Failing at NaNoWriMo and Other Adventures!

November has been the month I failed at everything and I’m okay with that.

I’ve been looking forward to participating in NaNoWriMo since last year when I started watching vlogs about it. There is something so inspiring about watching someone complete a book in thirty days. As the year went on, however, NaNoWriMo slipped to the back of my mind and by the time October of this year rolled around, I started thinking about it again. For the first two weeks of October, I debated with myself on whether or not I should actually participate in it. A week before NaNoWriMo started, I told myself I was going to do it. I had it all planned out. I was going to write two thousand words a day and it was going to be so easy. I was going to have everything on a schedule. I was going to be ahead of the game and although the book would not be finished when I hit fifty thousand words, I was still going to feel like I’d accomplished something.

And then two days before NaNoWriMo started, I decided to start a new, lighter story–something just for NaNoWriMo. Needless to say, this idea blew up in my face big time. I didn’t start actually writing until the fifth day of November. That day, I wrote close to four thousand words and then I gave up. Not because I didn’t think I could catch up, but because there were other things going on.

So, I’ve been expanding this website and trying to plan out my future, or at least figure out what I’m going to be doing for the next few years. I have a degree in Scriptwriting but I live in Missouri. I can’t really use my degree until I move closer to one of the coasts; I’m just being honest with myself. During this economical draught, all of us in St. Louis are experiencing, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to either get a second job or start marketing myself as a freelance writer for a little side income. You see, although the main focus of my degree was film and television I had to take the same core curriculum as journalism, mass communication, and public relations students. So, I’m actually well versed in commercial writing and I’ve been trying to market my services.

Around the time I started NaNoWriMo I actually got a client that wanted me to do some technical/legal writing for them and build them a website. I was super excited about this opportunity but I was really nervous because I’d never done legal writing before. If you can understand something and mimic it, then you can learn any type of writing style but the thing about legal documents that will catch you up a bit is the fact that there is rarely an example or template you can work from. So, while I was coming up with a story for NaNoWriMo and trying to get caught back up, and expanding the website and promoting my other services, I was also working really hard on something I’d never done before. I wanted to do well on this, not just because someone was paying me to do it, but because it was a legal document that was going to help them start a business. I was very upfront with them about not having done any legal/technical writing prior to their assignment but they had faith in me and they were patient with me. The final version of the legal document turned out very well and after it gets notarized by an attorney, I’ll get started on building my client’s website.

As far as NaNoWriMo goes, I’ve failed and I’ve come to accept that but I’ll be ready for it next year.

Growing Frustrations With My WIP

If you’ve been following my “Writing Logs” you may have wondered why I haven’t posted the latest one yet. Here’s a bit of an explanation.

So, I haven’t been writing because I’ve become frustrated with my story. I don’t hate my story. I love it. I haven’t jumped ship or anything like that, I’ve just grown frustrated because I realized that I started the story too early. I’m an over writer—that has always been my problem which is why I didn’t freak out at the idea of writing an 85,000 word novel in 3 months. I thought it would be a fun challenge but now I’m just sitting here frustrated because I’ve come to the conclusion that my first act is dragging on. It’s not boring but I’m also aware that a lot of this information can be cut down and told in a more engaging way to make sure my pacing stays in a good range. If I shorten the first act, everything moves faster. The only problem is, that would mean a rewrite is coming.

I should wait until the second draft to fix it all but the fact is, I have to get through the first act in my current outline; I still have two more chapters to get through. That’s about 8k more words/2 more weeks of writing something I know I’m going to cut and rewrite. I’m frustrated. I love this story so much because it’s helping me work through a lot of internal emotional turmoil I’m dealing with right now and I don’t want to give up on it. Sigh.

Writing Log 5: Trying to Balance Writing & Working

Day Twenty-nine—Sept 17, 2017

Today was a pretty good writing day. I hit 1k before sunset and I created a character and subplot that was unplanned. The only reason it’s staying in the story is because it helps me fill in my main character’s back-story without a whole bunch of exposition and the character will help me wrap up one of the larger storylines. It’s great when that happens. I killed two birds with one stone and the character is a fun character to write because she can be used to show what the world looks like from the perspective of someone who is not part of the main plot.

Total Word Count: 13,586

Day Thirty—Sept 18, 2017

Today was my first day back at work. I work evenings and nights so I decided to write in the morning. I feel that it’s important to note that I’m not a morning person so actually getting words on the screen was hard but once I got going, everything seemed to flow.

Total Word Count: 14,859

Day Thirty-one—Sept 19, 2017

My brain and my hands needed a rest day.

Total Word Count: 14,859

Day Thirty-two—Sept 20, 2017

So, after I wrote the sentence above, I shut down my computer and tried to fall asleep but I couldn’t. So I turned my computer back on and started making changes to one of my central characters. For the past few days, I’ve been trying to decide on whether to use a Western name or an Eastern name for an Asian character I’ve been developing. It took two hours for me to decide to switch the name from a Western name to a more ethnic name. Because I’d stayed up to like 4 a.m. doing this, when I finally fell asleep, I slept hard. I actually overslept and ended up waking up really close to the time I had to leave for work. I rushed out of the house, trying to make sure I wouldn’t be late, only to realize I was actually an hour early. So, I went back home and wrote for about 20 minutes and then went to work. I couldn’t work on my story during my break because I am training a new employee.

Total Word Count: 15,044

Day Thirty-three—Sept 21, 2017

Work is killing my writing time.

Total Word Count: 15,209

Day Thirty-four—Sept 22, 2017

I wrote for one hour and 15 minutes before going to work. On my break, I couldn’t focus enough to work on my novel but I did start working on a blog post that I will publish probably four days after this writing log is published.

Total Word Count: 15,908

Day Thirty-five—Sept 23, 2017

Today was a productive day. I learned all about wood burning stoves because I wrote a scene that took place in a kitchen where someone had recently cooked. I used some advice from a video about World Building. I have a multicultural cast of characters existing in one location (much like the USA but on a smaller scale) so there is bound to be some differences between the ethnic groups and sub-cultures. But my world exists in a future in which the past has been largely (and forcefully) forgotten or ignored and the countries that used to exist are long gone. I’ve been struggling to describe people ethnically or racially without using terms that people in the story wouldn’t use because they are irrelevant to them and without using harmful stereotypes. So, thanks to the video I came up with the idea to use small bits and pieces of a culture to try to reinforce what I might be alluding to and it works great with the idea that these things were at some point, part of the culture but has been watered down over the decades as people were forced to assimilate as history was covered up.

So although my story is set in the future it is still a dark fantasy set in a medieval-ish pre-industrialized world because it is easier to control people in a world where the spread of information is slow and technology has regressed. I can honestly say that a lot of the ideas I’ve put into my world are the things that are happening around me. The idea of having the erasure of history become a running theme as well as part of my world building came from what is happening in the U.S. There are states, mostly southern, that are erasing important parts of U.S. history such as the reasons why the U.S. civil war started and the U.S. involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Angry parents have been posting their children’s syllabi and textbooks, highlighting areas of the text stating that the enslaved Africans were immigrants who immigrated to the colonies. And there have even been passages from textbooks that talk about the U.S. civil war as being a war over property versus a war over the right to keep enslaved human beings as property.

Everyday things happening in the U.S. have influenced how I’ve built my fantastical world. The rise in conservative influences in government helped shape my religious and political systems and the tension between the two institutes. Race relations both present and historical helped me write the history of the world and explain why there is tension between the Enhanced and the humans and even the level of classism displayed within the Enhanced species.

So, the big take away from this is everything you encounter in life can help you build a believable world. People say write what you know and that’s what I did. Even though my major plots are very fantastical, the blood and bones of this world are heavily grounded in the world we live in and I hope that whoever reads my book takes the time to reflect on some of the real world issues presented in it.

Total Word Count: 17,781

Writing Log 3&4: Procrastination and Finally Hitting 10k

Day Fifteen—Sept 3, 2017

I finally finished that scene I’ve been working on for the past week. Lucky for me, it reads pretty fast but it took forever to write.

Total Word Count: 9,311

Day Sixteen—Sept 4, 2017

I didn’t even open my document.

Total Word Count: 9,311

Day Seventeen—Sept 5, 2017

I realized that I wrote a scene that isn’t in chronological order and it wasn’t a flash back. I should probably fix that.

Total Word Count: 9,311

Day Eighteen—Sept 6, 2017

I actually wrote today. So, first, let me explain the last few days. I’ve been binge-watching a television show. I covered 28 hours worth of footage over the span of three days. But anyway, I finished the show so I’m back to writing. You know how you create all of these really cool things and then you have to figure out what they look like. That’s where I’m at right now. I created a world that isn’t set in a particular historical setting so now I’m constantly trying to mix and match my ideas with things that actually exist because I’m such a visual person. I wrote for about an hour and spent two hours learning about the different parts of the uniforms clergy wear and learning about medieval and ancient armor. I’m starting to lean towards leather armor because it fits in with my world visually, it looks cool and it’s pretty functional although it’s not the safest compared to metal. So, I’m thinking about placing metal armor only on certain characters to show their rank.

“I love doing all of this research on things that I’ll never use in real life,” I say sarcastically. One day, I learned about ancient sewer systems, toilets, and how to generate power in an age without electricity. Another day I spent five hours learning about medieval and ancient kitchens—how they worked, how they looked, and what was in them. Being a writer is the reason I know so many random facts, I swear.

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Nineteen—Sept 7, 2017

I’m sick because my brother got my mom sick and she got me sick, although she’s blaming him for getting me sick. Anyway, I didn’t write anything today, but I did do some world building. Now that I’m actually writing, some of the ideas I had for the world have either changed a little to better fit the story or they have become fleshed out. I worked on my mythology a bit and worked on descriptions of clothing worn by soldiers and members of the Cloth (religious figures).

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Twenty—Sept 8, 2017

I watched TV all day.

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Twenty-one—Sept 9, 2017

I watched Korean television again because apparently I don’t care about my deadline.

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Twenty-two—Sept 10, 2017

I can’t write in my room right now so I’ve been trying to write in the living room. When I sat down to write, everyone decided they wanted to have long conversations with me. I kept trying to write but by the end of it, I was no longer in the mood.

Total Word Count: 10,114

Day Twenty-three—Sept 11, 2017

Television and the chores that come with adulthood took up my writing time today. But let’s be honest, I’m also procrastinating for some reason.

Total Word Count: 10,114

Day Twenty-four—Sept 12, 2017

For the past week I’ve been binge-watching Korean dramas for some reason. They’re entertaining and distracting and whenever I go through internal struggles, I always search for distractions. Usually I just throw myself into my writing but this time I chose TV. I’ve finished four dramas with running times of 1 hour and 5 minutes per episode with anywhere between 16—24 episodes per drama. I’ve been watching a lot of TV.

I went back and read my story from the beginning so I could keep the same tone throughout the work. Plus, I needed to jog my memory on what has already happened.

Total Word Count: 10,468

Day Twenty-five—Sept 13, 2017

Didn’t even open the document.

Total Word Count: 10,468

Day Twenty-six—Sept 14, 2017

I wanted to write today but I ended up spending most of the day doing some online training for my job. I also had the sniffles so I took some cold medicine and went to sleep early.

Total Word Count: 10,468

Day Twenty-seven—Sept 15, 2017

I actually wrote words. Yay. These past two weeks have been weird. I haven’t been able to write. Like even when I sat down, the words just wouldn’t flow. And it wasn’t like I had writer’s block. I knew what I was supposed to write I just couldn’t. It was weird but I’m so glad whatever that was, has passed. I only had about 30 minutes to write today but tomorrow I’m pretty sure my word count will jump back up to it’s normal 1k.

I’m a month into this project—nowhere near where I should be word count wise—but I finally feel like I’m writing a book. It wasn’t until today that I slipped back into my standard literary style of writing. Yes, that means this whole time I’ve been writing the book the same way I would write a screenplay. Not format wise but style wise. It wasn’t until I looked over what I wrote today that I realized the reason my other stuff felt so dry (not boring just dry) was because it wasn’t as full as literary works can be. It was bare in the same fashion that screenplays have to be due to the limited amount of pages available. So later on, when I’m bored, I’ll go back and fix the first three and a half chapters but for now, I’m just glad to be writing again.

Total Word Count: 11,080

Day Twenty-eight—Sept 16, 2017

I wrote words two days in a row. I guess it is just like walking. You have to put one foot in front of the other in order to get anywhere.

Total Word Count: 12,264

Writing Log 2: What Type of Writing Hell Is This?

Day Eight—Aug 27,2017

I didn’t even open my document today. But can we all appreciate that Game of Thrones season finale? It was great.

Total Word Count: 6,747.

Day Nine—Aug 28, 2017

I wrote a little. I’m not un-inspired, I’m just sleepy for some reason. I worked on a smaller scene today and enjoyed how eerie it was. I’m starting to develop the dark undertones of what the Dream World (the barrier between different planes) is like. It’s definitely not the kind of place you want to wander around in by yourself.

Total Word Count: 7,504

Day Ten—Aug 29, 2017

I didn’t do any actual writing but I did do some plotting. I have a seven-page outline for this book but I’m super detail oriented. To explain better, I’ll tell you how I outline my screenplays. My screenplays run around 90 to 120 pages. My outlines for my screenplays are super detailed (because the beats for the scenes are included) and they usually run around 7 pages. My novel is probably going to be around 80-85k words. I’ve never tried to outline a book because all the ones I’ve written before have been pantsed. This one is planned and I’m still developing a way to outline this project. I tried for a few months to outline the book the same way I outline films and it didn’t work. I kept getting hung up on what to write next because of how big the project is. So I decided to use the same format I do my screenplays in, just not as detailed. That’s how I ended up with my current outline.

It tells me the beginning, middle, and end of my story. This outline also has the key plot points, subplots and character arks integrated into the overall story. I have three central characters so I had to figure out how to outline their journeys in order to make sure all three characters progressed. Today, I took some time to basically plan out the beats per chapter. I think doing the outline this way made it manageable and by the end of the first draft, my outline for this book will look like my outlines for my screenplays.

I’m realizing I may be too organized.

Total Word Count: 7,504

Day Eleven—Aug 30, 2017

I actually wrote words in the document today. Woohoo! After yesterday I was inspired to do something very stupid. I’m rewriting my prologue and first chapter. You know that sinking feeling you get as you write something that you know you’re going to have to rewrite later on down the road but you’re trying to push through and finish a project. That has been me this whole time. I have one scene that I feel is great. The rest of it is word vomit that barely explained what I was trying to express. So today, I took it upon myself to give in to my inner editor and re-write the problem areas. I completely rewrote the prologue and now it is so kick ass. And I’m currently working on the first chapter again to make it awesome as well.

I know, I should have left the inner editor in the dark hole it was in but it was really bothering me that my writing was so bad. And what made it worse was the fact that the events that happen in the prologue are super important and would be retold over and over again in the book from different character perspectives. So every time I was going back to fact check the prologue I was seeing how horrible it was. Today I wrote 2,025 words. Before this is done, I’ll probably write an additional 4 thousand words and then I’ll delete the older versions of the scenes. So when my word count suddenly plunges, you’ll know why. As of right now, I have my chapters broken down into scenes and I label each scene using numbers: Scene 1, Scene 2, etc. but now I have scenes named Scene 1.2. Also, I’m so close to the 10k mark. Too bad I’m going to lose so many words once I cut the older scenes. What type of writing hell is this?

Total Word Count: 9,529

Day Twelve—Aug 31, 2017

Sad day. I started cutting scenes. I would like to say that before I started cutting I’d made it to 11,283 words. My new word count is listed below. I’m sad now but it had to be done. I’ll probably reach 10k on day 14—two weeks after I started writing.

Total Word Count: 7,699

Day Thirteen—Sept 1, 2017

I decided to give myself a rest day, plus, I’m still bummed out about losing so many words.

Total Word Count: 7,699

Day Fourteen—Sept 2, 2017

I only wrote a little bit and I realized why my writing has slowed. This is the first “summer” I’ve had in four years. And when I say “summer” I mean duty-free summer—childhood-like summer. I’ve been enjoying this little two-week vacation from adult life but I know after Labor Day, adulthood is going to come crashing in and it’ll be back to schedules and work. The sad part is my word count will probably go up once I start working because I’ll have a set time for when I can write. Until then, I’ll be enjoying life. I am sad that I missed my goal for this week. I was hoping to hit 10k this week but it’ll probably happen on Monday or Tuesday.

Total Word Count: 8,204

Writing Log 1: Start With A Bang, End With A…Whimper?

Day One—Aug 20,2017

Last night I finished my seven-page outline in under three hours. I was so excited about this project. I thought that when I woke up the next morning I would still be excited and ready to write but I wasn’t. I guess I realized I no longer had my lack of an outline to hide behind. Suddenly I realized that this was the first book I was going to actively write with the intent of publication. I guess that frightened me a little bit. So I put off writing until after I watched Game of Thrones. I also had some problems with tense. I thought I was going to write in third person past tense limited and then I kept slipping back into third person present tense limited. I know a lot of people don’t like it but I’m used to writing in present tense. I’ve been writing films in present tense for four years. I guess it’s a little harder to shake than I thought. Prologue complete.

Total Word Count: 1,116

Day Two—Aug 21, 2017

I didn’t get a lot of writing done today although I can say it was much easier to write today than it was yesterday. I guess I was just rusty. The last time I wrote something in a narrative style, it was back in May so I can see how that happened. The Solar Eclipse happened today. That stopped me from writing earlier in the day and then after the eclipse passed, I got a headache and ended up taking a nap. I woke up from the nap a little later than I expected but the headache was gone and I was ready to write. Or so I thought. I ended up having to sit and think about what the city and certain rooms in the story looked like. I ended up looking at lots of pictures to try to match the vagueness in my mind with some real images to help me narrow down what things actually look like because I’m a visual person. But after that, I started writing and really loved it and then I started playing with Scrivener’s compile setting because…why not? I love wasting time. It’s midnight. I’m going to sleep.

Total Word Count: 2,142.

Day Three—Aug 22, 2017

So I thought I was going to get up and write but it was raining and my mom is so paranoid about the rain that I ended up pushing my writing time back. We did laundry today and that took longer than usual but overall today was a pretty good writing day. I also washed my hair today, so that’s a plus. 👍🏾 I think the hardest thing I had to do in regards to writing today was trying to figure out how to describe racial/ethnic markers on people without sounding racist. I never realized how much I relied on generalizations or cultural understanding until I tried to describe a diverse group of people in a world without our established countries and racial categories. I didn’t do as much writing as I wanted to but there is always tomorrow.

Total Word Count: 3,583

Day Four—Aug 23, 2017

Today I actually got up and wrote when I was supposed to. I only wrote for about 45 minutes before I took a break and went to the gym for an hour. When I got back, a laid around for a bit and watched a few YouTube videos before getting back to writing. Things were going well until I spent four hours on Netflix. Chapter 1 complete.

Total Word Count: 4,972.

Day Five—Aug 24, 2017

It was a good writing day, I just didn’t write for very long.

Total Word Count: 6,747.

Day Six—Aug 25, 2017

I picked greens, baked cupcakes, styled my hair and worked on a physical map of my fantasy world. I put off writing because my sister was supposed to bring my nephews and niece over, but in her typical fashion, she broke her promise. I’m going to bed three hours early because I’m irritated and I might have plans tomorrow that requires me to wake up before 8 a.m.

Total Word Count: 6,747

Day Seven—Aug 26, 2017

Oops. Not writing for the second day in a row, huh? I’m not trying to justify this, I’m just stating what happened. I had a really busy day. I actually got out of the house and had some fun. My sister also brought the kids over for a few hours and then I got drunk by myself and went to sleep early. It’ll be better next week. I swear.

Total Word Count: 6,747

The Blue Sky Tag

Hey everyone, this is going to be a different type of post today. I’ve been branching out and making friends in the blogging community and I was fortunate enough to be tagged by Anne Pyle to do the Blue Sky Tag. Here is her post. Check it out. She answered a different set of questions.

The Blue Sky Tag

 

Describe your life story in forty words exactly.

I was born in 1995—the middle child of three. I’ve always loved writing but before writing became my only viable claim for “fame” I used to sing and had aspirations to be a ballerina. Hahaha. Look at me now.

What is your favorite dessert, and why?

I love ice-cream. I’ve had affairs with cookies and cake but ice-cream has always been my love. I don’t know why I love it but when I’m really craving something unhealthy and lovely, ice-cream is the first and only thing that pops into my mind.

How did you come to be a writer?

I don’t know. I stumbled on it when I was younger. I’ve always loved movies and television. That love came from long nights staying up with my dad—our bonding time. I guess I just really liked the way stories made people sit and listen and as a child, that’s all you ever want people to do. Thus, I became a writer.

What made you pick your genre to write/publish in?

I love science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes, it can be a nice break from reality but the genre also allows you to talk about pressing social or political issues without it being all in the audience’s face. That is why I write primarily in sci-fi/fantasy. I plan to publish in sci-fi/fantasy for a very different reason.

I started wanting to publish works of sci-fi/fantasy once I became old enough to question the lack of diversity in the genre. The lack of racial diversity. Location diversity. Economic and social diversity. Sexual orientation and religious diversity. Diversity within the authors themselves.

What is your favorite aspect of the writing community?

It is not as competitive as journalism, which is where I started at when I was trying to become a professional writer. I also enjoy the idea that we exist in all cultures and lifestyles.

How magical was your experience with your first burrito?

Must not have been mind-blowing because I don’t even remember it.

Tell me all about your love for–or hate of–a warm gooey brownie.

I love the chocolate and the warmth of one that’s fresh out of the oven. I can envision myself eating one right now with some vanilla ice-cream.

How did you learn from your worst mistake?

I consider myself a humble know-it-all so when I’m wrong or I fail, I take it to heart and I try not to repeat whatever it was that made me fail/wrong.

Cat person, or dog person? Or bird/lizard/snake person?

I’m a dog person. I grew up with dogs and they seem friendlier. I have friends who have cats and I think they’re adorable but dogs have my heart.

What has being in your family taught you about writing?

Every family gathering will unfold like a paperback novel. Complete with a beginning, middle and end.  Laced with surprise guests and plot twists.

 

My questions for the Blue Sky Tag

  1. If you could time travel, would you? If yes, where would you go and why?
  2. What is your favorite color?
  3. Tell me something you’re really bad at?
  4. Who is the one person who can make you smile even on your worst day?
  5. What is your favorite childhood snack?
  6. What was the last television show you watched?
  7. What country are you from?
  8. If you had magical powers, what would they be based on your personality?
  9. What is your favorite music genre?
  10. How old were you when you got your first cell phone?
  11. How was your day?

Who do I nominate?

All of you of course. Comment below with your answers or do a blog post about them.