300 Followers and 2 Years

This blog just reached 300 followers. This in and of itself is amazing, but it is not the only reason I want to celebrate.

I started this blog in 2015 hoping that there would be interest in what I created, but I had no way of knowing if anything would come of it until I tried. I’m so glad I decided to try. This blog was created back in January 2015, but I didn’t start to put it to real use until August of that year. For that reason, I consider August 16, 2015 to be the blog’s true start date.

We’ve been through 6 WriMo events (and two NaNoWriMo wins), saw The Dreams go from one chapter to “the end”, and we’re now 33 chapters into Inbetween. I’ve written 322,645 words of fiction since August 2015 and almost all of those words are available to read on this blog. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in two years and I’m so happy to have so many people along for the ride.

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No matter if you’ve been following for two years or two minutes, I’m glad to have you with me on this journey. Knowing there are people out there willing to have my writing show up in their media feed keeps me going when depression and anxiety are trying to rip me apart.

Thanks for being here. We’re at the start of the third year of this adventure. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I hope you’re as excited as I am.

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!

July CampNaNoWriMo Week 3 Recap

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There’s only one week left of CampNaNoWriMo. Where did the month go?

This week, for the first time ever out of all the times I’ve attempted CampNaNoWriMo, I lowered my word count goal. I’ve never won a CampNaNo event. Whether I set a high goal or a low goal, I always seem to lose momentum and not have the motivation to do a big catch up at the end of the month.

Part of the reason I’ve never lowered my goal before is because I’m stubborn. Another reason is that winning CampNaNoWriMo isn’t the most important thing to me. I participate because I have fun and I like the extra encouragment, interaction and reason to push myself to write more. Winning Camp just never felt like a vital part of the experience the way it is for the main NaNoWriMo event. It might just be me, but the laid back atmosphere takes the pressure to hit the goal I set and throws it out the window.

I’ve often set unattainable goals for Camp. I’ve written 50,000 words or a bit more in a month on multiple occassions in the past, but I’ve set even higher goals for CampNaNoWriMo during the last few sessions. It hasn’t gone well. I haven’t even approached 50,000 words during those months.

This month I started out with a goal of over 73,000 words because I wanted Inbetween to have a total word count of 150,000 by the end of July. By the start of this week, I knew that was not going to happen. I decided on Monday to lower my goal by 50,000 words. Now I’m trying to get the project’s total word count to 100,000 by the end of the month. It is a lower goal, but one I will still need to work to acheive. Writing 10,000 words in a month isn’t too difficult for me anymore, but I rarely make it to 20,000 in a single month outside of November.

How’s CampNaNoWriMo going for you? Have you validated your novel for a win? Have you changed your goal this month to a more realistic target?

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?

 

2017: Bigger and Better

2016 was a mess in so many ways. My writing proved to be one of the few things I felt as though I could rely on. I drove myself crazy with perfectionist urges from time to time, but overall, writing kept me sane this year.

I spent the entirety of 2016 working on my writing. Aside from some odd jobs, all of my income this year has come from writing. I’m still letting that sink in. I’m writing and earning money doing it. The amount I’m making now isn’t enough to live on, but it is enough to help out. My wonderful, amazing boyfriend deserves so much credit for supporting me while I’m still in the beginning stages of this writing journey. Someday I plan to make enough so he can turn his attention fully to creative pursuits while I take care of the bills. I’m on my way to reaching this goal and it is all thanks to the support and encouragement of you wonderful people.

At the end of December last year I made a blog post outlining my goals for 2016.

My 2016 Goals

  1. Write every day
  2. Post a chapter every week
  3. Finish The Dreams
  4. Start writing another novel
  5. Win CampNaNoWriMo at least once
  6. Win NaNoWriMo

I did not write every day. I wrote most days, though. Some day I might be able to accomplish this goal, but as of right now I’m still learning what prevents me from writing and how to circumvent those problems. I’ll continuing to work toward this goal because I think it is my personal ideal writing routine.

I almost managed to post a chapter every week. I only missed a few weeks and I know I just did not have it in me to get a chapter out during the weeks I missed. I’ll aspire to do even better in 2017.

The Dreams was completed in 2016. The final chapters were posted earlier this month. I’m extremely pleased to have completed this goal, even if I did expect it to happen much earlier in the year. Sometimes I overestimate my ability to complete a large project. In the case of The Dreams, I think I also underestimated how much story I had left to write.

I started writing Inbetween during NaNoWriMo this year so I can certainly mark that goal off as complete. I’ve started posting the revised chapters of it as well. Progress!

My losing streak during CampNaNoWriMo continues. I’ve attempted CampNaNoWriMo every session and I’ve failed every single time. Even setting a low, attainable goal hasn’t allowed me to win. I’m starting to suspect I have some sort of Camp curse.

I managed to win NaNoWriMo this year. November is the perfect writing month for me, it seems. I always have my most productive month of the year in November. This year I finished writing The Dreams and started writing Inbetween during NaNoWriMo. Between the two, I managed to write enough words to achieve victory.

Now with only a few days left in the year, I need to start thinking about my goals for 2017. There’s a lot I’d like to do that is not entirely in my hands. I’d like to reach $50 per chapter on Patreon. I’d like to reach 300 followers here on WordPress and 4,000 on Twitter. While there are things I can do to improve the chance of these things happening, accomplishing these goals is not something I can accomplish all on my own. For the official list I’ll stick to goals I can reach under my own power.

My 2017 Goals

  1. Write every day
  2. Post a chapter every week
  3. Finish Inbetween
  4. Write draft 3 of The Dreams
  5. Start a new novel
  6. Win CampNaNoWriMo at least once
  7. Win NaNoWriMo

Most of my goals are the same, but that’s because they’re good goals. 2016 was a good year for my writing and I only aspire to make 2017 even better.

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I’ll be spending the next two days with family. I’m sure if I try I can squeeze in some writing time, but it won’t be a priority.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. If you can’t find time to write, try to consider the holiday season an opportunity to study human interaction. You might find inspiration anywhere. Refresh, recharge and enjoy life.

Coming Soon: Inbetween

With the final chapter of The Dreams posted, I’m preparing to start my next serial novel.

It’s not much, but today I’d like to share with you the cover I created for Inbetween to post on NaNoWriMo. This will be the image for the project until I save up and commission a professional cover for the novel.

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I’m excited to start sharing this new project. Waiting until the weekend to post the first chapter is almost too much. I just hope I’m not being too cryptic. I want to pace myself with sharing information because just the thought of trying to get it all out there overwhelms me. If it overwhelms me I have to assume it would be overwhelming for anyone subjected to reading it too.

Ask me questions about Inbetween in the comments. Questions will help me know what information is actually wanted and what I can leave out. The questions don’t have to be about the story itself. If you want to know about my process feel free to ask about that too.

Endings are HARD!

I hate writing the end of stories. I know a lot of people have a hard time getting started, and I don’t think beginnings are particularly easy either. I find beginnings easier to handle because once you’re past a certain point the beginning is behind you and you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Endings loom in the distance. I know from page one that I’ll have to write an ending eventually, but for a long while it’s not a problem. Then, almost out of nowhere, it is time to wrap up the story.

Then I panic. I shut down. Endings are just too hard.

Everything written before has been building up to this ending. That’s a lot of expectations and a lot of baggage to deal with. Anticipation has been building for weeks or even months as I built this story up from a blank page.

I start to lose my nerve. I question my ability to do the story justice. Writer’s block sets in.

I can keep pushing forward, but every day is a battle. No matter what I won’t give up. After making it this far I have to see the story through. One way or another the story will reach its conclusion.

Do you struggle with endings? What do you do to help make endings easier to write?

 

CampNaNoWriMo and Life

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CampNaNoWriMo is only a few days away. Are you participating?

My plan right now is to use Camp as extra motivation to finish the first draft of The Dreams. Right now I need about 58,000 words to reach the word count I think will get me to the end. I’ve kept my goal at the standard 50,000 for now, but really I just want to finish the draft. If I only need 40,000 to do that I’m fine with that. If I need 80,000 words, well, I’ll be crying and pulling my hair out, but I’ll deal with it.

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing here on the blog. I don’t want to cut down on my posting like I did in November for NaNoWriMo, but I also don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the posting schedule I would like. My posting schedule has been messed up for a while now anyway. Life has been a bit turbulent lately and writing and posting stuff has had to drop down the priority list.

Hopefully April will change that. CampNaNoWriMo will be the perfect way to make writing a priority again. I don’t know how much energy I will have left over for blog posts, or even just for editing chapters to post. Should I even try?

Writing progress posts will probably continue as usual, but I’m really not sure at all about getting new chapters out next month. I only posted two chapters this month instead of my usual four because I felt so overwhelmed. Getting back to posting a chapter every Saturday would be ideal, but I’m not sure a NaNoWriMo month is the best time to attempt to get back on track.