To Do NaNoWriMo or To Not Do NaNoWriMo This Year…

…that is the question.

Welcome back to The Inky Saga. I have gone back and forth over whether to write to this post for a few weeks now. When I moved to Austin this fall, I was consumed with passion to pick up writing again. My first couple of weeks settling into my apartment, I was actually doing a pretty good job of writing on the daily. But as usual, writing (and blogging) were forced to take a back seat eventually as I resumed the job search. I have an update prepared on that front as well, which may come next weekend. But today I wanted to finally share a writing update and my plans for NaNoWriMo.

My writing buddy Sara and I have resumed our weekly writing dates on Thursday evenings. We used to use Skype, but it has no longer been convenient since she switched to a Chromebook. We also tried Google Hangouts, but for some reason the audio doesn’t work. So now we use Zoom. It’s free and relatively quick to launch a private chatroom, but she now lives in the country so the internet connection is spotty. Despite our technical difficulties, we have managed to keep our writing dates!

I am currently working on a new story idea that I’m hoping may eventually turn into something good. I have long since realized that the first draft does not need to be perfect, it just needs to be written. Therefore, my goal has been to write the story I have as quickly and simply as possible, so I can get to the fun of editing and adding detail. I do not write everyday, but I enjoy the process of writing when I do sit down to do it (about twice a week these days). I do not know how much of this story I may be able to write before November 1st, which leads to my current conundrum.

I would like to do NaNoWriMo properly, but I am not sure if I would want to start an entirely new story idea from scratch. Neither do I feel any sense of urgency about completing a first draft over the span of a single month. I have been motivated to write on my own, and I am enjoying it when I allow myself the time to do it.

I think all I really want to feel is to feel like a part of a local and online writing community in November! I’m in a new city and want to participate in local write-ins and make new writing buddies. I also want to be able to share writing excitement with others on Twitter and on the blog. I know that you can get your own goals for NaNoWriMo; the important thing is just that you do the thing. But I feel like it has been a long time since I properly participated.

I think I am going to do it. Not necessarily with an entirely new story idea, but at least in adding 50k words to the however-many-words I manage to write in October.

End Note

In case you did not know, NaNoWriMo completely redid their website. All the writing buddies you may have had are completely gone, but your log-in credentials are the same. If you would like to be writing buddies with me, my profile name is still ummmrawr after eleven years. The new website is pretty slow, but hopefully that will be improved by time November rolls around.

I am off to try and do some more writing before bed! It has been a weekend full of housekeeping and chores, but I am so excited for this week. I hope to start blogging a lot more regularly soon. Tuesday I am attending Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House tour stop in Austin. Hopefully I’ll have time to whip up a blog post about that!

Thanks for stopping by!
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January Writing ⁂ ✧.: *: ・

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.

January 14–23

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 Castle by Philip K. Dick. My thoughts on Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be coming Thursday.

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #1: A Fresh Start

If you are really new to the blog, you may not know that I consider myself a sometimes writer. I’ve never published anything or even finished a full-length novel or short story, but I work at writing throughout the year with a friend/writing buddy I made at Iowa State University. When I’m not writing I’m reading in part to study how other writers do it.

The main problem I have with writing is following through and sticking around, especially when the writing gets uncomfortable. I love planning a novel and creating characters and worlds, but I’ve always struggled to write the damn story. It’s like I’m rendered useless at the thought of just how many possibilities and directions the story can take. But this weekend I felt like I’m finally on to something. Something that can become something.

I felt confident enough to resume documenting my writing journey here on Betwined Reads, from start to finish!

I’m going to start sharing Novel Progress writing updates each Wednesday. I intend to keep them short and sweet, limited strictly to weekly highlights and not detailed play-by-plays. These posts may range from short updates to tags or discussions on any topic I might find relevant or interesting. I don’t want these posts to become super long or rambling, especially if the details I share may become irrelevant the next week.

I feel like writing can begin to feel very turbulent when I’m simultaneously trying update people weekly on my progress. Writing a book is like riding a rollercoaster of euphoria and misery. Some days I feel I’ve done something that makes it seem like everything has clicked together perfectly and the next day (or even next hour) I’ve tossed out something that throws everything into limbo again. So I don’t want to over-share prematurely.

My next few Novel Progress entries will be introducing my novel, establishing where I’m at in the novel development, and sharing how I plan to write my novel this time around. I don’t have any hard and fast deadlines yet but I am eager to finish the first draft before November, so I’d like to keep my momentum going no matter what comes along.

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

I hope you enjoyed this little announcement and are excited for writing-themed posts to return to Betwined Reads! I certainly am. I want to become a more consistent blogger and writing is something that fulfills me in a way that I’m not sure I will ever get from simply blogging about books. As much as I love talking books, I do want to do more with my life and becoming a published author is a dream I’ve had in the back of my mind since I learned to read.

I plan to go the traditional publishing route, which I know is a long-shot and may take years. But I figure that even if I just end up documenting the trials and tribulations of finding a book agent and a publisher that should keep these blog posts entertaining reads for years to come! ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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Five Word Story Challenge | Blog Tag

Sorry this post is coming late tonight! I was tagged by Sara @ The Bibliophagist to do the 5 Word Story Challenge on Sunday! It seemed like a fun little writing challenge to stretch the writing noodle, so I decided to give it a go.

Since I’m currently working on my novel, I decided to integrate this challenge into my story. I feel like I put unnecessary pressure on myself, announcing this on Monday! But once, I realized it only needed to be five words, I was like, “Ok, that’s easy!”

It wasn’t actually all that easy (that last word was intense). I don’t think this little excerpt will work its way into the final draft of my story, but it does feature my protagonist in a scene that could be perfectly well happen, so let’s consider it an outtake.

The Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Close your eyes, open to random pages, and point your finger on a random word in the last book you have read. Articles do not count.
  • Repeat the above rule 5 times.
  • List the 5 random words you have.
  • Create a 5 sentence flash fiction using your 5 random words. Each sentence must contain at least one word from your list. You can change the tense of the word as needed.
  • Tag 3 people.

My Last Completed Book

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman (review coming tomorrow!)

5 Random Words

 other | faded | out | hours | symbolize

Story

She lay on her stomach under her bed, the other journal still bound shut under her right hand. The faded and smudged characters were a challenge to read in the dim light. But rather than come out, she was content to stay in the spot that made her feel most at home. It was had been hours since she heard the last door at the end of her corridor shut. Off-hand, she wondered if the carvings at the bottom of her door symbolized anything or if they were just scratches from a small animal who once sought freedom.

I Tag

Elle @ The Nishume Chronicles

Katherine @ The Writerly Reader

Ely (& her co-bloggers if they so wish) @ Of Wonderland

End Note

Feel free to complete this tag if you’d like to! I’d encourage anyone to put their own spin on it.

This challenge reminded me of grade school assignments where we were asked to write a one-page story using all the vocabulary words for that week. I was the weird who enjoyed that kind of assignment. I remember a Halloween-themed story particularly fondly. Why didn’t I have a mom who saved those kinds of things?!

See you tomorrow (6/7) with my book review of La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman!

Thank you for reading!
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Making a List of Possibilities | Writing Wednesdays

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 strategy or 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!

Deadline Extension

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. )

End Note

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.

Thank you for reading!
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What I’m Writing This Year | NaNoWriMo 2017

What I'm Writing

In which I share details about my WIP and how I plan to write it.

Happy Halloween! It is 7:16 p.m. as I finally begin drafting this post and I can hear the rain outside pattering against the window and flowing through the gutter. I had intended to begin writing this earlier. I had also thought I might start writing the novel already, but my sinuses have been bothering me since Monday and I’ve just been trying to get some rest.

I’ve finally created my novel on the NaNoWriMo website. Feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you would like so you can keep up with my writing progress if you are interested. I’ve added a one sentence summary to it, which I will include below.

A thirteen-year-old witch is abducted in the place of the sickly young princess in order to end a century-long curse upon the beasts who have been plaguing the countryside.

It’s going to be a YA-targeted fantasy novel. I’m still reluctant to share much more details about the story as I still feel it might change at any point, as it often has in the past as I write. I’m fairly confident in how the story will begin and, thus, I’m willing to commit to it here finally!

I anticipate there will be lots of adventure, political intrigue, and magical beasts.

How I Plan to Write

I have found that starting from the beginning is often counterproductive for me, as it will often change the course of my novel before I’ve gotten to what I have planned. It’s actually heart-breaking, because I really love writing new beginnings (more so than finishing novels in fact). But that’s why I know it will be better if I save it for later. It’s something to look forward to.

I’m going to be writing out of order this year, and jumping around as I see fit to add stuff where I feel I need to in the moment. I’ll also be writing partially in summary form and probably by subplot line so nothing is forgotten.

The very first thing I’m eager to do first thing on November 1st is write all the scenes featuring the antagonist, whether they be direct interactions or bits that will foreshadow. I’m also eager to build up a big lead at the beginning as I know it will be difficult to write on days I work, and it’s important not to fall behind too early.

End Note

I intend to post writing updates throughout the month. In the past, I’ve attempted weekly updates on my story. I will most likely try this again, but I don’t want to make any promises if it begins to seem like it’s getting in the way of my actual writing. I plan to have a couple more posts going up this week, including a book review and my October Wrap Up that I’ve decided to combine with my November TBR since both should be fairly short.

I’m so excited to start writing! Best of luck to anyone who is participating! You can do this!

Thank you for reading!
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Beginning Again, Goals, and Re-Introducing My WIP | Novel Progress #1

Yes, I am back! I will resume blogging about writing here on Betwined Reads. I feel like I’m finally in a good place where I can talk about my novel writing progress as I have both the time and the excitement to do so. To show that I am serious about it (or rather super excited about it), I’ve created a new page in my navigation bar where you can easily access all the Novel Progress posts I create on my writing journey.

In this introductory post, I will talk about what you can expect from these new weekly Wednesday posts, my current writing goals, and hear more about the novel I’m currently writing.

The Format

In each post, I generally start out with a general update about how my novel is progressing. I will likely try to highlight the most noteworthy things I’ve realized or accomplished. Then I will share some tips or advice I have found that related to whatever I’m currently working on, including links to resources I’ve found valuable. And finally I will end with some self-prescribed “homework” goals I hope to complete by the next time I write.

These posts will go up every Wednesday, unless there is an unforeseen circumstance. In October, I think I will try to organize more formal posts related to NaNoWriMo preparation, which will hopefully be useful to anyone who has not participated in the month-long writing event before or who needs the extra push to join in the frenzy!

Writing Goals

As I stated in By the first day of fall…, I hope to be already writing by September 22, 2017. This goal still stands, but I do not intend for this to mean that I’m writing everyday. Rather, I’d like to be writing specific scenes every now and then so that I may hone the craft, if you will. It’s been so long since I dedicated time to actually writing and I want to be practicing regularly each week on any scene that I feel inspired to write at the time.

If I’m doing that regularly, I think I will be in a good place to participate confidently in NaNoWriMo in November. I want to the most prepared I’ve ever been before by the start of November 1st so that 50,000 words is a breeze and I’m happy with the quality of my words.

My WIP

I’m currently writing a novel I’m calling The Log when I talk about it online. It’s not about a log, although, each time I think about it I feel like I should find a way to include one…It’s a YA novel with a young (~15 y/o) female protagonist set in a fantasy world which is like a steam punk version of the early 20th century. I’m not heavily basing her world on any one country, but in my head I am kind of referencing early U.S. history of the founding and expansion as I world-build. There’s magical creatures, adventure, mysteries, secrets, all that fun stuff!

End Note

I hope you’re as excited about these posts as I am! I think that many book bloggers out there are also aspiring authors or even just writing enthusiasts, so hopefully there’s a little something for everyone in these upcoming posts. I love reading and hearing about people’s writing progress as they tend to inspire me when I’m feeling low and also make me feel less crazy about pursuing this crazy project.

Thank you for reading!
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