Category Archives: Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 4: Feeling Like a Boss

As my first update for Camp NaNoWriMo, I must say that I am really proud of what I have accomplished so far in my writing journey.

As I stated last time, my story is bigger than I thought it originally was going to be. As I continue writing I’m discovering more and more about what I want the story to be and how I want it to unfold.

Hell, I even figured out that I want it to be a trilogy.

That said, my writing the past four days has been an epic one.

As of this moment I am currently at 16,803 words of 50,000. That’s 34% of the way to my goal. And I’m not even close to being done yet.

It feels amazing to write almost 5k words per day and to just see the story unfolding in front of my eyes. I’m learning more about my two main characters, as well as the world surrounding them, and I love it.

Though right now I’m still working out kinks and how I want certain things to flow, I do have a vague idea of major plot points, as well as some scenes I really want to work up to.

Especially the romance parts. *teehee* (I’m such a goob.)

But as of today I’m feeling like a boss. Which means, pretty much, I feel great and like I can conquer the world (muahaha!).

Now this doesn’t mean I’ll keep up my writing streak for long. I am trying to reach the next milestone every day (5k per day), so my next milestone I want to reach today is 20k words.

I’m determined, though, and I am truly loving this novel so much.

Now for today’s advice because I need it as much as any writer out there:

  • Don’t let what future reviews might say affect how you write. Do you worry about what future readers might think about your writing? I’m the sort of person that hates disappointing people, and if they’re disappointed in my work then I feel I’ve let them down. I’m already thinking of future reviews when I should be focusing on the now, on my writing, on my first draft. Don’t think about what may be; think about what you have right in front of you.
  • Reach a milestone per day and reward yourself somehow. Rewarding yourself is something that everyone loves doing. If it weren’t for rewards I’m sure a lot of us wouldn’t be doing what we love to do. I haven’t rewarded myself yet, but that’s also because I’m trying to think of something that’ll work for me. So whether that be an hour or two of Netflix after reaching your word count goal for the day, or going for a walk with a friend, or chocolate, give yourself a reward.
  • Give yourself a challenge to reach toward. I find that I’m a competitive person at times when I’m otherwise a very relaxed person (in most cases). Giving myself a challenge to strive to achieve is one such way that helps drive me to my goal. That’s why I’ve been thinking of raising my word count goal from 50k to 100k: it’s a challenge that I can strive for, and the way I’m thinking of my novel, that’s what it’ll turn into.
  • Keep cheering for yourself. There’s not shame in keeping positive in your own writing and giving yourself a pat on the back each time you reach a milestone. Others will be proud of you, too, but also try not to overdo it. Moderation is key.
  • Keep writing! Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind. It’s still early on in the month and so you just need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep writing!

Anyone participating in Camp NaNo this month? What’s the story you’re working on about? How far have you gotten? Let me know!

Advertisements

Camp NaNoWriMo Day One: Getting Started

So I’m thinking I’m going to do some posting about my process and how  well my progress is going with Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I’ll do weekly wrap-ups every Saturday, so expect those, but I may do a post or two during the week about something that inspired a great deal of writing, something that may have put a damper on it, writing from different perspectives, tenses, whatever comes to mind.

As for today, I wanted to talk about getting started with the whole writing process.

As many of you know I participated in NaNoWriMo back in November and wrote over 50,000 words. That’s the equivalent of writing a 200-220 page book. That’s a really great achievement, if you ask me. It was fun and enriching not only for myself, but for my inner writer. It’s been wanting to come out ever since then and take over, but I’ve kept it at bay. Well, now that Camp NaNoWriMo is here, I have no excuse to hold back anymore.

I was originally going to work on my draft of the story I wrote back in November. I still am, but for Camp I’m going to be writing a whole new story, one I’m actually really excited about.

So what I love about Camp NaNoWriMo is that it’s a much more relaxed version of NaNoWriMo in that you can set your own word count goal, starting from 10k words up to (I think) 1 million? I could be totally wrong on that, BUT the point is is that you can set your own word count goal. So it’s much more relaxed if you only feel like writing a shorter story than back in November.

Well, I had set my word count goal to 20k words. Doable, short, and I already had an idea that I fell absolutely in love with and was begging to be written.

But as I thought more and more about it, I raised my goal from 20k to 50k words. Yup, I’m going for another small novel length again.

As for my progress, I’m over 5.5k words and it’s only day one. Suffice to say, it’s been a really good writing day for me.

My story is going to be bigger than I thought it was, at least I’m hoping. I love the idea I had and I really want to expand upon the world and characters and everything this month.

Here’s the synopsis I wrote for it:

“Eighteen year old Abby knew she’d be working as a maid from when she was a little girl. Her mother had been a maid, as had her grandmother, and so she knew she’d have to continue the family line and work in the palace to continue their work. But she didn’t want to be a maid, she wanted freedom and a choice for herself, though she knew she couldn’t have it.

Maddock has been training to be part of the royal guard since he was fourteen and has since gone through the ranks to become the youngest Captain the palace has ever had. Now at twenty-two, he is one of the deadliest and coldest men on the field. He’s always wanted this life and strives to serve his kingdom.

Until one day when the threat of war from an ally comes and the two soon realize that they may need each other more than they realize.”

I’m excited about it. Really excited.

Now I’m not here to brag or anything like that, so let me give you a few piece of advice if you’re struggling with your novel:

  1. Have fun with it. This is probably the most important piece of advice I, or anyone, can give for this event. If you’re not having fun writing your new story, then change it up and add something to it that’ll help you to have fun.
  2. Start in the middle or the end, not the beginning. If you’re having a really hard time starting from the beginning of your novel, just write the scene that’s really stuck in your head rather than the scenes that will eventually lead up to that one. Even if your tone changes from beginning to middle to end, it’s okay; that’s what the editing months are for.
  3. Just write. Really, that’s the simplest way I can put it. Even if you write 100 words for that day, you’re still 100 words closer to your goal. Keep going and don’t give up.
  4. Don’t fall behind. It’s seriously really, really hard to catch up if you’ve fallen behind (I learned that the hard way back in November). Try to keep up with your goal, but don’t strain yourself.
  5. Talk to others in your cabin or on the forums. Talking to other writers can really be inspiring and raise your morale. Try it out a few times.

I know it can be intimidating to write anything sometimes, but just give it a go. You won’t succeed if you never try, so keep your head up and write on.

Epiphanies Are Amazing

Sometimes you just need to let go, trust yourself (and God, if you believe), and roll with the punches. Well, I rolled, and I realized that maybe I don’t need to rewrite my entire novel to be satisfied with it. Just fix what needs fixing.

I have been struggling to rewrite this novel. Yes, I kind of like the way I’m getting extra scenes and getting into the head of my other main character, but I don’t like that I have to rewrite 50,000 words. That’s a lot of words.

Long story short, my story is about a boy who ends up finding a portal to a parallel universe that is riddled with war in the U.S. and then goes on to try and find a way to help out as much he can without dying.

I put a lot of time and effort into writing it the first time, and it’s not that I don’t want to improve it, but as I look at my second draft and look at my first, I’m noticing major changes in what’s happening in the story; some good, some bad.

For instance:

  • Good: Changing a mini-major plot point that then leads the main character (boy) to find the portal, and frankly, I really like this change.
  • Bad: I’m finding that what I thought I wanted to write (1st person, present tense) isn’t what I wanted after all.
  • Good: I’ve been able to get into the head of my second main character (girl) by writing chapters from her POV.
  • Bad: If I keep my old draft, do I want to separate the chapters into different perspectives, or keep it all one POV? This requires either heavy editing or reworking scenes with her in it. Either way, lots of editing.

The list goes on, but as I’ve been sitting here the past few days trying to rewrite the story, I’ve noticed just how much I 1) don’t want to rewrite everything even though I’ve made it up to 12k words, and 2) I loved what I wrote the first time because it was in my voice, not someone else’s.

I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve realized in this short time: My rewrite is turning into voices I read in YA all the time, and I want to stand apart from that.

Having your own voice in how you write is a major component to your writing style. I know I have my own unique voice in my writing when I write short stories, and even when I wrote my first novel draft back in November. But now?

I’m noticing that I’m sounding like a lot of other YA novels. I understand that that can be the norm for these kinds of novels (and don’t get me wrong, I like reading that style), but… it’s not mine.

Also, I love the different perspectives and getting to know my characters, but as I was continuing I was noticing how similar those voices of those characters were beginning to sound and I was fearing that they would soon sound like the same person. I want readers to be able to differentiate between characters and not think that it all sounds the same. If I write from one perspective, I want it to sound like it. If I write from two, then anyone should be able to tell the difference between them.

I was able to describe so much more in my original writing than in my rewrite. I love being able to use descriptors in my writing to give a sense of the world around the character. That’s part of my style and it was almost completely gone in my rewrite.

I don’t know why I struggled so hard through this when I should have just realized that what I had, my creation, was part of who I am as a writer. To change it so dramatically, even though it did help in ways, but hinder in others, was just something that was unnecessary.

But it was needed.

If I hadn’t done what I did then maybe I wouldn’t have realized what I’d done. Yes, of course my original draft needs plenty of editing and polishing before it ever gets into the hands of others. Yes, of course I can add chapters from other characters’ perspectives if I want in my editing process.

But I think most importantly is that I don’t lose my voice. It’s part of what makes a writer a writer, after all. There are others things, too, but that’s most important, in my opinion.

So, just to let you know, yes, I will still be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but on a short story that has been dying to get out for the past two weeks (like, I can’t contain it anymore, it needs to be written).

I think this is for the best. I’ll review both versions, at least sections of them, before making an absolute decision, plus I’ll be getting my husband’s opinion on it since he’s into the kind of content I’m writing about. I don’t want to keep feeling the doubt that’s been creeping up on me throughout most of this rewriting process. I want to be sure of myself and my writing.

Have you ever had this kind of problem? Did you realize it early in the process, or way down the line? Any advice? Let me know in the comments!

Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s not that I JUST want to be a published author. It’s really not JUST about that. Yes, I think it would be super cool to have my work out there and be published and do book signings or whatever, you know?

But really, my main goal of writing is to just get my writing out there.

I can’t do that if I can’t even finish one draft of one story. Technically it’s the second draft because it’s the rewrite, but I won’t get into that right this moment.

So, as many of you know, I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November and I wrote over 50k words to win. It was a tough month, trust me, and part way through I realized I didn’t want to write my story the way I was writing it, so I knew I’d have to do a rewrite of it eventually.

Well I’ve been trying to rewrite this story in the perspective and tense and everything that I want for the past two months, right? I even set a deadline for myself and everything in my revision plans. I thought it would go over smoothly, but like anything, I’ve hit a bump in the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my story and the way it’s turning out now that I’ve switched it up to what I wanted it to be, but I’m just struggling to find the motivation to keep pressing on and write.

Maybe it’s because I hate drafting. Seriously, I hate it with a passion. I don’t outline or do anything because once I write it down I feel that I’m done and that’s the best product I’m going to give. (I know there are other steps and edits and stuff if I ever do get published, but I believe I’ll handle that differently than this initial stuff.)

Well, I want to be able to finish my story and get it out there to the world, to share my creative voice and tell the story I want to tell. But I don’t want to stop there; I want to write as many stories as my brain can come up with. I want to be able to reach for the stars and share in the wonder that words can hold on a page.

And so I think my first step, aside from the obvious finish at least one story, is to find the motivation to finish it.

NaNoWriMo in November was something that was really motivational and challenging, giving me a set date and time in which I needed to finish up to or past 50k words in order to win. I think I need that challenge because I’m otherwise never going to finish it.

Camp-Participant-2015-Twitter-ProfileSo NaNoWriMo doesn’t just happen in November, but they also do Camp NaNoWriMo in April. It’s a more relaxed version of their November one, where you can set your own word limit and write as many words per day as you can to reach that goal. Whether it’s your NaNo draft, your latest story, a comic book, or whatever other creative writing piece you happen to be working on, that’s what Camp NaNoWriMo is all about.

So I think I’m going to participate and continue working on my draft of my November NaNo story.

It’s fun and challenging to reach a word goal in a month, and April will be no different. My goal will still be 50k words, I think, and where I’m already at 10k words, I think I’ll do well, haha!

If you need that extra oomph to write in the upcoming month, I’d definitely check Camp NaNoWriMo out. Sounds fun and a lot less stressful.

Motivation: The Struggle

I’m feeling a theme for my blog entries today. It’s a real struggle to find the motivation to write lately, but when I do start writing I don’t want to stop until I essentially finish the chapter or the scene.

But finding that initial motivation to start writing is the real struggle.

Between work and just relaxing I find no motivation to write unless it’s at the most inopportune time, such as when I’m attempting to sleep. Though I was very successful during a slow day at work (I wrote over 1,000 words on paper that day), that doesn’t mean I’m successful during any other time of day.

Finding motivation is a challenge in of itself. Yes, I really want to finish this story and yes, I really want to get it out there eventually to the public. But there are several things going through the back of my mind that are related to both my personal life as well as my writing life.

Questions pertaining to jobs and financial stability are big one on my mind right now, but in terms of my writing I ask myself is it good enough? Will people be interested in reading this? I know there will be both good and bad reviews, but will the good outweigh the bad? Why am I worry about all of this now before I’ve even finished rewriting?

Frankly, I don’t know those answers. And then there are the questions about finding an agent, publication, etc. There’s a lot of things that I need to think about for this novel.

The biggest question I’ve been asking myself lately, though, is: is this the novel I want to write? As in, is this the novel that I want others to read?

I love the concept behind the story and how the story is playing out, don’t get me wrong, but I have so many other ideas that I want to get out there that I’m unsure of what to go with first.

Plus I hate writing drafts with a passion. But I got to do it, right?

The motivation thing is killing me, here, but I’m trying to find times where I’m really inspired to write. I find it difficult to just “do it” and instead try to find the times where I feel most capable of actually doing it.

Do you struggle with motivation for writing or anything else you do? Do you have any advice?

NaNoWriMo 2014 Revision Plans

This was originally posted on my other blog, Reader Rayna.

I never posted this here initially, or really kept up with updates, but I did win NaNoWriMo this year with over 50k words (50,281 to be exact)! I’m very proud of myself as I won on day 29, and I wrote my butt off to catch up when I fell behind.

If you want to read a synopsis and excerpt from my novel, you can go check out my page.

So let me talk about my revision plans. I’ve got a lot of them planned, I’m just not going to get them started until the new year because my brain needs time to recuperate after all that writing and other busy things going on, plus my husband and I are going on a honeymoon to Disney World over Christmas, so… I have no time to think about my story.

Anyway, now that I’ve rambled, let me get on with my revision plans:

  • I’m going to rewrite the entire novel in first person point of view present tense from the perspective of my main female character, Dahlia, whom I connected with much more than my main guy character, Jake.
  • After that second draft (since my first NaNo draft is… my first draft) I’m going to polish it up and have several people who were interested in reading it read it.
  • Upon feedback from them, I will revise more and start looking for/querying potential literary agents who might be able to help me get my book published.
  • Yes, my ultimate goal is to get my work published, and I do love the story very much and I believe it would be a great debut novel (at least I hope). That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to grow in my writing from doing multiple drafts or anything of the like. As many people say, it’s not about getting published, it’s about the writing process.
    • What I’ve learned from it is that I missed writing. I missed being creative and spewing out as much as possible to create a feasible, entertaining story.

So my revision plans are pretty standard, I think, for any aspiring writer. I love my story and want to share it with the world. I have many other story ideas and writing plans, I just need to implement them and begin writing. No one’s going to tell those stories but me, so I may as well get on it, right?

Did you participate in NaNo this year? How did you do? What are your revision plans, if any? Let me know in the comments below!

Tools of the Trade – Paper vs Screen

This is the first in a three part mini-series where I discuss the different tools of the trade when it comes to writing.

First off: paper vs screen (aka, computer).

As it stands, many people back in the ancient days (really, it was only like 35 years ago when the first home computers came about) didn’t have the technology to write on a computer, and so they could only write by hand on pieces of paper or parchment. These methods were often long and time consuming, and maybe sometimes the person would run out of ink and would have to find more or stop writing.

But what is the difference between writing on a page versus writing on a computer screen? Is there any sort of difference in the sort of emotional attachment to the words, or are they just different modes on communication?

Do you remember the good ol’ days in school when you would pass notes to your friends in secret messages on folded up paper? Nowadays, if a kid is spoiled, they have a phone that they can just text their friends with. But there was a sort of magic to the way paper holds the letters and how it is folded when it is handed across the room.

Aside from that, note taking by hand is a great form of memorization. Writing something down helps us to be able to remember the information later. It is a better way to memorize than by watching (visual) or listening (auditory) because there are certain neurons in your brain that connect writing to memorization.

But is writing on a screen any different? You’re still writing things down and memorizing them, right? Well, sort of.

Writing on a screen is faster and more efficient, and it’s a lot more legible if you have really bad handwriting. You can choose from many different fonts, colors, highlighting, big type, little type, and more. There’s also many different types of writing programs, such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, among others, that you can use to write whatever you need to down.

Writing by hand takes longer because you need to form each letter, curve after curve, while typing on a computer does that for you.

In reality, though, it is up to personal preference and what you write on is really up to you. But if you want to look at it in black and white: writing on paper takes more time, but is better for memorization, while writing on a computer takes less time and you can get more words written down.

What’s your preferred method of writing? Let me know in the comments below!

NaNoWriMo 2014

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’ve been super busy with working and getting ready for my wedding on November 1st.

Speaking of November, that’s when National Novel Writing Month is happening!

Haven’t heard about it? NaNoWriMo is a yearly event where writers of all writing levels take part in trying to reach the goal of 50k words in 30 days.

You’re probably wondering, “How in the world is anyone supposed to write that many words in that short of time?”

It’s actually quite possible. Many people have achieved that goal and went beyond it within the time allotted, or even sooner. When inspiration strikes it’s hard to get it to stop.

This year I will be participating in NaNoWriMo (even though it starts the day I get married). I already have an idea in place and I am really excited to be able to start.

My story is going to be a Young Adult sci-fi-ish novel based around a boy who ends up finding his way into an alternate world where he runs into himself – literally – and switches places with his alternate self to escape the real world. Upon finding himself there, though, he discovers that this alternate world is a lot more dangerous than what he had expected and he has to survive it if he wants to get back home.

I have the ending in mind, I have bits and pieces of how I want it to play out, but that’s all I’m probably going to give right now.

If you’re thinking about joining NaNo this year, or if you’re a returning member, add me as a writing buddy! I’d love to be able to read your stories and communicate with you as to how your progress is going.

Also, if you’re prepping for NaNo, don’t forget some supplies that you’ll probably want for the month: USB drive to save your stories in case some cataclysmic event happens to your computer; a computer or some other form of writing device (tablet, paper & pen, etc.); notebook to jot ideas down; coffee or tea to keep you up; and lots of supportive people who will bring your spirits up rather than kick you under the bus.

NaNoWriMo is a fun, long, and stressful time, but it’s also worth while because at the end of it you’ll be able to say, “I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days.” It won’t be pretty, and it’ll definitely need to be polished afterwards, but you made it.

In case you’re wondering, I’m going to try doing daily/weekly videos on my YouTube channel, plus some entries here, so if you want to check those out, please do!

Kids & Reading

It’s no shocker that kids who read do better in school – and not just in their English classes. In fact, the American Council on Education, as restated on Do Something, says that “53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally ‘almost every day,’ while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.”

Think about that. Just over half of young readers read for fun, while just four short years later the numbers drop over 25%. What would cause something like that?

It could be that the school systems become harder, kids growing up just have less of an interest because it’s “not cool,” or some other factor that prevents them from reading.

According to the Literacy Project Foundation, “Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country [the United States] that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.” I would be so sad if I couldn’t read to my child when I have one. Stories bring to life so many adventures and create vivid imaginations that can take many children to places they’ve never been – especially in their playtime.

Reading not only brings up literacy and allows children to succeed well into their adult years, including, but not limited to, higher education, attaining a career, and keeping out of jail. Yes, jail. It’s a scary fact (see sources linked above), but it’s true that having the ability to read above a certain level can actually help to enhance a child’s future rather than hinder it.

If you live in the United States (and other places in the world), we have this wonderful place called the library. Many larger cities have their own, as well as many schools, and so allowing children to take advantage of reading free books (so long as they have a library card and no late fees to pay off) is well worth the trade off of having a child who is happy from reading. For a list of public libraries by state, check out this link.

When picking out a book for a child, or allowing them to choose on their own, simply think of their interests: do they like animals? Superheroes? Trains? There are so many wide varieties of books to choose from that they will never be bored of it. I know that, personally, when I walked into Barnes & Noble or my local library at a young age and gravitated toward the children’s section, I was always swept away at the amazing amounts of books and the many, many different kinds I could choose from. I personally enjoyed puzzle books and animal books, but your child may enjoy books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, or any other kind of book.

For young readers under the age of eight, I recommend books like Stellaluna, Verdi, and Eloise.

For young readers age eight to thirteen, I recommend books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and really anything from this list.

But reading doesn’t have to be limited to those kinds of books. Let a child dip their toes into some more mature reads (obviously not too mature, depending on their age) and see if they can handle the language and structure. It can be a challenge, but sometimes that’s just what they need.

So what do you think about the importance of reading for a child? Do you think it’s worth it to have someone who enjoys having a big imagination, a broader vocabulary, and a sense of adventure? Sure, reading doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen (except the broader vocabulary part), but it still does allow them to find more dreams in the world than what may seem to be out there. We all know reality can be a harsh place to live in, so why not allow them to dream for just a little bit longer?

Do you think it’s important for kids to read? What would you recommend to a child under the age of 12? Do you remember what you read as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

Movie Adaptations of Books

We’ve all seen and heard of book to movie adaptations, such as Twilight, Divergent, The Great Gatsby, Life of Pi, etc. The list goes on and on.

But what is it about book to movie adaptations that make them so much worse (generally, not always) than the books themselves? And in retrospect, what makes some movies better than the books themselves?

As an avid reader and book lover, I must say that when I first read a book, and I love it, and then hear about a movie adaptation coming out of it, I have high expectations. There’s nothing that upsets me more than a bad book to movie adaptation.

Let me take a second to talk about one adaptation that really ticked me off: Blood & Chocolate. I first read this book about werewolves in middle school and loved it. It was dark, humorous, adventurous, and more. When I heard that a movie was coming out of it, of course I had to see it.

And I was severely disappointed.

The age of the characters was wrong, the plot was completely different, the acting was just bad, any form of CG was low quality at best, and it was just an overall horrible book to movie adaptation.

It kind of puts a damper on movies when you think about it because so many movies nowadays are based off of books. When the Harry Potter series first came to the big screen, many people were unsure if it was going to live up to the expectations that had been set so high by the fan base. Luckily the movies did well in representing the books (so I hear as I’ve only read the first two books thus far, but have seen all the movies). It seems to be a rare occurrence to have a decent, let alone true, adaptation.

What I think the movies lose is the sense of who the characters really are from the books when they’re being written for the screen or are spoken by a certain actor, or that there isn’t enough budget to make the world look believable, or there’s just some element missing that makes the movie that much worse than the book itself. This isn’t always the case, and there will always be some flaws in every adaptation, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some good ones out there.

The best adaptation I’ve seen recently was The Fault in Our Stars. Every line of the book and every scene from the book took place in the movie, minus one scene that was changed from what was in the book. Obviously some parts were snipped out due to time restraints and budget, but it was the most faithful book to movie adaptation I’ve seen in a long, long time.

And then there are some movies that are actually better than the books. These seem to be few and far in between, but they do exist somewhere out there!

Though adaptations can be a controversial subject as to quality on each medium, the fact of the matter is how you view each and your own opinions on them.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on everything discussed in the comments!