Daily Writing Check-in: October 10, 2017

Words/Time: 104 words written and 1 hour, 27 minutes worked

I finished the little bit of writing about a possible primary character for a possible NaNoNovel, because I didn’t want to leave it hanging.

Then I decided to try my hand at making a mood board of sorts. I’ve never done anything like this before, outside of designing the icon for my story blog and, in a similar vein, the working cover for “Pithea.” I am not much for visual arts overall. But I thought it would help to solidify this story as what I wanted to write for NaNo, and it did. So I spent almost an hour and a half finding pictures, and then building this fancy layout. I also created a cover for the NaNo site, which I’ll post more about tomorrow. Again, I’m not much of a visual creator, so keep that in mind. It’s more about the themes, moods, and actions this board brings about:

Vin moodboard


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

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Daily Writing Check-in: October 9, 2017

Words/Time: 78 words written.

And no amount of NaNoPrep, and I’m not even bothered by it. It puts me below par in my goal for this month, but it just wasn’t going to happen tonight. This is my first time trying to get back to a writing habit for a year and a half, and the family situation and bedtime rituals are different than they were that long ago. My biggest obstacle from now on is going to be just getting to my writing time. However, since I’m a night owl, I will probably do some prep work after midnight, and count it for tomorrow. Maybe that’s how my whole NaNo will go too.

Last night I had a sudden idea about what I might write for NaNo, and it’s not one of the options I laid out for myself a few days ago. But it might just be what I need to write next, so my writing today was while I was waiting for a work meeting to start, as I decided to delve into the mind of one of the primary characters of that story. (So I guess it was a little bit of prep work! It’s going on the goal tracker!)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 8, 2017

Words/Time: 330 words of free writing, followed by 14 minutes of NaNoPrep work.

A few days ago I read a post on a site I have really come to like, and the author had given a word list as a way to inspire some writing. I’ve been wanting to do some free writing alongside my NaNoPrep since I returned to writing a few days ago, but haven’t had a chance to go and dig out my various ways to begin free writing. Word lists have always been a favorite type of writing prompt for me, and today was no exception.

Then I opened my “Pursuit of Power” outline in Scrivener and started looking at what it would be like to cut out the first 1/4 of the story, so the true plot for this book could get started a lot sooner. I also plan to incorporate a character who’s supposed to be a secondary main character in the story more, so I’ve been toying with the idea of starting the story more from her perspective. I didn’t get real far, because I got to my writing late today, but at least it’s something.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 7, 2017

Words/Time: 2:17 hours finishing the 2 mini projects I started in the last 2 days.

So I got 2 stories into my timeline that weren’t there, one of which took some serious fitting in. And then I continued figuring out who I wanted to age 3 years, and who needed a different amount for whatever reason.

Now that these annoying issues are done and fixed, tomorrow I will go back to looking at the post-first-draft outline of “Pursuit of Power” and see what scenes need to be held over for a future book and which ones are important for the real story of this first book. Hopefully I’ll be left with a decent-length book when I’m done. And hopefully this will help me decide what to write for NaNoWriMo.

goal tracker day 7


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

NaNo After November

Did anyone else see this?

goal trackers

There is a feature on the NaNoWriMo website where you can track writing goals any time you want! According to my NaNoMail, this was announced this year in May, but I don’t always read all of the mail they send outside of November, even less so when I’m living in a cave.

You pick a start date and a stop date (up to a 100-day range), and set your own goal, which can be a word count, or an amount of hours worked. Then when you click create, this is what you have:

goal trackers 2I have seen many ways that writers try to keep track of their progress toward a goal, from Excel spreadsheets to filling in a calendar (well, maybe not that many ways…mostly just a lot of variations of spreadsheets). I used Final Deadline after NaNo in 2013 to set myself a goal for finishing the novel I started that month, and I know that without a tangible goal, I would not have finished my very first novel draft 3 months after NaNo ended.

Just like NaNoWriMo doesn’t work for everyone, continuing to track goals and fill in a chart during non-NaNo months might not be something even every Wrimo will want to do.

But for the rest of us, this is a really helpful addition to the NaNo website. I’ve already created a project to help me keep moving on my NaNoPrep this month. Since I started with it a few days ago, I haven’t felt any lack of motivation, but it could definitely still happen. (Though so far the fear of not being ready at all when November 1st comes is keeping me going.)

Besides, I always love watching the graph climb higher during NaNo…it appeals to some specific part of my brain. So I’ve set a goal that will average out to 1 hour of prep work per day for the rest of the month, and we’ll see how this goes.

(I don’t know why my graph has those flat spots. That is the “par” line, and twice it keeps the same amount of hours for 2 straight days, then jumps 2 hours for the next day. I don’t know if it’s a glitch or something they built in that I just don’t know about.)

What do you think about this feature? Do you plan to make use of it or give it a pass?

 

Daily Writing Check-in: October 6, 2017

Words/Time: 1.5 hours going down all sorts of rabbit trails.

Every day, the work that I do to bring me closer to a decision for NaNoWriMo only seems to lead me further away. Yesterday, I talked about aging all of my characters by a few years. But I had to go through each character who was important enough to be on the timeline with a birthday (or at least birth month), so that I could remember approximately how old they are. This leaves me with 26 characters who are in the 5 books that I’m tracking on my timeline enough to put them on the timeline (usually it means they show up more than once, with enough time between appearances that I want to be sure to write them according to their age).

Each of these characters I felt the need to decide individually if they would be aged 3 years, or less, or none. One-third of the way through, I questioned if I should have just aged them all 3 years and worried about if someone’s age was wrong in general later, but this has brought up a whole other issue. Two storylines I have planned and at least partially outlined/written do not line up, time-wise, at all. It’s not exactly surprising, since neither of them have been actually entered into the timeline–their arcs are listed, but I hadn’t gotten around to figuring out the times.

So now I’m doing that. There’s one big event that affects most of these stories in some way that I have to make sure occurs at the right time for all of them, and if I mess that up, I could seriously mess up the drafts of whatever I write in the future. So yeah, at least an hour of this time was putting events into a timeline, and I have more to do. Whatever decision I come to about what to write for NaNoWriMo sure will be a hard-fought one.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 5, 2017

Words/Time: 1 hour, which started with looking over the outline I made in Scrivener for “Pursuit of Power” when I tried to start revising it last year. I got distracted from that by a thought that I’ve been musing over for the last few days and decided if I was going to do it, now would be the time.

I’m aging most of the people in my stories by 3 years. The main characters in the stories I’ve written so far have been around 15-17 years old. The original reason for their ages was due to the fanfiction world this all started in, but I didn’t have any reason to change this before. After all, the beginning of “Pithea” shows the main characters basically just getting started in life. However, I have recently realized that there are plenty of reasons to add some years to their lives.

  1. Even though this is set in a world that is vastly safer than ours (less crime, anyway), the characters are still out on their own a lot more than I would expect a bunch of 15-year-olds to be, even traveling from town to town on their own.
  2. Folks live longer in my story world than they do in real life–not by a lot, but average live span is 25-50 years longer. It stands to reason that kids wouldn’t be pushed into starting their lives as early as I’d made it (14).
  3. I didn’t care for the way the romance felt in some of my stories, when characters were only 16 and falling in love. It isn’t meant to be teenage romance, at least one in particular; it’s meant to be viewed as real, long-lasting. But at least one of my beta readers had a hard time accepting it, because of their age, and she had a point.
  4. I don’t consider this overall series of stories to be YA, but because the book that will likely be the introduction to the entire rest of the series has 2 main characters who start off at 15 years old, it would be hard to convince anyone that the book belonged anywhere but the YA section. It’s not that I plan to have adult situations or coarse language, but the characters grow up, and in another book, are in their 20s. Very likely there will be main characters in their 30s at some point. Aging the main characters to 18 at the start of that cornerstone book will hopefully help with this issue.

So now I’m going through all of my characters who are important enough to be listed in my timeline with an official age (birth month, at least) and figuring out who should be aged forward, and how much. Someone who is in the story as a 62-year-old man, for example, may not be worth changing. And this is what I spent most of the hour on.

You know, my daily challenge check-ins never used to be this detailed.

All of this is because I’m trying to figure out if I should write the continuation of “Pursuit of Power” for NaNoWriMo or not. Aging my characters 3 years does not bring me any closer to that decision.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 4, 2017

Words/Time:  1 hour setting up a broad outline in Scrivener for a story that needs rewriting. I’m working toward figuring out what I want to write for NaNoWriMo. I have 3 options, near as I can tell.

  1. Write the story that comes after the novel that I have so-far called “Pursuit of Power,” which itself is still in 1st draft form, and which I have realized is likely going to be book 1 in a sequence of 2 or 3, and the the entire sequence would be more aptly titled “Pursuit of Power.” I have sketchy ideas of what should happen in the next book, and I could spend the next 25 days fleshing that out.
    • Pro: I’ve started to have more ideas about what happens to Alexander after the first story ends, so I’m looking forward to delving into this completely uncharted territory.
    • Pro: It also will easily be 50k words, so no worries there.
    • Con: I’m afraid I may have to tear “Pursuit of Power” apart a bit, take out the scenes that relate more to the over-arcing storylines than they do the specific plot of the first book, and knowing that is ahead of me might make it really hard to plot the next story.
    • Con: We’re talking huge, world-altering things that happen after the first “Pursuit of Power” book, and I’m not sure I’m ready to write that yet.
  2. Rewrite “Outcast,” which still only exists in original fanfiction form. Up until recently I thought I could simply revise it into my original world, but I don’t think that’s going to work anymore. And even if it did, I think I would be foolish to do it that way, since I have grown so much as a write from when I wrote it. Because I still consider the story itself to be one of the best I’ve ever written, I have a hard time remembering that the writing could be better.
    • Pro: Because I love the story so much, and one of the main characters is my favorite of all my characters, that could make the writing easier.
    • Pro: The story is really well outlined, because I took the original story and wrote the basic idea of what happens as scene headers in Scrivener. (Same basic plot, but allows for details to change.)
    • Con: Because it’s a work I’ve written before, I may have a very difficult time writing it new, rather than trying to rewrite the scenes exactly as I remember them. I had the same problem at first when I rewrote “Pithea” from its original fanfiction form…and I once thought I could just revise that into my new world too…I don’t know why I keep thinking that. That could definitely slow me down during NaNo, which is not preferable. On the other hand, I rewrote “Pithea” during NaNo in 2013, and it turned out very well.
    • Con: The original version of the story is only 45,000 words, and I don’t have a lot I plan to add…if anything I may have some places that will be shortened. It’s possible that in the next few weeks (or in the course of the writing), I’ll discover some new plot points for the story, but I can’t say for sure.
  3. Spend the rest of October brainstorming ideas from scratch–throw out ideas I already have, maybe even throw out the world I normally write in, and just see where the next few weeks take me.
    • Pro: Starting fresh might be fun for a change, especially if I am starting with an idea that isn’t in the same world I’ve been entrenched in for years, with the same rules.
    • Con: That is exactly what I thought in 2015 when I decided to write a novel that I planned throughout October, and it was set in modern, normal times (my group of stories are set in a futuristic, somewhat dystopian world). I finished the novel halfway through the month, painfully and messily, and then proceeded to finish the month with a story set in my normal world, one that I had planned to write before setting it aside to try something “fresh” for a change.
    • Con: Though I’m getting back to my writing again, I do still work ~20 hours a week, and can’t even guess what the next 3 weeks will bring (my work tends to fluctuate greatly), so if I don’t end up with enough time to work out a new story, but also didn’t spend the time figuring out how to proceed with 1 or 2 above, I will have a terrible NaNo.

I do believe I have talked myself out of number 3. I’m leaning toward number 1. I may work on “Pursuit of Power” (identifying any scenes that may need to be surgically removed) while also brainstorming the answers to questions I have about “Outcast,” which are related to how to make it work in my world. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, I’ll have an official novel to enter on the site.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

The Obsession Grows

When I first started this blog as a place to post my daily writing work, to hold myself accountable, a few months in, I wrote a post about my notebooks. Around that time I had come to realize that I had what could officially be called a collection of notebooks. I had never before been a collector of anything besides dust, junk, and words.

I hadn’t intended to start collecting notebooks, and I understand now that people don’t wake up one day and decide to start collecting something (well, some people may do that; I’m not here to generalize). I decided then to share my notebook collection on my fledgling blog with maybe 3 readers (I’m not just being self-deprecating—I didn’t exactly promote the blog that was only meant to keep myself working on my writing).

Here is that first post, written a little over 3 years ago. In the time since then, my collection has grown. That first post has notebooks going all the way back to my childhood, and in 3 years, I’ve doubled the amount.

I think it has something to do with admitting to myself and to my family that this is a collection. And since then, I’ve upgraded that admission to “obsession.” Now, my head isn’t turned by every brightly colored, spiral-bound notebook sitting on a shelf at the store. But I can’t help but love notebooks that are unique, interesting, related to something I like, or have a story behind them.

So now that I’ve returned to my blog after a year and a half hiatus, it seems like a good time to post about the additions to my collection. At the end, I even mention a few items that aren’t notebooks, but are worth noting. Warning: I plan to tell the story of each of these, and while these are not every single notebook I’ve gained since July of 2014, it’s still going to be a long post. Continue at your own discretion.

NaNo notebookMy parents gave me this NaNoWriMo notebook for Christmas in 2014. It was a new product in their store at the time, and I’d wanted a blank notebook from them for years. I was one (among many, I’m sure) who suggested they create a blank notebook instead of the confusing (to me, at least) notebooks they already had that seemed to have filled pages and maybe blank ones, but who knows without buying them. I’ve started using it for exactly what it says there–NaNoNovel prep notes.

notebook 2In April, 2015, my family went to Canada mainly to attend the farewell concert of a Toronto-based geek band. We went through Niagara Falls on our way home, and there I got this souvenir of the trip. It’s made of recycled paper, the cover is cardboard, and even the pen that it came with is mostly made of cardboard! This notebook is still unused.

notebook-3.jpgMy parents-in-law gave me this journal on my birthday in (I think) 2015. It has a very nice, squishy cover, and has various Bible verses on the bottoms of some of the pages. I started using it near the end of 2015 as a daily gratitude journal which I’ve continued with varying consistency since then.

notebook 4This notebook is one of my favorites. My husband gave it to me for Christmas in 2015. It’s one of my larger notebooks (so many are half the size of a normal, school-use notebook) and has a squishy cover as well. The clasp (shown in insert) is engraved with, “Dream, Plan, Write Every Day…” which is a motto I made up and used as a title to a series of blog posts with writing tips. I’ve used this notebook for some writing practice, and will continue to do so once I get back into the habit.

notebook-5.jpgThe story behind this one isn’t nearly as good as the others, because my husband insisted on getting it for me when we walked by a sale of monogrammed notebooks at JoAnn’s. But it’s interesting to me, because I never used to be the kind of person who cared about my initial on things, but I find I enjoy it now. This one is a half-sized notebook, but it’s lined, and has a cloth cover. It’s unused for now.

notebook-6.jpg

It might be hard to tell from the picture, but this is a magnetic notebook. You can take pages out and put them back in, refill the notebook, move a page up so you can write on the bottom better, and even print on the pages and put them back into the notebook. I haven’t started using it yet because I feel like it should be saved for something really special. That’s a problem I’m starting to have with a lot of my notebooks though.

 

This notebook came from a preview trip to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky in July of 2016. It is handmade with a hand-carved wood cover and cotton paper. (The left is the front cover, the right is an informational insert that is still attached to the back cover.) It is beautiful and oddly square-shaped, which makes it stand out even more amongst my other notebooks. This one may be the hardest one for me to ever bring myself to start writing in.

notebook-7.jpgLast Christmas, my daughter came up with the perfect idea for a gift for me while we were at Barnes & Noble. Based on various clues, I knew she was planning to get me a notebook, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I have too many as it is and really shouldn’t keep getting more. She’s only 7 (was 6 at the time) and loves coming up with gift ideas on her own, so I didn’t want to ruin that for her, and let my husband help her buy this beautiful, soft-covered, hand-embroidered notebook. It is unused so far, and I’m torn between wanting to save it for something special and wanting her to see me using it.

notebook 9Just a few months ago, ThinkGeek opened a store in a mall near us. We went to the grand opening, and my husband insisted we both get something. I was able to resist until I saw this notebook. I didn’t even have to say anything; he grabbed it and didn’t give me a chance to argue (not that I would have much). I watched this movie quite a bit when I was younger, and it even has a golden ticket inside, because…well, how could it not? It’s unused so far, and low on the list of books to start using, which doesn’t bother me.

 

This is my newest addition, just picked it up last weekend. I went to a living history reenactment, the biggest one in our area. I saw this beauty in Daniel Boone’s tent, and ogled it a bit. It has a leather cover and (I suspect) bark pages, with a metal clasp to hold it shut. I held myself back for reasons I already mentioned (I have too many…), but my husband snuck back later and bought it for me. I’m beginning to see a pattern here…my husband is an enabler. He’s definitely one who shows his love through gift-giving.

Now I’m out of notebooks for this post, but in case anyone has gotten down this far (even just by skimming), I have a couple of other things of note in this vein:

neo.jpg

After desiring a Freewrite for a few years, but knowing that I couldn’t remotely justify spending that much money on something that was just for a hobby, I stumbled across the information that other such items existed. I don’t remember if I went looking for a substitute, or just got lucky, but I read some reviews and found out that the Alphasmart Neo was everything I wanted out of a highly portable, distraction-free writing device. They’re not in production anymore, but you can find cheap used ones online. So I linked it to my husband last fall and hinted about a Christmas gift, and sure enough, he came through! It can save up to 8 different files, transfers to your computer when you’re ready for that (though if you have a long file, that part can take a while), and the battery life has been incredible so far. I am highly anticipating using this in my first NaNoWriMo next month. I may have to sew up a padded sleeve for it so that I can transport it in my massive Handbag of Holding without worrying about hurting it.

fidget-pen.jpg
Lastly, this is my fidget pen. The little balls that are attaching that curved piece to the pen are magnetic, as is the very top of the pen, where the larger ball is attached. This thing keeps my hands busy for hours. I had noticed a tendency to take apart pens or mechanical pencils that I used while writing or in meetings, and I knew this pen would be perfect for me. It also came with the desk toy. (Video of pen in action) I don’t know about anyone else, but fidget spinners didn’t enter my field of vision until earlier this year. By the time I’d heard about them, I had already invested in this crowdfunded pen. Now I feel a little dirty, being part of a fad, but this is so much better and more practical than a spinner because it’s a pen.

I won’t make this post any longer by drawing out the conclusion, and instead just say that since I’ve noticed that I’m not the only writer who has a plethora of notebooks, feel free to show me yours!

A New Day

I’ve been ready to write this post for about a week now. It’s the first one in almost a year and a half, so I knew it had to be epic, witty, or at least insightful. But I don’t want to write that post. I do want to address it, but in simple words. Though knowing myself as I do, it still may not be short.

At the beginning of last year, I submitted my first novel to publishers, after spending several years creating it. Without knowing if that first novel would be worth publishing, I tried to move on to revising my second novel. Then, I got a job. It was a part-time weekend job at first, working as a game master at an escape room company, but quickly became more than that, with sporadic hours. These two things together pulled me away from my regular writing work, which I’d been fairly consistent with for a few years (minus short hiatuses now and then).

In August last year, I changed to full-time with my job and became a manager. That only solidified my lack of time and mental energy to do any writing. I remember hoping that November, which would bring NaNoWriMo, would help me jump-start back into my writing.

Some time during all of this, I got a couple of rejection letters for my novel, but I was so caught up in how life was going at the time, I barely registered them.

Then in September, my dad had a heart attack and subsequent 6-bypass surgery. He’s doing well now, but was very close to death for about a week (not to be too dramatic). As NaNo approached, I decided to rebel a bit and write about the time he was in the hospital, both because he had a strong desire to know what had happened, and because I thought it might be cathartic for me.

I had a difficult time with the writing, and didn’t even get all of the events written, but I did finish NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, because of my full-time job and the nature of my writing, NaNo did not help me return to my writing.

Fast forward almost a year, and I am now working 20 hours a week (approximately) at the same job, now as Director of Operations. The anniversary of my dad’s heart attack was last month, and he and my mom brought up the writing I said I was doing for NaNoWriMo last year. My dad has been trying to remember everything that happened during his 3-week hospital stay, and hopes that what I had written down would help.

It was still in “NaNo-form,” though, which means typos, things marked for deletion, and generally just hard to read. So I started going back through it, trying to put it in some semblance of a readable form, reading it along the way myself. While doing that, I started going back to other things I’ve written.

Over the course of the 3 weeks, I’ve read through just about everything I’ve written in the last 10 years, from the 2 complete novels, to partially drafted novels, to writing practice, drabbles, ideas, and even some of the fanfiction I wrote early on. I’m starting to have the itch to get back into it, and in some ways, I feel like I’ve just popped my head out of the cave I’ve been hunkered in for the last 17 months.

Going forward, I am going to work on writing as often as I can. I’m not going to pretend that I will be able to do writing work every day like I used to strive for. But even for the last week or so, I’ve already been writing out an outline for a story I’m not sure I want to write, but can’t avoid thinking about, so needed to at least get it down. That passion for just getting the words out is something I really miss, and I want to embrace it.

I think one of the things that disappoints me most about my time in the cave is that I barely remember participating in NaNoWriMo last year. I didn’t blog about it at all; I barely even finished. I enjoy going back later and reading through certain blog posts, remembering my writing journey, but 2016 NaNoWriMo is just a blank spot in my mind. I will be more deliberate this year.

My job, even at 20 hours a week, is still sporadic in the time those hours are put in. As Director of Operations, I am “on” from 9am until 11pm, 6 days a week, meaning that any time someone needs something from me, I’m generally expected to be available and respond. If I want to spend uninterrupted time with my family, I often have to schedule it.

I do enjoy my job. I design, implement, and modify escape rooms and get to be part of many other creative endeavors that our company is always working on. But I know that one of the reasons I do so well at that job is because, in my heart, I am a writer! 

i am a writer

This is from NaNoToons 2015. I don’t even remember last year’s NaNoToons…

For the approaching NaNoWriMo, I want to get back to traditional roots and write a new work of fiction. To do that, I have to sort through ideas I already have, see if any of them are ready to be expanded to a full outline, or decide to start something from scratch. Today begins NaNo prep season (I’m not sure how official that is, but October 1st always feels like the beginning of NaNo prep time to me). I am all in.