Writing While in a Creative Slump

I’ve been in a creative slump.

For the most part, I try to write as often as I can. It’s what I love to do. Sometimes I write for hours, every day, for a week straight. Sometimes I write for twenty minutes on only one day of the week. It all depends on how much time I’m able to carve out for myself. It’s all about carving out time, making it work, doing what I can.

With doing anything creative, there needs to be a balance of creativity coming in and going out. Refilling the creative well is important: soaking up from all sources (books, films, art, television, life), taking in inspiration and creative energy in order to focus it and use it to produce, to let it flow out. Whenever I’m in a creative slump, and nothing else is working, I know I need to fill the creative well.

But the last few weeks, I’ve been incredibly busy with work—the small business I co-run launched a new product, so we’ve been busy promoting and making the product and sampling at stores a lot. I haven’t had much time to work on anything else, especially writing. I’ve had to make choices with my time and writing hasn’t been winning the time slot. A few times, I carved out a bit of time to write, but sat down and couldn’t get it going—and I knew it was because my creative well was dry, that I was in a creative slump. But I barely had enough time to read or watch anything, let alone write.

A few times, I could’ve carved out more time to fill the well or maybe even try to write, but I chose to do something like getting other work done or spending time with family or watching a few YouTube videos before going to sleep instead. One such YouTube video was by my favorite author, Victoria Schwab. In her video, she talks about when a writer is at their computer, they’re really just transcribing and that writers write all the time, whenever they think about their work—plotting, creating, building. That’s all writing, too. And that had me thinking about my writing time.

So what do I do when I’m unable to carve out writing time and unable to refill the creative well? There’s one thing I know I can do:

Not write. Or, I should say, not transcribe. Seriously. I just don’t do it. I don’t sit at the computer, I don’t pick up a pen. Because sometimes it’s not feasible to do so. I’m not a full-time writer, it’s not my job, so I don’t need to do it. So I don’t.

And that’s okay.

It doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. Because no matter how busy I am, how hectic life is, my brain is always with me. I always have a few stolen minutes to think while doing mundane tasks—showering, driving in the car, lying in bed at night, walking the dog. I always have time to think about the story, the characters, the world—and maybe jot down a note or two. And that keeps it going. Even when I don’t have time to sit at the computer and type out the actual words, just keeping the wheels turning is all I need to do—it’s still being productive, it’s still writing.

My Writing Process

I have been writing consistently, with a goal toward being a published novelist, for almost ten years. I am in no way an expert, but I’ve written for long enough and have written enough books/stories to have developed a process of how I write, from the initial idea to typing up ‘The End.’ All writers have a process, and all of them are different, unique to the person. A process is developed over time, with many projects, and what works for one writer may not work for someone else. And not every project follows your usual process accordingly, I’ve written most stories starting with a concept (“I want to right a book about witches!”) but I’ve also written stories based on a single character idea, not knowing anything else, not knowing where to put them or what to do with them, and built the story from there. I’ve read and listened to many other writing processes and I thought I’d share my own here for fun.

The Well

Surprise! My writing process (and probably all writing processes) actually start before there’s even an idea. Before the muse inspires, before I can let out a creative breath, I first have to breathe it in. Just like you can’t breathe air out if there’s nothing in your lungs, you can’t create if there’s nothing in your creative well. That’s where inspiration comes from. That’s the muse. If I’m creatively blocked, it’s because my Well has gone dry. I need to experience – I need to read, I need to watch, I need to see, I need to hear, smell, touch, feel. So before anything, I’m constantly taking it all in – with every book, every film, painting, photograph – filling the well from which I can pluck out my favorite bits of everything I’ve ever experienced, scramble it around, spin it my way, and create something entirely new.

The Spark

Here’s where things get interesting. This is where the actual writing process of a story begins for me. Out of nowhere, whether I’m working on something else or searching for an idea, I’ll get a spark of inspiration from that well I’ve been filling. An eerie photograph, a scene in a film, a concept of a book, or a want to delve right in to a genre and do it my way. I’ve been inspired from a dress I’d seen in a magazine, a tree in the woods, an overheard conversation. I don’t plan these “sparks” of inspiration. I get them all the time.

“Oh, that scene between those two characters on Orphan Black would make an interesting dynamic for a pair of demon hunters.”

“That older woman walking by has such a cool coat, she looks like a retired spy…or is she retired…”

“Man, that new Star Wars trailer was good. I want to write an entire YA book series set in space.” (<— This was recent.)

These sparks of inspiration happen to me everyday, all the time. Some are fleeting thoughts, some make me excited enough to jot them down only to forget them or dislike them when read later, and some – very few – become something more.

The Worm

Now the next two stages sometimes don’t happen. Sometimes it goes straight from the Spark to the Flood. But a lot of the time, a single spark will stick with me for a long time. It worms its way in the center of my brain and stays there, poking its head through my thoughts every once in a while. “Hey remember this idea? That’s still a cool idea you should do it.” Often times, I’m working on another project so I let it stay there—mostly because all it does is remind me of that first spark, but nothing comes of it yet as it’s still just a tiny little thought of something that could be a fully formed idea. I keep thinking about that photograph I saw or that scene in a show but there’s no meat to it. No story, no actual idea…until, suddenly, there is.

The Flood

It usually hits like an explosion. One minute all is well with my brain and then I happen to think back on that worm that’s been swimming around my head for a while—BAM! The idea takes shape. I get a flood of characters, story, several scenes, bits of dialogue, the world starts growing. It’s the main bones of a story in my head that forms, the actual idea, much more than the spark. It all comes to me in waves—sometimes it’s an entire day, sometimes an entire week of writing things down, connecting the dots. I usually write a paragraph or two, a list of characters, of scenes, a bit of the world. Whatever comes to my head, I get it down on paper or type it up. And then, the flood is gone. I’ve written all I can for now. Sometimes, this is the end of the road. Usually this is as far as a story gets. I get the idea down and never get back to it—I might go back and revisit and find it’s something good or something terrible. But sometimes…

The Simmer

…I become obsessed. I can’t let it go. This is the stage where I think about everything that didn’t just “come to me” before. All the connective tissue starts forming over the bones of that first idea—it could last a month, a year, several years while working on other things. I’ll think back on the story, maybe think of a few more ideas on plot, character, world—I’ll write it down with the rest and continue to think. It can simmer for a long time—or not at all. Sometimes after the Flood, I have everything I need and I want to start right away, so I essentially skip this step—though the next one takes much longer without it.

The Outline

Next comes the outline. If I haven’t let the story simmer, this stage could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Usually, if I have, it takes about a week—maybe two. Now I write the outline in one of two ways. The first way: I write an outline, a list of short sentences (sometimes only a few words or, if I’ll know what I’m talking about, one word, like “Tunnel” or “Murder”) and string together the story that way—these end up usually as either scenes or chapters. These are easy to rearrange if I need and I can look at the story from a bird’s eye view in a very simple format (I use Scrivener sometimes for this, but more on that later). The second way: I write less of an outline and more of a summary. I write two to three paragraphs of everything that happens from beginning to end. This is what I do normally when I’ve skipped the “simmer” step, though not always.

After, I write the fully-formed outline. If I’d started the first way, I take that list and bulk it up to a paragraph per chapter with notes for what I want to add or specifically show. If I’d started the second way, I take that summary and break it down into the same thing, one paragraph per chapter with notes. It ends up looking like this:

Chapter 10
Here is what happens to the character in this chapter. Then the character makes a decision, which makes a secondary character feel something. The two characters discuss what had happened but it is clear that it will come up again later. Then, a twist! (Add in the subtle hint about an object that is possibly important.)

Chapter 11
More stuff happens and then…

Now, I’m not a “pantser,” as evidenced by the fact that I outline to begin with, but I’m even more of a Type A mega-planner. Depending on the story, I use charts and spreadsheets and a whole lot of outlining techniques. I have spreadsheets about the days of the week, weather in the scene, time of year, month, all things that I would write in the story so that I don’t accidentally make it a hot, perfect-for-swimming day when it’s supposed to be January—unless it’s in set in Australia. One of my favorite things to do, especially to make sure the pace of the plot if working well, I set up a chart using this technique written about by a favorite author of mine, Carrie Ryan:

Slide1

Depending on the story, I might add another column to create a five-act structure with a midpoint adjusted to be in the actual middle, which is sometimes needed, but mostly I use this as is. It has helped my plotting so much.

The Draft

After the outline is complete, the stars have aligned, I start the drafting process. Sometimes I start on Page 1 and sometimes I start in the middle of Chapter 21. Wherever the winds take me, I start—usually this is because one scene (often one of the first that I envisioned) is really vivid in my head and I’m excited about it. It’s also hard starting at the very beginning. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to die and never want to write another thing ever again because Chapter One followed by an empty void is terrifying. The first draft is the most inconsistent part of writing for me, time wise. I’ve written a first draft in two and a half months, three years, and even 30 days (NaNoWriMo). It’s never the same. The drafting stage is usually when I change a lot, too. And often times, the first draft is incredibly short—I’ve had a 90,000+ word final book started as a 59,000 word completed first draft. I just worry about getting all I need to get down on the page and worry about the rest later. With rewrites, I bulk up scenes, add more entirely new scenes, sometimes entirely new chapters (sometimes I cut a lot out, but there’s mostly adding). The first draft is my second favorite part (first favorite is outlining, when anything could happen) because it’s the easy part, the fun part. I’m just writing whatever I want without thinking about if it’s good or not—because it isn’t, it’s a first draft. I’ll fix it later, right now it’s time to enjoy the story and the characters and the world.

The Break

After the first draft, I take a break. I put the project away and never look at it and think about something else—usually this is a time for refilling my depleted well of creativity. I always make sure that there’s a break between the first draft and the rewriting process. Fresh eyes are best. This break between can last a long time—sometimes I wrote an entirely different first draft of a new story between finishing a draft and returning to it.

The Rewrite

And when I do return to it, I read it and weep. “Oh yeah,” I think. “First drafts suck. That’s right.” After crying about how terrible it is, I immediately get to work on the fixing. Starting with the major plot problems and subplots that don’t work in hindsight and eliminating characters, pulling all their threads out of the story, or adding characters and working them into it. Then I get into the small stuff, the chapter by chapter rewriting, then the scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word. I often open a second window or split the window (I love Scrivener a lot, y’all) and actually rewrite the entire thing while following along. Sometimes I just cut the bad, rewrite to make it better or delete it completely, and add some new. The rewriting is the hard stuff. It’s the work. It’s the reason I cry a lot. And then…

The Rewrite

I bet you’ve heard the phrase, “Writing is rewriting.” That’s why there’s two of this stage—there’s actually a lot of this stage. It takes a long time. It’s hard. It’s work. I cry a lot.

The End

After all the revising is done, I write “The End” on the bottom of the last page and sleep for a while. Then, I start all over again.

Bonus: The Where/When/How

Where: I write in several places. If it’s nice out, sometimes I’ll sit outside on my deck. Sometimes I sit at my desk. Sometimes in a car, the couch, a coffee shop, my bed, the bathroom (I’m not kidding), my other desk at work, the dining room table. Mostly, I sit on the couch with a laptop table and the dining room table—for some reason, I end up in those two places the most. The dining room table especially if I’m outlining—remember, I’m a mega-planner, so I have charts and maps all on paper all over the surface of the table.

When: In a perfect world, I’d write every day starting at 12pm and ending at 5pm, non-stop and perfectly with a Coke and some snacks on hand. But it’s not a perfect world, Coke is full of sugar, I have other jobs and responsibilities. But usually, I try to write in the afternoon (that’s when I write the best, I’ve found, and most excited to write) and sometimes I’m just drinking water or tea (thanks, diet plan). Because of all my other work I do, I have to carve out time when I can—which is usually in the afternoons on weekends like I love and at 8pm for only an hour on weekdays, which isn’t ideal, but I make it work.

How: I use a lot of the old staples, like a million notebooks and pencils and pens, but the one thing I absolutely need to write: Scrivener. It’s changed my life. It’s the best writing app for a computer ever. I don’t know how anyone can just use Word. Inside the file set up for your project, you have more text files with folders that can easily be rearranged. Sometimes I have a folder for each chapter with many text files inside for each scene, sometimes I just have a text file for each chapter. And the folders can go inside other folders so I can have several parts, chapters, scenes, separated however I want and all of it is still in one document one the “draft” view. It has a “composition mode” that helps eliminate distractions. It has a virtual cork board to help with outlining and brainstorming. It has everything. It is everything.

And that’s my writing process! Never exactly the same, never deviating too far from what I’ve explained. Again, it works for me, it may not work for everyone—and I love hearing about different processes, so I’ve read many that are similar to mine and some that are different. Like a “pantser”…I just don’t understand how they can do it so well without planning ahead. That’s some of the fun about talking to other writers—we all have our own way of doing it!

2017 Goals: Checking In

Three months have passed since the beginning of the new year, so a quarter of the year is over (how did that happen so quickly?) and I’ll be checking in on my goals I set for myself this year. Overall, I think I’m doing fairly well, though I could better with some. I have changed my goals a little (which I’ve posted about) and will go off of those.

Design & Illustration

I’ve been doing more illustration work lately, with a goal of sketching for a half hour daily (though it’s become almost every other day, when I can) and full illustrations once a week. I’m a bit behind on the full illustrations, I should have 14 done out of 52 but I’ve only done 9. However, I’m doing better and expanding my skills, which was the point, so I’m doing well here. I’ve also been working on more design projects, like a few prints, a calendar, and working on doing some screen printing, which is exciting. I haven’t done any freelance work or hand-lettering practice, but am working toward it still. Each month, I’ll be focusing on one goal more than the others, and plan to do this with hand-lettering. Overall, I think I’m heading in a good direction in this department.

Writing

Now, my writing goals changed significantly (as I wrote about here) and have changed my goals to writing one new draft, start revising it, finish the first draft of the book I did NaNoWriMo 2016 with, complete NaNoWriMo 2017, and continue working on the other books I’d been working on before, here and there. Still a lot, but I’ve already began the first draft of the new book. After realizing I need to schedule my goals a little, focusing more on one than the others in a month, I’ve planned for writing to be the focus in May—April is reading.

Reading

As I just said, my goal focus for the month of April is going to be reading. I’ve read one single book so far. Well, that’s not entirely true. I finished one book. Because I finished reading some of my 2016 reads in January (I read most of the Luminaries by Eleanor Catton in 2016, so counted it toward last year’s count, but it still took most of January to finish—it’s long, y’all) I haven’t had as much time as you’d think. So really, I started in February. And in the two months since, I’ve finished one book, but have started three—I’m still in the middle of all three, all long. It’s my own fault to starting out the year reading this way. But hopefully, I’ll be back on track by the end of April as it’s my goal to set aside a few of the other goals to spend more time reading (like sketching a few times a week instead of every day, pushing some time working on design projects, etc.).

Film: Import

I’m doing pretty well in watching films this year! I’ve watched ten films so far this year (though, sadly none in the theater yet) and have found a new favorite (Frances Ha). I’m halfway to 20 new films not in the theater, but still have seen none of the 5 I’ve set to see in a theater—though I have plans to see Alien: Covenant when it comes out, so I’m not too worried. And there are several other movies coming out later in the year that I’m more excited to see anyway.

Film: Export

I haven’t done any film projects as of yet, but again with the monthly focuses, I plan to do them during summer. However, I did accomplish something big! I wrote a short film. I didn’t think that I’d get it done so soon in the year, but I have, and I love it. It still needs a lot of work, especially because it’s my first finished screenplay, but I’m incredibly happy that I actually did it.

Exercise

I haven’t done a lot of exercising lately, but with my Fitbit, it’s been easier to keep track of eating and getting more steps, which has brought my activity up a little. But now that the snow has melted and it’s getting warmer, I’ve been walking in the morning more and more, and have been more focused the last two weeks to keeping it up.

Instagram

I have posted every day since the beginning of the year, almost 100 days in and still enjoying doing it. Though, I will say, sometimes I post for the sake of needing to post for the day, and not really stretching my photography skills with some of them—which was sort of the point. But I’m still doing it and hopefully will be able to focus more on taking quality photos and not just posting anything.

I think I’m doing well! There’s more that I need to do and focus on, but I think with focusing on something every month, I’ll be able to accomplish more. But so far, 2017 is going fine.

Let’s Call It Book E – Writing Update

Over the last two months of the new year, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing. I set out this year with a goal in mind and it has already changed. Partly because of weeks and weeks of thought and partly because of a post by Morgan York that solidified my feelings on what I should be writing and what I should focus on to become a published author.

I’ve been writing several projects since I first started taking writing seriously. The first book I ever wrote and finished the first draft of (but definitely not the first book I ever started) is the first in a series of eight books (let’s call it Book A and Series 1). The second book I wrote, was a standalone (Book B). The following, the first book in a series of five (Book C and Series 2). And then, another standalone (though not quite finished) (Book D). My plan has been to work on both Book A and Book C and whichever I deemed the strongest, I would query with. (Book B is terrible, and I think I’ll be shelving it forever, and Book D is the book I won NaNoWriMo and want to finish writing this year, just on the side when I feel stuck on the others, a thing I do often. It’s actually how Book B and Book C were written in the first place, as side projects I worked on when I was stuck on Book A.)

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that trying to query the first book in a series is a bad idea. Almost every author and agent and editor that spreads their knowledge on the internet says it’s better to start with a standalone, but I’ve been stubborn, too attached to the story and characters, too attached to the idea that Book A, and Series 1, would be my first books published. And it didn’t really sink in until I read Morgan’s post, even though I’ve known it for years.

For many reasons, I’ve decided to move on. First, there’s the fact that Book A is going to need a lot more work. As it was the first book I wrote (started in high school and finished in college) it’s not the best. But I have a soft spot for it, it’s my passion project. I’ve rewritten it several times over the years, trying to get it just right, and last fall I realized the major problems with it—which means another rewrite, a realization that came partway through a different rewrite. It’s a mess. I still love the series, I still love the world, but I know it’s just not right. Second, as Morgan states in her post, it’s super hard getting a series published and it’s a lot of work once it is. (Though, I never wrote the sequels of said books, having previous advice to just focus on the first one and try to get that one published first. But it’s hard selling books as a series, especially as a first time author.)

After reading Morgan’s post (and eerily similar writing histories, especially because we’re almost the same age) I realized that maybe the universe wasn’t allowing my books to work quite right because I should be focusing on something else. So I decided to move on from Book A and Book C, shelve both series and work on something new—not just revamping Book B or finish Book D—but something completely new.

Uh…but work on what? I spent the last week or so of January and most of February searching through my ideas folder and disliking everything. I felt like I was in limbo—it’s the first time I’ve never been actively working on a book. So I stopped looking for ideas I’d already had and started trying to think of a new one.

And you know what happened? I ended up thinking about Book A and the entire Series 1 and the world I’d created. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then, something blipped on my creative radar. It was too far away to see what it was yet, but that first spark of an idea is often shy at first. And then it slams into you and you have to spend a solid day writing and thinking and getting everything down that you can. That’s how it happens sometimes. And that’s how it happened for me with the new book.

Let’s call it Book E.

Book E isn’t new, exactly. That’s why it took a while for me to figure it out. Partway through figuring out the idea, I realized that it was connected to Book A and Series 1. It’s in the same book-universe. It even shares a character. But the best part about it, it’s entirely different from Book A, though threads of that world are woven in. And the best part? It’s completely contained. It’s one book, a standalone. A story that starts and finishes all between two covers. Book E could be published and Book A and Series 1 could never be, and it wouldn’t matter (except I’d be sad, because I still love Series 1) but the point is, it’s a better book to query with.

I did it! I practically ran up and down the road screaming with excitement. But I was too busy with that second phase of an idea: Writing everything down before I forget it. Characters, names, places, plot—everything on paper. The last part of February and all of this month has been full of plotting and outlining, piecing together a coherent story from all the ideas that I’d written earlier. And I’m in love with the story and have started drafting. I’m nearly 4k words in and wrote just 1.6k today, the day I posted this.

So now, with Book E in the works, I have new writing goals for the year:

  • Finish drafting Book E and begin revising/editing.
  • Possibly query? Probably begin in 2018.
  • Finish first draft of Book D (NaNoWriMo 2016 Book).
  • Complete NaNoWriMo 2017
  • And maybe, possibly, probably, work more on Book A and Series 1, even just on the side. [insert Brokeback Mountain ‘I wish I knew how to quit you’ gif here]

In all honesty, I think this is for the best. Book E is making me incredibly happy and I think it’s the smartest thing to do going forward on my path to becoming published.

(PS I’m not being secretive with all the Book A, Book B business, most of them don’t have titles yet and it was just easier this way. Book A is tentatively called The Infinite Light and Book C is called Thoughtless.)

New Work/Living Space

The start of 2017, I began the transition of taking all of my work spaces—office and art supplies and writing space—all into one new space in my bedroom. They were all scattered across the house before and now everything is in one place so that it’s easier to work from. The process had been long and I only finished today—as in the day this is posted, February 12th.

Mostly I needed three things: my giant drafting table for working on hand-created designs, illustrating, any project that I need that angle for; a regular desk for my computer and general working and writing at; and then another flat work space that would be completely empty—I do a lot of cutting paper and needing an extra work space to set things while doing other work is important. And the desk I have now isn’t very large, so that had to be a separate space. I still need a few things, furniture-wise, like more shelf space and a larger drawer unit (I have my eye on some IKEA pieces.) Not to mention just general things like a second monitor (I do have a second monitor for my other job, which I love, but I need another good one in this space) and a high quality printer.

Other than work, I still needed to fit my bed, dresser, and the billion books I have. So setting up a reading corner was essential, with my reading chair, side table, and bookcase with most of my books, I have a great spot to read and relax—though the chair could be more comfortable, I’m not complaining to much (especially because the chair was free).

Overall, I love my new space. I feel relaxed here and productive. There’s a lot of things I’ve collected over the years all around that make it feel like my own unique space to create. Everything has a place (almost, there’s a few kinks to work out) and everything is all in one space, so I don’t have to go downstairs or leave the room to get something I need while working. It’s a perfect space for me and I’m overjoyed with the way it turned out, even if it was a long journey getting here.

2017: New Year, New Goals

2017

It’s a new year and the following are my new goals—some the same as last year, some tweaked to better suit my life. 2016 was definitely a year of realizing things (you were right, Kylie Jenner) and I realized I needed to stop aiming so high.

So here are my goals for 2017:

Design & Illustration

In the new year, I want to work on more design projects for future plans of mine, continue working on my illustration skills, and practice my hand-lettering skills more. Since I just finished with school, I’ll be hopefully doing some freelance work here soon (after I’m able to quit my current job and make all the necessary preparations to start) and I’ll continue to do all the design work for the small business I co-run.

Writing

My goal for this year is to continue revising the two projects I’ve been working on. Both books (and related series) still get me excited after years of writing and rewriting and outlining and planning whenever I could fit it in while being a student and working. (And now that school is finished, I may have more time? Fingers crossed.) Whichever book is the strongest when finished, I’m planning on using it to start the process of querying for a literary agent (which may be this year or next year—the hope would be this year). Another writing goal is to finish the book I won NaNoWriMo with in 2016—I still love that story and want to get back into it, just to finish the first draft. And the final writing goal of mine is to again participate in NaNoWriMo. Though the election sort of made it more difficult to concentrate, making it harder and less fun, I had a blast doing it in 2016 and I want to do it again!

Reading

After the disaster of a reading year 2016 was, I’m setting my goal much lower: 35 books. That’s it. I always set it for 50 on Goodreads, always mark it down several in July and again in December after I realize 50 is too much. Not this year. I’m starting low and being less rigid with my list and schedule, because it only made reading more stressful than fun. I think I’ll be able to reach my goal this year of 35, which will be more than 2016’s 24 books and 3 books more than any other year of reading for me. And who knows? Maybe because of being more relaxed about reading, I’ll hit 50? Probably not, but you never know. (I know, actually. I probably won’t.)

Film | Part One: Import

Last year, I had a goal to see at least 12 films in the theater (as I realized I hadn’t seen a single one in 2015) and only saw two films in the theater; better than nothing, but disappointing. My goal for this year is similar, but on a smaller scale: I want to see 5 films in the theater, as well as watching 20 films via other sources (DVD, Netflix, TV, etc.) bringing the total of 25 new films in the year of 2017. A goal, I think, I can do—at least I will with the 20 outside of the theater, as I see most new (to me) films that way (and I’ve already watched 3).

Film | Part Two: Export

I want to do more film projects, but on a small scale. I first want to write a short film (should this have been up in the “writing” goals? oh, well)—I have ideas and ideas scribbled in notebooks and on files on my computer and on notes in my phone, but I’ve never sat down and finished a screenplay (though I’ve started a few). Second, I want to do more experimenting with the camera, making smaller videos like I used to do. It’s a muscle I haven’t stretched in a while.

Exercise

Hahahahahaha—No, wait. I’m serious this time. I started 2016 off really well with walking/running almost every day for a while and I lost ten pounds. I’ve since gained it back and slowed down on walking to a full stop, only to slowly start up again at the end of the year. But when I was doing it, I loved it. Now that I have a Fitbit Alta, I’m really getting back into it. My goal is to just try to exercise more. I don’t want to have a rigid schedule, I don’t want to set too high of expectations—especially in the winter when it’s more difficult to get up to drive to use the treadmill. I do have a recumbent bike at home that I can use and the treadmill once in a while, and I have an app on my phone for a 7 minute workout (which should be called 7 Minutes in Hell because omg working out like that instead of just walking is so awful how do people enjoy it???) So I’m going to start slow and really get going for when spring arrives and I can walk/run outside again—I really, really enjoyed it when doing it outside in the fresh air. It truly makes a big difference.

Instagram

I’ve been wanting to post more on Instagram and decided to post one a day for the entire year. Some will be from planned photo sessions, spread out over a few days, some will be just random and whatever I’m doing that day. I’ve already done it for 14 days in a row and I’m really enjoying it.

Those are my goals for 2017!

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Wrap-Up: I Won!

It happened. I’m finished. NaNoWriMo is over and I WON. I don’t understand how I was able to write 50,000 words in a month—not to mention 13,000 in a DAY—but I’m incredibly proud of myself for actually accomplishing this insane challenge.

The final four days, I knew I had a lot to write, and each day I didn’t write what I need to, I figured I’d be done. I’d never win it. But on that final day—the day after I dropped my laptop on a tiled floor (long story, it’s fine, I cried a lot)—I was determined. I had the day off, I stopped only to use the bathroom and eat and walk around my yard screaming at trees, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. By the end, after writing 13,379 words, my hands were cramping, my eyeballs were raisins, and I cried for twenty minutes afterward out of excitement and relief to be able to finally stop.

The most I’ve ever written in a day is 6,000ish words. Now I can say 13,300. That’s insane. I’ve never written 50,000 words in a month either. And now I can say that I have.

Now, the novel is far from done—maybe three quarters or a third done—and obviously a first draft, so not very good, but the point is that I did it. And because I’m still digging the story, I’ll be finishing it until the full draft is complete—sometime later, at a slower pace.

Words Written:
November 27th 243
November 28th 6,090
November 29th 2,100
November 30th 13,379 (!!!)

Total Weekly Words: 21,812
Final Total: 50,027
Where I Should Be: 50,000

MY WHOLE NANOWRIMO MONTH:
November 1st
2,247 (2,247)
November 2nd 0 (2,247)
November 3rd 520 (2,767)
November 4th 1,862 (4.629)
November 5th 2,479 (7,108)
November 6th 0 (7,108)
November 7th 0 (7,108)
November 8th 0 (7,108)
November 9th 0 (7,108)
November 10th 1,059 (8,167)
November 11th 1,898 (10,065)
November 12th 84 (10,149)
November 13th 296 (10,445)
November 14th 1,828 (12,273)
November 15th 359 (12,632)
November 16th 2.083 (14,715)
November 17th 702 (15,417)
November 18th 1,704 (17,121)
November 19th 1,729 (18,850)
November 20th 0 (18,850)
November 21st 1,703 (20.553)
November 22nd 314 (20,867)
November 23rd 1,780 (22,647)
November 24th 532 (23,179)
November 25th 1,258 (24,437)
November 26th 3,778 (28,215)
November 27th 243 (28,458)
November 28th 6,090 (34,548)
November 29th 2,100 (36,648)
November 30th 13,379 (50,027)

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Update #4

Last week I said if I could get to 40,000 by the 26th, I’d be in the clear. Well. I didn’t do that. I’m 12,000 shy of that. But! I still have faith! I’m still going! On the 26th, I wrote the most I have all month with 3,778 words. So I know that I can do it, I just have to focus all my time on writing on the last few days where I can write. I’ve written 6,000 words in a day before, so if I can just knock out the last few days, I can still win this!

I’m still optimistic even though I’m only just passed the halfway mark! I can do this! I can do this! I can do this! (I probably won’t.)

Words Written:
November 20th 0
November 21st 1,703
November 22nd 314
November 23rd 1,780
November 24th 532
November 25th 1,258
November 26th 3,778

Total Weekly Words: 9,365
Running Total: 28,215
Where I Should Be: 43,342

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Update #3

This past week of NaNoWriMo has gone better than last week, but since I’d fallen so far behind last week, I didn’t write as much as I should have. It would have been a short week anyway, but now it’s put me well passed the halfway mark of the month and I’ve yet to reach half the words.

But we move forward! I plan on writing a lot over Thanksgiving weekend, having two whole days off plus two half days. If I can get to 40,000 by the 26th, I know I can cram in 10,000 words in the last few days. I need to focus on writing when I can instead of just in one long session at the end of the day—50 to 100 words here and there will add up on top of that.

Words Written:
November 13th – 296
November 14th – 1,828
November 15th – 359
November 16th – 2.083
November 17th – 702
November 18th – 1,704
November 19th – 1,729

Total Weekly Words: 8,701
Running Total: 18,850
Where I Should Be: 31,673

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Update #2

Yikes. This week sucked for more than one reason. At the start, we cleared out our entire kitchen (all cabinets empty, stacked up on tables and chairs) and cleaned. Then slowly started reorganizing and putting everything away. That’s taken a lot of time and energy on top of a normal work week. So writing stopped there. And then the election happened and my brain hasn’t quite recovered yet. Slowly, by November 10th, it started to return. A bad week, putting me way behind, but that’s okay. I’ve written 10,000 words of a new story that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do without the NaNoWriMo pressure.

We press on! We write more!

Words Written:
November 6th 0
November 7th 0
November 8th 0
November 9th 0
November 10th 1,059
November 11th 1,898
November 12th 84

Total Weekly Words: 3,041
Running Total: 10,149
Where I Should Be: 20,004