To Plan or Not to Plan?

So you’ve got your story idea together right? You’ve started building your characters and molding and shaping their personalities? Now it’s time to decide whether you are a pantser or a planner when it comes to writing your novel. What’s a pantser, you ask? Well that’s when you are fortunate enough to be able to just sit down at the blank screen of your laptop and begin writing with no plot or course of action laid out before you. If you are one of those writers let me please just give you a virtual round of applause because I have tried writing that way before and the amount of time I had to use up to go back and forth to see if I had this detail or that detail just right, or to check the timeline and make sure that I hadn’t made some huge error and it just did not work for me.

I, like a lot of writers, am a planner and I try as much as I can to plan out every detail that I can. In terms of writing my novel I have realized that I have to have an outline. I typically do a short brief outline with just some of the major points of the story and where the plot twists are and the dramatic parts and the whodunit aspects of the story. After I get a general outline together then I take my character sketches and I begin the more detailed, chapter by chapter, plot twist by plot twist, part of outlining.

Now I think there’s a misconception that when people outline they follow the outline to the tee and I have heard a lot of people say that’s what they don’t like about outlining but the outline is just a general road map for you to follow but the story almost never follows the outline down to the letter. In fact I almost never stick directly to the outline but having that outline does help me stay more on track then I would if I were just writing without a blueprint.

Where the outlining process can get a little broad and diverse is in the method in which you choose to outline. I for one like just getting a legal notepad and writing my outline by hand (this and the character sketches are the only things I write by hand). The other methods of outlining that people typically use are creating a storyboard with a bulletin board or you can storyboard in a digital format now with Pintrest or whatever digital format works for you to create a visual idea of your story. Some people choose to do a graphing (or mind mapping) method. There are also programs that will help you outline in a particular digital format such as Scrivener.

Now you don’t have to outline in order to compose a good story for NaNoWriMo. Outlining doesn’t necessarily make your story any worse or better. Like I said in my last post, it’s just a matter of finding and doing what works well for you. I hope that some of this information helps you and the next post I will be giving you a few YouTue channels that I think you should check out that will help you in your Preptober adventures. Until next time… #HappyOutlining

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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It’s the First Day of Preptober!!

It’s the first day of October and we’re getting into that holiday season but for writers it’s also a special time of year for a whole other reason. This is the month that we as writers use to prepare for the marathon month that November has become called National Novel Writing Month. Realistically if you’re serious about participating in NaNoWriMo then you probably have already formulated the idea for the story that you’re going to work on in November and you may have even began sketching out the characters for your story. If you haven’t, don’t worry, that is what the month of October is here for. There are many aspects to prepping for the NaNoWriMo experience but I’m here to give you some suggestions over the course of this month that will hopefully help you in the many ways they have helped me.

Today I’m going to focus on the first step you really need which is the idea for the story and typically a main character to center the story around. Now there are many different ways to start your planning process. Some people like to think of the way their story is going to end and kind of work their way backwards. I for one have never been able to start at the end but it works for some people. There is also a very small group of writers who like to start with the middle and build the story outwards, usually building up to the end first and then back in the other direction to the beginning. Then there are those strange birds like myself who actually like to take a story idea from the very beginning (sometimes even thinking of the opening scene) through to the middle and work my way to the end in a chronological order.

Now I know plenty of writers who have to have their character first and I will admit that I have had some stories where the character literally spoke to me and told me the story they wanted told but those occasions were rare for me. Most of time the story that needs to be told comes first and then the character presents themselves to me afterwards. After you’ve built the story idea and this is not to be confused with an actual outline) then you want to begin developing your characters. Some create character sketches that give the basic details of those characters and their background and their personalities and some like to go all in and create a character bible of sorts where the spend several pages on each character.

You have to find what works for you because one writer’s method may not be what works for your story. Once you have your story idea built and your character sketches done the next step is creating your outline, but that I will discuss in more detail in the next post. Throughout this Preptober series I will also include tips and specific book suggestions, as well as sharing some YouTube channels with you that can be of some use and help to you. Until the next time… #BePrepared

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

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Moving Away From the Comfort Zone I’m Stuck In

Hello all!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. This year has been a very trying one so far and I have truly been struggling with a lot of things financially and with my writing. The things I’ve been going through lately have brought on another bout of depression and along with it a layer of anxiety as well. It has become a bit of a hindrance to my writing on many levels which is frustrating to say the least. The past two weeks in particular had left me in a place that I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen, I simply just had to pray about it, ask others around me that cared about me to pray for me, and leave it up to God.

My mother made a statement questioning why God would allow me to go through what I’m going through and why would this be happening right now and my only response was that HE has a reason for everything and honesty the situation was probably more of a result of all the times that I tried to do things my own way and not HIS way. In fact, I think that’s what this particular feeling of rock bottom left me with. I was trying to gain understanding as to what the reason was and I figured it out, or at least I believe I figured out what HE was trying to get me to understand.

I have all of these gifts and talents and plenty of ideas as to the ways to put them to use in order to provide the things that I need but I keep waiting for things to be perfect before making any moves to attempt any of those ideas. I have books that could have been published but for this reason or that I didn’t feel like it was perfect enough to put out there. I have an idea for a line of T-shirts that I have been told by multiple people would be a great idea and that they would love to get one when I put them out there but because I can’t get one thing perfect for them I won’t put them out there. I’ve been told and have had the feeling several times that it’s time to take this blog and my magazine to the next level and start a YouTube channel or Podcast but because I don’t consider myself camera friendly (mind you that’s my assessment, not others assessment of me) or because I have a fear that people won’t listen or that it won’t be helpful to others like I want it to be I haven’t even moved towards making that idea a reality.

All of these things that God has placed on my heart to do, quite frankly because they pull me out of my comfort zone, and I haven’t done them because I keep having this notion that they’re supposed to be perfect. I think that this most recent situation has made me realize I have to stop ignoring what I know I’m supposed to be doing and moving towards because it’s uncomfortable and because things won’t be able to be perfect because logically I know that nothing is ever going to be perfect and if I’m really honest with myself, some of the most beautifully constructed things are made beautiful by the imperfections that they possess.

Now I don’t enjoy rock bottom by any means, but I have to say that this experience has taught me something about myself and just reaffirmed my faith in God and the path that HE is getting ready to take me on. I’m not out of the woods just yet (in terms of the current situation) but I truly believe that I can see HIS footsteps much clearer now, guiding me out of troubled waters. Until the next time… #BeFearless #BeinFaith

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

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Growth In Progress

Growth in Progress post

I do so enjoy those moments when you take a look at a scenario and how you responded to it (or in some cases, didn’t respond) and realize just how much growth has taken place within yourself. I had one of those moments earlier today. I’ve written about it here before and most people who know me know that my mother and I do not have the best of relationships. It’s one of the many things that is disheartening for me because I had always wished for one of those mother/daughter relationships that I see so many of my friends have with their moms and a few years ago after trying and trying to no avail, in the process of rediscovering myself and learning to love myself the way that God loves me, I have come to terms with the fact that I won’t ever get that from my mother because she’s simply not equipped emotionally to give me that kind of relationship.

My mother has never thought much of me, and in her eyes I was never really going to amount to anything and it used to hurt me a lot more than I would’ve liked for it to. My mother was abusive to both me and my sister but my sister was still the child who could do no wrong while I was the one that could do no right, at least in her eyes, and I was the sensitive one so while my sister was the type of person that certain things rolled off her back, I literally cried over every hurtful statement my mother made about me. Even as an adult, it hurt.

However today, in trying to have a conversation with her where more hurtful things were said by her, I realized that I don’t really care what she thinks about me anymore. I mean do I wish she thought more of her own daughter, sure, but she’s going to think whatever she thinks and there is nothing that’s going to change her mind and I’ve finally gotten to a point where I realized that how she sees me or doesn’t see me for that matter, is her problem and not mine. I look in the mirror and I see the wonderful child of God who he gave so much purpose to and who, even though I’m not exactly where I would like to be at this stage in my life, is pursuing her dreams and her purpose with passion and determination and I’m not letting anything, or anyone get in my head anymore about what they think I can or can not accomplish in this life.

When I had that revelation earlier I smiled from the inside out because I felt emotionally freer than I had ever felt. I had gotten to a place I had been longing to get to and I had been working on my personal and spiritual growth and I hadn’t even realized that I had reached a major milestone in that particular journey. There’s something to be said for not caring what people think of you and not that it wouldn’t be nice to be given compliments or to have your talents acknowledged, but to not need the validation of their approval. Sometimes you are going to be the only one who sees the path for what it is and where it’s leading, and it may not even be so much that you know where you’re going to end up, just that you are trusting in God for his direction in getting there.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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No Prayer Is Too Big

No Prayer too Big post

So I’ve been reading Joel Osteen’s “31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life” over the last couple of weeks and it has been an enlightening experience just to read and declare these bold promises and pray these even bolder prayers over my life and my journey. This past week in particular it felt vitally necessary for me to read them, and not just once, some of the declarations I had to read over several times just to let the words and the message seep into my brain.

I often times think that I can’t ask God for all the big things that I want in life because I think of so many other people that are far worse off then me, that need far more than I do, and that frankly may need God to do bigger things in their life than what I need. I don’t want to be selfish or too, for lack of a better word, greedy with my prayers. But then I think about the book of Genesis in the bible. Now I have some work to do when it comes to reading my bible and I admit I have not read the whole entire bible in it’s entirety and certainly not straight through but I have read the first few chapters of Genesis straight through.

When I think about all of the big, bold, and wonderful things in this world, in this universe that God has created and all of the beauty in this world that he gave us, all in different areas of the world, and all at the same time, it reminded me of just how big our God is. He can help a homeless person sitting on the streets of Los Angeles or Chicago and still come through on the prayers that I have for him, all at the same time. There is nothing too big for him.

In the words of my good friend, Ms. L that she spoke in her recent podcast episode (God, You Missed a Word), I have to will joy into my life. And that goes for anything that I want to invite into my life, I have to not only pray for it, and believe that it will be so, but I have to will it over my life as well. I trust my relationship with God and I trust the dream that he placed in my heart and I trust that he would not give me this vision and bring me this far just to have me be too afraid to pray for everything he has in his plan for me. If there’s nothing too big for him to do in our lives then there’s nothing too big for us to ask of him.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

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Growing Pains

Growing Pains post 2

So yesterday was Valentine’s Day and oddly enough it got me to thinking about how much I’ve grown. I can remember a time where Valentine’s Day made me anxious. Was I going to be alone on the day of love or was I going to have someone to share it with that particular year? At the stage in my life where it bothered me if I didn’t have a valentine I did not love myself enough yet, hell most days back then I didn’t even like myself (I’m talking late teens and early twenties here), and then whether or not I did like myself usually depended on what someone else thought of me. I didn’t realize it then because people didn’t talk about stuff like mental health but I had already begun my dance with depression and I needed validation from others to feel some sense of self worth.

So needless to say Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite days because it was either a really extreme high (because I had someone that year) or an even more extreme low (because I didn’t and I had my mother’s voice echoing in my head telling me no one would ever want me). I don’t bring any of that up to be all sad and depressive, only to point out that I truly have grown. I said a couple of years ago that I was starting a journey in which I wanted to be by myself for a while and grow my relationship with God and the one I have with myself, that I wanted to start to love myself a lot better and treat myself better than anyone else could ever treat me.

Now because I’m a mother and almost every time my daughter and what she needs will come first I don’t always succeed at treating myself to nice things or even pampering myself at all, but I have improved my love of myself and I have (at least I believe I have) strengthened my relationship with God which has also in turn provided even more self awareness and allowed me to see in myself what God sees in me, what HE has always seen in me. For me valentine’s day is no longer about whether I have someone in my life special or not because I know that I always have someone special in my everyday life and that is me (and of course my child but you get the point) and that’s enough.

I’m still growing and there are still improvements that I am making within myself and within my relationship with God but I can truly say that I have a peace within me now that I don’t think I’ve ever had before and I love it. I don’t look at Valentine’s Day with disdain anymore and it doesn’t make me sad like it once did so many years ago. I think that my growth in terms of self acceptance and my spiritual growth has spilled over into my writing career and the journey of fulfilling my purpose and I believe that it will continue to nurture those areas of my life. It’s funny how we rush so fast in our teens and early twenties to grow up without realizing that our growth never really stops, or at least it shouldn’t. I hope that I’m always growing, that we are always growing because there is always so much more to the next stage of life then what we learned on the last.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

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The Never Ending Balancing Act: Structure versus Spontaneity

Change versus Spontaneity post

I’ve been thinking over the weekend about change. There are a lot of experts that advise you that change is good and that you shouldn’t be resistant to it. Then you have plenty of experts on the opposite end of the spectrum that say that setting deadlines is a good thing and that having structure and routine is something that can help stabilize someone’s life and help them to stay focused on the journey ahead of them.

I tend to lean more to the side of routine and structure, perhaps I lean a little too far in to it. It’s no secret to anyone who truly knows me that no matter how open I appear to be to change and spontaneity, I am extremely resistant to it. I’d like to say that I’ve only recently grown a barrier to the idea of change but I think I’ve always been this way since I was a little girl. I like knowing what’s going to happen, to know the way the day is going to go and precisely what I’ll be doing and when. That kind of structure pretty much guarantees the same outcome and while that may seem boring to some, it’s also safe. I guess the problem is that it may be a little too safe.

The odd thing is that the kind of life I’ve always dreamed of having for myself, since I was ten years old, could never be possible without embracing the idea of change and being spontaneous. There are a lot of things that I would change about my life and one of the things at the top of that list is my resistance to change itself, and my anxiety over the things that I do not know. So what is the right way to go about things?

Do you go with throwing caution to the wind and embracing every change that comes your way or do you plan and set deadlines and stick to a structure that helps keep you on track? I suppose that is what I struggle with because I want to be spontaneous and accept whatever changes may come my way but then I lose my balance and the shifts that begin to happen don’t allow me to stay focused and on track. Where is the middle ground on change versus structure? Is there a good balance between being overtly open to every changing scenario and still keeping enough structure to stay on course?

It’s easy for me to just say that structure is what works for me and leave it at that but if it was truly working then I would be where I want to be by now. Perhaps the very reason I haven’t reached that next level just yet is because I’m too afraid to reach out and grab the ledge above me because that means I would have to actually let go. To let go is scary. That means I have to trust what’s coming next, in an outcome that I can’t see.

Change is necessary to go to the next step on my journey and I know that but it’s hard to not know how things will turn out. So I guess the question is can I have structure and still fully open myself up to change or am I just going to keep holding on to the things that I already know. I don’t know how I truly feel about letting go of the structure that keeps me so grounded but I guess this year (my year of no excuses) will help me see just how open I can be.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

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