NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 1 Recap

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The first week of NaNoWriMo this year might be the best I’ve ever had. For all the enthusiasm I feel for the start of NaNo, the first day is always a struggle for me. Going from nothing to something is the biggest step, in my opinion. It’s just a shame that it happens to be the first step.

This year I got over the fear of starting relatively quickly. I didn’t achieve astronomical word counts on the first day, or any other day in week 1 for that matter, but I had a decent stretch of consistently good days until Monday.

On Monday I struggled. It was the first day this month I didn’t feel particularly well and my word count reflected it. I wrote less than 1,000 words that day and I’m still trying to make up for the deficit. There’s plenty of time left in the month and I’m behind by just a bit so one really good day should get me back on track.

I’ve been posting completed scenes of my NaNoWriMo project to my Patreon after running them through spellcheck. Some days I’ve skipped and combined with other days because posting something I haven’t polished can make me incredibly anxious. Most days it’s a blast to show off my progress, but I’ve given myself permission to hold off if I’m not feel great about it when the time comes to post. The last draft of The Dreams had some diehard fans and I’m excited to know what they think of this new and improved version.

Looking forward to the second week, I’m hoping to catch up and keep pace with the target word count. Week two is usually pretty rough for me. Doubt starts to creep in and things I neglected in favor of writing during the first week start to become more urgent. I’m trying to keep on top of everything this month, so hopefully, that won’t happen. Only time will tell if I manage to make week two work!

How was the first week of NaNoWriMo for you? Are you ahead? Behind? How are you feeling now that we’re entering the second week of NaNo?

Draft 3 of The Dreams will be on Patreon Soon

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I haven’t made a post specifically to announce my project for NaNoWriMo this year, and with November just around the corner, I know it is now or never.

This year I’ll be rewriting The Dreams for NaNoWriMo. It’s not a traditional start-from-nothing first draft NaNo project, but I am starting this draft with a 0 word count so I feel like it still fits into that aspect of the spirit of the month.

There are aspects of The Dreams I’ve wanted to change for a long time and rereading the story has helped me discover more things I want to change. This draft is my chance to change those things. I hope that the changes will improve the story and bring me one step closer to a version of The Dreams suitable for publication as a book.

I’ve decided to post this new draft on Patreon for several reasons. First of all, I don’t want to bore or confuse readers here by having multiple versions of the same story available. On Patreon people are already dedicated to following my progress as a writer and will be less likely to be confused or annoyed by the reappearance of a familiar tale. Second of all, I want to reward those who have given me the most support by giving them something special and exclusive. And finally, there is a part of me that hopes a new and improved version of The Dreams might convince a few more people to share at least $1 a month with me.

If you’re interested in following the further progress of The Dreams from its current state to the next step on its journey, head over to my Patreon and join the fun. I’ll need all the encouragement I can get so I don’t lose my nerve halfway through making the changes I have planned. If you haven’t read The Dreams yet, you can read the entirety of the current draft here.

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49 Days Until NaNoWriMo

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We’re getting closer and closer to the start of NaNoWriMo. Anticipation is building.

There’s still plenty of time for things to change, but things are starting to get clearer as the start of NaNo draws closer. Certain variables have been eliminated. I’m not halfway through the rewrite of The Dreams like I thought I might be at this point in the month.

Not being further into draft 3 of The Dreams makes things more interesting for NaNoWriMo. As of right now, it looks like I’ll still be working on Inbetween in November and I’ll be rewriting The Dreams as well. That takes starting a new project off the table.

That’s a little bit disappointing, but also a relief. I love starting new projects, but the prospect of preparing a new project while also working on a first draft and a third draft was a little overwhelming. The other project ideas will keep until I reach the next natural point for a break with my two ongoing projects. It’ll give me something to look forward to in 2018.

Right now NaNoWriMo 2017 is looking like a remix of NaNoWriMo 2016. Last year I was wrapping up the first draft of The Dreams and starting Inbetween. This year I’ll be continuing Inbetween and working on the third draft/complete rewrite of The Dreams. Having two projects going at once worked well for me last year. Hopefully, it will work well for me this year too.

Starting NaNoWriMo in the middle of two projects will be an entirely new experience for me. Before I’ve either continued a project by itself or continued one project and started another. Juggling two ongoing projects in two different stages of development will require a different kind of planning than I’ve utilized in previous years. It’s great that I’m still finding new challenges and scenarios for NaNoWriMo even after 12 years.

Do you have a plan for NaNoWriMo? Are you doing anything you haven’t done before this year?

Making Plans for Fall 2017

It’s August already! The year has really been flying by.

Since fall is just around the corner, I thought I should start making some plans for what I would like to accomplish with my writing during the final months of the year. Some of my plans involve staples of the fall season for writers, but others should be completely new and exciting.

I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo, of course. Right now it looks like I’ll be a NaNoRebel again this year. Inbetween is still going strong. I doubt I’ll reach the conclusion of the first draft before November 1. I’m not sure if Inbetween will still have another 50,000 words to go by the time we reach November, but if I finish up the story, I have plenty of other ideas for things to write. If it looks like Inbetween is winding down, I’ll just have to start outlining something new in October.

In September I plan to start writing a new draft of The Dreams. I’m working on the outline for this new draft now. This rewrite will be a Patreon exclusive while I am writing it. My hope is that posting it to a smaller audience of interested individuals will give me the courage to really leave my comfort zone while writing this draft. Looking back over the version I posted, I can tell I was really pulling my punches for certain scenes. I’d like to change that. If you’re interested in following this new evolution of my first serial, be sure to join me on Patreon.

Sometime this fall I’ll also resume my efforts to record a serial audiobook version of The Dreams. The summer thwarted my attempts to record, but once the temperatures are cooler I should be able to close off a room enough to make recording possible. There will be more news about the ETA of this project once I’m able to start recording.

Do you have any projects planned for the fall? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

In Honor of International Kissing Day

Today is international kissing day. To celebrate I thought I’d post Rina and Hibiki’s first kiss from The Dreams. The entire story is available online so if you want more, be sure to check it out!


Hibiki would be coming over any minute now. Rina was ready. Since they had been on a few more dates she had finally started to relax a bit. After the second date she had stopped stressing about the clothes she wore. Now she had stopped worrying about thinking up fun and exciting things to do with him. Being with him was enough, and she thought the feeling was mutual.

Tonight they were studying together. Corine told her that was a lame date idea, but Corine did not like studying, and, well, she and Hibiki both took their academic careers very seriously and they could see each other more if they studied together rather than separately. Tonight they were staying in her room and studying, and in her opinion it was just perfect.

As long as she stayed positive she knew she had nothing to worry about. She had cleaned her room so she had no fear of humiliation by way of her housekeeping skills. She focused as much as she could on making this place as guest ready as possible. If she worried about being a good hostess then she did not have time to worry about the possible implications associated with inviting a boy she had been seeing fairly regularly into her room.

Her entire home at this point was a bedroom, but the invitation to her bedroom was still there and she knew it. She did not want to be nervous about such things. She wanted to believe that she had no reason to be nervous about these things with Hibiki, but she was not a stupid girl, and she knew that even the nicest people she seemed to sync up with the most could still at times misinterpret her motivations. Allowing her mind to accept this fact, even giving herself a chance to confront such a notion was enough to set her into a spiral of panic. She knew she had to keep busy. Without time to think much she would not have time to come up with excuses to worry.

She tidied and straightened up until the moment her phone buzzed on her desk. Quickly, she checked her text messages. Perfect. Hibiki was just on time. She hurried out to let him into the building.

He had never been inside her dorm before. All of their dates prior to this one took place else where. Hibiki came to pick her up and Rina exited the building and off they went. Now he finally got to come inside.

Spending too much time in the hallway outside her room seemed like a bad idea to Rina. Usually nothing too strange happened in this building, but knowing her luck today would be the day someone decided to get sloppy drunk in the hallway. It had happened on other floors before, but so far the rooms around her had been spared from any such incident. At this point they were probably over due for some chaos.

Overall her floor of the building was a quiet one. She had the only single room, but the other rooms all had girls that kept reasonable hours and got along just fine with their room mates so things tended to be quiet and peaceful.

“Here’s my room,” she announced before cringing at how lame the statement sounded.

She opened the door and allowed Hibiki to enter ahead of her. As he took in the room she watched him for signs of disapproval or disgust. So far he seemed to be completely content, but she could not stop herself from worrying.

“Um. I don’t have a lot of spare seating options, so you can take the desk chair and I’ll sit on the bed if that’s okay with you.”

“Sounds perfect,” he replied.

He crossed the room and sat down at her desk with ease that made Rina believe he could not possibly be feeling even the least bit nervous about being in her room. She tried her best to emulate his cool demeanor as she crossed the room herself.

“So what do you have to work on today?” she asked.

He pulled a notebook and a thick textbook out of his bag and sat them on her desk. From her seat on the bed she could not see the title of the book.

“I have a history exam in two days so I need to memorize names and dates. What about you?”

She held up her anthropology text and made a silly face.

“Three chapters with a vocabulary quiz tomorrow. Do you think you could drill me on the vocab list after I finish the reading?”

“Sure. You want to drill me on these history chapters after that?”

“Sounds like a plan to me.”

After that short exchange they fell silent and got to work. Rina found it nice to have someone to study with that actually wanted to study as much as she did, but at the same time she missed talking to Hibiki. Most of their time together up until this point had been spent talking and now it felt almost wrong to be so quiet with him.

Once she focused on the chapter she had to read the silence stopped seeming out of place. She found her study zone and once she made it there almost nothing took her out of it until she was good and ready to leave. With that mindset she made great progress on her reading assignment and soon had her full vocabulary list made and she had practically drilled the words into her brain.

Then as seamlessly as she fell into her study zone she rose back into the world of full awareness. She looked up from her work and glanced over at her desk. Hibiki was watching her intently from her desk chair. He seemed lost in thought while watching her and did not immediately notice or care that she was now watching him watch her.

She smiled at him. He smiled back.

“Were you waiting for me to finish?”

“Yes, but not for long. And I was enjoying the view during my wait.”

Rina blushed. “Are you ready for me to quiz you on those chapters?”

“Sure.” He picked up his book, handed it opened to the correct chapter over to her and then moved to sit next to her on the bed. “Ask me anything. I should know it all.”

She could feel herself growing warmer. Soon she would boil over from excessive blushing. He was sitting so close to her — as was necessitated by the narrow single bed — that she could touch him if she just leaned over ever so slightly. On all of their dates they had never been this close. It was exciting, but she always found herself worrying when her face heated up and her heart started to beat so hard it might nearly pound out of her chest.

“Won’t you be able to peek if you’re sitting right next to me?” she managed to squeak out.

“I could,” he admitted, “but I won’t.”

His arm draped over her shoulders and drew her slightly closer to him. Rina would certainly have blushed more if she had not already reach her maximum blushing capability already. She did manage to feel a bit light headed to make up for it. Their study date suddenly took a turn more toward the date side of things when they had been so comfortably settled in the study side of things thus far.

“I’m glad I can trust you to be honorable.”

“Of course. I know cheating my way into the answer won’t do me any good in class.”

“Good.”

She looked down at the book in her lap and tried to scan the paragraphs to see if she could glean out a good question to begin quizzing Hibiki. The words blurred together and the only thing her brain wanted to focus on was the arm over her shoulders. She liked the way it felt, but had no idea how to let him know how she felt about it.

“Rina?”

“Yeah?”

She turned to look at him and he quickly kissed her. It was a brief encounter, more than a peck on the lips, but still barely more than a brush of their lips together. A spark of electricity ran through her from the brief contact. That shock left her without words for a moment. It did cure her of her inability to look him in the eyes. His eyes were a shade of light brown that caught the light in the room and changed facets of his iris to a amber hue. Now she could not stop looking at him.

He reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She leaned in and kissed him, lingering longer than he had dared.

As she pulled back she took pleasure in seeing his satisfied smile. She did not know what had come over her. She had never initiated a kiss before. She had never kissed like that before. Up until today all of her kisses so far had been dry, boring pecks on the lips that were given mostly out of custom at the end of a date. Kissing in the middle of a date — kissing like this at all — was completely new territory for her.

“I hope this isn’t moving too fast for you,” Hibiki said as his fingers brushed against her cheek.

“Oh no. Not at all. Now that we’ve made it here I’m pretty sure this pace is just perfect.”

“Oh good. I’d been hoping you’d give me some signal since our first date, but then you got so worked up over your shoes that I couldn’t tell and since then I’ve been worrying I missed my chance.”

“Well, I think that it turned out perfectly. No complaints here at all.”

“Good. I’m glad. Now I’m not sure if I can stop kissing you.”

“Maybe I don’t want you to stop.”

She leaned in again so their noses were nearly touching. She could not explain what had come over her. There was nothing in this that she could consider to be part of her normal behavior. All of this qualified as unexplored territory for her. For once it felt right to actually step outside of her comfort zone so she put faith in herself to know where the new boundaries would be placed and not to cross those lines until she was good and ready.

“What about studying?” he teased.

“We did study. Drilling each other on vocab and dates is just bonus studying.”

“Yes. I see. I suppose our grades won’t suffer too greatly if we take a short recess.”

“Indeed,” she could barely stop herself from giggling.

He kissed her again and very nearly took her breath away. She liked to think that she could get used to this.

Restraint: Things to Do When Your Draft Needs to Breathe

I’m not allowing myself to touch The Dreams until May. I’m itching to get back into it, but I spent 16 months with my eyes on this story from the start of the first draft to the posting of the final chapter. The story was at the front of my mind for a very, very long time so I feel the need to separate myself from it for a long time as well.

Some people wait a month or two between drafts with great results. If that’s what works for you, that’s great! It’s all about figuring out what works for you, and for me, I need time to clear the story out of my brain. As long as it is still in my mind I won’t be as objective and I’ll read the story I meant to write rather than the one I did write.

I wrote the final scenes of The Dreams in November 2016. The final chapter was revised in December and posted, oddly enough, on my 29th birthday. The story was still churning around in my mind in January and even in February I still found myself thinking about it most days. It’s becoming less common this month. By May I’m hoping my memories of writing it will be more distant and I’ll be ready to look at it objectively.

I’ve been itching to get back into this story since about two weeks after I posted the final chapter. Restraining myself hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve found a few ways to distract myself from the urge to touch the story.

  1. Read

Reading in and out of my favorite genre is a great way to keep my mind busy with stories other than The Dreams. I read for enjoyment, but I also read to learn how to be a better writer.

2. Write

I started writing Inbetween in November and having a new world to fill my mind has been a great help. It’s much better to write something than to sit on my hands while I wait for enough time to pass. Out of all the methods of distracting myself I’ve tried, this one is both the most effective and most productive.

3. Go outside

This one has been a little difficult during the winter months, but going outside and taking a walk is a great way to clear my mind. Going out also allows me to gain new life experiences and those are so important for writing.

4. Listen to music

This one is a little dangerous. Listening to music is a great way to pass the time, but music is a huge well of inspiration for me. When I listen to music I do run the risk of being inspired to write something and there is a chance that something will be the novel I’m trying to forget.

5. Play with animals

I have two cats and four goldfish. They keep me busy whether I’m writing or not. When I find myself wanting to take a peek at The Dreams, my pets are a great way to resist temptation. My cats love to play and my fish seem to appreciate having their aquarium rearranged from time to time.

6. Watch a new season or movie

I often stream old shows and movies as background noise while I do other things, including writing. When I’m trying not to think about The Dreams, I sometimes pick something new to watch that will occupy my attention.

So far these six things have served me well. I’ve managed to resist temptation for three months since I finished posting The Dreams. With about a month and a half to go, I think I’m going to make it.

What do you do when you’re trying to give a draft time to breathe? Do you find it difficult to resist the urge to dive back in or do you relish your time away from your writing?

 

Shove it in a Drawer: The Importance of Taking a Break

Ever since I finished writing The Dreams at the tail end of 2016, I’ve been itching to go back and completely rewrite the whole thing.

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Even as I was writing the later chapters I started spotting things I wanted to go back and change. I told myself I had to reach the end before I started messing with the beginning again.

Usually, I’m all for using my enthusiasm for a project as fuel for a monumental task. Going into such a massive undertaking with little or no enthusiasm is a guarantee of failure. In this case, I’m forcing myself to give the draft some space.

 

The Dreams is getting shoved in a digital drawer for a few months.

It sounds cruel to me. This novel is my baby. Well, it was my baby for more than a year. Now I need to shed that attachment. If I was working on a physical copy I would put it in a drawer. Since my work is completely digital I’ve moved the folder out of my direct sight to reduce the temptation to check in on the poor thing.

I need to make sure I forget what I wrote before I read through it all. If the words are still in my head, I’m more likely to read what I meant to write rather than what I actually wrote. Letting it slip from my memory will allow me to see it with fresh eyes.

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Without fresh eyes, I can’t be objective.

I’ve already received some really great feedback on parts of the second draft from readers. I haven’t acted on that feedback yet because I want to look at my own writing without feeling attached to it before I decide if I agree or disagree with each comment and suggestion.

While I’m thinking like the writer I’m more likely to be defensive and excuse something because it was not how I intended it to be. When I’m thinking like a writer the story is my baby and I want to protect it from all the cruel words suggesting it could be improved. Giving myself some time to forget the story will allow me to see it from the perspective of an outsider.

I’m not sure how long of a break I will need. Right now I think I will be ready in the spring, but back in November, I thought I would be ready by February. Whenever I decide I’m ready, I’m confident that the time away will work to my advantage.

Do you take time off from your novel between drafts? What other strategies do you use to look at your work objectively?