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Weekend Writer: Making Writing a Habit (and Prompts)

Hey all, Sam here.

When it comes to blogging, there are some posts that take a bit longer to put together than others. For me, the weekly wrap up post doesn’t take too long, and for the most part the book review posts are fairly quick and easy to write up. Tabletop Tuesday sometimes takes some time, especially since David and I have to coordinate on getting the posts written. But it is the Weekend Writer posts that take the longest time to prep and write.

If it’s one of the chapter breakdowns, I obviously have to read through the chapter and make notes about what I want to bring up and discuss more, and then I have to flip through the chapter page by page, referencing it all as I type up the post.

And if it’s the prompt sharing post, then it depends on how big the snippet or snippets I share are…but it obviously takes a bit of time throughout the month to accomplish the writing.

In general, sometimes I work on blog posts for a couple hours and then I don’t have to worry about anything for a couple days. Other times I have to get online and write up the post every day. And for the bigger posts, I might do it all in one go, or I might stretch it out over two or three writing sessions.

So posting daily for the blog is about building up a writing habit, but with the right preparation and focus, it doesn’t need to be a daily habit.

I feel like for me creative writing should be a daily habit, even though I know it doesn’t have to be. There are creatives out there who only do their writing on the weekends, or only in brief sessions each weekday. There are some who spend days or weeks plotting and preparing a project and then do a writing marathon for a week or two and do a whole lot of writing to start and finish their project.

Different habits work for different people. I guess what really matters is figuring out the rhythm or pattern that works for you. And that can take some trial and error. That’s fine. What’s important is that we don’t give up on figuring out what system works for us.

Like, I really enjoy NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo. Setting a goal, whether that is the 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNo in November, or setting your own writing and/or editing goal for the April and June sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo has been pretty great for me, because while writing is mostly a solitary pursuit, there’s something very comforting about knowing that I’m not doing it alone, that there are other writers out there, and we can cheer each other on.

So, frankly, that is why I have enjoyed the time I spent using 750 words back in grad school, or 4thewords now. And even using WordPress these days. I don’t know what it is about seeing the daily streak keep going up. I suppose it’s like those younger school days and getting a sticker on an assignment when you score well. I just really like getting rewarded for doing something that I wanted to do anyway.

I dropped out of the writing habit I was starting to get into at the beginning of the year, but I’m doing a restart now, with the month of March. I have a goal of writing at least 500 words a day, which is overall pretty low, but I think setting an achievable goal is smart. At any given time I can write however much more than 500 words I’d like to do, but setting a daily goal that I can reach with only like 10 to 15 minutes of time means that I’m not putting too much pressure on myself.

Granted, if I raised the goal to double that, trying for 1,000 words per day, then I think I could manage to basically finish a book with like three months of writing. Yes, sure, that is only the very roughest draft version, but still.

I think my goal would be to finish the rough draft of Tale of Blood and Mourning in the next couple months, and then work on another project after that, trying to get a second book drafted. I just don’t know if that would be the second book in that series, or if would be a different series so I could get a break from the world for a little while.

Speaking of writing habits, we can also take a little look into other habits for our writing time. Like some people have to be in a certain location or at a certain time or have certain things around them. I can write pretty much anywhere at any time, but some days I’m in the mood for sitting at my desk with my desktop, while other times I want to stretch out on the couch with my laptop.

What I will say is that I usually like to have some sort of drink nearby so I can stay hydrated. And sometimes, if I’m hoping for a longer writing session, I might make sure that I have some sort of a snack with me, although what that snack is depends on my current mood. The most important thing for me, and it may sound silly, is that I have to have my hair pulled up off my neck. So I have to have my hair up in a ponytail or a bun or just have it clipped up. It just helps me to focus.

And, again, dependent on my mood and such, I may want to have some sort of background show or podcast on, or I might need a playlist I’ve put together, whether that is my general writing playlist or a specific to that writing project. Depending on how I’m feeling, I might be wearing my headphones or I might just be blaring the music through my house.

What about you all? What sort of a writing habit or writing schedule do you have? Let’s talk about our habits in the comments!

And in the meantime, let’s jump into the prompt portion of today’s post.

Prompt Time

If you’ve missed my previous start of month Weekend Writer posts, the basic idea is that I have a bunch of story/adventure/character/plot generators from both writing and game mastering, and I use those at the beginning of the month to generate a few different story ideas.

If you’re interested by any of them, you can use them to write your own thing (whether that’s poetry, novellas, stories, RPG adventures…whatever). Then, at the end of the month I’ll have a post where I share at least a snippet of what I was writing…and if you wish to share yours as well, that would be the time to do it.

So the first Weekend Writer (AKA Friday) of the month, I share the prompts, and then on the last Weekend Writer/Friday of the month it is sharing time. Pretty simple, right? I’m hoping it will help keep those creative ideas and creative desires flowing.

All right, here are the prompts.

Story Engine Deck

For this month’s prompt we have: A Merchant wants to drive out a spirit that has possessed A Cloak but it will mean giving up an important protective heirloom.

This prompt comes from this storytelling deck from The Story Engine, and they have also released a worldbuilding deck that I would love to pick up pretty soon. If I get the Deck of Worlds then perhaps I’ll do some prompts that will be setting based instead of story/plot based. That might be pretty fun.

Tarot/Oracle Cards

Prompt: Scavenge, Battle, Influence

See, for me, the thing with using this Urban Crow Oracle Deck is that a lot of the prompt draws I make are going to end up relevant to one of my favorite TTRPG characters, Mercy (who I talked about in this week’s Tabletop Tuesday: Dice! post), because crows are her deity’s favored animals.

Once again, I used my Urban Crow Oracle Deck by MJ Cullinane for this prompt. I really like using this oracle deck, because the card names are different from a tarot deck. I do have a few different tarot decks as well, and I might use those at some point for future draws, but for now I’m really enjoying my crow deck.

Roll & Play

This month I decided to roll the dice on the Urban Encounters page in the Roll & Play book. You can use the die I rolled, or if you have your own d12, you can roll on the chart yourself. Or heck, if you want to then you can just choose whichever option sparks your interest. I rolled a 3 (which makes two months in a row of rolling a 3…so I tried to roll it again, and it came up 3 again, so I guess we’re just sticking with that. The dice gods have spoken, lol.)

So the prompt is #3: A window smashes and a tavern brawl spills out onto the street! The landlord is trying to keep it under control.

I picked this book, Roll & Play, up to help with ideas for adventure plot hooks and other random details for TTRPGs like D&D and Pathfinder, but it can easily be adapted for other writing and creative prompts. 

Sidequest Decks

Finally, the Sidequest decks from Inkwell Ideas are another wonderful accessory designed for TTRPGs, but can easily be used for writers as well. This time around I used the Political and Urban Fantasy Sidequest Deck. And, like last time, I decided to give two options:

Option 1: Vampire Hunt – Rumors of a vampire have forced some people in town to form a gang and unearth all the bodies in the graveyard and stake them. The creature is actually a shapeshifter emulating a vampire.

Option 2: Not All Treasures Are Worth It – A group of thieves has stolen a small number of dragon eggs.

Since these cards are designed for TTRPGs, you’ll see even more details on the card, such as how to get the player characters involved in the adventure, and encounters they can have while working through the problem. You can use these to aid you in ideas for your writing, use them as is or as inspiration for your own beats along the path of the story, or ignore them entirely.

I don’t yet know which one of these prompts will be the one I use for writing this month, but I will be sharing at least a snippet of it when we get around to the final Friday of the month.

That is all from me for today. I’m now going to go and spend my weekend working on some more reading and writing. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.


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