The Steampunk NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

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Everyone wants to write a novel. Some dedicate a few hours each week to the keyboard; others carry notebooks to fill during their lunch hours. Many promise themselves the time to write in their retirement.

And then there are these lunatics who decided to write 50,000 words in a month on top of the everyday commitments of life. If you know such a lunatic, remember that you will get your friends/families/coworkers back in a month. Bear their insanity with grace, and bribe them into showering from time to time with caffeine.

On the other hand, if you are one of the aforementioned lunatics, see below for some tips and tricks to surviving your month of masochistic creativity by utilizing the skills you already possess as a steampunk, cyberpunk, or practicing nerd of any variety.

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1 – Make time for tea. Really, this should go without saying, but you’re likely sleep deprived, grumpy, and thoroughly exhausted from daily combat with an uncooperative muse. Tea will restore some energy without keeping you up during the precious few hours allocated to sleep, especially if you drink herbal, green, or white blends in the evening. Black tea is a wonderful pick-me-up throughout the morning and early afternoon. Try new blends in addition to old favorites. As you fight to discover new characters, build intricate plots, and dig up lost worlds, you might find a new flavor awakens new insights. Coffee is an acceptable alternative if tea is not to your liking, but know the Elder Gods weep for you.

2 – Make your dreams reality. Have a lot of visuals in your story? Do you need a map to remember North from South? Play explorer and keep a sketchbook handy. Buy something that looks like it might have come from your world, or modify a simpler piece to spark your imagination. This is not only a fun – yet productive – distraction when you’re stuck in a rut, but it’s also a frequently-recommended tool for writers. If sketching isn’t quite your thing, use your crafting skills to build a prop you can physically engage with. Not sure how a cloak works? Find some cheap fabric, make a few seams, and then work it.

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3 – Take a break from writing to get new inspiration – by people watching. If you’re a writer, you already have a lot of voices in your head, but it helps if their dialogue has some outside insight. Go out for a steampunk stroll with a few friends and see what kind of conversations you spark. Pitch camp at a table in Fountain Square and eavesdrop on a one-sided phone conversation. Believe it or not, this is a talent university professors teach their students. Go forth. Be nosey.

4 – Create a dedicated work space. Some people work well surrounded by others, and some do not. If you enjoy company while you write, find a place that inspires you and set aside a regular time to write. This could be an off-beat café or coffee shop, a park (though it is beginning to feel like autumn), or any public space with seats. The Cincinnati Art museum, for example, has free admission and plenty of seating interspersed throughout the displays. If you prefer solitude, remember to keep the distractions out but the inspiration in. Kitchens and dining rooms provide quick and easy access to the essentials of tea-making, for example, but do not usually feature televisions.

DSCF44645 – Take advantage of your local nerd community by teaming up with other masochists and holding private write-ins (with tea!). Even if your friends aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo, they are probably working on other projects – written or otherwise – they would like to dedicate a few hours to developing. Sit down, work hard, and enjoy something tasty together.

May the words be ever in your favor – Write long and prosper – May the muse be with you.

M. Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.


 

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