April is over, and I was able to complete my goal. Not only did I complete my goal of writing 30,000 words in April during the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I also finished writing my novella. It still needs revision, and editing, but at least I was able to write the beginning, middle and end. For me this is a great accomplishment. I’ve written short stories, and poems. I tried to write a novel last year in November, but I didn’t reach my goal in finishing the story, though hopefully some day I will. So what’s next? Well, it didn’t help that I got sick recently. I have sent my novella to some of my friends so I could get some feedback about it. I’m sure it will help me figure out what I need to work on to improve the story. I am planning to participate in the second session of Camp NaNoWriMo in July. Now through June, I will have to figure out what I’ll do then. I’m leaning towards writing a sequel novella, but I might try to write short stories, or another novella. I’m not trying to rule out trying to write a novel, but I want to make sure I have an idea that I can write as a novel. I’ve realized that it’s important to have a story that will fit the size, otherwise you’ll work too hard on writing to write more than what the story holds. Or it might mean that you need more research to write more. Every time you write, you learn more about writing, just as much as reading. It’s the process of writing that we are able to improve.
While writing a novella in April, I figured out a few things. It felt more comfortable writing with familiar setting. I’ve heard that it’s better to write stories from where you live, than trying to write a setting from a popular location, especially if you might not know it well. This goes well with writing what you know. Sure, it’s good to learn to find out things that you didn’t know. Which adds more to your stories. That’s why it’s important to read, non-fiction as well as fiction, to improve in your writing. I decided to write my novella with the literary genres of Mystery, and Romance. Which are genres I love reading, and watching, so it’s familiar to me as well. Though I didn’t know the end of the story at first, I was able to create a basic outline of where the story was going before I started, as well as while writing the novella. It kept me focused on where I wanted to go, but it wasn’t too outlined so I was still open to other possibilities that the story could go. Close to the end of the month of April, I figured out a basic outline for the end of the novella which helped tremendously because it reassured me that I could get to the end. I believe having the writing goal be a novella size, that I knew I could do, gave me an reassurance that I could do it. I was able to write a bit over 30,000 words in November last year. So I knew I could write at least 30,000 words again in a month. Plus it helps when you have the motivation from Camp NaNoWriMo, and writing buddies. I’m so glad that I had such great support for my writing.
Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I’ve gotten a chance to explore writing in a completely new way. I’m sure it’s just a snapshot of how authors feel every day when they write. I’ve decided writing is about being determined to tell a story. Inspiration helps, but we have to work on trying to read, and write as much as possible. If we don’t, then our skill begin to fade away. Only by keeping up with our skills, and learning, do we progress forward. I know that these learning experiences will help me not only in my writing in the future, but also during Grad School (which I’ll start in September).
Life is about stories, and that’s how we remember most of life. Those who write stories have many reasons why they do so, but we all want to tell stories. As long as we keep on writing, we can keep on exploring the great things about life, and complete the circle. After you win, you can’t stop. You have to keep going, growing, and never stop.
P.S. I recommend checking out the blog of The Office of Letters and Light (who organizes NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo) for great writing and revising advice.
There aren’t many days left till the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo ends this year. Don’t panic. Grab that towel…
Wait, we’re not traveling the universe, you say? Well, it can still be useful as a writer, since while you write you will be traveling to your story universe. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll listen to Douglas Adams, who once said “a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” (FYI: Don’t forget Towel Day, May 25!)
So beside that towel, what else would help you as you get through the next few days. Well, from my own experience during NaNoWriMo in November, last year, I found a few things were really useful. Though you have some virtual cabin mates through the Camp NaNoWriMo site, I hope you were able to find a writer friend near by who is also partipating, if not as them if they are interested in writing along with you. It gives you chance to have someone to talk to. Kind of like how Sherlock talks to John about cases, because talking to skulls aren’t acceptable. They will help you give you the motivation to continue, and hopefully buy you tea, if you ask them nicely. Plus you’re also able to do sprints together. You can do them online, and they work just as well. There’s just something about being cafe, and writing as much as you can in 25 minutes, taking a break, and then having a few more sprints.
I find that this simple Pomodoro Timer works great (but if you can’t get this free app then try a kitchen timer or a stopwatch). Plus Pomodoro gives you an option after 25 minutes, if you want a 5 min break or a long break. For some reason I keep selecting the long break. It feels like a reward for writing those sprints. During the break, you can chat with your friend and/or listen to music (this is if you do the online version because you can type and listen to music at the same time).
Another good tip is to make sure you schedule time that you will be writing, no matter what. What seems to work best for me lately is scheduling sprint times during the week with a writing buddy. Then on Fridays I meet up with that writing buddy in person at a cafe, and have fun writing for as long as we’re able to. Yesterday, I got a chance to see two writing buddies, Freyja and Gloria. It doesn’t have to be only one, it can be several. Which ever works best for you. So far, Freyja and I have been giving each other support during this Camp NaNoWriMo session, which has been awesome.
Now before you begin this crazy fun journey to the end of this month, remember that Writer’s Block can be beaten, and that you’re not alone. First all, the break times will help you feel better, and give your mind a chance to explore where to go next without the worry of trying to place the words onto the page.
Things you can do to help remove that Writer’s Block:
1) Meditative mind-set; or progressive relaxation exercises can help relax your body and mind for better work. Exercise is not only healthy for you but can take away stress. Stress can really effect your body and mind. If you think that might take up too much time, just do a bit of basic breathing. Close your eyes, and slowly breath in and breath out for a little while.
2) Find a good location to write. If you’re not, go some where and try to write. It might help give a new perspective.
3) Read your work out loud. This is useful when trying to edit your work, right now you don’t need to edit until Camp NaNoWriMo session is over, but I believe reading it out loud can let you see how the story is going. Don’t let your inner critic tell you that it’s terrible. Just remember that your inner editor will be able to have fun later.
4) Journal: you can either write about what you’re struggling with, or you could even create your own written interview with your characters. Ask them what they are dealing with, what they want to do, and what they hope to accomplish. You might learn more than you ever thought possible.
5) Organize as much as possible, and at your finger tips. So if you need a dictionary, a drink of water, or story notes. They are close by, and ready to reach. Don’t forget to get that List for Writers app, if you have a smart phone.
6) Keep your plot points, your last line you’ve written, and other ideas on index cards. That way you see them right way before you turn on the computer, or open your note pad, and it helps you jog your memory. My friend Gloria mentioned this to me yesterday.
7) Be open to the world around you. Use all your senses, you’ll find that life can inspire art.
8) Read when you can. I know it’s tough, especially during NaNoWriMo, but it helps. Or try to read as much as possible before you do NaNoWriMo. Some times watching good tv shows, can also give you the inspiration and show you how to create a story.
9) List what you’ll do next. Plus you’ll have a little guideline while you write.
10) Write what you know, and forget what you don’t know yet. As you write, your mind will start to figure it out. Reflect on what you’ve planned, written so far, and begin to think about what would work best as your ending. Think of all the possible endings that could work for you story, and then pick the one that is best suited for you. If you write it, and it doesn’t seem to work. Try another ending, and see how that goes. If all else fails, call a friend and ask them which ending would work best.
11) Get sleep, eat, and do those important things you need to do each day. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Before I let you go write, I just wanted to let you know I’ll be a guest judge for my friend Wendy’s #5MinuteFiction this coming Tuesday at 8:30 pm EST. As well, you can keep up with my Camp NaNoWriMo progress (here), and let’s cheer each other all the way to the finish line.
I haven’t written much for Camp NaNoWriMo. Although it’s only been one day so far, and I have about 29 more days to go. Today is a new day that I can write as much as possible. The problem with starting yesterday was that there were so many distractions. Even though I have fewer distractions today, I have a few things to do in the afternoon. So I should be writing right now on my story since I have time right now. I just wanted to make a quick update about my progress.
The first days of writing are tough. “Actually, writing is easy. Writing well is hard,” said Richard Castle (FYI: his birthday was yesterday! No joke!) on his official blog. I know he’s a fictional character on a TV show, but he has really good advice for writers you just have to be alert. Several TV script writers have written his character well. So much so that a fictional author advice to me is just as impactful as the real-life authors. Anyways, yesterday when I was struggling with my writing. I remembered something that Castle had said, and I quickly searched Google (because I thought it was a quote he said in the show) and it brought be back to a previous blog post on his official author website. I remembered reading it before, but it seemed to make sense yesterday more than before. Now I don’t have a job right now, but I am shadowing to learn more about teaching to prepare me for grad school. So I have time to write though I do have a few things to do this month (including the shadowing time). Therefore, what he talks about balancing writing bestsellers and his “day job,” doesn’t really apply to me right now but his advice still works. He talks about researching has helped him not only for inspiration to find what he wants to write, but also affects his writing. “It can help instill a sense of powerful authenticity in one’s work. It can spark great moments of discovery, open avenues of storytelling, and give one great insight into deeply rich and complex human experience,” said Castle about research on his blog post.
That was what my main concern was on day one. Did I do enough planning and research before diving into writing this novela? I wasn’t too sure, but I felt that it was better to write something than nothing at all. Maybe in the process of writing I’ll figure out what I do know, and what I need to research later when I begin to edit my work. He had begun his blog post by explain about procrastination. Maybe in the process of writing this post, I’m doing just that, procrastinating. But I keep insisting that this will help me in a few minutes when I work on my story for a bit before I have to go to the university campus for my shadowing.
Castle began his blog post, and said, “Like most writers, I indulge in a healthy meditative practice known as procrastination. Some people consider it an act of avoidance, but for me procrastination is a vital artistic process. In fact, procrastination creates the adrenalin rush I need to write effectively.” Something about the words reassured me. I had procrastinated a bit with the planning/research stage, even though I’m a planner. Like I mentioned before, I needed to know at least the basic information to at least start my story. Yesterday I was able to start the story. It may not have been perfect, but that’s what editing is for. “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon,” said Robert Cormier. This was another quote that reassured me as well. I have to keep a constant reminder that what I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo is a first rough draft, and that I can edit later.
The great thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that my novella has a deadline. Having a deadline, isn’t too new to me with college and newspaper, but I find it’s necessary for me especially when it’s a larger project. I enjoy getting pep talks, and updating my progress, on the their site… especially chatting with other writers who are participating as well. Everything about NaNoWriMo is amazing, no matter if it’s in November or another month. I could tell you a lot, but you really just have to experience it for yourself, if you haven’t already.
This most important things are scheduling time to write, and making sure you have focus while you’re writing. As soon as you have the flow going, you just have to ride the wave. Then when the wave ends, you just have to quickly find a new one, and just keep writing as much as you can. This is what I’m going to try to do. Though no actual waves, I can’t surf… unless you count the internet, haha.
Now I really should go eat brunch, and start writing on my novella before I have to leave… Don’t worry, I’ll have time to write more later…
To all those who are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo: keep writing, and remember, we can get to our goals!
You can keep up with my progress by checking my Camp NaNoWriMo profile. Thanks for all the support!!
How do you really know when you’re ready for any writing adventure? I honestly don’t feel as prepared as I should. Though when I look back last year, I wasn’t really prepared much in November. All I keep trying to reassure myself that this experience in April and July will be just as amazing in November. All that really matters is that I write, and every thing else will come after.
I learned about the pesky Inner Editor & Inner Critic through my NaNoWriMo experience. That Inner Critic needs to pack its bags and fly north somewhere because it’s not going to persuade me to change my mind on what I’m going to do. I will write in April and July no matter what. Now that Inner Editor is like a kid pestering you to constantly edit everything you write, and stopping your flow. The Inner Editor has to leave too, but only for vacation. I just imagined my inner editor editing in Orlando, Florida… “Sorry, but that theme park ride disclaimer has a word spelled incorrectly.
I really panicked on Monday when I realized that there was only a week left, and now we have several days before Camp NaNoWriMo begins. Though I felt reassured that I wasn’t the only one in the boat panicking. A few others I know that will be writing in April, told me that they didn’t have much planned out either. As you know from last week’s post, I’m a planner, but the more I think about it… It seems like I plan a bit and then I write to see where I end up. That’s all I can do really. I have to sit down every day, and write as much as I can till I reach my goal. That’s what everyone else will be doing as well. Though we know that we have support from our family, friends, cabinmates, and fellow writers.
The things I remembered doing before NaNoWriMo last year were:
1) Making the decision to participate, and which story I was going to write (I already had an story idea that I had started and I wanted to make it into a novel).
2) Letting people know through social networks, and talking about my plans to participate in NaNoWriMo. Also learning who will be particating locally, and personally.
3) Researching what I could about writing a novel, any tips that my help prepare me, and any other information.
4) Planning out my plot and characters through NovaMind. It was useful to visualize the information, and a source where I can find information quickly while writing.
5) Creating a NaNoWriMo board on Pinterest related to images to my story. It was a way to visualize what my characters might look like, setting, and it springboard my thoughts to what I might do for the story.
6) Create a playlist on Spotify of songs that connect to my story, or inspire me.
These are basically the same things that I’ve done this time around (except I feel like this time I had to think more about the story to figure it out), and I’ll do these things again to prepare before July. Hopefully it continue to help me. Right now I’m glad that Easter landed in March this year. I really love Easter, especially when it’s connected to my Catholic faith. Even though I’m a bit worried about Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m thankful that I can focus a bit more during holy week to prepare for Easter. Next month, I don’t have much planned besides transitioning to shadowing my friend Melissa who teaches composition at our local university, and few other important things. I’ve got the time, but I have to use it well.
To all my fellow campers (aka writers), remember we’re all here to support each other so we can get to our goals. It might get crazy difficult during the writing process, but we can get through it. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun.
It seems like most of my life, I’ve felt like I had a plan for every thing. Though not everything turned out as planned. So when I finally graduated college, I freaked out because I wasn’t ready, but most of all, I didn’t have a plan. Last year gave me a chance to explore finding a job, dealing with that job without having the additional pressure of classes at the same time, and as well as personally learning. I learned more about my Catholic faith, and about writing (especially experiencing for the first time NaNoWriMo). All this just seemed to happen, throughout the year without me planning or planning to much about it. I felt the only thing that I really planned was going to Ascendio, a Harry Potter conference, which was amazing but even that experience was nothing like I had expected, it was better. So I’ve wondered if it’s a good thing to plan or not. Society kind of expect us to plan, especially for the future. You can’t just decide to go to Grad School and go right away. You have to plan ahead of time to apply and make sure that all the requirements are ready before the due date. As Camp NaNoWriMo is arriving soon, the April session and later the July session, I’ve begun to try to plan out an idea of what I’ll do.
I’ve decided to write a detective style novella. Normally NaNoWriMo in November the word goal is 50, 000, but for Camp NaNoWriMo writers can choose their own writing goals below or above 50,000. You don’t even have to do a novel. It can be a script, poetry, blogging, or a set of short stories. I thought a novella, which is around and possibly above 30,000 words, would be a good option for me. For NaNoWriMo, last year, I was able to reach 37,042 words in 30 days. Then later I continued to write a bit more, and revise my story in the new year. Even though I haven’t finished my novel, especially revising, I still want to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo for both months… even more so because I won’t have much time to do NaNoWriMo in November, if I get accepted to Grad School in the Fall. I know I need to still work on my first novel, and I still will. Anyways, I feel that a novella would be a good goal for April. Then I’ll figure after what I’ll do for July.
The last few days before November began, last year, I made a decision to participate in NaNoWriMo. I had a bit of an idea of a story that wanted to write into a novel, where I wanted to go with it, and a bit about the characters. I tried to outline a bit, and figure out a bit more about my characters before I started the journey the first of November. Now that I reflect back on it, I wonder if planning a bit more would have helped me while I was rushing to write a much as possible during NaNoWriMo. So I began to think in the beginning of this month what I would do for Camp NaNoWriMo. Through the month, I decided the word count goal, and then I decided what type of story I wanted to write. As soon as I had these two things set, I could figure out what my main characters would be, and start making an outline of some plot points. Though I haven’t done the outline yet. I have figure out a bit about my main characters. Soon I’ll try to have a basic outline of what I might do. Some times it helps to write it out on a word document, and I learned about using NovaMind (the free version) last year as way to plan and figure out my characters. I don’t want anything really detailed because I want it more as a guide that way I’m open to what ever comes to mind during the month. Like I said before, some things that aren’t completely planned some times turn out better. I think that’s kind of who I am as a writer. I need to plan out something a bit, and then I can work on figuring every thing else out down the road.
A detective story was something that I felt like doing for a while, but I haven’t done really. The fanfics (that I’ve done for Castle and one for Sherlock) don’t really count as a detective story because they don’t focus on a certain case. I’m a writer that enjoys writing about characters and their interactions with each other. Though I do love reading stories that have both really interesting characters and plot. Since the beginning of college, I’ve been seeing a lot of procedurals (such as Castle, Bones, Unforgettable, Fringe, and BBC’s Sherlock). As I mentioned last week, I’ve gotten the Sherlock bug. Now I’m re-watch the show and finally reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve read some other mysteries as well. So I feel like I could write one of my own. Yet today, I started to look through the internet about how to write a novella, and especially how to write a detective/mystery novel. As I was looking around at a few sites, I took some notes down to give me an idea of what I need to plan and remember when I’m writing. It gives me a bit of a guideline as well. Though I know there isn’t any exact rules. I have to learn most of it on my own. I have to figure it out, and I will. It just helps me to have something to go on ahead of time before I jump into writing a story. Kind of like a springboard to launch me towards my goal.
I believe that my experience in November has helped me to figure out so many things about writing. It will also help me as I participate for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. Though even with a lot of planning, I know it still won’t completely prepare me for the difficult moments that I’ll very likely to have during those months, but it will reassure me a bit. Plus I’ll have pep talks to read in my inbox, and cabin mates that I can chat with, via their website. Also I’ll have the South Texas Scribes (the local writers group in my area), and my friends to help me… well, as much as they are able to anyways.
So are you planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo? If so, have you done it before? If you have, what would you suggest to me and those who are participating for the first time? If you are planning to, no matter if you’re new or returning are you planning a bit of your story before you start or as they say in NaNoWriMo land, “Pantsing” (which is basically writing without a plan)?
I will still continue to write on this blog, even during these two months but it might not be as long as I’ve been writing. I believe it will help me to write about my progress, and share what I’m struggling with during Camp NaNoWriMo. Before and inbetween, April and July, I’ll write a bit about revision and planning. So now you have a bit of an idea what I’ll be doing as well not only for Camp NaNoWriMo but also for my blog. I wish everyone luck on their writing adventures, especially those who will be part of Camp NaNoWriMo of either or both sessions. I’m sure not matter if we plan, or not, before hand I believe we can get to our goals as long as we focus and help each other as much as we can.
I’m taking a Spring Break from writing on my blog. I’ll be back next week to write about something related to writing, or maybe about revising.
For now, I’ll be reading (Sherlock Holmes [original stories, other stories like Sherlock in Love, and MasterMind]… maybe re-watching a bit of BBC Sherlock on Netflix too… my friends gave me the Sherlock bug!!). I will also be enjoying my time with my friends during their spring break and some other things… such as preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo [April and July], which is just around the corner! I’m going to try to participate in both months. Planning is good before NaNoWriMo, but it doesn’t fully prepare you for the crazy awesomeness that comes with any thing related to NaNoWriMo.
What I love most about Spring Break is having time to just read for fun (check out this link to read my friend Tabitha’s great blog post!). So that’s what I’m trying to do. Hopefully you find some great books to read as well. Writers need to take breaks once and a while to refresh by reading, and enjoying life. That way they can continue to write great stories. This can apply to anyone else though, breaks are useful to be refresh and be able to continue to do our best in anything we work on, even things we enjoy. Those who don’t have an official spring break, because you’re out of school (like I am right now till I go back for Grad School in the Fall semester, hopefully), make your own. We all need a bit of a break from difficulties of life and just enjoy the simple pleasures, like reading.
P.S. Even though I said I wouldn’t write, I did anyways… Well, at least it’s shorter than normal… what ever that may be…