Friday, 7 December 2018

Random Acts of Holiday Kindness


Sometimes it's easy to forget "kindness" when you're jostling for position in a long line, trudging through snow or slipping across ice, or when you're scrounging for quarters to pay for that last Christmas present you almost forgot to buy. The season famous for holiday lights, hot chocolate, and family gathered around the table can also be very stressful.

So this year—again—I'm making a list...of ways I can spread KINDNESS this season. Little things *I* can do to make it easier on someone else—my family, my friends, even strangers. The world needs kindness. And we can all do our part.

Here are a few ideas I had:

  • Bake cookies (with Grandma) and drop a batch off at the local senior's home—or maybe the police station, fire station, or hospital. Retailers aren't the only ones working extra hard over the holiday season. 
  • Shovel the neighbour's walk—or for someone else on my street. 
  • Buy hot chocolate for the person behind me in the coffee shop line. 
  • Take my sister ice skating. (If you saw how she skates, you'd know how kind of me this is!)
  • Help my neighbour put up his Christmas lights. Obviously I won't be climbing on the roof or any ladders, but I can arrange the light-up snowmen and deer on the lawn!
  • Smile! It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised what a genuine smile can do during this stressful time of year. 
  • Volunteer to wrap presents for local seniors or maybe the children's wing at the hospital. 
  • Leave a Christmas card for the mailman in the mail box. 
  • Pick up trash at a park and throw it in the garbage.
  • Donate some of extra toys, books, or clothes. 

That's not a bad list. Have things to add? Great—we can all brainstorm together and come up with the BEST list. Share your Random Acts of Holiday Kindness in the comments so we can keep the ideas coming.

Gotta Jet! I’m going to start on this list this weekend. See you next Friday!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 30 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 30: The End!


I did it.

I. Did. It!

5,000 words in 30 days—my second successful NaNoWriMo challenge. My story has a beginning, a middle, and an END. The end.

Oh I know that NaNoWriMo is technically about completing 50,000 words in 30 days (and when I get older, I'm totally going to try that), but 5,000 words is a BIG deal. You can look back at my journey this month starting here, but what really matters is that I finished.

And now, the real work begins.

I'm going to take a few days to celebrate my personal victory. I'll buy a couple of books and a new notebook. And then, I'm going to start revisions on my story. It's not official, but I'm making December MY month to make this story shine...because in the New Year, I plan to publish. Somehow.

Even if you didn't hit your word count goal, congratulations—every word you wrote is more than you had before you started. Don't stop now. I don't plan to, and you shouldn't either. The only way to get better at writing—or anything—is to keep practicing.

I'll be back to my regular weekly blogs starting next week...but today? Today I'm going celebrate.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you today...and always.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 29 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 29: Finding Balance


This is it, writers! Tomorrow is the last day of NaNoWriMo 2018, and with just 50 words to go, I'm more confident than ever that I'm going to hit my goal. 

I'm excited, for sure, but also a little sad—because while my story isn't perfect, the NaNoWriMo challenge does exactly what it's supposed to do...force me to write almost every day. Something that I don't do throughout the rest of the year. 

For some reason, when there's a challenge, I carve out that writing time—like practicing for a track event when I know there's a race coming up. But I struggle to find time for my hobbies and passions throughout the year, and as a result, my life is a bit unbalanced. 

So, I spent some time last night digging up tips to help you keep writing throughout the year—without the NaNoWriMo challenge pushing you forward. (Or, without the stress of having to write a set amount of words a day!)

The truth is, you don't have to write every day to be a writer. But if you're planning to keep up some kind of schedule—and I definitely am—then here are some tips for you:

1. Make a time map. Sounds complicated, I know, but essentially you use a calendar—print or virtual—to slot in the non-negotiable. Like school, homework, family outings, sporting events, etc. Then you find time in-between to slot in some writing. It could be 15 minutes while you're waiting for your sister to get ready for school (heh) or maybe half hour before you go to bed. Maybe you write during your lunch hour. 

2. Minimize social media. I know, Facebook and Instagram and even blogging are fun ways to communicate with people, but sometimes social media can be like a black hole...luring you into endless clicking and scrolling. Limit your time on social media and use it for writing. 

3. Take care of yourself. Sounds simple, but sometimes when we try and take on too much, we end up neglecting ourselves—and that doesn't make you more creative. In fact, the opposite happens. So if you wake up uninspired to write, don't be too hard on yourself. Go for a walk instead—or, in my case, a run. It might clear your head!

Pretty easy list, right? Feel free to add your ideas in the comments. 

Okay, I've gotta jet, but I'll see you tomorrow for THE END of NaNoWriMo! 

May your (final) words be with you.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 28: To Write, You Must Read


Good morning, fellow scribes!

With just a two days left in this year's NaNoWriMo challenge—2 days!—I'm starting to reflect on some of the things I didn't do while I was scrambling to hit my word counts every day. Turns out, I didn't do a lot of reading.

Oh sure, I flipped through my Superman comics, and read a Goosebumps book (after seeing the movie last month, I had to!)—but I try to read at least two novels a month, and that just didn't happen. There's only so much time in the day.

But to be a good writer, you have to read. And not just because Stephen King says so, though if there was ever an authority to listen to, he'd be it.

The truth is, when we read, we absorb writing craft—the perfect way to phrase sentences or convey themes, how to describe characters, the best way to write dialogue, weave in backstory, or even assess pacing. You're still reading for pleasure—if the book is good enough, you can't help it—but your subconscious mind picks up on tips and tricks you can apply to your own writing.

It's easy to forget that when you're busy writing.

Tomorrow on the blog, I'll be talking about balance—how to fit in writing daily when you're not doing a challenge like NaNoWriMo—but I think today I'm going to carve out a half hour or so to read. I miss it.

What books will you dive into once the challenge is over? Share the name of the novel—or comic—you're most excited about in the comments and you could WIN a complete set of the Superman Duffy graphic novels. There's 16 of them!

Gotta jet! Happy writing...or reading.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 27: Gearing Up For The End


Eep! I am 150 words from THE END of my story—and I still have THREE days to finish it.

It's not a perfect story. It has flaws. It will need a lot—a lot!—of work. But I am so excited about the finish line that I got up EXTRA early to try and tackle some of those words. Can you imagine if I'm done EARLY?

How will I celebrate? GOOD QUESTION!

Throughout the month, I've celebrated each major accomplishment. I bought myself a new Spiderman comic. I spent an entire day reading when I should have been writing or running. And when I hit the 4,000-word mark, I indulged in a pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

So what will I do when I hit "The End?"

GO TO THE BOOK STORE, of course! As a way of congratulating myself for completing my second NaNoWriMo challenge, I am going to buy myself a new novel. Maybe two. And, I'm getting a new notebook.

And as if that wasn't enough, my mom says Grandma is making me my own MONSTER COOKIES. Obviously I'll share, but it's just really cool that she thought of it!

What will you do to celebrate? Hey, if you want to share your story with me, I'll enter you in a draw to win a classroom (or personal) set of the Superman Duffy educational graphic novels.

Gotta jet! Good luck with those final words...

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 26 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 26: Envisioning the Revision


With just four days left of this year's NaNoWriMo writing challenge, it's hard to not get excited about the end—even if there are words to write, and of course, revisions to tackle...in December.

I've still got a few hundred words to go to meet my 5,000-word goal on this short story, but I plan to carve out those last few paragraphs in the next day or so, so that when December 1 hits, I'm ready to start revising.

But what does that mean?

Basically, it means start to "see" or story again—with fresh eyes, a fresh perspective. Most importantly, with no looming deadline. (Unless of course you're publishing your story somewhere and someone has given you a deadline...)

In this process, you pick apart the story. Analyze the dialogue—are the characters speaking in original voices? Does what they are saying make sense? Feel "true" to their character? Take a look at your descriptions—are they succinct? Do they include sensory details? Have you said enough about the setting so that it comes to life for the reader? Could you be more specific in the details?

How about your characters? Do they have a true "arc"—a place where they started, and then ended differently? Do they move the plot forward? Are they original and well-developed? (There's nothing worse than cardboard cut-outs!)

And how about that plot? Does it flow? Make sense? Drag? Are there any major gaps? How's the pacing? Does each sentence, every paragraph and page beg you to read more?

I know, it's a lot to consider. Don't worry if you're not quite there yet, or if you miss some things on your first revision pass. Some stories take many revisions. Dawn Ius, the author of the Superman Duffy graphic novels says her young adult book Anne & Henry went through five revisions...on the first chapter alone

To be honest, I'm kind of excited to start revising my novel. Someone famous once said, "Manuscripts are written on the first draft—stories are written in revisions." Something to think about as I power through the first draft of this story.

Gotta jet! Happy Monday, and may the words be with you.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Sunday, 25 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 25: Getting Revved Up Again


I admit, the Christmas season is fast approaching and that means I'm not quite as focussed as I should be. I limped toward my word count goal yesterday, in-between watching Christmas movies, and helping my parents set up a few decorations around the house.

If you're like me and are struggling to get motivated, don't worry, I've got you covered.  I dug up some quick writing assignments that are guaranteed to fire up your creativity. Don't spend too long on them, though, because obviously, you should be writing your NaNoWriMo stories, but here are a few ideas for warm up:

Imagine you are living in the time of the dinosaurs and a pterodactyl is trying to dive-bomb you. Look out! Describe the scene in a short paragraph using lots of adjectives (words that describe nouns.)

OR

You are cordially invited to write your own fairy tale invitation. Maybe it's to Cinderella, inviting her to the ball. Or maybe, you're inviting the Big Bad Wolf to a dinner party. Remember to write the date, time and place of the event—and give a quick description of what invitees can expect.

OR

Take a break from writing and get out those crayons. Sketch one of the characters from your story, and then colour in the details—green hair? Excellent. Describe how his or her hair got that colour. Maybe he fell into a vat of paint, or she gobbled up too much broccoli.

What do you think? Any of these ideas spark your imagination? I'm going to write up an invitation for my ghost to attend dinner with the boy in my story—I can already think of the challenges! Like, what does a ghost eat?!

Gotta jet! If you're in the groove, I wish you ALL THE WORDS. And for those of you that took a break, may you be inspired to keep going. See you tomorrow as we kick off the LAST week!

~ Chase Superman Duffy