Posted in Writing

My Army of Notebooks


Look alive, soldier! You’re no longer on your own. You’re one of the few, the brave, the resolute! You’ve joined the Stack. The Army of Notebooks. There’s no turning back.

I’ve always had a huge obsession with notebooks. Nothing makes me happier than buying a new one, even if I have three (or more, let’s be honest) empty ones waiting for me at home.

There is something about blank paper that calls to me. Sure, I can open up my phone, iPad, or laptop at any point during the day and write down ideas, but nothing quite speaks to me as much as letting my pen flow against a smooth piece of paper.

I may write on my laptop, but recording ideas and outlining, for me, is all about notebooks.

I spotted my new recruit (pictured above) when I was shopping after work this week. My internal conversation went as follows:

Me: Do I need this notebook?

Logical me: No, you have tons of notebooks.

Me: But it says “ideas” on the cover!

Logical me: You have “ideas” written on the front of other unused notebooks!

Me: Right. But this one is so PRETTY.

Logical me: *throws up hands and stalks away*

Me: *gleefully purchases notebook*

I guess there’s something to be said for self control (which I obviously have none of when it comes to notebooks), but there’s also something to be said for feeding your muse with little chunks of delight every once in awhile. You have to let it have its way… sometimes.

I truly believe that you can never have too many notebooks; just like you can never have enough coffee, or too many fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. I always have a notebook with me. It’s easy to forget that I texted myself an idea, because when I open my phone, I tend to get distracted by social media or the internet. It’s much more convenient to have a dedicated place that I can jot down ideas when inspiration hits; a place that’s separate from all my glowing pieces of technology.

As important as it is to track your ideas, it’s as equally important (at least to me) to make your ideas clear. I was recently looking through a stack of my notebooks and discovered  an old, scrawled note that read something like, “Girl on train. Hair. Cat. Does she know the prince? Favor rising. Three ravens. World is darkness.”

Uhhhh… what?

I’m glad that these days I (hopefully) do a better job of clarifying what the actual crap I mean, because I still have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote that one. Now that girl with the favorable ideas on the train (who apparently has hair) may never find her cat and uh… visit a prince who has three ravens and is afraid of the dark? Seriously. Who knows.

So, I leave you with this:

  1. Buy all the notebooks.
  2. If you’re going to write down an idea and leave it sitting, for god’s sake, make it clear what your inspiration was.
  3. Always, always, always have a place to write down your ideas.
  4. Let your muse win once in awhile.




Posted in Writing

The Curious Balance Between Writing Life vs. Social Life

Hi, my name is Morgan Ranes, and I haven’t cancelled plans with friends in at least 2 days.

The more writers I get to know, the more I find that the majority of us are introverts, or have very strong introverted tendencies.

I personally can’t imagine keeping up with a super active social life and my writing projects. In fact, the very thought makes me want to start breathing into a brown lunch sack.

Luckily, I’ve been blessed with close friends that mostly get me. When they ask me what I’m doing that night, and I tell them I’m busy, they generally don’t push the question.


I’m very busy getting into my pajamas, brewing a pot of coffee, and hiding out in my room for hours, cranking out words like they’re going out of style (or, you know, crying over my laptop because I can’t remember the genius idea I had at work).

The problem I generally run into is with my non-writing friends. How do you explain to real people that you’ve already made plans with other people? Namely, your characters.

“Sorry! I’m not going to make it to Applebees because I have to torture Remington tonight.”

“I can’t come. I need to help save a continent. A CONTINENT.

Here’s the thing; the kicker:

These characters may not be real to them, but they are very real to me.

I have a great social life… with my characters, and I am 100% okay with that.

God, that makes me sound like such a shut in. By all means, I do go out sometimes. It’s good to get out, to see the world, to experience things firsthand, to get some fresh air, to see the ball of light in the sky they call the sun (I live in Washington, so I’m still pretty convinced the sun is a myth).

I guess what I’m saying is that if you have plans to write, or plans with your characters, don’t feel guilty if you want to stick with them. Your characters will thank you for it.


At least roam out of your room sometimes. You know, to get more chocolate.




Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing


Being a creative person leads you to doubt yourself in one way or another. Sometimes I’m really great at ignoring it or letting it drive me, and sometimes I’m not.

Today I was developing characters and outlining for a novel that I’m planning for July NaNoWriMo, when all of the sudden I had this terrified feeling that there were no good names left for me to use.

In my brief moment of panic, I started recalling all the names of my main characters over the last few years; all the names I’d already used: Skylar, Capella, Valine, Rhiannon, Jesse, Shaylin, Avren… and then started going over minor characters. Thankfully, I stopped about three characters in (because my minor characters could basically make up a small army), and attempted to remind myself that there are probably millions of names that I could choose from. I will legitimately never run out of names to use.

But then I started thinking… what if the right name is already in use by another author? What if my ginormous, half-giant character just screams the name Frodo? I, of course, would never name a character Frodo (not to mention a half-giant), because the name is way too iconic and well known; just like I’d never name a character Katniss, Hermione, or Daenerys.

However, I think a lot of names in modern fiction are still on the table. I could have a character named John, and the guy across the coffee shop that is glaring at an open Word document on his laptop (who I suspect to be a writer) could also have a character named John. Our Johns wouldn’t be the same. Our Johns would be two entirely different people.

Sometimes I have to remember that names aren’t exclusive. I can use the name Harry, but he’s not going to live in a cupboard under the stairs. I can use the name Edward, but he’s not a shimmering vampire. I can use the name Lucy, but mine hasn’t found any magical worlds through wardrobes as of late.

Names are beautiful and precious things, and when you find one that sticks for your character, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s the name that fits, and that’s that, and I don’t think that any of us should feel guilty about it.

Don’t worry, guys. We haven’t run out of names… yet.

In my defense, I partially blame the above mini-anxiety attack on the fact that I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

Lesson learned for today: Being a writer is hard; drink coffee first.