I thought it was, but I honestly don’t know. I guess I’ll figure that out during revisions. Overall, I think this writing session went really well. It took some convincing for me to start writing, but once I was doing it, everything flowed pretty well.

 

Additional thoughts that no one asked for, but I’m going to write anyway:

I’m listening to Hamilton while writing this post, and I seriously recommend writers listen to this musical. Why? 1. Because it has excellent story telling techniques, covering every theme from love to revolution to betrayal to death to legacies and so many, many key elements in universal stories and 2. Lin Miranda’s attention to language is incredible. If you’re a poet, you need to listen to this musical. It’s all done in a rap style, and the way it uses sound is incredibly close to how you can use sound in poetry. UGH it’s sooooo good.

I went into Starbucks with the intention of getting an Earl Grey Latte with vanilla (also called a London Fog!), and somehow walked out with a Chai Latte. Why is that you ask? I got nervous when I was ordering.

I also realized that I quite prefer the revision process to the writing process. In revision you can get really nitpicky about things, and I LOVE doing that. (Would it surprise you that I’m one of those people who color codes their book shelves and religiously uses their planner system?) Writing is still really fun, of course. I just get worried that I’m not going in the best possible direction for the story, you know?

 

Alright, that’s it for my rambling for today. If you want to join in on 500 February (a writing challenge to write 500 words a day for the month of February), it’s not too late to join in on the fun! Feel free to use #500February to post updates on how you feel about writing or if you want any writing tips.

Happy writing!!

500 February- Day Two

It seems like I might be doing daily posts for 500 February (Don’t know what that is? Check out my post here!). The quick details of today’s writing:

Day: 2

WC: 506

Total WC: 1,369

Music: “Daily Lift” playlist on Spotify

 

Evaluation of today’s writing session:

Writing was slow today for two reasons 1. I didn’t have a scene planned, so I was trying to figure that out while typing and 2. The music I was listening to didn’t really match the mood of my characters. Similar to yesterday, the first one hundred words were the toughest and probably took 10 minutes on their own. I hit another road block around 460 words, because I had felt like I hit 500 before I checked my actual word count.

Additional Thoughts:

I’m currently working on the book’s resolution, having hit the climax a little while ago. I’m starting to worry about whether the resolution is too long, and if I should try to speed it up by writing less. I was thinking about all of that when I was writing, and I realized that it might have stunted my work today. The thing about drafts, especially first drafts, is that you are going to spend so much damn time revising, so over writing at this point in the process really isn’t a bad thing. So if anyone is struggling with the same feeling that too much is happening after they hit the climax, remember that you can always revise it later. For now, just keep writing.

 

Also, to anyone joining late- 500 February is a challenge I’m putting out to writers. Where we write 500 words a day for the month of February. While it did start yesterday, feel free to jump in now! If you start writing 500 words today, you’ll end the month with 14,000 words, which is a lot! So join in on the fun, and if you post updates like I do, tag them with #500February!

Happy Writing! 🙂

500 February- Day One

                For those of you who don’t know what 500 February (called FF from here on out) is, it’s a challenge for writers. The goal of FF is to write 500 words every day for the month of February, ultimately writing 14,500 words by the end of the month. It’s sort of similar to NaNoWriMo, but without the high word count (1,666 words per day) or the need to start a new project. I created this challenge, and, in an attempt to get other people interested, I’ve decided to write up semiweekly (hopefully, daily) posts about my progress throughout the month, showing all of my challenges, failures, successes, and thoughts throughout the process.

    _________________________________________________

It is 10:16 in the morning as I write this sentence. I’ve already finished my word count goal for the day. Here are the quick details for the day:

Day: 1
Word Count: 863
Total Word Count: 863
Time: ~30 minutes
Music: Hamilton soundtrack

I found starting to be very difficult this morning. I really was tempted to go on the internet and procrastinate, because I was scared about starting, which seems weird to type. The project that I’m working on right now is a novel draft that I’ve been working on since November, so it’s not like it’s a new undertaking. There is a certain worry about going back to writing these characters, though. I haven’t written them in about a month, and I was really nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to write them in character. The first two hundred words were the toughest. Once I had gotten through those, though, I was comfortable writing my characters again.

                The other point I had some trouble with was at 418 words. I was really close to hitting 500 words, but I wasn’t quite there. Part of me just wanted to stop writing at 418, say “Well I gave it a good try,” and stop writing for the day. I was able to work through that momentary block, and finish well above 500 words.

Overall, it wasn’t too overwhelming of a writing experience. Once I got back into it, I felt very at home. I worked on a scene I’d started back in January. I think that I finished it, and I’ll move onto a different scene for tomorrow. And that’s really it! I hope that anyone else who is trying out this challenge is successful today (and successful can be anything from easily hitting 500 words to having a really difficult time and managing to write a solid 150). Please, please feel free to comment about your experience or ask for advice. I’m more than happy to help out in any way I can! (I’m very good at finding research and resources for writing projects if you need that. I can also be your personal cheerleader to get you through this month!!)

Happy writing!

500 February

Hello everyone!

I’m doing a slightly different blog post on here, so bear with me.

Recently, I’ve been struggling to write on a consistent basis, and it’s affecting my relationship with my writing and with my characters. I’ve grown distant from them, when I need to right along side them to finish my full novel draft. So I’ve decided to create a new challenge called 500 February. Similar to NaNoWriMo, 500 February focuses on having you reach a word count each day, and- you guessed it- that word count goal is 500.

That might not seem like much (it usually takes people about 10-30 minutes to write 500 words), it will add up to about 14,500 words by the end of the month. That’s more than 1/5 of the NaNoWriMo goal for November!

I’ll be posting semi-weekly (if not daily!) blogs here about my successes, failures, and progress this month. I really invite you all to join me in this, whether you’re continuing work on an old piece or starting a new piece!

Thank you so much for reading this post, and I’ll upload a more normal post (about different plotting techniques!) very soon.

Lizzie 🙂

Writing Prompt #3

The prompt in short:
Your character goes to a restaurant. Write the scene for that, using these questions as guidelines for what they decide to eat, and how they interact with their food and anyone they might be eating with.

 

The long part, where I talk about all the different things you can think about, questions you could consider, and how you can draw from your life’s experience:


              It’s a running joke with one of my best friends that I am a very bland eater. My friend has a Lebanese dad, who did most of the cooking after he retired from his job. Because of this, my friend has grown up on trips to Syrian markets by his town and dishes filled with spices and many, many flavors and textures. In contrast, I grew up (mostly) Italian parents, who had grown up in Italian households, so my upbringing included a very large amount of Macaroni prepared in almost any way you could expect, and then some.

Unsurprisingly, thinking about the difference in my eating habits contrasted against my friend inspired this question of “how does your character relate to food,” and what I love about this prompt is how in-depth you can get with it. Food is something that people (and characters) interact with multiple times a day, and on multiple levels. There are many aspects of your character that you can explore when looking at what they eat, how they eat, and what they think of food.

Does your character’s racial or ethnic background affect their favorite foods?

                I think that this is a good place to start. My assumption is that, if you’re doing this prompt, you already have a character in mind. You probably already know their race and ethnicity, so this is something that can provide depth to that aspect of your character. As I stated earlier, my family is Italian, and we tend to eat food that is somewhat bland. The most exotic we get with herbs are basil, bay leaves, parsley, oregano, and chives. We tend to not eat spicy food in general, because my mom and I have really low spice tolerances (e.g. I don’t eat anything but sesame flavored wings, because everything, including mild, is too spicy for me). On the other hand, the friend I talked about earlier, constantly complains that the college food isn’t spicy enough for him.

I have another best friend who is Chinese, and her diet is much different than mine. Her family eats fairly traditional Chinese food and usually eats with chopsticks. (We have gotten into “arguments” about whether forks or chopsticks are better). Both of these friends typically will go to ethnic supermarkets to get specific ingredients for meals. The Lebanese one will go Syrian markets, and the Chinese one goes to an Asian Market.

Another thing to keep in mind when thinking about this question is that someone’s favorite food might not align with the food they grew up eating. I know that my Chinese friend really enjoys eating falafels and salads. Personally, I absolutely love Chinese food and most Japanese food. My Lebanese friend likes Indian food and sushi. So, while a character’s racial or ethnic background influences what food they may like, it doesn’t necessarily affect their favorite foods. It will probably just affect what foods they feel the most comfortable around and which foods feel the homiest and the most nostalgic.

Is your character sensitive to texture in food?

I am very particular about textures. I don’t like squishy things, mealy/ grainy things, and leafy things. That rules out more things than you’d expect: overripe apples (or pretty much apples in any season beside fall), any type of canned bean, pears, lentils, tomatoes, lettuce, and cabbage.

The other interesting thing about this whole texture thing, is that it can easily be overcome. I have no probably eating lettuce if it’s cut up into strips or cabbage if it’s in coleslaw. I don’t mind beans if they’re mashed up into a humus. I love crisp apples. I will also eat almost anything if it’s been pureed into a soup.

The only item on this list that I dislike eating in any form is the tomato. I’ve been the butt of many “how could you possibly be Italian if you don’t like tomatoes?!” jokes, but I’ve consistently disliked tomatoes from a young age. I have, on the rare occasion, been known to eat pasta with sauce if I have no other options, but that happens maybe once every six months.

Other textures that someone could dislike: slimy, chunky, watery, slippery, chewy, etc.

Is your character sensitive to over thinking food?

I have not eaten shrimp for almost five years. Why? I watched a show on the Food Network that informed me that the “vein” in a shrimp is actually a digestive track, and that it appears black because it’s full of poop. I think about that fact every single time I see shrimp, and I cannot bring myself to eat them. The exception to this: shrimp poppers. I don’t have to see the digestive track, and, as they say, out of sight, out of mind.

Similarly I LOVE hotdogs, but if I think about them too long before eating one, then I have trouble eating it, which is always really disappointing. Because you don’t understand, HOW MUCH I LOVE HOTDOGS.

This might be something especially present in vegan or vegetarian characters, depending on why they’re vegan or vegetarian.

Who is feeding your character? How much money do they have? And how much time do they have?

I decided to make a list of different possibilities for this question, since there are so many different directions it could go in.

Who is feeding your character?

  • Parents
  • A school or college
  • A spouse or partner
  • Another family member
  • Themselves
  • They always buy take out or premade meals

How much money and time do they have?

Money and Time affects how much effort you can put into a meal and what your ingredients will be like. I grew up in a two parent household in a middle to upper-middle class range. My dad worked full time, and my mom worked part time. That meant quick meals on most week days (usually some type of pasta), and meals that took longer to cook on the weekend (like Shepard’s pie). We typically bought fresh vegetables and meat, instead of canned products, but we ate modestly. It wasn’t like we were have steak or expensive food every week. (We did sometimes have fancier things as a treat).

If a family has more time or more money, then having take-out or fancier ingredients seems more likely. If a family has less time or less money, they might be more resourceful with how they use food (boiling leftover vegetables into a stock) or they might make meals that are quicker (hot dogs and beans).

College students, who are generally short on money and time but only eating for one, tend to eat a lot of ramen, bagels, and eggs if they’re off meal plan. (Or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from friends). If they’re on a meal plan through the school, then they’ll likely be complaining about the food, but eat whatever is offered. They’re also easily bribed by free food. I also think that a lot of college students drink a ridiculous amount of coffee, since it’s seen as a very normal thing.

Is your character sensitive to salt?

                I am. I dislike eating anything that super-duper salted, like pepperoni. I am also one of those people who put a very minimal amount of salt on my food. My dislike of over salted food is actually enough, that I’ve never used one of those salt shakers on restaurant tables.

My dad, on the other hand, adds salt to almost everything he eats. (A fun aside. Over the past holiday season, I visited with my grandmother and uncle, with the rest of his family, on my dad’s side. While we were there my mom asked my dad, uncle, and grandma if they ever added salt to things. All three of them said that they did, while my mom and my aunt never do. So there is a practice of over salting (or under salting) that differs on the two sides. It’s expressed itself differently in my brother and me. I tend to prefer things without too much salt, while Nick prefers salty food. (On the other side of the argument, my grandmother and aunt on my mom’s side both love sweet things, and I have a huge sweet tooth).

Does your character have any genetic thing that makes them dislike certain foods?

There is actually a genetic trait that affect whether people like cilantro or not. To a majority of people, cilantro tastes fine or not that horrible. To people with the genetic trait, cilantro tastes indescribably awful. I have a friend who, though I can’t technically prove this, has that particular genetic trait and has gone on multiple rants about how much he hates cilantro. On one such occasion he described it as tasting like “Satan’s asshole.”

Are there just foods that your character doesn’t like for no reason at all?

For example, I dislike blue cheese, hamburgers, sausage, ripe bananas, and most deli meat. I have no reason for disliking those things, especially since I love the majority of cheeses, turkey burgers, and under-ripe bananas. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense why people don’t like certain foods, and it’s completely fair to have a character dislike something (and be mad about disliking it) for no reason at all.

Is your character vegan or vegetarian? And why?

Some people are vegetarian or vegan for moral reasons, others for health reasons. Personally, I am not (which might be good for my health as we’ve established that I don’t like many foods key to a vegetarian diet), so I can’t say much of what it’s like to be vegetarian or vegan.

I do think that it’s important to know why your character is vegetarian or vegan, though, because it will impact other aspects of their personality. If you’re character is vegan for moral reasons, then it would be very unrealistic to have them where a fur coat or go hunting. If they’re vegetarian as a diet that brings up other questions.

Is your character on a diet?

Having a character be on a diet can actually impact their personality or self-image in a lot of different ways. This one is really best approached by just asking a lot of questions to your character, so I’m just going to write down a list of possibilities of questions (and some answers):

  • Why is your character on a diet?
    • Are they a health nut?
    • Did they have a health scare?
    • Are they doing it to be healthy?
    • Are they doing it to lose weight?
    • Are they trying to gain weight?
  • What type of diet is your character on?
    • A normal one with lots of veggies?
    • Paleo?
    • Juice cleanse?
    • A fad diet?
  • How does your character feel about their body?
    • Are they comfortable in it?
    • Do they think their body is a home for their soul, and they want their home to be in the best shape possible?
    • Are they unhappy with it? And why?
    • Are they self-conscious of it?
  • Why do they feel the way they do about their body?
  • Are they exercising as well as dieting?
  • Are they dieting in a healthy manner?
    • Do they read articles on how to eat full meals that are healthy?
    • Are they trying to avoid eating?
  • How do they diet?
    • Do they count calories?
    • Are they using a dieting program?
    • Are they just trying to eat more vegetables and less sugar?
  • What do they do about drinks?
    • How many cups of coffee do they have a day?
    • Do they prefer coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
    • How often do they drink alcohol? And why do they drink it? (To get smashed? To relax?)
    • How much water do they drink?
  • Do they think of it as a diet or as a lifestyle/ lifestyle change?

Is your character allergic to anything?

Obviously if a character has an allergy that would affect how they interact with food, and how they interact with other people. In my experience there are two main types of people with allergies. There are the ones that just sort of deal with it internally whenever someone is eating something they’re allergic to around them or they’re very, very verbal about it. Depending on your character they could be super nice about it, just explaining the situation and asking the other person to maybe eat whatever further away from them. Your character could also be a lot meaner and try to dictate what everyone eats so that said character will never be around allergens.

Does your character have any medical reasons to not eat a certain food?

This one you might have to search a little bit on your own, since I don’t know what diseases have what restrictions. I do know, however, that if your character has a heart condition they’re strongly advised to stay away from caffeine, which includes coffee, tea, and chocolate.

I also know that some genetic disorders can be regulated by staying on a specific diet and staying away from certain foods. The foods, though, vary from disorder to disorder.

There’s also diabetic characters, who need to watch their sugar intake.

Some characters that need to regulate their blood sugar (or other levels of chemicals) might have devices that they use to track them. This could be something to incorporate into a story!

Does your character have any religious restrictions on food?

Here’s a quick list of some website that go over food and drink regulations for certain religions:

 

There are obviously more religions than those three that have restrictions when it comes to food. (One of my high school friends doesn’t eat root vegetables due to his religion, though I can’t remember what that religion is). It’s also important to keep prayers and fasting in mind when thinking about religions and food. For Catholics we tend to say grace before eating and fast on certain days throughout Lent. Other religions do this differently, and it’s very important to research these things before writing or during revisions to make sure that you’re representing a religion in the most accurate way possible.

 

The Prompt: Your character goes to a restaurant. Write the scene for that, using these questions as guidelines for what they decide to eat, and how they interact with their food and anyone they might be eating with.

                There are a lot of different factors to think about when it comes to thinking about food, and it could be a really good prompt to look into your character. These questions ask you not only how your character interacts with their food, but also how they interact with their surrounding environment. It could be a helpful exercise to write if you’re trying to get a handle on how your character works.

I hope that this post proved helpful and informational, and if you have any additional thoughts or prompts based off of this, please comment them below!

 

Food for Writers’ Thought

I imagine that this might seem silly to some people: food for writers? Don’t writers eat the same stuff as other people? Well, yes. I do think that there are certain habits that writers develop, such as snacking while writing and drinking a lot of caffeine, that sometimes need to be looked at more closely.

For snacking at the computer (or notebook):

Tips:

Know how you snack. Personally, I think that there are two schools of thought when it comes to snacking while writing. The first one is that eating while writing can help productivity, because you don’t get distracted by getting up to get snacks. The other is to take snack breaks while writing every half an hour or hour. I tend to find that if I eat while writing, I’m eating mindlessly, which contributes to me overeating. So I would say that, if you’re focused on losing weight or cutting out overeating, try doing snack breaks instead to see if that works better for you.

Keep portions small by using small bowls. I find that a filled up small bowl is a lot more satisfying to eat from than a mostly empty large bowl. If you don’t own any bowls smaller than cereal bowl size (and you do have the money), I’d recommend running out to get them. You could even decide for one to be your “writing bowl” and that’s the bowl that you’ll use for your writing snacks and only your writing snacks.

Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty. If you know that you just ate something and you still feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water. Give the water a few minutes to settle, and if you still feel hungry, you can get a larger snack then. Most of the times, though, you’ll find that you’re not actually hungry any more.

Chew gum. Sometimes when I’m writing I just want the sensation of chewing, but I’m not actually hungry, which is usually when I reach for a pack of gum. I really like chocolate chip mint flavored gum for its sweetness, but sugar-free gum would probably be a better option for my teeth. Also, if you’re working on multiple projects, it could be fun to get different gum flavors for them. (Bonus writing prompt: What type of gum would your main character be if they were a gum flavor and why? If your character chewed gum what type of gum would it be? Does that match the type of gum they are?)

 

Other Snack Ideas:

I found that during NaNoWriMo I easily caved to Crunchy Cheetos when the writing got tough, and, while I really do love eating those, they weren’t really the best option. I ended up gaining weight during the last few months of the year, and I’m pretty sure that part of it was due to my snacking habits while I was writing. So here are some healthier options you can swap out for less healthy snacks:

snacks

Other good snack ideas are air-popped popcorn with salt, veggies with hummus, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, baby carrots, orange smiles, apple slices with cinnamon, whole wheat toast with jam, and trail mix.

 

For Hydration’s Sake:

Tips:

One tip that I’ve picked up a few weeks ago is to fill up your water bottle or glass and set it on your desk before you start writing. Just the simple fact that it’s there will make it more likely that you’ll drink from it, and, as I’m sure you’ve heard hundreds of times, it’s really important to stay hydrated. I usually find that if I drink a glass of water when I’m starting to get tired during writing, it energizes me a lot.

Have a bottle or glass that you actually like to drink from. My favorite glass is actually washed out coca cola glass bottle. It holds 12 oz of water, and the curvy shape of the bottle makes it really fun to drink from. Prior to that I used clear, plastic cup that had rainbow stripes on it. Find something that works for you and keep it on your desk (with a coaster!).

Have a sick bottle or glass. If you happen to get sick, CHANGE YOUR BOTTLE OR GLASS! Change it as soon as you realize that you’re sick. If you continue to use the other one, there’s a chance that you’ll leave germs on it, which could make you sick in the future. (Non-writing tip: the same goes for tooth brushes, after you have recovered from your sickness, change your toothbrush so germs don’t get back into your body).

Caffeine:

400 mg of caffeine is about the upper limit of caffeine that an adult should have per day, and that number is even lower, 100 mg, for teenagers. Of course, this is more of a guideline. Some people have a higher caffeine tolerance and might be able to drink a little bit more. Some people, especially those who have heart conditions or anxiety, should probably drink even less than 400 mg a day.

For a frame of reference: I had a past heart problem, which went away about ten years ago, and have a tendency toward anxiety-like behavior. Any more than one cup of coffee and two cups of black tea (~355 mg of caffeine) in a day make me feel uncomfortably aware of my heart beat and sick to my stomach. My most caffeinated days will be one cup of coffee and one cup of black tea, but typically I try not to drink coffee more than two or three times a week. I mostly drink black tea, herbal tea, and rooibos instead.

I made an infographic of caffeine amounts in different hot drinks, which seem to be the ones most writers drink using a couple of different sources. I would like to point out for the teas, the caffeine levels are proportional to the brewing time. The less a tea brews the less caffeine there will be in the drink, and vice versa.

caffiene chart colored

 

Also, other things like soft drinks and chocolate have caffeine in them, so you should keep those in mind too.  I also found the nutrition info for Starbucks drinks that includes caffeine information that could be helpful to anyone who drinks there frequently.

Sources used for the caffeine info graphic: x  x  x

Additional Tips:

Try not to have your meals while you’re writing. I originally typed that sentence as “try not to have your meals in front of the computer,” but sometimes I find it really relaxing to eat my lunch while watching a youtube video or an episode of Friends or The Office on Netflix. You do need breaks from writing, and mealtimes are a perfect one.

Actually eat breakfast. If you can stomach food in the morning, then try to actually have a good breakfast and maybe drink a glass of water. It’ll give you the energy you need for the day and for your writing! My favorite breakfasts are oatmeal or a smoothie with a handful of nuts or seeds.

Take a multivitamin. I try to take a multivitamin in the morning, because I know that I don’t get everything I need in my diet. I also sometimes take a Vitamin D pill, because I like in a relatively dark area of the world. We very rarely get sunshine in the winter, and it’s usually too cold to go outside to enjoy it, if we do get it.

If you work with a reward system, think about using squares of dark chocolate or candied nuts for slightly healthier (but still really tasty) alternatives. Or use really awesome dinosaur stickers instead of food!

Think about the food you eat. Really think about it. What’s its texture like? What are the strongest and the weakest flavors in the food? Eat like a writer- mindful of what you’re eating and how you’d describe it.

Also think about the food that your characters are likely to eat. If you think that they’d like something you’d never try before, try it!

Character Motivation (featuring Jurassic World)

As long as I’ve read about writing, I’ve read about giving your characters their own unique motivations. I only recently got to the point where I really understood what that meant and was able to identify character motivations in other stories. I thought that I’d write a post about it to explain it in the way that I currently understand it and use the characters from Jurassic World as examples!

What is character motivation?

Character motivation is the desire and/or goal that a character has for themselves. This can be different than our goal for character. For example: Owen Grady (the character played by Chris Pratt) works as the “hero” character in the story. The writer’s goal for Owen to have him help save the day. Owen’s own goals (motivations), though, are to train the raptors, keep them from Vic Hoskins, and to protect the people on the island.

Why is character motivation important?

Character motivation is important on two levels.

  1. It creates more interesting characters, because the characters develop senses of selves. By having goals, they appear more human and, thereby, more relatable. Also, if I character’s motivations changes throughout the story, that shows character development.
  2. It creates a better plot by creating conflict between characters.

How is it be used in Jurassic World?

The motivations:

Take the leads of Jurassic World: Owen, Claire, Masrani, Vic, Gray, Zach, and Karen.

We’ve already gone over Owen’s motivations, so let’s do everyone else.

Claire’s motivation is to keep the park operating and growing by getting more investors and more tourists. Once the Indominus rex breaks out of its cage, her motivation is to contain it. As the movie progresses, her motivation switches to saving her nephews and killing the Indominus rex.

Masrani was the past owner of the park. His main motivations are to see how the park is doing and getting his pilot’s license. His motivation switches to containing or killing the Indominus rex as the movie progresses, but doing it in such a way that the park can stay in business.

Vic’s motivation is focused on using dinosaurs for military purposes. This is consistently his main motivation throughout the movie.

Gray and Zach are the two kids in the movie. Their motivations are somewhat similar. Gray wants to enjoy the dinosaurs and geek out in the park. Zach is motivated just to be away from his family and his girlfriend. Ultimately Zach’s motivation changes to protecting Gray, and they both try to help stop the Indominus rex in some capacity.

Karen, Gray and Zach’s mother, is focused on reconnecting her sons with her sister, Claire.

How the character motivations affect the movie:

One of the conflicts of the movie was the relationship between Karen and Claire. Karen wants Claire to interact with her children and become closer to the family again. Claire, instead, is more focused on making the park successful. The conflict arises when Claire doesn’t properly care for Gray and Zach when they’re in the park, and her sister finds out. Her neglect results in the boys being chased by one of the Indominus rex, and she had to go rescue them with Owen, which is one of the big plot points of the movie.

Another conflict is between Owen and Claire, who are obviously into each other, but due to conflicting personalities and priorities they don’t work as a couple. As the movie strips down their characters and give them a common motivation, they begin to grow closer together.

The biggest conflicts in the movie, though, result from the presence of the dinosaurs.

The first conflict is “how should dinosaurs be used?” Owen believes that dinosaurs are animals that should be respected and contained within the park where they can be closely supervised in healthy environments. Vic, on the other hand, believes that the dinosaurs, especially the raptors, could be used as foot soldiers in the military. The conflict results in how the raptors are treated in the movie and also what’s down the dinosaur dna when Vic reaches it first.

The second conflict is between keeping the park running and keeping the tourists safe. We’re told that, if the tourists and media find out that the park lost control of a dangerous dinosaur, it’s be closed for good. So the characters divide into factions. Masrani and Claire are in favor of keeping the news from the tourists in favor of trying to capture the dinosaur quietly. Owen is in favor of evacuating the visitors from the island so that they will be completely safe. The ultimate decision to not immediately warn the tourists on the island results in problems later on.

You can see, then, how character motivations play into the larger plot. They interact to create subplots and deepen the overall story.

How can I make character motivations?

Step outside of the plot of your story and ask yourself these questions about your character(s):

  • What does my character want most in their life?
  • What does my character want in the short term? In the long term?
  • If my character could have their ideal ending to this story, what would it be? How does that differ from and seem similar to the ending I have in mind?
  • How does my character’s motivation change over the course of the story?

Then look at the story as a whole and see how a character’s (or group of characters’) motivations influence the story by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does this character’s motivation influence or oppose any other character’s motivation?
  • How does my character’s motivations line up with the plot? With the subplot?
  • Are there any character conflicts or plot conflicts I can create from these characters?
  • How can I show this character’s motivation without telling the audience what their motivation is?
  • How invested in their goal is my character? How easily are they swayed? If they can be swayed, what would it take make them change their motivation?

Using these questions, you can craft an outline of your story based mostly, if not totally, on character motivations.

I hope this helps, and if you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them below!