Welcome to PREPTOBER! It’s officially planning season for NaNoWrimo and we’re moving on in my series to the stage I call PLOTTING.

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Last week we talked about gathering and cultivating ideas. Now let’s move on to putting those ideas in a discernible order. 

As promised, this step works for PANTSERS too and you might be amazed at what you discover. 

PLOTTING is taking all the things we found while PLANNING (the characters and plot and setting, etc.), and crafting them into scenes.

It’s taking all your little ideas and dressing them up in their Sunday best. 

If you’re more of a PANTSER, there is a lot of freedom in this. You simply sit down and write, this happens, then this happens, then this happens.

You don’t have to know the order or have all the pieces. You’re just jotting down what you know, but you are creating order. You are fleshing out the details you put down in the PLANNING stage.

For some, this might look like a bullet-pointed list or a flow chart. For me, it generally involves sticky notes.

I like to break things into SCENES. I might go in order, or I might start in the middle or even from the end. It all depends on where the story leads me.

Let’s take my example from last time and build on this idea a little more: 

A person checks into an institution that’s been closed for 30 years.

Is this point the beginning of my story? The middle? The end? This is only one scene in the many that either brought this person to the institution, or will carry the person away from it. We might have flashbacks. We might have a history or a narrative going forward. It all depends on the story.

The next thing I do is take all my little ideas and flesh them out on sticky notes.


These are all scene ideas I would scribble furiously on a sticky note, then worry about putting them in order when we move on to OUTLINING.

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The second stage of PLOTTING is finding or developing a PLOT STRUCTURE to help you through the story. These are based on GENRE typically and can be found everywhere on the internet. I use one that’s pretty basic:

  • 1st PLOT POINT
  • 2nd PLOT POINT

Once you’ve figured out what all your plot points are, you should be well on your way to OUTLINING, which we will cover next week.

Until then,

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It’s the first week of October…hush it still counts…as you can tell I am excited for the month change if not ecstatic about the season change.

Winter can be a very dark time for me, so this year it’s planned to a fault, starting with…OCTOBER!

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or in the land of NaNoWriMo, PREPTOBER.

I thought I would share a little bit about my writing process here as well as on my YouTube channel which you can find here if you so choose.

The first step is a stage I call PLANNING, but it’s not exactly what it sounds like.

I want to start by saying what PLANNING is NOT.

  • It is not knowing the whole story or even thinking about the whole story. PLANNING is the very first step, so how could you have everything all figured out?
  • It’s not having a fleshed out story idea or having all the pieces to the puzzle.

PLANNING IS, at its simplest,

  • Recording the ideas you have. 
  • Organizing the ideas you have.

That brings me to my writer’s notebook. I have a binder sectioned off into different categories of stories: CHARACTERS, SETTING, SCENE ideas, etc.

FIRST: Write down the idea in one sentence. BRAINSTORMING is first section of my notebook and it’s useful to have ideas listed here. You might have a different way to categorize ideas such as online, in an app, or in a document. The important thing is to have a BRAINSTORMING place to hold the ideas.
Here’s one of mine:

A person checks into a an institution that’s been closed for 30 years.

All of us could generate ideas from this prompt and come up with completely different stories. It’s just an idea. Not magic, and certainly not writing (unfortunately).
In that sentence, we’ve got three things to work with: the person, the institution, and the timeline. I break these all down into their component parts:

What kind of person walks into the institution? What kind of institution is it? Why has it been closed for 30 years? 

SECOND: Take each of those questions and put them in the appropriate section.

Put the person in the CHARACTERS area

Take the institution, and put it in the SETTINGS area

Take the timeline and put it wherever it fits. Maybe you have a TIMELINES category. Maybe your timeline has to do with SETTING or Maybe it’s part of the PLOT or RESEARCH NOTES. 

From there, start taking notes or building your world as you see fit. When you get a lot of this information or a full-fledged idea, then it’s time to create some order. This can happen any time you feel ready to move forward especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all your ideas. 

That’s called PLOTTING, and it’s the topic of next week’s post.

See you then!


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I could think of three definitions for COLLECT:

  • To collect as in to gather, pick up, or sort.

This, the final week in the month and the quarter, I am collecting my thoughts to move forward. I am collecting ideas and memories. I’m planning a brand new novel in OCTOBER and writing it in NOVEMBER. It’s the best and worst time of the year. The best creatively, the worst emotionally. I’m both picking flowers and packing for survival.

  • To collect as in to own and add to a collection.

This year I am not adding to my collection of stationery (fortunately or unfortunately I can’t afford it), so I will be collecting all the unused spaces and tools and crafting new ones. I’m also adding to my collection of novels. The collection of stories in my head and those I have translated to paper.

  • To collect as in to claim a debt.

I think I’m due a fair amount of credit for making it through the year thus far and thriving at that. I want not the credit but the kudos and not from you but from me (though I’ll take yours too). I don’t mean to suggest the year hasn’t been hard and all is right with the world. I just think I’m doing pretty good under the circumstances.

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I’m really looking forward to sharing my ideas and progress here.

Thanks for giving me a reason to keep blogging.



Emily P. Freeman, co-founder of hope*writers, gave a free webinar on clarity for writers. Before I was able to join, I had the option to answer this question:

One year from now…what do you hope to be true?

She was referring to my writing journey, but as usual, I decided to take the question to the next level and apply it to my whole damn life. I want to solve everything, but maybe that’s too big.

Maybe the writing journey IS the journey I’m on at the moment.

One year from now…what do you hope to be true?

I didn’t answer her then, but now I’ve had some time, and the benefit of her webinar to answer it more fully. I got my clarity.

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Right now I’m not moving anywhere. I need to be. I want to be running toward my goal, not standing here stagnant. I thought first about saying I want to be published, but I want that to be a fact, not a hope.

One year from now, what do I hope to be true…

I hope to be running. Not held back by fear or doubt. I hope to be free from my current burdens and to have the luxury of choice.

linsey ewing

Emily was absolutely right that I need some DIRECTION and the place to start is with my new VISION STATEMENT. That’s my next right step and I’m taking it today.

She says a vision statement should be 4 things:
1. Short
2. Simple
3. Hopeful

I’ve been brainstorming and this is going to be the header for my new website (coming soon):


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What do you think?

What’s your vision statement? What’s your next right step?



Today’s word was COURAGE.

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I don’t know if courage is not looking down or not looking up. Maybe it takes courage to do both.

I do know that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s what we do with our fear.

I’m afraid.

I don’t know how I’m going to manage, frankly. I haven’t a clue. I’m learning to trust and go. Move forward in faith and keep on truckin.


Hope*writers started a new challenge: a word prompt a day. Today’s is collaborate. I’ve read about some really good collaborations with husbands, God, even dogs. I love it.


I got nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of people (and a dog) with whom to collaborate. I have writing partners, friends, parents, siblings, and whole communities of online writers.


The only person I really want to be working with right now is myself.

I’ve already decided I am my own ideal audience, and while I strive to write for each and every one of you, I am the one who really needs to hear my words.

I blog because I need a place to record my progress, fight with the words, and make time to produce something every week. Part of my struggle and the part that makes me want to encourage others, is knowing there IS a struggle. It’s real and it’s challenging and it will not go away.

I believe I will succeed one day (in many ways I already have), and I want the road to that success paved with all my unignorable hardships and mess ups.

According to Crystal Paine, blogging should solve a problem, meet a need, and/or provide hope. I’m encouraged that my blog is doing those things for me.

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Tell me, is this blog doing any of those things for you?

Can you think of a way to collaborate?

The Struggle is REAL

I’ve hit a few brick walls lately.

My goals have been slippery and the progress steep. It’s been hard to get purchase. Hard to find the energy to keep going. 

{still doing it.}

The last part of my walk every weekday morning ends with a steep climb up a tall hill.

It may be the hardest part of the journey.

It also tells me the journey is almost over.

Here is what I’ve learned: The climb is more fun than the tenure part. Getting to the top is more enjoyable than trying to stay there.

Jennifer Weiner Real Simple August 2020

Being at the top is great, but I’m looking forward to the downhill ride. Still, I can’t ignore that some say this is the best part of the journey. The hard part.

{It’s the REAL part anyway.}

…there will always be something bigger and better to chase. The work has to be its own reward, because external validations will never be enough.

Jennifer Weiner Real Simple August 2020

Everybody’s having a hard year. On the whole, I have few complaints.

{I’m climbing steadily uphill.}

AUGUST: A Descent


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The descent from above, especially at night when you can see the lights glowing in the towns and houses around the airport.
Everything looks picture perfect, though somewhere in those houses are people living just like you and me. Nothing magical.

Editing is much the same way: It sounds glamorous, but it’s hard and dismal work. The end result will be worth it, when everything looks as though I intended it that way from the beginning.

After my writing month in JULY, I think I need to take AUGUST off in future.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, since MAY was the same after working my way through APRIL‘s CAMP NANOWRIMO, but I am disappointed.

I feel, not that I can do more, but that I should be able to do more, when I just can’t.

It’s an unrealistic expectation, but I expect it nonetheless.

I don’t know what next month holds, nor do I care to plan for it at this point. Don’t tell anybody, but I plan to wing it.

until then,


AUGUST: a Reflection

I’ve been thinking…

Am I to blame? Is there something I should have done differently? Does this really have anything to do with me? Is it as bad as all that?

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Sometimes things look one way from one perspective and completely upside down from another. I wonder how that happens. Is it a trick of the light? Bad timing? Or totally not what you thought you were looking at at all?

why can’t things just make sense?

This month I have been working on GOODBYE with R and we have made some fantastic progress.

i’m still not happy …

It’s strange looking back on work I started so long ago (five years) and that I labored over so intensely (two of those, I think) and not recognize my own work. It’s hard for me to believe this stuff came out of my head.

except when I come across something stupid, then I’m convinced it’s my work.

I’m walking a tightrope between wanting what I have and having what I want. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to negotiate. Here’s to the third week of the month.




I was asked to collaborate with another hope*writer on the subject of intentional kindness. This is what I came up with:

Intentional kindness involves thinking ahead to give a gift. Often, I have found, this gift is silence: allowing someone else the space to be themselves. Especially when we don’t agree with their opinions or views, silence can be loving our neighbors in a way that is difficult and sometimes impossible. Silence also leaves room for listening, another intentional kindness.

What do you think?

What is your definition of intentional kindness?

It also made me think of my purpose in being a hope*writer:

I’ve been struggling lately with how I write for Hope.

Hope is part of my daily existence, but in my writing..?


So I ask you,


If yes, how? and if no, how can it?



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