Philosophy By Christy

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Academic and Creative Writing: Can’t I do both?

Yes, I know. I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I do have a good excuse, grad school. It’s been difficult to try to do everything that is required, plus make time for my family and friends. Some thing that I don’t have trouble making time for is going to church on Sundays, and I love singing in the choir at Mass. Anyways, it’s not just scheduling my life, but also it’s been difficult to get back into writing academically. I took a year and half in between my undergrad and grad school. So it’s wasn’t too long, plus it was a nice break (and self-educational as well). So it seems like it’s about adjusting to every thing that comes with grad school. I’m starting to feel a bit better about it all since I learned recently that I got an “A” on a journal assignment. I still need to continue to work hard, do my best, and schedule everything. Yet there is something about knowing you did well, that brings your hopes up. It’s possible. Kind of like when I finished writing my novella in April, through Camp NaNoWriMo (though I still need to edit it). I realized that it was possible for me to write 30,000 words in a month.

It’s October, so if you’re a writer you may realize what is coming up next month… (besides the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, and Thanksgiving), National Novel Writing Month 2013. There are already people preparing for this November’s writing session, and they will continue throughout this month. I’ve noticed online, even locally, that people are already excited for NaNoWriMo. All I can think about is how much I want to write creatively, as well as do well with my classes. I asked the official NaNoWriMo twitter account if it was even possible to participate in NaNoWriMo, while also going to grad school. They gave me a response, and I noticed after that there were several others that had, and/or planning to do the exact same thing that I thought was impossible. How could it be possible to write academically for your classes, do well, and still have time to write creatively? People were suggesting scheduling time to write early in the morning or whenever possible, a little bit each day and more on weekends, or several hours one day a week. Some times it sounds like it could be do-able, and then other times, when I wonder if I can even get everything done for school. Even my friend Gloria says, I could wait and try another year, and just focus on my classes, especially since South Texas Scribes, the writing group, was year around. Yes, I want to focus on my classes, but I still want to work on my creative writing. It’s not so I can get published, but just to keep up the skill and improve. Most of all, because I really do enjoy writing stories, though they can be difficult. So I thought, maybe not focus on getting the 50,000 words that Wrimos focus on in November, but just try to make time to write creatively, either a poem, short story, or longer, during that month. I just want to make sure I make time to write creatively as much as I able to (as well as writing blog posts), between all the school stuff and other parts of life. My friend Liz mentioned to me that I need to make some time in between school stuff, to take a break so I don’t get too overwhelmed. She’s not the only one that has mentioned that. By the way, she posted a new chapter of her novel, Ascendancy, you can read it here.

I do want to mention, even though I am stressed out about the workload, I am enjoying my classes and even excited about working on a research project (it’s a paper discussing Harry Potter and Merlin, the legendary character as well as the one from the BBC show). Luckily I can work on it through out this semester. It’s kind of obvious why I would be excited about that project. I strongly believe that if you enjoy a  topic, you’re more likely to enjoy learning more about it, and be able to apply it. It’s going to be difficult, but I know that if I do my best, I’ll get through it.

So, what do you think? Is it possible to do academic and creative writing (plus blog posting)? If you do, what tips do you suggest? Or even possible sources that I can look towards for my research paper (well, it doesn’t hurt to ask)? I can always try and see how it goes. I do know that not everything goes as planned. At the end of it all, school is more important. Now I really should be getting back to my studies… though it was refreshing to write a blog post.

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Always the Planner, and Sometimes Spontaneous

visualizeideas

NovaMind: Mind Mapping

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.

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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.

Even writers need a Spring Break…

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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.

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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… 😀

New Year, New Blog

Every year everyone makes resolutions, some complete them and others don’t. I’ve always tried to think of resolutions like goals. If they don’t get completed, take the next year to try again or change it some how and see if it turns out. As a goal, you can make the big ones into smaller goals that you can accomplish during the year, and create a timeline of each small goal that you’ll complete. Though really it’s just some ideas of what you want to do to make your year just a little bit more special.

Last year was the first year I experienced not having classes, since I graduated in December of 2011. Though it didn’t stop me from learning, and growing. The beginning of 2011, I had a moment where I looked around at nature and prayed to God to help me figure out what to do. I didn’t have a job at the time, and no direction of what to do next after graduation. Then certain things came to me. (more…)