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?

 

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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?

Critique Group – Part One – Setup

I’ve been thinking about my critique group and how it fits into my writing lately. Before I post about some of that though, I thought it would be helpful to have some background on the group I’m a part of. Please keep in mind I am far from an expert in critiquing. A few things of note:

  • This is the only group I’ve been a part of, and the only one I’ve started.
  • Everyone in this group had met in real life prior to starting the group.
  • We meet in person, virtually, or a mix of both once per month.

Some background
Last January my friend Cate and I set out to start a critique group. We had both hit the point in our writing where we knew it was time to share, but we weren’t sure of the best way to do that. After reviewing our options, we decided starting our own critique group made the most sense. When we sent out the invitation for people to join our group, we were aiming for a group of four to six people including ourselves.

The group started with five people, but we currently have only three members. We’d love another member or two, but we are an acquired taste in some ways, and I think having now been working together for a while it’s harder to bring in another person.

When we started the group we were very deliberate in setting the tone, structure, and expectations. We talked about what people wanted to get out of the group, and how much time people had to devote to the group. We laid out the ground rules and expectations for members. This really helped when we were getting started and means that going forward we have a plan in place. A few things we discussed/laid out included:

  • How long will submissions be, and what is the max number of submissions the group can handle per month?
  • When will we submit, how often will we meet, and how will we meet (in person or virtual)?
  • What types of writing can be submitted (age and genre), and is there anything someone is not comfortable reviewing?
  • What are our guidelines when doing the critique, and how are we sharing our comments with the writer?
  • How will we handle people who ask to join, or asking people to join?

Are you part of a critique group? What are some of the ground rules your group follows?

Planning Ahead

I’m a planner and an organizer. I like to be prepared, and I like to think ahead. Of course I often don’t have time to plan ahead on everything, and sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. Maybe a better statement is that I try to plan ahead.

As I have begun completing my first quilts, I’ve been looking ahead to new ones. Currently I have two quilts that need to be moved through the next stage. The first is the Mystery Quilt that needs to be quilted and bound so it is ready before the baby it is intended for is here. The second is my son’s bed quilt that needs to be pieced into the completed top.

My lap quilt top is finished, but until I have time and space to quilt it, it will stay as is. What this all means is that very soon I’ll have space in my quilting to start a new quilt top. Making the blocks and putting them into a finished top is my favourite part of quilting. The quilt tops I’d love to make at some point are:

  1. Pow Wow type quilt for my Mother. She likes the look, and I like that it has a flying geese type piece that would be new to me.
  2. Carpenter’s Wheel big block quilt. I really want to try Y-seams. This one won’t come until after the first though.
  3. A Moonlight Starts quilt. This would be made as an upgrade to the lap quilt I made for my husband. I’ll probably end up making this one sometime after the pow-wow and before the Carpenter’s Wheel. He really wants a quilt made entirely by me.
  4. A wrapped in Red quilt. I wouldn’t do this with Christmas fabrics. It would probably be red and white though. Since this one would be for my bed and much bigger than anything else I’ve made. I would make the top, but I’ll pay someone to do the quilting on it. Who knows when I will get around to this one!

Most likely the lap quilt for mom will be the first I make. It will be fun to pick the fabrics with her, and then make the top. The quilting on it will be a little ways down the road, but she is always very understanding of how long projects take me.

Do you plan a few quilts in advance? What projects are you working on right now?

Stretching my Skills

I recently stumbled across an old post by Piecemeal Quilts discussing the ‘dumbing down of quilting’. For me the important part of the post wasn’t the discussion on what counts as intermediate, but the idea that we should challenge ourselves instead of relying on the same basic skill set.

I’m pretty good at applying this strategy to my writing. I try and write deeper characters, more relaistic dialogue, or to not give the ending away in the first scene. It doesn’t come easily or naturally and it’s often unsuccessful, but I keep trying.

After reading Piecemeal’s post, I realized I couldn’t say the same for my quilting. I haven’t moved beyond squares, half square triangles, and a few rectangles. Those are all important skills. Those skills are all you need to make beautiful quilts, but there are other things I could be working on. I don’t need to expand my skills. I could continue to make beautiful quilts with those shapes. The more I think about it though, the more I want to expand my skills. I want to stretch my quilting self.

This year I’ve set a goal of finishing three quilt tops, and three quilts. I want at least one of those quilts to include a new to me skill. I’m planning on a quilt for my mother that includes (kind of) flying geese. I have also bookmarked a quilt that includes diamonds and y-seams. My plan is to tackle the flying geese, which should be fairly straight forward, then move on to the diamonds and y-seams.

At this point I don’t plan to ever move onto curved seams, but I won’t rule it out completely. I want to quilt for many years to come, and over those years I’d like to think my skills will improve and maybe I’ll be ready to jump into something that seems crazy to me today. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I said I wanted to make quilt tops, but not quilt them.

Do you have any skills you’re planning to stretch this year? What writing or quilting projects are you working on?