Introducing “The Writing Plan”

buildaplanHello again! I know I basically fell off the planet now that NaNo’s over, but that seems to happen every year. Whether it’s the holiday crunch, or exhaustion, or needing time for my brain to recharge, I find myself not writing a single word in December. Now, that’s not to say I’m not thinking about my novel, because I am. My friends are also asking how COC is going, and poking and prodding me to keep writing as well.

I have also switched out my NaNoWriMo Wizard band for my writing charm bracelet, although I need to tweak it a little to include a charm that represents my winning 2014 book. Thank goodness for the internet, because a quick search located — are you ready? — an Excalibur sword charm! Technically, my knight doesn’t wield this legendary weapon, but he was of Arthur’s Round Table so yeah, it works. (For a look at said writer bracelet, click here to temporarily zip over to Facebook and check out the photo I posted.)

Fortunately, I’ve already worked out the details for my plan on how to keep writing, which is also Mom-approved by the way. As I still need to put words on the page, that’s where my plan is focused.

The Writing Plan

I am the kind of girl who works very well with a reward system. November was a perfect example: not only did I get the official NaNoWriMo winner swag, but I also earned personal rewards: season 5 of White Collar on DVD that I’d wanted for a while and Nora Roberts’ third book in her latest trilogy that I’d seen one day on my travels through The Bullseye Store. That last one? I’d literally reached out for it to add it to my shopping basket until I quickly pulled my hand back and said to myself, “No, that’ll be an amazing reward to myself for winning NaNoWriMo because I really, really want that.”

That moment came back to mind when thinking about how to get myself in front of the keyboard. Knowing me as I do, if the reward is something I really want — say the movie Guardians of the Galaxy or all seasons of The Walking Dead or the new Magic: the Gathering expansion sets that’re coming out in January and March or the Castle Derrick Storm graphic novels or one of the many books on my wish list, just to name a few completely non-random examples — I’ll work harder to get to that goal.

It’s all about the points

nixwritingplan

The Writing Plan, as transcribed in my makeshift December agenda, aka a small green composition book.

Whenever I write, I’ll be earning points toward a reward of my choosing. You’ll notice I’ve tweaked things a little since I first wrote out the plan (see the image at right) as I’ve had time to think on it. But here it is:

  • For every day that I write in a given month, no matter how much or how little, I get a point.
  • For every 1,000 words that I write in a given month, I get a point. I must hit the minimum to earn the point. Writing 750 words one day still counts, but I won’t get the point until I’ve written an additional 250 to reach a thousand words.
  • If I write fifteen days in a given month, I get five additional bonus points for each block of fifteen days.
  • If I write 30,000 words or more in a given month, I get five additional bonus points for each multiple of 30,000.

At the beginning of the following month, I’ll add up all my points and each point earns me $1 in reward money. Points are cumulative, and points not spent on rewards do carry over but may only be added to that month’s point total. Example: if I earn 25 points in January and redeem 20 points, the remaining 5 points are not available for redemption until I’ve accumulated points for February. That’s so I keep the momentum going forward instead of racking up huge point totals and slacking off.

Had this plan been in place for November, here’s how it would have added up:

  • Total days written in November: 18 = 18 points
  • Total words written in November: 50,519 = 50 + 5 bonus points
  • Grand total in rewards for November: $73

All Ready to Go

I’m ready to start this plan come January 1, which is a holiday for me so it’s got potential to start off well. I have a spiffy new agenda in which I can track my writing time and my points, along with the rest of my schedule. Each point will be represented by a cute little owl sticker and my 5 point bonuses by Peanuts reward stickers. I also found this perfect Snoopy wall art that I absolutely had to have and it’s waiting for me under the Christmas tree. So far, I think the plan will work. Stay tuned to find out if I’m right!

Nominated, me? Alrighty then!

Liebster Award: Discover new blogs!

Liebster Award: Discover new blogs!

I have heard of this Liebster award for which my new writer friend Kate M. Colby nominated me the other day, and it’s pretty nifty that she thought of me. Thanks, Miss Kate! I knew there was a reason we got along so well. But seriously, based on Kate’s post, here’s the guidelines for this fun little award:

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to his/her blog.
  3. Write 5 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 bloggers (they should have less than 300 followers).
  5. Answer 5 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 5 questions.

Nik’s Five Random Facts

  1. I have zero tattoos, and the only things I have pierced are my ears, and then only once.
  2. I have an ear for accents, and have a tendency to adopt them in my daily life. So if you meet me on Saint Patrick’s Day, don’t be surprised to hear me talk with a little of the Irish. And Lord help me if one of my cashiers happens to have an English accent; I have to make very sure I don’t mimic it back!
  3. The only bones I’ve ever broken are those of my little toes. One fell victim to the wooden base on a cat scratcher the day before I went to Disneyland (yes, I remembered to pack the gauze and tape to keep it healing straight), and the other had an unfortunate encounter with one of my large L-shaped bookcases in the living room.
  4. I learned to drive on my mom’s 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega that didn’t have any power steering whatsoever, and was a five-speed transmission. You had to crank that steering wheel around hand-over-hand style in order to make a turn, and you had to lift up a release lever in order to shift the car up into reverse. As a result, or in spite of it, I still drive a stick shift to this day.
  5. I saw my first animal dioramas in 2013 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and was as excited as a little kid. It was especially thrilling because last year’s NaNoWriMo novel featured animal shape-shifters, so getting to see them up close and personal like that was amazing.

Answers to Kate’s Questions

What is your number one “Bucket List” item?

This one is already crossed off my list, as I went to Ireland in 2010 for my *mumble, mumble* birthday and spent 12 glorious days traveling around with Mom (and a few strangers on the same bus tour) throughout the country. Number two on my list is to go back, and this time go exploring on my own and visit all those places we didn’t get to see the first time, returning to Dublin to finish off the trip with a Guinness at the pub. :)

If you could live inside of one book, which would you choose?

This is like asking me “if I could live inside of one movie,” although on that one I think I’d know exactly which one I’d choose. I love so many books for so many different reasons, but were I to get sucked into the pages of a book to live out my remaining years, I’d be happiest in a world full of magic and adventure.

If you could have any career in the world, what would you do?

The one that would make me excited to go to work every day, where the work itself would be exciting and make me happy. It’s my fervent hope that my writing will fill that spot some day.

If you could have one wild animal as a pet, what would it be?

Oh this is actually tougher than I thought. There are two animals that mean a lot to me, one I’ve loved since a child and another I’ve grown more fond of recently. All things considered, though, I think my childhood dream remains to have a Bengal tiger (white preferably but I wouldn’t say no to orange) as a friend.

What is the legacy or meaning you want to leave on this world?

Such a serious question. As I have so little family, it’ll be up to my friends to remember me, and I hope they do so with fond memories of my ridiculously silly jokes, my love of Tex-Mex food, my bracelets/pottery/etc. I’ve made over the years, and how much I love them all.

Nik’s Nominees

This one was a little bit trickier, as Kate stole a couple I’d have on my list already. *grin* So here’s the bloggers I nominate:

  1. KELPublishing – Kelly’s a good friend of mine and fellow writer, and she’s just started her new blog so it’s the perfect time to nominate her. :)
  2. Miramar Dichoso – another good friend of mine and fellow Muppet Lover who’s way more fashionable than me.
  3. my mumblings – I found Abby via another writer friend, and she makes me smile with her posts.
  4. Author Amanda McCormick – a new contact from NaNoWriMo this year.
  5. Books & Bark – although she’s a dog lover (I am so totally a cat person), she’s another fellow Wrimo, albeit a much younger one than I.

Questions for Nominees

I did my best to make them nothing like you get at a job interview. How’d I do?

  1. Where would be your dream writing/artistic space (aka which city/state and/or location), and what does it look like?
  2. If you suddenly found you had a “superhero” ability, what would it be and why?
  3. What creative skill do you not have that you wish you did?
  4. Is there something you’ve never been able to do that you wish you could?
  5. In the spirit of the holiday, what was the best Christmas gift you ever received?

That’s all for now. Stay tuned as I will be unveiling The Plan for 2015 soon!

It took all day, but I did it. I won NaNoWriMo!

Waking up this morning, I had a pretty good idea that I’d win NaNo today. I was only about 2400 words away, and I’d been averaging that just about every writing session. What I didn’t anticipate was a grouchy kitty who’s cries for something I’ve yet to identify kept breaking my concentration, a scene that just wasn’t coming together how I wanted it to, and a back that will be happy to take a break for a couple of days.

That said, I have uploaded my word count and OFFICIALLY WON NANOWRIMO! *runs around her living room cheering and dancing and celebrating*

Winner-2014-Twitter-Profile

I’m going to take a couple days off and give myself a rest, and then I’ll let you guys in on the plan I came up with to keep writing post-NaNo. I have hope that it’ll work, and I think I’ve got the tools in place to help me make it work.

To all my fellow winner Wrimos, way to go! For all of you Wrimos who are so close, don’t give up. You’ve still got time, and I know you can do it. *big hugs!*

 

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

WriterSnoopy

My writing mascot, Snoopy. I have a little version of him sitting with me while I write for unconditional support.

Today was another writing day where I got a mid-afternoon start and went straight on through, trying to finish a scene. Sure, there were times when I felt as though I were merely blathering on despite having a point I wanted to make. I’m also dealing with a plot that has some parts accelerating beyond my control and others that seem to be taking forever to end up on the page. It’s also been a challenge trying to write from a male point of view, as the story is his and not my heroine’s.

The most important thing now is to get the words on the page, keep the story moving and get to that all important finish line. Once that’s done, then I can worry about things like continuity and editing and pace. I think I have my plan ready to go for how to keep writing from December on, so I might yet make it.

Today’s Word Count: 3,601

Word Count to Date: 47,865

Writing Time Today: 6 hours, give or take

Current Feeling: Excitement tinged with a tad of tiredness

Motivation/Inspiration: Knowing I’m in the home stretch, and that today’s efforts means I should hit that glorious 50,000 total with no trouble.

Biggest Triumph: Getting the scene finished, after it seemed to go in fits and starts and I’m still not sure if it works, but it’s done for now.

Biggest Setback: While not technically a setback, chatting with Kate Colby via DM on Twitter was a bit of a distraction. She’s been my second strongest supporter during this year’s NaNo, and so I pay attention when she replies or comments on my tweets or posts. Thanks for the support, Kate, and I look forward to seeing how our endeavours play out over the next few months!

Insights: I need to work on my focus a bit. I think today’s writing could have been a little cleaner had I had a better picture of where I wanted to go with the scene, instead of merely putting words on a page. I know had I done that, I might have clocked in a higher word count, or at least made a little more sense.

Until tomorrow, my Wrimos. Keep an eye out for that winner’s banner; I fully intend to have mine before the day is over. *grin!*

Catching Up is My New Thing

writeblockHello, world! I’ve been on PTO from work since Monday, thus my being able to crank out the word count as I did earlier this week to get all caught up. Yesterday, Mom and I headed to school so I could get a head start on what I’d left behind from last week’s class since I won’t have one this week because campus is closed for the holiday. We had a blast — it was just the two of us for almost the entire three hours of class time — and then went and had lunch, followed by a little shopping. We had a little while in between that and church later on, and while I did consider sneaking in some word count, I gave myself a break and relaxed instead.

So today finds me once more behind in the word count. I really prefer when Thanksgiving falls a week earlier in the month; it makes that last week’s push a whole lot easier! Thanks to my persistent kitty, though, I was able to get up a little early this morning and put in some time on my story. Another 2500 words down, and I’ll be in good shape for tomorrow after the movies with my friend.

Wow, when did I get so social? *smile*

Today’s Word Count: 2,522

Word Count to Date: 44,264

Writing Time Today: 3 hours

Current Feeling: Gratitude, of course!

Motivation/Inspiration: Getting anything written today so it’s nice and calm the rest of the weekend. I really want to post my 50,000 before Sunday, even if it is just by one day.

Biggest Triumph: Persevering even though I know I probably should have quit once I got my daily total because I really need to be over at Mom’s helping with the preparations. Fortunately, she’s very understanding!

Biggest Setback: Needing to research a couple of things for today’s scene, so that meant Google searching interrupted the writing flow.

Insights: None for today.

That’s all for now, Wrimos. Here’s wishing all my American brethren a Happy Thanksgiving, and to those of you elsewhere in the world, have a superb Thursday!

Guess Who’s All Caught Up on NaNoWriMo?

kc50kThat’s right, ladies and gentlemen, after starting my day with an hour of practice on my choir music, I’m finally all caught up through today’s NaNoWriMo word count. Yee-HAW! It went nice and fast, which I appreciated considering my truncated writing window for the day. I am now free to relax a little before heading off to my appointment and then to Mom’s, where we’ll have a little something to nosh before heading up to church for our community Thanksgiving service tonight.

Not a bad way to start the day, and gives the rest of the day a nice happy overtone.

Today’s Word Count: 2,977

Word Count to Date: 41,742

Writing Time Today: 3 hours or so

Current Feeling: Relief!

Motivation/Inspiration: Going over the word count goal for today so I am in good shape for the holidays. Even if I am not able to write at all on Wednesday or Thursday, another couple big pushes over the weekend and I’m golden.

Biggest Triumph: Getting the word count in with just one scene.

Biggest Setback: Oh, the usual: my cat!

Insights: I’m noticing that I’m writing longer scenes with this novel than I have in the past. I don’t know the cause, but it makes it easy to hit the word count when you do!

Happy writing to my fellow Wrimos, especially those of you who, like me, had fallen behind. You got this!

Mega NaNoWriMo Day and HItting 100

creativejuices

This is what’s been flowing through my house the last couple of days, and I hope it sticks around…

It’s been another long day of writing, and I am here to tell you that I can’t make a habit of this. Yes, I’m loving that I am capable of cranking out the word count when necessary, but I don’t think my back can take many more consecutive days of this. Fortunately, tomorrow should be an easy day as I persevered today and racked up even more words than Sunday.

To top it all off, WordPress officially let me know that I now have over 100 followers, and I couldn’t have hit that milestone without this thing called NaNoWriMo. So thanks to all my fellow Wrimos and all my followers – I’m thrilled you’re interested in what goes on in my little corner of the ‘Verse! As a treat, I’m going to include an excerpt for you from the last scene I wrote today instead of the usual insights. I hope you like it!

Today’s Word Count: 5,867 – that’s over 11,000 words in TWO DAYS (falls over in a heap of exhaustion)

Word Count to Date: 38,765 – 11,235 to go.

Writing Time Today: all day, in two sessions

Current Feeling: Pooped.

Motivation/Inspiration: Seeing how much I could get done today so that whatever I did tomorrow would be gravy (and no, that wasn’t intended to be a holiday pun; that was a happy accident).

Biggest Triumph: Writing three complete scenes in one day, after taking the morning off for my almost-forgotten dentist appointment, a trip to the grocery store to pick up the things I needed for my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, and cleaning out the fridge, the pantry and almost everything else in the kitchen.

Biggest Setback: Forgetting something at the grocery store that I will need before the week is out. This is why I like my lists, no forgetsies.

Excerpt:

Reese looked out at the men and women before him, and was reminded of himself at that age, kneeling before a knight not much different from himself. He’d recited these same words to that knight as he’d joined the ranks of the second circle of the most famous chivalric order in history that to this day the world believed to be fictitious while he knew himself to be its last surviving member. Making eye contact with every young soul before him, he began.

“As a Knight of the Round Table, be ye one of the twelve of the first order–Arthur, Bedivere, Bors the Younger, Galahad, Gareth, Gawain, Kay, Lancelot, Lucan, Percival, Tristan and Yvain–or be ye one of the twelve of each of the eleven lower orders, you now represent the highest order of chivalry in Camelot. This oath you shall swear as your Code of honor and service to your King:

“Never shall I do outrage or murder;

“Always shall I flee treason;

“Never shall I by any means be cruel, but rather give mercy unto him who asks for my mercy, even in the midst of combat;

“Always shall I do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor;

“Never shall I force ladies, gentlewomen or widows; and

“Never shall I take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods; rather always shall I battle for nothing less than God or country.”

As he finished, his words echoed through the silent studio, and he felt them resonate through his entire being. It had been fourteen hundred and eighty four years since he himself had sworn that oath, and fourteen hundred and seventy seven since he’d broken one of them in the midst of the chaos of war. In his mind’s eye, he could still see how Tegan had looked as she’d lain there before him, broken and lifeless, her blood dripping from his sword to the muddy battlefield beneath his feet. Her fatal wounds had not been inflicted with malice, but rather through recklessness and inattention, not that the reasons mattered any more now than they did then. She was still dead, he was still cursed, and Morgan le Fay was still and would always be a vindictive bitch…

Until tomorrow, my fellow Wrimos. If you’re behind, don’t give up but keep on writing. You won’t know what you’re capable of if you don’t.