Tag Archives: writing

April 2015 Roundup!

I’m feeling particularly proud of myself about this April. As a result, I’m going to tell you my accomplishments:

1. Camp NaNoWriMo April 2015

This past month, I’ve been writing my fingers off participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, a writing event run by the same people who put together November’s NaNoWriMo. The difference between November’s event and April’s (and July’s, which also has a camp) is that you set your goal anywhere between 10,000 and 999,999 words. That means people can use it for revisions, finishing a draft, and whatever else. Since I had a new idea for a book under my belt, I took on camp with the regular NaNo challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month.

I won in 19 days. I finished my story at 68,078 words in 24.

This is by far the fastest I’ve ever written a draft–my second fastest was, wouldn’t you know it, NaNo 2013, when I reached 50k on day 27, promptly dropped the manuscript for a week, and came back to finish it by December 7 with 64k words. This past April, I pushed myself a lot–I had four 5k days, and 11 3k days. This is unbelievable to me, as it means I’m capable of writing 100k in a month. Of course, to write that much would take a lot of planning, but man. Someday. It sounds like fun.

The draft is going to need a lot of work, and I’ll probably end up adding about 10k words like I usually do, but I’m glad I got it out as quickly as I did. Regardless of how quickly I write the first draft, the work will always come.

2. Reading

In addition to writing a whole book this past month, I read 10 books. Five of those books were in the past five days. My favorite of the bunch? I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. I borrowed THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE from the library before I even got halfway through the book.

This puts me at 30 books read this year, which is 3 1/3 books behind pace for 100 books–but psh. I can make up for 3 1/3 books :)

3. Critiquing

I also did a full read-through and critique for my CP, and started critiquing for another potential CP! Woooooooooooo books books books!

Bonus! Pokemon.

Perhaps not an accomplishment for some, but I’m pretty excited about it. I acquired four shiny Pokemon this month! Yaaayyyyyyyy.

Let’s hope May is just as fun :)

What’s Up Wednesday – March 18

It’s been far too long since I’ve done one of these! Now that I’m back on the horse, so to speak, and have pulled my blogging pants back on, I figure now’s a good a time as any to jump back onto the WUW train. So–hello!

WHAT I’M READING

Over the past year, I’ve been reading more than I ever have, and it’s been absolutely fantastic. Since April last year, I’ve read almost 100 books in a wide variety of genres, and it’s so great, if super time consuming. But I figure if I’m going to spend a couple hours a day poking at my crocheting or otherwise wishing I was doing something else, reading and listening to books is a great option.

Currently, I have a few books on my plate. I always end up reading more than one thing at a time, so this is nothing new. On my library Overdrive App, I’m in the middle of ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie, and I might actually break through and finish Veronica Roth’s ALLEGIANT–less than half the book left! I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get through the entire book, but gah, it has. A couple months, not including the time in between check-outs when I’ve had to wait through all the other holds again and again. And I’ve already been spoiled on (as far as I know) the biggest thing in the book, so that doesn’t help matters. I also have TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE (Jenny Han), STRANGER (Rachel Manija Brown), and THE BITTER KINGDOM (Rae Carson) loaded up and ready to go. And then we get to the physical books I have–I recently got A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC (V.E. Schwab, aka Victoria Schwab) and GOING POSTAL (Terry Pratchett–my first of his, though I wish I’d read it before :( ). So, yes. Lots to read, and I’ll likely be repeating myself with most of these books next week.

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’m currently in the middle of a week-long light revision pow wow for draft 4.5 of WELL. (I call it 4.5 now, but just watch it be called draft 5 in the future for ease of reference and also because saying I have 5 drafts instead of 4.5 will make me feel better about myself.) Hoping to wrap this up by Sunday, and then I’ll be diving into planning for Camp NaNoWriMo in April! Yayyyyyyyyy!!!

WHAT WORKS FOR ME

My blog post from a couple days ago details a lot of what’s working for me lately, but here’s the short version: Writing prompts, and using them to exercise my creative muscles. It’s worked wonders! Lately I’ve also been exposing myself to more critique and participating more in the writing community, namely on /r/YAwriters on Reddit, Twitter, and the SCBWI Blueboards. That’s been fun, too!

WHAT ELSE IS NEW

Not much. I started the Couch to 5k running program, and it’s been a strange experience to actually look forward to exercising. Of course, I’m only in the second week–so it could just be that I’m being tricked into the whole thing with easy workouts. ;)

I hope you all have been well! If you want to comment, I would love if you could post a writing prompt for me or others to work with in the future–it’s always fun to have something new come to the table! Maybe I’ll add a new tab to this site featuring some weekly writing prompts to share :)

Exercise

Last week, I started Couch to 5k. For the first time in a long time, I could tell people that I went running three whole times in one week. Three whole times, for a total of six whole miles. (Well, I walked for a good chunk of them. That’s just how Couch to 5k works.)

It’s a start. The first week of any program is the easiest, but it’s a start. When I did cross country in my senior year of high school six years ago–the only sport I ever did, where I was actually literally the slowest person on the team, if not on all the teams in the entire district–my coach set a goal for me to be able to run 5k in under 30 minutes. Psh, I thought. That’s ten-minute miles! I can do that!

I still can’t.

So I paid for an app with a program I can follow, because on those days I know I’ll want to stop, I’ll think, But… those $2! You could have bought an avocado and didn’t! (Honestly, I probably did buy that avocado.) And so far, even though it’s been a week, and even though I know it’ll get much harder from here, it’s been worth it.

Last week, I also started making myself do daily writing prompts.

For those of you who aren’t my CP or who don’t frequent the various places on the internet where I’ve been posting  lately (*waves at /r/YAwriters, the SCBWI Blueboards, and Twitter*), I’ve spent the last few weeks/months revising the fourth draft of my current huge project, WELL. Now, WELL is my baby. I love, love, love working on WELL and figuring out its problems. I love the characters. I love the world. But… I’m also gearing up to do Camp NaNoWriMo this April. And don’t tell WELL, but… I’m writing something totally new.

I haven’t written a new fantasy world in a couple years. I’ve tried, believe me, but honestly, I didn’t try very hard. I created a world of all-female witches that collapsed after a chapter and a half. I created another world that I’m not going to talk about because I want to go back to it someday. No matter what world I made, or how much I tried to build, I always came back to WELL, and WISPY (same world), and those friends in the good old town of Nowhere.

So when it came to creating a new world, I was kind of lost. I like my fantasy to feel natural; when I write my own work, I can’t bring myself to believe in the colored magic bursting out of  fingers, or the telekinetic powers of an exclusive group of people. It’s why my witch story didn’t pan out. When fantasy is organic, it flows. It’s the magic that comes from fairies that could be hiding in the tree in your yard, or the owl that screams when you talk to the crows too much. It’s Peter’s shadow, who never shows the wrinkles on its physical form, who stays a silhouette so that somehow, some way, even if Peter did grow up, you’d never know it from looking at his shadow’s face. The fantasy that flows–for me–is the fantasy that’s real. With this approach, you might be able to understand why it has been so difficult for me to come up with something for Camp NaNo. How do you come up with a whole magic system that still feels real? But I needed to figure it out. I needed to step out of my comfort zone, out of Nowhere, and into a new set of rules. Most of all, I needed to write.

The idea built slowly. First, I wanted to simply listen to a fantasy audiobook with a notebook in hand, close my eyes, and jot down notes for whatever came to me. Thinking about the idea, though, I realized it didn’t make sense. What kind of world would I make for myself if I was listening to someone else’s? Next, I did the same thing, but without the fantasy audiobook. I sat in bed for fifteen minutes with a blank page in front of me trying to make sense of the ideas I had bouncing around in my head. Nothing went on the paper. (Admittedly, if I’d waited longer, something might have ended up on the page. I prefer efficiency.)

Then, I thought, I should just do a random fantasy writing prompt off Google. I did the search and came away with this prompting first line: “I will make trophies of your spines.”

This was the best thing I’ve done for my creative mind in many, many years.

The greatest thing about writing prompts is that there are no rules. Writing prompts are unrelated to anything else you do, so you have free reign to do anything. You can write a genre you’ve never written before just to see how bad you are at it. You can try to write in the style of your least favorite author, only to be surprised at how much you actually liked what you wrote. You can make your characters–even ones you’ve already created in other work–say or do anything and not have it technically count in your actual WIPs. And when you can do that, you can figure out what’s natural. Even more important, you can figure out what is decidedly not.

That first writing prompt ended up being three short paragraphs about a girl practicing her most villainous line–complete with a cape–only to be laughed into shame by a rival villain-in-training. Since then, I’ve branched out anywhere and everywhere–in one instance, I even revisited my fanfiction days and resurrected my favorite Harry Potter pairing of my own invention: Scorpio Malfoy and Lily Luna Potter, the only Potter kid sorted into Slytherin. True. Love.

In other prompts, I found voices for my Camp NaNo story. I found my new world. What I wrote the night I drafted this post might be my favorite thing I’ve written in months and months and months.

So if you’ve found yourself in a creative slump–and even if you haven’t–I encourage you to try this out. Exercise those creative muscles and get moving (see how I brought around that whole Couch to 5k thing?). Dedicate a notebook or a Word document solely to writing prompts. (I use a moleskine-like notebook so I can guilt myself into wanting to fill it up.) Grab any old random writing prompt and write something, if only for a paragraph. If the writing prompt is too boring, make your story liven it up. If the writing prompt takes itself too seriously, have a character laugh at it. Either way, write. Write like it doesn’t even matter–because it doesn’t, not really. Most of the words you scribble out for these prompts won’t even make it into an actual story. Whatever. It’s all yours. It’s all a product of your creativity. THAT is what matters.

Run like the wind? Well, you can try. But you know what you can do with wind?

Write it. Go.

Why Write? – Repost

The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.

Why Write? – Past post 3/? – Originally posted at kristinekim.blogspot.com (which will be deleted in the future), August 26, 2010.

In my time roaming about the cyber world of writer/agent/author/editor/reader blogs, I’ve come across this question at least once: Why write if what we put into the world won’t be remembered past our lifetime?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any true writer can say, at least when they start writing/are the the midst of selling of novel, that the novel they wrote will be “an instant classic” or something that teachers will shove at their students to understand the depth of “real literature.” J.D. Salinger didn’t sit down and say, “I think I’ll write a goddam book today that will influence tons of goddam teenagers and be taught in goddam phony schools everywhere.” Or, maybe he did, but I highly doubt it. No author expects to be the subject of school essays, and to even have a place in what book lists would call “great American literature”. Some aren’t even necessarily comfortable with flirting with the concept; after the success of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Harper Lee never published another book. Heck, she had never even expected the book to sell, and was bracing herself for scathing reviews.

So… why write?

I write stories that might not be remembered past my lifetime because of the things that I’ll never expect. And because of the things I do expect.

People like stories. People like the feeling they get when they hear or read stories. Countless times, I have seen agents or literary interns posting on Twitter lamenting the themes and morals that authors throw around in their queries, while all the agents want to know is plot, plot, plot. They want to know what’s happening in your story, not what you want to teach the world. As a writer, my intent in eventually becoming published is to share something with the world, and have a voice in my take on things. I like to make people laugh and to feel. Whether that will be to an audience of five or an audience in a classroom fifty years from now that I may never meet, it doesn’t matter. I write because I like to share. I write because I love stories, and if I can add to readers’ stories, all the better.

This post isn’t really entirely coherent. I hope it is to you.

You never know what will happen. Why write something that won’t be remembered after you died, or even while you’re still alive? Because it’s there, and it’s happening. And you never know what may happen in the future.

So, lovely readers, I pose you the same question:

Why do you bother to write when your stories may not even be remembered in the future?

Cracking Open a Window – Repost

The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.

Cracking Open a Window – Past post 2/? – Originally posted at kristinekim.blogspot.com (which will be deleted in the future), August 22, 2010.

Many people have heard the joke of 1+1=window. Don’t get it? Move the two dashes that make up the equals sign to the top and bottom of the phrase (phrase?) “1+1”. Voila! Window!

The point is, there are many technical aspects to a story, some of which–such as grammar, punctuation, sentence fluency, blah blah blah–are the same in essentially every story out there. Most books follow the same rules that are out there for conventions; some writers and editors even use THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White as a writers’ bible of sorts. The conventions and technicalities covered in books and articles the cyber world over are the parts that make up the “1+1”; they’re simple statements, and story essentials.

But it’s the window part that gets tricky. Because even though you’re using the conventions that are the same within every story out there, whether it be the unfailing cliches or stereotypical characters, it’s up to YOU to decide what your readers see in your window. What world will you create? Is it light or dark? How will you tell your story?

Through this journey of creating your window, however, you must also make sure that your blinds are up, and your reader can see outside. It’s not enough for them to know that they are in a different world. Show them the rolling green hills, and let them feel the soft taps of rain as it blows through the window on a chilly breeze. Let them hear the laughing children and the screech of a passing car–it could lead to your next conflict. Allow them to hear for themselves what your characters are doing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t let conventions and mere technicalities get in the way of telling your story. The important part is to tell it, and to tell it well. Let people know that venturing outside, into your story, is worth it. If you’re an author struggling to get even your first story out of your fingertips, much like myself, figure out what you can find outside your window. Discern what you’re seeing. Even if you can’t, that’s okay; there are times when even the clearest window can be marred by the splatters of a rainstorm or by pranksters who decided that egging your house was the way to go. But even that can be cleaned.

If not, maybe it’s just a matter of getting a new window.

Writing can be as easy as 1+1. If they put their mind to it, anyone can do it. Anyone is capable of telling a story and putting it to paper. But to create a window is hard work. Opening one can be even harder. But people have done it before; through the opening of their own windows and the cracking of spines (books spines, that is), we have ventured into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, felt the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s Platform 9 3/4, and known what it felt like to cry at the death of a harp that was the idea of Lloyd Alexander. Don’t give up; your own window is there, waiting for you. Once that sucker is open, it’s not just a window overlooking the story… it’s a portal into your own world.

The State of Unthinking – Repost

The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.

The State of Unthinking – Past post 1/? – Originally posted at kristinewrites.wordpress.com (which will be deleted in the future), June 4, 2012

There’s a notion shared by many writers (and dismissed by many others) that when you’re writing, your characters/story/pen/brain monkey take over, and you keep writing just so you can figure out what’s going to happen next in your story. I was just writing a bit of my Camp NaNoWriMo story, and I experienced something like it–maybe not exactly the same as what other writers experience, but my version of that writing state.

If you can’t guess from the title, I’ve decided to call it the State of Unthinking, because I’m all whimsical like that. Or whatever.

But I noticed when I write, things just happen on the page that I never realized would happen. I include a character I never knew existed, or I put in a minor detail with the potential of turning the whole story around for no reason known to me.

I’m not saying that I’m not writing this story, though. At a rational level, I’m very much in the John Green* camp, in that I am the person who comes up with my ideas, and no character randomly steals my keyboard from me and decides to do whatever he pleases with my story. I care too much (and I’m too much of a control freak) to let that happen. Typically, I know what’s going to happen in my story. I plot the basic timeline, I know most of the big things that are going to happen.

But I do believe in the State of Unthinking. When I write, I’m not actively thinking about the story–-my brain is strange, and I get engrossed in the image of black and white words appearing on the page***, rather than what I’m actually writing. (Somehow, most of the time what I write actually makes sense. Weird, huh?) But I’m still writing. The story is still moving. What I’m writing usually (or at least hopefully) impacts the future of the story**.

Anyway, nothing profound. I just like the name I came up with. Now going back to the State of Unthinking.

* I don’t think I need to explain just how much of a John Green fan girl I am. Yes, I’m one of those writers. Heh, what can I say? The man writes good books.

** For some reason, autocorrect wanted to correct “story” to “Osborn”. I just… What?

***ETA: This is necessarily true anymore. I am very conscious of what I’m putting down on the page, but my inner editor doesn’t have a tendency to butt in.

Perches

I’m just going to put this out there right away: I like hanging out on the stairs. When I’m at my parents’ house, I usually plop down on the staircase to read, stare through the bars (they have a banister) or just sit there playing on my phone. This never seemed weird to me until my brother pointed out the oddity.

For me, it was just comfortable. I mean, the place has tons of built in armrests, and my legs never dangled into a void. (I mean, I’m not short–I’m average–so my legs never technically dangle. But it doesn’t take as long a reach for me to get to a foot rest. You know what I’m saying?) But for my brother, my comfort on the stairs meant I was good at adapting, and that I like fitting in on the middle ground.

Which may be true. But really, the stairs are just a comfortable place to sit. You should try it some time.

That being said (and this is going to be a weird transition), when I’m working on revising my story, I like laying stomach-down on a big bed. I like spreading out, having the opportunity to flail around without hurting myself (which can happen if I get REALLY EXCITED while writing/revising), and, I just realized, I like being physically on the same level as my novel. It’s comfortable. But it’s also strange, since I’m not working at a desk.

I can never get comfortable at desks. I always end up doing something else. Like writing blog posts or watching YouTube.

My work space as it is now, while I’m in the massive sea of revision and paper, is strange. I do most of my work on a queen size bed. And my notecard outline is–get this–written on Post-it notes and stuck on the ceiling. It’s pretty fun.

That’s all this post is, really. Something fun. A little peek into my brain and my writing life.

The Habitual Slump

This summer has involved a lot of not posting on the blog and also not getting a lot of writing in on my WIP. And also, apparently, run-on sentences.

This happens to me once in a while. Usually it’s during school, in the latter half of the quarter when everything piles up, but now that’s it’s happening during summer, when I (arguably) have more time to write, I think it’s become habit. Which is, you know…

Not good.

I’ll be honest here. I wanted to finish this draft two weeks ago. Right now, I’m within about 2000 words of where I was a month ago. I have around 10-12K to go before I’ll feel like the draft is done (I think). That’s not very much. I wrote that much in a week back in March.

I could say that the lack of WIP writing is because I’m getting burnt out on writing with my internship at a community paper. I could say a lot of things. But there’s just one thing I WILL say:

They’re excuses. I haven’t been writing my WIP. That’s the only sentiment that actually matters.

Well, that one, and this: I’m going to write now. Happy writing!

Madness!

I am about to have a very busy few days. (Actually, the busy-ness already started, so it’s more like, “I am in the midst of having a very busy few days.”)

So, it’s my birthday tomorrow (Monday), and I am meeting with friends and family for it for FOUR DAYS in a row. I mean, it’s just dinner and things, but it’s literally the most I’ve ever had planned for my birthday. The last time I had a birthday celebration with people other than my family and my boyfriend was… before college?

Yeah. And I’m graduating in December.

But I am going to stop talking about that because I don’t want this to become a blog post about me-birthday-me. I just wanted you all to know how very whelmed* I’m going to be this week with meeting with people/school/writing/life.

Writing with a full schedule is hard. Now, I’m sure that plenty of people have it harder than me, but on top of being a full-time student, working 20 hours a week, being in a long-term relationship, and trying (sort of) to have a life, I like to tell myself that I have it tough. Setting aside time to write, especially when I’m unpublished, unagented, and without a deadline, seems like I’m pushing aside things that I have to do for something I merely want to do. And as someone who enjoys organizing things, it’s all very difficult and headache-inducing.

But you know what? I have to do it. If I don’t find time to write now, I’ll have to find time to write when I’m working full time. Or I’ll have to find time to write when, in the future, I’m driving kids to and from school, or when I’m on a plane, or in between rewatches of every single Vlogbrothers video ever made. The thing is, no matter what you’re doing, you’re always going to have to find time to write. No matter what. There’s no other way to spin it.

So how do I do it? Well, this quarter my classes don’t start until 1:30 in the afternoon. I work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But on Mondays and Wednesdays, you can believe that I have 2 hours of time set aside just for staring at my WIP. On Friday afternoons I have it open on my iPad. In fact, my Scrivener document for this baby is currently open in another window, waiting for me. Lurking until I switch over to that window and stare at it some more.

No guarantees I’ll actually be working on it, though. What kind of 20-year-old do you think I am?

Attention spans, man. They’ll get you.

*Whelmed: “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?” “I think you can in Europe!” (Chastity and Bianca, 10 Things I Hate About You)