Strategies for a Southpaw’s Resolutions

Photo by Kolby

Photo Credit: Kolby Kirk

The new year brings with it new beginnings, new relationships, new goals, and those pesky goals we didn’t quite meet last year.

As a PT student, we’re learning how to write goals for our patients, and it is easy to apply those lessons to New Year’s Resolutions. A declared goal is an accomplished one–or at least a more likely to be accomplished one. There are a few components that make a good goal: S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.  Here are my three biggest new year’s resolutions, how I’m going to achieve them, and how you can use my strategies for yourself.

I have always been a big reader, but as the demands of graduate school grow I’ve found myself turning more to mind numbing television, which, while entertaining, doesn’t provoke as much thought as a good book. Continue reading

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Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo Even Though I Know I Won’t Win

from http://dailystockshot.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html*

Last year was the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. You may have heard me talk about it personally or read one of the several posts I’ve written on it. NaNoWriMo was incredible.

I was dared to participate in the challenge to write 50,000 words in a month, and I exceeded that challenge. I ended on the 30th of November with over 60,000 words of a novel on my computer. Then I did the only thing I could think of–I kept writing. On December 27th, I typed those two fateful words: “The End.”
Since that day, I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through the draft, dusting plot bunnies away and putting dirt into plot holes. When someone mentioned NaNo to me a month ago ago, it got me thinking. Can I really do this all over again? The typical NaNoWriMo participant is tasked to write 50,000 new words during the month of November. This year participants can continue a work in progress, but I don’t have much new writing to do. I need to edit. To follow the rules, I’d need to begin a new novel.

The thought that keeps popping up in my head is this: I’m in graduate school now. My free time can be summed up in the moments I take to eat food while I’m studying. My goals have changed. Earning my doctorate is priority number one, but who says I can’t attempt  NaNo anyway? Start a new novel. Write 50,000 new words. The thing is, I don’t like to leave projects unfinished. Continue reading

Coming Back From Camp (NaNoWriMo)

Camp NaNoWriMo came to a close in July without me. While I kept up with my editing count for the majority of the month, I decided to take the last few days off to focus on another big part of my life: moving into my first apartment. (!!) The point behind NaNo in my opinion, is to set and achieve a goal. In November, the 50,000 word goal is supposed to be absurd. Writing 6-7 pages of a novel a day is a ton of work. But the brilliant thing about National Novel Writing Month is that it puts butts in seats and words on pages.

I won NaNo in the fall and Camp NaNo in April. I didn’t win Camp NaNo in July. What I did do was spend 28 hours in July editing my novel, pack up my room, raise a kitten, move to Indianapolis, and set up a new apartment (with vast quantities of help from my wonderful parents.) While I fell short of my 31 hour goal, I couldn’t be more pleased.

To me, NaNoWriMo isn’t about winning or getting the coupon codes. (I love Scrivener! I’ll write a post on how I use it eventually soon.) Through NaNoWriMo, I have done more than I ever thought I was capable of doing.

I can’t wait to participate again this November. I might be a NaNo “rebel” and continue editing my current project, or I might start a new one. I’m not sure. What I do know is that the spirit of NaNoWriMo has helped me write and edit my first novel. It has left me hungry for more.

Bring it on, grad school. Let’s do this.

Did you win Camp NaNoWriMo or accomplish something awesome this past month? Did you miss out on a goal? Share in the comments below!

Showing in the Real World

One of the most common bits of writing advice that we authors give each other is “Show, don’t tell.”

Don’t tell a reader what your character is feeling. Show through the setting, body language, dialogue, and prose what your character is feeling. I can easily see this advice being taken and ignored in books that I have read and pieces I have critiqued. But I have never really thought it applied outside of the writing world. Continue reading

Hours upon hours

I’ve read what feel like hundreds of pages of writing advice. Delete all instances of word X. Never use ‘said’. Always use ‘said.’ Only three exclamation points are allowed in the whole book. Adverbs ending in -ly are satan incarnate. I’ve listened to podcasts that say don’t edit your first novel, start the next project. In the next few seconds of the podcast another author disagreed. What I have gathered from all these suggestions is one principle: writing is hard, but editing is harder. 

I have been actively editing my novel, The Signature of a Thief, since February. After all of that work (about 50 hours), Today, I am editing scene 37. Out of 85. The entire book only took 55 hours to write, but I’m not even halfway through overhauling my first draft.

Now, part of this problem lays with how I wrote the book. It was my first true novel, and I went through it like a speed demon during NaNoWriMo. I find nothing inherently wrong  with that. I wrote, and I have NaNo to thank for that. I went into NaNo with a rough outline of what I wanted to happen, but that outline changed rapidly. I rebuilt my antagonist twenty-five chapters into the book. I had added in an illness that suddenly appeared in chapter ten. Note to self: it is much easier to plan foreshadowing ahead of time than to add it in afterward. 

But I’m not that upset. You see, if I hadn’t made those mistakes and changes then I would never have learned how to do better. Without deciding to revamp characters and move scenes around mid-novel, I wouldn’t have grown as an author.

This draft has been full of family and friends asking “When can I read it?” “Am I not allowed to read it?” “I want to read it! No one believes me when I say that it isn’t ready. I get looks of disbelief, like I’m just saying that because I don’t want to let go. It’s not ready. Reading what I have piecemeal will take away from your (hopefully) eventual enjoyment in the novel.

It’s not ready, but I’m working on it. I’ve learned more about writing in the past few months editing than I ever learned while writing and reading online.

Editing is hard, but it’s worth it. Soon, I’ll have proof. 

Camp NaNoWriMo Winner!

To kick myself in the bum and make further progress on editing my novel, The Signature of a Thief, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. It took me about 33 hours to write the first 50,000 words in November so my goal here was 35 hours of editing. I reached my goal, and am thrilled with my progress. A lot of work remains, but I’m pumped to keep it up. Who knows what this summer will bring? Camp comes around again in July. We’ll have to wait and see :).

NaNoWriMo 2013 Victory!

In case you wondered where I was for the past month and why I have not finished several in progress posts, I’ve been writing a novel!

It is currently about 53,000 words, and will hopefully reach 60k by the end of the month. For reference, in Times New Roman, 12 point font, double spaced with 1 inch margins, I am on the 169th page! It’s been a thrilling process, and with luck I will be able to finish the novel itself by the end of the year. With intense editing it might, allow me to emphasize might, be partially legible by March. Fingers crossed! I have a strong feeling that this November journey has only just begun. And I cannot wait to continue it.

UPDATE: I officially finished my first draft on December 27th at 87,987 words. Using the words of a good friend, I am 87,987 shades of crazy and proud of it.