NaNo Camp July, Friday 21st (2017)

NaNoWriMo

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: be kind to yourself, especially during something like NaNoWriMo. Did you remember to drink water? No? Take a few swallows. I need to do that right now myself. Did you rest well? If you’re caught up on your words, take a breather– you don’t have to sleep, but taking five or ten minutes away from the computer or journal you’re working with can do loads of wonders.

Not completing NaNo isn’t the end of the world. And NaNo isn’t over yet, anyway. Pace yourself, but don’t burn yourself out. Procrastinate when you have to. Take breathers. Remember to give your eyes a rest– reading, and by proxy writing, stresses the eyes.

And don’t forget: Every word you have written is a victory on its own, one word you didn’t have before.

–Natasha

NaNoGoal: 17,753/20,000

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NaNo Camp July, Friday 14th (2017)

NaNoWriMo

I went to a private school as a girl. It wasn’t a large school, only a couple of students, but it was legalized and I have a copy of the Board of Education’s recognition of it as such.

But despite not being a large school, it had all the trimmings. We had a School Mascot (the Mustang), we had school colors (black, maroon, navy), a school flower (the magnolia). We had regular classes, or what I assume is regular because it was normal for us. We had our subjects and the tests for those, book reports and writing classes, schedules for tutoring, though we didn’t call it tutoring, of course..

We had very few sick days because there were so few of us, so it wasn’t like the flu came in waves or anything. We never had to deal with a lice scare, and we had both inside lessons and outdoor lessons. I learned how to balance a checkbook, how to build an animal pen, how to make a quilt; complex mathematics, base sciences, human history. When we were done with class for the day, we were cut loose and left to our own devices. We had our field trips– one time, we went to an auction in another state. I saw a zebra in real life.

During the summer, the local public school had a type of summer schooling, which any child that lived in the area could attend. I only went one year due to the difficulties caused by it, but it provided me with more than enough social interaction for several lifetimes. Those of my school were outliers  to those of public school; they did not take kindly of us, and we fit in none of their pre-established dynamics.

Our school didn’t have dances. I went to one at the public school, invited by a young ma’am who attended, and I had one dance with a young man who also had no date. I bristled at a lot of people. It was strange. Not really a dance, not really a party, just… a bunch of awkward not-yet-teenagers. Three teachers tried to get me to change schools, further making it more awkward.

When I graduated, I spent the next year or so trying to figure out how to test for the GED. Some businesses counted my diploma as sufficient schooling, but a lot of them called private schools as fake, accepting only diplomas from the local public schools. No college in the area would accept it at all, since my school hadn’t been required to do standardized testing and we didn’t have GPAs. The Adult Education Center gave me the run-around on GED testing, asking “why was my primary schooling not sufficient?”

We never got Letterman jackets (a fact which I hope to rectify, eventually) and we never got high-school rings.

I remember all of these things when I write a character. The character’s history matters. From where they were born to where they went to school to the school colors and school pride they carry. Sometimes it’s just a token, a throw-back to way back when, but the little details are important too. Even if we never use them in story, it’s nice to know a little extra color about your cast.

–Natasha

NaNoGoal: 13,706/30,000

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NaNo Camp July, Friday 7th (2017)

NaNoWriMo

One of the most important things to do in Camp NaNoWriMo is set a reasonable goal for yourself.

I, uh, may not have done that this July.

In my defense, I told someone I’d do Camp July back in the beginning of June, and I decided way back then that I’d do a 30k count, completely ignoring how tight the month in question was going to be, between three jobs and trying to balance the rest of real life. One of those jobs, the full-time non-negotiable one which shall not be named, is having a bit of a do and thus requires me to work extra time than I normally would this month.

I do kind of need the money… but it means less time writing, and more time tired. It’s also the middle of summer, and I do want to enjoy the summer. Plus I have the summer harvest (raspberries and blackberries are both a thing right now) and a whole mess of kittens. Some of them need more TLC than I’ve been able to give them while being away at work, so my free days are often spent doing that.

That’s a bit working against me. Both my other paid jobs are more flexible, since I’m a subcontractor and I take the work I want to, but I really can’t neglect them even though they only truly make me pocket change. I could put them down for a bit if I wanted to, but then I have a bad habit of not picking them up again for a while.

I swear I did consider dropping my count to a measly 15k throughout the month of June. I just couldn’t get myself talked into it, though. Go figure. So here I am, in July, crawling my way to 30k. I don’t know if I’ll try to stretch beyond it. That’s a thing to cross when I get to that bridge.

Set yourself a reasonable goal. Be stubborn about it. When you break through it, set yourself another.

I believe in you.

–Natasha

NaNo Goals: 7,109/30,000

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NaNoWriMo, Friday 11th (2016)

NaNoWriMo

Some people say kill your darlings, and some people say don’t. Now, I’m not going to say one way or the other about it. The reason for this is because, one way or the other, I’m going to be a hypocrite.

I kill a lot of my characters. I save a lot of others from the neck of death.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that, when I hit a road-block in my path, an excellent way to jar the story and myself is to kill someone. Or, at the very least, trip over a dead body. Corpses are excellent motivators for characters to find themselves. Even if you decide to rewrite the scene without a death– not erase! Remember, there’s no erasing during NaNoWriMo– it works wonders for getting you moving and ramping up your word count.

Now, you may be asking why. I think I’ve covered that, but if you need another reason, well, consider it a personal challenge inside NaNo.

How could you kill them? Well, I understand that the Traveling Shovel of Death (TM) is a staple of the NaNoWriMo faculty, and many writers I know. Barring that, a good ol’ fashioned murder is always on the card table– and bonus points if it’s on or over a card table. Lots of deaths occur in games of chance.

When? Why not right now? Go ahead, you can do it. If your character is outside, they trip over a body– or witness a murder. If your character is inside, hey, why not? If there’s on one around, maybe they hear about it on the radio, or read about it in the news. Maybe it’s a shock and maybe it’s not. Who knows? Who can say?

Where? Not in real life, please. Do not go out and kill people with a shovel.

*

But inside the covers of your book, on the pages you and only you know how to craft, by all means. Kill as many people with shovels as you’d like. Make a sentient murder-shovel, watering the ground of graveyards with the blood of its victims. Make a serial axe-murderer, but instead of an axe, give him a shovel. The possibilities are endless.

No shovels in your world? That’s okay. Everybody knows a pointy rock will do in a pinch; after all, we’ve been killing people that way since prehistory.

–Natasha

*Image sourced on Google.

NaNoGoals: 24,132/50,000

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NaNoWriMo, Friday 4th (2016)

NaNoWriMo

Sometimes NaNoWriMo starts on a Friday… and sometimes it doesn’t. And just like NaNo, some people have started already and some people haven’t. There is nothing wrong with that. Some of us will still be clawing and scraping for our 50k at the end of the month, and some lucky few will rattle it out in the first twenty four hours.

But however we start NaNo, whether we’re lagging behind at the starting line or we’re racing off to our goal and beyond, the most important thing to remember is that it’s never too late. Never to late to get started, never too late to catch up, never too late to pass your goals.

Here’s the thing about NaNoWriMo, and I’m sure I’ve said it before: This is the month when writers around the world, millions of writers across the globe, are writing with you. They share your struggles, just as I do; they share your glories, the troubles on your page, every instance of writer’s block and every time you overcome it, climb over or break through it.

Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and we don’t live in a vacuum. NaNo is one of the wildest roller coasters of my life, and me and so many others are here to share it with you.

Don’t give up. I have faith in you.

–Natasha

NaNoGoal: 8,379/50,000

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Writing Tip: Friends

When you write, regardless of whether or not you write alone, you are going to have good days and bad days. Now, I’m not talking about days when you write a lot or write very little, although those are good and bad days and still technically kind of count.

I’m talking about days when, no matter how much you write, you’re going to have your own personal highs and lows. Maybe you have high energy, maybe you don’t. Maybe you have high emotions, maybe you don’t.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe having emotions that register high enough to count at all are a thing you’re not used to, a thing that scares and stresses you more than you can safely handle. Maybe you lash out, maybe you go hide in a corner. Sometimes you can write yourself back to a functional level. On my twentieth birthday I was so horrifically depressed that all I could do was write, and that writing became one of my most popular at the time. It’s an easy coping mechanism for writers, but it doesn’t always work.

Maybe you go talk to someone.

I’ve been trying to do that these last several years. My friends all say I can talk to them when I’m emotional and distressed. They encourage it, even.

I forget all my friends are online and can’t tell that I’m emotional or distressed by my words a lot of the time. I don’t talk to people when I’m upset, partly because talking to people while I’m upset makes me very pointed and bristly, I can’t handle critique, I can’t handle helpful words, I can’t handle gentle pats and nods of encouragement. I get defensive, I get angry.

When my hormones fluctuate, I spend a lot more time riding emotional highs and lows, and they both result in the same thing.

Some of my friends know that when I rant, I call it “cutting teeth.” I don’t think I’ve ever told them why. Some of them probably figured it out.

Used to be I dealt with every flux of emotion purely by writing. Sometimes I fall off that train. Sometimes I actually make the mistake of trying to diffuse an argument before it happens by warning people that I need to back off or that the topic needs to change before I get too involved and emotional. I did that today. Oops.

Let me tell you I was not expecting the universal slap in the face I got back. Ow.

I forgot why I don’t ever manage to keep friends. Turns out that by trying to keep them, I tick them off instead. Talk about the biggest personality flaw I don’t want.

Now, I’m not saying don’t talk to your friends when you’re upset. By all means, do! I’m just saying, this happens to me. And this is not a thing that happens only in real life. Look at your characters, and their friends, and remember that things are not always going to be sunshine and daisies. They’ll have emotional highs and lows, and they’ll fight. They’ll have issues with each other, about the way they speak and the way they interact.

People aren’t always a perfect match. Reality doesn’t work that way.

Friendship– any sort of relationship at all– takes time and effort and understanding on all parts involved. It’s not easy.

I’ll say I’m sorry to my friends when I calm down, although I’m pretty sure they’ll still be angry. They’ll probably be angrier if any of them read this blog. I can’t help it.

I write when I’m upset, and this is, I think, decent advice to myself and people.

Make your characters real. Remember that they, as you, are deeply flawed. Remember that you have emotions, and so do they.

–Natasha