Who Else Does This When You Write?

The last three weeks have been fully loaded with family events, keeping up with my children, Christmas shopping, and trying to dig myself out of the mess in my house.

A new idea for a series has been tugging at my imagination. I’ve been “writing” as much as possible (aka… rearranging my office) because my word count has been so small. And the process has been agonizingly slow. Good, but slow.

Hello, 4,000 words out of 50,000!!

NaNoWriMo2018 , I think I’ve failed… (NaNoWriMo is an annual writing “sport” of sorts where the writing community challenges themselves to write a novel, 50,000 words in length at least, in the month of November, dubbing it National Novel Writing Month).

Then, closer to the deadline I get (and the more I organize my office), the FULL PICTURE of the entire series slams into my brain, plot holes are suddenly filled, characters are speaking loudly inside my head, and details are lit up like Christmas lights.

This happens Every. Single. Time.

But now … There’s so much to do and so little time. Now, I’ll likely be writing through the night in a fury of inspiration.

I’ve never been able to pace myself, as hard as I try. My best results happen by pulling all-nighters, lighting the keyboard on fire with my fingertips, then sleeping for 24 hours straight.

This “process” (if you can call it that) is near impossible as a parent. Hence, the drastic drop in writing projects since I’ve become a mother. I type using a Bluetooth keyboard in carline. I jot notes on the back of my shopping list in the grocery store parking lot. I save as much as I can using writing apps on my phone.

I’ve been passionate about (read: obsessed with) learning about the process of other writers. Maybe it’s because I love imagining how they do it, stringing words together until they have a beautiful novel. I imagine they sit down im their designsted writing spot (or their writing spot for the moment) and click away on a laptop, piecing together a lovely chapter, clicking “save”, and happily getting back to it the next day. Is this a reality for successful writers, or a ridiculous concept? … Maybe it’s because I’ve always, for YEARS, wanted to learn to write like a grown up. You know, like a REAL writer. Such as developing a daily writing habit. Reaching a daily wordcount goal. Outlining (REAL outling, not descriptive, disconnected paragraphs scribbled on scrap pieces of paper and tossed into a floral box). I’ve always imagined myself telling other writers one day, with an air of importance, “Create a system. One that works like a well-oiled machine. One you can depend on. Like a quality sewing machine that never misses a stitch, even and consistent. Stick with your habit, no matter what. Then you’ll be able to write your novel.” I listen to podcasts of successful writers. I watch interviews of them. I read about them with hopeful bliss, thinking, “That’ll be me one day.”

Right now, the only advice from experience I can give, is to chase that idea while it’s hot … Like gobbling a pancake fresh off the griddle. Once it cools, it’s not nearly as delicious.

Tosca Lee says, “Write how you write best.” Stephen King says to write however works best for you, whatever that looks like. Read, write, repeat (not so much in those words…)

No matter how much time I have in advance, the best work happens at the last minute for me. The majority of the time leading up to the deadline is dreamy contemplation, eliminating characters that don’t fit, scenes that implode, and plot lines that simply don’t work. I call it “mental writing”.

Then, as the pressure of the deadline approaches, and the thrill of completion taunts me, everything comes together in a whirlwind, like a tornado picking up planks of wood and somehow slapping together a gorgeous house.

What is your process? How do you write best? What are your obstacles?

Now… Will someone please come help me put my office back together again…?

Fiction is great, but real life is better.

Natalie Cone | Encouraging and Empowering Women


I love to write stories of all kinds. My computer is littered with scenes and words and characters that put up with whatever strange circumstance that I throw them into.

But fiction is not always what is the most fun. Sometimes… well, most of the time… it’s the REAL LIFE stories that are the most hysterical.

Natalie Cone | Encouraging and Empowering Women
Photo by Ella Jardim

Like a couple of weeks ago. We were travelling home from spending the weekend with my family. My husband played the “Where is…?” game with Wesley to keep him entertained. Kris asked where his nose was. Wesley expertly pointed to his nose. Kris asked about his elbow. Wesley held up his sweet, bent arm and pointed. When Kris asked where his gluteus maximus was, he pointed at me.

Or what about this afternoon? I was in dress pants and a nice sweater from an appointment earlier in the day. Because Wesley had been so well-behaved, I took him to a park to play. The wooden playhouse was high. Like, super-high. But I was wearing flats. And hey… I’m not THAT far past my athletic days. So I took a leap off the edge to make sure I was at the end of the slide in case Wesley decided to ride it down. I landed on my feet, but my upper body pitched forward. I did a curled-over awkward run, then tangled the toes of one shoe into the hem of my other pant leg. Doubled over, I did a sort of run-hop, run-hop, run-hop until I finally landed on my knees. Unfortunately, the playground was right in front of a fire department. I am pretty sure I will later see myself on America’s Funniest Home Videos, shot from a fireman’s cell phone.

Just this evening, my husband and I decided to crack open and take apart my HP Touchpad, after I have been having some battery charging issues. I have been stressing over this touchpad, which was a gift from Kris for Mother’s Day. I had tried everything–leaving it on the charger for days at a time, getting an inductive charger, forcing a hard reboot. Nothing. I even considered wrapping it in my hair and singing the Rapunzel Healing Incantation from Disney’s Tangled.

I was impatient to see the guts of the thing. So while we wait for the new battery to arrive, we took it apart. The battery was secured with three tiny micro-sized screws. Kris taped them to the table so that they wouldn’t roll away. A few short minutes later, the tape and screws were gone. We checked the floor. We checked everywhere that Wesley had been. I even checked my hair in case it somehow got stuck on me. I even checked the blinds behind the table to make sure it didn’t somehow blow off in some weird gust of strong wind that would unstick tape off a surface. I was bummed. About an hour and a half later, I found the tape, and all three screws… secured firmly to my sleeve.

So you see? What do fictional characters have on me? I could write a book on this stuff. And the great thing is… Life happens EVERY SINGLE DAY, with laughs embedded in every adventure. Fiction is great, but real life is better.