Camp NaNoWriMo – July 2017 Intro

 

Kermit-Writing
Source: Pinterest

 

That’s right! I’m working on a new novel! Camp NaNoWriMo starts today, and I’ve decided to push The Everest Chronicles off to the side a bit to work on something new.

Last November, during NaNoWriMo proper, I had a dream that turned into 13 handwritten pages of something, which I then tucked away so I could focus on the project I was trying to work on at the time. I’m not going to reveal a whole lot about what occurred in the dream because that would give away the entire plot of the book. In fact, I’m going to keep this project fairly secret. Seriously. I shared the dream notes with one of my sisters back in November, and I just told one of my writing buddy friends about it last week. No one else knows anything about anything. I will say though, that it is a Regency Romance, and that for citing purposes I’ll be referring to it as Aunt Bea’s Pearls.

I’d like to write 25,000 words towards it this month. I’m only doing half the normal goal because I have a hundred other things to write this month, what with my birthday and the TOTY (Theme-Of-The-Year) going live among other cool projects for the blog. I’m excited! It should be a fairly intense month of writing, trying to balance fiction and blog posts while still getting my reading done for book reviews, but I think I’m up to it.

And honestly, I need something to distract myself until September when Grad School starts because I am B-O-R-E-D and my job search is going nowhere fast.

 

My writing buddy, and one of my oldest friends, Shannon is going to be doing Camp NaNoWriMo with me, so I am very excited to get started. I’ve been doing writing exercises for the last week trying to stretch my brain into shape so I can use my imagination to it’s fullest potential. Fun times.

You can expect writing updates just like last November here on the blog in the coming weeks. I’m planning to post them on Saturdays this time around if that works for you guys.

Until next week, good luck and happy writing!

~Amanda

NaNoWriMo Update #4 and Wrap-up – Week of November 22-30

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Source: Tumblr

This week. Oh boy. It was a fun one! and by fun I mean miserable and yet liberating all at the same time. Yes, that’s an odd sentiment for me to have about the end of NaNoWriMo 2016. Did I win? Nope. Did I get close? No way. Did I learn anything? TONS.

NaNoWriMo for me is not just about ‘winning’, it’s about practicing the discipline of writing. I wrote a solid 25,000 words this month, not to mention the book reviews I’ve caught up on writing in this week after I threw in the imaginary NaNo towel of defeat. So I didn’t hit 50,000 words. Last year I wrote a total of 4,500. This year I wrote more than 5x that. I call that a win in my book, and since it’s my life, my scorebook is the only book that matters, right? Right.

The week started off rough. I had driven home for the weekend for Thanksgiving, and I was spending the whole week there. Little did I realize how good I have it in Boston. My parents’ house is much darker than I remember it (60-year old houses don’t really have recess lighting), and since I was working at the dining room table, I wasn’t feeding the woodstove regularly, which meant I was basically always cold. Not ideal working conditions.

Beyond that, I finally had a breakthrough with the scene I was writing, but the cold and the dark sapped my energy, to the point where it was quite a struggle to hit the 25,000 word count mark. And that’s with my scrapped scene still included, by the way. Still, I can’t blame my failure purely on lack of warmth, light, or discipline. They all contributed in some way, but I was also missing something else. I was spending so much time writing that I hadn’t left myself any time for reading. My imagination thrives on reading. I had tried to cut out as much of my reading as possible because I didn’t want to distract or influence myself from or about my story in any way, but this led to one of my least favorite things in the world: a reading slump. Which quickly became a writing slump, and then the Thanksgiving holiday (and my entire family being home) enabled me to put off writing again and again until I was back in Boston, where I looked at my computer and felt, well, nothing.

There was no spark left. The reading slump (and very probably some hormones as well) had taken all my inspiration from me, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. Instead, I admitted that I needed a vacation from writing (probably until January) because my family is super important to me, and the holidays are just too insane to get any reading done and still write.

I threw myself into finding things that inspire me all over again, but I also let myself cry. I cried watching the Gilmore Girls revival. I cried finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (review coming December 13th). I cried watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (twice. I saw it twice. review coming January 2017.) I cried reading The Boston Girl in a single day (review coming December 20th). Like I said, I needed to cry. Crying is extremely cathartic. And, now that I’m caught up on my reviews (I actually finished writing my last reviews for the year yesterday!), and I’m back on a regular reading schedule, I’m feeling much more myself, but I still haven’t found my spark. Hopefully, it will come back sometime in the next month or so, but if I have to put off working on The Everest Chronicles a little longer, I’m okay with that. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this book in the last 12 years. What harm is there in another few months?

So, no NaNoWriMo win for me, but I am 25,000 words closer to having a complete first draft! Woohoo! I’m pumped to see where my story ends up taking my characters. I have the main plot outlined, but the in between bits keep running off in new directions, and it’s exciting! If you want to know what I was up to during the last week, check out my notes below.

(Day) Day # – Goal/Actual Word count (Daily word count) (ahead/behind)

(Tuesday) Day 22 – 36666/24044 (250) (-12622)
Having been gone for a month, I made a point of driving over an hour to meet a friend for lunch and then head over to the bridal shop to visit my old coworkers. It was a slow day, and everyone who was there was pretty psyched to see me, so it was a very nice visit. 🙂
(Wednesday) Day 23 – 38333/ 25347 (1303) (-12986)
My sisters arrived home for the holiday Tuesday night, so Wednesday was dedicated to hanging out with them. I also had to drive my dad to the dealership because his truck was acting up. But I did find time in the afternoon to sit down and pound out some words. I’m beyond excited that I hit 25000! Those last 5000 words were the hardest part of the entire month for me, but I made it. I can’t say that I knew I was going to give up here, but I had had a pretty good feeling I was going to quit at 25k for the last few days. I just wouldn’t allow myself to give up before I got there.
(Thursday) Day 24 – 40000/ 25347 (0) (-14653)
Thanksgiving was amazing. On my dad’s side, the biggest family holidays are Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. Every other holiday you have no idea who;s going to show up, but on those two days just about everyone is there. This year, of the 38 of us, we were missing only six, and that includes the newlyweds, the one working in LA, and the group who went to Cali to visit the other side of their family.
(Friday) Day 25 – 41666/25347 (0) (-16319)
Black Friday at my house doesn’t mean shopping until you drop. It’s all about baking. We baked 33 dozen cookies in under six hours this year. We have six or seven different kinds of cookies that we’ve perfected recipes for over the years, though we’ve only made three kinds this year so far. While it’s just me and my mom and whatever friends I can recruit doing the baking now, it used to be my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, me, and my siblings. Baking day has always been my favorite. We also went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yay!
(Saturday) Day 26 – 43333/25347 (0) (-17986)
I spent the day leisurely driving back up to Boston, but I made a point of stopping to visit my friend from highschool who lives in Connecticut. She was my first ever best friend, and while we’ve been friends for TEN YEARS now, I still hardly ever get to see her. Hopefully, with my travellig back and forth from NJ to MA now, I’ll get to see her a lot more!
(Sunday) Day 27 – 45000/25347 (0) (-19653)
I think I spent the entire day watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Wait, yes. I did. It’s six hours long, and I needed to take breaks to breathe. I also found a church to go to in the area! Hooray!
(Monday) Day 28 – 46666/25347 (0) (-21319)
After crying through Gilmore Girls, I thought I couldn’t make my face look worse by finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was wrong, but it was worth it!
(Tuesday) Day 29 – 48333/25347 (0) (-22986)
I may have the read The Boston Girl in one day, and it might need to be added to my list of favorite books of all time.
(Wednesday) Day 30 – 50000/25347 (0) (-24653)
I decided to take a rest day. I wrote this post, and did a lot of ‘End of NaNoWriMo Processing’. I accomplished a lot this year, and I am super proud of myself. Even though I didn’t win, I think I deserve a T-shirt and a mug. Also the theme this year for NaNoWriMo was/is pretty awesome.

I’m not giving up in any way, shape, or form, but I do need to do some work to get my spark back. Don’t worry, I’ve lost the spark many times before and it always returns. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to diving into my reading list for next year to try and get ahead on my reviews. That way, when inspiration does strike, I’ll be ready for it, and I’ll have time to devote to writing without getting too far behind on my reading. Here’s to another amazing year of being surrounded by and creating works of art with words.

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

NaNoWriMo Update #3 – Week of November 15-21

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Source: Tumblr.com

This week went really badly. As opposed to last week when I was ~5,000 words behind, I am now ~12,000 words behind. And do you know why? Because I hit another atrocious scene. One that I never thought I would have any trouble writing, but it turns out that I did. I wrote a TOTAL of about 3,000 words in the past week because I was so stuck on this scene. What was supposed to be a flirtatious scene between two characters (one with rather dubious intentions) quickly devolved into an awkward silence between the three of us. They had nothing to talk about. Finally, after FIVE DAYS of tip-toeing tediously through this scene, I just gave up and let them have their awkward silence while I moved on to the character change about 1,000 words before I had planned to.

Of course, now I’m at my parents in New Jersey for the week for Thanksgiving, and I have to go out and visit people who I haven’t seen in a month and socialize, and renew medications, and get my oil changed, etc. etc. My time gets eaten up very quickly. I missed nearly all of Sunday because I was volunteering at the television studio that I used to run at my alma mater for the Big Brothers Big Sisters annual telethon. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it killed an entire day that I could have been writing.

Now I’m behind, and my favorite holiday is only two days away, so who knows when I’ll be able to catch up. Here’s hoping inspiration strikes shortly. Also, since when is my parents’ house so cold and dim? Even in the morning sunlight, I’m finding myself squinting and giving myself a headache just trying to write without some weird glare being in the way.

I also took no notes this week, because 1) the baby wouldn’t sleep, and 2) I was doing laundry and packing to come here. But let’s take look at my numbers so you can see just how awfully I did.

(Tuesday) Day 15 – 25000/20721 (643) (-4279)
Hit the yucky scene.
(Wednesday) Day 16 – 26666/21315 (594) (-5351)
Added more unnecessary details to the yucky scene.
(Thursday) Day 17 – 28333/22130 (815) (-6203)
Written whilst doing laundry. Still adding details to the yucky scene…
(Friday) Day 18 – 30000/22130 (0) (-7870)
To be completely honest, I went to go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and did almost all of my packing (and the 6-hour drive home) this day, so… I can’t say I’m surprised that I wrote nothing. Also, I was becoming quite frustrated by my scene.
(Saturday) Day 19 – 31666/22433 (303) (-9233)
Finally got to the trickiest part of the yucky scene… And the characters are refusing to speak to each other. Suddenly I cannot even come up with anything they have in common to talk about. This is terrible.
(Sunday) Day 20 – 33333/23022 (589) (-10311)
Gave up and let them have their awkward silence.
(Monday) Day 21 – 35000/23794 (772) (-11206)
Moved on to a new scene, but I’m still not inspired. Also, I have errands to run and family members who’re willing to distract me.

NaNoWriMo Update #2 – Week of November 8-15

writin-edmund-narnia-1Source: Pinterest

Ok, so I’m separating the month into weeklong chunks rather than actually adhering to the conventional ‘week’, but who cares. This week was all about getting back to where I needed to be. Annnnd then the U.S. Presidential Election happened and I needed a minute. And then Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows was begging me to finish it. Also, the combination of those two was not pretty. I had actual nightmares where I went for a walk or a drive and ended up on a hill watching whatever town was below me being bombed. It was awful.

So, I’m not back to where I should be word count wise. In fact, I’m just about 5,000 words behind (mostly because I haven’t written yet today, but I’m about to as soon as I’m done here). We’re supposed to be hitting 25,000 today and I just crossed the 20,000 word count threshold yesterday. Still, I’ve gotten significantly farther than I did last year, so I’m not too mad about it all. However, I am going to keep this short and get right to it.

This week I finished that awful scene I was writing and moved on to the third character… where I’ve been ever since. Clearly, I’m eventually going to have to cut back huge chunks of this section since it’s already 9,500 words and will probably be closer to 13-14,000 by the time I hit the character change. I didn’t realize I had this much to say about this character, but somehow she suddenly became much more complex than I thought she was. Surprise, surprise. I think that’s my favorite part about NaNoWriMo so far, actually, just writing and seeing what happens to the characters. I don’t always know what they’re going to say or do before they do it. I just know that they have to get from point A to point B and a few people have specific things they need to do or say along the way, but a lot of it is just kind of happening, and that’s really exciting. Add this character’s complexity to the fact that she’s actually interacting with people (whereas the first two have barely spoken to anyone beyond themselves so far), and you can see how what was supposed to be a short chapter has ballooned into half of my current manuscript. Oops. Anyways, onward and upward!

And now let’s look at the notes I made this week along with my actual word counts:

(DAY) # – WORD COUNT GOAL / WORD COUNT ACTUAL (Daily Total) (+ Ahead/- Behind)

(Monday) End of Day 7 Total – 11666/9444 (2134) (-2222)
(Tuesday) Day 8 – 13333/11848 (2404) (-1485)
Not bad! Catching up! That makes two 2000 words days in a row!
(Wednesday) Day 9 – 15000/11856 (8) (-3144)
That’s right. I wrote 8 words. I think we can all understand that I was exhausted, etc. after staying up to watch the U.S. Presidential Election results. I shouldn’t have done it, but I couldn’t sleep.
(Thursday) Day 10 – 16666/12575 (719) (-4091)
I’m still exhausted, and I need to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s haunting me and hanging over my head, and I just need to finish the last 500 pages because I can’t think about anything else. Also, my review of it is scheduled to go up in 2 weeks, so I kind of have to finish it. Also Also, I really want to finish it as well as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child before my copy of the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them gets here next week. This problem has quickly spiraled out of control, as you can see. But I’m trying to write. I am.
(Friday) Day 11 – 18333/12575 (0) (-5758)
I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. #NotSorry
(Saturday) Day 12 – 20000/14619 (2044) (-5381)
Feeling supremely unmotivated.  I started Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it’s thrown me for a loop. Trying to get off this ride and back on to my own, thank you very much, so I can write. Broke down and opened up my copy of 300 Writing Prompts to get the ideas flowing. That sent me off on a tangent of looking at baby names, which eventually led to my breaking down and watching a movie (Love, Rosie), which made me bawl my eyes out, but ultimately kicked me off the Harry Potter ride and allowed me to jump back into my writing and actually do some quality work.
(Sunday) Day 13 – 21666/17873 (3254) (-3793)
Attended a write in! Whoopie! Also my biggest writing day to date!
(Monday) Day 14 – 23333/20078 (2205) (-3255)
Finally broke 20,000! SO EXCITED!

NaNoWriMo Update #1 – Week of November 1-7

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Source: Pinterest

 

Here we are on Day 7 of National Novel Writing Month! It’s hard to believe the first week went by so quickly. So far, I’ve been doing pretty okay! I surpassed my total from last year on day three, and it’s been mostly full-steam ahead since then!

I have found some scenes are harder to write than others. I should probably also add that I have three main characters, and I’ll be switching POV between them. I had a hard scene to write for my first MC on Wednesday, but luckily I was able to power through it. Friday was tough. I hit the first POV change, and I realized that while I’ve always had a plot mapped out for this character, I had never gotten inside their head like I had for the other two MCs. Que ~PaNiC~. It was not a pretty sight. To top it off, they needed to argue with another character, who I also hadn’t developed as much as I thought. I wrote something, but it didn’t sit well with me, nor did it flow at all with the rest of what I had written, and I stewed over it all evening. Saturday and Sunday I was actually traveling, but I had planned to write where I was. This didn’t happen, not only because I was having too much fun, but also because every time I thought about my MC I cringed, because what I had written was so out of sync with everything. I stewed some more. I stewed the whole drive down to Connecticut and the whole drive back to Boston. I attempted to write Sunday night, but it resulted in staring at the screen with my brow furrowed, frustrated and blocked by what I saw. I needed to pull back. When I write, I have a habit of putting all the information out there, but for the sake of the reader, I really should only let a bit of information slip at a time. I’m building a character, not explaining to the reader why I think they’re complex or complicated. I have to remember to show, don’t tell, which for me is extremely difficult.

So today I started behind about 2690 words, and I still had my initial 1667 to write for the day on top of that. I’m also back on a schedule where I’m only writing while the baby is napping, so that limits my time greatly. On the bright side, knowing that I have to stop when he wakes up gives me a deadline, and I work great under pressure or ahead of a deadline. I just can’t enforce them on myself. So having a baby who is going to wake up anywhere from 30-120 minutes from when I start writing is actually a great motivator.

So far today I’ve written 2012 words, which means I only have 2463 left to write to get my average back to where it was. Ninety percent of what I wrote was a redo of what I did on Friday afternoon, that awful scene that desperately needed to be redone. Now that it’s fixed, I can continue on from there, so I should hit the second POV change either later today or early on tomorrow. The original scene was 1170 words, so while I’ll still be counting that towards my 50000 word total for the moment, I’ve decided to move it to the bottom of the document where it won’t bother me. I don’t see the point of deleting over 1000 words if it’s going to ultimately mean that I don’t hit 50000. I don’t anticipate this being a problem, and if I end up being able to cut it out before the month is over without ruining my word count, I will. We’ll just have to see how things go.

The word count goal for today is 11666, and I am currently sitting at 9203 with the unusable 1170. I’m hoping to write another 2000-3000 words today to at least hit 11666, and ideally to hit 12310, which would make a grand total of 5000 words for the day to make up for not writing at all over the weekend and still push me ahead to where I should be.

How is your writing going? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let’s chat about it on Twitter! You can also add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website. Happy writing!

 

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

 

Below you can find some notes I made about my writing totals so far this month.

DAY # – GOAL/ACTUAL (AHEAD/BEHIND) – NOTES

Day  1 – 1667/2005 (+338)
Day 2 – 3333/3403 (+70) – Had a really hard scene to write today 😦
Day 3 – 5000/5416 (+416)
Day 4 – 6666/7310 (+644) – Hit the first POV change! Success!
Day 5 – 8333/7310 (-1023) – Writer’s Block! Boooo… and traveling!
Day 6 – 10000/7310 (-2690) – Still travelling..
Day 7 – 11666/9203* (-2463*) – Back to writing during nap time. Catching up!

*Running total from today

NaNoWriMo Preparations/Introduction 2016

It’s nearly that time of year again! Today is Halloween, which is all well and great and spectacular in its own right. And while Halloween is one of my favorite holidays ever, the day after is even better. It’s my grandmother’s birthday, yes! She’s turning 80, and she’s pretty fantastic.

November first also marks the start of National Novel Writing Month! Every November, people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a single writing project. For me, this means buckling down and pounding out a good chunk of my first full draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 7th grade. Yes, I’ve been stewing this idea for a full 12 years. It’s time, I’ve decided, to focus and write as much of it as I possibly can this month.

Every November, people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a single writing project. For me, this means buckling down and pounding out a good chunk of my first full draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 7th grade. Yes, I’ve been stewing this idea for a full 12 years. It’s time, I’ve decided, to focus and write as much of it as I possibly can this month.

The daily writing goal is 1,667 words. Normally, this sounds incredibly intimidating to me. But Thursday night I had a dream that turned out to be more than 3,000 words of a completely new story that I scribbled down during the two hours my cousin was taking his nap, and after that, well, 1,667 doesn’t sound that bad.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant

The story I’ll be writing this year is fantasy/adventure. It will probably end up being a Young Adult novel, but there’s a chance it could go either Middle Grade/Juvenile Fiction or Adult Fiction depending. Mostly likely it’s going to stick to YA.

A brief description of my story would be that a girl in contemporary America wanders into a portal that takes her to another world, where magic and mayhem ensue. Oh, and the whole planet is in the Middle Ages. Super vague, I know, but you get the general idea without me giving anything away.

So far, the majority of my ‘NaNo Prep’ as people have been calling it, has just been organizing all the millions of notes I have for this story. Part of this was made easier by the fact that I moved, so I had re-locate and consolidate into notebooks every scrap of paper I needed before I left New Jersey. This meant that when I arrived in Boston, I already had everything together at least, if not cleanly laid out.

Next, I reformated much of my character list so that I could organize people by place of origin as well as age, and made it easier to figure out who is contemporaries with who. Because when you create a new world, you inevitably end up creating an entire history for that world, and you end up with tens of millions of people. I’m not there yet. I’m only at ~150. But after 12 years, each of those people has a personality and a backstory that I really wish I had the time to tell. It’s an actual difficulty that I have, deciding who’s stories are important enough that they need to be shared with the world.

The hope is that by organizing all of my background information beforehand, I won’t get lost in making it up in the middle of the actual writing, as I did last year when I ended up stalled at close to 5,000 words because I disappeared into writing the history again.

Being that I live in Boston now, where there are actual people, as opposed to on my mountain in the middle of nowhere in New Jersey (which I love, but it’s not NaNoWriMo conducive), I can actually attend write-ins, where NaNoWriMo participants gather together and write in one place. We can bounce ideas off of each other, share snacks, and enjoy some company that understands what we’re up to (aka, commiserate).

Last year I participated in some of the virtual write-ins, but it’s extremely hard to watch the chat screen and listen to the host and actually get any real writing done.

Today was the Boston region’s NaNoWriMo kick-off party, hosted at the Cambridge Public Library. Around 60 of us were able to make it, and I really loved getting to meet everyone. We got goody bags and participated in a raffle, where I won one of this year’s NaNoWriMo posters! I’m pretty excited. We also had lots of snacks, chatted with fellow writers, and raised some money to go towards NaNoWriMo and the Young Writer’s Program, which you should definitely check out, especially if you’re a teacher!!

It was a great experience, and I can’t wait for the write-ins to start. While I can’t participate in the weekday write-ins for the most part because I’ll be working, I’m planning to attend the weekend sessions as much as possible.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to add me as a writing buddy (LadyWoods13)! Just comment below before you send the request so I know you came from here! 🙂

Until next time,

Amanda