I’m Participating in Camp NaNo?!

Hey, loves! We are one week into July on the day that I’m writing this and… I decided to join Camp NaNo.

This was a very last-minute decision for me (clearly, as we’re already a week into the month), but I really wanted to make some serious progress on my novel. I’m not expecting to finish it. In fact, I’m not even expecting to make it 1/2 way through.

I am working mainly on a novel I started back in November for NaNo. I am currently at 21.5k words after reworking my outline and deleting some scenes that no longer fit. My goal is to hit 30k words on this WIP.

I think this will be totally manageable, as it’s less than 9,000 words total.

In addition to this, I am also working on outlining a second novel that I just recently got the idea for. I am hoping to get it outlined by the end of the summer so that I can start writing it for this coming NaNo. Once I’m back at school, I will have less time for planning, so I want to get as much of it done now.

The story is a YA contemporary, but since a lot of the plot is currently being reconstructed, I won’t say too much just yet. Here is a little snippet, though:

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I’m hoping to do some writing vlogs, too, so definitely check out my Youtube if you are interested in those!

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Are you participating in Camp NaNo? Let me know what you’re working on in the comments below :)

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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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Poetry Collection #5 // Blogmas Day 13

I’ve been extremely into poetry recently, so I thought I’d share some more of it on here (even though I just did recently).

If you didn’t check out the last installment of this series, you can click here to do so.

I revealed that I started a poetry instagram account on that post, so if you want to follow it, you can do that here :)

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Please let me know your thoughts in the comments! If you write poetry, please feel free to share it with me, too!

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How to Ace Your Exams // Blogmas day 6

They’re here. Those dreaded finals. I have no idea how they managed to sneak up on us so quickly, but they did. Now, all that’s left to do is study, and hope that things turn out okay!

To make things a tiny bit easier (hopefully), I have compiled some of my favorite study tips and habits that I use into one post for you guys. The goal is that they help you out a bit, so that finals don’t seem too daunting.

Make a schedule

Write down when all of your exams are onto a calendar. Then, fill in what days you’re going to study for them. Now make sure you stick to it. College exams are hard. Most of the time, you can not cram all of the information into one night and do well on the test. It’s just not possible. So, start by studying a little bit at a time, every day for at least a couple of days leading up to the exam. Also, getting things done ahead of time, likes essays and projects, helps a lot, too! It gives you more time to focus on studying once exam week comes around.

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Keep a to-do list

I absolutely love to-do lists, in case you didn’t know by the amount of times I’ve mentioned them in previous posts. They just help me feel so organized and productive. The feeling of checking off everything on your list can’t be beat.

Recently, my obsession has been the Lightspeed Planner! It simplifies to-do lists by giving your three things to focus on each day (one thing that you must do, one you should do, and one you could do). This way you can easily prioritize your main tasks for the day, and break down bigger goals into easy, manageable steps.

For example, I have a three part assignment due for one of my classes, so for the must do section, I wrote the first part as my goal for the day. I focused mainly on accomplishing that task, and then the next day I put the next step of the assignment down, etc.

Find what works for you

Everyone has a different way of learning. The things I do to study may not work for you. It’s important to figure out what kind of learner you are, so that you can adapt different studying techniques to best suit you.

I am a visual learner, so I like to include lots of pictures/diagrams in my notes, and I use colorful pens and highlighters. It’s just what works best for me. But I am definitely not someone who can learn by listening. So, watching youtube videos of people discussing the topic does not help me at all.

Study Guides are your best friend

I know that I just said to find out what’s best for you, but I am a huge believer in creating study guides, so I just have to include this. I feel like study guides are so useful, not matter what type of learner you are!

If you learn by writing, you can make a handwritten study guide, and it will help you retain the information.

If you learn using visuals, you can create a study guide online and include lots of pictures and charts.

If you learn through listening, you can have someone read your study guide out lot to you.

If you learn orally, you can read it out loud yourself, or have someone quiz you on the information.

Study guides are just great, I promise.

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These are all of the tips I have for you guys today! I hope that at least one of them was helpful for you, and maybe you’ll take something away from this post!

Also, feel free to leave your own tips down below. Maybe they will help someone else out.

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Why I Started Blogging // Blogmas Day 5

It’s crazy to me that I started blogging (seriously) a little over three years ago. Time really does fly. I still remember when I first created my website, and the thrill of all of the new possibilities ahead of me gave me goosebumps. Back then, this site was not called Kisses From Jess (I honestly can’t even remember the very first name of it), and my posts were mainly fashion and beauty related.

Today, we are here at Kisses From Jess, a name that stuck for about two years now (after some heavy rebranding), and I write about books and writing- things I am truly passionate about.

These past three years have been full of ups and downs, and I have changed, learned, grown so much despite it all.

I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the reasons I began blogging in the first place because it was a decision that truly changed my life.

I needed a creative outlet

So, before this blog, I actually gave Youtube a shot. Many of the friends I met online had Youtube channels, and I used to watch other content creator’s videos constantly. I thought it was perfect. But I quickly discovered that Youtube was not for me. I did it for about a year, and then I quit.

But I was feeling so restless. I needed to put my creative energy into something else, now that I wasn’t filming and editing videos. I’ve thought about blogging before, and I had a Tumblr account back in the day that I was on constantly. So I figured, why not give it a try?

I love to write and wanted to explore this passion

I also thought of blogging over other things because I love to write. I have been creating stories and writing poems for as long as I can remember, and English was always my favorite subject.

I knew that this was something I wanted to do more of, and eventually share it with the world! Blogging allowed me to do just that. Now, I share a lot of my poetry on here, and I even post writing updates on books I’m writing (how crazy is that?!).

To develop new relationships and meet new people

Finally, I wanted to meet likeminded people that I could connect with. It’s hard to find people in real life that are as passionate as me about writing and reading and all of the other things I post about.

I attended a Vo-Tech high school where the focus was on studying medicine and health. I realized that is something I no longer want to pursue in freshman year. I was surrounded by people who were passionate about studying medicine, while I was more interested in creating new stories.

Blogging allowed me to meet so many amazing people who I now call my friends. I really don’t know where I’d be without the support of so many of these people.

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That is it for my little post today. I hope you found this inspiring, and maybe it will make you want to start your own blog! As always, feel free to leave any comments down below, I love reading all of them :)

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Poetry Collection #4 // Blogmas Day 4

Sooo.

I made a poetry account!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you would know that I love to write poetry, and it’s something that I’ve been doing for a while. I’ve shared my work here in the past, and I will continue to do so from time to time, but I wanted to take it more seriously.

One of my life goals is to publish a book, and more specifically, I would love to publish a poetry collection. I want to work on my craft and actually share the pieces I’m proud of more often.

If you would like to follow it, click here! I will be posting multiple times a week, and it is something I really hope you guys will enjoy.

I tried to be pretty unique with my theme, and so far, I’m loving it! Let me know what you think :)

Here are the first two posts, if you want to get a bit of a sense of what it looks like!

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I hope you guys enjoy these poems and consider following my new account. It would mean so much to me :) Have a beautiful day!

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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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