NaNoWriMo isn’t getting much of my attention this November

The holiday season is closing in on us, and I find myself wondering just where 2023 went.

My attempt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is failing but with grandbaby #2 on the way soon, I have been helping my daughter a lot this month. I can write anytime; family comes first.

In addition to that I have been working on increasing the numbers of my free crafting community on Skool, plus I have created a paid community for information product creators. Both have kept me busy in the evenings.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Attempting NaNo this year was not the wisest thing for me to do but it has gotten me to write a little more than I would have otherwise. And being the pantser that I am, I think it’s going alright story-wise. I’ll have some time to write over the next couple of days so I should be able to add a few thousand words to my word count.

Something I have learned other years while doing NaNo is to not try to cram too much writing in all in one day. It can cause temporary burnout, especially if forced.

Something else I have learned is the story flows easier if there’s at least a general plan. This year I had a plan, then switched at the last minute. I know where I want the story to go, but am having a little trouble with the setting. I know it’ll all fall into place as soon as I dedicate some time to it.

I thought NaNo would be a good way to get back into writing fiction. As many of you know, I’ve been at a standstill with it since Ross passed away. I think it’s a combination of things, with one being I had a more regular schedule then. I’d make myself fit in writing time after work or on weekends.

Now that I have more time to write it seems as if I’m writing less. I lost my biggest supporter when he passed, and that is playing a part in it as well. He used to tease me about being a kept man when I became a famous author. Not only have I not reached that point yet, but he is no longer here to enjoy the fame with if it ever happens. (Life has moved forward but the missing him will never stop.)

I used to use Scrivener for my writing but have realized that using Google Docs is more practical. When all I had was a desktop Scrivener was the logical choice. However, now that I use my desktop, laptop, and iPad, Google Docs makes it much easier to get some words in here and there.

Not only is it practical for my books, it’s also perfect for my articles and courses I’m working on for my info product hub. I can brainstorm on my iPad before bed and then sort out the ideas into separate documents the next morning.

Before I go let me recap what I’ve learned by doing NaNo (plus a couple other tips):

  1. Don’t try to write more than your brain can handle in one day.
  2. Use a cloud-based word processor so you can write on the go. Be sure it has the capability to save offline as well.
  3. Have a plan; at least to some degree. Pantsing is okay, but plotting it out is better.
  4. Take breaks when writing. Remember to eat, and have a bottle of water nearby so you stay hydrated.
  5. And last but not least, follow the characters wherever they take you. I have had a lot more fun writing when I let the characters determine where they were going.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year are you ahead, on par, or falling behind (like me)? Let me know in the comments.

The Creative Crafters Circle Community on Skool

Building communities based on mutual interests and not being distracted by all the shiny objects.

I hope you’re having a wonderful fall so far. We have had unseasonably warm temperatures, which has made me happy. Although when it does get cold it’s going to be a shock to our systems.

In my last post I talked about getting back to doing the things that bring me joy. I have been enjoying my time back at the sewing machine, and have picked up my crochet hook again. And today I ordered 3 lbs of alpaca fiber so I can get back to my spinning wheel.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

September was a busy month with weddings (one being my son’s), taking care of my granddaughter on occasion, and taking advantage of some sewing days with the local quilt guild. Plus the yard and house work never ends, no matter what time of year it is.

I have been doing some soul searching and have realized it’s time to stop chasing the shiny objects and just do what I love to do. I came to the conclusion that the internet can be a wonderful thing, and not so wonderful at the same time.

There are so many people trying to get our attention online at any given moment, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. We’ve all been there: check social media, read a blog post, check our email…all the while getting taken down multiple rabbit holes. And in the end, did we get done what we started to? Chances are not.

Which brings me to my realization:

I’ve been wanting to share what I know about various crafts for some time now and have dug into my memory bank and made a list. I surprised myself when I realized just how many different crafts I have tried over the years. Some were a passing phase while others continue to call me regularly. Even when I wasn’t actively pursuing them, I was thinking about the things I’d make.

Being given the opportunity to attend the quilt retreat brought back the excitement I felt when I’d cut up perfectly good fabric just to sew it back together again.

While having a conversation on the phone with my daughter one day not too long ago, she said Little Missy didn’t have a winter hat. So out came the alpaca yarn and a crochet hook. And because I used the wrong hook initially, my daughter and granddaughter now have Mommy-and-Me hats. It was such a good feeling to turn that skein of yarn into something that would keep heads warm. (I think some matching mittens might be in order as well.)

Which brings me to the reason behind creating a community for crafters.

I’ve designed and written crochet and quilt patterns, taught others how to spin their own yarn, taught others how to crochet and quilt, and have dabbled in a variety of crafts over the years. During the learning stages of some of them it would have been great to log into a community where I could ask questions and get help when I was struggling with a stitch or method.

I have now created the community I longed to have.

In my quest for finding a community-based platform without ads (so members wouldn’t get sucked down yet another rabbit hole) I learned about Skool: the platform that lets creators focus on their niche, build their community, and help others solve problems and learn at the same time. The beauty of it is there’s an option to create courses within the platform, which is another plus.

The beauty of the platform is it’s not only designated to crafts; that’s simply my choice for a community. There are thousands of other communities that focus on business, medicine, pets, trading, sports, and the list goes on. I scrolled through the directory and was amazed at how much variety there is.

A lot of the communities focus on earning money online and many charge a monthly fee. The community (The Creative Crafters Circle) I have created is free for members so they can get answers to the craft-related questions they have. It’s in its early stages and it’s my mission to nurture it to its fullest potential.

I love to see what others are creating, help with problems they may be having with a particular craft, and learn from others who know more than I do. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, so lets have some discussions about the crafts that we enjoy.

And because I consider writing a craft, there’s a category for that within the community as well. It’s not what most would consider a traditional craft, but I have found the two go hand in hand; at least for me. I can come up with story/book ideas while I’m crocheting, which is a form of meditation for me. The repetitive motion of the hook and yarn lets my mind wander and new scenes or characters are born.

I invite you to join me if crafting of any type is what you like to do, or if you have ideas for your own community. I’d love to see you there and find out what you enjoy doing; whether it’s knitting, crocheting, weaving, quilting, beading, writing, scrapbooking, cardmaking, spinning (yarn), etc.

Have you heard of Skool before? Let me know in the comments.

From Fabric to Friendship: My First Quilt Retreat

Yes, this is very much off topic from my usual posts, but it’s something I’d like to share.

In July I learned about a quilt retreat that was happening the last weekend in August, and very close to my home. As much as I have quilted over the years (just not the last few), I have never attended a retreat. I decided to go for it and reserved my spot, paid my fee, and made arrangements to borrow my boyfriend’s holiday trailer. (And yes, although it was close to home it’s just not a retreat if one goes home every day.)

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Let me start by saying I was very much out of my comfort zone. I had only met the owner of the venue once and didn’t know anyone else there. As it turned out, one of the attendees was one of my neighbours, whom I had never actually met. I met her husband shortly after I moved into my new house when I was looking for my dog, but had never met her.

The nice thing about a retreat is everyone has at least one thing in common. In this case, it was quilting. And quilters are eager to share their knowledge with others, as well as their opinions. One of the ladies jokingly said they’re always willing to share opinions. And if I ask for advice, I’ll get a lot of it.

I did have to ask for assistance not long after I got underway because I couldn’t remember which border strip got sewn on first; the long side or short side. Once I had the answer (and it didn’t take long) I got to work.

The first evening I finished a Log Cabin quilt top, which was my goal for that day. The second day I finished a Flying Geese quilt top, which needed sashing and borders. The third day I wasn’t quite as productive because I had a mid-afternoon meeting, but the project I was working on was also in lesser stages of completion than the first two.

This one needed the three borders.
This one needed the sashing and borders.

By the end of Day 4, I had completed my third top; a 3-D Bow Tie Quilt. It was one I had started over 20 years ago (as was the Flying Geese Quilt). My fellow retreat attendees were in awe at how quickly I had the tops done. In all honesty, so was I considering I hadn’t quilted in several years.

This one needed the rows finished as well as putting it all together. I’m glad I had marked the rows with numbers before I put it away for a couple decades.

By the end of the retreat, the group had pretty much convinced me to join the Quilter’s Guild. I walked in not knowing anyone, and was welcomed and treated like I had been a part of the group all along. Needless to say, last Thursday was another sewing day and I handed over the membership fees. As one of the ladies walked by me and checked out the project I was working on she commented that I’d be teaching them techniques in no time. I said it probably wouldn’t happen, but then again, why couldn’t I?

I’m looking forward to getting back into doing the things that once used to bring me joy. It’s crazy how the death of a spouse just knocks a person on their ass and it takes forever to get back up. Sure, we go through the motions and all appears good on the outside; but on the inside the broken pieces are still there.

(Now if only I could get back to writing my series. I was halfway through the second book when Ross passed away, and haven’t been able to finish it. But, that’s not what this post is about.)

The talent and varying levels of quilting techniques used by the others were amazing. I loved the Show & Tell on the last day of the retreat because I got to see some amazing works of art. I’m not one to speak in front of groups, but I felt quite comfortable talking about my projects that day.

Something I learned last week was the guild does a collaboration quilt each year, which is pretty neat. I’m not at liberty to say what it’s going to be, but there are techniques I feel I’m going to need a lesson in so I can complete my block. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Learning from the others and contributing to a bigger project.

I’m looking forward to getting together with everyone a couple of times a month during the sewing days. Of the five to be held this month, I could only attend one, as family commitments come first. I am planning for all five days next month, but I’ll see how it goes. At this rate I should have a good handle on completing my unfinished quilts, and start some new ones.

As I begin to pursue my hobbies again chances are I’ll be posting more about them as well. That is why I started this particular blog and website; so I could share what being over 50 is all about (for me anyway).

It doesn’t matter what we do in life, as long as we’re happy. And the older I get, the more I choose to partake in doing the things that make me happy. Family time, spending time with friends, hobbies, and writing because I want to; not because I have to.

Have you ever attended a retreat of any type? If so, did you go in knowing anyone, or did you go it alone? Let me know in the comments below.