Posted in NaNoWriMo, Reading

July TBR (To Be Read) + Camp NaNoWriMo

july

Here are all the books I plan to read in the month of July.

I’m also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month (more info on that here: http://campnanowrimo.org/) so in order to balance my reading and writing, I’ll probably have to read a little less this month than usual. I’m super excited about my WIP though, so this should still be a great month! (I’m also planning on posting a Writing Updates video later this month where I talk more about my WIP and Camp NaNo, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.)

Click here to see the books I’m reading!

If you’re also participating in Camp NaNo, let me know, and hope the month goes well for you!

Have you read any of the books I talked about? What are you planning to read this month?

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing & Publishing, Writing Tips

Why Even People Who Don’t Like NaNoWriMo Should Try It

A lot of people disagree with NaNoWriMo. Some go as far as to dislike the event and the entire community that comes together every November (or April and July if you’re a camper) to take on the challenge of writing a novel in a month.

I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t listen to them.

What they say isn’t wrong. I won’t argue with you there. Yes, no one is going to write a perfect, polished, best-selling novel in 30 days. I don’t care if you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Charles Dickens–you aren’t going to pull it off.

But the thing is, that’s not even what NaNoWriMo is about.

No one expects you to have a perfect novel at the end of those 30 days. No one expects anything of you, actually. Because NaNoWriMo is purely about you challenging yourself and attaining a personal goal. And best case scenario, it’s about you finishing a rough draft.

I’m going to repeat that a little louder for my folks in the back.

YOU’RE WRITING A ROUGH DRAFT.

NaNo is about getting the words on the page. It’s about gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to write until the end even if you don’t love your idea as much as you thought you did in those first few weeks. It’s about challenging yourself to finish what you started and get a foundation down on paper for you to work with later. It’s about developing the habit of writing regularly. To put it most simply: it’s about whatever the hell you want it to be. NaNo is for you. NaNo is about you. And whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it.

So yes, I disagree with the misguided people who send off their freshly NaNo-ed manuscripts to agents and publishers, thinking it’s done. But that’s only a small fraction of the NaNo community. Most people acknowledge that when December 1st strikes, their work has only really begun.

NaNo is a stepping stone–a very, very important stepping stone. It provides that little push that so many people need. It provides a community for writers plagued with doubt who almost stop halfway through, but soldier on surrounded by their fellow writer cheerleaders. It forces people to start, which is something 90% of people who say they want to write a novel don’t do.

So harp on NaNo all you want, but there’s a reason thousands and thousands of people participate every single year.

And if you want to write a book–if you so much as want to give it a shot just to see how it goes, you should think about participating too.

It won’t be the end of the road. It won’t give you a finished product. And it may or may not lead to publication down the line.

But it’s a stepping stone. It’s a start.

 

Posted in NaNoWriMo

NaNo Day 13: Be Brave

Current word count: 42,406

Even if you’re not a risk taker in real life, it’s a trait you may want to adopt for your writing life. Writing is where you’re supposed to push the limits, break out of your comfort zone, and be daring. And NaNo is the perfect time to let everything go and just write.

Yesterday a plot point popped into my head that I’d never even considered for my story. I was hesitant to write on, since it took my characters in a completely different direction than I had anticipated. What if it ended up being a dead end? Then I’d have wasted hours writing thousands of words that I’d just end up deleting and risk falling behind on my word count. So why take the risk? I promptly gave myself a good knock upside the head and started writing where the story was urging me to go. 99 times out of 100, your story and your characters know best. If they’re pointing you in a new direction, no matter how unexpected it seems, it’s probably the natural progression of your plot clamoring for your attention.

So this is my challenge for you. We still have more than half of NaNoWriMo left, which leaves you plenty of time to take a step outside your comfort zone.

Take risks. Write bravely. Allow yourself to veer off and explore new ideas. This isn’t to say have your characters start jumping off cliffs just for the sake of risk taking, but let go of whatever’s holding you back and write the most daring story you’ve ever written.

How’s NaNo going for you? Do you think you take risks in your writing, or do you play it safe?

Posted in NaNoWriMo

NaNo Day 10: Writing Out of Order

Happy NaNoWriMo everyone! It’s the 1/3 mark, so if you’re still hanging in there, virtual pat on the back and tip of the hat to you, friend.

Current Word Count: 35,858

I had another great writing day today. I managed 5,542 words which leaves me 19,192 words ahead of schedule (!!!). I’ve never done this well in NaNo before! I hope you had a great writing day, too. And if you didn’t, that’s okay! The great thing about NaNo is you have 30 chances to have that stellar writing day.

Three things got me through a bad bout of writers block at the beginning of the day:

1. I decided to write out of order–a common technique amongst NaNoers, and writers in general, but a tactic I’ve never really liked. Today, however, I was struggling so much with a scene, that I decided to give it a go. I knew what would happen next, so I went on and wrote that, and after getting those words on the page, the previous scene came out easier. Not easily, but easier. (There may have been some head smacking the keyboard and a plethora of snacks involved.)

2. Twitter Word Sprints! I’ve been taking advantage of them the past few days, and they’ve really helped me! If you’re looking for a good community to help you reach your goals, I’d suggest checking out @NaNoWordSprints.

3. Music. I always listen to music, but today a few albums really helped push me through.

  • My Head is an Animal–Of Monsters and Men
  • Night Visions–Imagine Dragons
  • Megalithic Symphony–AWOLNATION

How’s NaNo going? Are you reaching your goals? Struggling with writer’s block, yet? Do you have different methods to help you when you’re stuck?

Posted in NaNoWriMo

NaNo Day 9: Writing Sprints!

Current Word Count: 30,304

Today was a great writing day for me! I wrote 7,109 words and now I’m 15,304 words ahead (!!!!!).

If you’re struggling to keep up and get words on the page, or you just want a good writing day or to get ahead, I’d strongly suggest heading over to Twitter and checking out @NaNoWordSprints. It’s super fun and so helpful to keep you on track and bump up your word count. I’ve been tuning in on and off all day and got my highest daily word count this month so far, and I actually like what I wrote 😉

How’s NaNo going for you? Do you ever participate in word sprints?

Posted in NaNoWriMo

NaNo day 7 (and 4 and 5 and 6): Writing Space

Current word count: 16,467

Life’s been pretty busy these last couple of days, but I’ve still managed to get some words on the page. (I’m actually 4,801 words ahead of schedule, so that’s exciting!) The honeymoon phase didn’t last long this year. By day three, I was already wrestling with writer’s block and my own stubbornness which refuses to let me give up. Especially this early.

To keep myself going and my inspiration high I’ve been changing up my writing space, and it’s helped a lot! When I’m feeling blocked, I leave my desk and my computer, grab a pad of paper, and write outside. It’s gorgeous where I live right now, and I plan to take full advantage of the sun and colorful leaves before it’s ruined by the snow (I am not a winter person). The change of scenery and forcing myself to write longhand instead of typing really shook things up. The scenes I wrote outside are some of my favorite so far.

Change is good, my friends.

How’s your NaNoWriMo going? Do you always write in the same place, or do you like to change it up?

Posted in NaNoWriMo

NaNo day 3: Plot Soup

Current Word Count: 9,044

A common problem I face when writing a story with barely any notes or outline (or none at all) is I figure out the plot as I go along. This year I had a pretty solid grasp on the story I wanted to write. At least, I thought I did. I was writing a scene today, and bam. It hit me. You could call it an epiphany. Or my brain’s neurotic tendency to dispose of structure for the sake of spontaneity. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided my story will be taking an entirely different path than I originally thought. Luckily this happened this early on, because now I only have about 30 pages of set-up to go back and fix instead of 100, but still, it threw me for a bit of a loop.

Since it is NaNoWriMo, instead of obsessing over making what I already have coherent to fit my new plot, I pulled out a notepad, jotted down the new direction of the story and the pieces I would have to go back and fix later. For now, I’m just going to pretend the beginning makes sense and keep writing without looking back.

I’m looking forward to December when I go back and read through the whole draft and it’s just a garbled mess of plot soup.

This is one of my favorite parts about NaNo, honestly. Writing a rough draft is like splatter painting the story. I get all of the ideas onto paper (no matter how messy or crazy) and usually surprise myself with what comes out of it.

I’m just hoping to keep the epiphanies to a minimum this month. I don’t know how many more abrupt turn-arounds my plot can take before the soup becomes an unsalvageable abyss. 🙂

How’s NaNo going for you? Has your plot or character taken on a mind of its own yet?

Posted in NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Day 2: The Tale of the Short-Lived Scene

Many people will tell you certain guidelines to follow during NaNoWriMo. Write as much as you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap—you can revise it later. Don’t delete. Anything.

Well, I guess I’m just not one for following the status quo.

I was really struggling to get words on the page today. Everything I wrote felt forced, stilted, like every word had to journey through a cheese grater before I could get it on the page. And when I finished a scene and glanced back over it, I hated it. The characters sounded nothing like themselves and I hadn’t accomplished anything I wanted to.

So I hit delete. (I copy and pasted the crap-tastic scene into another document before deleting, mind you, just in case.) But then I went back to the original document, deleted everything I hated, inserted a scene break, and started writing. Turns out I was writing the wrong scene—something I didn’t need to show. And skipping over that minute period of time and moving on to the next interesting chunk of the story made the writing flow onto the page (No cheese grater required) and I bumped my word count up to nearly 7,000 words (and that’s not even including the words I wrote and then deleted.)

I was so panicked about having a certain number of words on the page that I was holding onto a worthless scene for dear life. And as terrifying as hitting delete had been, it was also strangely liberating. I started fresh. I started over for the day, and I kept my story moving. (I wouldn’t suggest deleting everything you’ve written so far if you’re struggling, but the occasional 1,000 words or so are OK.)

How did day 2 of NaNo go for you? Have you had to send any of your scenes to the trash yet? Write on, friends!

Posted in NaNoWriMo

Happy NaNoWriMo and Some Reading Updates

As most of you probably know, today was day one of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I am participating this year, and even though I had a rough start this morning, I did get about 4,500 words out today, which I think is a pretty good start! (Plus, I’ll probably write some more before midnight.)

I’ve decided November is going to be a very casual and informal blogging month for me, mostly due to the fact that I’m going to be really busy. I’m still finishing up my reading challenge, I have NaNoWriMo, classes are starting up again, and just life in general. I figured I’d keep you updated on NaNoWriMo as the month goes along, along with some tips to survive if you’re also trying to write a novel in a month.

As for my read-a-thon, it’s gone really well so far. I’ve been in a bit of a haze from all the painkillers I’ve had to take after my surgery earlier this week, but I still managed to keep up with my page goals. I’ll be wrapping up the read-a-thon on Sunday, and hope to read a total of 1,400 pages. I’ve already finished three books this week (about 1,000 pages) and started a new one today. That leaves me with 3 days to read 400 pages, which should be a piece of cake!

As for NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d share a few quick tricks to help you through the month that have helped me win in years past.

1. Get ahead early. In the first few days of November you’ll be hyped up on adrenaline and energized and motivated to write. You will most likely not feel this way around November 20th. Write a lot early on to give yourself a cushion when it starts getting tough. There’s nothing worse than getting super behind on your word count and then feeling like you’ll never catch up so oh-my-god-you-should-just-stop-now.

No.

Don’t think that way. Plan ahead now and work through the middle-of-the-month slump when you get there.

2. Find some writing buddies. They can be formal buddies on the NaNoWriMo website, or find some friends in real life who are also participating in NaNoWriMo. (Or just have your mom call you nightly and make sure you’re writing, if you’d like). There’s nothing like someone cheering for you on the sidelines to get you out of bed and to your computer (or notebook or blackberry or whatever you write on.)

3. Don’t worry about quality. I don’t mean write badly just for the sake of writing badly, but don’t stress if your writing feels a bit forced or doesn’t look as polished as you’d like. NaNoWriMo is about getting the first draft down. No one writes a perfect novel in 30 days. Get the idea down on paper now, go back and make it sparkle later.

4. It’s never too late, and you’re never too behind. Even if you have a rough day or a rough few days and fall behind in your word count, it’s not the end of the world. You can always catch back up. The only way you’ll fail is if you just stop trying. Some days will be wonderful writing days. You’ll pound out 5,000-10,000 words and feel fantastic. Some days it’ll be a struggle to get 100 words on the page. This isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. Pace yourself and understand that everyday can’t be a stellar writing day. If it’s just not working today, give yourself a break. It’s okay to take a break and not follow the daily word count goals. Do what you have to do to write this novel. This is your writing process. It’s allowed to be different than someone else’s.

5. Have fun. I think once the stress of the month starts getting to people, they forget why they’re doing NaNoWriMo in the first place. You’re writing a book! That’s really cool! You shouldn’t forget that. You’re writing because you love it and no matter how difficult the month of November is, if you stick with it, you’ll have your novel (a rough version of it, but still) at the end of the month.

I think this would be an appropriate time to insert “Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing” to the tune of Dory’s Finding Nemo song. 🙂

Posted in NaNoWriMo

It’s That Time of Year Again…

It’s already mid-October, and you know what that means. NaNoWriMo is quickly approaching! If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) you can learn all about it here. Basically, it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days along with thousands of other participants. Sound scary? It is. But it’s also extremely fun and rewarding.

I’m already sifting through the ideas in my head, trying to decide which direction this year will take me.

What about you? Are you planning to participate? If so, how are you prepping? (Or are you more of a pantser?) Tell me all about your November plans below.

And don’t forget about the Read-A-Thon which is also quickly approaching! For more information on that, click here.

Have a great night!