Mid Month Writing Update

As many of you know, I am currently participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is a month-long writing challenge where you choose a word-count goal and try to complete it by the end of July.

My goal for this Camp NaNo was only 15,000 words because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself or make myself stressed out by it. Things are actually going really well so far, and we are only halfway through the month!

I am so happy to say that as of now, I am nearly at my goal. I just hit 10,000 words today! In total, my manuscript is almost at 30k words, which is exactly where I wanted to be as of now.

I thought that for this post, I would answer some of your writing questions (which I asked for on Instagram & Twitter), so let’s get into those!

What is my brainstorming/outlining process like?

I got a couple of questions related to my pre-writing process, so I wanted to start with this! My ideas come usually start with one single plot point, and then comes the main character (I think, “What sort of person would get themselves into this situation?”).

From there, I create an outline. For my current work in progress, I followed the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel method, which is basically a series of 15 beats (or plot points). I HIGHLY recommend trying out this method, especially if you struggle with the structure of your stories.

My outlines are always a couple of pages long at least. I’ve had one project where the outline was, like, six pages long. I am definitely a plotter. I like to know where my novel is going before I start writing it, but I know that this doesn’t work for everyone.

However, I will say, usually about halfway through, the story takes a couple of different turns, and I stray from my original outline. At this point, I go back and fix my outline to match where the story is going.

What is my writing routine?

I definitely prefer to write in the mornings. For Camp NaNo, I have been trying to wake up around 5 am, then I meditate and stretch, before writing until 6:30 or 7:00. This is not the only time I write. In fact, there have been quite a few days where I was too tired in the morning, so I didn’t write until the afternoon or evening.

I want to develop a stricter writing routine, though, because I think consistency when drafting helps to get you into the mood and correct mindset for writing.

I tend to write in sprints, between 15-25 minutes long, with 5-15 minute breaks in between.

How do you develop your characters and get to know them?

This is a really fun question, but if I’m being honest, I don’t really know? I usually focus all of my attention on my main character, meaning the protagonist. I start by figuring out what they want, what they actually need, and what is standing in their way (more in a tangible way- money, an evil villain, geography, etc.). I also think of what their fatal flaw is- the thing in themselves that stands in their way.

From there, I write out their physical features, and assign them personality traits and interests. I also spend an ungodly amount of time picking their names, as this is the most important part of their character to me. I need to get it just right.

I also give them a bit of a back story- where do they live, who are their friends, where is their family from, etc.

I do a much simpler version of this for the supporting characters, mainly just describing their features and personality.

I think that the best way for me to get to know my character is just to keep writing them. The longer they spend on the page, the better I know them and how they will act. As far as developing them, I think that if you have a solid structure for your story, that should come naturally! Overtime, the obstacles and challenges your main character faces should shape them in some way, and overall change their attitudes and beliefs.

Character Aesthetic: Best Friend

Here is a little aesthetic I created for one of my characters. I’m not going to share too much else about her, but I think this fits her really well!

I hope this post gave you a bit of an insight into me and my writing! If you want to get more updates, I post them on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me on there.

If you’re participating in Camp NaNo, please let me know how it’s going for you (& good luck with the second half of the month- you got this!).

Anyway, I will see you all in my next post!

July Bullet Journal Spreads 2020

I have yet another bullet journal post for you guys today, and it might be my favorite one yet. I think I finally found the perfect bullet journal layout for myself and I am SO excited to share it with you all!

Let’s just take a look!

First up is my monthly spread. I no longer make a big calendar on here because I never use it. All of my planning is done in my weekly spreads, and if I need to see a calendar, I use a digital one!

I do, however, have a section for my goals and habit tracking. In the past, I tracked so many habits (between 5-10), but I realized that I didn’t actually care about the habits I was tracking. For example, I was tracking the days I read and the days that I drank enough water, but I do those things every single day— I don’t need my habit tracker to remind me of it.

For this month, I narrowed it down quite a lot, as you can see. I am now only tracking the days that I go for a run and that I meditate because those are two habits I’m working on getting more consistent at.

Another spread that I think is extremely important is my expense tracking sheet. I like having a record of the amount of money I spent so I can budget better, and also just remember where my money is going, in case I need to refer back to it. I don’t always use my card, I use cash sometimes, so it’s easy to forget about small purchases. This is a spread I’ve shown before, but I added a little spot at the bottom to add my total spent and earned!

Going back to tracking, I also want to track the days that I write, but as it’s Camp NaNo this month, I made a whole separate spread for it, which you can see in the picture on the right. All I’m writing in each of the squares is the word count I reach each day!

To the left of that page, I have a Reading Rush spread, which is empty as of now because I am not making an official TBR for it. I’m simply going to write down the challenges and fill it in as I read!

Moving on, we have my weekly spreads! Here you can see a little bit of it filled out, to show you how I use it! The month started on a Wednesday, so I used the extra space I had on the left to write a little quote! In the picture under this one, you can see what a full week spread looks like, though.

For this month, I decided I wanted to use a vertical layout, as I had in a previous month, but this time, I made it a little shorter. Instead, I added a to-do list section so that I can easily jot down anything I have on my mind to do in a given week, as well as a meal planning section. I am trying to go as gluten and dairy free as possible this month (mainly to see if it improves my digestion), so I wanted to include this spot to track my food & how I feel.

At the top, I can write down either a schedule for myself, or specific tasks I need to complete that day. I also have a section for notes at the end, which I usually use to jot down things I need to buy, blog post ideas, and anything else that pops up in my brain.

Finally, on the last week’s spread, I had some room (ignore the white out, I made a mistake), so I wrote down my daily routine for the morning. This is something I want to stick to as closely as possible for the month of July, and so far, it’s been working really well for me!

That is all for my July bullet journal layout! I am not sure how I am going to make my wrap-up page look yet because it all depends on how much I read. Normally I fill one out as I go, but this month I want to create it afterwards.

What do you think? I know it’s simple, but that is how all of my spreads are for this year, and it’s what works best for me! I like the functionality of it more than the design :)

What are some of your favorite spreads to make?

July TBR 2020 + Camp NaNo Plans

Hello everyone! If you missed my last post, I talked about how June was my best reading month ever in terms of quantity. I read 19 whole books!! So, for July, I decided to slow things down and take my time with reading!

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, and I really want to focus my time on writing. So, that means I will most likely be doing much less reading. But I’m okay with that! I also want to allow room for picking up whatever I want, instead of limiting myself to the TBR I pick. Also, I am planning on participating in The Reading Rush, though I’m going to make my TBR up as I go, so no official one this year!

So, I have chosen three books (though I’ll probably read more), which makes this probably my shortest TBR ever on this blog. One is a TBR jar pick, one is a libby loan, and the last one is an ARC.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel illustrated by K. Woodman-Maynard

I got approved for this ARC very recently and I requested it on a whim- I have been wanting to dive into the world of graphic novels, but I didn’t know where to start. I figured going with a book that I already love would help ease me into them.

I definitely want to pick up more, though (Heartstopper is on my list for sure), so please recommend me some of your favorites- contemporary preferred.

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

This was my TBR jar pick for the month, and in all honesty, I have no clue what it’s about. I’m assuming it’s about social media in some way, but aside from that, I do not know too much. I did take a quick glance at the reviews for this one, and they weren’t too great, so I am worried about reading it. Hopefully it will be something I at least somewhat enjoy, though!

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Finally, we have a book that I am BEYOND EXCITED to read! I have the audiobook on Libby, and I have been waiting for July to start so I could read it! I read and loved Beloved by Toni Morrison last year, and it completely blew me away. I have heard even more amazing things about this one, so my expectations are very high. I love Morrison’s writing, so I am sure I will love it!

Camp NaNo Plans

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month! Last month, I hosted a writing challenge where I set a goal to write for one hour every single day. I got to about the 50% mark of my novel, which is so incredible to me!! This is probably the most I’ve ever written for any novel I started.

For July’s camp, my goal is only set to 15k words, mainly because I know that I won’t write every single day the way I did in June. But, my more ‘lowkey goal’ is to finish the first draft of the book. That would be an amazing achievement on my part, though I do not know if I will be able to do it!

Anyway, if you want to add me on the NaNo website, my username is @jessicacwrites :)

My novel is a YA contemporary about an overachieving girl who wants to go to Columbia University. When she gets differed, she has to find a way to make her application stand out more- so she joins the track and field team!

That is a very basic summary, but it also involves some (mild) hate to love, a ballerina best friend, and MI representation!

Here’s an aesthetic board I created:

If you want to see more updates from me about it, I will be posting on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me there, too!

What are your plans for July? Are you going to do a lot of reading? Or maybe you’re participating in Camp NaNo, too? Let me know in the comments :)

June Writing Challenge Announcement – Join Me!

Today I am making a super fun announcement to tell you all about the writing challenge I have created for myself (and for you guys) for the month of June!

Starting on June 1st, I will be challenging myself to spend one hour every single day on my writing.

I have always loved to write. I have started multiple different novels, I have written tons of short stories, and I am constantly jotting down lines for poems on my notes app. But, I never really prioritized it. I always told myself “when I have more time, I’ll finally finish that novel” and “I’ll work on that manuscript one day.”

I have no excuses now. The majority of us are currently practicing social distancing, meaning we are staying home pretty much every day. I know I definitely am. Now is the perfect time to finally commit myself to writing. I am done with school until the fall semester, and I don’t really have many responsibilities right now.

So, I created this challenge and shared it with you guys on Instagram and Twitter! So many of you told me that you are going to be joining me, and it was so incredible to see. I am even more excited to be doing this now, and I even created a few extra weekly challenges to make this more of a group endeavor! Feel free to do these if you want (and share them on social media if you are comfortable), but do not feel pressured if you do not want to!

If you want to share your progress or challenges on social media, be sure to use the hashtag ‘#HourToWrite’ so I can see your post!

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I decided not to have any word count goals or writing prompts because I want this to be as stress-free as possible. Use your hour every day to work at your own pace- maybe you are stuck at one scene and all you can write is a couple of sentences. Maybe you’re revising the first draft of your novel, so your word count doesn’t change much throughout the month. That is ok!

I also created a Discord group chat for you all to join if you want a place to chat with others about writing!

Also, I am posting updates and other things on my Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me on those if you want to keep up :)

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Please let me know in the comments if you will be participating in this challenge, and tell me about what you’re going to be writing :)

Jessica

Happy Ending- A Poem / Blogtober Day 4

I haven’t posted any of my poetry on here in a while. Being vulnerable on the internet is hard. And scary. So I don’t do it as much as I’d want to.

But I love sharing my writing. And I constantly want to improve- feedback is one way to do that. So here’s a poem I wrote during National Poetry Month in April!

The clock struck midnight,

and Cinderella lost her shoe,

but in this fairy tale,

the prince never found it.

She waited months

for him to rescue her

from her horrible stepmother;

Only the wait was infinite.

One day she woke up

and realized that she didn’t need a Prince.

She only needed herself,

a little courage,

and a bit of will.

So she packed a bag,

walked out the door,

and never looked back.

She eventually found her prince.

The story didn’t happen the way she thought,

but she learned an important lesson instead:

sometimes you need to be your own savior;

your own guide out of the darkness

in order to finally get your happy ending.

 

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Please let me know what you think of this poem :) If you liked it, if you think there’s something to change, etc. I want to hear it all!

Jessica

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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