NaNoWriMo – Day 7-9

At the end of day 6, I was one day ahead of schedule.

Day 7 – Goal 1,667 (cumulative 13,333)
Wednesdays I have gymnastics, so I kept my goal to just a regular days worth of words. I made it with exactly 1,667. It was a decent day, and I continued to be one day ahead of the game. Actual – 13,333

Day 8 – Goal 2,000 (15,300)
Thursday nights I lift weights, but I don’t find that as disruptive as gymnastics. I figured I should be able to get a few more than a single days worth. As an added bonus, I had the house to myself so it would be nice and quiet. I came close with more than a usual day but didn’t make the full 2,000 I was shooting for. I just couldn’t get that final push to meet my goal for the day. Actual – 15,100

Day 9 – Goal 2,000 (16,100)
I wanted to keep working toward getting two days ahead. I knew I didn’t have a double day in me, but I figured I should be able to get par plus a few extra. Ya, I didn’t even come close. I was tired and lazy and only wrote 150 words. My lowest count so far. It has been a month of great word count days interspersed with miserable ones. This was a miserable one. Actual – 15,250

I’m at par overall, but I’ve lost the one day lead I had at the start of these three days. I guess for the next three days I’ll work first on getting one day ahead, then start pushing for two. It has been a bit of a roller coaster of a NaNo.

How are you doing so far? Have you had any miserable word count days?

NaNoWriMo: It Begins

This is not my first NaNo. In fact, I’ve won regular NaNo all 11 times I’ve attempted it. As the years have worn on, I’ve tried to change things up from time to time to make it a little more interesting. Some of the challenges I’ve given myself have included:

Year 2 – I wanted to finish and validate on the first day (the 25th at the time). I made it.
Year 5 – I wanted to get 75k. I wrote 80k and it remains one of my favourite NaNo novels.
Year 6 – I found myself pantsing for the first time.
Year 9 – I wrote from the perspective of the side kick. This was tough.
Year 11 – I set myself a Daily NaNo Challenge

This year, I have a lot going on that is outside of my control. This year, I just want to get 50,000 words in 30 days. I hope I won’t have any trouble finishing, but I don’t have the mental or physical space to make the challenge more interesting than a straight up NaNoWriMo.

I have an idea, a character, and 75% of a plot, and today I will find myself writing the first of (hopefully) 50,000 words. If you are writing for NaNo this year, I hope it goes well. If you are on the fence, jump in, take that risk!

Best of luck and I’ll see you at the finish line.

2017 in Review

Top five posts by views:
  1. NaNoWriMo – How many Words per Day? (2016 post)
  2. is a tie between NaNoWriMo – How to catch up if you’re behind (2015 post) and
  3. Finished Quilt – The Grace in our Stars
  4. Spring is Here (finally)
  5. Fauxdori – Bullet Journal Update

The top two posts weren’t posted this year. Both are about NaNoWriMo, and I can often tell how far through NaNo we are by which one is getting more views.

A Countdown of my Five Favourite Posts:

5.) My First Handbound Journal – I went to a local library program and learned how to make a journal.

4.) Raising a Reader – Why I think we should talk about making our kids “lovers of books and stories” instead.

3.) Handstands scare me, but I keep doing them – A lot of things scare me, among them are handstands.

2.) The Plot and the Rough Draft – I’ve been working on my MG Sci Fi and really enjoying the process.

1.) NaNo Daily Challenge – I set myself a daily challenge during NaNo, and I learned a lot. I plan to do something similar with many of my writing days this year.

Number of blog posts: 46

Visitors from around the world. I had visitors from 37 countries last year. The top five were: United States, Canada (my home country, so not a big surprise), the United Kingdom, India, and Australia.

Highest Activity Month
For the first time, November was the most active month on my blog, but that is probably because I posted almost daily updates during NaNo until I had finished. It had almost double the views of any other month.

What was your favourite post this year, on your own blog or someone else’s blog? Do you track the views on your blog?

Fauxdori and Bullet Journal Update

It’s been about six months since I posted an update on my bullet journal. I’ve made a few changes, but they’re all small. I love that I’ve hit the point with my bullet journal that I’m only making small tweaks as needed.

My Fauxdori
These days I carry three notebooks in my fauxdori. First is my current story notebook, next my bullet journal, and finally a scrap notebook. I’ve switch my bullet journal to be on the second elastic with the scrap notebook. I don’t care about being neat in the scrap notebook, so I never remove it to write in it. I pull out my story notebook frequently to keep it legible. Giving the story notebook its own elastic was a very small change, but  seems to have made a big difference in my willingness to pull it out as needed.

The rest of my fauxdori is the same, I have my picture insert around my BuJo and my plastic pocket around my scrap notebook.

My Bullet Journal
I’ve just switched to a large squared moleskine cahier. I’ve wanted one for a few months, but I had to wait to be ready for a new BuJo. I started a new one December 1st, and I LOVE the squared format. The lines are a bit smaller, so I have almost ten extra lines on each page. This is great for my monthly layout where I couldn’t fit on two pages. Now I can easily fit on two pages. One side for my days of the month and goals, the other for my fitness tracker and legend. The squares also make it easy to switch a page to be landscape instead of portrait. Love it!

BuJo Monthly fitness tracker page

Speaking of the fitness track, that was one big change I made a few months ago. I now have a monthly fitness tracker. I’ve kept it very simple. This month I’ve included each day of the month on the left, a column for the types of exercise I normally do, and a column for notes. Hopefully having all days of the month will allow me to track times when I stop working out. Last month I did very well until the end of the month when I took an unplanned week off. In my previous BuJo I didn’t have room to track each day. I could only include days I’d done something. (loving those extra ten lines).

Future log with calendar in bullet journal

The last change I made was to my future log. In my newest BuJo I’ve include a mini calendar next to each month. Sometimes when I’m trying to schedule something in an upcoming month, I run into trouble because I have no idea what days are weekends etc. This should help when my critique group needs to set the next meeting or when my Mom wants to know what day we should book a family dinner.

Everything else is pretty much the same. Daily logging, but I only migrate when I move to a new page instead of every day. I keep my collections few and far between. I index each month from the first to last page used for the month so I don’t have weird number sets because of collections. Instead of 1-2, 4-6, 8, 11-12, I just have 1-12.

Do you use a Bullet Journal? What little changes have you made that made a big difference?


Moving on from NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is over, and it was a success. I enjoyed the novel I was working on, but in December I’m going back to my MG Sci Fi project. I want to use this project as a learning experience for a deep, full, edit. I’ve finished many manuscripts (~8). But I’ve never managed to completely edit a piece to my satisfaction. Getting something polished is definitely the next challenge I need to face as a writer.

Hence my new writing goal of ‘Finishing a Novel’. Not just a finished draft, but an edited polished novel. I’m excited and nervous, the usual emotions I feel when starting a new writing challenge. I’ve laid out the steps to get a complete first draft. I’m looking for something a little cleaner than a rough draft (I write fast, so I write what I call a rough draft *ahem* sometimes very rough). If my novel were a house, I’m looking for a house with good bones, not the renovated house of my dreams. Once the first draft is done I’ll move onto deeper edits to get to a second draft, then hopefully get a final draft after a good polish.

My plan to get to a first draft:

  1. Work out the seven point plot for this novel. This concept was pointed out to me by my friend @catereads. It’s a great way to get a plot outline.
  2. Write up a final detailed plot.
  3. Move the scenes I have to fit the final detailed plot.
  4. Finish writing the rough draft.
  5. Do one read through, and edit to the point where it makes sense (and I’m not missing any scenes). Considering how many scenes I know I’m moving, this might take a while.

So far I’ve finished number one, and I’m working my way through number two. I’m feeling excited about the task though.

What are you working on these days? How many finished, but unedited, manuscripts do you have?

NaNo Daily Challenge

On October 30th, I took Mary Robinette Kowal’s No Prep NaNo Course. I’d heard she has great courses and wanted to try one. This one fit in my schedule, my budget, appealed to my interests, and was timely. The course was great, and I learned a lot.

The thing that really got me though, was an off hand comment she made. She mentioned that she thinks NaNo is a great time to work on skills. She will often pick a specific skill to work on each day. That really clicked for me. I enjoy NaNo, but I seriously considered taking a break from it this year. I’ve won ten years in a row, and it’s a LOT of writing to fit into a single month. But suddenly I had this idea of using the entire month of November as a way to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy (in the words of Miss. Frizzle). Suddenly all of November has become exciting again.

There are plenty of things I want to improve on in my writing. So many that, I’m often crushed under the weight of trying to remember and deal with all of them at once. This year I’ll focus on one issue at a time, and I’ll deal with the rest in edits. I’m calling it my Daily NaNo Challenge. I like love lists, so I’ve made a list of the first seven days worth of challenge points below. I’ll post a new list each week (the 13th, 20th, and 27th) Feel free to make your own list and start tackling some of your weaknesses. I’m calling this my #NaNoDailyChallenge

  1. Use more than sight to describe things (touch, sound, taste, and smell)
  2. Focus on making dialogue sound natural
  3. Your main character isn’t perfect. Show their flaws.
  4. Remember to show, not tell
  5. Don’t start every paragraph with a name or dialogue tag
  6. Use “yes, but” or “no, and” to solve problems
  7. Show your characters emotions through actions

What are some of the things you’re trying to focus on in your writing? Have you started writing yet?

It’s NaNoWriMo time – Are you Ready?

grey notebook for NaNo 2017Tomorrow the yearly marathon of writing, called National Novel Writing Month, starts. Hopefully you feel ready. Ready for your fingers to fly, your imagination soar, and your stress level to rise. Ok, so that last one isn’t as exciting. I don’t think there is any advice that can completely take the stress out of NaNo, but I think it can be helped by being prepared. Also this is a personal challenge, that means you have the ultimate control over your goals and intensity.

If you are looking to get more prepared for NaNo, I might be able to help. My NaNoWriMo Series from 2015 still has a lot of valid information and ideas. It starts with How to get ready, and includes an entire post of tips and tricks to make the most of the month. I think the most important thing to remember is that NaNoWriMo should be fun, at least some of the time.

This year, I’m aiming to keep something of a journal to track my progress. My plan is to post twice a week, although I might choose to post more often than that. I want the updates to be brief and to the point, but hopefully they will serve as a record of what my NaNo experience was like this year. My first update will probably be on November 2nd. If I manage to get any words on November 1st, they will be too late to want to talk about them once they are written.

Are you ready for NaNo? Do you find NaNo stressful?

Time to Prep for NaNoWriMo ’17

Three weeks to NaNoWriMo. It’s time to get ready!

Getting Ready
I’ve already signed up on the NaNoWriMo site with my novel for this year. Have you? This year, I’m going somewhat down the middle between pantser and plotter. I want to have a very simple plot, so I am not floundering, but not so much I feel guilty if I want to go in a different direction. Now I need to start filling up my story notebook with ideas, plot points, and some character outlines. I’ll add to my notebook as I go.

Story Idea
This year I came up with my story idea without any real work. The basic plot and main character just sort of dropped into my lap one day and I made a few notes in my bits and pieces scrivener file. That folder is the first place I look for inspiration for NaNo novel ideas. If I hadn’t had an idea ready and waiting, I would have done some brainstorming work to find something to write about.

How many words per day?
I’m thinking about trying something a little different with my daily word goal this year. I’ve written before about how many words I like to write per day during November, but I came across something called the reverse NaNo, and I think I’ll try it this year. Basically with a reverse NaNo you write 3,346 words on Day 1, and then write a little less each day until on the 30th you only need 1 word to finish. Currently I’m sticking with a tradition word goal of 50,000, but who knows. If I’m having a good year, maybe I’ll up it.

Other NaNo Posts
I did my first NaNo in 2007. Since then I haven’t missed a November. With ten wins under my belt, NaNo is something I post about fairly frequently. In 2015 I even did a series of NaNo posts.

Are you doing NaNo this year? What are you doing to get ready?

Fun with Writing – Character Swap

When I start to lose motivation to write, or when writing has lost the spark that makes it enjoyable, I often look for a new writing exercise to get me going again. Lately, I haven’t been writing as much as I should. Life has been busy, I mean really busy, but I also just haven’t been interested in writing. Nothing has grabbed me to the point of needing to write. So, to get myself going again, I set up a new writing exercise with a friend.

With NaNoWriMo ’17 prep in full swing, it is the perfect time to shake things up a bit. I’ve had a concept and a main character for a few months. My friend, after some group brain storming, has a world and a basic concept. The main area we are both lacking … characters. Hence our Character Swap idea.

We each wrote out a very short paragraph about our story, and filled out a questionnaire about our main character. The usual stuff: name, age, what they look like, skills, job, family, weaknesses, annoying habits, etc. Then came the fun part. We each got to make a character for the other’s story.

I often find myself falling into the trap of fitting a character to a story, instead of letting the character be an individual who happens to be a part of this story. The joy of this swap was that I couldn’t do that. I didn’t have enough information on what she is writing about to tailor the character to the story. I did consider why this person and the main character would be friends, but also tried to think about my own friendships – why we fit, and how much do we really have in common? It was fun to make a character without worrying about the story they would be put into, or what they could give the main character. Maybe I need to focus on my characters earlier in my planning/plotting phases.

What are some writing exercises you have enjoyed? Have you started planning for NaNoWriMo?

My First Handbound Journal

Floral covered handbound journal.Last night I went to a program about bookbinding at my local library. The two hour session started with a brief introduction, and then we got to make our own journal/notebook. You can see mine on the left. I’m really happy with how well it turned out, especially for a first attempt!

First we had to select the pieces that would become our journals. We needed cardboard for the cover, 36 pages for the inside, thread for the binding, and decorative paper to wrap around the cover.

Next up were the supplies to put everything together. Scissors, glue, needle, pencil, a thimbles, and an awl. In the end I didn’t find the thimble overly useful, and while the awl was great for putting the holes in the cover, I preferred a large needle to make the holes in the paper. The needle I used for threading the binding was curved, and it made the whole process nice and quick.
bound edge of journal

I decided to use one coloured sheet for the outside of each section (in this case six sheets stacked and folded in half). This meant, as you can see on the right, each section of the binding was bright and colourful. In the green sections I used dotted paper, and in the rest plain paper. We assembled the journals using a kettle stitch. It was easy to learn, and once I got the hand motions down, surprisingly fast.

I really enjoyed making this journal, and can definitely see myself making more. I think I’m going to use the plain sheets in this one for some smaller writing projects that don’t need an entire notebook. The dotted pages are going to be used for quilting sketches.

Have you done any bookbinding? Do you know of any great online resources for learning more about book binding?