Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 22

32,000 words and going strong. I’m going to need to keep averaging at least 2,000 words a day from now until next week in order to make sure I keep up and finish on time. I love my story and I really wish I could work on it more every day, but I’m trying not to push too far past my limits after the week I’m still recovering from.

It’s never a bad thing to take time to think over where you want to go next with your story, either. I take a little time at the end of each day to think about a scene I might want to work on or an event I know I want to happen at some point in the book. I’ve written a lot of the end and a big chunk of the beginning. It’s the middle I’m contemplating now.

book sitting

The interesting thing about this book is that there are a lot of separate stories and POVs that all have to connect by the end to make it work. I love Ally’s story, but I want to develop Tiffany’s a little bit more. She’s also a character that didn’t have as big of a role in the TV pilot I drafted a few years ago.

Character development isn’t the only element I’m brainstorming. I’m also torn between making the entire book split into two parts or split it into more than one book. I don’t want to pull a Stephenie Meyer and make it 600 pages long. But maybe that’s the only way it will work.

I’m so tired I can’t see straight. Can’t you tell?

The things we give up for our WriMos.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 21

30,000 words and counting.

Once you pass this mark, the road to 50,000 is quick with very few bumps. I’m surprised even at how easily the last few thousand words have seemed as I’ve sat down in the mornings to do my best to catch up. I’ve found it’s easier to focus on one “story within a story” at a time. Because there are so many characters, each with their own first-person POV, trying to jump back-and-forth and go in chronological order just wasn’t working. I’ve also written a ton of scenes that did not originally appear in the TV pilot, so that has helped move things along as well.

pencil

Because I’m off most of tomorrow and it’s supposed to rain, I’m hoping I can crank out a few thousand words between waking up and sleeping again. I managed to write 3,000 words yesterday, which really put me about where I’d wanted to be in the first place, but I’m still behind my original goals.

School will do that to you, I suppose.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 20

As someone who has been writing [practically] her entire life, I never think of sitting down and typing out a few fictional sentences as “practicing.” In gymnastics, you get better by doing so many cartwheels you feel like your arms are going to fall off. (Personal experience? Maybe.) In music, you get better by singing until your diaphragm hurts, or blowing into your flute until…yeah, your diaphragm still hurts.

It’s easy to detect progress when you’re flipping around on a mat or glued to a piano bench in a practice room. Growing as a writer is harder to evaluate. And marking progress requires reading through (and cringing in response to) old material, understanding your current style, and even brainstorming ways to incorporate habits you liked but lost into habits you developed and kept.

It’s not easy. But that’s why we practice.

 

newspaper

 

And practicing doesn’t just mean cranking out one novel after another until you have a figurative stack of unpublished books taking up space on your hard drive. It means writing all the time, every day, even if it’s one sentence about a purple kangaroo living in a dying mango tree. (You can discard sentences you don’t like. Sometimes it’s better for everyone.)

What does this not mean? It does not mean forcing yourself to write when you don’t want to. It does not mean typing out a dozen more pages of a story just because you want to make progress. It does not mean making your art come out of the shadows when it’s not ready to emerge.

The past few years, I’ve been busy enough with school that I’ve only started an average of two novels a year: one in November and one in July. I’m not constantly turning idea streamers into pompoms into cheerleaders into high school-dictating cliques that banish traitors for dating mathletes. I write articles for an online magazines and for my school’s newspaper. I’m part of a team that covers stories and captions for our yearbook. Hey, I even blog a little, occasionally.

Bottom line: I’m always writing. If it’s not one of the things mentioned above, it’s stringing together a literary analysis or research source review for a class. Any kind of writing is still writing. It’s still taking words from the brain and putting them on paper. It’s still practicing.

You may not think you’re anything but a novel-writing machine. But what the professional world is looking for is not a writer who has perfected the art of literary fiction. They’re searching for writers who can sit down, choose a medium, and come up with a lead, conclusion, and a whole lot of factual and entertaining content in-between.

Write everything. Everywhere. That’s how born writers become successful writers.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 19

I have officially reached the halfway point of my novel. Passing the 25,000-word mark is always a great feeling, because it’s ALWAYS, without fail, the few thousand words before the halfway point that are the absolute hardest to get through. It’s happened to me during multiple NaNos and during my first JulNo. I can’t say the same about my two-week novel experience post-wisdom tooth removal, but that’s different.

I’m not usually a frequent supporter of the “skip around writing” method when it comes to novel-writing, but sometimes it’s the very method we despise that helps us make the leap back onto the motivation train. I’ve said from the very beginning that I favor Ally’s story the most, probably because her story comes from the least developed plotline of my TV show (the show that I wrote two and a half episodes for and then got bored, but kudos to me for trying). I stopped trying to force the scene I’d been stuck on for the past few days and skipped ahead to one of Ally’s scenes, one I’d been thinking about for awhile. I like it. I like it a lot.

I didn’t get bored with my show, I guess. I’m just used to books. The pace was too slow for me. I need to practice more, if I ever get the chance or decide to endure a summer that does not involve excessive amounts of course work.

keyboard

 

Now that two classes of four are over, I have a lot more time on my hands. A LOT. So I’ve been spending the day reading and writing and tossing around ideas for article pitches. (And playing a little bit of Minecraft with my brother. But pretend you didn’t just read that.) It’s nice to have a “free day.” If it weren’t for the 95-degree weather, I’d probably be tanning right now. But it’s okay. I’m still peeling from last weekend, so it’s probably for the best.

It’s not my fault. The sunscreen was defective.

Ally and Jared were in the middle of a heart-to-heart conversation when I last left them alone. I should probably get back before they take maters into their own hands.

Characters: you just can’t trust them to make decisions for themselves.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 18

I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this tired. I also can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this free.

I’m not done with all of my classes yet (two more weeks – it will go by quick), but two of them are completely done and over with. This means I can focus more time on my internship, reading books for fun, and – of course – writing.

I’m extremely behind as far as word count goes, but I plan to spend a good portion of this weekend catching up. I love my characters and my story – I’ve just been swamped with a thousand other things. Like accounting. Which, if you really think about it, isn’t that hard. If you’re an organization enthusiast like myself, that is.

I think between running, school, sleep and anything else I can squeeze in-between, there’s only one thing that always seems to keep me going: possibilities. Where can my writing lead me in the future? What can it help me to achieve? I’m 20 years old and have no idea what I want to do with my life, but there are 50+ year-olds who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. I’m not worried. I’ve come to realize that the only thing you really can do if you have a dream is practice your passions, toss them out into the open, and wait for things to fall into place.

 

arrowWriting is something that energizes me. It helps me focus on something other than that homework assignment over there, or that test next week, or that tuition I have to hope my parents will continue to pay for (isn’t education fun?). Of all the things I do, it often seems to be the only thing I can sit down and do without stressing over it.

I’m not stressed about my low word count. I know I’ll get there.

I always have a good enough reason to try, anyway.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 17

I always seem to live life on the edge. Always procrastinating to the point of physical and/or emotional danger is a habit I’m not necessarily proud of. You would think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of finishing off a semester with 89 or 79 percents. Some professors don’t round, you know. And at most universities, an 89 percent is a straight B. There are no B+s in the real world, apparently.

Fortunately, each day I seem to discover more ways in which my bad habit of procrastinating can benefit me more than hinder me. I’m much more efficient and productive when I’m scrambling around trying to get an entire to-do list checked off in one day, for example. In the academic world, procrastination is the equivalent of a bad word (in my book, at least). In the real world, it’s a choice. Some work better under pressure. Some don’t.

There’s a difference between procrastination and not having time to get something done early, though. Take my current novel as an example. It’s past the JulNo halfway point, and I have yet to hit the halfway point as far as word count goes. What does that mean? It probably means that during the last few days of July, I’ll be doing nothing other than eating, sleeping, going to class and writing. But am I procrastinating? No. I would have loved to make some headway on my story today. Why didn’t I? Because I had a final. And then I had other work to do, followed by class, and then I got caught up in writing an article for my internship.

And now it’s almost ten, and I still have a test to study for tomorrow. So will I get any words in today? Probably not. But it’s not the end of the world. I’m not deliberately putting my characters’ lives on hold. I just had more pressing matters to attend to, like the anatomy of the female reproductive system, and memorizing the motility and function of a red blood cell.

RedBloodCell_Rogeriopfm

 

Don’t ask me why, but the shape of a red blood cell has always sort of fascinated me. I know that makes me sound really weird (you have permission to stop reading, un-follow, whatever floats your boat), but if you know anything about human biology, you know that RBCs live a pretty simple yet necessary life. They carry a little hemoglobin, shrink and bend to accommodate to their environment – and after 120 days, they’ve fulfilled their purpose and are free to die peacefully.

It’s a happy ending. Besides, they don’t have nuclei (a.k.a. brains), so they don’t really care whether or not they live happy lives and/or die peacefully.

There are disadvantages to pursuing a B.A. and a B.S. at the same time. I can never seem to stop writing about science.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 16

I’ve learned something very important in the past 12 hours. It has nothing to do with word count or test grades or running in six thousand percent humidity. It has nothing to do with how delicious Jimmy Johns sandwiches are, or how many applications someone has to fill out before their head explodes.

No. It has to do with Starbucks.

I made a mistake, you see. A big mistake. And this big mistake started a chain reaction of smaller, less significant mistakes, all leading to the same consequences and therefore one big conclusion. My conclusion: never drink coffee after eight o’clock ever again. EVER. AGAIN.

The decision to get coffee on the way home from a very long day was, well, not a terrible decision to start out with. It was almost eight, I was tired, and I knew I had to come home and finish my accounting homework before I went to bed. So of course, at the time, it seemed like a fabulous idea. But the first little mistake was, of course, not ordering a tall sans whipped cream.

I knew as I sipped my grande iced mocha latte (with whipped cream) that I would definitely be awake long enough to finish my accounting homework. I mean, I’ll do anything to declare victory over FIFO/LIFO and gross profit. I didn’t know that when I’d finally finished my homework (before eleven, which was much sooner than I’d expected), I would still be awake. Very, very awake.

Enter mistake  No. 2 – deciding not to go to bed. The thing about thinking your not tired is, once you get cozy under your blankets and cuddle with your pink stuffed elephant anyway (don’t judge me), falling asleep really isn’t all that hard. Because once I start reading a book or even think about closing my eyes, BOOM – I can fall asleep in seconds.

But no. I decided to fill out my fall intentions form for my internship, and gather application materials for a position in said internship, and read some articles and OH, let’s write some more words!

1:30am and I had a party. It was beautiful. Until my alarm went off at five.

Now you understand why I’m fighting to push through the morning.

boxer

 

It’s okay, though. I’m past 22,000 words and don’t have to almost make myself have a stroke trying to finish my accounting homework this morning. And now I can drink as much coffee as I want, because there’s no chance I’m going to bed early when I have (technically) two finals tomorrow.

But first, I have to finish the take-home test I’ve barely started for another class.

College life. It never gets boring.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 15

I don’t know how I could survive without running. Running shoes, Gatorade, accidentally eating my hair if it’s not tied back away from my face – you may not think sweat is glamorous, but I thrive on the combination of adrenaline from a morning jog and the caffeine that comes in liquid form from a coffee maker in my kitchen. I mean, when you’re trying to squeeze as many things into one summer as I am, you really don’t have a choice.

I suppose I could potentially do without the coffee and run on endorphins, adrenaline and sleep like normal people. But I guess I just don’t want to give it up. So there.

The good news is, one class of four is officially complete (until I actually get my final grade, I guess it’s technically not, but close enough), so I can focus all my attention on anatomy and physiology for the next three days, then on microbiology and accounting for only two more weeks after that. Then I’ll be a free woman again.

Of course, once finals are over, JulNoWriMo will be, too. But whatever.

3drun

 

Today marks the official halfway point, and unfortunately I’m a little behind where I wanted to be by this morning. I am at a pretty solid 21,000 words or so, though, so I’m sprinting slowly toward the finish line. I’ll do my best to catch up this weekend between my last class Thursday night and Sunday, when I won’t be doing much of anything other than eating cake and trying to limit myself to how many books I’ll let myself buy from Barnes & Noble.

One. Can I limit myself to just one? Heh. Probably not.

Once July 31 comes and goes, though, I might keep writing. That doesn’t usually happen, but I really like the way my story is starting to adapt from the few episodes of the TV series I started attempting to write a few years ago (I still pretty much suck at dialogue, but I really don’t mind all that much). I’m able to add a lot more than what I had to squeeze into fifty pages of script. I’m still trekking through the pilot episode. Technically, not even half a day has passed as far as time in my novel’s universe is concerned.

I kind of like that.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 14

What do you do when you find yourself lost inside your novel? More importantly, what do you do when you’re lost OUTSIDE of it? It’s one thing to feel so immersed in your story that the world around you just doesn’t compare to the time and space of an alternate, imagined universe. It’s something completely different to wake up one morning, think about your story, and realize your connection with your characters has somehow been temporarily severed.

lostpic

 

It’s not uncommon to have a day or two when you just can’t bring yourself to sit down and write a few thousand words in your spare time. I didn’t write a single word yesterday – and even though I easily could have after getting back from the movies last night, I just didn’t. Or, rather, I couldn’t. One thing I’ve learned over the past five years of “ultra-noveling” is that you can’t force yourself to write when you don’t want to. It never ends pretty. And I’m all about clean-cut endings.

Except for stories that end in cliffhangers. But that’s a completely different type of ink.

We have good days and we have bad days. There have been days over the past two weeks where I could have sat down and written at least five thousand words straight if it hadn’t been for other commitments and responsibilities. Two summers ago, when I didn’t have any classes to take or internships to upkeep, my novel was essentially my main priority in July. That’s one of many reasons why I was able to crank out 28,000 words in fourteen days. Ask me to do that now, and I’d probably fall asleep on my keyboard. I really don’t want any strange indents on my forehead, thank you very much.

Granted, I was a little loopy on painkillers (thank you, wisdom teeth, for being so deeply impacted inside my jaw). But hey, some of those scenes were the best I’ve yet to write. Not that I’d ever willingly go through that again. I like my cheeks being normal-sized.

So what do I do when I’m lost outside the world I’ve created inside my head? I wait. I sleep and I ponder and I brainstorm. And then, when all my other responsibilities for the day are done, I sit down and see how far my ideas will carry me.

When I’m lost within the mess? Well, that’s the most beautiful thing about writing there could ever be.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Tales of a Highly Caffeinated JulNoWriMo Enthusiast – Day 12

General rule of thumb: don’t stuff a gun in your purse and then try to bury it in a forest. Just don’t. Leave it in the closet with the figurative skeletons and walk away.

I think one thing TV writers do the most efficiently and effectively is making sure their characters do something stupid at least once per episode. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just stating an opinion. My characters have done some pretty stupid things in my books, but it’s not like I tell them to do it. They come up with these ideas on their own. Sort of.

I’ve really been struggling to come up with creative content lately. I can write quantity – travel back two years almost to the day and there’s your proof. It’s not quality I struggle with, either – it’s maintaining a reader’s short attention span that I spend most of my time working on when I free write (because our attention spans are so short nowadays, when it says to microwave the soup for a minute and a half, it’s the end of the world in four seconds flat).

The best books I’ve ever read have pulled me in with the first line. That’s an art I haven’t quite mastered yet, but I would love to be able to say I have someday. My stories are okay, but I take a good fifty pages to finally get to something interesting. Which, I guess for a quantity contest, isn’t that big of a deal at this point.

3dobx

 

I’ve been struggling with my articles this semester as well, but no matter what type of writing you’re focusing on in any given period, you’re always going to have to play with your style a little bit and tweak it to fit the right mold. You can’t change your voice – that’s always going to be there. But tamper with your tone and you can write in any medium. I can go from writing an academic literature review to an article about yogurt to a story about pirates without much effort – it took a lot of practice, but once I had to learn how to do it, it kind of just became habit.

Okay, I’ve never written about pirates before. But now I’m kind of tempted to write about evil pirates who steal yogurt from a professor doing research on a deserted island.

Yeah, my brain went there. It can’t help itself. I’ve tried to reason with it in these situations, but it never listens to me. Stubborn, stubborn.

And I wonder why I’m single . . .

Love&hugs, Meg<3