NaNoWriMo 2018 Kick-Off

First of all, let me start by saying Happy Halloween! I’m sorry it’s taken me a little while to get back to the blog and talk about my writing. Truth is I didn’t accomplish very much this month. It’s now been exactly two weeks since I had my nose surgery and I’m just now starting to feel more like myself again.

For NaNoWriMo I will continue working on Troubling a Star, which I’m renaming A Familiar Story. It suits it better and will mark a new leaf for this project. I recently looked back at my plot summary for the project this weekend and fell back in love with the story. I think trying to write chronologically was messing me up, so I’ll probably be jumping around this month in an effort to maintain my enthusiasm and momentum.

November Writing Goals

The official goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, which translated to about 1,667 words per day on average. I’ve long been a proponent of each participant picking a goal that works for them and their schedule; the most important thing being participating at all. This year I will be aiming for that 50k word count goal.

Additionally, I have mini-goals for the month that relate to writing.

  • Write at least 5 minutes every day
  • Write somewhere different at least once a week
  • Use my bullet journal
  • Don’t start any new books or T.V. shows!!!

My Bullet Journal

I’ll share it next week!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

Sorry this post went up a little later than I meant for it. It actually published before I was finished drafting it. I had decided not to post it, then it went up and I realized I should just polish it up.

I would like to start blogging a little more regularly, but this is not the month for me to commit to anything major. I’m planning to do at least one post per week related to NaNoWriMo and it is simply going to be a weekly log of my progress. I’ve already started it and I’m super excited about it.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you preparing?

Thank you for reading!
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OctoWriMo | NaNoWriMo Prep

Hey! Sorry for the short absence! October started with a bang and I didn’t want to burn myself out so I took a little unexpected break while I worked on other things that I want to begin to share. I’ve been working on my story, so that’s been a lot of fun!

I decided I wanted to gear up for NaNoWriMo this November by practicing in October with a modified daily word count goal. Instead of the goal of 1,667 words, I decided to merely write 1,000 minimum a day. That’s not been happening every day yet, but I’m optimistic I will end the month at that pace and with 31k words total regardless of my slow start.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about NaNoWriMo to start practicing making time to write and putting words on the page. If you want to be a writer, you don’t need to wait until November to start writing. In this post, I hope you are inspired to start writing! I’ll be sharing what I’ve been up to for the past 10 days and my revised plans for the month of NaNoWriMo Prep!

Writing This Month So Far…

As you may already know, for the past couple of months I’ve been working on my WIP currently titled Troubling a Star (TaS). The title no longer fits, but it was never meant to be a final title anyway. For the sake of continuity I will not be changing it until I’m done with the first draft! I started writing it in August with a very loose idea of the plot and where the story needed to go.

see: A New WIP

In August, I had decided to start writing in a Google Doc so that my writing buddy could check on my progress (or lack thereof) and give me positive feedback whenever she wished. I’ve since taken away her viewing privileges so she can be surprised when she reads it for the first time, but I’m still writing primarily in that Google Doc! I’ve added a Table of Contents, so it’s easy to jump directly to the chapters I’m working on when I open the webpage.

I’ve talked about how I initially plotted this story last month, but I recently completed a more detailed plot outline by summary outlining. With the major plot points I had as light posts guiding me through the murky swamp that was my story, I wrote short paragraphs in which I elaborated about what happens to my protagonist. So essentially I told myself the story in 1,315 words.

I am so glad I dedicated more time to plotting in this way because I truly believe it will help me write a book that feels very cohesive and not just like disjointed parts glued together. I added characters and mini plot arcs that will strength the main story.

When I was at the midpoint I started breaking my outline into chapters by copying and pasting excerpts from the summary under the corresponding chapter headers, breaking paragraphs up where it felt most natural to start a new chapter. I assume as I write there will be even more that happens that might change where I break up chapters, but for now it will just help me know where I am in the story.

My Google Doc currently has 3,465 words in it but a lot of that is stuff I wrote before my more detailed plot outline, so I feel like I’m starting from scratch! However, the thing about NaNoWriMo is you must not delete anything. If something doesn’t fit anymore put it aside but DON’T DELETE! So I’ve moved about 2k words to the very bottom of the document to a “chapter” titled “Unsorted”. (These include scenes I still very much like and will be saving for future projects, perhaps.)

Now that I’ve got a better idea of what I need to write, my goal is to start writing at least 1,000 words a day as originally planned. I will most likely be jumping around a bit to write the stuff that seems the most compelling or important to write first. I’m keeping a journal to help me keep track of all my writing progress on a day-to-day level.

October NANoWriMo Prep

I shared my NaNoWriMo Prep schedule for this month last month before I took my little break, but I still want to stick to that, so you can expect what should’ve been today’s post at some point before next Wednesday (fingers crossed)!

  • Oct. 3: OctoWriMo | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 10: Deciding What to Write | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 17: A Writing Bullet Journal + Organization Tips | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 24: NaNoWriMo Survival Kit | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 31: Making Time to Write | NaNoWriMo Prep

I’d don’t know how long it will take me to finish up a first draft of TaS, but I’m still really energized by the opportunity of starting something completely new for NaNoWriMo next month, specifically a contemporary. I just saw A Wrinkle in Time (2018) and actually thought it was a really good modernization and adaptation of the book. Even though it did drag on a bit and get a little lost on the way to the original message of the story.

I would really like to try to write my own L’Engle-inspired work! By that, I mean a book that deals with contemporary issues and modern day scientific discovery. I think I will talk about this more in my next post in which I try to help aspiring writers tips for generating story ideas.

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

I was hoping to include my writing updates this month at the beginning of every post, but I may actually start sharing the odd writing update in single posts as I do find myself having a lot to say. I’ve thought about starting up my YouTube channel again instead to dedicate specifically to my writing updates, but that presents its own challenges!

So I guess we’ll see! I’m hoping to be back with regular blog posts again this weekend so stay tuned for that. ^_^

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you preparing?

Thank you for reading!
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Setting Writing Goals | Novel Progress

My writing buddy and I usually Skype at least once a week, typically during the weekend, and for as long as I can remember we tend to end each call with plans for what we would like to accomplish on our own before we next talk. These are really simple, achievable goals that are easy to remember so that we can hold each other accountable.

We pick these goals for ourselves. They are things we would like to achieve, that are within reason, and the only obstacles to them is ourselves and how we choose to spend our time during the week. She’s amazing and meeting and exceeding these goals. I’m so-so. But I love setting goals. I love knowing what I should be doing (even if I don’t do it)!

Types of Writing Goals

Whether you are a fan of setting goals or not, I think we can all agree they serve some function of motivation. I think they also help writing a novel seem more manageable. Each goal is a stepping stone that leads to the ultimate destination: a complete novel draft.

There are a few different types of goals you can consider setting for yourself. There are long-term and short-term goals. With long-term goals you may have dates in mind for completing your WIP as a whole or for beginning your novel querying. Short-term goals are often stepping stones toward the long-term goal. They take less time to complete and account for different methods to achieving the long-term goal.

Here are some writing goals you might consider on a daily or weekly basis:

  1. Word count goals. Similar to NaNoWriMo, you may aim for productivity by consistently adding new words to your draft. If you know exactly what you want to write, or have no problem writing on the fly, then this goal might be great for you. You can be ambitious or realistic, adjusting the exact number of words as needed.
  2. Finish [x] chapters/scenes. If you want to prefer to look at your novel as a collection of discrete parts, you might feel more productive meeting a goal where you are writing scene-by-scene. Instead of a random number of words, you can know when your writing session for the day is complete when you’ve finished a specific part of your book. Word count doesn’t matter. You’re weighing your satisfaction upon the completion of a scene.
  3. Task-oriented goals. Maybe you like to edit as you go. You might have a goal of writing one chapter this week and next week you’re going through a round of edits. Maybe you leave a lot of fill-in-the-blank spots in your draft and like to attend to those all a once. These can encompass a number of things: naming places/characters, writing witty dialogue, adding hints of foreshadowing, fixing plot holes. Its all still work you can quantify as progress.
  4. Sitting down at [this time] to write. If actually sitting down to write is your problem, then you might consider making it your writing goal to write at specific times/places during the week. No, it may not relate directly to your novel. But this goal will help you complete your novel in the long run.

You have got to know yourself and your writing in order to set good goals for yourself. I personally jump back and forth between all of these different writing goals each week.

If I’m having trouble making the words flow, I find having a word count goal can help. If my mind is on a specific part of the novel, I may dedicate my time specifically to working on that. Sometimes I just want to spruce up the words I already have. I find that by looking closely at my words from time-to-time sparks ideas for things that can happen before and later.

October NANoWriMo Prep

In case you’re new to the blog, you may not know that I love participating in NaNoWriMo each year. When I was younger, NaNoWriMo always seemed to sneak up on me, so in an effort to promote the writing event and encourage others to participate, I organize a weekly NaNoWriMo preparation series on the blog in the place of the regularly scheduled writing updates.

I announced my schedule in my Week in Review this past Sunday, but I also wanted to share it here for anyone who might have missed it.

  • Oct. 3: OctoWriMo | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 10: Deciding What to Write | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 17: A Writing Bullet Journal + Organization Tips | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 24: NaNoWriMo Survival Kit | NaNoWriMo Prep
  • Oct. 31: Making Time to Write | NaNoWriMo Prep

I’m hoping to finish up my current WIP so I can start something entirely new for NaNoWriMo, but I don’t know yet if it will be possible. I have to make sure I’m in a good place to stop with Troubling a Star, if I’m going to start a new project.

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I started a bullet journal, specifically for writing. It’s turned into a real bullet journal, now though, so it’s taken me some time and research to create page layouts that work for me. The actual writing-related sections are in my October spread, so I’m excited to start seeing how those work next month. Hopefully I’ll be able to share my success on the 17th as currently planned!

What kinds of writing goals do you set for yourself?

Thank you for reading!
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Announcement + Plans | NaNoWriMo 2017

Today I want to officially announce that I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2017! In case you’ve never heard of it, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event that takes place each November. The main objective is to complete a new novel from scratch with a minimum of 50,000 words by the end of the month, which translates roughly to 1,667 words per day. It’s a whirlwind, but it’s fun!

I prefer to think of the rules as guidelines, so I anticipate I may start my novel early. But my goal will still be to add 50,000 words between November 1-30.

If you are not certain if you would like to participate, I encourage you give it a shot if you’ve ever thought you wanted to be a writer. It’s an amazing time of the year where all kinds of writers are joined together over this crazy goal and you will have so much emotional and motivational support, especially if you are active in the NaNoWriMo forums or on Twitter where there will almost always be writing sprints available.

Directly following today’s post, I plan to release two more before November 1st. One will cover some thoughts and tips on plot for anyone who may be still be wondering about what they want to write if they participate. In the second I will share as much as I can about my novel and how I personally think I will go about writing, including personal goals.

During the month I hope to do weekly writing updates, some things I might find useful as I go. I also am already planning an inspiration/motivation post for the second week of November that I think will help anyone like me who is sure to be suffering after the “honeymoon period” of NaNoWriMo (aka the time after the initial week’s excitement when the doubts settle in and distractions come into play).

Pep talks I think only work so much and I’ve stumbled upon a few resources I will share along the month that may hopefully help you keep your writing mojo going. I do think that one of the most important things to keep in mind is that it’s supposed to be fun.

End Note

Let me know in the comments if you plan to participate in NaNoWriMo or have any questions I or anyone else might be able to answer. If you have no interest in NaNo-themed posts, rest assured I will continue to post book reviews or anything else I find interesting on the topic of books through November. I will have my October ’17 Wrap Up and November ’17 TBR coming out next weekend after the NaNoWriMo kick off is completed. ^_^

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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Time for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Hello friends!

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!

Word Goal

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.

Tips

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:

  1. 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. :)
  2. 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.
  3. 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?!)
  4. 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.
  5. 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).

Plans

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!

Thank you for reading!
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What I Learned from Two Weeks of Writing Everyday

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.

End Note

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!

Thank you for reading!
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March Writing Goals

Hello lovelies,

It’s been a little while, but I’ve actually been productive. Starting last Sunday, my writing buddy and I decided to Skype every day for at least one 20-minute writing sprint. Despite some procrastination on my part and exhaustion on hers (she’s not on a spring break yet), we’ve managed to do it thus far. It’s been amazing. The hardest part of writing for me has always been sitting my butt down to focus and do it, so being accountable to her has been helpful.

I return to my school and work schedule this Tuesday, but we’re resolved to continue our with our habit while she has the week off. Whereas we Skyped mostly evenings this past week, I think we’ll be doing it in the mornings this upcoming week. I’m excited by this because I’ve often considered mornings to be my favorite time of day.

There’s about two weeks left in March so I wanted to write this post, just as a way to keep myself motivated. I love making time in my day to write, but I’m still waiting for that feeling that comes from writing something you think means something and will be worth it.

Goals

  • Write for at least 20 minutes every day.
  • Write at least 400 words every day.

End Note

Spring Break is officially over for me and I have a rough week ahead of me, so my next post will probably not be up until the weekend. I’m currently reading Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner so I’d love to have a book talk up on that next week. I may also have a post up for this week’s #Wordbound. The prompt?

Thank you for reading!
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