Books About Writing That I Want To Read

Hello everyone! Hope your January is going well so far. I can’t believe it’s almost over already!

Today I want to talk about books about writing that I want to read! I haven’t mentioned this here yet, but I am actually starting a new WIP! I am so so excited about it, and I will give more details about it soon. But for now, I want to give you a list of some books I want to read that are about writing. As a writer, I think it is so important to learn about the craft, and what better way to learn than from the experts??

These are all books that I have NOT yet read, but I’ve heard amazing things about them. I won’t describe them in too much detail since I haven’t actually read them, but also because there are a lot on this list! I hope you find at least one to add to your TBR :)

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On Writing by Stephen King

This is one that’s a staple to all writers. I have heard nothing by good things about this one, and I am actually in the process of reading it right now. It is funny and entertaining, but sprinkles writing tips all throughout. Stephen King is a legend in the writing world, so learning from him is huge to me.

 

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

This is another that I’ve heard such amazing things about. I want to read it ASAP! I will probably get it from my library right after I finish the previous one. From what I’ve heard, this book discusses so many different aspects of writing- not only does she give advice and tips on writing itself, but also on being a writer and what it is like.

A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf

This is basically all of Virginia Woolf’s thoughts about writing put into one book- why wouldn’t you want to read this? Woolf is such an important and prominent writer, and her works are said to be art. I have only read one of her books, Mrs. Dalloway, and loved it! I definitely want to read more by her in the future, and eventually get my hands on this diary!

Why I Write by George Orwell

This is another diary-like book by a famous author. You may know him for 1984 and Animal Farm. His books were pretty revolutionary for how they described the future, and I would definitely love to read his reasons for writing. I am sure that this one will be amazing.

The Anatomy of Story by John Truby

I heard this recommended by Kat from Katytastic on Youtube, and she absolutely loves this. This is a book about screenwriting, but the methods can be used for novel writing as well. After I heard Kat talk about it, I was sold. She said it definitely helped her with her writing and outlining, so I need it!

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

I saw this book recommended in a Pinterest post, and I added it to my TBR immediately. As a writer, I believe it is VITAL to read as much as possible. But knowing how to read like a writer is something even more valuable. I think this book will definitely teach me a lot, so I want to pick it up in the very near future.

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Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer

I remember seeing someone tweet about finding this book at a used bookstore, and I was intrigued by it. Naturally, I looked it up. It is an illustrated book that looks so beautiful. Among the pictures, there are tons of tips for writing, and it just seems so interesting. It’s pretty different from the rest of them, but it’s still something I want to read.

 

Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder

These next two are about poetry actually, and not novel writing. BUT, this is something that I am also very passionate about. I heard about this one from Ariel Bissett, another Youtuber, and I trust all of her recommendations. This one isn’t necessarily teaching the craft, but it talks about why people read poetry and also poetry in a modern age. It definitely piqued my interest.

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was a beloved and very famous poet, who unfortunately passed away a few days ago. She was a huge inspiration to so many people, and I definitely want to read her handbook. This is a quick book that I think will be very useful. If I can write even 1/8 as good as she does, I would be happy.

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That is all for this post! If you have any recommendations for books about writing, please leave them down below :)

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Writer’s Block and Finding Inspiration- A Discussion // Blogmas Day 20

Inspiration. This is something I struggle with constantly. Where does it come from and how do I keep it?

I haven’t exactly found the answer to this yet.

Personally, I deal with writer’s block constantly, and I am always looking for new sources of inspiration. As someone who loves to write, I find this to be incredibly frustrating. When looking at writers I look up to, it seems as though they are able to constantly produce content and never burn out.

I, on the other hand, go through periods where I can write for hours everyday, and then I’ll go weeks without writing at all. I hate the inconsistence, but I haven’t been able to commit to a daily schedule. Life and other commitments just get in the way sometimes.

So, how do you handle this?

Remember that it’s ok to take a break

Breaks are necessary. It’s important not to overwork yourself because you’ll end up burned out really quickly. I do not believe that a writer must write everyday. Sure, it definitely helps. But as long as you are practicing your craft often enough, at least 4-5 times a week, then you are fine. I’ve definitely even had extended periods where I didn’t write outside of school because I just couldn’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a writer. Exhaustion will not produce your best work. So take a nap, meditate, go for a run, etc. Writing can be done at any time.

…But don’t take too long

Yes, it is important to take a break sometimes, but don’t use it as an excuse for not writing. I am definitely guilty of this. I tell myself that I need a break or I need some time to rest, and then I never end up writing.

Sometimes you just need to force yourself to pick up that pen and paper. You don’t always need INSPIRATION necessarily, you just need MOTIVATION.

Usually the hardest part of doing anything is actually starting. If you have been dealing with “writer’s block” for a while now, then I want you to go and pick up a pen/pencil/marker/crayon/whatever and just w r i t e.

Let out whatever it is you’ve been holding in. Yes, you. Right now.

You might find that once you start, you won’t be able to stop, and you’ll forget why you were struggling so much before.

Remind yourself why you love it

Why are you writing to begin with? Writing is hard, and can be very painful at times. But if you’re doing it because it’s something you love to do, then you can push through the unbearable parts.

Just taking the time to remind yourself of this can be very beneficial. It can be the extra push you need.

Where I get inspiration:

My inspiration comes from a variety of sources, and it usually changes every time I write. But, here is a list of common places I get it from because I feel like it could be very useful

  • past poems/stories i’ve written
  • other poets
  • lines from books
  • song lyrics (this is a big one)
  • conversations i overhear
  • life experiences
  • pictures
  • dictionary- finding synonyms of random words (sounds strange but works)
  • movies
  • going outside for fresh air

I am a firm believer that consuming media allows you to create better. You learn from others, and you also develop your own style. You find what you like, as well as what you don’t, and use that to make your own art.

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Where do you get inspiration? Leave me a comment letting me know down below! I love to hear the process that other writer’s go through :)

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A Look Back on My First Semester of College // Blogmas Day 17

Tomorrow is my last final for my first semester of college, and then I will be going home for the winter season! I can not wait for a break, finals KILLED ME.

But, today I want to reflect on how my first semester went, and how I feel about where I am right now :)

So, the first week was sort of rough for me. I actually wrote a post about my first week and how unhappy I was. I think the change was just bigger than I expected it to be, combined with the heat and not having air conditioning, and getting a little sick towards the end made me feel really cranky and out of place. I missed home and the familiarity of seeing my friends everyday. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, and I just wanted to move onto the part where I have close friends.

Luckily, things have definitely looked up for me! I joined a few clubs on campus, got to know some amazing people, and I enjoyed all of my classes.

I definitely learned so much this semester- not just school wise, but also about myself.

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Some highs from the past few months:

  • Living on my own and having independence
  • Read my poetry out loud for an audience for the first time ever
  • Got straight As on my midterms!
  • (I think) I got straight As on my finals (grade aren’t out yet)
  • Made a ton of new friends
  • Had enough time to participate in NaNo this year (unsuccessfully, but still)
  • Went to a book signing
  • Made so many new online connections

The last two weeks have been finals, so I’ve been working really hard, and it’s been stressful.

But, I am super pleased with how my first semester of college went, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the future :)

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NaNoWriMo- Last Update // Blogmas Day 2

It is officially December, which means the end of NaNo has come. What started out really well ended in complete disaster for me.

I tried really hard but life took over, school got in the way, and I got very overwhelmed.

End total:

25,000 words.

I only hit 1/2 of the word count goal for NaNo.

But I don’t think of this as a failure. I wrote more for my novel than I have ever written before, which is a huge accomplishment for me in itself. I wrote daily for the first two weeks, and then sporatically for the last two weeks. Even though I didn’t write everyday for the entire month, I still developed many writings habits, and I’m sure they will continue for a long time!

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Before this, I couldn’t even write more than 1,000 words of a novel before giving up.

25,000 words is a HUGE thing for me. I never thought I’d actually be able to do this much. I will continue to work on my novel (at my own pace now), and I will write the words “the end” one day. Whenever that may be.

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I would love to hear all about your NaNo’s! How did you do? Did you win?

Let me know in the comments!

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NaNoWriMo Week 2 Update- Spoiler Alert: Things Are Getting Tough

Another week of November has passed, which means we are 1/2 way through NaNo (and I’m posting this on my birthday)!

The first week of NaNo went really well for me, which you can read all about in my week 1 update.

Unfortunately, the second week has been very far from successful. The second week is hard for everyone, especially if you’re not used to writing so much everyday (like me). I lost my momentum, and I felt like I was spiraling down with no way to stop myself. 

For the first two days of this second week, I was just extremely busy and only managed to get about 600 words in each day. That meant I was very far behind, and catching up is extremely hard to do when you’re supposed to be hitting 1.6k words a day.

The next two days were pretty good, and I wrote over 2k words for both of them! But, I was still behind by over 1k words.

The next day was my worst day up to this point. I only wrote 200 words, and I was feeling super discouraged. Plus, school was starting to catch up with me and I was feeling very anxious because of it. I was probably almost 4k words behind at this point. 

Things just didn’t look good for me when it came to NaNo.

BUT

I’m here to remind you not to give up. NaNo is hard. Writing in general is HARD. Even though writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember, it is still work. Which means there are going to be days where I’m not going to feel like writing at all. And that’s okay.

This week was full of ups and downs for me. I had some of my worst writing days this week, but I also managed to hit my highest word count in a day (over 3k words!). 

I’m still behind on the target word count, but I’m not giving up!

I have decided to change gears a bit with NaNo, and although I’m still going to shoot for 50k, my goal now is just to write everyday. Even if that means putting down 20 words and stopping there, I’m okay with that.

After all, the whole point of NaNo is just to write and be surrounded by a community of people who like to write, too.

I hope you are all having a successful NaNo, which to me means making any progress on your novel at all. 

Good luck with the next fifteen days, and remember- you automatically win NaNo just for trying :) 

NaNoWriMo Tracking & Reward System | Week 1 Update

Hello everyone! Today marks one week of NaNoWriMo! I’m happy to say that I’m actually surviving, and I’m on target with my word count. I didn’t know if I would even make it this far, so I’m extremely proud of myself and all that I’ve accomplished. I’m past 10k words at this point! That is so crazy to me.

I didn’t realize that all I needed to get myself to write was a bit of a push. I wish that I had forced myself to participate in NaNo in the past, like I did this year. Maybe I could have written multiple novels by now.

I think what’s really helping me is my tracking and reward system! If you didn’t see my last post, you can check it out here. I mentioned the Lightspeed Planner, which I have been using since the start of the month. I am absolutely loving it! I would highly recommend checking it out and possible buying one for yourself.

Here is what a blank page looks like:

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How I use it for NaNo:

Each day looks slightly different, but I always write my word count goal in either the “must do” or the “should do” spot because it is a huge priority for me. I don’t plan on ever putting it in the “could do” category unless I absolutely have more important things taking up my time. If it’s in the “should do” category, it’s because I have a big homework assignment that I need to complete before I can write. Otherwise, it always goes in the “must do.”

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As for the notes section, I use that to track my actual progress. I write down how many words I started the day with, then I write how many I ended with. On the right side, I put down the total words written that day. If I am on target for NaNo, I give myself a star sticker for that day. I really want to keep that streak going and have a star every single day, so this is another motivating factor. The planner also has a little pocket in the back, so I can keep all of my stickers with me!

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In the planner, there is also a performance tracker. You can rate yourself on a scale from 10-100% based off of how well you performed in a given day. The way I use it is that every 10%=200 words. Therefore, 100% means I wrote 2000 words! It’s very hard for me to write 2k words in a day, so I haven’t yet reached this. However, it motivates me to push myself so that I can get as high up as possible. My highest was 90% one day, which I am extremely proud of!

Rewards System:

The back of the planner contains some pages for you to set your goals. I’m using this as a rewards system for each milestone I hit in NaNo. Here’s how it looks:

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  • 10k words- Chick-fil-a trip
  • 25k words- clothes shopping
  • 40k words- buy myself a book
  • 50k words- get the new Kindle Paperwhite!!

This has been a great way to push myself to keep going. I want the Kindle Paperwhite so bad, so I’m only letting myself get it once I hit 50k words. Ideally, this would be by November 30th, meaning I won NaNo. However, if I don’t make it, I’m still going to use this to make sure I finish this draft after NaNo is over!

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I really hope you guys enjoyed this post! I am loving my system and how well it’s been working for me so far. Let me know if you have a system of your own and how it works for you, cause I’m always open to new ideas.

Also, check out the lightspeed planner, which you can buy here!

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My NaNoWriMo 2018 plans // pt. 2

Hello everyone! This is the second part of my NaNoWriMo 2018 series, so if you haven’t read the first one you can click here to do that. In the first part, I talked about my goals for prepping before NaNo, and I have definitely been working on those. They are not completely done yet, but I still have a week of October left, so I know I will get them all done before November begins.

In this post, I want to talk a bit about my outlining process and explain what my novel is about!

I am calling it “Project X” for now, because it does not have an official title yet. From now on, that is what I will be referring to it as! Some of you may remember that over the summer I was working on a writing project with the same name. That project sort of turned into this one, so that’s why I am keeping the name. I combined some ideas into one, but the concept as a whole is brand new.

What is it about?

The story follows Summer as she goes to visit her father in New Jersey for the months before she begins her freshman year of college. Her father has a new girlfriend, she starts a new job, and she’s going to be moving to a new state soon. All of these changes are happening way too fast for her. Until one day she runs into Noah and starts to fall for him. He might be the only thing keeping her from reaching her breaking point. However, they’re both hiding something from each other. Can a relationship still form despite the secrets? Or will it end in disaster for both of them?

The story is still forming and a lot can change! However, this is the main gist of it. It is definitely going to be more of a character driven story, and I hope to make the reader feel very connected to at least one person. Their personalities are all so different, and they each go through a lot of growth throughout the book. Let me know what you think of it :)

Outlining Process

Outlining is so much fun for me, but it takes a long time and requires a lot of work. I have been using a notebook to outline, because I like to have a physical form of the story- it feels more personal and almost like a work of art to me.

I started with a short summary, and then created pages for my main characters. This took a lot of time, because each character is so unique and requires my full attention. I’m glad I took the time for this though, because I know my characters so well now and how they will react in different situations. It will be a lot easier to write them because of this.

I then decided about how many chapters I wanted the story to be, and I wrote out different plot points and events that I want to occur on post-it notes. This is very helpful because I can stick them on different pages, but move them around if necessary. Starting with the first chapter, I wrote out some bullet points of what would happen in each chapter. I am almost midway through at this point (I plan to have 28 chapters), so I just have a little bit more work to do.

It’s a little hard to describe how I outline through words, it would be much easier to talk about in video form, so I suggest checking out some authors on Youtube who talk about how they outline!

The story is really starting to come together, and I am excited to see where it goes, once I actually begin writing!

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Are any of you participating in NaNo this year? Let me know what kind of story you’re writing down in the comments (if you feel comfortable). Good luck!

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My NaNoWriMo 2018 Plans // pt. 1

November is right around the corner, and if you’re a writer you know what that means- it’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) time! Basically, the goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. It is incredibly difficult and requires a lot of work, but can be done.

I have tried participating in the past, but always occurred at times in my life where I was too busy or lacked inspiration. However, I have been really focusing on writing and making it a bigger priority over the past few months because it is something I want to spend my life doing.

I have already begun prepping for NaNo this month with a new storyline. The majority of my outline is still blank because I had just started figuring everything out but I have a ton of ideas. I just need to organize them and put them in the correct sequence.

My goals for October are…

  1. Finish the outline: Obviously this is incredibly important for me because I am NOT a pantser. I need to have my stories outlined and planned, or else my life will fall apart and I will go crazy.
  2. Create a writing playlist: This is something I have high on my list because it would be so helpful. I think music while writing really sets the vibe and helps you get into the mood of your story. I know not everyone likes this, but for me it is extremely important.
  3. Begin some writing: School is a lot of work. I didn’t believe people when they said college is hard. I knew it would be, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it’s been. So, I want to start some of the writing (which I know is kind of cheating) so that I don’t get unmotivated or beat myself up on the days that I don’t have as much time to write.

I have a lot of work to do to prepare for the upcoming month, but I am excited to get started with a serious writing project again!

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I will update you guys at the end of the month and give you my outlining process and a glimpse into what my novel is going to be about! For now, this is all I’ve got for you :)

Let me know in the comments if you are participating in NaNo this year!

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Writing Update #2 | Project X

So, my writing project officially has a name. For now, I am just going to be referring to it as Project X on here, but I came up with a title for it that I really love and I’m excited about. It could definitely still change, but right now, I really love it.

As far as actual updates, I actually haven’t really written anything else. Although I haven’t really added to my word count, I’m still working on the project! I’ve been doing some research about writing in general, and I have really been trying to work on my craft. Writing is something I really want to do, so it is imperative that I get better at it.

I’ve also been writing little snippets of stories in my journal, and I continue to work on my outline for this project. I tend to underwrite all of my first drafts, so I want to make sure I actually have enough content for my story.

I learned that I am definitely a plotter, and I can not imagine ever being a pantser (a person who doesn’t outline their novels, just jumps right into them). That sounds way too intimidating to me.

So, the novel is still in the works! I definitely plan to continue on with it, just experimenting and finding out what my writing style is exactly. This is definitely not going to be the book that gets me through the publishing doors, but it is necessary if I ever do want to step through.

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That’s all for now :)

Please let me know if you are currently working on some writing projects! I am looking for some writing friends that I can rant about the process to and that will help keep me motivated!

Good luck with your writing projects!

Xo, Jess

How Do I Know That I’m Doing the Right Thing?

In just a few short weeks, I will be starting my first semester of college. I have never been more excited to explore and live life on my own in a new place. But, I still have my doubts sometimes.

I have doubts about my major and my future career choice. How do I know that the major I chose is the right one for me? Am I following the right path? Will I be happy with a career in this field?

Deciding your future can be so so terrifying. I know it was for me. I am a person with many different interests. I want to explore every single major that my school offers, so how was I supposed to narrow it down to just one? I love to write and read, so maybe English? But I am also so interested in the human mind. Maybe I’ll go with psychology. Buuuutt, I also think I would enjoy political science. I have never just been passionate about one thing- I have always been fascinated by the entire world. It’s hard to have to eliminate many of my interests just so that I can focus on one, maybe two if I double major.

Luckily, the one thing that I haven’t had any doubts about is my school- I am so excited to be attending such a beautiful campus surrounded by some really amazing people. I fell in love with the campus the first time I set foot there, and I knew it was the place for me. Plus, it is so close to the beach, which is my favorite place in the world. It’s such a relief knowing that I look forward to going to school next year, which means that I have made at least one right decision when it comes to deciding my future.

I realized I shouldn’t doubt myself so much. I know who I am and I know what I like. As long as I’m always working hard towards my goals, I know I will be okay. Besides, if I really don’t enjoy the classes I’m taking, I can always switch my major.

The future is a scary place. Venturing into the unknown always is. But follow your heart and it will lead you on the right path.

Good luck with your future.

Xo, Jess