The First Draft

on Sunday, November 29, 2015
    The first draft of a novel is a huge deal. It's a major accomplishment for any writer to achieve. You spend hours and hours plotting and planning and staring at the computer screen in a crazed caffeine induced state. And writing that last sentence is when all your hard work pays off and you're finally done. You can say to the world, "I wrote a novel!" And you can share everything you've done with the world.
    But in reality, finishing the first draft is only the second step to writing a novel, and you're not even close to be ready to share your writing with the world.

    In high school, I ran track. I was a sprinter. I ran the 100, 200, and 400. The 400 was my favorite because it was all about pacing. You couldn't start off sprinting because you'd be dead by the end. So you'd start off at a more mild pace and save the sprinting until the last leg.

Famous First Lines

on Tuesday, November 24, 2015
    The hardest part about writing a book is always the first chapter. We write it over and over again because there's far too much pressure on a single sentence to capture attention, and a couple thousand words to do too many things. It's the readers' first impression of a story, and first impressions are important. 
    Here's what a first chapter is supposed to accomplish-

  • Introduce action and conflict
  • No backstory
  • Ground the reader in the setting
  • No backstory
  • Introduce an intriguing character
  • No backstory
  • Leave the reader wanting more
  • And one last thing- No backstory

    Yeah, maybe I made a big deal about the whole backstory thing, but it's the one piece of advice you see all the time for first chapters. And it's also the hardest.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Week 2.5

on Wednesday, November 18, 2015
    I was supposed to post some inspiration today as it is midway through the week but I have something far more important to share.
    I finished Powerful.

    That's right. I finally finished. The idea came to me September 2014. I wrote the first first chapter the day I got the idea. And I planned out the first few chapters, then I stopped because it was distracting from what I was working on. I didn't return to it until December when I was doing more thorough plotting and character sketches, but I didn't actually start writing it (for real, because the original first chapter was mostly me spewing crap to get all my ideas out) until January 18th, 2015. I finished the first draft November 17, 2015. 

NaNoWriMo 2015 Week 2

on Sunday, November 15, 2015
    Here's my stats so far:

Week 1- Started at 64,497 - Ended at 81,093 - Wrote 16,596
Week 2- Started at 81,093 - Ended at 91,383 - Wrote 10,290

    Not as impressive as week one, but still good. I passed the 90,000 word mark, which was super awesome and I celebrated yesterday with a 44 oz Dr. Pepper with a shot of blackberry from the nearby soda shop, and I relaxed and watched some tv to recover even though I wanted to plow through another chapter. See? I learned my lesson about pushing myself too hard and I took some time to relax and recharge. It slowed my pace, but I'm feeling a lot better now that my headaches have calmed a bit and I can actually focus.

Take Care

on Wednesday, November 11, 2015
    Today I'm taking a "me day" because I've started to wear down. I was crazy productive last week because I was riding that NaNoWriMo/writing the climax/caffeine high and I was crazy. But what happens when you spend a week staring at a computer screen writing and doing nothing else? You burn out.

    I made the classic mistake of pushing myself too hard and not giving myself enough time to relax. I can feel it in my neck too. My muscles are way too tense and it's giving me really bad tension headaches. And my biggest problem when I work myself too hard is that in my exhaustion, I oversleep to compensate. So rather than staying productive, my brain shuts down and it becomes too difficult to focus. 
    I was good for a little while because I'd reward myself when I reached my goal (which was usually writing a chapter) by reading for a bit or watching a new episode of a tv show. And I know exactly when everything changed. I went on Hulu to watch the new episode of one of my shows only to discover that there wasn't a new episode. I had all this excited energy to burn and nothing to do with it, so instead of finding some other way to spend my break, I turned back to writing. I got three chapters written that day, which is awesome, but I kept riding that productivity wave and stopped giving myself time to breathe.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Week 1

on Monday, November 9, 2015
    Well, the first week of NaNoWriMo has ended and here's where everything stands so far:

Week 1- Started at 64,497 - Ended at 81,093 - Wrote 16,596

    That's pretty awesome, right? I got 7 chapters written out of the 15 I had left. That's right, I got almost halfway through my entire November goal in 1 week. I had some really great writing days, and some pretty bad writing days. The good news is that I'm still writing.

Writing is Hard

on Wednesday, November 4, 2015
    Any artist knows that their work is hard. Painting, writing, music, etc. These tasks are so difficult because progress is hard to track. Any designing is done purely in the mind, and sometimes thoughts are too convoluted to sort out and put onto paper.

    So many people read books and think, "This can't be that hard." I mean, how many times in school did you have to write papers and essays? All you have to do is keep talking but on paper. It's easy!
    First off, you need characters. Then you need a setting, plot, character development, conflict, resolution, world building, genre, etc. Not to mention somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 words. And it all has to fit together so perfectly that the genre makes sense with the setting, the setting influences the characters, who influence the plot, which in turn causes character development, creating the conflict and eventually leads to the resolution. 
    It's almost like thinking forwards and backwards at the same time while sitting on your head and trying to keep all the blood from rushing to your brain while flying a pig when you can only look in a mirror so everything is reversed. Or a much simpler comparison- keeping the house clean when you have kids.

NaNoWriMo 2015

on Sunday, November 1, 2015
    Happy November everyone! You know what that means- That's right it's National Novel Writing Month! Hooray!

    In case you missed my NaNoWriMo posts from last year, you can find all 9 here. It consists of Pep Talks taken from NaNoWriMo's website and updates on how my writing went. Last year my goal was to get 20,000 words written by the end of the month and I ended up writing 20,226 words. I posted a weekly breakdown on December 1st. My goal was small because this was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo and because I was working at the time.