The Great Pants Experiment

Hello friends and welcome to another crazy idea from your friendly local writer. I’m your friendly (and struggling) local writer.

Happy Last Blog Post Before NaNoWriMo everyone! I hope everyone’s preparations are going well (at least for those of you who are participating) and I am looking forward to cheering everyone on. 

A few weeks ago I mentioned the unlikelihood that I would be able to participate in NaNo this year. I have a freelance project that comes due right at the middle of the month that will consume most of my free time, and, as always, winter is my busiest time of year at my day job meaning I’ll likely be fried even without adding 1666 words a day to my task board. It sucks, because I really do enjoy the community and camaraderie that comes in November. I’ve participated every year since 2017 and managed the 50k each time, due in large part because I didn’t want to let anyone who I had told I was participating down (shame is my greatest motivator). Though a complete ass kicking, there’s something fun about it. And there’s definitely something to be said for the knowledge that maybe I can do this after all that comes at the end. So it’s kind of a bummer to me that I just don’t have time this year. 

So, last week I was sitting here thinking about what I would talk about this week, on the near-enough-to-count eve of NaNoWriMo when I’m not actually participating. 

And then dark me asked: are you sure you don’t have time? 

Of course, I replied, I barely have enough time to get my paid writing done. 

Nuh uh, said dark me, but I ignored her. 

Until I couldn’t anymore. 

Even if I did have time, I haven’t prepared anything, I told dark me firmly. And there’s definitely not enough time to outline something that would get me all the way through November. 

So don’t outline, dark me said. 

Readers, I nearly gasped out loud. Pants a novel? Moi? Perish the thought! I am a die-hard plotter. I love outlining. I’ve never pantsed anything in my life!

So? Said dark me, just teasing me at this point. Now is the perfect time to experiment. 

Or it’s the worst time, I reminded myself. I’m setting myself up for failure. 

Would that really be the worst thing? Asked dark me.

Yes, chimed in the anxiety brain and then I kicked it down the stairs and locked it in the basement, because no one needs that kind of negativity. 

Well, I thought, dusting off my hands, I do have that one character in the Nexus that I’ve yet to come up with a plot line for. 

And even if you don’t get 50,000 words, if you get just one idea for that character this month from pantsing, then isn’t that a win? Dark me wondered.

And that, my friends, is how the The Great Pants Experiment was born. 

I tend to play a little loosely with the NaNo rules. As a high fantasy writer, I have to be. There isn’t a snowball’s chance of squeezing an entire fantasy story into just 50,000 words. So NaNoWriMo for me is more like NaPaOANoWriMo – National Part of a Novel Writing Month. 

Just last year, in fact, I utilized NaNo to draft one leg of my most ambitious project to date, the Nexus. The Nexus, as I’ve mentioned a few times, is a massive, multi-POV mess of a novel that has no chance at all of landing an agent or traditional publishing contract, and yet I love so much I can’t not write it. The novel features five different story paths, some intersecting, some all alone on an island, told from ten different POV characters. Or, at least, that’s the plan, anyway. To date, I’ve only ever drafted the one leg, though I’ve got pretty firm ideas (if not outright outlines) for the others.

Except one. From the beginning I’ve always had a general sense the plot will have kind of a gothic horror feel to it. I know the POV character and how she winds up in her situation, but beyond that… I draw a blank. 

That said, its connection to a world I know well and a brief cameo by other characters I plan to use in other story paths… I don’t know. I think dark me might be right, this might actually be a good time to try my hand at pantsing something.

I also think it’s possibly one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. 


I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I wasn’t even planning on doing NaNo this year until… like three days ago, so if I fail to reach 50,000 words what have I really lost? But if I get 35,000, 20,000, or even just a measly 5k, that’s already more than I started with, right? As long as I make sure my freelance writing gets done (due date of the 12th, leaving over half the month to play catch up if need be), then it’s okay, right? 

Right???


Find out next week if I decide to go for it or not. Until then, my friends, may your November be wordy and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; Delayed and Decluttering

Good morning friends and welcome to a slightly belated Monday Motivations.

I woke up yesterday in a bit of a slump, though I hesitate to even call it that. It was more of a… mundane feeling. I didn’t have anything interesting to say, I thought, and though I spent some time staring at this blog page, wondering what updates I could share with you all, truth was: I just wasn’t motivated yesterday.

I still got plenty of stuff done, don’t get me wrong. But it all felt very rote, routine, not worth mentioning. Hence the lack of update.

Today, on the other hand, could not be more different. I sat down at my desk and at once felt very strongly that I needed to declutter. Not my desk, though it is a pretty busy place, but my life. I just feel inexplicably but determinedly ready to shed whatever I’ve been holding onto that is actually holding me back. Anxiety, old ideas, self doubt, the urge to procrastinate.

(I’m actually kind of mad I’m at work today and don’t really have anything I can purge here. Guarantee if I was at home I’d be a flurry of activity. But I’m not so here I am writing this blog post instead.)

How can I translate this to writing? Well, the easiest answer would be: time to start editing! Alas I have nothing to edit. Instead, I am choosing to let go of my pre-conceived notions about this idea I am working on. I am releasing those concerns I have long harbored about the story. And I am freeing myself of the doubt that I am capable of being a real, Grown Up writer.

Today (and going forward, I hope) I am going to write without fear.

That’s my motivation.

Kerry Share

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Learning To Love the Hustle

Hello and welcome to another embarrassed and more than a little self-conscious edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

I took last week off from blogging, simply because my brain was a complete desert of ideas on what to talk about. I’m pretty proud of my blogging habit this year, in that I’m finally managing to maintain a consistent posting schedule. So, I’m not going to beat myself up over missing a week, even if there wasn’t much of an excuse for it.

So, this morning, as I was bemoaning in my journal my rather sluggish word count pace for my first “work” project, I came to a stark realization about myself. An uncomfortable one. Dirty, even. Something I’m not even sure I should admit in a public forum. But this blog is about the struggle of writing so here we go.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days about how quickly I burn myself out whenever I try to cram extra writing into my days. Which lead to the realization that the cause is that I am giving up my typical leisure activities in favor of getting my words in. Which then got me wondering why don’t I consider writing a leisure time? I mean, it’s work, obviously, never let it be said that it’s not work, but… why isn’t it fun for me? Isn’t it my passion? Shouldn’t time spent writing invigorate me? Which then had me asking myself the age old question: why do I write? This morning, I think I found the answer, and it was a major disappointment.

I was 11 years old when I started my first novel (a surprisingly dark Harry Potter knockoff, for those curious), so to say I’ve always been a writer wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. But almost nearly as long as I’ve been a writer, one of my chief concerns regarding my creative passion was how to monetize it. I grew up poor and have lived below the poverty line multiple times as an adult, and constant worry about having money is still deeply ingrained in me today. It’s a sad, sad thing to attach to one’s passion, but I did it without even realizing it. Though my dreams of making a living off my writing have tempered somewhat as an adult, and especially over the last few years as I have taken it more and more seriously, the point remains that my goal has never (or at least rarely) been to create something that people love, but something that people buy.

Okay, to be fair, that’s not entirely true. I wrote fanfiction for fifteen years on the back of my desire to create and fueled solely by the people that read it and loved it all along the way. So I know I can do it for the sheer joy of the thing, but it’s just been so much harder to start from the ground up with completely original material and no sure audience waiting. The anxiety and self-doubt, and the imposter syndrome stemming from my successful fandom years, has really weighed on my creative ambition. And in the void left by friends and strangers telling me that my writing is good, I turned back to money for motivation.

Word to the wise: money is a shitty motivator.

The answer to my question about how to avoid burn out is really to rediscover how to love writing as a past time rather than a career in potentia. It’s learning to let go of my fears that I won’t succeed as a writer, because I’m measuring success by the wrong metric. It’s relaxing the intense sense of urgency I feel, like I’m running out of time to be a professional writer, because… I’m 32.

Letting go of all these neuroses isn’t going to be easy. But the first step of solving a problem is recognizing that it exists, right? So, here’s me taking that first step.


As the blog continues to creep toward another major follower milestone, let me take a moment to thank everyone who has followed my extremely ponderous journey. Thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement, insight, and advice. But most of all, thanks for reading.

Kerry Share

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The IDGAF Stage

Hello and welcome to a more relaxed-than-I-usually-am-this-time-of-year-writing-wise edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Two weeks ago I talked about the itch to get back into a new project even if I wasn’t totally sure it, or I, was ready. Well. Today I’m neck deep in it. And, friends, I am LIVING for it.

This new project, codenamed The Nexus because I haven’t even figured out a working title for it yet, is completely different from my last WIP (Border Towns, remember Border Towns???). And so far that has only been a positive.

Yes, I am still writing fantasy. Yes, I am still deeply committed to planning. Yes, I am still a depressed and anxious writer struggling to stay focused as an exceedingly stressful year comes to its exceedingly stressful pinnacle. But apart from that, The Nexus, and the way I feel as I prepare to draft it, is worlds apart from my last novelling experience.

And if I had to sum up why, it would be because I just don’t feel bothered about the rules this time. And I don’t mean the rules for NaNoWriMo (which I absolutely will be participating in this year, despite my earlier doubts). I mean the conventional writing rules that I’ve either totally made up or otherwise accidentally hyped up (in my own mind) as actual rules rather than the guidelines common wisdom tells me they really are.

The Nexus will be an epic, multi-POV fantasy that follows 12 different characters (though not all will have POV chapters… this time) on 6 different story paths. Some paths intersect, or are otherwise connected, but at least one is completely off on its own. The main cast is predominantly women, and, so far, the planned story paths can differ greatly in tone and theme. Elements of sci-fi, horror, and romance will all be present, as well as the most fantasy I think I can get away with. And, though I know how this book will end, any potential sequels are still just a massive question mark.

Just writing all that out, it sounds like a complete fucking mess that no agent would ever extend representation for (especially from a debut author), and I don’t care anymore.

Importantly, that particular attitude has infected in the best possible way the rest of my preparatory process as I get ready to roll into November. In years past I could not imagine starting NaNo without a detailed outline. This time, even though I have but half of the planned six story paths fully imagined, I’m comfortable if those are the only ones that are ready to draft in two weeks. I have also struggled mightily to write out of sequence. Again, not an issue here, thanks to the POVs shifting. I can write a chapter that inspires me, then jump to another if the mood strikes, because they are both completely detached from each other and happening simultaneously (in theory). I have talked about how I write thin, and though that will still present a bit of an issue in areas like description, I no longer have to worry about filling in sluggish parts of the story. Because I have so many of them to cram in brevity will be of the essence.

I have not a single clue whether or not any of these things are actually good, or if they will produce a novel worth revising or eventually reading. But I just feel so… freed when I think about them.

I did not think this novel was ready to write. I thought for sure I needed to let it stew for at least two more years while I actively worldbuilt around the idea itself. And while there are areas that need more attention, I feel comfortable enough with what I’ve got in front of me. I feel assured that the rest will come, as it so often does, once I’m in the weeds.

So, for the first October in three years, I’m not really that pressed about NaNo. I’m not wondering if I can do it (I know I can). I’m not worried about crafting the ideal novel to launch me into a career as an author. I’m not getting down on myself for not following conventional wisdom. I’m just letting the ideas take me where they want me to go. It’s gonna be a ride and it may be a glorious, flaming mess, but I can at least say I didn’t add a heaping pile of stress at a time I really didn’t need it. Plus, at the end of it, I will have written my second novel, trunked or no. That, in and of itself, makes it worth it.


It’s time to admit that Short But Sweet will be on hiatus until after November, possibly longer. I originally conceived of it as a way to get myself back into a writing habit, and though it worked spectacularly, it sadly means the Pillar-verse will be left out in the cold. I do still plan to serialize the Pillar-verse, probably as more Short But Sweet vignettes, later on, but the effort will be sporadic as I refocus on The Nexus. I hope you enjoyed them and that you look forward to them again in the future.

That’s all from me this week. I did manage to finish a book (loved it, fwiw), so I’ll have a Your Mileage May Vary post on Tuesday. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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The One Where I Use the Word “Fantasy” A Lot

Well. 2020 didn’t get off at all how I expected. The world is on fire, figuratively and literally, there have been earthquakes and plane crashes and the threat of war, and how in the actual hell does one keep their head down and write their silly little fantasy book with all this going on?

It’s overwhelming, to say the least.

But, I keep on trucking. That’s all I can do, really.


My partner and I recently sat down and consumed Netflix’s The Witcher, as I’m sure so many of you did as well, and I, for one, quite enjoyed it. While I understand the criticism of the interweaving timelines not being properly denoted, I actually found that to be my favorite part. I didn’t particularly want my hand held and I liked that the showrunners knew I would be smart enough to piece it together without their help.

You and me both, bro.

Afterward, I was basking in the glow of a good fantasy, when I made the fatal error of turning my thoughts inward toward my WIP, Border Towns.

I’ve always described Border Towns as a political fantasy, one that heavily favored the political aspect and left the fantasy as sort of a backdrop. There’s no elves or dwarves, there’s no angels, demons, zombies, dragons, there’s not even magic. I’ve always been fine with this, happy to assume it would occupy a cozy little niche in the fantasy market, should it ever have the good fortune of seeing the light of day.

But, after The Witcher, I started to panic. Was my political fantasy fantasy enough?

I posed this conundrum to my excellent partner, listing all the things typical and, perhaps, expected of fantasy books that did not feature in my novel. I love him with all my heart, I do, but he looked at me dead on and said, “Well, then what makes it a fantasy?”

And then I really started to panic.

I spent the next few days in fervent worldbuilding mode, trying to figure out a way to inject some kind of magic system to shore up my fantasy bona fides, without disrupting the story I actually wanted to tell. And here’s another potential shameful confession for an aspiring fantasy writer: I hate worldbuilding.

I do. My roots are in fanfiction, and as such I’ve always been a heavily character driven kind of writer. I could very easily describe my first draft of Border Towns as just a series of conversations with some light context thrown in. I always think I want to worldbuild, but then I get bogged down in it and never start actually writing. Worldbuilding, I feel quite certain, is the leading cause of my previous WIP, that I labored over for almost 10 years without getting more than 10k words into, being on the shelf at the moment. 

Image result for woody goes on the shelf gif
Live shot of my previous WIP.

Needless to say, I was miserable. I came up with some ideas, some that might even add some interesting plot points, but eventually I just sat back and asked myself, “Why am I doing this?”

I didn’t want to have magic in this story. If I did, I would have included it in the first place. So what’s more important? Living up to some preconceived idea of what makes fantasy fantasy or writing the story I actually want to write.

The latter won out. As it always should do.

I went back to some old scenes I hadn’t gotten to transcribe during NaNo and found one I had really enjoyed writing, and weirdly enough, it’s still good! Maybe, just maybe, I can do this after all.

Write the story you want to write, folks. It makes a world of difference.


That’s all from me this week. Next week’s blog post will be about writing thin. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles few!

Kerry Share

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