My Year In Writing

Happy New Year, friends! 2015 was a pretty crazy year for me. At times I feel like I didn’t do enough, but I have to remind myself that I’ve actually accomplished some important things:

  • I graduated from college.
  • I worked on three major writing projects (even if I haven’t finished any of them yet).
  • I participated in NaNoWriMo for the tenth year in a row, and won for the eighth time.
  • I taught my first writing class, and it was so much fun!
  • I applied to be a writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library––and even though I didn’t end up winning, I was one of 12 finalists. (And I’m definitely going to apply again for the 2016-2017 residency. *fingers crossed*)

A Summary of My 2015 Writing Progress:

I Chose The MonsterI’ve been working on the first draft of this novel on-and-off for more than three years now, I think. But in 2015, I really put effort into it, after neglecting it for almost an entire year. I’m now powering through the last few chapters of the first draft, while I’m also taking notes and making plans for my revisions (which I plan to start in 2016).

Words written: 36,171

The Waters and the WildI started this project last year for my Div III (senior project) at Hampshire. Even though I didn’t write very much of it this year, it did go through a major facelift. At the end of 2014, I had written over 60,000 words of it and was not happy with it. I felt it was missing an important element. So at the beginning of 2015, as my last semester of college was starting, I decided to start from scratch with a new concept––instead of it being a generic fantasy inspired by Irish mythology, it became a surreal historical fantasy about a girl trying to survive the potato famine, while she simultaneously faces visions of a fantasy world that may or may not be real.

This was the first time I had totally re-started a novel from scratch, but it was absolutely the right decision. While the first draft had felt like something I was forcing out, the new draft felt much closer to what I wanted. (It was also the writing sample that nearly got me the residency at the Boston Public Library!) I really hope to continue my research for it again soon, and to return to my current draft of it by the end of 2016.

Words written: 8,999

The Resurrectionists: My surprise project of the year! Unlike my other two WIPs, The Resurrectionists was an entirely new project. I started thinking about it this past summer, when I had to walk past a graveyard every day on the way to and from work. As NaNoWriMo approached, it transformed from a vague idea about grave-digging to a more complicated story based on real grave robberies in 18th-century London. Although I still have a tremendous amount of background research to do, I really had fun with this story during November. I love the delightfully scary concept of it, especially because part of it is based in fact. But by the end of NaNo, I was also starting to really like the characters and all the dynamics starting to develop between them. It may be a while before I return to it, but I’m excited to see where I can go with it.

Words written: 50,499

I might not have finished any drafts this year, but I do feel I made significant progress with the three projects I worked on. I wrote a total of more than 95,000 words this year, which is great!

What I learned this year in writing:

  • It’s okay to start something from scratch if the current draft really isn’t working.
  • Detailed outlines can sometimes suck the life out of something for me (which I think is partly what happened with my first draft of The Waters and the Wild). With my first draft of The Resurrectionists, I tried a new tactic where I write a little and then outline a little, and go back and forth between the two. That seemed to work a lot better for me.
  • Keeping a writing journal has really helped me to meet my goals, face my writing fears, and track my progress.
  • I really like historical fantasy. It’s something I hadn’t really tried before this year, but somehow The Waters and the Wild and The Resurrectionists both became historical fantasies, and I had a lot of fun writing them and researching for them. It’s a new genre to me, but I hope to keep trying it out.

My writing goals for 2016:

  • Finish the first draft of I Chose the Monster and start revisions, getting feedback, etc.
  • Keep researching for The Waters and the Wild and The Resurrectionists. Possibly start working on my drafts of them again.
  • Win NaNoWriMo again!
  • Apply for the residency at the Boston Public Library again.
  • Keep teaching my writing classes.
  • Maybe try to write and/or send out a short story or two.
  • Try to publish at least one writing-related post to this blog per week.

As you can see, these are all kinda vague and flexible and some of them are “maybe”s. I do hope to do at least a few of these things in 2016, but I’ll try not to beat myself up if I don’t reach all/any of them––and I’m also open to any surprises that come my way! 😀

How about you guys? 

  • How’d your year of writing go?
  • Do you have any goals for 2016, or are you just going to go with the flow?
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WIPMarathon: December 2015

I can’t believe there’s only a day left in 2015! This year has gone by way too quickly … and yet it also feels like it’s been super long. It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, I was about to start my last semester of college. And now it’s been more than 7 months since I graduated (yikes, can that be right???). Wow.

Without further ado, here is my WIPMarathon  post for December.

This month I got back to working on I Chose The Monster. (And … surprise surprise, I still haven’t finished this first draft. But I’m really, really close!)

Last WC/CC: 128,804 words / 46 chapters

Current WC/CC: 144,668 words / 51 chapters

WIP Issues This Month:

I haven’t written much in the past week or so because of all the holiday craziness, and I didn’t write much at the beginning of December, either … but those two or so weeks in between, I really wrote up a storm. There was one week where I pledged to write 2k each day and I actually did it. I totaled about 15k words for the month––which for a non-NaNo month is pretty great, by my standards.

However, I wouldn’t say this first draft is flawless––in fact, I would say the opposite. It’s an utter mess. This month in particular, I was trying to get through the final section of the story, and there were parts when I felt really stuck and just skipped over big chunks of time. I think right now, the main problem is that so much of the central conflict is crammed into the last like, five chapters. I’m already starting to think about the next drafts, and how I’m going to introduce the biggest conflict/stakes earlier in the story. It’s coming to me bit by bit … but right now I just need to focus on getting to the end of this draft.

What I learned this month in writing: 

  • I am capable of meeting word goals if I just take the time to sit down and focus on writing for an hour or two.
  • If I have a larger word goal for the day, it can help to divide it into smaller chunks.
  • It’s helpful to start brainstorming for future drafts even when I’m still on the first draft––but I also try not to let that distract me from finishing the draft I’ve started.

What distracted me this month while writing:

  • Two words: Christmas shopping
  • And you know, Christmas itself

Goal for Next Month:

Finish this gosh darn draft of I Chose The Monster. No really, I’m serious. I have like two chapters left and I just need to do it.

If I do finish it before the end of January (which I will!!!) I’m going to start the editing process. The first order of business will be to start cutting out what I don’t need (which is a lot) but I also need to start reworking the plot, fleshing out characters and backstories more, etc. It’s going to be a good time.

Last 200 Words:

I can’t seem to get my legs to move yet. My hand is on my gun, and I pull it from its holster, yet I can’t throw myself into the battle. Although I’ve anticipated this moment for days, although I knew it was inevitable, it all seems so unreal. Truthfully, all I want to do is run and hide. In fact, some people are doing just that. While some throw themselves into the fight, others are scattering in all directions. But soon it’s clear that there’s nowhere to hide. The Morts have us surrounded.

I close my eyes and try to think through the wild pounding in my head. I quickly remember why I’m doing this. Who I’m doing it for. My parents. My friends. All the people I’ve lost. All the life I’ll never get to live.

And I remind myself why I made this choice. How I could have chosen death, or I could have chosen to fight back.

How I could have chosen to go peacefully, or to give up all humanity so I could do all the things I’ve done—everything that has led me here.

To be a ghost or to be a monster.

And I’ve chosen the monster.

Title drop! …. Sort of.

I hope you’ve all had a good writing month/year! Did you manage to get any writing done despite the holiday season?

Tomorrow I’ll be posting an end-of-the-year wrap-up and some of my writing goals for 2016!

Liebster Award!

Lauren at Always Me was kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award––thanks, Lauren! 🙂 The Liebster is an award that bloggers give to each other as a way to promote blogs with less than 1,000 followers. It’s also a fun get-to-know-the-blogger tag!

liebsteraward-roses-tag

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions the nominator has given you.
3. Tag 11 bloggers who have less than 1,000 readers.
4. Think of 11 questions to ask the bloggers you have nominated.
5. Let them know you’ve nominated them through social media or their blog.

Lauren’s Questions (And My Answers!)

1. How do you organize your bookshelves?

*Laughs forever* Um … I don’t? I’m very disorganized. 😛 I have a couple shelves crammed with books, but then I just have random piles of books all over my room … and the whole house, really.

2. You’ve been tasked to rewrite a book, which book would it be and why?

Honestly, I’d probably rewrite the Maximum Ride series. I really liked the first couple books when I was in middle school, and then around book three or four they started to go way downhill. I don’t know all the details, but I assume (since it’s a James Patterson series) that it suffered from being handled by too many ghostwriters at once. There was some potential in the plot and characters, but after a while there were way too many gaping plot holes and character inconsistencies (and in the later books, a lot of weird preachiness). I feel like with some reworking, they could have been much better.

3. What 2016 book release are you most excited for?

Ugh, definitely The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (the fourth Raven Cycle book). The release date has been postponed so many times and I WANT IT NOWWW. *cries*

4. What group of fictional friends would you like to share a lunch table with?

Ooh, that’s a toughie. Well maybe it’s because I just mentioned the Raven Cycle but I would love to hang out with Blue and the “raven boys”. 🙂

It would also be really fun to hang out with the whole gang from Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus!

5. If you could recast any classic tv show with modern actors, what show would you choose and what modern actors would you select?

Huh, I really don’t watch as many classic TV shows as I should so I’m drawing a blank here. And I feel like a lot of the classic shows have already had remakes of some kind, so … I’m not sure. Sorry I’m copping out on this question, I just can’t seem to think of anything. 😀 It is a cool question, though!

6. If you could see any musical group, past or present, which would you want to see and what song would you like to here them perform?

I’m lucky enough that I’ve had the chance to see a lot of my favorite bands over the past few years, but there are still a few of my all-time favorites that I have yet to see! The first thing that comes to mind for me is Florence + The Machine. I adore Florence Welch’s voice and I bet she’d sound amazing live. As for which song, “Howl” has always been one of my favorites and I bet it’d be really awesome.

I’d also really love to see The Killers perform “Mr. Brightside” or “All These Things That I’ve Done”.

7. Which hyped book were you most thrilled by?

I guess it depends what you mean by “hyped” … I love a lot of classics and other popular books! I think it’s impossible for me to name just one, but I love a lot of popular/hyped YA authors like Patrick Ness, Neal Shusterman, Maggie Stiefvater, Rick Riordan, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld … the list goes on and on. 😀

8. Which hyped book were you most disappointed by?

Hmm, once again it’s hard to choose just one. But most recently, I’ve found myself disappointed in a bunch of hyped books … An Ember in the Ashes, Uprooted, Red Queen, and Throne of Glass to name a few. (I seem to have something against books about “plain” girls who are thrown into upper-class/royal life … ? Haha.) I see why people like all these books of course, and it wasn’t that I hated any of them or anything; they just didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

9.  What’s a book that you love, but isn’t very well known?

Hmm, a lot of my favorite books are pretty well-known so I’m having difficulty thinking of something off the top of my head. But one series I think is criminally underrated is the Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey. I guess it’s fairly well-known, but it’s definitely overshadowed by Yancey’s 5th Wave series.

Also, recently I read Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin and it really blew me away. It only came out a couple months ago so I haven’t heard much hype about it yet, but I could see it becoming a popular book.

10. What social media website do you prefer?

Goodreads and Tumblr are my favorites! But I spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well.

11. What 2016 book to movie adaptation are you most excited to see?

A Monster Calls, definitely! I love Patrick Ness and it’s so exciting to finally see one of his books adapted into a movie. It looks like it has a great cast, and it’s one of my favorite books, so I hope it’s good. (I will definitely bawl my eyes out, though.)

Thanks again Lauren for tagging me!

My Nominees:

Melanie at On and Off the Bookshelf
Eleanor Glewwe
Kristen Taber
Cheyenne at A Leap In The Dark
Alyssa at I Am A Writer … Hear Me Roar!
Ava Jey at Writability
Katie at Katsyxo
Allison Maruska
Heather at Heather Burnside Author
Holly at Nut Free Nerd
Bridgett at Writing and Musing

For some of you, I’m actually not sure how many followers you have––but I think it’s fine if you participate in the tag even if you have more than 1,000. 🙂

My Questions: 

  1. Put your music on shuffle. What are the first five songs that come up?
  2. What’s the last thing that made you laugh really hard?
  3. What’s something you did in 2015 that you’re proud of?
  4. What’s one thing you hope to accomplish in 2016?
  5. Do you enjoy going to concerts? If so, what was the last one you went to?
  6. What is one of your favorite quotes?
  7. What is the weirdest food you like?
  8. What book has made you cry the hardest?
  9. What was the best day of your life?
  10. What fictional world would you love to live in (or at least spend some time in)?
  11. If you could meet any author (living or dead), who would it be?

Thanks again Lauren for the nomination! And I hope at least a few of my nominees will participate––but of course, no hard feelings if you don’t have the time. 🙂

Hope you’re all having a lovely day. It finally snowed here! … But it’s already pretty slushy and disgusting. At least it actually feels like winter, though. 😛 Sometime later this week, I will post my final WIPMarathon post of the year, as well as my writing goals for 2016. Stay tuned!

Music Monday *Special Edition*: 12/28/15 – My Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2015

Welcome to a very special edition of Music Monday––my (hopefully annual) “favorite albums of the year” post. 😀

In my opinion, 2015 was one of the best years for music in a long time. So many of my favorite bands released new albums, and there were many awesome debuts as well. It was really hard to pick a top 10 (and equally challenging to decide how to order them). But after a lot of thought, here it is … my top 10 favorite albums of 2015!

#10: The Paper Kites – twelvefour

Since their formation in 2010, The Paper Kites have consistently been creating beautiful music. Their latest album, twelvefour, is no exception. If you’re wondering about the meaning of the title, it’s because every song on the album was written between the hours of 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.––the concept being that window of time is when we are at our most vulnerable mental state, and therefore able to create our best work. The execution of this concept works perfectly: twelvefour is mesmerizing and ethereal, with its softly pulsing rhythms, drifting vocals, and thought-provoking lyrics.

Favorite Track: “Electric Indigo” 

#9: BOY – We Were Here

Despite their misleading name, BOY consists of two wonderfully talented women, Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass. They released their first album, Mutual Friends, in 2011, and it quickly found a special place in my heart. (Several tracks on it, such as “Drive Darling” and “July”, never fail to bring tears to my eyes.) We Were Here definitely lives up to its predecessor––it has the same beautiful vocals and heart-warming lyrics that made me fall in love with the Swiss-German duo in the first place. But it also feels like a bold step forward––it feels a bit more epic and confident than their debut, while still maintaining a trademark sound. With only 9 tracks, it’s a fairly short album, but it still packs a powerful, emotional punch.

Favorite Track: “We Were Here” 

#8: Joywave – How Do You Feel Now?

How Do You Feel Now? is Joywave’s first full-length album, and it’s a solid debut with a lot of variety. Some tracks, like “Now” and “Feels Like a Lie” are more upbeat, while tracks such as “Destruction” and “Tongues” have a harder edge to them. But they’re all tied together by an intriguing and unique sound––an interesting blend of rock and electro-pop. This album was a pleasant surprise for me when I first listened to it, since I’d only heard a few tracks from the band previously. It’s a great album, and I’m excited to see what Joywave does next.

Favorite Track: “Destruction”

 #7: Nate Ruess – Grand Romantic

You may know Nate Ruess from his pop band fun., or maybe from his former indie rock band The Format––but this year, Ruess released his first solo album. There are definitely touches of his previous music ventures in Grand Romantic, but it also has a very theatrical sound that sets it apart. As always, Ruess displays his wide range of talent––from his electrifying energy (“AhHa”, “Great Big Storm”, “You Light My Fire”) to his more tender side (“Nothing Without Love”, “Moment”). Some of the slower songs on the album (such as “Take It Back” and “It Only Gets Much Worse”) are less memorable in my opinion, although they’re still pretty. But otherwise, this is an album full of life, energy, and emotion, and I enjoy it immensely.

Favorite Track: “Nothing Without Love” 

#6: Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface

For some reason, I only listened to this album a couple of times when it first came out––but more recently, I’ve found myself listening to it on repeat and falling in love with it more and more every time I listen to it. Something I’ve always admired about Twenty One Pilots is their innovative blending of genres––rock, pop, hip-hop, rap, reggae, alternative … Some of their songs sound like three songs rolled into one. And I love it. With their distinct sound, crazy energy, and honest lyrics (and adorable faces––I mean, just look at them!) it’s no wonder they’ve built up such a huge cult following over the past few years. Blurryface, the duo’s fourth studio album, may be their best achievement yet.

Favorite Track: “Tear In My Heart” 

#5: Misterwives – Our Own House

When I was lucky enough to see Misterwives perform at Boston Calling this past September, there was a point where lead singer Mandy Lee literally did push-ups on the stage while yelling, “DO YOU EVER THINK SOCIETY’S STANDARDS FOR WOMEN AND MEN ARE TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT?!?!” … And yeah, that basically captures the essence of Our Own House, the indie pop band’s debut studio album. It’s bold, it’s insanely energetic, and it’s empowering. You may have heard the popular single “Reflections”, and the band displays the same high energy on tracks like “Best I Can Do” and title track “Our Own House”. They also demonstrate a more emotional side on powerful ballads like “Coffins” and “Queens”. But perhaps their boldest moves are tracks like “Hurricane” and “Not Your Way”––which encourage the defiance of societal norms, and inspire listeners to rebel against injustice. Nearly every track on this album is gold, and it’s all tied together by Lee’s incredible vocals and the band’s uplifting, big-band sound.

Favorite Track: “Hurricane”

#4: Halsey – BADLANDS

Well … call me basic, but I love this album. Halsey (otherwise known as Ashley Frangipane) is literally an overnight success. The day after she uploaded her single “Ghost” to Soundcloud, she met with five different record labels. In less than a year, she has managed to draw in thousands of devoted fans. “I will never be anything but honest,” the bio on her website reads. “I write songs about sex and being sad.” That boldness and honesty shines through on BADLANDS––a concept album based on the idea of a post-apocalyptic metropolis surrounded by wasteland. It’s the type of dark pop that’s been popularized by artists like Lorde and Lana Del Rey, but with its own unique twist. I love the narrative quality of it, how there are cool dystopian vibes to songs like “Gasoline” and “Castle”. It also includes several catchy belt-it-out songs (especially “New Americana”) that convey empowering themes of freedom and independence.  It’s a really solid pop album and a promising debut.

Favorite Track: “Castle”

#3: Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

I am a huge, huge fan of Florence. I became obsessed with her first album, Lungs, when I was in high school––and honestly, few albums have topped it for me since then. I loved her second album, Ceremonials, almost as much. I have to say: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is not my favorite album of hers––but I still love it (obviously, since it’s #3 on this list). I kind of miss the usual dark, cinematic quality that has been a staple of her music for so long. However, I appreciate that she tried a new style on this album. She shows more of a rock-‘n’-roll edge on guitar-heavy tracks like “What Kind of Man”––yet she also shows a lighter and more optimistic side of herself in upbeat songs like “Third Eye”, belting out the uplifting lyrics, “You don’t have to be a ghost / here amongst the living / You are flesh and blood / You deserve to be loved / and you deserve what you are given”. Considering her first two albums were pretty doom-and-gloom, it’s nice to see a happier side of Florence. But for fans of her old work, there are still songs like “Queen of Peace” and “Delilah” that still hold her trademark dark-fairytale vibe. And as always, her voice is incredible and her lyrics are inspiring. 

Favorite Track: “Third Eye”

#2 – Of Monsters and Men – Beneath The Skin

When Of Monsters and Men released their first album (My Head Is An Animal) in 2012, it became an instant favorite of mine. I eagerly awaited their second album for three years, and Beneath The Skin does not disappoint––in fact, it might even be stronger than their debut. The Icelandic band has really honed their sound into something utterly beautiful and haunting. The title is very fitting, since something about this album truly does get under my skin. It evokes mental images of dark fantasy worlds and childhood fears. Maybe it’s the ethereal vocals and all the big drums, but listening to Beneath The Skin makes me feel as if I’m being chased by something shadowy through a foggy forest. It’s delightfully creepy––but more than that, it’s just really dang gorgeous.

Favorite Track: “Black Water”

AND MY FAVORITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR IS …

#1: CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye

I had so much trouble choosing an order for my top 10 albums of the year, but I knew from the start that Every Open Eye was going to be #1. This is, without a doubt, my favorite album of the year. I’ve been a fan of CHVRCHES since they released their first song, and their first album (The Bones of What You Believe) is one of my absolute favorites. So of course, I was excited to see what the Scottish synthpop trio would do next. The day Every Open Eye came out, I listened to it on repeat pretty much all day––by the time I saw CHVRCHES perform at Boston Calling the next night (and they were INCREDIBLE), I had just about memorized every song already. In the two months since then, my love for this album has only grown. I’ve listened to it countless times by now, and every time I feel just as excited as that first time I heard it.

Everything about this album is just electrifying. From the first thrilling notes of “Never Ending Circles” to the empowering last song “Bow Down,” I’m utterly invested. In between, you’ll find everything from the edgy “Clearest Blue” and “Leave a Trace”, to the sweetly inspirational “Make Them Gold”, to upbeat dance tracks like “Empty Threat”, to more slow-burning songs like “Downside of Me” and “Afterglow”. All throughout, the catchy beats and Lauren Mayberry’s pure voice turn every song glittery and magical. This album is amazing, and it fills my heart with rainbows.

Favorite Track: “Clearest Blue”

Honorable Mentions

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I thought this was an amazing year for music, and there were so many albums I wanted to include in my favorites list, but there are a bunch that didn’t quite make it into my top 10. I wanted to list some of them just to acknowledge that I like and appreciate them nevertheless:

Bronze Radio Return – Light Me Up
The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
Marina & the Diamonds – FROOT
The Mowgli’s – Kids in Love
Elle King – Love Stuff
Boy & Bear – Limit of Love
Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors
Passion Pit – Kindred

Thus, I bring my “Favorite Albums of 2015” post to a close. What a year of amazing music, and I can’t wait to see what favorite new artists and albums 2016 has in store!

If you want to hear more of my favorite songs of the year, you can check out my Best of 2015 playlist on Spotify. 🙂

How about you guys? What were your favorite albums of the year?

Why You Should Keep a Writing Journal

I wrote a post a while ago about why I love keeping a journal. I like having a place to record my memories, thoughts, and feelings––both for my mental health and to remember things that I might have forgotten otherwise.

But besides having a personal journal, I also keep a writing journal. I mentioned this in my August WIPMarathon update, but I thought I would take this opportunity to go into more detail about it.

What is a writing journal?

There’s no official set of rules about what a writing journal “has” to be. But for me, my writing journal is just a Word document that I keep on my laptop. When I sit down to write, the first thing I do is open the document. For each day, I write the following:

[Date]
Work in Progress:
Mode: [Writing or editing]
Current word count:
Progress since last entry: [x] words

After that, I write a paragraph or two describing things like:

  • What part I’m at in the story
  • What’s going to happen next
  • What I’m happy about
  • What I’m frustrated with

I also might make a few notes about what my current writing goals are for the day/week/month.

When I’m done with the entry, then I move on to writing!

Why is this helpful?

I’ve found that keeping a writing journal is beneficial for many reasons. To name a few:

It helps me keep track of my progress. There’s something satisfying about seeing my word count going up with each writing session. It’s a way to remind myself that, even on days when writing feels like pulling teeth, I’ve still come a long way and I’m still making progress.

I can make sure I’m meeting my goals. I can mentally tell myself I’ll write [x] amount of words/chapters within a certain timeframe, but I’ve found I’m much more likely to reach those goals if I write them down. When I write a journal entry saying I’m going to try to write 250 words a day for a month, I’ve noticed I’m far more likely to keep that promise after I’ve written it down.

It’s a good way to vent my frustrations. Who else is tormented by that annoying little voice in your head that says you suck at writing? I’m sure I’m not the only one. That discouraging little voice has definitely held me back from writing on numerous occasions. Some days, it prevents me from writing altogether.

But, here’s my advice for facing those inner demons: listen to what they have to say and write it down. What are you afraid of? Do you think your first draft is horrendous? Are you worried that your plot is boring and your characters are flat?

Write all those fears down––then take a deep breath, and let them go. Remind yourself that no one can write a perfect first draft––or a perfect second or third draft, for that matter. But you can’t let that fear prevent you from writing at all. Personally, I’ve found that writing down my anxieties makes them seem a lot smaller. Almost everything I fear is something that can be fixed: plot holes, clunky sentences, dull characters … Make note of them now, but then move on. Finish that draft. You can always go back and fix the mistakes later.

Those are the main reasons why I enjoy keeping a writing journal, and so far it has helped me make a lot of progress. Does anyone else keep a writing journal, and does it help you? If you don’t, do you think you might try it? Comment and let me know! 🙂

Music Monday: 12/21/15

Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start! I don’t know about you guys, but I still have Christmas shopping to do. *bites nails* Luckily I’m almost done, though! Hopefully, no matter what you celebrate, you’re having an excellent holiday season.

And now for another Music Monday! Today is going to be all about positive vibes, since the holiday season and the New Year always make me feel a bit more optimistic. So here are two songs that make me feel happy and hopeful!

The Colourist – Set It Right

If you’re ever having a hard day, The Colourist is an excellent band to listen to. This song in particular is an upbeat reminder that you’re strong and can keep going. I love it!

The Mowgli’s – Whatever Forever

The Mowgli’s are another good choice if you ever need a little pick-me-up. They captured my heart a couple years ago with their ridiculously catchy song “San Francisco” and their newest album, Kids in Love, features a number of equally energetic songs. “Whatever Forever” is one of my favorites, and it’s an instant mood-booster.

If you would also like to participate in Music Monday:

• Every Monday, share 1-2 songs. It can be any genre, it can be something new or it can be an old favorite. Whatever you want!
• Share a music/lyric video of the song.
• Tell us some of your thoughts/feelings about the song, artist, and/or music video.
• Submit the link to your blog post at the bottom of Lauren’s post here (where it says “Add your link”).

A week from today, I will be sharing a special “Top 10 Albums of 2015” Music Monday post, and I’m very excited about it! Also, if you would like to listen to a playlist of all the Music Monday songs I’ve recommended so far, you can listen to them here.

Thank you for joining me for another Music Monday. (And I’d love to hear what songs make you guys happy!)

Writing and Insomnia: Is there a connection?

You know how most, normal people just lay down in bed at night and go right to sleep? Well … not me. I would kill to have that ability! (Just kidding. Maybe.)

Just the other night, in fact, I didn’t fall asleep until past 4 AM. About three months ago, I had the worst bout of insomnia of my life, where I was only getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night for weeks. Some nights it was only 1 hour. Sometimes it was no sleep at all.

When I tell people I got no sleep, they often ask me “Why?” And uh … I wish I had an answer. I’m not even doing anything during that time when I could be sleeping. Usually I’m just lying there with my eyes closed, wondering why the heck I’m not asleep yet.

How is this writing-related, you may ask? Well, I’ve often wondered if insomnia and writing go hand-in-hand. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve used storytelling as a way to combat sleeplessness. All the nights I’ve spent lying awake worrying––whether it was about monsters in the closet or how I’m going to pay back my student loans––I’ve always started writing scenes in my head to distract myself from worrying about real-life problems (which are much scarier and more stressful to me).

It’s almost a “Which came first––the chicken or the egg?” scenario. Am I bad at sleeping because I’m always making up stories in my head? Or did I become a writer because I lie awake every night imagining things? Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

So, I’m curious: Are any of my fellow writers out there also insomniacs? If so, do you think the two are related? And if you aren’t an insomniac … please grant me your magic sleeping powers. Seriously.

Music Monday (Yes I know it’s Tuesday): 12/15/15

I totally meant to do Music Monday yesterday and then it slipped my mind. Oops! I should probably set some kind of reminder for myself in the future.

Anyway, even though it’s Tuesday, I thought I would do my Music Monday a day late. Here are my two choices of the week.

Coasts – A Rush of Blood

I found this song over the summer and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It just has a really “soaring” feel to it––the instrumental bits give me chills every time. Plus the lyrics are really sweet. It’s definitely an “OTP” type song. 😀

A Silent Film – Paralysed

 

This is just such a cool song. It’s just … so cool. (I should become a music reviewer, I know.) But really. The intro of this song always grabs me right away––it’s kinda spooky, and has a really nice build-up. I love the beat, and it keeps me bobbing my head through the whole song. Definitely one of my favorite songs of the year.

If you would also like to participate in Music Monday:

• Every Monday, share 1-2 songs. It can be any genre, it can be something new or it can be an old favorite. Whatever you want!
• Share a music/lyric video of the song.
• Tell us some of your thoughts/feelings about the song, artist, and/or music video.
• Submit the link to your blog post at the bottom of Lauren’s post here (where it says “Add your link”).

Thanks for listening, and come back next week for more music recs! Remember, this month I’m building up to a “Top 10 Albums of 2015” post (I’ve already started working on it … It’s gonna be epic) so stay tuned. Also, check out my Spotify playlist of (almost) all the Music Monday recommendations I’ve made so far!

As for writing-related posts, I will have a new one up tomorrow about my experience with insomnia and how it has affected me as a writer. It’s gonna be fun stuff.

Music Monday: 12/7/15

So, I know I skipped Music Monday last week––I had to do a big combo NaNo recap + WIPMarathon update, so it probably would have been a bit too much for one day, haha.

But I’m back this week with two songs for you guys. They’re quite different from each other, but they’re both wonderful songs that fill me with joy (and angst).

SHARKGRAVY – Chronic (As In Ceaseless)

Well, it doesn’t get much more hipster-y than this. I discovered this song thanks to the Indie Rock Playlist (which is where I find like half the music I listen to, honestly) and it’s a real hidden gem if you ask me. It’s a cute song about the ups and downs of being separated from your friends and being reunited with them again. It’s sweet and simple, and something about it really gets to me––I actually teared up listening to it in the car last night (I think because it makes me miss my college friends, haha). I haven’t been able to stop listening to it lately.

Joywave – Destruction

… And now for something completely different! While that first song makes me want to hang out with my friends and laugh and have fun, this song makes me want to go kick someone’s ass. Joywave is yet another band I discovered thanks to the IRP, and their latest album (How Do You Feel Now?) is super awesome. “Destruction” is the first song I heard from it, and it’s probably my favorite. It’s so dark and intense, I love the beat, I love the guitar solo towards the end, I love the eerie whistling … ahhh, it’s so cool.

If you would also like to participate in Music Monday:

• Every Monday, share 1-2 songs. It can be any genre, it can be something new or it can be an old favorite. Whatever you want!
• Share a music/lyric video of the song.
• Tell us some of your thoughts/feelings about the song, artist, and/or music video.
• Submit the link to your blog post at the bottom of Lauren’s post here (where it says “Add your link”).

Thanks for joining me for another edition of Music Monday! By the way, I’ve started a Spotify playlist of all the songs I’ve been posting, which I plan to update every week (although I will probably start a new one in 2016 … we’ll see). Also I plan on doing a special “Top Ten Albums of 2015” post on the last Monday of the year, so stick around!

NaNoWriMo: Week Four + WIPMarathon November 2015 Check-In

Here we are, folks––the final day of NaNoWriMo 2015.

And guess what? I WON! I WON, I WON, I WON!!! (Can you tell I’m excited?)

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 2.44.56 PM

Look at that beautiful graph! I’m so proud. As you can see, I did fall behind on some days, but for the most part I stayed pretty on-track. Compared to the past couple years, where I had to write like 5k+ on the last day, that’s pretty good!

Anyway, this post is my final NaNo ’15 update, as well as my November WIPMarathon check-in. Here we go!

Last WC/CC: 33,684 words / 14 chapters

Current WC/CC: 50,499 words / 20 chapters

Progress Since Last Week: 16,815 words / 6 chapters

Total Words Written in November: 50,499

WIP Issues This Month:  

  • Since this month was NaNoWriMo, it meant I was tackling an entire new novel from scratch. I hadn’t started something new in over a year, so it felt a little intimidating.
  • I didn’t do much planning for this NaNo, which was unusual for me. As someone who usually prefers to have a full outline, it was kinda scary to wing it some of the time. But I found a good process of switching between writing and outlining as I went, which worked out pretty well.
  • Since I only decided on an idea like two weeks before November, that didn’t leave much time to do background research––and since my novel is (kind of) historical fiction, that meant there were some gaps in my knowledge about the time period. But I just had to suck it up and not be a perfectionist. I can always go back and do the research later.
  • Considering I didn’t do much writing in the months before NaNo, it was quite a leap to go from writing practically nothing every day to writing 1,667 words a day. It felt overwhelming at first, but I got more used to it as the month went on!

What I learned this month in writing: 

  • I don’t absolutely need a full outline before I start something. In fact, I found it useful to not be tied to a detailed outline for this story, because it gave me more room to explore and experiment.
  • Yes, I can write 1,667 words a day, even on really busy days. I really have no excuses not to write every day.

What distracted me this month while writing: 

Not very much, actually! I was pretty focused all month, which was awesome. There were some days I didn’t get much writing done, but it was usually because I was spending time with friends or family. There were also times I got distracted by the internet, but that’s nothing new.

Goal for next month: 

Dare I say it? I’m gonna say it.

*Deep breath* I really, really want to finish my first draft of I Chose The Monster this month. “But Brigid,” you exclaim, “you’ve been saying that every month for like two years!” I know, I know. But I feel like NaNo has given me the drive I need to finish this draft. I only have a few chapters of it left and I just need to get it done.

As for The Resurrectionists (my NaNo novel) I am going to set it aside for a little while, but I will get back to it eventually! But it might be a couple months before I return to it. I have ICTM to finish/edit, and then I also still need to finish The Waters and the Wild. Gahhh, so much to do in 2016!

Last 200 Words: 

For now, enjoy some recent words from The Resurrectionists! I’ve had a lot of fun working on it this month.

“I suppose I should frame the question differently. It isn’t painful to breathe, is it? You don’t feel like there’s some kind of … crushing pressure on your chest?”

“N––No,” Elmira stammered, putting a hand over her chest. “But … my heart. It feels strange.”

“Strange how? Does it hurt?”

“No, not exactly. But it’s like––like it isn’t beating right. It feels like it’s … clicking.”

Alice became aware of the strange clicking sensations in her own false heart.

“That’s entirely normal,” Cyrus said dismissively. “It sounds to me like you’re recovering splendidly.”

“Recovering?” Elmira repeated. “From what, exactly?”

“From death,” Cyrus said.

“Cyrus!” Alice exclaimed, aghast at how casually he’d said it. “You can’t just––”

“What? She may as well know the truth now.” He looked back at Elmira. “I’m sorry if that sounded a bit callous, my dear. But unfortunately, it’s true.”

“Death?” Elmira repeated, her voice small with horror. “But I … You can’t be saying that I … No. No, no. I can’t be dead. I’m not dead.”

“Not anymore,” said Cyrus.

“Stop it.” Alice moved in front of Elmira as if she meant to protect her from physical harm. “All you’re doing is scaring her.”

How did your month go, my fellow NaNos? Did you win? Even if you didn’t, did you still write a lot and learn valuable lessons?

Thanks to those of you who have followed my NaNo craziness this month!