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Tag: NaNoWriMo

A book can seem all-consuming in the homestretch for NaNoWriMo.

Into the homestretch for NaNoWriMo

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

We’re closing in on the end of November, and also the end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month)All month I’ve posted things to encourage writers, whether or not they’re specifically participating. But for all who are participating, this week you go into the homestretch

The toll that project fatigue exacts

Against a background photo of steep mountains, this Dale Carnegie quote says, "Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment."

You’re so close! But sometimes, as we near the end of a long project, exhaustion sets in. Especially if you’ve been extending yourself to make your goals, you may be short of sleep or creaky from bending over your keyboard too long (Take time to stretch!).

Remember, the most important thing you’ll get out of NaNoWriMo or any sustained effort is not necessarily the draft you write (although acclaimed published works have originated from NaNoWriMo first-drafts). 

The most important thing

This quote from Octavia Butler reads, "First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice."

No, the most important thing is developing the habit of persistence. And here in the homestretch is where it comes most fully into play.

More important than talent. More essential than a genius idea. More crucial than the classiest styleThe secret to writing success is persistence. Keep trying. You’ve come into the homestretch for NaNoWriMo. Last-minute brain glitch, and can’t think what to write? Write anyway.

This Philip Pullman quote says, "If you can't think what to write, tough luck; write anyway."

Formula for success

Create the habits that put your butt in the chair (or wherever you write) and your hands on the keyboard (or however you interface with your word processor) and the words being written.

Create and sustain those habits. Eventually, you’ll succeed. Going into the homestretch and beyond, you’ll have developed the most essential requirement for any successful writer. Simply don’t let anything stop you.

This quote from Timothy Zahn reads, "A lot of brilliant writing minds out there will never be heard from because they quit. Persistence is a major part of all of this."

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to BrainyQuotes, for the illustrated Dale Carnegie quote on fatigue. And my deepest gratitude to Early Bird Books and their feature “15 Inspiring Writing Quotes for NaNoWriMo.” Their article is my source for the quotes by Octavia Butler, Philip Pullman, and Timothy Zahn. Finally, many thanks to 123RF and “Bowie 15 for the featured image.

An illustration for an article on repetitive stress injury gave the letters "RSI" heads and red "pain spots" like you see in many diagrams.

Take time to stretch!

The Artdog Image of Interest

Here’s a shout-out to all the diligent folks who are homing in on the end of NaNoWriMo, National Novel-Writing Month. If you’re a serious participant, you’ve been putting in some long hours at the keyboard. But that means you also are courting repetitive stress injuries, if you aren’t careful. Please take time to stretch! 

Stretch your hands

My son Tyrell Gephardt sent this graphic to me several months ago. I parked it on my desktop as a reminder. It helps me think of it, and also makes a handy cheat-sheet if I forget one. I try to stretch regularly. Why don’t you try these stretches right now?

The illustration "Make time to stretch!" shows seven ways to stretch one's hands to avoid repetitive stress injuries: wrist extension in two directions, Wrist flexion with an open hand and with a fist, stretches with your hand flat against a wall, palms-together then lowering one's hands, and a "shake it out" motion. Take time to stretch!

Didn’t that feel good? Each time I do these I think, “I’ve got to remember these more often!” Then I get busy and don’t think about it till I glance down at my desktop and spot this graphic again.

Stretch your lower back

To be ergonomically sound, there are other stretches you also may want to try. Here’s a post that offers 12 stretches to ease or prevent lower back stress. The illustrations are clear, and the stretches are simple but effective. You can do them in your office, although be advised: some involve getting on the floor. 

Lower back pain is common and widespread. The World Health Organization estimates 60-70% of adults in industrialized countries will experience lower back pain. Why not learn how to minimize that risk?

Stretch you shoulders and neck

Computer work, especially for prolonged periods, causes all kinds of issues, including shoulder stiffness and pain. Here’s a link to an article that offers four simple shoulder stretches you can do at your desk.

Long hours of computer work can also be a literal pain in the neck. The Mayo Clinic has posted an article about neck pain. They included a video to show several stretches that can help you avoid or ease neck pain.

An ergonomic office

On this same theme, I posted an Image of Interest in 2018 that bears repeating. You might want to see my post about what makes a good ergonomic office design. Here are more tips, from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Now that you’re all stretched out and limbered up, it’s time to get back to work! Best of luck to all who take the NaNoWriMo challenge! And for anyone who spends time at a desk, I hope that you, too, will take time to stretch!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to my son Tyrell Gephardt for sending me the “Make time to Stretch!” graphic. I did a reverse-image search via TinEye, and traced it back to Between the Pixels on Twitter. There’s a nice large image available there. The Featured Image is an illustration for an article on Repetitive Stress Injury, or RSI (illustrator not credited).

A jogger forms a backdrop for Jim Rohn's words: "How long should you try? Until."

Playing a long game

This post is for everyone who hasn’t yet dropped out of NaNoWriMo. And really for everyone who’s pursuing a long, hard effort they believe in. Whatever your struggle, you’re playing a long game. Persistence is the key.

Vince Lombardi's words, "Winners never quit, and quitters never win," accompany a photo of ducklings struggling to climb a steep curb.

If you’re still hanging in there for NaNoWriMo, you’re entering Week Three, today. By now you’re probably tired. You may have missed a few days, or fallen short of a few benchmarks you’d set for yourself. 

You may have begun to wonder if this is really worth it. Take heart. It is. In any long game, persistence is the key.

This quote comes from Napoleon Hill: "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success." The background photo is a rocky seashore.

Doubts are natural. But doubt is poison.

All writers have doubts. And if you’re trying to pile up thousands and thousands of words in a very short period of time time, you’re probably having double and triple doubts. 

You know what you’re writing isn’t polished. Hope what you’re writing is good. Fear what you’re writing is garbage.

It doesn’t matter. Not at this point. You’re playing a long game, so the key thing you need is persistence.

A quote attributed to Thomas Foxwell Burton says, "with ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable."

The road to quality starts here.

Save the heartburn over polish for rewrites. What you’re doing right now is simply getting it down in an editable format. It’s the essential first step to a finished draft you can be proud of

Even if much of what you write this month has to be trashed or overhauled, it’s a start. It’s more than you had written before. It’s always easier to rewrite than to write it the first time through.

You’re doing hard work, essential work. And you’re honoring the long game, where persistence is key. So hang in there.

Against a colorful background, this quote from poet Avijeet Das says, "Struggle for your art. Die for your art. But you can never give up on your art!"

The long game

If NaNoWriMo is like story structure, then you’re entering the crucial third quarter. The second half of Act Two, if that’s how you prefer to think of it. You’re closing in on the rising action–which means you might be facing a Dark Night of the Soul.

Keep writing, anyway. At the chosen time each day, park yourself in the chair at your desk, in the coffehouse booth, poised over your pad, or wherever you write. Make words happen. Keep writing.

You’re playing a long game. Persistence is the key.

A jogger in action forms the backdrop for this quote by Jim Rohn: "How long should you try? Until."

NOTE: This post is one of several I’ve published during this month and last, in honor of National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short). Others in this series so far include “It’s getting on toward time. Are you ready?” “Will you or won’t you Na-No-Wri-Mo?” and “An ideal writing space.” Stay tuned for more!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to The Diary Store, for the Vince Lombardi quote; to good ol’ BrainyQuote, for the Napoleon Hill graphic; to Life11-Scribble and Scrawl’s “10 Quotes on Nurturing Talent,” for the quote from the rather elusive Thomas Foxwell Burton (It’s possible the name is actually Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. He was a British Baronet and an abolitionist active in the 18th century); and to Everyday Power, for the illustrated quotes from Avijeet Das and Jim Rohn. I am deeply grateful to all!

Ann Friedman's office is an example of several things that make it an ideal writing space.

An ideal writing space

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

In this month of NaNoWriMo, a lot of writers will be parking themselves in chairs, curling up in nooks, stretching out on carpets, or clearing off their desks to participate. We know that some writers can write anywhere, but others are a lot more particular about their surroundings. Is there really such a thing as an ideal writing place?

It isn’t hard to find ideas online. Do you prefer a rustic look? Chrome and glass? Are you a minimalist? A connoisseur of clutter? Do you like wooden seating? Upholstered padding? Chintz? Leather? Plaid? Several other bloggers have addressed this topic. Here’s a sampler from their ideas.

Two windows for light and a lot of books and binders make this bedroom-turned de facto office a less-than-ideal writing space.
The Artdog’s less-than-ideal writing space is currently (mostly) on her bed. Thank goodness, that’s temporary.


The blogger for “Papersmashed” lamented in a 2015 post that her only real writing space was on her bed. Oh, my, can I relate to that! I, too, do most of my writing currently while sitting on my bed with my back supported by a pile of pillows against my headboard. 

It’s far from an ideal writing space, for many reasons (just ask my creaky bones). Thank goodness, in my case it’s temporary. But the changes I’m planning for our home’s library require thought. What’s the best way to carve out space to write, run a small press, and also make art–while still maintaining the library’s original function?

In her 2015 post, “Papersmashed” explains that there is a desk in her room, but “it’s just not that inspiring. I am surrounded with blank walls.” So she resorts to her bed, as the lesser of evils. But she’d recently encountered the concept of the “She-Shed,” and posted some wishful images.

"Papersmashed" blogged about these photos. There's a "she-shed" idea on each end, with a rustic interior writing space at center. See Image Credits below for sources and more information.
Papersmashed” blogged about these photos. There’s a “she-shed” idea on each end, with a rustic interior writing space at center. See Image Credits below for sources and more information.

Yelena Casale

Urban fantasy and romance writer Yelena Casale blogged about the question of what makes an ideal writing space, too. In her 2011 post, she wrote, “Having an appropriate and cozy work space is important to about anyone. However, nobody needs it more than someone who creates.”

For Yelena it seemed to be all about the view: forested mountains, ocean-views, even a panoramic city-scape, though that wouldn’t be her first choice. The room itself could be small, she said. “Small spaces can be open and light. It’s all about the design and the feel.”

Here are three of the images Yelena chose, to accompany her post. Each definitely has its own “feel.”

The image at left may be Yelena's own photo. Center: Kevin Crossley-Holland's writing office. Right: the minimalist urban vibe of "Rephlektiv's" writing office. See Image Credits below for sources and more information.
The image at left may be Yelena’s own photo. Center: Kevin Crossley-Holland’s writing office. Right: the minimalist urban vibe of “Rephlektiv’s” writing office. See Image Credits below for sources and more information.

Ploughshares at Emerson College, and The Freelancer

In an undated guest post for Ploughshares, poet-teacher Aimee Nezhukumatathil describes her own writing space “I have an office at home painted my favorite shade of robin’s-egg blue with red accents,” and adds, “My favorite space to write has a glass-topped table with my Grandfather’s old typewriter that still works.” In the guest-post she also shares thoughts on writing spaces from several writer friends. She does not, however, identify whose office is shown in the photo she shared (NOTE: It belongs to the photographer Vadim Scherbakov).

The Freelancer’s Connor Relyea interviewed five top freelance writers, for his 2015 post “What Would Your Ideal Writing Studio Look Like?” The answers to each of his questions are varied and interesting. They definitely qualify as food for thought, for anyone interested in designing or adjusting their own office.

Relyea illustrated his interviewees’ comments with two photos that provide a study in contrasts. One is a nicely designed, rather conventional setup that looks comfortable and functional, while the other reminds me of a monk’s cell (or perhaps a dungeon?). Turns out (although there’s no caption to tell you), they are the offices of two of his interviewees, those of Ann Friedman and Noah Davis. Read their interviews, and see if you can guess which office belongs to which.

At left is the office of Ann Friedman, who's one of Connor Relyea's interviewees. The center office is also from that article. It belongs to Noah Davis. The third office belongs to photographer Vadim Scherbakov. See Image Credits below for sources and more information.
At left is the office of Ann Friedman, who’s one of Connor Relyea’s interviewees. The center office is also from that article. It belongs to Noah Davis. The third office belongs to photographer Vadim Scherbakov. See Image Credits below for sources and more information.

So, then, what makes an ideal writing space?

There are some interesting ideas in those interviews and photos. But the most striking thing to me is the way basic ideas can be made to seem quite different. When we come right down to it, the primary and most salient thing about any “ideal writing space” is how it makes you feel.

This quote from Nicole Appleton is presented as a sort of poster. It says, "Any room where you feel a good vibe is a good place to write."

What’s your idea of an ideal writing space? Do you already work in one, do you dream of having it someday, or is it a whimsical fantasy that actually couldn’t exist in the mundane world where we live? Please share thoughts, ideas, photos, or critiques in the comments section below.


The photo of the Artdog’s current writing place (her less-than-ideal bedroom) is by Jan S. Gephardt, all rights reserved. 


This blogger posted the trio of images collected into the montage at the end of  her section.”The greenhouse” she-shed originated in 2013 on a website from York, Ontario that no longer exists. “Papersmashed” apparently found it somewhere on Heather Bullard’s website. The rustic interior writing space at the center appears to have originated on a profile of a rustic Boston-area home office featured on Houzz. The the photo of the pink-windowed garden shed was attributed to “Via Wooden House,” (guess how successfully I Googled that) but TinEye Reverse Image Search helped me track it down. It’s 2010 the creation of quilter and gardener Laurie Ceesay

Yelena Casale

Yelena Casale posted her photos without attributions. However, with some help from the indispensable  TinEye Reverse Image Search, I discovered that there doesn’t seem to be an alternative source for the photo Yelena posted of a table set up on what looks like a screened-in back porch with a garden view. It might be one she herself took. The center photo in this montage dates to 2009 or earlier. It is identified by Zoë Marriott as the office of British Writer Kevin Crossley-Holland. The sleek urban office at right originated on Lifehacker as “the Skybox,” a Featured Office. In that short piece, the owner (who calls himself “Rephlektiv.” I couldn’t for-sure identify him, to provide a link), describes his quest to pare his space down to the essentials.

Ploughshares and The Freelancer

The two photos from The Freelancer‘s post belong to interviewees Ann Friedman (at right) and Noah Davis (center). Without the invaluable  TinEye Reverse Image Search, I probably would not have found The Freelance Studio’s “24 Designers Show Off Their Actual Work Spaces Without Cleaning Them First!” That was the source for the office photo on Ploughshares. Though unidentified in Aimee Nezhukumatathil‘s undated guest post for Ploughshares, the office belongs to photographer Vadim Scherbakov.

And finally, send up a shout-out to PictureQuotes, for the nugget of Nicole Appleton’s wisdom on the illustrated quote. Many thanks to all of them, and most especially to TinEye Reverse Image Search!!

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