Camp Nanowrimo, the final day

CampNano-april2016

Yes, here it is! The final day of Camp Nanowrimo the April edition has passed by faster than I expected. And that is reason enough to make another blog post about my writing efforts this past month. There are some questions which have been playing on my mind these past couple of days.

Was Camp everything I hoped for it to be? Did I meet my goal? Am I happy with the results? What could I have done to improve my game? And what’s next? All legitimate questions at the end of a month which was supposed to be full of writing, plotting, character builds and so much more. So let me take some time to answer them one by one.

First of all I want to do a shout-out to my Nano-friends, we were in a Cabin together and even though I might not have reached my goal our group did reach the combined amount of words we’d pledged to write this month.

Was Camp everything I hoped for it to be?

Well, I certainly wrote more than I did in previous months, so in that regard yes it was. But before the month started I had hoped that this would be a sort of push in the right direction. I wanted to work on my story, at least that was the idea. Because I think that I truly have something interesting in my hands. Instead however I’ve been writing many different things, mostly blog posts and upcoming book reviews for my blog. I have been working on course assignments for a FutureLearn course and more. And I only spend one actual write-ins working on my actual story. I could have done better, that is as clear as day.

Did I meet my goal?

The short answer is no. Even if I’d passed the line of 10 000 words I would not have met my goal. My goal was to get back to writing on my story and that is not what happened.

What could I have done to improve my game?

Easy answer, sit my ass down behind the computer and work on the damn story or even just grab a notebook and start writing … instead I was more occupied with getting my Agent level up on The Division. Okay, I worked overtime, did a course for my job and started a course for myself. And I did work on blog posts, so I have certainly been writing. As previously mentioned my goal was to get back to working on my story and since I only did that one night I really can’t say that I reached my goal.

And what’s next?

If I decided to commit to Camp Nanowrimo in July I will really have to step up my game and I should probably work on my storyline and the plot for the rest of the story before I can actually do that. Because right now I’m kind of a loose cannon. I have no real idea of what to do next because I never got any  further than this point with my plot-line. That is what I’m going to focus on for the next few weeks. I need to get some new ideas for my plot and then I can actually commit to writing and reaching goals in writing.

Depending on what my writer’s group will do and how my plot-line progresses I will decide whether or not I am going to join Camp Nanowrimo later this year.

Camp Nanowrimo is fun and it certainly gets me to write more but so far I’ve never managed to reach my goal and win. I don’t mind so much because it’s less important to me than the November version of Nanowrimo. But it certainly is on my list of things I want to do.

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Better get your ***t together!

It’s time, time to get your shit together! The beginning of Nanowrimo is near, November is about to start and there are only two full days left for your preparation. Around me I hear sounds from different writers who are ready to start, either because they are ready with their outline or simply because they are pantsers. And start with a blank screen and a (hopefully) full mind on November first.  Other’s are getting frustrated with too many ideas and some just don’t know what to do. Everyone has their own approach to Nanowrimo and that is what makes it fun, you can learn so much.

As I’ve said before I’ve been working on my outline for a while. And I have answered many questions to get the creative juices flowing and get some new ideas. I didn’t finish my outline, simply because I can’t. I know where I want my story to go however at this point I don’t want to settle just yet. My outline goes from the start to just past the midpoint of the storyline and that is as far as I want it to go at this point. I think that while I’m writing the rest of the storyline will become clearer to me. Especially since I have to see how some of the characters interact throughout of the story.

Since I’m going to work on a rewrite for last years story the boards I created on Pinterest last year still apply for a big part. So I kept them and I will be adding to them when I find something I need or want to use. I like to keep it all in one place and using Pinterest means that I can access that information from anywhere. Which is a big plus!

Carepackage update

Per instructions on the package I’m not allowed to open it before November first. So I’m waiting … even if it’s difficult since I’m way too curious for my own good. So it’ll be Sunday night before I can actually open it since I won’t be home this weekend.

I’m so ready to start Nanowrimo!!!

Preparation is key – part II

Nanowrimo 2015 ParticipantLike I said in my previous post – Preparation is key – in my case the preparation really is the most important part of the process. I know that I can do the writing that ain’t the problem – I mean I’m not claiming that I’m good at it, just that I know how to do it. The problem is that while I’m writing I keep coming up with better ideas, which means that a lot of my writing ends up in the dumpster – so to say. And that’s a shame because there are a lot of hours I put into it, a lot of time spend sitting behind my computer fleshing out the scenes. And I knew that if I ever want to finish a story I have to start at the right place to really give it a chance to become as good as I can make it.

So in September I started thinking about my story (that’s not completely true I’ve been thinking of this story ever since November ended) – of course I’m doing a re-write so I already knew some of the changes I wanted to make in regards to last years version. At the same time it was also really clear to me that I needed more changes to make the story even more interesting and appealing.

Which is why I was reading through the book ‘Outlining your Novel’ and the ‘Outlining your Novel workbook’ by K.M. Weiland. I really like reading through the books, there were obviously things which I already knew but sometimes you just need that step by step explanation to get to the point of the matter. It also helps when the examples given are of a more modern nature – Star Wars, The Hunger Games and some movies that I’ve seen. Often – in other books – I’ve seen examples given by using the classic novels – I love reading yet I have to admit that I have never really read the big classic novels. So using those novels as examples doesn’t always work at least not for me.

About two weeks ago I came down with the flu and I had to stay home for about a week before I was feeling well enough to go back to work. During that week I was able to work on my outline and think about the scenes I want to use in my book. And I think that at this point I’m about half-way through the outline of this book. And I’m really excited to really start working on this story, I really feel like this could be an interesting story to tell.

Another part of preparation – The Nano Kick-off party!

Yesterday, October 24th was the day we held our national kick-off, in Utrecht like we always do. It was a really well-organized meeting. The only downside for me was that since I’ve been sick my voice has been really bad and during the afternoon and evening my voice became more and more of a problem. So it was pretty hard to talk to people – which meant that I basically kept to the people who I already knew. Nevertheless I did have a great afternoon, I enjoyed myself and I’m really glad that I went.

I also participated in the ‘care package exchange’, it was the first time that I actually took part in it and I really enjoyed myself.  I found some really practical, cute things to add to it.  When I arrived the Dutch ML’s (municipal liaisons) started laughing – the reason was that the person who made my package for me used the exact same wrapping paper as I did for my package.

The only downside is that the person who made my package is really testing my patience … it says that I can’t open it before November 1st. So I guess, I’m going to have to wait a little while longer.

There are only seven days left before Nanowrimo starts! Are you going to participate? What are you going to write about?

Preparation is key

Nanowrimo 2015 ParticipantPreparation is key. That is one of the things I have definitively learned the hard way these past years during Nanowrimo. Not that Nanowrimo has been hard these past years, that is not what I meant to say by that statement. During those November’s I was on a roll and nothing could stop me. But in December doubts started to roll around and I knew that I could improve the stories I was working on by changing a lot of different smaller and bigger things.

Where I made my biggest mistake last year

This is what happened last year. I had the idea for my story pretty much thought out, however not much of it was really planned out. I choose a point on my time line which was too far back – before the action. So when I reached the end of November and also that magic 50k line I was still getting into the story. The build-up was too slow and took way too long. It wasn’t bad, I got to develop some of the characters in depth – which I am sure I can use to my own benefit this year but not in the way I wrote it last year. More as background info and a better understanding of the characters I’m writing about.

That was a huge mistake I made, I could have thought it out better – took more time to go over the details polish it up before November. I didn’t, partly because I never before took the time to plot before I started working on a story. I read the book ‘Outlining your Novel’ by K.M. Weiland and as I said in my review of the book it helped me to get a better understanding of the process.

You have to start where the action is, grab the focus of the reader and keep them interested. I have been thinking about my story idea this past year and due to that reason I have also decided to change another significant character drastically. Last year my character ‘Ezra Miles’ was my main characters best friend. He took care of her and basically cared for her because she needed the help. However during this year I have decided that he’s going to be the exact opposite, he is actually one of the people who makes her life even more difficult. Reason for that is that I belief that it will make for a more interesting and surprising story.

What I’m changing this year

For instance yesterday I wrote the premise sentence for my story. Which I formed due to the answers I wrote down following the questions from the ‘Outlining your Novel workbook’ written by K.M. Weiland (which is also part of my Reading Challenge – there will be a separate review for this book). This premise sentence says enough, without revealing too much. Although I do think that it’s still a little bit too lengthy, but that’s okay I can live with that.

Silver Lining (working title)

Ainsley McCallum (protagonist) wants nothing more than to be a normal member of society. Instead she’s been living on the edge of her community (situation), because she never received her ‘sign’. When she finally gets her ‘sign’, she almost wishes that she never had (disaster) because she finds herself being chased by the Watchers (opponent). They want to stop her from reaching the people who might be able to give her the answers she’s seeking (objective).

Premise sentence – Nanowrimo 2015

I’m going to work through the book, see what I can use from it and if something doesn’t work for me I will see what I can change to get on with the work. I love it, I thought that plotting would be boring that it would take the fun out of the experience but so far it has been great. Although of course the real test follows in November. Will it still be fun to actually work on the story? Or am I going to be so done with it that I can’t get any real writing done?

I really hope that it doesn’t come to that, because with the year from hell that I have behind me I need November to be extra fun! And I really hope to accomplish something during November so that when I look back at this year I have something to look back on with a smile.

Book 19 – Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Outlining your Novel - K.M. WeilandI started reading this book with a mission in mind. As you can tell by this blog I’m once again going to participate in Nanowrimo this November. October has started and I have started my preparation as I’ve told in my last post was about Nanoprep ‘The countdown has started’. Given all that information I’m pretty sure that you can figure out why I started reading this book.

My reason and goal is to learn how to make an outline for a story, in this case an outline to help me figure out where my . Since I started out as a fanfiction writer and just a very basic idea is enough to get your story going. So there wasn’t really any need to outline –  or so I thought. Although I have to admit that I would have probably done a lot better had I used an outline for my fanfics. Because I just keep adding to the stories and I never really finish them because there is simply no ending. At any given time there are too many ideas floating around and too many story-lines to ever really finish them. Which is a whole different matter and I hope that I will get back to those stories one day, however that is not the reason why I’m writing this review.

For a while I have been reading the blog written by K.M. Weiland. Which is something I’ve really enjoyed doing so when I saw this novel and especially the topic, I needed to have it because I felt like it could teach me exactly what I needed to know or at least give me some pointers I could use during this month of preparations to get a real outline down before Nanowrimo starts.

It’s a really easy to read book with examples from books and movies throughout the years. For instance there are examples from movies like Star Wars and The Hunger Games but also from books like Wuthering Heights, which really helps with the explanation of the process of creating and outline step by step.

I really enjoyed reading this book and if you – like me – are struggling with making an outline I can really recommend this book. I also have the workbook, which gives you the assignments to create your outline one step at a time. Which is what I’m working on right now.

The countdown has started!

cropped-nanowrimo-2015-participant.jpgIt’s October first and for me – and a lot of other people – the official countdown has started.

The countdown to Nanowrimo, the countdown to a month filled with writing. And I am so excited! I love this month, I never expected that I would ever say that. Because in the past November was always that strange meaningless month. In October the weather can sill be really nice but in November it can be quite cold and in the mornings it takes long before the sun goes up and it goes down again really early in the afternoon. No matter how hard I tried November would never have the warm and cosy feeling that December has. Nor does it have the new feeling that January gives me. It’s old and boring and you are ready for something new and you basically know that you won’t get it for a while.

Since I started participating in Nanowrimo I’ve learned to love this month. I have found the warmth I needed in this cold month in the friends I’ve gained. Writing gives me something fun to do during those cold and dark days.

I started participating in November of 2009 and so far I’ve participated and won every time. It doesn’t matter how well you do, just the sheer fact that you have accomplished something like this gives you an amazing rush. And sharing that with a couple of friends who I’ve met through Nanowrimo is a great thing, because lets face it no one understands what it is that you’re doing or why you’re doing it. I’ve had people ask me if it’s just random words that I’m writing. My answer was obviously well yes, random words which form sentences and in turn make a story. Depending on the type of story you choose the words you need at random. Seriously, why would anyone write 50 000 words, what would you do, just start at the front of the dictionary and continue writing till you hit the 50k? I don’t know, I think that it’s a pretty weird question, maybe that’s just me.

Writing has been a creative outlet for a while. And while fanfiction has mostly been my way to do that I want to write a story, an original one. I’ve no idea how well I will do at it. So far I haven’t been doing too well, story-wise. I have been working on two original stories over the past three Nano editions. The first time I worked on ‘Mirrorland’ I was content with the way the story was going however I knew that the story was too passive, not interesting enough. So a year later I tried again, the results were better yet I knew that I wasn’t doing the story any justice. For now that story is in the fridge. I think that I can do better.

Last year I started writing another original story for which at that time I didn’t have a title. As I explained in my last post ‘Writer’s block – Part II’, that story beginning was way too slow. So this year I will continue the rewrite I started working on in April and hopefully with better results. For now I’m calling the story ‘Silver Lining’, maybe that name will stick maybe it won’t well see how things go once November really starts.

I’m getting ready for another great month of Nanowrimo writing fun! Are you going to participate? If you’ve never participated before and you want to join go over to the website and join the forum. If you want to participate in kick off’s, meetings or thank God it’s over parties join the Regional forums and connect with people who live in your country or region. You’ll have a blast, I’m sure of it.

Those are my reasons for participating in Nanowrimo. If you want to give Nanowrimo a try, join the forum. Just a little warning ahead from today until the 5th the Office of Letters and Light is working hard to prepare the forums for a new round of Nanowrimo which means that the website and forums might be acting a little weird. But that’s just temporary, nothing to worry about.

Writer’s block – Part II

Writer's blockA while back I talked about my writer’s block and I guess that in a way I am still struggling with it. I still haven’t written a word since that day – except for a couple of book reviews that is – since I wrote that last post. But the reason is very different this time. I had my two week summer vacation and while I might not have been writing I have been thinking about the story I tried to write during Nanowrimo in 2014 and partly started to re-write (for the better) during Camp Nanowrimo in April of this year. The more I was thinking about it the more flaws I could see. Annoying as that might be, I think it’s a good thing because I’m finally giving it the thought it deserves. I’ve always known that writing a book is a long and sometimes even a tad bit tedious when you keep going back over scenes or ideas to change things around.

I’ve always known that I needed to do more research before I actually start writing because it would make writing a story an easier process. However knowing and doing are two different things. Part of that problem lies in the way that I started writing, almost fifteen years ago. When I really became interested in writing, I mostly – like 99% of the time – wrote fanfiction. Too me fanfiction has always been something which you can choose to make as complicated and as elaborated as you want. But actually writing it is pretty easy. Now please allow me to explain that statement. Writing fanfiction is easy compared to writing an original story. The characters are there, the setting is done and even more importantly the back stories make some sense at least. You take those elements and create your own story. Whether that is a long story or just a couple of hundred words there is a lot of information already there for the taken. And your readers know those details as well, you don’t need to explain every little details to them. It’s easier to bring your thought across to your readers.

And that is what I mean by it’s easy. The writing process is still the same but the research is a lot less demanding. I’m now, in the process of actually understanding how demanding the whole research stage is, and it’s not just the research. It’s everything surrounding it as well, continuity is maybe even more important – or maybe just to me because it’s a pet peeve of mine.

Since I am at the moment unable to write any stories. And now that I’ve tried different things to overcome this writer’s block. Listen to music – for inspiration. Watch television shows in hopes that I get an idea to finish or prolong a certain scene. I’ve even asked my Nanowrimo buddies what they do when they are unable to write and I got some really good ideas which I can try to work on. But at the moment it doesn’t really work that way. I know for a fact that this writer’s block is stress induced. I’m usually really good at working under pressure, though pressure (usually caused by procrastination on my part) is really different from stress. Due to stress I feel uninspired and numb and unless a couple of things change which are unfortunately not in my hands to change I will probably feel this way for a little while longer. I can only hope that I will be back on track when November comes around.

Nanowrimo preparation

So I had to make a choice, I can continue to struggle on with my writer’s block or I can work on my preparation for this years Nanowrimo. At this moment I’m thinking of going forwards with the plan to continue writing the story which I started working on last year. I already started working on the first re-write during Camp Nanowrimo in April. I didn’t write much – only 10 000 words – however those 10k is a lot better than anything I wrote during November. In April I stepped directly into the action while the November version of my story was still building up to the action.

I’m choosing to push my worries aside when it comes to my creative writing and I hope that by the time November roles around I’ll be ready to conquer it once more. It’ll be my seventh year, I can’t believe it has been six years already.

Are you already planning your Nano novel? If so, how do you plan your novel?

Or are you one of those people who just starts writing when November first starts at the stroke of midnight?