Why You Should Do Camp NaNoWriMo.

campnanowrimo.org

campnanowrimo.org

1. It gets you writing.

I struggle getting anything accomplished without some kind of structure or goals set for myself. Camp NaNoWriMo, is a more relaxed version of NaNoWriMo that allows you to tune into your creative spirit and just go.

2. You can set your own goal.

Does the goal of 50k words seem a bit daunting to you, especially in the summer when there are so many other things going on? Fret not, you can choose your own goal for Camp NaNo. So if you’re a beginner and can only write a fraction of that, you can make your goal lower to make it more manageable. If you’re more experienced, you can set your goal higher than 50k.

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Monday Musings- Creating a Writing Routine

One thing that NaNoWriMo really helps me with is creating a daily writing routine. As a writer, I understand the importance of writing something every single day (or at least working on my WIP in some way).

tumblr_m8vonhz5Ql1rn95k2o1_500But how do you continue a writing routine after the schedule and pressure of NaNoWriMo is over?

This is just one of the things I’ve struggled with since coming back from the holiday crazy time where I think I wrote/revised one chapter in my novel.

I didn’t focus on my writing for one whole month. That routine that I developed in October and November went ka-put. Now that I am working on TGGC again, I need a new writing routine. Otherwise I will never get anything done.

It takes about 30 days to make something a habit. My goal is to write or work on my novel for at least one hour a day for the next 30 days.

How am I going to do this?

1. Use a calendar

  • Mark days where I work for 1 hour
  • Mark when I work for more than 1 hour
  • Set weekly writing goals for myself.
    • Word Counts
    • Chapters revised or written (usually I shoot for 2).

2. Set aside separate time for blogging and a separate spot in my notebook/document on my computer

  • Blogging is very important to me, but it can distract me from other things that need to be done.

3. Reward myself for a job well done

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  • For example- Did I go 1 whole week achieving my goal of 1 hour per day?
    • Did I hit my word count or chapter goal?
  • I will let myself go on an extra long walk or something that will help to replenish my energy and creativity.

4. Make my document full screen

  • So I can;’t see when an email pops up or someone Facebook messages me. Biggest distractions ever.

5. Put my phone in the other room

  • If someone needs to get ahold of me, they can wait an hour.

 

What is your writing routine? What do you do to eliminate distractions? Let’s chat!!!

Monday Musings: NaNoWriMo is Over! (and basically I suck at blogging)

Originally my goal was to post updates on my progress for NaNoWriMo a couple of times a week last month…

Then I thought, hey, maybe once a week updates would be sufficient.

harry-potter-4

Obviously, none of that happened.

But I did win NaNoWriMo on Saturday, Nov 29th, at one of my write-ins! Myself and another WriMo raced one another to 50k and both ended up making it there in the same word sprint!

It felt awesome! I won NaNo last year, but forgot that amazing writer’s high you get when you see your word count reach 50k and finish the first draft of your novel at the same time!!! I know I am going to have to revise and add bits and pieces in there, but yay– my second novel is written!

exciteddavidtennantI really do apologize for not updating during NaNoWriMo, but honestly, I was so wrapped up in my story and in life that adding one more thing to my daily schedule may have tipped the balance of my writing productivity into less productive territory.

But I am trying to come up with a decent blogging schedule for the rest of this year, and into 2015

Can you believe that 2015 is only one month away?!? I can’t wrap my mind around it.

 

Anyways….

I am going to keep reading (now that I have time I have a huge TBR pile to catch up with) and I am going to go back to revisions of The Girl in the Glass Coffin here in a week or so— after I give my poor brain a break.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo?

How did it go for you? Do you have any writer goals for the last month of 2015? Let’s chat and catch up!

 

NaNoWriMo Day 5: Tappity Tap

http://nanotoons.net/2014/11/05/2014-november-5/

http://nanotoons.net/2014/11/05/2014-november-5/

Hello! Today is NaNoWriMo Day 5 and I’m still feeling pretty good! Coffee may or may not have a large part in this, but honestly I am just glad to be caught up. I still have today’s words to write, but I ended the day yesterday with 6,944 words.

I struggled a bit during the first couple of days of NaNoWriMo. I fully planned on writing November 1st, but we had company and I couldn’t lock myself in a room and be rude to them. So I didn’t write. And I spent the last couple of days playing catch-up and making up for it.

Today the goal is to hit that 8,333 word mark. While I can’t necessarily do it during the day (as much as I’d like to) because I’m at work, there are some things I’ve been doing to help myself.

I’m not a huge outliner, but I’ve been outlining each chapter as I go along.

After I finished Chapter 1, I had some ideas for chapter 2, and made an outline for it. It wasn’t a super detailed outline, was hand-written, but it helped me to organize my thoughts for those word wars I was doing with my friend Tracy last night. I find that this doesn’t take long— maybe 10 minutes or so, and it saves me so much grief.

Outlining this way, also keeps me from feeling constrained and like I have to stick with a multiple page, detailed outline.

If I end up deviating from my notes, big deal. It allows the story to flow naturally and keeps me concentrating on the next scene or chapter.

I hope that all is going well for all of you WriMos!

What are you doing to help you get through NaNoWriMo 2014?

 

Now on to write all the words!!! Good luck!

Found on: http://allisaurussrex.tumblr.com/

Found on: http://allisaurussrex.tumblr.com/

Why Your Novel is a TARDIS

When coming up with analogies for what writing a NaNoWriMo novel is like the other day, an idea popped into my mind.

Your novel is a TARDIS.

doctor-who-tardisYou may (or may not) be wondering, WTF is a TARDIS Amanda?

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you know that the TARDIS is a magical blue police box that travels through space and time and brings the Doctor and his companions on countless adventures all around the universes.

doctor-who-its-bigger-on-the-insideIt’s also bigger on the inside.

Impressively so. It has rooms upon rooms, a library, even a swimming pool. Like a TARDIS, your novel is bigger on the inside. It has rooms and chapters, characters and arcs, mysteries and adventures just waiting for you.

For an author, writing a novel is a bigger adventure than it is for the reader.

You the author has the control over the direction the book is going. You may have everything all planned out, or you may be pantsing, but your novel can take you on so many magical adventures. Each novel can take both the writer (and the reader) to so many different places or worlds.

Your novel lets you travel through time and space

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and lets you be in control of how and when all of that happens. It lets you be the Doctor and travel to far-off worlds, or save the world you live in from a terrible threat.

It’s still early in the month for NaNoWriMo 2014, but don’t let anything get you down.

Let your mind and your novel be your TARDIS.

Let it take you to places you never thought you would go, places only your writing can take you. And enjoy every minute of it 🙂

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo Eve

photo(6)Happy Halloween!!!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful and safe time! If you’re going out to celebrate, please be safe. Don’t drink and drive!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Not only do we have our annual All Hallows Eve party at my house, but I love dressing up. This is my costume for this year– a steampunk Amelia Earhart!

And Happy NaNoWriMo Eve!!!

photo(7)My Halloween costume was actually inspired by my research for my NaNoWriMo novel. I will be attempting to write steampunk. I won’t be writing at midnight tonight, because I will be entertaining guests, but I will be up bright and early tomorrow morning to get a good start to my novel. My region’s first write-in is Sunday, so I’m quite excited for that as well. My to-do list for that includes: Writing the day one Pep-Talk to send out to my region and post here, creating some cute goodies to share with everyone that comes (goodies correspond to my pep-talk), and just making sure I reach the 1667 words (no matter how I am feeling tomorrow).

I made this awesome Viking Hat for one lucky WriMo in my region to win (I might have to make one for me to wear too throughout the month–or make one when the person wins). For every write-in they attend, their name will go into a drawing to win this awesome hat! At the TGIO party I will draw the winner’s name!

So woohoo— party on! Happy Halloween, happy NaNoWriMo Eve, and have a fabulous day.

NaNo Prep #5- Your Characters Need Flaws

Over the weekend, I had the Oswego region’s Kick-Off party. While there was only a handful of us that were able to make it, it allowed me to get to know some of the participants better. We also got to talking about our books and characters. I was asked a question that for some reason, I had trouble answering

What are your character’s flaws?

sammycrap

Shit. I drew a blank at that question. I knew that my character isn’t perfect. She’s involved in some pretty seedy things and gets herself into a hell of a lot of trouble. But it got me thinking– what exactly are my character’s flaws?

I spent the rest of the weekend trying to mull it over and read through her character sketch at least ten times. I went from ‘I’ve got this” to “Oh my god I have no clue what I’m doing next month” and then went back and forth a couple of times. This morning I did a quick Google search for “character flaws” to try to come up with something so that I could stop freaking out.

Brave1All I can say is, I don’t know what I did before the Google Machine.

I found generators and lists of character flaws and explored them. I wasn’t looking to create a character based on flaws that a generator came up with, but ones that I knew would fit my character and her personality. While I browsed through lists they came to me, and for the time being I feel much better about my NaNoWriMo  novel that I will begin in just a few, short days.

In order to be realistic, your characters need to have some sort of flaws to go with their redeeming or good qualities.

Otherwise you tun the risk of having flat, boring characters that are dangerously close to being a Mary Sue. One of my biggest fears is realizing that after spending so much time writing and revising my book, that I have a Mary Sue main character on my hands.

No real person is flawless and we want our characters to be as real as possible— why would we expect our characters to be flawless?

Giving your characters flaws makes them feel real to the reader, makes them more dynamic, and gives you something to help them grow and change throughout the novel.

Likewise, your antagonist can’t be all flaws. You want them to have some redeeming quality somewhere (even if it has to do with their past or back story).

Overall, I’m really glad that this issue was brought to my attention.

Even if it did cause a whole weekend of self-doubt and “can I do this?”. My characters and novel will be so much more interesting as a result– and even better, my main character will not be a Mary Sue, and I understand her so much more.

spn-awesome

A Writer's Guide to NaNoWriMo- Part 2!

Yesterday I posted part one of my Writer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo. This is something that I am sharing with my fellow WriMos in the USA:: New York:: Oswego region and I figured I would share it with all of you on the interwebs as well!

boundlessnovelbanner50k!!! That’s a lot of writing! What if I get writer’s block?

We all get writer’s block from time to time, but there are a few things you can do!

  • Get your handy-dandy plot ninjas, pluck one out of there and try to work it in to your novel!
  • Start a new, completely unrelated scene or chapter or change points of view, you can always fill in the gaps or change things if you decide to revise!
  • Take a break and go for a walk— you’d be surprised how much this helps. It gets your blood pumping, and you can think about your novel (or completely unrelated things) for a little while before going back to write.
  • Look online— there are plenty of resources to help you!

 

Should I plan out my whole story?

nanowrimo-nov03-2012

www.nanotoons.net

If you want to! Plotters outline or plan out aspects of their story before writing— some in a lot of detail, others in little. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants and just write whatever comes to mind. Plantsers are some combination of the two.

You can do whatever you feel is right for you!

To Pants or to Plan (that is the question)

What do I need to do to participate?

  • Go to NaNoWriMo.org, sign up and create your novel
    • Select a home region to get updates and pep talks from your local pals!
    • Get something to write on or with and get writing!

But I get so distracted!!!

Try to get into a writing routine before NaNoWriMo. If you can’t do it before the month starts, try to go somewhere with little to no distractions. I have my craft room in my house. It doesn’t have a TV and other than yarn in it, it’s pretty damn empty. Coffee shops are great for writing, but sometimes other people’s conversations (which can be great for inspiration) can distract me– or I find myself singing along to the song on the radio instead of writing.

Try to create a distraction-free zone for yourself when you sit down to do your writing for the day.

Word Wars and Word Sprints are great for keeping your focus on your writing as well– they put the pressure on to get words on paper.

I’ve never written a novel before though!

So what! You want to right? Do it then :).

 

Here are some posts to help you along the way!

NaNo Prep- Brainstorming

NaNo Prep- Creating Your Characters

NaNo Prep- Convincing Villains

NaNo Prep- Let’s Talk About Plot!

A Writer's Guide to NaNoWriMo Part 1

As ML for the USA:: New York:: Oswego region, I’ve been trying to put together a Guide to NanoWriMo. I want it to be something informative for the first-time participants, but also something silly and fun for returning writers as well. Here is what I came up with for part one of my Writer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo.

boundlessnovelbanner

www.nanowrimo.org

 

Wecome to our favorite month of the year, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) for short!

What on Earth is NaNoWriMo, you ask?:

A challenge for writers to write an entire novel of 50k words in 1 month.

Is that even possible?:

Yes.

But how? Let me tell you how!

During NaNoWriMo, your challenge is to write 50k words.

Yes, I know that’s a lot, but look at it this way:

http://nanotoons.net/2013/11/01/2013-november-1/

http://nanotoons.net/2013/11/01/2013-november-1/

  • There are 30 days in the month of November
  • 50,000 divided by 30 is 1,667 words a day
    • Now don’t let that scare you away! That is still a lot of words, but you would be surprised how many words an hour of writing a day can produce!

But you’re not alone!!!

The NaNoWriMo community is very supportive! We’re all in this together and one of the great things about participating is that we can help one another.

How can I get 50k written in one month?:

  • NanoKeepCalmWrite every single day, even if you don’t meet your daily word count goal! It helps to look at your daily schedule and find a time that works best for you.
    • If you have to miss a day, try to make up for it as soon as possible, so you don’t fall too far behind.
  • Don’t edit as you write. This is a first draft. Expect that it will be crappy. Just get your story out. Don’t go back and read, it will only hinder your progress going forward.
  • Coffee (and lots of it), for those of you who drink coffee. Tea and cocoa work too J. Just make sure to also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated as well.
  • Find a story that inspires you and that you are excited to write!
  • If you think it will help you, plan out what you are going to write. There are plenty of resources online: brainstorming strategies, character questionnaires, plot story structures, and more.
  • Write with others. Writing is usually a pretty solitary activity, but in our write-ins we will be talking to one another and trying to help each other with our writing.
  • Word sprints and word wars- basically timed spurts of writing where you try to get as many words out as you possibly can. You’d be surprised how much you can write in 10/15/20 minutes.
    • We will do these at our write-ins, but @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter runs these all month long.

OMG are you crazy???

Yep.

What’s in your Writer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo?

Keep a look out for part 2, coming your way tomorrow!

NaNo Prep #4- Let's Talk About Plot!

WhatCreatesPlotWe’re almost to November, but no one panic just yet. If you’re a planner, you probably have all of your characters fleshed out by now. A protagonist and an antagonist of some sort are about to start working against one another in your head and on the page.

But what now? What are these characters going to actually do over the course of your novel?

What I’ve always been told (and I’ve found it works) is Characters + Conflict = Plot

Is this a perfect equation? No, but it helps to create and drive your plot forward.

Let’s start thinking about plot by taking a look back at your characters.

Protagonist Antagonist
  • Goals (might have more than 1)
  • Motivations
  • Actions
  • Goals (might have more than 1)
  • Motivations
  • Actions

 Often, your protagonist and antagonist will want opposite things.

This is an easy source of conflict that can help drive your plot forward.  One will try to stop the other from achieving their goal and may succeed (or fail) at doing that. The “good guy” can’t always win, and neither can the “bad guy.” The conflict always has to be resolved in one way or another– even if it’s not in your good guy’s favor.

Here’s a tip from me, especially in a rough draft— use that to your advantage!

http://shannoncurtis.wordpress.com/tag/external-conflict/

http://shannoncurtis.wordpress.com/tag/external-conflict/

What are the 5 worst things that could happen to your protagonist?

Those are the best things that could happen for your antagonist(s) to get what they want. This also works the opposite way.  Ahhh conflict! *sits back and basks in the fictional drama* But really, these obstacles help your plot develop and move forward. You don’t have to use all of them but this can guide you.

The Dreaded Plot Diagram.

plot-diagram-2Most writers have seen a basic plot diagram at one point or another (damn you, high school English classes). This might not be what yours looks like (mine is a heck of a lot more up and down than this) but you get the idea.

Plot and conflict need to begin in your very first chapter. This is what hooks a reader’s interest and keeps them going.

You want to introduce your character, but you also need to have an inciting incident.

An inciting incident gets the plot rolling right off the bat and immediately creates some sort of conflict, or problem for your M.C. to solve.

  • This gives your M.C. a goal and some sort of motivation to achieve that goal.
  • Your antagonist may or may not even have a hand in the inciting incident, or we may not know they are involved right away. However, you’re going to want to bring them in very soon.
  • What ways can you make the antagonist stand in the way of your protagonist’s goal?

But conflict in your novel doesn’t always have to do with the antagonist!

Your poor protagonist doesn’t always have to be bashed over the head with terrible things. There are other kinds of conflict you can use: It could be internal, related to romance, or any number of subplots you have– but remember, it should be necessary to the story.

It should help your character grow, learn, or change over the course of the novel.

Personally, I love conflict, I have at least traces of conflict or tension in every scene, every chapter of the stories or novels that I write. I don’t create a strict outline, but conflict that naturally arises is what keeps me excited to write my story and keep going. Some problems in my novel might be resolved as the story progresses, but others arise.

One of my favorite Youtube Vloggers, Katytastic has a great video about story structure, and an outlining process. While I don’t outline much and I don’t strictly follow this structure, it helps me make sure that my story is on track and the story progressing. I use it as a guide.

What do you think? How do you make sure your plot progresses?

Lets chat about plot! I’d love to hear what you think and what you do when you write.