Look… There… On the Horizon! (NaNoWriMo)


Today I upgraded to Dropbox Pro, which gives me enough storage space to back up my entire computer. In the spirit of tidy new beginnings, I organized all my files before uploading them to Dropbox, and I found this PowerPoint on surviving NaNoWriMo that I made for school in 2012. At the very least, it has some funny NaNo-themed pictures in it. Check it out!

The Nanowrimo Survival Guide

I Graduated

This poor blog. I’m willing to give myself a pass for not posting anything in those last two-ish weeks of my college career, but otherwise there isn’t much excuse.

So, I graduated. How about that? On May 9th I received my Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in English Writing, with the highest honors. I even received a nifty honors medal to wear in the commencement ceremony.

My mind is still boggled by how much my life has changed in the past two weeks, and I have bouts where I briefly panic and almost tear-up at the thought of not going back to Austin Peay in the fall. No more Creative Writing Club. No more Hispanic Cultural Center. No more five-minute walk to my friends’ dorms to hang out.

It’s time to be a big girl now, about which I am simultaneously resigned and thrilled.

But this is also an exciting time. For starters, I was one of the Outstanding Creative Writing Students. I had a poem and a short story published in APSU’s Red Mud Review. I’m going to a poetry workshop in New Hampshire in July.

And I’m working summer camp again! I missed my horses sooooo much. I’m going to be steeped in horses all summer, but I promised myself I wouldn’t let them take over this blog.

In the meantime, whilst I wait for camp to start, I’m reading RUINS by Dan Wells, EXPOSURE by Kathy Reichs, and hopefully finishing up SCARLET and CRESS by Marissa Meyer. With those books on my shelf, I feel like I’m sitting on a gold mine. :)

Why Skipping Isn’t Always Bad

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have four hour-and-a-half classes back to back. This past Tuesday, I skipped three of them. I wasn’t feeling well, it was gross and rainy outside, and it was just one of those days.

Normally I’d be the last one to skip class. Being where I need to be on time is a serious compulsion for me. But skipping class yesterday was the best decision I’ve made all week. Yes, it’s only Wednesday, but hear me out.

Yesterday I barely got out of bed, but instead of sleeping, I read. I read Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which we’ll be going over for the next week in one of my classes. I read most of Iola Leroy, which I was supposed to read over the next week for another class. I read a big chunk of Bad Boy, which I don’t even have to start reading for class until next week. In terms of reading for the rest of the week, all I have to do is review before going to class.

All the pressure has been removed for the rest of the week, and instead of trying to catch up this weekend, I’ll be able to get ahead.

The concept of a well-engineered “skip day” easily translates to the writer’s life. I don’t have a prayer of writing every day while I’m school, not without losing more sleep than I’m inclined to give up. And a lot of the time, when I finally have time to write, the old idea factory is out of commission.

Sometimes, that’s okay.

If I’d spent yesterday lying in bed whining woe is me, I’m sick and useless, I’d hate myself today, AND I’d have a ton of work to catch up on. For those days when you just can’t get done what you’re supposed to get done, change your itinerary. I couldn’t be in class, but I did my class work and then some. If you can’t crank out your chapter, plot out tomorrow’s chapter, or research the hot air balloon you know will play a part in your grand finale.

The only wasted days are the days you let go to waste!

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions (for Writers)

Let’s take a moment to be perfectly honest with ourselves about our abilities. Is it realistic to say we’ll write ten novels next year? Probably not. Is it realistic for some to write five? Yes. Is it unrealistic for others? Of course. If you’re of the resolution-making type, you probably have some experience at this game, whether it was good or bad.

A good first step to making your custom list of writing resolutions is to look back at what you accomplished this past year. What did you do and how did you do it? I wrote three books, several short stories, and an obscene amount of poetry and essays, thanks to NaNoWriMo, a fiction writing class, a poetry class, and an expository writing class. How much time did these various projects require of me? A lot, but it was packed into the school semesters and November. I wrote virtually nothing during the summer months.

Is it reasonable for me to expect more of myself next year? My class load for spring semester is similar to this fall’s and my summer will be even more packed. BUT, I know that I squandered a lot of time this past year, and if I tighten up my schedule, it’s realistic for me to expect more of myself.

What kind of goals should you make? My ultimate dream is to have one of my novels published, so I spend a lot of time writing and editing my novels. If I’m honest with myself, I know my poetry will fall to the wayside now that I don’t have a class for it. Am I okay with that happening? Do I want to keep it in focus?

When it comes to choosing the specific goals you want to accomplish, the more you know yourself and your desires, the better. My golden fleece is the as-close-to-perfect-novel as I can possibly write, so I’ll let the poetry go for now. I have another expository writing class, so that will naturally fit itself into my schedule. I don’t need to make goals for that because my professor will be making them for me.

Now that I know my novel(s) is my focus, I have to be tough on myself in two ways: 1) What is realistic to expect of myself? 2) How hard can I push myself without neglecting other things?

I have a trilogy to finish, a mostly-done first draft to finish, a mostly not-done first draft to finish, and a fantasy to write. That’s not even mentioning editing projects. Can I write them all? Sure, if I wanted to kill myself. But that’s just my position on it now. So instead of saying I CAN’T DO IT WAAAH or I CAN DO IT ALL BECAUSE I’M SUPERMAN, I’ll prioritize. I’ll finish the mostly-done in the first weeks of January before I go back to school. Finishing the trilogy is next, then the mostly not-done. I’ll start the fantasy after graduation or in mid-summer, when my brain is fresh.

Those are very loose time goals, but I know myself, and I know I can work with that. If I slack off, I’ll tighten the reins, but until then, I’ll let it flow.

Think of your priorities like a newspaper story. The important stuff is at the top, so if something has to be cut, you can chop it off the bottom. It won’t hurt me or break my heart if I start my fantasy in 2015, but it might hurt those half-finished projects if I put them aside so long that I lose the characters’ voices.

Do very strict time goals work better? That depends. I have yet to fail NaNoWriMo, and that’s a pretty strict time goal. 50k by November 30th or else. But I rarely – no, not rarely. I have never followed the daily word count goals for NaNo. I write 10k one day and then nothing for a few days to deal with class papers or tests.

Flexibility can help or hurt you. That’s why it’s so important to know yourself. If you tell yourself write 3000 words this week, will you do it? Will you write each day, or leave it all to the last day? That might work for 3k, but it probably won’t for 50k. I like the flexibility because I’m a procrastinator but work well under pressure. If you don’t, strict time goals might be better.

Plan out how much you’ll write each day or each week, and set milestones. Halfway done with Project X by March/June/whatever. Send out however many queries by July. Odds are, whether you go with the flow or are very strict with yourself, you’ll grow more disciplined as the year progresses.

A good writer is accountable and not just to herself. I am a huge advocate for writing buddies, whether they read and critique your work or just crack the whip over your head. If you’re lucky, you’ll have some of both. Find someone who will cheer you up when you’re down and then kick your butt back into gear. Look for an empathizer, not a sympathizer. The last thing you need is an enabler.

Take a look at yourself and figure out what your writing buddy needs are. I can usually kick my own butt back into gear, so my writing buddies tend to be people knowledgable about craft who can help me sort out plot problems or someone with a good listening ear who will let me whine for a little bit before I go back to work. Find your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who are strong in those areas.

I probably don’t have to say this, but I will anyway. Having a good partnership with another writer means you’re working at it, too. You also need to be supportive, encouraging, and useful in some way. If you’re constantly a drag on the other person’s energy, just see how long that partnership lasts.

It is reasonable to occasionally beat yourself up. If you fail to reach a goal because you couldn’t stop watching western movie marathons, heck yes, you should be hard on yourself. You should be appalled. Because while I completely condone a break to watch a movie as awesome as Open Range, you wouldn’t have set your goals if they didn’t mean something to you.

Now, if you miss a goal because your kids were sick and you had to take care of them, don’t you dare beat yourself up. Life happens, and that’s okay. Roll with the punches. It’ll all be all right. But know the difference between reasons and excuses. One is unavoidable. The other is deplorable.

In recap: 

1. Look back at this past year. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? What can you reasonably expect from yourself next year?

2. Know what you want to accomplish long term so you can arrange your priorities and make the best use of your time, instead of spreading yourself too thin.

3. Decide whether you need a very detailed and strict schedule or if you can be looser and more flexible with yourself.

4. Find someone to be accountable to, someone who compliments your strengths and weaknesses, and hold up your end of the partnership.

5. Be tough on yourself when you make excuses and poor choices. If you don’t take this seriously, no one else will, either.

And I’ll add a number six: be optimistic and energetic about your goals and the work you have to do to accomplish them. Nobody is forcing you to write (I hope!). This is something you enjoy, so keep it that way. If you’re totally adverse to the work and it makes you want to run screaming, then you probably shouldn’t be writing.

10 Bad Excuses for Not Writing

10. My cat is blocking my keyboard.

9. You see, I’m eating this cheese dip, so it would be really messy if I tried to write, too.

8. My sweater sleeves are so long that my fingers can’t reach past them to the keyboard/pencil.

7. My house is super messy, so I have to clean it up first. Like, all of it. Even the crawl space.

6. My favorite show is having a marathon on TV. Yeah, all the episodes are on Netflix, but it’s not the same.

5. If I was writing, how could I be on Facebook?

4. I need to post on my blog about tips on finding more time to write.

3. I have the sniffles, and I don’t want to contaminate my computer.

2. It’s Thanksgiving! I mean, it was Thanksgiving a month ago, but I’m still on holiday.

1. I can’t find the time!

Stop Giving Advice To Teen Writers


I love this girl! She knows what she’s talking about.

Originally posted on Miriam Joy Writes:

Let’s talk about teen writers.

Let’s talk about the proliferation of advice for teens who write that has come with the realisation that we actually exist, thanks to the internet.

Let’s talk about a fundamental thing they get wrong.

Every piece of advice I’ve read for teen writers has made some good points, but done it in such a condescending and patronising way that I’ve refused to acknowledge it simply as a matter of principle. Many of the articles are written by authors with little interest in teenagers, but even when it’s by YA authors, it fails to take a few things into account.

They’re invariably aimed at teen writers, specifically targeting those who haven’t reached some arbitrary age after which they magically evolve into adults. And there are some things they say that just anger me beyond comprehension.

“Your writing sucks.”

This is important to realise, okay? All of…

View original 1,022 more words

NaNoWriMo Day 3


Well, my NaNo is going better than I expected :)

This year I’m challenging myself to write two books: the sequel to my super hero story (which I finished by the way), and a book I’ve been sitting on for quite some time called The Die-Happy List. So far the latter makes up about 16,000 of my total. My plan is to write 5,000 a day, alternating which book I’m writing on. So far, so good! How’s your NaNo going?


I Joined Hexbound

I joined it because Ramisa brought it to my attention and it looks like Inkpop! You can read a little about Hexbound’s journey here. I haven’t posted any stories or anything yet, since I’ve barely had time to breathe and each chocolate muffins (my school’s convenience store now has Otis Spunkmeyer double chocolate muffins. I am ecstatic).

But I’m excited nonetheless just to look around and feel the place out. I know at least a few former Inkies have crossed over, so fingers crossed I’ll find some of my old friends.

I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I hate any of the various other sites I’ve joined. They all have their merits and I’ve actually enjoyed them. But something I’ve always wanted from a writerly site is a strong sense of community, and I have never joined a site that had a sense of community as tightly knit but welcoming as Inkpop did.

Sure, we had our bad apples, but it was a great group of writers who wanted to hone their craft and encourage the writers around them. I loved my Inkies.

But anyway. I’m going to try not to get romantical about it. Suffice to say, I’m super excited about Hexbound and if I like it enough, I may close down my accounts on other writing sites and just focus on the one.

Work Study (I’m a Proofer Again!)

I may have mentioned at some point that I got a creative writing scholarship for school. I can’t even tell you how happy that made me, and for a thousand different reasons. somebody thinks my writing isn’t crap. I don’t have to take out another loan. It’s all kinds of good. It’s also a work-study scholarship, which means I get to work in the office of the university’s press.

In short, I’m a proofer again! Yes, I know, some may not find nitpicking over grammar and syntax to be a fun thing, but I’m obsessed. I like the rules, and I like smoothing out awkward wording. I play around with words in my head all day long.

This is my senior year at AP, so I’m glad I got the chance to work with the press. I don’t have a lot of responsibility, of course, but I like running errands, proofing, and organizing. I’m going to make a great editorial assistant. I can feel it in my bones.

I haven’t written on Project X in a thousand years, and to be honest I don’t foresee any serious writing happening until November, which… do I even need to say it? NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH! BOOYAH! I’m super excited. Sure, I have no idea what I’m going to write, but when have I ever?