Do a Time-Sprint

Kinda a mini-post today.  Featuring overly excited words, Doctor Who gifs, and not a ton of content.  Enjoy!


GUYS GUYS GUYS!  Y’all know how much I love NaNoWriMo, right?  Well, here’s a reason to love them even more.

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They just launched a new feature on their website called Goal Trackers.  You know how in November, there’s this shiny graph and tracker that tells you your stats for the novel you’re writing? Well, now there’s a tool that you can use year-round: the Goal Tracker.  You can set your goal to be in either words or hours, and your goal doesn’t have to be just for one month – it can be anything from a day to three months!  Here’s what mine looks like:

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So, since my current project is a re-write – and since it’s super messy to measure the word count on a re-write – I love the fact that I can have my goal be in hours instead of words.

Here’s the thing: If I only track words, that doesn’t count my brainstorming or plotting or editing or whatever else.  I like that the method of tracking hours give me credit for all my work – not just for the number of words I’ve written.  You feel me?

So.  The last several writing days, I’ve pulled out my phone, set my stopwatch, and started noveling!  Who knew logging hours could be so fun?

There’s just something really rewarding about getting to put in numbers for things you’ve accomplished.  Since novels are such big projects, it’s hard to quantify how much progress you’ve made in a day or a week or a month.  And this is especially true with re-writes.  But if I can log hours spent, that’s definitive progress and it feels like a little victory each day.

Also, I’ve overall just found that some way of keeping track of my writing is always helpful.  It keeps me more mindful of when I’m writing a lot and when I’m really not.  And I like it a lot better when I’m writing more.

So, if you can squeeze in 5 or 10 minutes today, set your stopwatch and get to work.  Say, “I’m taking 15 minutes to do nothing but novel.”  It’s a lot of fun.  The clock is ticking.

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Anyways!  Do you lovely folks use anything to track your writing goals or progress?  Do you find that it helps?  Let me know in the comments!  Also, let me know if you’ve checked out NaNo’s Goal Tracker, and what you thought of it.

P.S. I’m not actually sure how new this feature is.  It might be like 6 months old.  But it’s the first time I’ve seen it, and I really really like it.

P.P.S. Sorry for the Doctor Who gifs?  Sorry not sorry.

 

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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.

 

NaNoWriMo Thoughts

 

20160921_164639_29805381896_oIt’s almost October.  While all normal people are starting to plan their Halloween costumes, we writers are starting to plan our novels for November.

Or, if you’re me, you’ve just jumped into an editing frenzy.

(I seem to remember doing this last year as well.  Good job, Beth.)

With the leaves starting to fall, I think it’s time to have a discussion about NaNoWriMo that’s been a long time coming.

Last November, I won NaNoWriMo.  It was my first time truly participating, and it was 30 days of late nights and strong coffee and writing with strangers who became friends.

It started out with me loving the fact that I was finally getting this new idea out of my head and onto paper.  But then it turned into me abandoning all concept of “plot” in favor of meeting a wordcount goal each day.

The end result was a very quickly-written, but not very cohesive novel.

It took me only 30 days to write 50,000 words.

My previous novel had taken me 2 years to write 100,00 words.  (The novel’s about 80,000 words, but the first quarter had to be re-written mostly from scratch.)

So, NaNo’s great, right?!  You basically speed through the rough-draft process!  Yay!

Well, yes.  And no.

‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.’   -JRR Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

NaNo is great because it gets you writing every day.  It connects you with other writers online and in your local area.  It makes writing fun again in a new and exciting way.  And at the end of the month, you will (hopefully) have 50,000 words of a manuscript done.

But here’s where NaNo fell short for me:  At the end of November, I walked away from my NaNo novel.

I was terrified to even touch it because I knew it was an utter train wreck.

I am just now brave enough (or curious enough) to have read through that novel and see if it’s worth salvaging.  I’m happy to report that it is, and that I’ve started the editing process.

But I think that for some of us, NaNoWriMo is too intense.  We burn so bright that we burn ourselves out.  We write something so fast that we lose sight of what we wanted it to be in the first place.

So while I am planning on signing up for NaNo2016, but I’m not going to beat myself up to meet a daily word-count goal.  I’m going to try to follow a plot of some sort while writing.  And I’m not going to sacrifice quality for quantity.  My tentative plan is to do a “half-nano,” where I write 25,000 words in the month.  They’ll be 25,000 words that follow and actual plot and make sense.

imag0539_27457904034_oSo, back to editing.  I’m finally working on last November’s novel.  For me, the first step in editing is reading through my novel and mapping out the plot points on index cards.  This first picture is the plot of The Sound of Color, and it was done on my closet at home.  The second one is for my 2015 NaNo novel, and it’s done on a wall of my dorm.

I love having the visual of what’s happening in the plot, and being able to see how one thing leads to the next.  I can also move the cards around or put up other cards with notes on them like “ADD A SCENE HERE” or “Come back and fix this!”

It allows me to focus on fixing the Big Issues with my plot before touching the Little Issues of chapters and words.

 

 

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Wherever you are, whatever your feelings are for NaNo, whether you’re editing or writing or working on query letters, or re-writing chapter 1 of your novel for the 18th time, just don’t quit.  You’re an amazing human being and the world needs to hear what you have to say.

And I hope to see you all this November.

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My Love-Hate Relationship with my NaNo Novel

Well, folks, I sincerely apologize for the lack of posts lately.  But the truth is, since NaNoWriMo ended, I’ve needed a break from anything writing-related.

But today I’d like to talk a bit about my feelings for this NaNoWriMo novel that I’ve spent the last week completely ignoring.

The first thing that comes to mind is burning hatred.  It is awful.  The plot makes no sense, and there are more plot holes than I can count.  The characters are flat, the dragons don’t get developed nearly at all, the first three chapters are in past tense instead of present, and just the whole thing is hugely awful.

Today, however, I made the decision to open up my MS and read some of what I wrote during November.  Just to see if it’s really as bad as I thought it was.

And guess what?  Some of it was.

But a lot of it wasn’t.

Okay.  So NaNoWriMo didn’t deliver a perfectly-plotted novel into my lap.  It didn’t drop life-like characters from the sky.  But it did do a lot for me.

It allowed me to write a rough – very rough – draft of a novel.  It allowed me to get an idea down on paper.  (Well, computer screen.  Same difference.) It allowed me to see where I need to go from here with this novel.  It gave me the chance to create some really cool characters, some incredibly amazing ideas, some scenes that make me want to laugh or cry or both.

And my favorite thing?  It allowed me develop this sarcastic, witty, informal voice that I am absolutely in love with.  My MC makes jokes and funny comparisons to herself, and it’s straight up awesome.  To show you how great it is, here are some examples:

I watch in horror as Brylee’s long, lovely black ringlets become choppy strands of limp, cheek-length hair. It’s like a pixie cut done by a drunk pixie.


 

“Alright!” she says when she’s done. “Now for Stage Two!”

I swallow. Stage One was just so much fun.


 

The hot pink lipstick makes me feel like a total weirdo. A pretty wierdo, but a weirdo nonetheless.


 

“Wait wait wait!” Brylee says. “Let me get a picture.” She pulls out her Iphone, holds it up, and waits. “Oh, never mind. It’s dead. Maybe we’ll buy one of those portable chargers while we’re in town, and I’ll get a picture when we get back.”

“If we get back,” I mutter under my breath.

“Right,” says Daniel. “Either we get captured and killed, or we have to face Brylee’s photography. It’s a no-win situation.”


 

I glance around at the shop. It is, by far, the biggest jewelry store I’ve ever been in. And – don’t tell Brylee – the first magic jewelry store I’ve ever been in. The store is actually two levels. That’s right. Because one huge floor of too-sparkly bracelets and necklaces isn’t enough.


 

The spiral staircase is like an escalator, just, you know, spiral. Man, if I’m shocked by a spiral-staircase-magic-escalator, I really need to get out in the magic world more.


 

I look at the blue earrings on the table in front of me. I do really want them. But it seems silly to want something as frivolous as earrings when our lives might end in about fifteen minutes.


 

I think I’m gonna break a rib from holding my breath this long.


 

“You’re awake! Good,” says Brylee.  “Here, I’ve brought you some clothes. You might want to, uh, take a shower…” She looks at the floor, like she’s trying not to be rude about my appearance/smell/the fact that it’s now been thirty-six hours, one fire, and two teleportations since my hair has been brushed.


 

I can’t help thinking about Eric on the way home. You’re pretty, he’d told me. He must have terrible vision.


 

I stroke Fangar under the chin, and he purrs a cute Dragon-Purr. You think your sister will get less angry later? I ask him.

She just wants to eat someone, he says innocently. I swallow hard.


 

Adileen is still staring at me funny. I wonder if she’s a bit afraid of dragons, or if she just thinks they’re gross and might mess up her dress.

Probably the latter.


 

So, even though there are a lot of things that are totally wrong with my novel, there is so much that I actually love.  And I think I needed to step away from it for a week in order to realize that.  To see that it might actually have potential someday.

But not right now.  I think I need a bit more space from it before I keep writing/ do re-writes.  It seems like a good project to work on while I’m querying TSOC.  Yes, you heard right.  I do indeed plan to start querying in the next couple months.  Just as soon as I get around to writing a super awesome query letter.  BLOG POST COMING SOON ABOUT WRITING QUERY LETTERS!