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

My Introvert Story and Tips on Living as an Introvert and Still Being Social

I am an introvert. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m shy, or that I hate people, or any of the other million things I know you’re thinking right now. If you don’t know the difference between introverts and extroverts, take a moment and click on over to Buzzfeed and check out their articles (full of pie charts and happy things!) about understanding your friends, whichever they may be. Click here: Introverts or here: Extroverts.

This is my story; a glimpse if you will into the life of an introvert.

I get really cranky and exhausted when I’m around people for too long without a legitimate break. In my case, I live with my family, and my mom works from home, so typically I’m never ‘alone’. Sure, she’s working in her office, but I can just sort of feel her there, ready to walk in on me any second, and more than likely ready to give me things to do if I’m not in the middle of something that’s life or death. I’m always in the middle of something, even if it’s just web surfing (it’s called RESEARCH). Nevertheless, I feel like I have to be at attention at all times so I don’t look like I’m a lazy college graduate who still needs to get a job (which is only half true. The needs a job part is true. Not the lazy part). It’s exhausting to say the least.

When you factor in that I’m running full-steam ahead often for weeks at a time, it easy to see how I could burn out. Hard. When I say I need alone time, I don’t mean I lock myself in my room and ignore everyone else in the house. I’m saying that I need to be the only human (or at least the only human I’m acquainted with) in about a 3 mile radius. I put my phone on airplane mode and just breathe. That’s the only way I can recharge. So when everyone else finishes their work for the day and wanders home (or out of her office in my mom’s case), they are totally ready to relax, while I just want to get away from everyone. “You’ve been alone all day!” they say, but really, I haven’t. I’ve been working on things all day, sitting at attention in case someone walks in to see if I am, indeed working on something. It’s agonizing.

Every once in a while, my mom actually has to go into the office building that houses the company she works for. This requires a day-long trip, which means I get the house to myself. As much as I love my family (and I really, REALLY love my family) those days when I have my space, when I’m really ACTUALLY alone (except for various pets, and the nice old neighbors who never bother me), are my favorite. I get crazy amounts of things done. I usually clean the entire house, do some yoga, think of a million recipes I want to try, and work through whatever writer’s block I’ve developed. It’s insanely cathartic. I don’t usually need more than a day of alone time every couple weeks or so, but when I need it, I need it.

I don’t think I realized quite how introverted I was until college. Before that I would just hide in my room and read a book. Once college rolled around though, it got harder. I needed my own space, which everyone knows doesn’t exist in a college dorm room. It was made worse by having a new roommate every year, so I was constantly in a shared space with someone I didn’t really know and who didn’t understand that I needed them to go away so I could recharge. I quickly learned the layout of the entire town because I wandered it so much trying to get space. I frequented the tops of parking garages, cafes, bookstores, and went to movies by myself. All of these worked to some extent, but about once a month I would take the bus (or drive once I got my car) to the nature center or the student religious center and find somewhere to sit and breathe. The nature center was always iffy because there were other people walking the paths, and everyone thinks you’re suspicious if you’re by yourself, but the religious center was actually pretty perfect because people would assume I was praying or something and not bother me. Once I moved back home, I would drive to the mall and wander, or go hiking. When you’re an introvert, you take what you can get, and in the absence of actual alone time, I’ll take ‘alone in a sea of people I don’t know’ anytime.

So, that being said, here are my tips for living as a introvert and still being social.

1 – If you don’t live alone, find other places you can go to be alone.

2 – Set aside time to go to those places. If your friends want to make plans during those times, tell them you’re busy. (But try not the schedule your alone time at the same time as your daily 2pm meeting. That’s just rude and unprofessional.)

3 – Do something that you want to do that no one else wants to do with you. This is the time to go see that movie you’re excited about that everyone else thinks is stupid. You can go to the movies in the middle of the day and laugh really loudly because there’ll be no one else there to care.

4 – Educate those around you about what it means to be an introvert. Send them the handy Buzzfeed link at the top of this article and make them read it, then answer any questions they still have nicely.

5 – Make sure they understand that you might need to put your phone on mute or do not disturb or something during your alone time, so they don’t freak out and think that you’ve fallen off the planet.

6 – Take as much time as you need. Some of us only need 20 minutes once a week, while others need an entire weekend once a month, and others still need every evening after work or they will go completely insane. There is no average amount of time that introverts need to be alone (and someone asking every five minutes if you’ve had enough alone time completely negates any alone time you may have actually just had).

Once you’ve had your alone time, you’ll be ready to face the world head on and conquer whatever challenges await you. Good luck!

Until next time,

Amanda