Wednesday, October 30, 2013

November – Season of Banging the Keys

Tips to cultivate ideas for National Novel Writing Month.
Blair Mirth - © 2013

It's that time of year again. The threaded spider webs are hanging up around the house - real life nightmares dangling from their captivating yet horrific homes. I have my desk decked with cards and paper, alongside my trusted Pumpkin stamp that is inked and ready for all those overseas cards I need to make for my fellow writing and crafting friends, and I am ticking of the lists of friends who have sent emails out inviting me to there festive jives and costume parties – politely sending out my replies -That will be a no thank you.

Before you ask, no I am not anti-social. Very far from it. But instead of spending my night in a rented costume I am following a tradition I have kept for many going on 7 years now and will be putting a different kind of costume on – my writing cape. Yes fellow writers it is that time again where we hoard the candy instead of handing it out to trick or treaters and use it to bribe ourselves to stay awake until midnight and beyond to participate in the crazy, fantastic, life changing event that is Nanowrimo.

With the success of my PROMPT system time and time again the lead up to November always has me feeling a rollercoaster of emotions. It has made the lead up to the event much more enjoyable and less stressful. But there are always those days, or hours before midnight when even my own organisation and plans seem to get the better of me and even though I have develop a system that works most of the time there is still that niggling doubt that I am not ready. That I am not prepared or maybe I am too prepared and what the hell am I thinking trying to write about novel when I have 7 years of finished and half finished novels to be getting on with? I know I am not alone in these feelings. Nearly everyone I know has some kind of freak out before Nanowrimo whether it's stressing about not having ideas, having way to many ideas to choose from, guilt over the time you'll be taking away from family, friends and other engagements or simply worrying that the pantry isn't stocked full enough of your favourite treats or that those pens and notebooks you brought will still remain untouched and unused by the end of the month.

Fear not my fellow writer. You are not alone.

I have a few ideas to get that motor of yours rolling or at least calm it down enough to not buy out an entire shelf in the confectionery isle at your supermarket. Whether you're a planner or a pantser. Whether it is your first time, second time, last time or you just want to know what the hell to do when you're looking at embarking on a crazy writing project there is sure to be something for all of you to kick start the excitement and joy that is Nanowrimo.

Read – one of the more obvious tips when it comes to writing is to read. We have heard it all before. But it's not always the easiest thing to do when you have already got a lot going on in your mind, or aren't sure which one to go with. Much like write what you know, one of the things that has helped inspire me when Nanowrimo is approaching is to read something I know I am going to love or something that has fascinated me for a long time. This works well if you are searching for an idea, or already have one because it feeds on both aspects really well. For me I am a lover of anything supernatural. So when I am working on my planning, already writing a story, need an idea or simply just doing some research I will look for anything that catches my attention. Libraries are understated for helping you choose those few books that could break you out of a slump, kick start an idea, project a little spark into your project or really help with the fundamentals of your planning.

For me this year I knew that I wanted to work on one of my favourite pairings of characters, but I have no idea what or how to go about writing something new and exciting. So I read a book set near the sea and that kick started an idea rolling. After a few hours jotting down everything I knew about the sea,I went to my library and browsed through books about the sea – boats, fashion inspired, vintage and history to do with haunted cruise ships etc. Then I took that information with me and explored it more. From there I had ideas for clothes, settings, characters, conflict and even murder. You don't need a lot of information and you certainly don't have to use all of it. But even just reading some non-Fiction or Fiction books about something your interested in can really invigorate your love of writing, your passion for sharing and can be a jump start for something crazy and fantastic. It might even inspire further reading after Nanowrimo and who knows, you may even meet like minded writers with the same interests that you can form great writing friendships with as well as bounce back ideas and recommendations.

Youtube – So you don't have an idea for your story, but you really love watching documentaries on youtube, or maybe you like fashion and beauty, cooking or even world news events. Youtube is another understated resource for writers and lovers of imagination. I dare you to watch a few videos and not find an idea for a poem, a song, or in case of Nanowrimo an idea for a story. Say you have no ideas, but you really love watching videos about Indian cuisine and are fascinated with the culture and language. After a few videos you might hear some crazy story about a romantic proposal gone wrong, or a tale about a girl who trained elephants and those videos and visuals could spark something in your mind. After watching a few more you'll have a jumping point.

When I had a need to write but hadn't yet found my story I went onto youtube and watched link after link of crazy stories. Some were fantastic so I jotted them down, but one that really stuck with me was the idea of reincarnation. After watching a few documentaries, short videos, news clips and debates I had a good basis for a story that I could work on with topics that really got me going and made me want to flesh it out even more.

Generators – These handy 'machines' as I call them have saved my ass many of times, as well as being useful for fun writing sessions and for just generating simple things like setting or characters to help me out of a pickle. Also found on the Internet there are quote a few that can be found just my searching Random scene, character, magic – the list goes on, generator into the search box. By finding simple, short prompts to spark your imagination you can find a concept, an idea or a character that will work if you haven't the foggiest what you want to write about or to add to an addition story for depth and development.

Some of my favorites is on a site called Pearltress which is a comprehensive site that allows you to cultivated many websites in the one place. My favorite is Team Story Generator. It is a pearl that collects generators together in one place. It is really nicely set out and easy to find the sites by clicking on the mind map style links. 

Forums, chat sites and Story sharing sites [Community]: When I first started writing as a hobby and really found it as a passion I was all alone on my brothers laptop. We had dial up connection and I had two hours to browse, research and connect. Things have changed a little with my being a grown adult and having unlimited Internet connection with decent speed, but in the midst of life I wouldn't be without my writing buddies, connections, inspiration and recommendations that come from the before mentioned website tools. Joining up to the forum and chat boards is a great way to start getting involved in discussions that will lead you towards ideas, friendship and a variety of sites, references and challenges that you would probably have never found out existed before logging on and being part of the community.

One of my saving graces while growing up and learning about my passion in writing was a site called Story Write. Now adapted to suit the needs of the growing social media economy you can find a wealth of fantastic features on this site to suit your needs. From communities, groups, challenges and contests, forums and chat boxes, writing classes and friends from all backgrounds Story write is an in depth site that can really suit any writers needs, and there are even groups that focus on Nanowrimo too.

Fan lift – I call it Fan lifting because its not quiet writing fan-fiction, but it does take an exisiting idea, concept, character, situation and give you a place to start from. This form of idea catching comes from spending hours watching your favorite movies or television shows or finding new ones to watch. Yes- watching T.V can actually be a productive use of your time and creative too.

For all of you out there who have delved into fan fiction you will know the trials of torment and the almost orgasmic pleasure you can get from taking your favourite characters and having at it with them in bizarre, insane, romantic and murderous ways. There is really no limit to the imagination when writing about the worlds you love and the people who feel like family, or you wish that would die in a hole and be maggot meat.

For those of you who haven't this concept will still work. It is simple. You watch your shows, movie, documentaries etc. and you take something from it. I will use the example in which I just finished watching a favourite TV series of mine called The Almighty Johnsons and then on the weekend my partner and I watched Thor – I didn't want to fan-fiction the stories but there were aspects of them that during and after watching really jump started my need to write and so with pen and paper I jotted down some things I liked and disliked about both and wanted to explore on my own story and I came up with a page full of ideas and little bullet points that could be expanded to write several seperate stories and here's the best thing – without actually copying the things I have watched.

My list looked a little like this: Norse Gods, Romance [change to a gay romance] – change them to brothers – change the setting to Australia – make Thor a woman? Lesbian norse Goddesses? Make one of them a star seed [ a spirit from another planet embedded in the body of a human] what planet did they come from? And so on and so forth. So it is really easy. In a way it's like playing a what if game and you can make it as close to or as far from them as you really want too. You never know what those ideas might lead to.

And you can extend that even further into creating characters traits as well. Don't you just love Thor's naivety when he crashes down on earth. The scene in particular when he smashes the cup really has me laughing. So why not take that humour and naivety and give it to your character. Or maybe you see the underlining pent up emotions between characters in a show you love. Forbidden love only in you fantasies, but in the show it would never happen. Still, you love to dream and you can – just take that personality and inject it into another character and watch that unfold. You can even base a character in your novel of another in a show or movie – it's Nanowrimo and anything goes and I can garentee that after 30 days of writing that character will only look a little like the one that inspired it at the end of the month. And the experience of meeting this character will well pay off.

Window Shopping- lastly I think this is a great one. Window shopping, it goes right alongside eavesdropping. Whenever I am truly lost I like to get outside the house and watch. Whether that means I sit in a coffee shop corner booth and listen in on conversations or I walk around the city taking in my surroundings from the shops, booths, street performers, music or the culture around me I always come back with at least a page of notes on one or more of these pointers.

Stressed for time? Sitting on a bus? Waiting in a queue? Bullet point my lovely writer friends. In a little reporters notebook, on your phone, in your journal, on a post card or on your palm whatever you see that gets you going and the ideas churning- write it down. Better noted then lost forever.

And on that same front, collect things as well. If you see post cards, magazines, flyers, events anything that you think will be great for a story board or to put in your writing journal pick it up, fold it up- hell even keep a little envelope or sandwich bag in your bag to collect all that stuff and when you get home you can use it as a prompt to explore ideas. You never know- your character might love high fashion or art. They might dream of winning a trip to India or they might be seeking a room mate who loves shaving dogs and eating burnt pizza. All these little bits of inspiration that catch your eye will come in handy some point in your writing life so why not let them inspire your Nanowrimo project.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


It’s three in the afternoon, which means there’s Nine hour until I can grab my laptop out, turn my music up way past the hearing requirements and begin to start my novel in a caffeinated and sleep deprived induced high. I’m having a hard time believing that its November already and that very soon ‘ll be eating way to many chocolates, wrapping presents in eco-newspaper and making very bold texted Santa wish lists so I actually get what I want this year for Christmas.

This year I’ll be kicking things off with a trip from the boogie-man and no I don’t mean that horrible monster that lives under the bed who may or may not make an appearance in my novel, no I’m snuffluffigas with my heat pack and cough lollies pinned to my knickers. You might think that would be enough to deter me, especially it being in the high 30’s which feels like I’m sloshing around in a sauna, but no, the sun is shining, my skin is melting, my eyes are watering and my heart is beating so fast with excitement that I’ll probably need to go for a nice nanna nap after I’ve written up this post.

It’s that time of year again. Nanowriomo eve and let me tell you guys it feels more exciting to me than Christmas Eve ever has. Maybe it’s the warmth that’s heating up the room, shining a light on the enormous pile of TBR books on my dresser and bedside table or the joy of celebrating Halloween with the man I love cooking burritos while we watch Misery and anticipate our own writing misery, or maybe it’s just the simple fact that when the clock hits 12:00 I get to enter a world, create a world and share that experience with thousands of people in a way I can’t often with my other hobbies.

Whatever the reason [ and does there really need to be one to be this ecstatic about writing] when my fingers hit the keyboard and the words come spilling I know within my heart that it doesn’t get much better than this. 30 days of following my bliss and taking a chance to do something that makes my heart sing despite the craziness and the horrendous voices of reason that spit at me like vipers from non- nano believers and non-writers who think that I’m just wasting my time or putting more crap into the universe.

Hands up if you have endured this in the past or recently? I still do, even though I’ve been taking the leap since 2007. Let me tell you guys I’ve only won two times technically, but in my heart I’ve won every time because even if I’ve been shy 20 words or 20,000 words I’ve loved every painful, ecstatic, maddening moment of it and I’ve met some freaking amazing people, who still to this day are very good friends and writing buddies.

 I laugh, I smile and I dance with taco sauce on my lips because all those people who want to put me down; they’re all missing the point; I am following my bliss, doing something, taking a chance whether I fail or succeed and let’s face it guys how can you really fail when you know that you were brave enough to do something that you are passionate about, while they complain and leave their dreams untouched?

My dream is to reach out to people during Nano and I have done this already with my Vlogseries  [which will hopefully be a PDF ebook by the start of next year] Blair’s PROMPTS System. If you guys have not watched the videos I will leave a link, but a basic breakdown is as follows: acronym style.

P – Prompts
R- Reading and Rewards
O- Outline, Brainstorming, Plotting
M- Music
P- Partners
T- Today
S- Sweets and Stationary

During the month of November I plan on utilizing each point to help you guys out. Those who are struggling for inspiration might want to look out for a weekly segment where I will be using lyrics, pictures, sentence starters and exercises to jolt your enthusiasm or to give you ideas and inspiration for your novel and its characters. Some will be from the net, others from well-loved books I own and if you have a suggestion feel free to email it to me and I’ll add it to the list for others to benefit from as well. The way I see it, were all in it together; and for every prompt each person will perceive it differently and take it to different places.

For those of you struggling with keeping an outline, or who want to branch out and brainstorm during Nano I will have a few examples and ideas for you to try out as I approach a variety of ideas myself and I will also give you a few suggestions with saving and backing up work as well.

As always I’ll be reading during Nano so you can look out for the books I’m reading if you want to rewards yourself with some youtube videos and I will be popping a few quotes and words of inspiration into my weekly segments to give you something to write down, or print out to keep you motivated [as well as myself]

Lastly I will leave you with the strongest piece of advice that I can give anyone during Nano. This is; to just write. No matter what- just write because you can’t go wrong and Nanowriomo is about quantity not quality.

If you want to add me as a friend or leave me an email my name on is :Disposable.Blair I will leave the link and you can PM me there or leave me an email at Blake.constance[@] I am more than happy to help out, give you pep-talks and kick you in the ass ^_^ in a friendly matter of course. You are more than welcome to contribute to my weekly segments and if you want to be added to the list to spread the word that you’re doing Nano and meet new friends then please let me know. [Note: no personal information will be shared]

Thursday, May 3, 2012

So recently I have started to really jump outside my comfort zone and almost [perfectionist personality] to try something that used to come so naturally to me, and yet is new, fresh exciting and [ can I mention recyling] fantastic for relieving stress and creating art. This my friends is Art Journaling.

So what is Art Journaling - My awnser - putting down my emotions, sensations, reactions and inspiration from daily life using whatever the hell I can find in my scrapbooking room and from the local bargain stores. More about that later, of course this is all new to me in the way of using paint with my fingers and really letting my creativity flow, and let me tell you it does flow. But it was not easy the first few times I played with the idea and I found myself wanting to stop, because lets face it for anyone who has seen some of the many creations out there online and on youtube it is enough to want to stay inside the craft room forever, or run from it. But this time I did not run - I jumped and I flew and I an head over heels in love with Art Journaling.

So what do I use? To begin with old scraps from my crafty projects, bits of paper of my floor, half opened stickers, old paint supplies, copius amounts of glimmer mist and lots of tape. After a few days I added bits of magazine cut outs, copic marker journaling and punched out shapes and hand cut and drawn shapes. Now only a few days into it I have added Gesso to the mix, and a number of other items to my arsinal. Like glitter, twine, ink, die cuts, ripped up books and lots and lots of other bits and peices I pick up off the side of the road [literally]

I am outta practice with giving others advice and I am a newby, but I want to share my experience to some degree and hope within the next month I will have some photo's of my creating space, and the items and tools I use to create the art that means so much to me. So stick around, it is late and I am a little high on craft glue but I hope in a few days to be more consistent and hey...I might even have a challenge for you gals and guys out there...


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Week One - June - Creativity

I love this layout using raw materials as well as my pattern paper, odd buttons and some brown wrapping paper. I have been wondering how to use this line for so long and then I decided to just start creating and see what happens. I think I should have used a different collection of stickers for always, though.

This layout was one we created during my Friday night crop at Hobby Sew. It used a number of techniques and was time consuming. It isn't one of my favorites, but I did learn something.

I really love this page. It is mighty simple and I love the arrangement of the papers. I used a page map from the site - May Maps.

These are some handmade flowers I made when pondering what kind of business I wanted to make. I really would like to start creating different handmade items. I also made some pattern fabric.

Hey Creative Folks,

I thought I would do a little post in June - Weekly, to show you anything creative that I get up to. Most of the time it will be layouts and a few cards even. I hope you enjoy. If you have an questions let me know.

Love lots and happy creating,
Blair xox

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Scrap Therapy Challenge - 'SCRAP THAT OLDER STASH' Challenge!

I decided this weekend would be a perfect day for a challenge and with only three days to complete the layouts, what better way to get stuck into it then start with one that I tend to avoid, as I spend a lot of money on new pretty products.

While my stash isn't large enough to really have an old stash [ as I got rid of all my old scrapping stuff when I moved in my teenage years] I did manage to find some old trinkets with the chipboard buttons you see on the tree's and on the bottom of the page. I cannot for the life of me remember who they are by as I remember getting them from spotlight sometime last year and disposing of the package straight away. I knew straight away I wanted to use them in the layout.

I have used a basic mustard card stock from the neutrals pack by DCWV and the pattern paper you see at the top is downloaded from a site I found while searching for inspiration. Don't ask how I remember finding it, because I have no idea, but it was a blessing because it was perfect for what I wanted. You can find the collection at:

This particular collection is called: Fall Owls and Tree's.

The rest of my page consists of strips from MME- Lime Twist- Fly A Kite range, a Jenny Bowlin Month flag sticker and Black Rocketeer Thickers, oh and a black piece of cardstock from DCWV as the matting behind the photos.

I am certain you can find the Lime Twist collection in the Scrap Therapy Store - I used Spring Zag paper –

& Rocketeer Thickers you can find here:

I printed my photo’s in wallet size print and I love how I manage to incorporate them onto the page.

This might be not what the challenge called for, but since I have only started scrapbooking again and I still don’t know my way around the site or the challenges I think it was a brilliant first short and I enjoyed making it regardless.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

22 Days Off Me - 30 Days off Challenge, Drawing to and end early

My challenge has ended a bit short to the end of the month, but I am not to disappointed. In fact I have achieved quite a lot. From mastering new recipes, starting a new short story, finishing many projects and layouts and having a blast creating and growing and most importantly doing something I love.

I realized as the approach of my new course was drawing closer that I needed not to stress, but to wind down and appreciate the time I have, for I am going to love it more come study and work [I know I will get a work towards a career by starting to work towards my dreams.

I am looking forward to packing a notepad in my handbag to jot down the experience and bringing the camera to capture candid every day moments and milestones as I journey towards my goals in life, because I also learned that while it is great to take time for myself, there needs to be a balance to appreciate it more.

Meanwhile...I have been rather busy with...layouts...and random doobies and a mini album... and I will show you some progress photos now. I am still working on the album but I created a page with the scraps left over and the many photos that still remained. It was going to be along the lines of a Gothic poser page but I decided to document me at 17.

Oh and I have two projects I hope to share pictures with later as well.

xx Blair

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Challenge Update - Day 16-19 - May 2011

Should Be Back Soon ....

Meetings, course planning, friend and family guests have taken up most of my time and thrown my schedule out the window. For the next few days I will be challenging myself to make the time for myself and I will continued to share my progress.

Here is a picture of a card in progress and of an alteration on a photograph I took a while back at the market. I love the side where the image looks like a woman if you look closely.

Happy creating, living and loving.