A Writing Space That Works For You

There’s something about being in the perfect spot to crank out the words of your next best-selling novel. Everyone has a certain “spot” where they find themselves the most productive.

Charles Dickens wrote at his desk.

Virginia Woolf wrote in her basement.

Stephen King wrote Carrie in his laundry room on his wife’s typewriter while she was working the second shift at Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Creating Characters Readers Can Connect To

While doing some brainstorming for my current WIP, I’m Not OK, I realized that one of my biggest struggles is characterization. I have a tendency to focus more on action than on creating a deep character that a reader can feel some true emotions for. I’m Not OK relies on the reader to feel what the main character, Mariah, is feeling. If they don’t, the whole thing falls flat.

Of course I browsed several different “character planning” worksheets and websites and ideas, but the idea of filling out a worksheet felt like drudgery. Perhaps it’s because I’m a teacher and worksheets are hella taboo now.

So I started brainstorming on my own. How can I begin to give some depth to my main characters in a way I won’t half-ass?

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Making Writing a Habit (or, How I Have Failed At It)

I have to give a round of applause to the people who have made writing something that they do everyday, even with full time jobs, kids, dogs, other hobbies, etc.

Every month I create my new planner spread and tell myself I’ll write just 5,000 words this month. Then I write zero.

When a big writing event comes around, and I know have support and people checking in on me, I write, but the last few years, it hasn’t been as much as I would like to. I’m mostly referring to NaNoWriMo. Last November, even with my students cheering me on, I got just 13,000 words in. Now I am so extremely proud of those 13,000 words, and they’re the beginning of a project that I am SOO SO SO passionate about.

I’ve spent the last month really planning out how to make this the best thing I’ve ever written. I feel like I have a huge opportunity with this novel and I want to do it justice.

Step one to doing it justice:

I NEED TO FINISH IT.

I’m on summer break, so I set the measly goal for myself to finish this novel. I’m at about 15,000 words. I can see it going to about 75,000, but I’m not dead set on a certain word count.

I’m one week into summer vacation, and I’ve written ZERO.

I’ve signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for July, but part of me is recognizing that my lazy self will probably not write anything until July 1st now, and if that happens, I won’t finish this this summer.

Writing is not a habit for me. My habits are watching Food Network and obsessively checking Facebook. I wish my habits could be working out, eating right, and writing, but alas.

I know I can correct this on my own. It’s as easy as just WRITING EVERYDAY.

But since it took me two hours to even write this, I guess that means I’ll start tomorrow. (and hence, my issue ha…)

If you make writing a daily (or almost daily) habit on top of the rest of your life, kudos to you. I aspire to be you. I have 8 weeks left of my vacation to change my habits before real life (teaching 7th graders) comes back around again.

Wish me well! (or tell me your secrets!)

NaNoWriMo Final Results

Okay okay

I’m guilty

NaNoWriMo has been over for 2 weeks now, and I never posted the final results! I know some of you were waiting too (and at least one of you commented a few days ago asking). I’m so sorry! I don’t know if you know this, but December is honestly the most stressful month to be a teacher. I’m #exhausted and we still have one week left until Christmas break. I took today as a personal day because tomorrow is birthday, yay!

So, in honor of my birthday, and of trying to lead a more productive 27th year, I give you…the results of my classroom NaNoWriMo 2018 project…

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Writing Through The Slow Parts

So I finally sat down and started thinking about where my novel is going. Because I’ve been trudging through this section I’m on for DAYS and it’s been a struggle. Honestly, it’s the reason my word count hasn’t changed in days – because I DON’T WANT TO WRITE THIS SCENE.

So there are two recommendations if this becomes you.

First, you can SKIP IT! Move past it! Write the next scene that you actually want to write! Why should we spend hours and days and weeks struggling through a scene we hate? We can just add that scene later, when perhaps we can see exactly what point we need to get to. Plus, one could argue that trudging through a scene/chapter will just make for more crap we have to revise later when we’re done. It’d almost probably be easier to just add in the scene later than to revise the one you already wrote (plus, what will you have to change later in the story that you changed in your revision?). 

Struggling through a scene means we’re not enjoying what we’re writing. And if we’re not enjoying it, how can we expect our readers to enjoy that scene as well?

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The Winning Has Begun!

It’s time for another update, and so close to the last one!

Exciting times are among us, y’all. EXCITING TIMES. I invited students to update their word counts and revise their goals, and there are some BIG CHANGES TO TELL YOU ABOUT.

I SPEAK IN ALL CAPS WHEN I’M EXCITED.

Total Words Goal:452,03361
Total Words Written:104,162
% of Total Goal22.57%

104,162 WORDS!

WHAT!? I literally cannot believe how much that number jumped just today alone!

The % of total goal amount increased significantly because quite a few students lowered their word count goals, and I had 2 students back out completely (I only asked that question to those who are falling behind on school work). 

AND THEN

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Whoaaa, We’re (Almost) Halfway Through NaNoWriMo…

Whooaaaa, I am SOOO BEHINDDDDDD.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 7.34.39 PM

It really blows because up through day 6, I was ON A ROLL. I was keeping up with the recommended word count per day everyday. And THEN the weekend happened. I came into it with every expectation of getting ahead, and then it just didn’t happen. To be honest, I slept a lot this weekend. I call it self care, though, because after the three day weekend, I woke up this morning feeling quite ready for the week.

This week is always a harrowing one at school (especially middle school). It’s the week before Thanksgiving break. It’s only a 3 1/2 day week, so keeping the kids on task is a challenge for sure. We’re wrapping up the end of a project right now, so today was not so bad. I also think my not being in a terrible Monday (but not monday) mood helped.

So before I roll into an update on my students, I’m just admitting to the world that on Day 13, I have 11,000 words (and I should have 21,667 words). I’m NOT giving up on the big goal. I am off ALL next week, and even though we’ll be traveling back to Virginia to see my husband’s family, we’re super broke so I’m pretty sure I’ll have a lot of down time to work on my novel. I REFUSE to give up on this story. It has so much potential. I’m just stuck in the slow part right now. It’s about to move on from that though so I’m going to keep trudging on until something happens.

AND NOW. For the update many have asked about in comments: MY STUDENTS! Continue reading

Cinco de NaNo

and I’ve seen some great strides!

Not just for myself (like I finally figured out what my story is about LOL), but for some of my students! Gah!

I gathered as many word counts as I could today, but we had a district assessment, so I wanted to be sure the focus was on that, and that NaNo writing stays secondary to classwork. Sadly, I could not make NaNo the sole focus of the month, because our fiction unit already occurred, and we’re tested on expository writing, but there are still plenty of students helping us come closer to our goal! Continue reading

On the Second Day of NaNoWriMo…

this author gave to youuuu…

a sparkly book cover and a kinda-but-not-really-synopsis of her project this month!

I'mNotOkay

“Life is a big question mark, and anyone who thinks they have all the answers is wrong.”

Life after high school is a scary place, full of dark, twisty caverns of unknowns and questions. Mariah can’t seem to see past the darkness. Instead of fighting against the world, she’s in a constant battle against her mind. How can you win in the real world when your mind keeps telling you you’ll always be a loser?

Something about creating a book cover makes me feel really attached to a project. Like I can’t just forget it exists, because it has a cover. It almost exists as a book already.

I also LOVE sharing book covers when I make them, which then causes all my friends and family to constantly ask, “When can we read your book?” Continue reading