I have decided to do some daily short-form blogging for a little bit as I hate that I’ve been neglecting the blog again. Today I wanted to talk about how the writing has been going and what’s going on this week.
It is Day 18 of NaNoWriMo and I am at 11,850 words for the month. I hit a wall at some point last week and concluded the best way to work around it was to have a fresh start. Therefore, I opened a new document and started drafting the story from the beginning, essentially summarizing the story. This was a really great way not allow myself the freedom to potentially deviate from what I had already written.
There has been some deviation, but not a significant amount. I was not entirely married to anything I wrote before. The story at its core has not changed, but I did realize how it could be more exciting when I sat down and wrote it as a story summary from beginning to end.
What I think I will do for the next couple of days at least is continue to flesh out this summary outline and add details I may have forgotten. I have already done a general passover and realized how easy it is to add things I had forgotten to include.
I still do not think I would want to write the entire draft chronologically, but it was important to take a step back and do this. Once I am done I will probably move onto the most central and trickiest storyline and make sure I get that right before I add more words to this draft.
It has been a while since I blogged about the writing, but that is only because I have not been writing. Today I decided it was time to provide a update, as things finally seem to be rolling! I hesitate to start this blog post only because I don’t want to jinx it. But I feel like it’s a good time to record how the writing is going.
I did not enter January knowing what I wanted to write, only that I wanted to rediscover the joy of writing. I didn’t want to outline. I didn’t want to force myself to write anything specific. I was going to be perfectly fine if each day I started a new project if what I was writing the day before was not speaking to me.
What I didn’t realize I needed at the time was to figure out what time works best for me. I’ve struggled to write at night, because I generally want to unwind and relax in the evening after a long day at work. I’ve also struggled to write in the morning because it feels like a luxury I don’t deserve, because I am still looking for full-time work. Also, I didn’t know how I would fit it in as I started working mornings in December.
It seems like I’ve found a routine that will work for me right now, and I’ve decided to embrace it while while I can.
As I mentioned above, I now work in the mornings. I must wake up around 5 a.m. to get ready for that shift, work about two hours, then I have about five hours until I need to leave for my regular afternoon shift. So my days are really structured at the moment, which I like. It’s taken me a while to get my bearings, but I feel like I have plenty of time to do everything I want and need to do within my work schedule.
I think my writing schedule will be 9–10 a.m. Monday through Friday, which will give me about an hour each day to write my goal of 1,000 words. This goal is short-term, as I really want to use the next week while my friend is out of town to get a good foundation laid for the new story I am writing so I can surprise her.
The story has not been outlined. I have a couple of rough ideas of where it might go, but I’m open to that changing as I learn more about the world and characters through writing. I suppose I’m writing chronologically, but I may start jumping around if I feel like there are scenes demanding to be written ahead of time. I really just don’t want to get ahead of myself.
I’m not sure when I’ll be updating you all again. I’d like each update to feel special and come only at significant points in the writing. I’m not sure what that looks like, but things are looking up. And the writing is fun. In other news, I’m reading The Man in the High Castleby Philip K. Dick. My thoughts on Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be coming Thursday.
It seems like I’ll be sharing one writing update per month for the time being! There’s been a few points in the month where I’ve felt like sharing an update, but I had to hold myself back. I generally like to write my blog posts in advance and then put final touches on them closer to their publication date, but that doesn’t really work for writing posts.
So much can change in the course of a single day, regarding my story progress. If I were to record every single up- and down-swing in my confidence, plotting, etc. my posts would be an absolute mess, and nobody wants that!
I think a lot of people harbor secret fantasies of being a writer but struggle to think of ideas or how to build good writing habits. I certainly have, and for a long time. That’s why I am so tempted to overshare right now, even at the expense of it ruining my streaks of progress! I love reading other people’s writing updates, because they get me excited to write. I like to think others might get the same motivation from reading my own trials and tribulations.
So that I don’t overshare on my novel writing progress, I’ve decided to limit myself to just one post per month until I am fully done with my first draft. However, my next few writing posts will also feature a strategyor resource(s) that have helped me in my early stages of writing a novel, starting today with how I plotted the novel on which I’m currently working.
But first, here’s my little writing update!
In my last writing update (Here We Go Again | #AmWriting), I shared my personal deadline for my first draft was May 31st. I had to move it to June 20th for the reasons listed below.
One, I squandered my time, prioritizing blog posts and goals. It’s hard to punish myself when I have been doing work that I’m proud of, especially work (read: reading) that I believe has the added benefit of making me a better writer.
Two, plotting my story has been difficult. I went through three versions to end up at the one that finally, and tidily, unites all the characters and plot lines that have existed in my head some amorphous brain stew. I’m glad that I didn’t start writing before I was confident in my plot, because I don’t think I would have ended up in place that I did or even a place with which I could be truly happy.
Three, for reasons I will share at the end of next month, I will have a lot more time to myself to write in the first half of June. I will be able to use this extra time to write quality words, not hastily written ones that are discardable placeholders. I’ll be able to focus on and live in the story I want to tell.
While I often say that I’m writing when I am actually doing other tasks that help with writing (plotting, world-building, etc.), I have started properly writing this past weekend. I took my plot (in the form of short summary paragraphs with bullet-points), identified the most prominent plot arcs, chose the ones I wanted to work on first, then referred to the books that I thought might give me ideas as I began to write. PROPERLY WRITE!
A List of Possibilities
At long last we’ve reached the point where I will talk about the main topic of this post: making a list of possibilities. I got this idea from a video by Katytastic that I’ve referenced before at the end of Writing Update #1 | NaNoWriMo 2017. She talks about making a list of every possible direction your story could go when you get stuck in your writing. While she is recommending this list for people who have already started writing, I took it and ran with it as a plotting technique.
I can’t plot my stories by following a strict story structure, as much as I’d like to be able to. I find it more useful to refer to well-known story structures as guidelines when I know there’s something missing that I can’t readily identify. Instead I’ve found much more success in plotting by summarizing the story I want to write in the simplest terms.
I rarely know what I’m going to write (read: summarize) ahead of time; I discover it as I go. Unsurprisingly, this never results in a great plot at first. Fortunately, I’m often very easily able to tell when I don’t like something I’ve plotted (for any number of reasons) and go about fixing it.
What I do in these instances is brainstorm different options that fulfill what that plot point needs to do for the story to work, but in a way that satisfies me. Sometimes the first new option I come up with is great and will work, but I try to think of at least one more direction the plot point can take just so that I’m confident in my final choice.
Here’s an example of some of the original options I had for how the female (FMC) and male (MMC) protagonists in my story meet, revised and made more concise than I originally wrote them.
Option 1. MMC introduced before the Hook (witch taken away) as a charismatic mercenary. Meets FMC and build connection before he knows she’s important. Later he is a part of arresting party that takes the witch, helping the FMC avoid similar fate.
Option 2. MMC introduced after Hook, sympathetic to FMC helps her visit the witch in prison driven by his own secret motives.
Neither of these options made the final cut because I eventually realized that my MMC was better utilized not fraternizing with the townsfolk but with another group of people whom my FMC falls in with. Also, I didn’t want his true mission to turn into a reason why the witch was taken away, as it seemed like it might.
Ultimately, I decided not to let the MMC and the witch character’s paths cross at all. A few days after stewing over my plot, I decided to introduce him in an action scene, novel’s first major pinch plot as a mysterious rescuer who was fatefully in the right place at the right time.
(I wish I had a better example, but in the two first plot versions I drafted I deleted the “loser” options, so what did for this post was merge the “winners” from the first two plot iterations. )
If you’ve read this far, I hope you find this post helpful! I bet there’s a proper name and better description out there of what I tried to express through my “list of possibilities,” but I’ve not come across it and this is what worked for me.
Before I go, I will say that this process did not happen all in one day. I’ve always found it necessary to let things stew a few days before I return to work on the story so that I know if I’m still excited by what I came up with. So while making a list of possibilities may seem simple enough, it can become harder the further down the road you get. It’s especially hard if you grow attached to plot points that may not end up fitting well with the rest of the story in the end.
It helped to start a fresh new blank document each time I needed to make a drastic change. That’s why I can clearly delineate in my head two different plot versions (1.0 and 2.0) with their defining characteristics. It was also handy, because it allowed me to preserve old plot ideas that may still be utilized in future novel drafts as I discover what fits.
As I stated in “April Goals + TBR“, I wanted to share at least one writing update this month. I hadn’t thought at the time that I would push it off so late, but here we are! Better late than never. In the future, I’ll try to get these out on Wednesdays.
It has been hard to write regular updates on my novel progress because some weeks are harder than others to write. Either I’m motivated but stuck or unmotivated with nothing productive to say. I also feel like I jinx myself sometimes by talking about how it’s going when it’s going well.
I also feel like I have to make sure that I’m not having more fun talking about writing than actually writing. So sometimes I just have to hold myself back.
Regardless, I’m back today with a plan to try and share how the writing’s going, some personal deadlines, and when I plan to share more updates.
Building Good Writing Habits
When I last did a writing update, it was early in NaNoWriMo 2017. I didn’t end up winning last year, but I love looking back at that post. I was so optimistic. I also find the advice really useful on a personal level still when I have trouble knowing where to start.
However, I now think that the hardest part of writing is not simply not knowing where I want the story to go or even silencing the internal editor. Instead, I think the hardest part of writing is simply getting my butt to stay in its seat so that I can write and get somewhere great. Starting is often the hardest part, not just in writing but in most things. Even when all’s going well, it can be difficult to stay in the writing. I catch a little nagging voice in my head urging me to take a break or, more manipulatively, that I’ve earned one.
No longer do I believe in the writing muse. I do not believe in waiting for inspiration to strike. I believe good writing can only come from getting deep into your story and staying there, even when it becomes uncomfortable.
I’m still working towards becoming a daily writer. At the end of long days or if I’m in a lousy mood, I’m not too likely to write much. But it’s easier when I’m feeling more confident in my story.
In March my writing buddy Sara and I decided to finish our current drafts by May 31. I’m working on my first draft and she’s doing another round of structural edits. April didn’t end up as productive as either of us would have liked. But for my part, I still intend to stand by my self-set deadline.
I don’t have a target word count goal. I just want to write the story’s skeleton, the most important plot points of the overall story. I think it could be accomplished in 20,000 words or less. Unlike during NaNoWriMo when you’re just trying to churn out as many words as possible and not edit anything, I want all the words I write to be good. So I’m writing slowly and carefully.
My next writing update will likely be after I’ve finished my first draft’s skeleton. I’m hoping this could be complete in about two weeks of solid work, but I have given myself until the end of May. I’d like to do more inspirational and writing tips posts on Betwined Reads, but I’d like them to be fun to write and not a chore that takes me away from actually writing. So they’ll likely come as unexpected treats in the future.
Next up this week on the blog is my April Notes (what I’m calling a wrap up which will summarize everything I read and my progress, or lack thereof, on my blog goals for the month), my May Goals + TBR post, and a book review of one of my all-time childhood summer favorites A Ring of Endless Light.
Hey, everyone! Hope you’re doing well and hanging in there! In case you haven’t noticed from my lack of posting, I’ve been avoiding writing this post. The writing has been a struggle for me personally, and I’ve been waiting for something positive to happen before I write my first update. I’ve realized though that it’s late enough in the month that I need to update or I’ll have no record to look back on at the end of this month, so here I am!
This post comes to you in two parts:
An update on how my writing is going
The tricks and advice that are keeping me going
As I predicted at the beginning of NaNoWriMo I did a lot of jumping around at the beginning. I started towards the beginning and as I wrote and learned more about the story, I began jumping ahead to make notes under chapter headings of things I want to remember to write once I get there in this draft.
I started this month with a Word document that contained 30 chapters with headings to remind me at what point I should have major plot points (e.g midpoint, pinches, climax, etc.) happening. I adjust these periodically and by no means am dead set on ending with 30 chapters. I just find it useful as visual representation of the mental framework I want to remember to follow so that stuff is actually happening. (I’m too good at stalling the story while I set up scenes that aren’t fully formed yet.)
There are often a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head as I write. I’m try to stay in the moment, but my internal editor is always reminding me that I’m telling too much and that I keep changing my writing POV and that holistically the story is a mess and that my protagonist has no personality. But something I’ve found very encouraging to remember, when I’m in the mood to be optimistic are these words from Adam Silvera.
“For the first draft I “Tell Now, Show Later” because I gotta learn the characters and story first by TELLING myself before SHOWING you.
I find it a lot easier to write when I remember that this a crucial first step in writing a novel. I need to get all my ideas out and then select from amongst them the strongest that will make this story more coherent. Not everything will be necessary to include in a final draft, but the final draft will not be reachable unless I get all these scenes out of my head.
I also remind myself that I will be able to commit to a POV after I’ve decided what I want to keep and how to best have the story unfold. At that point I will be able to better develop my protagonist’s voice and better bring her to life.
So right now as I endeavor to catch up, I’m still jumping around to write the most interesting bits and following leads I discover as I write. I’m also rereading what I’ve written, which I know some people advise against, but I always find I’m able to add words as I reread and make things more clear because when I sprint I find I leave out clarifying and descriptive details in my hurry to keep up with the story unfolding in my head.
I also make in-line notes about things I want to fix later or add to make certain details more meaningful. And the best thing about doing it this way is I feel like I’m satisfying my inner editor and adding to my word count!
At this point, I figure I’ll share my current writing stats as depicted in graph form. Bare in mind, that although I’m behind, I have not given up hope!
Tricks That Help Me Keep Writing
I’m not a fast writer. I also find it difficult to write when I’m stressed out or deeply unhappy about something, because the words I write at these moments are often tinged with those negative emotions. Because I don’t think anyone should force themselves to write if they’re not in the right headspace for it (which, let me be clear, I consider separate from the infamous “writer’s block” headspace), I have found certain ways to keep adding words and not feel like I’m totally slacking.
These are my tricks for anyone struggling to write:
Open a second NaNoWriMo document for all the extra stuff you don’t want cluttering your main story and don’t want to delete for the sake of winning. In my second document, I have transferred scenes that no longer fit, summaries for scenes that I’ve since written, and ideas for spin-off storylines and even related novel ideas I may want to pursue later! Then I just add up the word counts between the two documents when I want to update my NaNoWriMo word count on the website.
Commit yourself each day to time spent with your butt in your writing chair. NaNoWriMo is all about that word count, but I find it much easier some days to think of success in terms of time spent writing rather than words written. If you often find yourself procrastinating on writing because you’re telling yourself you can do it later in the day, this might be something that can help you. I often find myself getting ants in my pants after I’ve written a couple hundred words and feel like I deserve a break, but it’s avoidant behavior that shouldn’t be indulged! If I tell myself to sit down for an hour and not get up, I often find that I’ll end up writing things that surprise myself and make me want to keep writing. These are often things I would’ve never thought of if I was allowing myself to take a break every 20 minutes.
Don’t look at your friend’s stats if you’re behind! When I’m on track or even ahead, I find it incredibly reassuring to look at my writing buddies’ stats and remind myself that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. But if you’ve not been able to write for a few days and have fallen really behind, comparisons can be really detrimental to your already fragile writing self-esteem. So my advice for catching up is to look up how many words you need to write each day to catch up and focus on meeting or exceeding that goal.
I also wanted to share a video with some good advice for those of you who may be stuck because you do not know what to write next! I was going to share this video in a post that may not end up happening so now’s a good a time as any.
Writing is hard. There’s no way around it. If you are behind and feel like all is lost, I encourage you to look at your NaNo stats, which provide an estimate of how many words per day you need to write to still finish on time. As I am currently at 6,927 words on Day 14, my current estimate is 2,534 words, which is not hopeless! Especially when I think about how some days I may still manage to write more than that.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to update you all again. My priority is winning NaNoWriMo so I can’t guarantee another one this month, but I do hope to update you if and when I am able to catch up to where I need to be.
I had two posts I wanted to go up at the end of last week, but then my job and general procrastination prevented me from finishing them. Then there was the anxiety of preparing for Hurricane Harvey. Where I live was not in Harvey’s direct path, but we’ve since been continuously pelted hard with heavy rain and it’s been hard to predict when it might stop. Meanwhile I’ve been getting constant tornado and flash flood alerts on my iPhone over the past couple of days.
One good thing that has come from this bout of horrible weather is that I didn’t have to go to work yesterday and, thus, I’ve had three days off essentially to relax after all the chaos of last week as people rushed to my workplace to stock up for hurricane essentials: water, bread, and batteries. Therefore, I’ve had time to catch up on my reading!
Last Thursday I picked off a four books from my shelves that I decided I wouldn’t mind reading this weekend and I’m happy to say I’ve made my way through three of them. The fourth, which technically would be considered a reread, I’ve decided I would like to take my time with and, therefore, I’m putting off until I’m more on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge.
Maus I by Art Spiegelman | I honestly can’t remember if I finished this one the first time I read it. I can see myself having faked it, as I picked it up for a group assignment in which we came up with a thematic unit plan. I’m happy I decided to give it another chance, even if it was only because it was a graphic novel I knew I could zoom through. It was a pleasant read, despite the horrors depicted. It shows the complexity of human nature during dangerous times. 3.5 stars.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | I don’t remember the last time I read this one, but I still remember reading it in 5th grade vividly as it was probably the first book that made a big impression on me. It was also one that I remember made me want to become a writer. Reading it as a adult, I find myself still very attached to the characters. The main thing that surprised me is the rather simple plot. 4.5 stars.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling | I bought this book two years ago when it came out and I’m happy I waited this long to finally read it. It’s one of those that seems to have come to me at the perfect time. I don’t entirely relate to Mindy in interests or personality, but I admire by her work and work ethic. This book’s final chapter blew me away and has made me excited to give everything I do my all. 4.5 stars.
My Immediate TBR
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit | I’ve read this book a few times over the past few years since I first read it when I was…maybe eleven or twelve years old. It’s a great one to revisit every now and then and it stands the test of time in my opinion. It also helps that this is one of those classic books that I think has inspired my own writing.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | This is a reread that I feel strangely apt to read right now as summer nears its end. It’s not one I would have thought to pick up except that I know it can be a quick read. It’s another that I can see being of value as I begin to write and I’m also interested in seeing how the experience is changed knowing as I do the ending, which caught me completely off guard before.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | I want to end my journey through rereads with this one as Howl’s Moving Castle is a book that I consider a major source of writing inspiration. I think I’ve read this book a couple of times in the past as a young adult and I think it’s one that I will continue to reread throughout my life and leave with new insights.
I think I’m really close to nailing done my plot. Last week before I had to leave for a work shift, I got about 3/4 through my plot by just summarizing. I realized that morning that I could waste no more time just hoping I’d work it out by thinking about it. I needed to write something down. Anything. Because I can’t make something of nothing. I’m so glad I did this because when I got home later that evening I was happy with most of what I got and could identify things that I did not like. Three such problem areas I found could be fixed by just moving plot points around!
The main thing I’m struggling with now is just the conclusion. I feel like I have a few ideas for things I know I want to happen with the protagonist but I need to figure out what would best and most satisfyingly challenge her to become who she needs to be.
I’m hoping to end the month of August with a conclusion I’m happy with. I’m also eager to share in more detail how I’ve been able to plot my story this month in case you might be able to benefit. In my last post, I said I wanted to be writing by September 22, the first day of fall. That’s still the goal, but I don’t think I’ll have a set word count for each day. I also have a feeling I may also be writing this book for NaNoWriMo, but more on this later…
I’m excited to finish my rereads so I can begin to read some of my new books! I may still do the book haul post I was planning, but if I don’t, you can probably expect to hear about my latest acquisitions in a September TBR. Not sure what my next post will be, but it will almost certainly come this week as there’s loads to share! I just need to make the time to write the posts in between my reading!
About two days ago I finally finished reading Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, the only book I managed to pick up during the #MakeMeRead It Read-a-thon last week on account of completely forgetting what week it started on. I still completely plan to read Persuasion by Jane Austen, the second highest book on my poll, in the near future. I just didn’t feel a rush to jump into it right after Sense & Sensibility, as unlike that book or Pride & Prejudice, I have not seen a movie adaptation of this one and I worry if that’ll make it more challenging a read.
I instead decided to reach for another book that has been on my TBR for over a year now, Mr. Foxby Helen Oyeyemi. I read Boy, Snow, Bird and The Icarus Girl by the same author in 2015 and was enthralled by them, particularly the former. So I’m leisurely trying to make my way through Oyeyemi’s colorful collection of works. Of Mr. Fox, I will say that it hasn’t been exactly what I was expecting, but I’m fully on board now, although it was intitially disorienting.
What I read next this month is still uncertain. I’m currently mood reading right now, with a mind still on catching up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’m perpetually about 6–7 books behind.
I have secured a part-time job finally and while it’s nothing too exciting, I suspect it will mean I’m reading a bit more on my iPhone, whether on breaks or in bed when I’m too tired after shifts to hold up a book. Earlier this year I decided to purchase Amazon Prime for the first time with my student discount and I just learned that with the membership you can access certain eBooks for free! I’ve downloaded five and I’m eager to get to them.
I want to start posting more on here, but I’ve also realized I’m no good at scheduling blog posts. I’ve found that it doesn’t allow me flexibility to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and all too often I’ve forgotten when I haven’t put finishing touches on a post before it goes up.
As I mentioned above, I just got a part-time job. At the moment I’m not sure what my schedule will look like other than I will be working around 30 hours a week. Also, it is my hope that I can find a full-time job by the end of the year that better suits me and my life goals.
With these realizations in mind, a blog schedule will most likely not suit me at this time. However, I do want to continue to work on this blog by recording my reading and writing journey as well as my other creative pursuits as they come and go.
In the next couple of weeks I know I want to work on my graphic design skills, update all my pages, and start doing more formal book reviews, so you can expect all that right now at the very least!
I don’t have much to share on the writing front, but in case you were wondering or find these updates useful (maybe for commiserating in failure?) I thought I’d share instead of just neglecting my problems. I’m still in the outlining phase of this book. I have no trouble envisioning any number of novel beginnings, but it’s the middles and ends I struggle with. I think right now, my problem is I don’t know what my character wants and I don’t know if that’s a problem of not fully knowing her or not knowing the world. Maybe it’s both.
I had hoped I’d be writing by this time this month, but I’m not sure when anymore. Part of me is like “I need to start this NOW” and the other is like “I should just shoot to be ready by NaNoWriMo.”
I could wax on about this a while longer, but better I get going so I can work on this problem tonight. I don’t know what life after tomorrow is going to look like.
Thanks for sticking with me and this blog! On my very first blog Books o’ the Wisp, I used to do this feature called Letter from the Blogger. I did it at the beginning of each season to talk about myself and my plans for the coming months. I may try to do one of these again soon, as in this weekend. Amongst the other things you might be able to expect soon, I’ve got a book haul to share and I want to do a book review of Mr. Fox because it’s a lesser known book and I think I want to dedicate do more to shine a light on the under-hyped books on my blog.
Sorry it has been a little while. Shortly after the excitement of the last post I had a crisis of self. Faced with so many things I wanted to do and needed to do, I wasn’t sure what to do and it was so easy to just do nothing. Does this happen to any of you?
Fortunately I’ve been taking care of myself and feel a bit more happy. I’ve been eating a plant-based diet and enjoying experimenting with new whole plant foods I can integrate into my daily diet. I’ve also made exercise a part of my daily routine that I enjoy and look forward to. These two lifestyle changes I credit for helping me feel more ambitious and motivated again to do even more with my day, including things that have always made me happy: reading and writing.
I decided to start this post because I wanted to announce my new writing project, but I figure I’ll also talk a bit about what I’ve read recently first.
So far this summer I’ve read four books. I reread A Court of Mist and Fury (★★★★★) and finally read A Court of Wings and Ruin (★★★★½), both by Sarah J. Maas. Love the final installment, although I can’t help but feel the ending was a bit rushed and too convenient. Then I decided to read something that was not fantasy, so I picked up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (★★★★½) by Gabrielle Zevin, which was whimsical and easy to read. Then I decided to finally read Passenger (★★), which sounded really good. Unfortunately that book didn’t really click with me.
I’m currently rereading The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. I’ve owned thisbook since middle school and one I had begun to think about since reading Sarah J. Maas’ work because it also includes fairies, although a very different kind. It’s a nice reminder that you can be inspired by the old and make it into something new that is your own.
I may talk about this book in more depth in the future as I think it may be lesser known YA classic and something that young readers today might truly enjoy. If you’ve read it before, please let me know in the comments!
I’m planning on participating in the BookTube-A-Thon next week in order to jump start some more reading so I’ll likely share my TBR for that soon.
What I’m Writing
I’m writing a fantasy novel set in world kind of like ours in 1930s, but with magic and magical creatures. I think it could be considered somewhat steampunk as I want there to be a lot of alternative forms of technology. My protagonist is a young girl and…I don’t know how much more I want to say!
I’m in the beginning stages here and still need to do some major plotting before I properly get writing, but I have a beginning and end fairly well set in stone so I’m excited to see where this may go. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know I have trouble finishing novel drafts. I’ve realized in addition to low confidence in my writing capabilities my biggest problem is probably getting lost by following plot bunnies.
I may soon try to set up a Pinterest mood board for the story and share if I do. From this point forward on my blog if I mention it, I’ll call this novel The Log.
That’s all I got for today. I don’t want to make any promises about what I’ll post next, but I’m feeling pretty confident right now that I’ll be doing more and thus have more to share that is hopefully of interest to you! Hope you’re doing well and see you soon!
As promised I’m back again this week with my official Camp NaNoWriMo announcement post in which I will share my personal goals for the month-long event and some tips for my fellow busy bees who are crazy enough to want to join me on this journey.
In case you don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event that happens officially twice a year in April and July. These events are more relaxed than the official NaNoWriMo event that happens in November in which a 50K novel is the official goal. In Camp, you can feel free to set your own goal and write whatever you want, including scripts, poetry, or even revisions.
I will personally be trying to write a really short first draft of a new novel idea I developed in March.
Disclaimer: This post will not be helpful if you don’t know what you want to write. I do hope by publishing this post two days before it starts so that hopefully you have enough time to scrounge something together!
Because of how busy I anticipate April being, I’m only setting a goal of 20,000 words, which translates to roughly 667 words per day.
This is my final month of my final semester of grad school so I have a lot of things to do. I have three final projects to complete, all of which involve 12-15 page papers due at the beginning of May. I also have to keep up with my regular tasks of assigned reading and grading which is part of my job as a TA. Oh, and I really need to start looking for jobs! So taking on Camp NaNoWriMo right now maybe is not the best idea, but I’m doing it anyway!
The tips I have to share that I know will get me personally through this month in one piece are:
Be Organized. To do lists are my best friend. I write one every week at the beginning of my weekend. I plan out everything I want to accomplish on each day. And I break down larger projects into discrete units so I have more boxes to feel good about once I’ve marked them off. :)
Set a Reasonable Goal. I’ve done this by setting only 20,000 words as my goal which means roughly 667 words per day. I think this goal should be achievable on top of the writing I will already need to do for my regular assignments and my final papers. Additionally, I think its enough that I can write it in about an hour of uninterrupted writing.
Utilize Writing Sprints. Don’t underestimate the power of writing sprints. Particularly if you feel like you don’t have enough time blocked off to write. The Camp NaNoWriMo official Twitter page if likely to host several sprints throughout the month. You might also encourage your writing buddies to partake in your own writing sprint parties! (Who says you can’t be social during a NaNoWriMo event?!)
Plan Ahead. If there are some days of the week you just know you will not want to write, then make sure you get extra writing done early so that you don’t feel guilty about it.
Don’t Fall Behind. There’s nothing more disheartening than falling behind on something when you still have so many other things to do. That’s why I plan to start Camp off really strong this weekend on April 1st so that I get that rush of achievement early on and do not feel guilty if I don’t manage to write on my busiest days (Tuesday and Wednesday).
Camp NaNoWriMo begins on April 1st, which this year is Saturday so if you’re a real go getter you could stay up Friday night and start writing right at midnight if that sounds exciting to you. I personally think I may wake up early and have myself a little write-in after breakfast. My plan is to get a good head start early in the month and write a lot during the weekend. Ideally I’ll work on my novel a little every day, even if it’s not properly writing.
If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo too, let me know in the comments! I hope write weekly updates, but I don’t feel confident committing to that schedule. If I have blogging time I also want to do other posts, some of which I hope will go up next week, so stay tuned for that. Thanks to everyone who’s been showing my blog some love. I really appreciate it!
In case you did not know, I spent at least 20 minutes for the past two weeks working on my story in some little way, whether by writing an actual scene idea, world-building, or plotting. This idea came about quite unexpectedly and was not as easy as it may sound.
Since I graduated from Iowa State University I’ve semi-regularly kept up with my writing buddy I met there. We are each other’s main inspiration to keep going. We cheer each other on and are there to offer an ear or advice when the other is going through a tough spot. She’s done a good job keeping up with her writing throughout this time. Me not so much. I’ve jumped around from idea to idea and also managed to recycle characters and revise plot so many times I’ve realized I’ve been going nowhere.
So at the beginning of my spring break two weeks ago when my friend suggested we Skype everyday of my spring break, and subsequently hers, I was all for it as a personal goal of mine was indeed to write a little bit everyday and I knew almost certainly that I would fail if left to my own devices.
In today’s post I wanted to share some updates on my writing as well as some of the lessons I’ve learned (or relearned).
1) Getting started is the hardest part.
This is something I’ve long known and still somehow struggle with. I often still find myself needing to trick myself into doing stuff that I need to do, whether it be homework, exercise, or even reading. I tell myself “I’ll just do 10 minutes” and usually once that allotted time is nearly up I realize that it doesn’t seem so hard to just keep going.
Some days it was really hard to get myself to sit down at my desk and log into Skype. I’d feel tired all of the sudden or my parents were about to start or movie or go out and I’d get FOMO. There would be some reason that made writing the least attractive option on my plate. But because my friend knows me, she’d never let me wiggle out of our daily session and even if it was painful I could always end the session glad that she forced me to it, even if I didn’t get much done during it.
2) Twenty minutes is not enough.
Some days it took about 20 minutes to get back into the head space I was in the previous day just so that I could move forward. These were the saddest days, particularly when I was often lazy enough to say “Hey, I did it, now I can go do something else.”
This is why I now add writing tasks to my sticky notes to-do list wall alongside my homework tasks, so that after I write during my allotted time for the day I spend separate time thinking about what I need to do next so that I go into writing the next day knowing exactly what I need to do.
But 20 minutes is still not enough to get much serious writing done because I’m unable to reach a state of flow that results in stronger writing. I’d say 20 minutes works for doing specific tasks that aide essential to proper writing, like plotting scenes or world-building, but not for diving into a story and living in it the way I need to in order to write really well.
3) Sometimes you have to give up and wipe your slate clean to move forward.
I think I mentioned this in my last writing post, but I honestly believe that the only reason I’ve managed to have some good progress this past week is because I let go of old characters and ideas to approach the blank page with an open mind.
One thing I have not mentioned online yet is that I had to do this AGAIN. Until three days ago I’d been working on a gothic-inspired of story without knowing where it would go, only about the two main characters and how they’d meet. I’d run into the same problem of not knowing why the protagonist is important or what she’d need to do.
Then I decided that I’d start from scratch again with specific genre in mind: a detective story. Detective stories are plot driven in a way that I’ve struggled to do with my fantasy-steampunk ideas so I decided to start with the goal in mind that my protagonist would help solve a mystery/crime. Since then I’ve managed to envision the protagonist, how she needs to develop as a character throughout the story, and create a mystery that she needs to solve which will help her grow in a way that makes logical sense.
I’m confident that my story is fun and interesting enough to get me through Camp NaNoWriMo this April so I’m going to spend the rest of March dedicating at least 20 minutes to planning for April. I know the main thing that my protagonist needs to do and how I want the story to end, so I just need to work on the plot of how she will solve the mystery.
I will hopefully have a post on Camp NaNoWriMo April come up this week before I get started. I do not plan on setting a 50k word goal and I have a few different plans in mind for how I’m going to go about writing with my hectic work schedule so I want to do share my plans in case they interest any of you who are similarly busy but would also like to attempt Camp!