October Goals

It’s always odd when a new month starts in the middle of a week. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love the feeling of leaves crunching under my feet and seeing all the beautiful colors. It’s such a shame that Fall is so much shorter than the other seasons. After taking a two-month break from my Unnamed Epic fantasy, I feel nervous and excited to begin the next step. I keep reminding myself that it’s only the first draft and that I shouldn’t get discouraged if I end up scrapping most of it. I still have some more of Save The Cat! to finish up, but I should be finished with it before I finish reading through my first draft. I ended up getting distracted by other books this month. On the plus side, I read more books this month than I have in a long time.

Overall, I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished this month. I exceeded my word count by 10,948 words. I have a few story ideas in progress that I am excited about and hope to continue working on them in between editing my Unnamed Epic Fantasy. Editing can be such a droll process. I hope that if I break up my time well enough between editing and writing, it will make it much easier for me.

As I stated in my first paragraph, I did a lot of reading this month. I read Daughter of The Deep by Lina C. Amarego’s debut novel, a great read! I also read Serpent and Dove and Blood and Honey, by Shelby Mahurin, the first two books in the trilogy. The third book will be coming out next year, which I cannot wait for. Currently, I am reading Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker, the sequel to Seafire. I am enjoying it so far. I am excitedly waiting for A Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford, the sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl, to come in the mail.

I also tried something new with my Instagram. I participated in two writing challenges. For the most part, I had fun with them. There were times where it was challenging finding time to compile posts and also write. It can be quite an exhausting process. For this month, I will only participate in one challenge to make things a little easier. I was running out of ideas for posts on my Instagram and decided to give this a shot. I met a lot of new writers as a result and was introduced to many good books. The best part is that you don’t have to do all the challenges. For the most part, I did them all. There were a few I couldn’t work out.

For October, my goals are:

  1. Finish Reading Save The Cat!
  2. Read through my first draft of my Unnamed Epic Fantasy
  3. Make a Plan for draft 2
  4. Write two blog posts

I have about fifty pages left to read of Save The Cat! So far, it’s been an interesting read. I am excited to implement what I have learned. I also plan on reading two other writing books. I don’t know if I will finish them in one month with all the other stuff I have going on, but at least I can start them. The first book is Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, and the second one is Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success Paperback by K.M. Weiland. I am excited to read both.

Before I took my two months break, I used up all my printer ink to print my novel’s first draft. I know what you’re thinking. The poor trees! Personally, I find it easier for me to read through a story in print better than I do on the computer. It’s also easier to take notes, and you don’t have to keep changing screens back and forth when you begin the rewrites. While I did not plan much during my first draft, I will make a road map for my second draft. I already have some ideas of where I want the story to go. I am also trying to determine whether I have one story or three stories. I think it will become more clearer once I read through everything and make a solid plan.

My second blog post will probably tie into editing in some way and talking about what I have learned. As I have said in my other blog posts, I am not too fond of editing. At least not my own novel. It’s more interesting reading other people’s works than your own. I plan to have beta readers read my novel probably around the third draft or maybe the fourth. I would also like a professional editor to look at it before I shop around for agents. I have Grammarly, but it’s not foolproof. It can be expensive to hire an editor.

Now, let’s take a look at my personal goals/ New Years resolutions:

  1. Lose 10 pounds
  2. Think more positively
  3.  Be more organized
  4. Find ways to be more social.

I have been half and half with eating healthier. Some days I am good and don’t eat as much junk, and other days, I binge on things that I regret later. I went a week without much exercise due to an ear infection, but I am getting back into gear this week and busting some calories. I didn’t lose much weight this year, but I also didn’t gain any, which is good.

This month, I struggled a lot with keeping positive. Writing-wise I didn’t have too much stress. I had a few days where I was frustrated, but I was able to work through it. There has been a lot of family drama this month. Not that there isn’t any other month, but this month was incredibly stressful. I wish I could get away from all that. I love my family, and it’s good being near them, but it can also be suffocating. I’m ready to start my life and have my own place that I can decorate. I want an office/study, a comfy couch, and a Queen size bed. My full bed is pretty comfortable, but I don’t fit quite right in it because I am tall. I fit better without my pillow, but I need that to sleep. I am hoping that something more can be done with student loan debt. It’s ridiculous that people like me can’t afford to live independently because loans bog them down. The monthly payments are insane. If I didn’t have a family to live with, I would be screwed.

For the most part, I have been keeping organized. Again, I have a small room, so it’s hard not to feel claustrophobic. The desk and shelves have helped. If the attic in my grandparent’s house wasn’t so yucky and crammed with junk, I could have made an office/ study out of it. Now I just need to organize my work stuff better. My boss keeps changing the way we do things and adding new items to my checklist. I am glad to have the work, but sometimes it can be hard to get things done when people keep asking me to do things they could probably do themselves.

Socially, I have been doing well. I have been keeping in touch with my friends and interacting with other writers on Instagram. As I mentioned before, I was participating in two writing challenges. My best friend and I started our second book for our book club. We are reading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I have read the first four chapters. It is starting pretty slow, and there is a lot of info-dumping. I wish that they would have mixed in it a little more or done it all in the first chapter rather than span it across four.

I am hoping November will prove to be as fruitful as this month did. How did you guys do this month? Did you set any goals? Did you complete them? What are your goals for October?  What is your most favorite thing about Fall?

Navigating Writer’s Anxiety

For those of you who have read my previous blog posts, you know that I struggle with anxiety and depression. Writing, exercising, and reading are the main things that help me when I am stuck in the depths of despair. Although, sometimes writing can be a double-edged sword at times. Some days I dive in a story idea, and I feel on top of the world. Other days I get stuck in this loop of thinking my writing is terrible, and I end up overthinking things. There was a time when I would pack it in and wallow in my sorrow for days on end. I would declare that writing wasn’t for me or that I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. As I got older and learned to cope more with my negative feelings, I decided to take back my life. Sure, there are days where I wallow or feel like a loser, but I channel that into my writing. Or if I really can’t muster up the nerve to write, I will read or exercise, and usually, that is enough to break me out of my slump.

At some point, I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to focus on the time I didn’t have to write, but rather I would cherish the time I did have. Maybe I couldn’t spend the whole day writing, but I could at least dedicate an hour or two. The key is to have a routine/promise. Commit yourself to at least writing thirty to sixty minutes a day. It doesn’t matter when or where. Just do it even if you are only describing something around your room, or simply venting out your feelings. Writing is writing. Having a writing routine has helped me. It can be challenging, so after work, I give my brain at least a two to three-hour reset unless there is a story idea burning inside of me waiting to get out. Usually, I begin my writing after dinner.

Routines and promises are great, but we also have lives as well. If you don’t write one day, don’t beat yourself up about it. Easier said than done, I know. In the moment, I don’t think about it so much, but then afterward, I feel like I have betrayed myself somehow. And sometimes we need breaks, or we are not feeling a hundred percent. Or maybe you are going on vacation, or a friend who lives far away is around for the week. I like to think that even when I am not writing, I still am. Thinking about ideas counts as writing. You are exercising your mind. My recommendation is that you don’t let too many days go by without writing. The more days you let get away, the easier it will become not to write at all.

Writing sessions are a toss-up. Some days you will think faster than you can right. Other days you will spend at least thirty minutes, maybe more, staring at your blank word document. Then you will likely end up trying to find a motivating song, and before you know it, you are reading an article about “How the Aliens Built the Pyramids.” At that point, you will look at the clock and realize it’s time for bed and your word document is still blank. If you are in a writing slump or have not written in a while, this can go on for a few days.

What’s the trick to not getting stuck in that loop? Start writing. Even if you don’t have an idea, which is bull because you do, you don’t think it’s exciting enough. And if you really can’t, then look up a writing prompt. Don’t spend too long on this. I wasted many writing days trying to find a good writing prompt. In fact, I recommend that you compile a treasure trove of writing prompts so that way you won’t end back to that same article. Also, don’t spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect prompt. Pick the first one that’s there and go with it. Not all writing sessions are going to be good. It’s a hard thing to remember and something I am still trying to teach myself.

When this month first started, I was on top of the world. I hadn’t written much in August and was feeling guilty about it. So I started off looking at a few prompts I had saved, and that first week and a half, I was feeling pretty good. Then mid-last week, I began to fall into a slump. I rewrote the same scene over a dozen times, and eventually, I started going down the path of how maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. It’s easy to think that you are the only writer who suffers from this affliction. But worry not. We all do. Of course, you will want to write the perfect scene that will set off your whole book, but if you are in the early stages, then you are getting ahead of yourself. My best advice is to step away from your writing for a moment or maybe the rest of the day and let your mind reset. It’s also important to remind yourself that you did write, and while it may not have been perfect, what counts is that you sat there and poured the words out. So, make sure to pat yourself on the back.

Another showstopper for me is when I have six different stories, all with the same character name. It can be hard to come up with a name on the fly. Sometimes you know your character’s name right away, and other times you find yourself struggling. Especially if you are like me and writing fantasy, sure, you can use a common name, but a bigger part of you will want to use some unique name or a made-up name. Which is perfectly fine, but I wouldn’t spend too much time and energy on this. I have concluded that I need to spend a half-hour coming up with a list of names to pull a name off that sheet rather than google cool medieval fantasy girl names.

Even more daunting than character names and beginnings is the plot and worldbuilding. As I mentioned before, don’t worry about the plot too much in the first draft. If you are like me, then you are still working out the plot and figuring out who your characters are during the first draft. Leave ironing out the plot for the second draft. Worldbuilding is pretty similar. Maybe it’s easier for you to figure out your world before you begin your story. I would argue that the more you write about your characters, the easier it will be to get to know the world they live in and how they do or don’t fit into it. My advice for not getting to hung up on these areas is similar to what I have been saying in previous paragraphs. Don’t overthink it. Let yourself explore and discover. Put your characters into different scenarios. Toy around with their personality. Add in people to unlock other parts of their personality. The first draft is your time to wander around like a tourist.

Similar to what I said about beginning’s don’t get hung up on endings. It’s good to have some idea of how you want your story to end, but more than likely, that will change as the story goes on. If that happens, don’t panic. Let the ending come naturally to you. And if it doesn’t, then try your best to tie it up. Or you can kill a beloved character in the last five percent of the novel. You could even leave your main character in limbo with the readers chomping at the bit to know how you are going to bring back your main character or whether or not one of the beloved side characters is truly dead.

Don’t let your fear and anxiety keep you from writing. Remember that you are the only one who is going to see it. Other people won’t even see it until you decide you are ready for them too. And when you do show it to people, be open to their criticism. In can be easy to look at all the edits from your beta readers/ editor and be overwhelmed. Sometimes you might even feel a little bit angry or defensive. It’s good to keep an open mind to people’s suggestions, and ultimately, it’s your choice whether or not to follow them. Although, if many people are pointing out the same issue, then I recommend you take their advice seriously even if you think the scene is the best damn thing you have ever written. Now, when I mean seriously, I don’t mean you have to change it. I just mean that you should not rebuff their comments and take some time to think about it before deleting their comment or correction.

Writing is not an easy thing. Like any job, it has it’s good and bad points. Writing a novel is like riding an emotional roller coaster. It will only break you if you let it. If you take anything from this blog, post know that you are not alone. All writers go through this. That’s why it’s good to connect with other writers and also share your work with them. What are some strategies you use to navigate the writer’s anxiety?

September Goals

It seems like once you reach a certain age, time begins to fly by so fast. When I was still in school, it felt like that part of my life would never end. There were times where I thought I would be a college student forever. It’s hard to believe that it has almost been three years since I graduated. It feels like a lifetime ago though it really isn’t. Summer is almost over, and Fall is just around the corner. I love summer, but I am ready for Fall. I am tired of scratching bug bites and have been craving hot cocoa.

It’s hard to believe that the year will be over in four months. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was doing the New Years’ Eve countdown with my mom. Despite all that has been going on with the coronavirus, I would say that my year has been pretty good.

Last month was a crazy month for me. I spent the first two weeks of the month running around preparing for my beach vacation with the family. After we got back from the beach, I was exhausted most of that weekend and didn’t write as much as I had wanted to. But I managed to get in some good writing during the last two weeks. I didn’t write 25K, but that’s okay. As long as I wrote at all, I am happy. I managed to get in my blog posts for the month. I am hoping to be more organized about my posts. A lot of the time, I am not sure what to write about, and when I figure it out, I feel like I am running around trying to get written, edited, and then posted. Sometimes I wonder if I should continue my blog. There are times where I feel like I am just writing one big diary entry. But, it has been good practice. Even though I only have a small following, I am grateful for those of you who read my blog and comment on it. I want to make time to read more blog posts, but there are only so many hours in a day.

I did not finish reading Save The Cat!, but I plan to this month. It has been very helpful so far, and I am feeling more confident about starting draft 2 of my Unnamed Epic Fantasy in October. This isn’t an official review of the book as I have yet to finish it, but so far, I recommend it to writers. It’s easy to understand, and it even comes with a checklist. I wish that this book had been around when I first started writing. But I am glad that I am reading it now.

For this month, my goals are as follows:

  1. Write 25,000 words
  2. Finish reading Save The Cat!
  3. Write two blog posts
  4. Finish reading Daughter of the Deep by Lina C. Amarego

This month, I am confident that I can meet my word count. I am already off to a good start by writing this post. I’ve been working on a few ideas that could be potential novels. Mostly, I have been jotting down scenes as they come to me. On days when I don’t have inspiration, I use writing prompts that I saved on Pinterest or from the writing books I have.

I still have to figure out what my second blog post will be about. It’s only the beginning of the month, so I have some time to figure it out. I plan to brainstorm each day so that I am not rushing to finish it near the end of the month. How do you find inspiration for blog posts?

Last month I started reading Daughter of the Deep by Lina C. Amarego. It is her debut novel, and so far, I am about a hundred pages into it. Four the past four years, there has been a blood feud between the Branwen’s and Mathonwys. As a result of their rivalry, they are threatened with banishment if they don’t agree to the Council’s terms. Keira Branwen is forced with the choice of exile for her people or marriage with her father’s alleged killer, Ronan Mathonwy. Ronan insists that he is innocent of the crime, and together they make a contract to try and find the real killer of her father.  I always love a good mystery and tales that involve the sea. Last night I stayed up later than planned reading it.

Initially, I was going to read Three Dark Crowns, but after reading the blurb of Daughter of the Deep, I changed my mind. So for now, it joins my other books waiting to be read. Pretty soon, I won’t have any more space for books. I look at my to-be-read pile and the list of books I want to read on Goodreads and often wonder if I have enough time in my lifetime to read them all. If there is one thing that will satisfy me in the afterlife, it’s having one giant library. And of course, something to write on.

Aside from my writing and reading goals, I also have my personal goals as well, which are to:

  1. Lose 10 pounds

2. Think more positively

3. Be more organized

4. Find ways to be more social.

I have been exercising three to four days a week on the machines, and in between, I do my physical therapy exercises. I am making up for all the junk I ate the beach. I am glad that I got rid of my gym membership. Yes, it is a way to socialize, but to be honest, I didn’t talk much. When I exercise, I get into the zone. Plus, I only have a certain amount of time, and I am saving $10 a month, and I also don’t have to pay the yearly maintenance fee. Don’t even get me started on that sham. I went to that gym for at least eight years, and there were tons of machines that needed maintenance that were still rundown, loose, and half-broken when I left.

I was feeling a little depressed and blue during those two weeks that I didn’t get to exercise or write much. If you have read my other blog posts, you know that I struggle with depression and anxiety. Sure, medicine helps, but exercising, writing, and reading help keep my mind occupied. I worry less about things that I cannot control and focus on the things that I can control. Plus, it is a nice escape from the world.

This month my focus is on organizing my Instagram and my blog. Instead of doing everything last minute, I want to plan it out more. For Instagram, I am participating in two challenges that should help my Instagram get back on track. As I mentioned earlier, I am hoping to brainstorm some blog post ideas not only for this month’s blog post but for the next few months. And of course, I am trying to keep my desk organized and less cluttered. I try and do a deep cleaning weekly, but sometimes it ends up being every other week.

I was pretty proud of myself on Sunday. My grandparents had a small gathering, and I interacted with another fellow reader. I always enjoy talking about books with others, and I added more books to my be-read pile. My best friend and last friend that lives near me moved to South Carolina last week. I was pretty sad about it because it means we won’t see each other as often. But, we still have our book club. We finished reading Little Women, and next on our list is Sense and Sensibility. We were supposed to start reading it this Sunday, but things have been chaotic for my friend. She and her family got to South Carolina, and it turned out the house was not what they expected, so now they are homeless and hoping to find another home. If they can’t, they may be coming back here to PA. I would love to have my friend back, but I do hope they can make it work up there since they traveled all that way.

How is everyone doing? Hopefully, you all are staying safe and healthy. Do you have any goals for this month? Have you completed any goals? Are you excited for Fall? What is your most favorite thing about Fall?

The Power of a Short Story

While I am taking a break after finishing the first draft of my novel, I have been writing short stories. There are many themes within my novel, so I thought I would delve into these themes to understand my story better and expand my knowledge. I started out writing a love story. When it comes to love, I am clueless. I read a lot of romance and slice of life manga and a few romance novels to get an idea of how to formulate a romantic scene without going overboard. We’re all adults here, so it’s not like I have to sugarcoat things, but at the same time, I am not writing erotica. Steven King said it best when he said, “Description begins in the writer’s imagination and but should finish in the reader’s.” Part of the fun of reading a novel is that you have your own way of seeing what you are reading.

My second short story was a thriller, which is another theme in my novel. One of my main character’s sister goes missing at the start of the novel. After her sister goes missing, my main character has to go to court in her place. While in court, she tries to figure out what happened to her sister, find a husband that will raise her family’s status in court, and deal with court dramatics. For this short story, I used a prompt on Pinterest. The prompt was: “You accidentally kill a person. You instantly absorb all of their memories, intelligence, and talents. You find it feels euphoric and quite addicting. “I found this prompt to be interesting because you could do so many things with this. I went the route of the not-so-popular girl accidentally killing the school’s popular girl and then absorbing all her memories, intelligence, talents, and whatnot. It’s a pretty common way to go, but I added a few of my own twists to it. Plus, my main character doesn’t start out as the villain. She truly does accidentally kill the main character. It wasn’t like she was stalking her and trying to be her friend only to kill her when she threatened to tell the whole school how much of a freak she was.

After finishing the first draft of my novel, I have been both excited and nervous about moving on to the next step. If you have followed my blog thus far, you know that I have struggled with the editing process. I tend to get overwhelmed and worry that I will never be able to pull my story together. This time around, I hope to be able to push past that anxiety and remind myself that not everything has to be figured out in the second draft.

This month I have been asking myself why it is that I get so overwhelmed, and I think I have figured out the answer. When you first get an idea for a novel, it’s exciting. You have this image of how it will play out in your head and begin drafting some ideas. Then you get to the blank page where you start to put those ideas into the novel format, and it’s intimidating. Even though it is the first draft, you still want a good opening. It can be easy to waste time trying to find a perfect opening. I have to push myself not to get stuck in that loop. Once you get past that hurdle, it’s smooth sailing for a while until you hit your first roadblock. That’s when you start to question everything about your novel and realize that you have strayed so far away from what you intended to write. I wondered if maybe I enjoyed the idea of writing more than the act of it. My story sounded great in my head, but on paper, it was a complete mess. It’s easy to see your story from start to finish in two minutes, but the reality is some things have to happen in between. Often I think that it would be great if I could skip over the crappy drafts and belt out a perfect draft in one fell swoop. Wishful thinking. You have to put in the work in order to get the results that you want.

When I was finishing up the last thousand words of my novel, it was like some psychopath was torturing me. I dreaded it, but at the same time, I wanted to get it over with. At one point, I wanted to pack it in and scrap the whole story altogether, but I forced myself to finish it.

In writing some of these short stories, I have found myself falling into the same slump. It starts out good, and then I get to a point where I don’t want to write it anymore, but at the same time, I do. It’s easy to write the exciting parts, but it’s the in-between where you get to know your character, their world, and their thoughts where it can get boring. I also have to keep reminding myself that this is my first take at each short story I write. Nothing is final, and there will be a lot of crap and boring conversations that will be scrapped. I plan to edit these short pieces as well as practice. I have been reading Save The Cat! Writes a Novel and am hoping that if I can use the knowledge I learn from the book in a shorter piece, then I can expand it in a longer piece.

All in all, I want to improve on myself as a writer and editor. I want to break through the roadblocks that have deterred me in the past and be more patient with the writing process. When I see other writers my age and younger publishing, it inspires me to continue pushing forward. So I wasn’t a breakout novelist right outside of high school, or college, but there is no set timeline for when someone can publish. Sometimes it happens to people when they are younger, and other times it takes others longer. I’ve always been a late bloomer in pretty much everything, so it’s no surprise. I don’t see any of my past projects as failures. I see them as learning experiences. Now I am not saying I always had this sunny outlook when it came to my past projects, but over time your pride heals. As long as you keep persevering, you can do anything you set your mind too even if it takes almost half of your life.

August Goals

Do you have a specific song that plays in your head when you have accomplished something that you have worked on for a long time? For some reason, when I finished the first draft of my unnamed epic fantasy, the “New Year’s” theme song was playing in my head. I know it sounds strange, but I guess it’s sort of similar to that moment when the New Year begins. I felt relieved and exhausted when I finished my first draft. I was struggling with those last few chapters because my story by that point had veered very far, of course. The end of my draft was not exactly perfect, but it was an ending. In the end, my word count came to 96,171 words.

As a reward for finishing my novel, I got myself a new desk with lots of drawers and shelves. It feels like a real writer’s desk, and it was worth every penny. I am proud of myself for finishing this first draft. Even though I will end up scrapping most of it, I learned a lot about my characters. I more or less have an idea of where I want my story to go. I hope that the second draft will be more structured.

In addition to writing, I read Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte. I enjoyed the book and was sad to learn that it was not a trilogy. I read the book in a week and a half and stayed up until four in the morning the last night reading the last two-hundred pages. Someday I hope someone will stay up until four in the morning reading my book.

For my first blog post last month, I talked about my July goals. In my second post, I talked about my struggles with ending my novel. If you have had similar problems, check out my post.

For this month, my goals are as follows:

  1. Write 25,000 words.
  2. Reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need.
  3. Write two blog posts

I decided to set my word count at 25K because I will be going to the beach next Monday for a week so I won’t have much time to write during that time. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself after finishing my first draft. Mainly I will be looking at some writing prompts I have saved over the years and maybe enter a few contests to keep my writing muscles strong.

I read the introduction of Save The Cat! Writes a Novel, and now I understand why it’s called save the cat. Don’t get me wrong, I love cats, but I was so confused by the title at first. I can’t wait to dig into the first chapter. Aside from that, I do plan on doing some pleasure reading as well. Right now, I have been reading some mini manga series. Next on my to be read list is Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. I have heard that it is similar to Four Dead Queens.

For my second blog post, I am thinking of doing a review of some kind, or maybe I’ll post some of my story prompts if I have any good ones. If there is anything that you want me to write more about, I am always open to ideas. Shoot me a comment below!

Aside from my writing and reading goals, I also have my personal goals as well, which are to:

1) Lose 10 pounds

2) Think more positively

3) Be more organized

4) Find ways to be more social.

I decided to give up my gym membership and bought a hybrid elliptical/exercise bike. So now I will have that and the treadmill. I used part of my tax refund to get this. It was supposed to be shipped today, but I haven’t received any details yet. Hopefully, it will come soon so I can start using it. With the COVID-19 going on, I wasn’t sure when it would be safe to go back to the gym, and I didn’t want to exercise wearing a mask, so I figured this was the better solution.

I go back and forth between feeling blue and being happy. Being at home is nice because I am an introvert, but sometimes it can be suffocating. I try and go out during the week, even if it’s just for a drive or to the store, but most of the time I am too exhausted. By the time I am ready to do something, it is already too late. I have been swimming during the weekends, which has been nice. I am a bit nervous about going to the beach next week. I almost didn’t go, but I haven’t been in so many summers, and I am hoping that if I am safe and wear my mask in public, I should be okay.

Now that I have my shelves, new desk, and four-cube organizer, my room is not as cluttered as it was before. I feel like I can move around my room without knocking anything over. I used my tax refund and the money I earned from selling things on eBay to get this desk. For Christmas, I would like to get a small wooden drawer for my closet. Right now, I have a plastic one that is very hard to open and close. I would love to have a dresser, but I don’t have room for one. I also would like to get drawers for under my bed. I could store some clothes there or some books. It would be nice to get a better bookcase as well. The one I have is shaky, and the back is ripping off. I am slowly creating my own writer’s oasis until I can have my dream one when I get my own place.

I haven’t been as social this month. I have had my nose buried in books, but I still keep in touch with my friends. Every week my best friend and I do our book club. We are almost done reading Little Women. Only sixty more pages left! A part of me hoped that Jo and Laurie would end up together, but I get why they didn’t.

How is everyone else doing? Did you have any goals for this month? Did you meet them? Do you have any summer plans? Are you currently reading anything?

Reaching The End of a First Draft

July has flown by so fast! I cannot believe that it is already July 21st. For this month, I did not set a word goal for myself. I am reaching toward the end of my first draft, which has been slow-going. That being said, I have barely written at all this month. Since it is summer, I have been taking time to spend with my family and doing safe activities. I have also been running around doing errands and taking others on errands. With only eleven days left in the month, I am determined to finish the last few chapters of my first draft.

The middle was such a long and tortuous process. I ran into many walls, but I was able to get past them. Now that I am at the tail-end of my novel, I am struggling with how to end it. I know that the draft is more or less done, but my original ending is not going to work. Part of me wants to end it even if it’s abrupt. It’s the first draft, after all. But, I also want to have a decent ending to truly feel satisfied. I am honestly ready to be done with this draft and take a month or month and a half (I still haven’t decided yet) break from it to reset my mind.

The hardest part about the first book in a series is that a lot of it is introductory. There is action in it and drama, but you also have to leave some mystery for the other books. You also have to get your reader invested in your story so that they are excited for book two. I know I don’t have to worry about all this in the first draft, but it’s hard not to think about it.

My main struggles going into the conclusion of my novel are wrapping it up so that it ends on a cliff-hanger, which is hard enough to do for one character, but now I have three characters to worry about. I also had to space out the travel part because at the end of the book is where they will end up being in preparation for the war. I am also having a hard time with the romance aspect. All my main characters have some kind of romance going on. Romance is not my forte, but I love reading about them in books.

Pacing is also something I have a hard time with. When it comes to action and drama, I am usually pretty good. I was struggling a bit with the magic aspect. It was not something I originally planned on including until I changed one of my characters. Plus, I am also building a world from scratch. It is a period piece, but it’s also fictional and not based on history, so I am making it up as I go along. Hopefully, when I do my read-through, I can better map out my world and the rules that go along with it.

I am excited and nervous to begin my second draft, which is why I am not giving myself longer than a month and a half away from this project. I fear that if too much time passes then, I may lose the motivation to go through the editing process. I am exhausted just thinking about all the work I have to do for the next draft.

What are some things that you struggle with during a first draft? How long of a break do you take in between drafts?

July Goals

I am excited to announce that I reach 80K in my current work in progress. I am nearing the end of this first draft. I was hoping to reach 100K, but I think it will end up being under 90K. I’m glad to almost be done with this draft. I plan on taking a month to reset my mind. I will still be writing during that time. I plan to write some short pieces from writing prompts or enter a few contests. I also plan on reading Save The Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody as well as some other editing books I have.

I finished reading Chasing the Shadows, sequel to Navigating the Stars By Maria V. Snyder. I did not find it quite as exciting as the first book, but it held my interest enough to wonder how the series will conclude. My all-time favorite books of hers are the Poison Study series. There are nine books plus a few spin-offs and novellas. I started reading Four Dead Queens. I read quite a bit of it today and had a hard time putting it down.  

Last month, I completed my two blog posts. The first was my June goals, which I managed to meet despite some health issues early on in the month. Thankfully, I was not afflicted with the coronavirus. I had a vitamin deficiency, which I was able to correct with vitamins and eating more fish. My second blog post was about my journey of figuring out whether I was a panster, planner, or planster. I won’t spoil it for you.

My goals for July are as follows:

  1. Finish draft one of my current WIP
  2. Write two blog posts
  3. Read Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

For my next blog post, I am thinking about doing in on “endings.” The middle of a book is hard, but the end can be just as hard. Even if you have the end of your novel in sight, it can be hard to get to that point. I more or less know how my book will end, but it’s getting there that can be tricky.

Aside from my writing and reading goals, I also have my personal goals as well, which are:

Lose 10 pounds

Think more positively

Be more organized

Find ways to be more social.

I have been hovering between losing and gaining weight due to all these barbecues I have been on. Baked goods, ice-cream, and chips and dip are my kryptonite. I have been running on the treadmill a few times a week. I also plan on getting an elliptical. The gym in my area opened back up, but I don’t feel comfortable going to the gym again. At least not until things have returned to normal, and this virus has worked its way out. I have to be extra careful since I live with my grandparents. Plus, you have to wear masks while exercising, and I don’t think I can do that. Better to just use my parent’s treadmill and do workout videos.

Despite having some health issues last month, I still kept positive and used that time to relax and try and gather back my strength. I was feeling a bit blue the past few days because I hadn’t written or exercised due to running around and attending barbecues. But, now I am back to my routine. I did a lot of reading today, which also helped.

My room has been chaotic with selling things. I have sold pretty much all that I wanted to sell. So my room is somewhat back to normal. I still need to get my new shelves installed so I can free up some space in other places. I also hope to have more room once I get my desk because then I can put things in drawers. I wish I had enough room for another bookcase as well. I’ve been thinking about maybe getting on that has more shelves. Right now, mine only has four, and it’s almost filled.

I also made a few new friends from selling things on eBay, which was cool. It’s always nice to connect with people you have something in common with. But you should still practice safety as well.

 All in all, I hope this month is just as productive as my last few months have been. I am lucky to have books and writing during these hard times. And family as well even though sometimes they can be a pain. How have your goals been going? What are your goals for this month? Have you accomplished anything you are proud of this year?

Planner, Panster, or Plantser? Which Are You?

When I first started writing, in fifth grade, I was a panster through and through. I would write whatever popped into my head and then go from there. As I got older, that method became more complicated. When I started writing fantasy novels, I kept writing myself into a corner because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. They say when you hit a block in writing to take a break from it and then come back to it. Well, I kept coming back to it, and after spinning in circles over once scene, I decided to try a new approach. I was already using the planning method in my personal and school life, so I figured why not use it for my writing as well.

Unfortunately, planning did not work out the way that I had hoped it would. I ended up over-planning my novel. I have a whole binder filled with kingdoms, family trees, houses, character profiles, and a whole history. I know what you’re thinking. If I had all that, then what went wrong? The problem was I created a world that my main character did not belong in. It was very frustrating after I put all that time and effort into it. When I realized that the world I created did not work for my current story, I attempted to start from scratch but kept hitting wall after wall. Sadly, I had to put aside that novel. Maybe one day I will pick it up again, and it will all come together.

After pansting and planning didn’t work for me, I began to question myself as a writer. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get it together. For a while, I began to wonder if I even wanted to write anymore. It was as if the magic had been sucked from me. I was depressed for a while. It was my imagination that saved me. Even though I thought I was done, my mind wasn’t. I kept writing in hopes that something would spark. I entered contests, created scenes based on writing prompts and jotted down random scenes that came to me.

Eventually, I began to realize that these random scenes maybe weren’t so random. I was still pretty sore from my failed draft, so I didn’t want to get too excited. I continued to write down scene after scene, and eventually, I admitted to myself that I maybe had an idea for a novel. Around that time, I realized that I was actually a planster. Working on my draft, and also planning it as I go along seems to flow much better for me.

After a month of jotting down random scenes, I reread them and jotted down a brief plan for each of my main characters. I didn’t want to go too deep into the plan because I didn’t want to suck the magic out of discovering my story. But, I also wanted to have some idea of where I thought the story was going. For those of you who have read my previous blog posts, you know that I am currently working on an Unnamed Epic Fantasy with three main characters POVs. I am about 63K into my first draft, which I am pretty excited about. My goal is to reach 80K by the end of the month. I am a bit behind due to some health issues, but I am hoping to catch up.

For the longest time, I was pretty down on myself as a writer. I am twenty-seven, and I still have yet to publish a book. I kept telling myself that I was behind and that if I had taken more time to focus on one piece versus going from one novel to another, then maybe I would have published a book by now. The truth is there is no set time in which one should publish their first book. It takes time to find out what kind of writer you are and what works for you. Instead of kicking myself for not realizing what genre I wanted to write in sooner, I am patting myself on the back for continuing to write all these years.

While many of my novels may not see the light of day, they are important milestones in my life. I don’t know if the current story I am working on will be my debut novel. Right now, I want to get through the first draft and make it through the editing process successfully. Maybe this novel is just another stepping stone in my writing journey, or perhaps it’s my big break. Only time will tell.

What kind of writer are you? Are you a panster, planner, or plantser? Or are you still trying to figure that out?

June Goals

In less than two weeks it will officially be summer! After cleaning out my closet and putting away most of my warm clothes, I found myself in desperate need of summer clothes since most of my old ones are too big for me now. Come on, summer sales! I made it to 50k in my novel at the end of last month, which I am pretty happy about. I am still muddling through the middle and have about 50K left to write. Some days I feel like my hands are flying across the keyboard when I am writing a scene, and other days it’s like climbing up fifty sets of stairs! If you saw my previous blog post, it’s about muddling through the middle. By the end of this month, I am hoping to be closer to the end.

 I also finished reading The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. I was pretty sad since it was the last book in the trilogy until I found out she is doing a book from Cardan, a.ka. The Cruel Prince’s point of view. It has scenes from all three of the books plus a bonus adventure. I wouldn’t mind another book featuring Cardan and Jude as they rule Elfhame. It’s sad when a good series ends. I always hate that empty feeling of not knowing what to do with yourself after finishing a series. But, I suppose that is the mark of a good book.

My goals for June are as follows:

  1. Reach 80K in my Unnamed Epic Fantasy
  2. Write two blog posts
  3. Read Chasing the Shadow’s by Maria V. Snyder

Instead of doing my usual 35K per month, I decided to change it up a little. The middle is the hardest part of a novel, and often you find yourself lagging. But, I also don’t want to get too lost in the middle. By the end of this month, I hope to be entering the third arc of my story. Then I will have to deal with the challenge of tying up loose ends and also leaving it on a cliffhanger to set up for the next novel.

I’ve been stocking up on some good editing books to have for when I take a month off after I finish writing my first draft. I am excited about my exclusive chat with Jessica Brody, author of Save The Cat! Writes A Novel on June 17th, where she will talk about the publishing process. It came with the one-off Scribbler box I purchased. I’ve always wanted to do a subscription box, but they are so expensive! Plus, the shipping tacks on an extra ten bucks. I recently got a step-up pay, so I thought I would treat myself.

Overall, I thought there were some cool things in the box. It came with a psychological thriller book, Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yeorg. I haven’t read it yet, but it has joined my ever-growing stack of to-be-read books. I also got a cool notebook with a moon and sun on it. While I appreciated what was in the box, I found myself a bit disappointed. Most of the other things were just cheap things. That’s not to say that I expected everything to be high-end, but I thought I was getting a writer’s box. It seemed a bit disorganized like they are stuck between being a reader and writer’s box. They advertise as being a writer’s box, so I thought the book was going to be writing based. I felt that the main book should have been Save The Cat! Writes A Novel since the chat is with Jessica Brody. I think if the shipping wasn’t too expensive and the box was cheaper I probably would subscribe to it monthly. I did appreciate the stuff I did get, and I left some thoughtful feedback when they inquired why I wasn’t subscribing for a second box.

There are a couple of other boxes that I want to try out as well. I have a Fae Crate box coming in next month and am on the waitlist for an Owl Crate box. I’ve been thinking of trying fairy loot as well. I’m still on the lookout for a real writer’s box. Who knows, maybe someday in the future I will create my own writer’s box.

I’m not sure what my second blog post will be about. I have a few weeks to think about it. I hope to finish Chasing The Shadows by the end of this month. It is quite a long book, but overall it’s a relatively easy read. It’s a science-fiction novel set in space. If you geek out on technology, science fiction, and romance, then this is the book for you. Maria V. Snyder also has other series as well. Most of her other series are epic fantasies. The first series I read from her was A Poison Study series, which has nine books in total and a few spin-off and novellas. She also has two other epic fantasy series that I have yet to read. I believe she also has written a dystopian duology as well. So she dabbles in a few different genres. The other book I am excited to read about, which I have is The Eyes of Tamburah.

Aside from my writing and reading goals, I also have my personal goals as well, which are:

  1. Lose 10 pounds
  2. Think more positively
  3. Be more organized
  4. Find ways to be more social.

I have lost a good amount of weight in these past couples of months, but I did gain back one or two of those pounds. Since it seems like my gym will not be opening up anytime soon, and my floor exercises aren’t enough to keep me going, I dusted off my parent’s old treadmill and have been going over to their house a couple of times a week to exercise. I’m looking into possibly getting an elliptical as well.

If you have read previous posts from me, you know that I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years now. Since I am working at home and homebound most of the time, it’s hard to get away from stress sometimes. I found myself having a lot of panic attacks in the last two months. I also had times where I was having trouble breathing. It’s part of the reason why I dusted of my parent’s old treadmill. Exercising helps with depression and anxiety. I go hiking almost every weekend, which also helps, but during the week is when things get messier, which is why it’s good that I can get away and run on the treadmill and then hang out at my parents for a bit.

As part of organizing myself, I ordered some shelves so that I can have a less crowded desk and bedside table. They were supposed to come in the mail on Friday, but UPS has been unreliable as of late. I’m not sure when they are coming now. I am tempted just to pick up the package myself.

As per usual, I have been keeping in touch with my family and friends. And of course, I have my writing buddies on Instagram. I am still working from home and have not heard anything about us going back anytime soon, which is fine with me. I would rather work safely at home then have to wear a mask all day at work. Plus, as I said in my May Goals post, it isn’t feasible for us to all go back to the office. None of the windows open, and the bathrooms and kitchens are small. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for social distancing.

All in all, I hope to get closer to finishing the first draft of my novel. I am confident that I will be doing better this time around in the editing process with some helpful aids. What are your goals for this month? Did you meet your goals last month?

Muddling Through the Middle Slump

If you are anything like me, then the bane of your existence is the middle of a novel. The beginning of a novel can be difficult because you have to muster up the courage to start, but once you get past that initial hump, it is pretty smooth sailing. During the first draft, I find the middle the hardest because I am still figuring out how to weave my story together. I know how I want it to end, but it’s getting there that is the problem. To me, pushing through the middle is like trying to cross a river of molasses. The middle is the longest part of a story. By this point, something major should have happened to trip your characters off-balance. Currently, I am about 40K into my novel, which is the beginning of the middle. I can already feel myself struggling with pushing on.

The main issue that I am facing as I move forward with my storyline is the timeline of events. Since I have three main character points of view, my timeline keeps getting skewed. For the most, I have been working past it since I know that I can fix it later, but it doesn’t make it any less maddening. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am reminding myself that this is the first draft, and I can go back and edit it later. I plan on using OneNote to keep better track of the timeline during the revision process.

In addition to working on my rough draft, I am also using OneNote to keep track of character back stories and the descriptors I use to describe them. With my main characters, I know what they look like since I am working with them full-time. For the most part, I remember what the secondary characters look like, but it’s nice to be able to go back and look in OneNote versus trying to go back to when the character was first mentioned. It’s also helpful for when I have a scene that will happen more toward the end. As writers, we often think faster than we write. Most of the future scenes I have recorded will most likely be in the second book, which I more or less know how I want to go, but I’ve only been working on this project for two months now. A lot can change during that time.

For the most part, I try and keep positive and tell myself that I am probably doing better than I think I am with this draft. The middle slump can easily break a writer’s spirit. Often we have a hard time trekking through the molasses to the other side. It’s easy to give up at a certain point and tell yourself that you are stuck and cannot go further. There have been times where I have stood up from my desk and wanted to hit backspace on my laptop until my word count read zero. To be honest, I have done that. Fortunately, I came back to my senses and hit the back arrow to bring my story back.

Often when I first enter the middle, I can push through. It’s when I get to about 50-60K where I begin to get moody and try and find excuses not to go on. Sometimes I get myself so distressed that I end up calling it a night and start fresh the next day. If I am still feeling stuck the next day, I may take a day off and do some reading or research. I still like to keep my mind active because sometimes that helps me get back into it. There are times where I can’t even focus on that, and I end up watching a movie, reading, or playing games on my phone. If I need a more extended break, I try not and make it more than two or three days. If you go too long, you are liable not to go back to the draft. Usually, during that time, I work on something else so that I am still writing. Often I will use a writing prompt from Pinterest or Instagram that I saved.

The good news is, once you get past that terrible middle, you are 80 percent done with your novel. You are also at the point where a lot of the action happens, which makes the last 25,000 words fly by quickly. The hard part about the ending for me is the final scene. Sometimes I know what I want the final scene to be, and other times I have no clue how to end it. As I mentioned earlier, I know how I want the first book to end more or less.

Editing has also been a tricky area for me. Luckily I have been doing some research and have been reading some books on editing strategies to find one that works best for me. After I finish this draft, I am going to treat myself to something good. I have a few ideas of how I might treat myself. I’ve wanted a desk for a while now. Right now, I am using a bulky table that we used to use as a table extender for holiday dinners when the whole family came. I have my eye on a nice desk from IKEA. It has shelves and drawer space as well. The only thing I have to make sure is if it can fit my printer on it and still leave me with enough space. I also need to see if the top of it is enough to hold my big TV. If not, I may have to hang it on the wall, which would suck. I like it at this level because I don’t have to crane my neck to look up at it. I may treat myself to some books as well.

I will also be taking a break to reset my mind before digging into editing. I have heard mixed reviews on this. A lot of people dig into it right away. In the past, I have given myself a week or two and then dug back into it. Once I waited for about six months. Personally, for me, one or two weeks is not enough. And six months is way too long. Stephen King recommends a month and a half to two months. I am going to try one month. Mainly because I don’t trust myself not to extend it if I wait too long, during that month, I plan to compile together my editing research and looking at some more books, so I have a plan when I get to editing. I will also be doing some writing during that time. I probably won’t work on another novel because it is a short amount of time. I will more than likely write some shorter pieces and see if I can submit to contests.

What is the hardest part for you when it comes to writing? Do you treat yourself to something nice after finishing a draft? How long do you take between each draft and editing?