No NaNoWriMo & An Early Look At My 2020 Plans

Since I started doing NaNoWriMo in 2016, I have participated in every single WriMo challenge, including the camps in April and July, up until last November. I got to the point in my novel where I didn’t find the fast-paced, get-your-words-down-at-all-cost objective of NaNoWriMo helpful anymore.

That’s still true this time around, so I’m a little sad to say that I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Even though my participation spanned less than two years, it still feels odd not to be gearing up for it. I remember how I used to prepare all of my notes and outlines just in time for the challenges, and studiously keeping up with my word counts when it was time to crunch them. In some ways, even though they were exhausting, I miss those months. It gave me something to focus on outside of work, and my consistent progress made me feel very productive.

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General Update

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Hey guys! I know I haven’t updated very often lately, but it doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking off! On the contrary, I’ve signed up for the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo next month, and during the last couple of weeks I’ve been preparing extensively for it.

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Balancing Impatience With Procrastination

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update about my original work, so this post will have some of that as well as some musing about a behaviour I’ve noticed myself exhibiting for a while now (which, as you can tell by the title, has something to do with time management.)

Story

But first up, what have I been up to? I swear, I’ve actually been hard at work. In the middle of January, I decided to use the last half of the month to try and finish off the second draft of my original story. I managed to get through a week or so of something like a self-imposed NaNoWriMo, writing 1,667 words each day. I got to a certain point, where I just thought: “Man, if I keep going with the way I planned this story, I’m going to end up with something really messy. Still.” I say “still,” because if you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve done nothing in the past year but revise outlines and drafts to pluck out elements and streamline my story. The last time I wrote about my original project, I talked about eliminating one of the main characters and his arc entirely. And as I tried to move forward with that in mind, I still found myself stumbling over multiple other elements.Read More »

Writing Woes: More Axing

tumblr_opv9n93dxm1w0ecego2_540I wrote before about cleaning up the tangled mess of my first draft by axing characters from the story. I just finished the 2nd scene-by-scene outline of my 2nd draft and I realize that I *still* have a ton of characters, and for a first novel, it’s probably not a good idea for me to write all their stories at once.

In that previous post, I decided to remove the thread about the couple of cursed warriors. But for some reason, between outlines, they came back, and somehow their story seems better welded to the overarching plot. And because I already have their character arcs figured out, I don’t have any qualms about writing them at all. I’m actually excited to write about them.

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NaNoWriMo 2017: A Review

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Hey guys, I know I haven’t posted much since my October book reviews. This is because I was busy participating in NaNoWriMo last month. Most of my free time was devoted to hitting the word counts. I actually went into a book slump last month, because I just didn’t have the energy to invest in any books. A lot of what I tried to read felt dry, and I didn’t have the patience to push through.

The good news though is that I achieved my NaNoWriMo goals. I had 2:

  1. Write at least 50,000 words
  2. Reach the midpoint of my story by this point

Since I’m writing an upper MG fantasy, I think 100,000 words is a good target to aim for, at least at the beginning. As you can see on the image, I went a little over and wrote 54,000+ words, but I still ended up at the midpoint, so I’m very happy.

So what’s the next step? I will be finishing off the 2nd draft of my story some time next month, working on the scene-by-scene outline this month. I already know that some things have to change, but I don’t think the changes would be drastic as they were during my 1st draft. And I think that it’s important to have some actual writing (instead of outline) on hand as material for future references. Don’t get me wrong, I love outlining, and I think it’s the most efficient way to find big problems before you spend your time drafting, but at some point you have to start writing. And some problems can only appear to you once you’ve actually written a more detailed account of the story.

There’s also something I plan to do this December that I’m pretty excited about. I’m coming to the end of my Master’s program, and I think it’s a good time to sign up for an online art course. I’ve posted several of my artworks before, so you guys all know what they look like, and I’ve come to the realization that since I began my self-taught foray into the world of art around 7 years ago, I haven’t really improved all that much. Most of my improvement was in efficiency: something that would take me a month to do when I was 18 now only takes me a week or so. But is the quality of the art any better? Hmm… not really. So I think it’s time to seek a more structured way of learning. I have been feeling very dissatisfied with my works lately, except I don’t know how I can improve them. What I need is the ability to identify what makes art good and how I can systematically get there.

Well, there’s my November overview. It was very tiring but also very productive. Here’s to hoping the final month of the year would be fruitful as well.

Writing Woes: My Bad Habits as a Fanfiction Writer

It’s July! That means it’s Camp NaNoWriMo! So far, I’ve been lucky to find the time to write so that I am, on average, hitting my word and plot goals. This month I plan to finish off the first draft to my novel, and I’m trying to do that in around 50,000 words.

The first two times that I participated in NaNoWriMo (the official one last November, and the camp version in April), I tried to employ the techniques I used as a fanfiction writer to churn out enough words and get my story moving. As you know, I have been writing fanfiction for 13 years, so I thought that if I had been able to write for that long, then I must have been doing something right.

I don’t think I was wrong in assuming that. But I think I was wrong in thinking that all the techniques I used to spin out story after story would apply to original fiction. Comparing how much better I’m doing in my third NaNoWriMo than the first two, I think I’ve sorted out which habits I used for fanfiction that aren’t translating very well to my original story.

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Writing Woes: Bored of My Own Characters

You know that saying, “How do you expect people to love you when you don’t love yourself?” Or I don’t know, something along those lines, though perhaps not quite so harsh, as I’m sure I’ve seen that saying on several get-well sites.

Well, that’s how I’m feeling about my own characters. I have talked about this before in this other post. Before that, I also mentioned being bored of my own story. I have taken a break from my story for several weeks, and I am now gearing up for next month’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I have dusted off my notes, and once again, refactored the plot. I spruced up the characters. I have read and reviewed three writing books.

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Writing Woes: Somebody’s Getting Axed

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Well, I think I’m realizing more and more how isolating an endeavour writing can be. Considering how many times I’ve fallen into writing angst in the past several months, I think it’s safe to say that I’m far from the image of the highly energetic, happy-go-lucky writer that I imagined myself to be while working on a fun, light-hearted adventure story. Clearly, I’m not have as much fun as my characters, that’s for sure.

And it seems as if several of them won’t be having fun any longer either.

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Writing Woes: Killing Characters and Resurrection

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To kill or not to kill?

Okay, that sounds super creepy, I know. But I’m talking about writing stories, so *whew*, no worries about that.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for happy endings. There are many books, movies and shows I’ve refused to watch, because people told me that some major character would die, and that they would have sad endings. And here comes the dilemma. How do I balance my taste as a reader with the need that, as an author, I also want to write something meaningful and effective?

Okay, I want to unpack that a little bit, because it’s clear that I’m making some assumptions. I do believe that a story can still be powerful even though nobody dies. At least, nobody I like dies. I know that. I’ve read and seen many books or shows where that was true. For example, Spirited Away. (The MC does lose her memories though, and that’s another can of worms.)

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Writing Woes: A Lesson From My Fanfictions

Remember that post where I ranted about how boring I’m finding my story? Well… I’m just here to say that the feeling hasn’t improved that much. But at least it’s gotten to a tolerable point where I can write down words for the sake of writing down words. I’ve impulsively signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo — possibly, in a manner just as impulsive as I did when signing up for the real deal back in November. So I’m employing every ounce of motivation, organization, self-discipline, and self-tricking into keeping up with the daily word counts.

That said, it still feels like a chore.

Two nights ago, I stumbled across one of my old fanfictions, a draft that I never finished. And it shocked me. Because the writing was so rich and so exciting and so full of voice and character, that I wondered how I could possibly have written it.

Looking back at my fanfictions, I realized that my writing style — no matter what genre my fanfiction happened to fall into — was so much richer than the way I’m writing now. And it’s an incredible shame that I’m able to write so well for other people’s creation, and yet my skills balk when I try to write my own original content.

Then this morning, I think I finally realized what was causing the difference: When I was writing fanfiction, I knew — and cared about — the characters.

I tried to remember all the time in the past when I had a burning desire to write a fanfic. It was because I had a very clear idea of a situation, or a very clear feeling about a character, and I wanted to express it. I have liked many books and shows in the past, but why is it that I write only for a select few fandoms? I think it’s because in order for me to write, I need to first develop a clear characterization of the characters. I have to know what it feels like to be in their shoes. I need to see them existing in a particular situation.

And there definitely have been times when I wanted to write a funny skit, but it wouldn’t work out, because I just couldn’t see the characters in it. Not with the way I envisioned their personality.

I keep talking about past fanfictions, but keep failing to point out to any examples. So here are a few.

BEWARE: The following might contain excessive teen angst or weirdness, poor grammar and spelling, and cheesy lines.

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