Camp NaNoWriMo 2017

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to pop in here real quick and let you all know I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year! YAY. Are you?????

tenor

*If you want to know why I haven’t been posting the last few weeks about my WIP it’s because nothing is new! There’s no update to be had…except for the fact that I’ve been on a writing spree lately and I don’t want to jinx myself by talking too much about everything…ha. Hope you understand!*

So, anywho back to Camp 😀 …

I’ve done the official NaNoWriMo event in the past (i.e. the one that happens in November), but I have never done it in July (or April for that matter) with Camp. I’m not sure why I’m so much more excited about Camp than I usually am about November, but I am, and I’m just going with it for now.

That being said, I have always been a big NaNo fan because it’s just amazing. I know this through personal experience and because it’s just a fact of life. An entire event dedicated to creating community and helping writers stay motivated to write every day deserves a gold star in my book.

Some people don’t care for NaNoWriMo because they think it encourages poor writing. After all, writing that much every day can almost guarantee you’ll have some days where you are straight up vomiting onto the page, but as we all know, all first drafts are shit so why the hell does this matter?

I do understand the people who don’t do NaNoWriMo (Camp or the actual event in November) because they’re hauling ass all year. Every month is their NaNoWriMo. Fair enough, I understand your point. And in truth, I’ve been there too. But, I still love and utilize the event because it helps me stay on track with my progress no matter how hard I’ve been working all year. It forces me to put all those doubts and worries and blah blah blah and throw them out the window for a solid month and just write.

Luckily for me, I am still writing my book (creating something out of nothing, not fixing what’s already there…sort of). I’m far away from editing and revising. I mean, I’m technically revising right now, but if you’ve been keeping up with me you know that’s a load of crap. I’m writing First Draft Part Two. Something that had me crying with desolation only a few weeks ago but now has me crying with glee this week. Okay, maybe more like crying at how much my fingers have been cramping from typing so much, but there is glee in there.

So yeah. That’s all I really wanted to say for today. Let me know what your thoughts about NaNo are! Are you for it? Against it? Apathetic? LET ME KNOW.

And with that, I’m gonna dash out of here because I’m already missing my draft.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you wanted to know, my goal this month is 100,000 words (double the usual for NaNo). I’ll probably end up dying before I get there, but hey, why not aim high. The only thing I have to lose is my sanity or possibly the use of my fingers. I’ll let you know how I end up faring.tenor1

False Starts

Oh heyyyy

So today I wanted to talk a little bit about the absolute struggle of figuring out where you should start your story.

I’ve always struggled with beginnings, no matter if I’m writing a novel, a short story, a poem, an essay (introduction paragraphs are the bane of my existence), or what have you. But I’ve never realized how much of a hurdle they really were for me. I didn’t like them, but I always managed to write them and make it work.

As you know I’ve been *ahem* struggling with revisions. I’ve basically been ripping my hair out for the last two months trying to get this story together. But I didn’t realize that the reason nothing was coming together was because I was starting my story in the wrong place.

I was getting so excited about all the things I had in store that I was skipping over some major plot points and character development that I didn’t even know I needed. All I knew was that something was wrong but I could not figure out what.

Enter post-its and letting things simmer.

I’m not kidding these two things saved my story. (And my hair.)

What I ended up doing was this… I basically threw up every little thought I had about my story onto post-its so I could see everything that had been battling for attention in my head out in the open. And it helped me so much. There wasn’t any pressure to try and fit things together, no stress of filling plot holes or tossing things that didn’t make sense. This was an absolute thought dump.*

A small sampling of the thought dump with the bonus of my super motivational calendar

Then I looked at everything I had written down and I let things simmer. I didn’t ignore my story, but I didn’t try to control it either. I had all my ideas out, I could look at each and every one of them and just absorb them for what they were. Ideas.

After a few days of this, I had an actual idea of where I needed to start my story. I was able to look at all my ideas and see where they needed to happen and what needed to happen before them.

Then. I got to writing.

I made a very basic outline through Scrivener’s corkboard of the events I wanted to happen and I got to work.

And now, I feel amazing. I know what needs to happen but better yet, I know where my story needs to start. And spoiler alert! it wasn’t where I had originally thought. Not at alllllll.

So, that’s all I have for today. Let me know if you have ever struggled with false starts and please feel free to share how you were able to figure them out! (I know I could definitely use more advice!)

Thanks for reading!


*Side note: I’ve done thought dumps before (as I’ve mentioned in past posts) but I’ve always done them in a word document. I’ve realized that I need to see all my thoughts in my writing in a physical form. Not in text on my computer that I need to scroll through. 

Revising/Why I’ve Been Gone/Update

Hi everyone!

Ah, I’ve missed this.

Sheesh, it’s been two whole months since I’ve said anything over here. Not okay. Not okay at all. Do I have an excuse? I mean, yeah. I always have excuses. Are they valid? Meh…

Why have I not been posting? Well, (excuse #1) the end of the semester was crazy. Lots of essays and tests and just general torture but I made it through! YAY summertimeeee and the livin is easy. (Ha. If only.)

Then the day after my last final (excuse #2) I jumped on a plane and headed to good old Chicago. Caught up with friends, celebrated my brother getting engaged, celebrated Mother’s Day, my brother’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and my best friend graduating from college. Lots of celebrating. But it was great.

Okay yada yada yada that’s all fun and good but I’m not on here to prattle about my life and all it entails. I’m here to share my writing journey. And, well (excuse #3) that’s been going pretty horribly. I know I’m keeping this blunt, but I want to share all aspects of this (the good and the bad). So, here we go.

As most of you know, I’ve been working on revisions for my WIP. And those have been a lot more challenging than I thought they would be. Really, the aspect that I’ve been struggling with the most is figuring out where I need to start my story, but I didn’t realize that this was the real problem until very recently. That, above all else, has made me want to punch a wall and cry for days.

I don’t know why I thought revisions would be a breeze, but I learned my lesson. And learned it. And learned it again. And again. Essentially, my “revision process” has gone like this:

  • Thought dump ideas and start to write.
  • Write 40,000 words of new draft only to realize none of it works.
  • Get a meticulous plan in place for revision.
  • Scour through first draft to find issues with plot, character, and setting.
  • Realize issues and dream up the perfect book.
  • Realize I have no idea what my perfect book is, realize I have a character driven story when I need a plot driven one, realize I don’t even know what my plot truly is, realize I want to rip my hair out and stab my eyes out with scissors.
  • Breathe. Realize this draft may not be what I thought it was. Realize my plan for my rewrite is also not what I thought it was. Go back to square one. Outline the hell out of this story.
  • Still have no idea what I want.
  • Remind myself that I am a pantser.
  • Have panic moment about not finishing revisions in the amount of time I thought I would be able to.
  • Yell at my audio notes for a good while until ideas start taking shape.
  • Take a break to let things simmer.
  • Write. One page.
  • Keep on writing until things start to click into place.
  • Have another panic moment when things begin to fall apart again.
  • Stick Post-Its all over the wall with every plot point and idea I’ve ever had.
  • See the real story taking form.
  • Take another break to let things simmer again.
  • Begin to write finally knowing where I need to start.
  • Cry tears of joy and relief.

So, that’s where I’m at right now. As you can clearly see, that means I’m a complete mess and all over the place. But, I’m finally confident in my starting point. I’m finally able to see what I need to include in this draft and what needs to be saved for future books in my series.

I can get more into the real details of all this (false starts, letting things simmer, etc.) in future posts, but I wanted to give you all a quick(ish) overview of what I’ve been struggling with the past couple months. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t document this while it was happening, but I think it’s because I was so stressed (with no end in sight) that talking about how nothing was working out would have just stressed me out more. But now I have a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m feeling much better about everything. Phew

Thank you all so much for reading this rambly update. I hope you’re doing well in your own writing journey 🙂 And if you’re not, hopefully, you were able to find some comfort knowing you are not alone. Clearly.

See you next week! (I promise!)

Get Over Yourself

Hey everyone!

For this week, since nothing new or exciting is happening in my current WIP (I’m still working on my first rewrite), I thought I’d switch it up a little and focus on a subject every writer faces: criticism and feedback, and really, why it’s so important. (Disclaimer: I’m discussing constructive criticism here. I am not talking about people shitting on your story just for the hell of it.)

This is actually pretty relevant to my life right now since I just (literally like ten minutes ago) submitted a short story for my creative writing workshop. For those of you out there that have taken a creative writing course, you know that submitting drafts to be critiqued can be pretty scary. I’m currently taking my fifth and final CW class at my university, but I still get a little nervous submitting my work, and don’t get me started on actual workshop day. I’m practically a ball of sweat and fear.

But, unpleasant imagery aside, I cannot stress enough how important listening to the feedback you receive on your stories is.

A few months ago I wrote a post for my other blog (Fiction Facts) all about this and for your convenience, I’m pasting it below. Why am I doing this? Well, for one, it’s always fun to share a story about how much of a dunce I used to be, but I think it could also be helpful to any of you out there that do struggle with accepting criticism.

On a whole, getting critiqued is a good thing, and here’s why:

Back in the day, I wrote a short story that I thought was everything. I thought it was the best thing I had ever written and dammit I was proud of it. I was so proud of it that when I submitted it for my freshman year creative writing workshop I was so, so sure that everyone would love it. That nothing could possibly be wrong with it.

Big shocker! I was wrong. My fellow classmates did not think I was God’s gift to the writing community. In fact, they had quite a few major problems with my story.

But, did I listen to their advice? No. I knew my work was excellent. They just didn’t understand my craft (so gross––anyone else hating how pretentious that sounded?). I felt so confident in my work that I submitted it for another creative writing class the following semester.

Untouched. No revisions whatsoever.

And guess what? The people in that class didn’t like it either. But I was so arrogant I still didn’t accept this. I still thought I was a better writer than my peers, that I knew what made a real story.

In case it wasn’t obvious I was a total idiot. And reading this back I sound like a straight up assface (I promise I kept these entitled thoughts to myself, but the fact they were there at all…ohhhhh so embarrassing).

Well, flash forward a few years to about a month ago. There I was, all ready to create another piece for workshop. Before I began writing, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the story I had written my freshman year.

And oh…oh did that story suck ass. It was so bad! I’m not exaggerating, I physically cringed whilst reading it over. I wanted to go back and slap my eighteen-year-old self across the face for thinking she was a BAMF when it came to writing. Because in just a few short years I had grown so much as a writer––not just in actual skill, but also in humility, in being open to the fact that I don’t know everything.

We’ve been over this, but NOTHING you write is going to be perfect, especially the first time around. And even after you’ve edited and revised to the point of actual pain, chances are it still isn’t going to be perfect.

But. As long as you are open to advice, as long as you are open to change, I promise you, you will become a better writer. Don’t be the arrogant dick I was. Accept the fact that neither you nor your work is a golden god and get over yourself.

Because, and I hate to say it, but if you can’t do this, if you cannot accept the fact that your story is going to need some work, cannot accept the fact that even as its creator you don’t always know what is best for it, then there’s a real possibility the only thing separating you from publication is yourself. Scary, right? Things just got deep. But it’s true.

Now, I’m not encouraging you to sell out or agree to changes that you know aren’t right. Use your gut here, but please do not ignore your head. Really think about the critique given to you. Go into revision with an open mind and you’ll know what suggestions have validity. And you know what? Your story will be better for it.

Don’t be afraid of change. Do be afraid of arrogance.

Well, there’s my little tale with a hearty splash of advice. I hope that this was helpful for some of you. I know how scary getting critiqued can be, and I know (believe me, I know) how much you may want to fight against what other people say, but if you open yourself up enough to listen––not argue or put up the defense––I promise you, you will become a better writer.

Good luck!

Now what?

Hai!

So, I wrote a draft…um…what now?

This is going to be a catch-up post. This means this one is going to be a bit long. I really want to start writing about things that I’m dealing with right now, but first I gotta recap what has already happened.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to hold it against you if you don’t care about all of this recapping, but future me will care about all this. And future me is a demanding bitch.

ANYWHO

Once I finished my first draft I wanted to jump into revising immediately. Keep in mind, I finished my first draft around 3 am––only a few measly hours away from my full day of classes. Did I care? Nuh uh. I started rereading right away.

Ah. Mistake.

As I wrote the first draft I came to realize that I would need to revise quite a bit, but reading it back…well let’s just say the anxiety set in. And it stayed.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my first draft. I actually really like it. Surprising, I know. I mean it’s riddled with errors and lacks many of the aspects of “craft” (does anyone else hate that word? I feel so pretentious when I use it) but it’s really not half bad. Still not good, but not terrible!

The anxiety came because I realized that the story I had wanted to tell was no longer the story I needed to tell. Basically, through writing my first draft I realized I needed to200 create a new storyline for my characters.

Do you get my anxiety? All that work, all that crying, all that self-doubt, all that hand cramping…and I’m changing everything? WHAT IS LIFE?!

This is when I realized I had to take a step back. I was too emotionally attached, too invested in the story I had written––the story that no longer fit these characters I had come to really know and the world they were a product of.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been taking a big step back. And it was really scary to do that at first, but now I really feel fine. Now, I don’t think this has anything to do with me being super disciplined (I’m not) or patient (I’m really not). Honestly, I think what it all boiled down to was the fact that I had others read my first draft while I played the “let things simmer game.”

Basically, I was able to release the death grip I had on my novel because I knew it wasn’t just going to sit on my computer for a month. It was going to be read, and I was going to get feedback from my most trusted individuals. So, things were moving forward, even if I wasn’t really doing anything.

Flash forward to last week. My mom finished reading my book. And she loved it! Big surprise, right? She’s my mother, she kind of has to love it. But, in truth, I wasn’t really looking for praise or even really constructive criticism.

But isn’t that why I sent it out for feedback? I mean yes, but remember, I was pretty confident I was going to need to change almost everything I had originally planned and written for book one, so while I appreciated those things, they didn’t really benefit me.

So, what was the point?

Essentially, I just wanted someone to understand my world so I could throw at them all the things I think I needed to change. Reading my book before I talked with them would 1. allow them to understand what the hell I was talking about (I write high fantasy…you ever try to explain a fantasy world to someone who isn’t familiar with it? Yeah, you feel my pain.) and 2. give them the capability to really tell me if they thought these changes would benefit my book.

I’m still waiting on my sister to finish, but my mom and I had a long talk a few days ago about all the things I was thinking about, all of the new ideas that had formed in my mind while I was letting the draft cool on my computer.

And it was SO HELPFUL.

I can’t even tell you how much I got out of our conversation. Just being able to bounce ideas off of someone who now really knows my world was just…ah priceless.

So, what am I doing now?

Well, as I said, I’m still waiting for my sister to finish so I can talk to her about the changes I want to make, but my waiting days are over. Over I tell you! I need to start revising.

Now, instead of feeling stressed about how thoroughly I’m going to have to gut my first draft, I’m excited! Really excited. Because now I know that these changes are for the best, and when I’m through with them I’ll have a draft one step closer to the story I want to tell. YAY.

Oh boy. Did I tell you it was going to be a long one or did I tell you it was going to be a long one?

Thank you for sticking through that, I appreciate it. Also, sorry if tenses got weird in there, it’s hard for me to talk in past tense for the recap while I’m also presently feeling some of these things…you catch my drift?anchorman-yes-jumping

But, now we’re all caught up! Yip yip.

So, I really have no plan as to what I’m going to be talking about next…I guess we’ll both just have to see what challenges I face as I revise! Goody.

Thanks for reading!

–Katie

 

Finishing the First Draft

Okay, so I’m a little late with starting this blog because I  finished my first draft about three weeks ago. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about the experience…because oh. my god. What an experience it was.

For a really long time, I thought I hated writing first drafts. Namely, because I could never actually finish one. And I won’t lie, the beginning of my current WIP took forever to complete. But, after struggling with getting words onto the page for a long, long time I finally took the advice I had heard so many times over the years.

And that advice was to let your first draft basically be a pile of crap. For a while, I had thought I was following this advice, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t really letting myself write absolute shit. I know this because once I finally did (basically, when I finally took my inner editor and shoved her away in a drawer), I was able to bust out insane word counts on the daily (I’m talking anywhere from 5-15k). And finally finish my book.

And it felt so effing good. I cried, I cheered, I really just felt like the most amazing person to ever grace this world. And in truth, I didn’t really care that I had most likely written a draft that was terrible.

Ultimately upon completion, I realized that I actually kind of love writing first drafts. As long as I can find the right mindset, the mindset that basically says, “I don’t give any shits if this sucks”, I think the experience of writing a first draft is pretty amazing.

For me, it felt like I had been liberated, kind of a weird way to put it, but that’s honestly how I felt. I had finally put this story that had been in my head for years onto the page. It existed. FINALLY. And sure it’s going to need some major work, but for now? Who cares?! I wrote a book!

Now, going into revisions…my feelings changed quite a bit. But, we’ll get into all that in my posts to come.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Not Quite Sure What I’m Doing Here…

Why hello there,

Alright, first post on my new blog. (Fun fact, this blog used to be about the importance of sex education for one of my university classes…lolz…not anymore! I wanted to keep my domain name…okay this side note has become too long.)

So, what is this blog? Essentially, my plan is to treat this space as a diary of sorts. A diary to document my journey of writing my book and (hopefully!) getting published. I know I love blogs/vlogs dedicated to writing, so I figured I’d try it out!

So, we’ll see how this goes.

Stay tuned for my next post that I’m going to go write right now and will probably be up in an hour. So much anticipation, I know.

Thanks for taking the time to read this silly, small little intro!