23 things I’ve done instead of starting Camp NaNoWriMo

This was supposed to be a very motivational “Yay! It’s Camp Nano again and I’m going to write all the words!” type of post, but then it hit me. Have I actually done anything Camp NaNoWriMo-related at all so far?

Nope.

Before anyone comes up with a kind-hearted “oh, but you’ve probably been busy”, I haven’t. I’m currently on sick leave, and while that does hinder productivity a bit, I also have more time. Apart from a run and a coffee with a good friend yesterday, I haven’t had any plans at all since April began. But I’ve procrastinated, oh yes. Most of it sensible things, but still.

This is what I have done instead of writing today:

  1. Played countless rounds of Solitaire via Messenger in order to beat my friend’s record. This is apparently very important.
  2. Watched videos on how to do a pushup with proper technique, followed by stretching videos and how to decompress ankles and so on, which are all quite relevant actually, but this also lead to videos with Try Not To Laugh challenges, videos on movie tropes (some of which I’ve seen before), funny but pointless Buzzfeed videos…
  3. Listened to music. Listened to some more music. Tried to find music I’m not tired of. Realised my head is too tired for the music I want to listen to right now.
  4. Foam rolled my achy hips and ankles/calves.
  5. Contemplated making coffee.
  6. Didn’t make coffee.
  7. Contemplated watching Lord of the Rings (extended trilogy) again. Still not decided. I mean, if you’ve seen them enough to basically know them by heart, you can get some writing done at the same time, right?
  8. Ate a sorry excuse for a breakfast, then crisps. Wish I could say it was because I’ve been healthy all week, but alas…
  9. Went through a dance I made. Still iffy to music and I struggle to understand my own notes. Feeling like a hack and considered scrapping the whole thing because I apparently can’t make up steps. Even if, you know, I just finished a whole dance.
  10. Felt sorry for myself because my head hurts. I’ve slept too long and just quit soda.
  11. Wondered if it’s horribly financially irresponsible to order a pizza instead of making dinner tonight, even if I have all the ingredients and it takes only a moment. I feel like today’s a pizza day, but I don’t have any grocery stores nearby that are open on Sundays, and I don’t feel like venturing out of the house today anyway. This is still a work in progress, by the way. Has absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned videos I watched.
  12. Tried to think of ways to do what I like for a living. My current job sucks and job searching isn’t very fun (but still has to be done). Would have been easier if working within sales was an option (I would suck at it and hate it intensely).
  13. Wrote this blog post.
  14. Checked the status of an order I know isn’t sent (waiting for stock, and not much happens on Sunday anyway).
  15. Tried to stop myself from redesigning this website. It has to be done, but after Camp NaNoWriMo, damnit!
  16. Did the dishes.
  17. Tidied up my apartment.
  18. Had blueberries that ended up not tasting very good. Not worth tempting my allergies for. (Not fully allergic, just slightly intolerant to most types of fruit and berries.) Disappointed.
  19. Seriously craved pizza.
  20. Caved and ordered pizza. Ate the whole thing instead of saving some of it for tonight.
  21. Did laundry.
  22. Played Endless Lake (a mindless Facebook game) probably close to 100 times.
  23. Made the stupid coffee. Thought it tasted funny, and that I maybe hadn’t rinsed the milk creamer properly. Threw it out and did it all again. Now I am out of milk.

So there you have it! It’s still early though, so there is hope.

NaNo Prep, a.k.a. WHAT?!? Only five days until November?

As you can probably tell from the title, I am not prepared. I am not even less prepared than I usually am and less than I planned (which is par for the course, really), I’m spectacularly unprepared. I don’t have a story that I can rewrite that’s not either already rewritten and being edited, waiting for the previous novel in the series to be edited, or postponed indefinitely. Well, unless you count Underhanded Deals, but I haven’t been able to sort out the huge, enormous problem that is the plot. It’s the kind of story where you need to know where it’s going, or you’ll end up with a huge mess, which I have already tried. Twice.

Ignoring the option of rewriting something for now (not editing, by the way), I usually have at least a few new ideas that I would like to try out, except that this year I don’t. I have what I think of as the Kitchen Sink story, where I throw in pretty much everything I think is cool, but I haven’t got a plot yet. Not sure I can get one in so few days, when I only have a very vague idea of the setting and barely any characters. I do have some other ideas, but I tend to get stuck after just a few thousand words, so I need to work on them some more before I attempt to write them.

So that’s basically it. One story I need to work on before I can write it without getting stuck, and one idea I really need to flesh out before I start writing. In other words: I’ve got some work to do in these five days. Or three, since I’m busy all day today and tomorrow. And half of Saturday. And most of Monday. Let’s try again: I have a LOT of work to do on Sunday. I guess tidying and cleaning my apartment before NaNoWriMo just went out the window. The annoying thing is of course that I will probably have to plot both, just in case. I am aiming for 100k this year, maaaaybe 150k if I reach 100k very early, so I might very well need to write more than one story. This year I won’t have time to plot as I go either.

The reason I’m not pantsing this year is because I have so little time. Not only do I have a new job with slightly longer work hours, but it’s also a full time job, so I’ve lost an entire writing day all of a sudden. I don’t have my usual November vacation. I can’t skip dance classes as I’m one of the instructors now. I work out a lot more. In other words, if I am to write lots of words, I need to be able to make the most out of what little writing time I do have. That means spending as little time as possible thinking about what needs to happen, and knowing what comes next every time I sit down to write.

I guess I technically could have lowered my goal, but where’s the fun in that? At least I have the sense not to try to beat my personal best from last year, which was 211k. At least not yet…

Hopefully I can figure out a plot for my Kitchen Sink novel. If any story’s fun to write, I think that would be it. It has vampires, werewolves, sinister and not-so-sinister sorcerers, creepy old mansions, a bit of romance, a bit of everything, really. Hence the name. Basically, the only thing it doesn’t have is a plot. But I think I’m going to find one of my trusty writing books (I’ve read a few lately) and simply pick a method and follow it to create the plot. Or find my own method. Who knows, it might be fun!

Are you prepared for NaNoWriMo, or are you flailing like a headless chicken like I am?

 

Let’s do it all!

As most writers do, I have several projects on my to-do list. I am not sure “several” really captures it, but among my Asana projects I have six novel projects plus two short story collections (for Wattpad, probably), as well as one that I’ve forgotten to make a project for. I have two weeks to edit Rogue Sorcery before The Grand Manuscript Exchange with Cicilie (otherwise known as “oh, by the way, here’s the USB stick”). And I have allowed the worst thing possible to happen.

I have another story idea. It isn’t a “proper” idea, it doesn’t tie into any other project I have or anything like that. Quite on the contrary, the idea was conceived when reading snarky recaps of 50 Shades of Grey as well as the subsequent discussion. I realised that I had a rather intense urge to write something fun and somewhat cliché and silly.

Perhaps I just need to get it out of my system, but there are also so many things I have wanted to write for ages but have never been able to fit into a story. (Fun fact time! Did you know Rogue Sorcery initially had pirates in it? Yep, I still hold a grudge towards myself for that cut.)

What I know

The plan is that the story will be one of my NaNoWriMo novels this November. I also really want to share it as soon as possible, and will either upload it to Wattpad or simply here on the blog as the chapters are finished.

So far, the novel will have steamy romance, hot but creepy demons/creatures who look human but aren’t, sinister businessmen/weapon dealers, a sassy main character, an even more sassy sidekick, a brooding or snarky assassin, adventure, pirates, airships, technowizards (for lack of a better word – wizards who combine magic and technology in a way) and sorcerers, a mysterious library (have I ever written a story without a library in it?), dark and occult secrets, and plenty more.

In other words: Overkill.

If this was a serious project, I would probably have cut at least 2/3 of these things. But this is purely a “get it out of your system” novel that I think will be great fun to write. That’s really the entire point to this. That, and perhaps someone will like a novel that is crammed full of everything I like. Well, almost. It doesn’t have dragons, or elves. Yet.

There miiight be some problems combining all of these elements, since some needs a modern setting and some are clearly more epic fantasy. Perhaps a multi-world adventure of sorts? Actually… I already have a setting that fits, for the Hub World stories that are never finished.

I will probably post a few updates on the planning progress here, if people are interested. Hopefully it won’t fully distract me from editing… One can only hope.

2015 wrap-up

2015 isn’t quite over yet, but since there’s only two days left, I figured I might as well do the 2015 summary post now. 2015 has been an intense year. I had some health-related breakthroughs, I started a new part-time teaching job in addition to my regular job, I started studying again (only part-time, but still), and dance class and working on Rogue Sorcery were still top priority. Apart from that there was very little time for other creative pursuits in the autumn, though I’ve tried to make up for it now during Christmas break.

Writing and NaNoWriMo

It’s been a productive year when it comes to writing, and this year’s NaNoWriMo was record-breaking. I wrote 211k (my personal best was 175k) and finished three stories. One of them is my old shopkeeper story which keeps evolving, but which finally has a completed first draft. Hopefully it will end up on Wattpad very soon. I also wrote a brand new story (only based on an old beginning, but still) which I really like.

Rogue Sorcery has been my main project, and I revised and refined the plot. There’s still a lot to do. I also wrote a second first draft (with all the changes), which has now been handed over to Cicilie as per our agreement (she reads my manuscript and I read hers, and then we will give each other feedback). Just giving the manuscript over to someone else is a major mountain that has been crossed.

 

Painting and drawing

While 2014 was an utterly miserable year, drawing-related (I didn’t upload a single thing to my deviantART gallery that year), 2015 ended up being a little better. Well, actually, when I look through my gallery there are quite a few new pieces there. I think I uploaded some of them here, but here is a list of all of them:

Nell Black-haired girlPencil portraitWinter’s child remadePurple portraitWitch queen remake WIP

 

The first two are from earlier in the year, while the rest are from the Christmas holidays. One pencil drawing (plus a lot of random sketches and doodles, mostly ball-point pen though) and the rest digital, most of them remakes of older pictures (wonderful when I don’t know what to paint). I finally re-installed some custom brushes on my laptop, which made everything a LOT easier.

 

Summary

All in all it’s been a good year, everything considered. I would have liked to have been a bit more active on various websites, other blogs and deviantART (not to mention this blog), but it is what it is. After NaNoWriMo began, the Saturday Snippets apparently and unfortunately went on an unplanned hiatus, but they will resume after New Year’s. I also started a character drawing gig at Fiverr (here), but it’s very recent and it’s too early to say anything about it yet.

As usual I have some New Year’s resolutions, but I will write a separate post about that in a few days. Suffice it to say that I have plans, but I will try to be realistic this year. Try.

How has your year been?

The victory update

Here it is, the most important of all NaNoWriMo updates: The Victory Update. This year, when my goal of 200k (or my ultimate dream goal 250k if things went extremely well) seemed overly optimistic even for me because of work commitments and travel and studies and whatnot, I thought I would do worse than last year. I had far less time, for one thing. I was suddenly a student. I had a work conference, plus an extra job. On the other hand I had planned out two and a half stories (well, three and a half, but one just didn’t work, hence the half one which I didn’t have the time to finish plotting before November started). One of them was the second first draft of Rogue Sorcery – since everything had to be rewritten for scratch because the plot had changed so much, I do consider it an entirely new first draft. And Cicilie will have to read it in December, as per our agreement. Poor soul. Anyway, I thought that would be quick and easy and wordy.

Turned out things didn’t go exactly according to plan.

It should perhaps be noted that this is the third year I have tried to reach 200k. Two years ago I reached 163k, then 175k last year, and both of those were… difficult. So I didn’t really expect to succeed this time. Still, I made a rule for myself that I wouldn’t validate until I reached 200k. Or it was the evening of 30th of November and no more time to reach that goal. Well, I validated yesterday.

These are my stats:

stats

Very happy with those. My last story did get stuck fairly early on, but thankfully I managed to make myself change the plot, and voila, I think it improved. The main reason that I got unstuck, however, is that I finally realised that 250k when I was 50k behind and stuck was too much. So I adjusted my spreadsheet goals down to 200k, and suddenly, with that pressure gone, the writing flowed again. You can see pretty clearly at which point things got stuck and unstuck. I have to blame that one on work too, since I was at a conference for a week, but still. Lesson learnt.

If I find any time to write today, I’ll try to bring my wordcount over 210k. My goal for next year is already set – bring my Lifetime Achievement past the million. At my current wordcount that means 212k, which is perfectly doable. Especially since I want to try for 250k next year. I haven’t decided yet, but I really, really, really want it.

 

Now I just have to try to find a balance between actually finishing my story (at least writing out the plot) and studying for my exam. The exam should win, but…

What a good example I’m setting for my students.

The “Help, I need to catch up” NaNoWriMo update

We are now more than halfway into NaNoWriMo, and I’m behind. I managed to keep up with my wordcount goal, barely, until a couple of days ago, despite having rather too little time in which to write. But, surprise surprise, the combo conferences+translation jobs isn’t extremely good for getting large wordcounts – any free time was eaten up by getting the translation done. I guess it didn’t help that I finished my second story 10k before I was meant to (plotting led to a better story, but alas far less padding).

This year my goal is 250k. It’s overly ambitious, since I am far more busy than last year, when I got my personal best at 175k. 250 is equivalent to 8,333 words per day, and currently my average is 7,461 words, if I don’t count the zero words I’ve written today. If you consider that the regular NaNo goal is 1,667 I’m very happy – and 7,461 adds up to more than 221k in total, a lot more than my personal best. Besides – I have vacation next week, in which I intend to write a lot.

I have three stories lined up this year, where I have written two. The first was a fantasy story of a guy and his revenge plot that didn’t quite go as planned. The revenge that is, not the story. The second was an urban fantasy story, about a man who isn’t quite who he seems and who gets in a rather big problem (which would describe half of all stories ever, perhaps). I have tried to write this story for years now, and finally I found a plot that worked.

The last story is a second draft, actually, or rather a second first draft – the plot is so drastically changed that there is almost nothing left of the first draft except the beginning (which is already written and won’t be counted in my wordcount). I have written about the story quite a few times – it is Rogue Sorcery, which i initially wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2011 or 2012, I think. It is about a sorceress who has lost her powers, an emperor who tries to protect his country and someone who is wreaking all sorts of havoc. I am going to exchange manuscripts with Cicilie on the 12th (eeeek, less than a month away), at which point the 2nd draft probably should be somewhat finished… The main problem now is that it will probably not end up at 130k, which is what I need to reach 250k, so I might have to improvise a fourth story. We will see!

Nano Prep part II

This is where the “oh my God NaNoWriMo is only three days away” panic is about to take me. I’ve done what I can to prepare for it this year, but there are only so many hours in a day, and with a busy life… well. Learning my lessons from last year I’ve tried to make sure that I don’t burn myself out before NaNoWriMo has even begun, which is why I did absolutely nothing useful yesterday. (Well, that’s not quite true. I made a healthy dinner, and I worked out for an hour. I also looked at my mandatory assignment (in the most literal sense of the word) and decided I still don’t understand a thing, so there’s that).

Below is, quite simply, the far-too-long list of things that remain to do before NaNoWriMo begins. And if that wasn’t enough… I’ve evidently decided to attempt a 50kDayOne, since it’s the first time in years I don’t work all day on the 1st of November.

  1. Make lesson plans for the two next chapters in my German class (I’m going away for a conference just as we’re starting the next chapter, so I’d like my students to know exactly what they need to do even if they have a substitute teacher)
  2. Make grammar help guides and glossary lists for my German class. Not strictly speaking necessary, but they’re a bit shaky on the grammar.
  3. Make lesson plans for my English class (far easier, thankfully)
  4. Send in the student card application (as soon as I find my passport photo)
  5. Finish plotting The Revenge (working title) – the basics are fleshed out, but I need the hows and whys
  6. Finish the mandatory assignment
  7. Clean the apartment somewhat
  8. Revise some chapters

…Yeah, I don’t think I’ll manage to finish it all… BUT I can try. Number 1, 2, 3 and 6 are the most important, the rest aren’t that critical.

NaNo Prep, part 1!

There was no Worldbuilding Wednesday post yesterday, because, well, stuff. Had to help out a friend of mine with something, had a translation to do and had to work a little on a mandatory assignment for my studies. The headache didn’t exactly help either.

The main reason, however, is a good one. For once in my life I’m actually prepping for NaNoWriMo beyond deciding what story/stories to write. Not that that’s not quite a bit of work in itself – I tend to write more than 50k and also tend to need more than one story – but, well, with this crazy November and a wordcount goal of 200k I need all the prepping I can get.

Story 1 will be the second draft of Rogue Sorcery. It will be a complete rewrite (only a tiny bit will be left from the first draft, as the plot is wildly different), so I don’t feel bad about including it.

Story 2 will be a story I’ve tried to write twice before, but I have never been able to find the right plot. I had the premise and the characters, but nothing more, until last weekend. I’ve planned the main points of the plot, but hopefully I’ll have time to revise and flesh it out a little before November starts.

Story 3, the reserve story, is also a story I’ve tried to write several times before. I have six or seven versions of the beginning in my files, and I also posted it as my Saturday Snippet on the 8th of August. The plot has changed a bit – it was originally about the youngest son of the farmer’s family, who had his head in the clouds and headed off to adventure once he was told to get the dragon away from the village. Now it’s about his rational, steadfast brother instead, who is dragged along in order to keep his brother from harm. It will also feature a character I’ve been dying to use in a story for years now, after his own story fell through.

In other words, I have plenty to do before November, but I’m looking forward to it. Now I’ll just have to work hard on finishing the plots, and then finish all the other things that need to be done so I won’t have to think about them in November. We’ll see how it goes!

Catching up

This NaNoWriMo has felt like an endless battle of the clock so far, and this is usually the point where someone remarks that I could have simply not decided to overachieve again. All I can say is: It’s a slippery slope. Once you start overachieving, I don’t think not doing it is an option anymore.

This year I decided to really up my goal. Last year my goal was 100k (150k was my dream goal), and I managed 161k. This NaNoWriMo my goal is 200k, my dream goal 250k. Here’s the thing: When I set my goal and planned the daily goals, I knew that I would not be able to write much for the first two days of the month. I knew that I could not expect to get much written on the days when I had dancing, or anything at all when I go abroad to compete this weekend.

I also knew that I have holiday from work for the entire last week of NaNoWriMo and can easily write twice as much as my daily goal. I knew all those things. But when I open the spreadsheet with my stats, and see day after day when I’m behind on my goal, I don’t remember that I’ll easily catch up towards the end. No, I only see red flags glaring: “You’re behind, hurry to catch up NOW!” Aaand goodbye calm and stressless mind. Catching up 15k words is not in any way easy.

But I did it! I wrote 37k during the weekend, which means that I am officially on track, and I might even be able to write more than 200k. Or I will be able to relax after the weekend, which I fear is going to be necessary.

Story-wise, things are going well. I trudged through the first story, finishing at 50 303 words after struggling to get through it. I still love the setting and the premises of the story, but something clearly did not work with it this year. Perhaps I’m just not used to writing urban fantasy and 1st person POV. But at least I finished the draft! My current story is far more fun. It’s nearing 65k now, and I am still nowhere near finished (if everything goes according to plan, it will end up at 75k). I like the characters, I like the setting, I like the story. I think it has potential. Of course there are some rather huge wrinkles that must be ironed out, and there are certain challenges to the plot, but I am optimistic! Now things have actually started happening, too! (Yes, there are about 60k of nothing much happening. No idea how that is possible.)

Overachieving without overachieving too much

This year’s NaNoWriMo has proven to be quite the balancing act. There’s been the usual two-day meeting at work that always happens the first few days of November, and there’s a big dance competition coming up next week that will take away four full writing days, plus anywhere between 4-10 hours of dance practice every week. Plus my regular work, meetings in my writing group, translations for my brother’s company, occasionally meeting my friends… and somehow in the middle of it all I’ve decided to write 200k (dream goal 250k).

I know I should probably reduce the goal a little to ease the load, particularly since I’m lagging quite a bit behind now, but… I really don’t want to. Yes, I am behind, and yes, I’m rather tired now, but the first half of the month was the most hectic part. I also really struggled with my novel, which I finished a few days ago and replaced with a significantly more fun one. Besides, I’ll have the entire last week of November off.

We’ll see how it goes. I’m not giving up on the 200k, though – I only need to write a little less than 7300 words per day, and unless something comes up I’m going to write more than that during the last week.

As I mentioned, I struggled with my first story. Those 50k were a chore – the story just would not come out right, and I’m neither used to writing urban fantasy nor 1st person POV, and it took me 80% of the book to discover the plot.

My current story is in a more familiar setting, while being new and fresh (I haven’t written about any of the characters involved before). I’ve only written 11k so far, but I like most of the 11k, and I enjoy writing both the characters, plot and setting. Sure, there are problems, but none that cannot be fixed in the edit. The story has princes, moody kings, war, trickery, dark secrets, mystery, a little bit of romance and quite possibly dragons. The latter weren’t in the original outline (lots of things weren’t, since it’s old and very brief), but something’s got to be in those massive mountains, after all. I think it’s fair to say that while I LOVE to read urban fantasy, writing epic fantasy is more my thing. Epic, sarcastic and dark-but-optimistic fantasy.