November 30 Prompt – Done It

The following prompt is from one of our Writers in the Grove members for our NaNoWriMo prompt-a-day project for November 2016.

For the last day of NaNoWriMo, we have a special prompt.

She was told it couldn’t be done. She’d done it.

Check out our list of prompts for even more inspiration.


A Writer’s Checkup

This week, our leader, MJ Nordgren, led us on an exercise to do a writer’s checkup and check-in, to see where we were on our writing goals, and what was getting in our way.

Answer the following questions:

  1. What do I long to write?
  2. List four steps you need to do to be able to write.
  3. List 4 strengths that you have that will enable you to write this work.
  4. List 4 handicaps that are in your way, blocking the road, of you being able to write this work.

You do not have to share this information with others. By writing this out, you name things. By giving things names, you control their power over you.

NaNoWriMo Tips: Tell the Story Only You Can Tell

One NaNoWriMo year I had a great idea for a novel. It was set in Northern Wisconsin, closely tied to my family history research. I started writing, so excited about the story, then realized I knew nothing about the geographic area, the time, the society, nothing beyond the basics of my genealogy research. I thought I could make it up but realized that the lack of information was getting in my way as every day of writing progressed. Frustrated, I whined to my husband and he gave me this wise advice that I’m sure you’ve never heard before: Write what you know.

What did I know? Or better yet, where did I know? I knew Seattle. I lead photo tours through Seattle for over a decade. I grew up there. I’ve researched the history, architecture, politics, and culture of the city on Elliott Bay. I’m fascinated with the wild west, logging and fishing world my family helped create once they left Wisconsin. As much as I wanted to tell the story closer to the truth, once I shifted the story to Seattle, it blossomed. I couldn’t stop writing. I was on fire. Memories were unlocked I hadn’t considered for more than thirty years about the place I call my home even though I haven’t lived there for twenty years.

I’d like to change the writing clique to better suit the advice from author Neil Gaiman:

Start telling the stories only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.

Put aside all the teaching, workshops, books, and myths you’ve heard about writing. Set aside your own preconceived notions about what you think you should write.

As you plow through NaNoWriMo, remember that you are the only you, and only you can tell the story your way, uniquely yours.

You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.

Why Not Publish?

Beach Chair and Drink.This was too good not to share. In “5 Crippling Beliefs That Keep Writers Penniless and Mired in Mediocrity” by Jonathan Morrow on Copyblogger, he said:

Is it just me, or is the whole starving artist thing highly overrated?

Yes, there’s a certain romanticism to being a penniless vagabond, sacrificing material goods in the selfless pursuit of art.

…And if you’re lucky, you survive. No, you’re not sitting by the beach drinking margaritas, but you have food and a bed and a car, and people don’t worry about catching weird diseases when they’re standing beside you in the elevator. It’s nice, but you still haven’t “made it,” and you wonder why.

In my experience?

It’s because you don’t have your mind right. You have these nasty little demons sitting on your shoulder, feeding you lies about the relationship between success and art. You probably picked up some of these ideas from your parents, others from your teachers, and still others from fellow writers and artists.

And if you let them, they’ll cripple you. You’ll go through your whole life knowing you’re talented but never quite making it and forever wondering why.

Let’s make this coming year the year many of us fantasizing about publishing, get published. Or we might be sitting on that beach with the margarita wondering why with our nasty little demons. Hey, get out of my drink!

NaNoWriMo 2016

It is almost time for the annual NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. It begins at midnight October 31, and runs through the last day of November.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words (and complete a novel) in 30 days.

Don’t stress out yet. The numbers divide down to 1,667 words a day, typically 60-90 minutes of writing.

Join more than 300,000 people globally, and Writers in the Grove members, by participating actively or passively. This can be a solo experience or a highly social one. You can connect online and/or connect in person through the many local activities, events, and write-ins where people gather in a social space to write and get to know each other.

Go to the NaNoWriMo site for more information, and check out last year’s “It’s NaNoWriMo Time: How To, Tips, Techniques, and Survival Advice.”

Last year, Writers in the Grove had about eight people participating, some openly, some secretly, not willing to go public because they were afraid of failure. Let’s clear something up right from the start. There is no failing with this. The goal is to write, and anything that gets you writing, and keeps you writing, is a good thing, whether or not you achieve the 50K goal. Many never reach it, but keep trying year after year.

NaNoWriMo is not just about the word count. It is about the writing.

To handle the diverse Writers in the Grove membership needs, we are once again challenging our members to do one of the following:

  1. Write a minimum of 1,667 words a day.
  2. Write for an hour minimum a day.

What You Will Learn From Participating in NaNoWriMo

Last year was the first year we had many members participating and we all learned so much, it was an amazing journey. Here are some samples:

  • I learned I could write consistently every day.
  • I learned how to write consistently daily.
  • I discovered some fears and road blocks I didn’t know I had.
  • I figured out how to work harder with less research.
  • I just wrote. Usually I spend too much time in my head and less writing, but I just wrote.
  • I learned it isn’t as hard as it sounds.
  • I learned that I had something to say, a story to tell.
  • I realized how much I allow life to get in my way. I sit down to write and the phone rings, doorbell goes off, email pings, thoughts roam – and how much I need to just say no.
  • I realized that the true art in writing is editing after you write.

NaNoWriMo is a chance to note all the things that get in your writing way. Keep a notebook and jot them down when you encounter them, and make a plan around or through them. You will always need those solutions as you charge ahead with your writing career. (more…)

Writing Tips: Harsh, Eye-Opening Tips for Writers

In “21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors” by Cody Delistraty of Thought Catalog, he explains:

Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell fifty million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Gertrude Stein received a cruel rejection letter that mocked her style. Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way earned him a sprawling rejection letter regarding the reasons he should simply give up writing all together. Tim Burton’s first illustrated book, The Giant Zlig, got the thumbs down from Walt Disney Productions, and even Jack Kerouac’s perennial On the Road received a particularly blunt rejection letter that simply read, “I don’t dig this one at all.”

Cody continues with some excellent tips writers need to know when it comes to publishing your book.

One tip and quote of particular meaning to our group was:

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
Jack London

Looking for inspiration, use your club on our many Prompts.


By Writer’s in the Grove member Patti Bond inspired by the July 4, 2015, prompt “Because.”

Because I want to achieve
Because I want to change
Because I want to get better
Because I need to
Because I want other people to like me
Because I want to be proud
Because I want to gain respect
Because I am special
Because I want to meet goals
Because I want to be me

Inspiration: Life Observed Through the Radio

From the prompt on where do you go for inspiration.

The volume of the street notched up the decibels, radios drowning out traffic noises, voices lowered for a moment, ears tuned in, heads tilted toward the nearest plastic speaker box.

Top of the hour. I glanced at my watch to confirm, quickening my pace. I was still two blocks from my destination and now late.

The ability to tell time by the top of the hour started long before I came to the unholy land called Israel. For me, it was natural, keeping me in touch with the world around me as I traveled through its vastness. But never had I been around an entire culture obsessed with the news on the hour.

They had to be. Each 5 minute news summary dictated where you did your shopping, how you commuted back home, and where to avoid as you traveled through town and country as terrorism dictated our paths. (more…)


Inspired by a prompt on where you find your inspiration, Writers in the Grove member, Diana Kay Lubarsky wrote the following.

Where do I go to find inspiration for my writing? Good question.

When seeking inspiration I tend to go to the darker corners of my life. The black hole of unresolved issues, unwiped tears, fears and longings, or embarrassing situations. Old thoughts, long forgotten memories gleefully swim to the surface of my mind eager to be set free. Surprisingly, not all of the stories emerge as sad. Moments of social maladjustment often morph into humorous ditties. Like the one about my husband’s cane. (After years of yelling at my husband to use his cane he finally picked it up only to use it as a pointer and promptly knocked over a prized vase.)

My writing takes two forms … that which I share, and that which I don’t. I’ve never categorized it like that before, but it is true. The writing I do not share is comparable to a child’s temper tantrum, filled with the angst of not getting my own way. While that which I do share tends to be kinder and more tolerant and encouraging. But always, the inspiration comes from within.

Surrounded now by kindred writers every Monday morning in the ivory covered halls of the Forest Grove Senior Center, I am learning how others seek inspiration from the outer world, which I find fascinating. This wonderful group share the most marvelous inspirational tales … about Rosemary’s turtles, and Beverly’s flush toilets, from Susan’s farm happenings to Lorelle’s imaginings. I am learning to look outward.

Perhaps someday soon I will be inspired by buttercups smiling in the field. But for today the inner images still sing most loudly in my head.

DKL 6/8/15