Happy December!

How did it get to be December 2nd already?

Ah, look at that.  The Hamilton Mixtape is out today!

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In other news, another NaNoWriMo is here and gone.  Nope, I didn’t win this year.  Didn’t even come close.  But I’m A-OK with that.  I started a story that needed to be written, and I’m so excited to see where it’s taking me.  I’m back in The Writing Mode, which is the best place to be.  I’m editing and writing and excited to start querying again after the holidays.  (Most literary agencies close up shop in December and January because it’s such a crazy time of year.)

Also, here’s another fun writerly-resource that I stumbled across: it’s called Scapple.  It’s a plotting program made by the same people who made Scrivener.  Basically, it’s a plotting tool where you can outline events or characters and connect them and move them around and add notes about them.  And like Scriviner, it has a 30 day free trial.  (30 days of use, not 30 consecutive days.)  AND I LOVE IT.  I’m too much of an anti-plotter (pantser at heart, you guys) to stick to traditional outlines.  But I’m writing a series now and I really kinda need to know what’s happening when.  So Scapple has been wonderful and freeing. (I’m not getting paid to promote it or anything.  I just think it’s super cool.)  Here’s an example of what it can look like:

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Here’s the actual plotting I’ve done on it:

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I really like it.  And I really like where this story is going.  It’s like I’m getting deeper and deeper into this world, discovering the heart of this series’ story.  The different story plots are weaving together and I’m madly in love.  Gotta go do some writing.  I have one week of classes left, and then I’ll have free days and late nights for hot cocoa and good books and writing.

Happy December everyone.  Turn on some Christmas music and write some words.  You never know the power your story has to change someone’s life.

Moving Forward

How about a NaNo Wordcount update?

nano-wordcount

So.  I’m, uh, quite a bit behind.  I’ve written over 13,000 words, which is still amazing.  And I’m so proud of what I’ve written.  I have fun new characters, a plot that I’m really liking, and I’ve been having a lot of fun.  I feel like what I’m writing has the potential to become an actual story someday, which is what I was going for.

I’m not beating myself up for being behind.  I had a 10-page paper due this morning, and college life is just busy.  And that’s okay.  But also, like, I’m definitely blaming the election for knocking me off track.  Literally I was doing great until November 8th.  Ahahaha oh well.

nano-wordcount-election

So I did some more writing today.  But I also spent several hours online, creating a map for my fictional world.  It was something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and today I finally found software that would do what I wanted.  Here was my end result:

map-1

I’m super happy with how it turned out.  It’s not quite put-in-the-front-of-the-book quality, but it looks amazing and it will work perfectly for my purposes.  (Basically, I needed to plot out where things were in my world so that I could accurately write about scenery/ direction of travel/ travel time from one location to another.)  The world isn’t necessarily finished, but I can always go back and edit more later.

The website I used was http://inkarnate.com/ and I highly recommend it.  It’s currently in Beta testing, but it works really smoothly, and it’s free.  You can save your maps online to return to later, and you can download them as Jpeg images.

Back to NaNo.  I will probably not end up writing 50,000 words this month.  But that’s completely okay.  I am doing other things that I need to do, like homework assignments, and creating maps, and re-reading The Sound of Color.  NaNoWriMo simply served as the jump-start I needed to get my creative cogs spinning again.

And let’s be honest.  Ideally, someday, I will be a published author.  Ideally, someday, I will be able to quit my day job and sit at home all day long spinning stories and sipping coffee.  And at that point, 50,000 words in a month (or something equivalent) is a reasonable amount of work.  (Or the editing/ whatever equivalent to that pace).  But I’m not there right now.  Right now, I’m a full-time student.  And I will probably have a full-time job for a while before I ever get to be a full-time writer.  And that’s okay.  So while last year’s NaNo was about proving to myself that I could do this crazy thing – achieve this lofty and improbably goal – this year’s NaNo is about starting again.  Picking up the creative threads that I had largely abandoned for a while.  And you know what?  It feels really good.

NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul (or was it the election?)

Just kidding.  I don’t have a soul.

Hahahaha…

See, this is the type of dark humor I’ve been reduced to.  Thanks, NaNo.

In the first 7 days of November, I wrote over 11,000 words.  I’m surprised my fingers aren’t bleeding yet.

In the first week of NaNo, some stuff happened.

  1. Before November, I plotted and planned for the story that I have mentally named The NightOwl Bookstore, which I have blogged about and bragged about here and here.  But THEN.  A few days before November 1st, I decided it was a great idea to start working on a story I have mentally named THE SEQUEL.  In other words, the sequel to The Sound of Color, the high-fantasy novel that got me started on this whole “writer” thing to begin with.  The one I’m trying to get published.  The one that is my precious child and I love dearly.
  2. So I’m writing THE SEQUEL and suddenly it’s November 1st, and I tell my brain that it’s time to leave my high fantasy world and come write the Contemporary about the bookstore that I’ve been plotting and planning.  To which my brain replies: um… no.
  3. So now I’m writing a sequel.  HOW DOES ONE SEQUEL?  HOW DOES ONE WRITE A SERIES?  HOW DOES ONE -?  How did I manage to write 10,ooo words in 6 days? Impressive.

And then it was November 8th.  The day the world kinda imploded.  You see, I live in the United States.  So I kinda spent the entire day focused on the election and not really on my writing.  And then the next day, I kinda spent the entire day on trying not to cry and not really working on my writing.

So.  If I was to “catch up” today, I would have to write 5,000 words.  Note to self: if you wanna win NaNo, don’t schedule an election skip two days of writing.

I’m not sure if I’m going to try to catch up with NaNo.  I’m also not really sure how to respond to the results of the election.  But here’s the thing: being a writer is about having good days and bad days, and learning to not let your bad days ruin your good ones.  It reminds me of one of my favorite Doctor Who quotes:

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I’m going to be wholly frank: I was disappointed with the results of the election.  But having a future president that I strongly dislike does not negate the beauty of the rest of my country.  There are still a million leaves around my university campus, each a different shade of red or orange or yellow or speckled with brown.  There is still poetry and music.  We are getting two more songs from the Hamilton Mixtape released this week.  Moana comes out in two weeks.  God is still good, and life will carry on.  (And if you’re excited about the outcome of the election, you are fully entitled to have your own opinion.)

Likewise, my two days of not-writing do not negate the victory of having written 11,000 words in the first week of NaNo.  Whether I catch up or not is irrelevant.  The important thing is that I don’t let my bad writing days ruin my good ones.

Wherever you are, election- or writing-wise, keep on.  Set your heart on the good.  Write like you’re running out of time.  And if you need some encouragement, put on some Hamilton.

Alright.  Gotta go do some noveling.

NaNoPrep – Part 2

Okay, so NaNoWriMo is three days away.  If you’re like me, and you’re a hopeless Pantser and Procrastinator, then these-last minute tips are for you.  (I like to tell people I put the Pro in Procrastination.)

1. Stockpile Halloween Candy.

There’s nothing like a Kit-Kat staring you down as you try to write the next 500 words.  My personal favorite for writing is Twizzlers.  I’m pretty sure I consumed like 100 Twizzlers in the first week of NaNo last year.  But hey, if that’s what it takes….

2.  Check out the forums.

I especially recommend this forum, which is for word sprints, challenges, and word-wars.  Pretty sure that word-wars are the greatest things in the universe.  My competitive nature takes over and forces me to write faster than humanly possible.  Word sprints are also great.  (Why do you write like you’re running out of time?  CAUSE I LITERALLY AM.)

But there are forums for basically everything nano-related.  Adopt-a-character, help with outlining, advice on life with NaNo… it’s a glorious black hole of information.

3.  If you can, find people in your area.

Join your region forum, and then see if anyone’s organizing write-ins near you.  I went to a bunch of write-ins last year, and they were amazing.  Like so darn cool.  And if no one’s organized a write-in in your area already, organize one yourself!  Otherwise, at least see if you can drag a creative friend to Starbucks for a few hours.  Their job is to make sure you write the whole time you’re there.

4.  Do SOME Planning.

I’m pretty much a Panster, but I do wholeheartedly suggest that you do some sort of planning.  Not necessarily plotting, but planning.  Maybe you want to figure out your main character’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.  Maybe draw what your characters look like with colored pencils. Or plan your opening scene.  Or maybe plan how you want your story to end.  Or stockpile names for characters, explore your magic system, or come up with your villain’s catchphrase.  Do something.  Get your creative juices flowing.

Here’s a good blog post if you need help with basic plotting: 5 Secret Steps to Story Building.

If you’re looking for an epic overview of different ways to outline, try this insane blog post: How to Outline… (warning: language in that post.  But worth it ’cause it’s awesome.)

5.  Stock up on Sleep.  Sleep while you can.  Get all the Sleep.  Because come November, you’ll need it.

 

Good luck to everyone embarking on NaNoWriMo, whether it’s your first year or tenth!  You are gonna do great!  See you in November.

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NaNoPrep – Part 1

Today’s blog post will be Part 1 of the last-minute NaNoPrep I’m frantically starting a week before November 1st.

Here’s some things I’ve done that I highly suggest:

1.  Create a Playlist

Complete with Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, LOTR soundtrack, and a touch of Hamilton, I have a playlist titled “NaNo2016.”  Also there might be a couple of Disney songs.  I mean, “Go the Distance” from Hercules, and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan seem appropriate for a month of noveling craziness.  You can check it out here if you’re interested.

2.  Get to Know Some Characters/ Places.

I may or may not have created Pinterest Boards for some of my characters.  And my main setting.  Ooopsy.  It’s actually pretty awesome, because now I can visualize them.  Being able to see characters dress is one of my favorite prep mechanisms.  Also, Pinterest is an amazing way to procrastinate when you have homework due in a few short hours.

3.  Post on Facebook, Instagram, and other places.  Annoy everyone you know.  Tell them all about your noveling endeavor.

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NaNoPrep Part 2 will be coming later this week.

Start stockpiling candy and caffeine, folks.  November is coming.

Puzzle Pieces and NaNoPrep

Writing is like assembling a puzzle.

Sometimes you have an idea of what the finished product is supposed to look like, sometimes you don’t.

But you’ve got all these different pieces whizzing around in your brain.

Plot pieces, characters, snippets of dialogue, setting details…

And often times you’re not sure how they fit together.

Well, this one’s a corner piece, but I’m not sure what that is.

Some people like to prepare before they start putting the puzzle together.  Arguably, the easiest way is to find all the edge pieces and put those together first.

Okay, this analogy is falling apart.

But writing is hard.  There are so many moving parts, so many things to orchestrate.  Sometimes it’s daunting.  Often times there’s a lot of procrastination involved.

Which is why I love NaNoWriMo.  It forces us to just start putting pieces together.

Okay.  Brain tired.  Here’s a video about why NaNoWriMo is brilliant.

And to all of you people out there prepping for NaNo2016, start flipping over the puzzle pieces and sorting them out.  Two weeks until November.

 

More Poetry and a Bunch of College Feelings

College life is… hard.  Busy.  Fun.  Crazy.  Lots of work.

I thought it was going to be like this:

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And it’s more like this:

hermionie-hits-harry

Okay, it’s actually been a lot of fun.  But mostly I’m just busy all the time.

Anyways, here’s another poem I wrote for my Creative Writing Class.  I hope you enjoy.

The world smells of dead leaves; the air’s ripe for campfires –

It’s a beautiful decay.  So then why are you

wearing shorts when it’s 65 degrees today?

I’d rather stay warm in gray boots, crunching through leaves.

Mornings of pale sun, each breath is a breeze of icy blue wind

Which turns to white fog as I exhale, and then –

 

the wind misses summer’s heat,

so it steals mine, right from under my jacket.

And steals leaves from high trees; I watch as they float

Tentatively

Towards the

Ground.

Where they tumble along on the sidewalk

as I walk to class, as if swept along in invisible rivers of glass.

The trees catch flame; they’re never the same two years in a row,

From bright summer green to autumn yellow,

then yellow to scarlet, and red to brown

as they fall to the ground.

And then one morning they’re gone.

Lost

under a layer of frosty white winter.

 

I’m quite proud of it.

Anyways, now my class has shifted from Poetry to Fiction.  Next week I have to turn in a short story, and I’m slightly terrified.

I mean, sure, I can write a novel in a month.  But write a short story in a week?  AHHHH.

*Epicly plugs in coffee pot.*

Anyways, my lovely people, I hope your week is going well, and that you’re having success planning for NaNo if you’re doing it.  See you later!