My 2017 Resolutions | Final Review

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the last of my check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions – the final review of how I did with my goals this year. Around this time last year, I set some resolutions or goals for 2017. It’s something I try to do every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. This year I also did quarterly check-ins to keep myself accountable – click to peek at my first quarterly check-in, my second quarterly check-in, and my third quarterly check-in – and it turns out regularly checking in on the progress of your resolutions might actually help you achieve them. Who would’ve thought it?!?

Before I decide upon my 2018 resolutions, I thought I would do a final review of how I did in the final quarter and for the year overall!

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NaNoWriMo 2017 | This Year’s Failure & What I Achieved

I don’t know if you recall from my NaNoWriMo 2017 post, but I fully intended to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month by using the time to plan (and I mean properly plan and plot) my novel which I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to write for the past couple of years/NaNoWriMos. Sitting somewhere between gaslamp fantasy and steampunk, it’s set in a Victorian-era London and focuses around mining and the dangers of the technology which was being developed amidst the setting of the Industrial Revolution. And there’s also a flying galleon, because duh. Oh and there’s magic… and a Kraken that people are scared of… naturally.

Unfortunately, unlike the savvy writers out there, I didn’t plan in October (no Preptober of any kind happened), and this affected my 2017 NaNoWriMo before it had even started. I actually made the conscious decision, going into November, that I wouldn’t “do NaNoWriMo properly”, but rather focus instead on plotting and planning and developing my novel, rather than worrying about writing actual continuous prose. I downloaded prep resources and watched many a Preptober video to get me in the mood for my slightly altered NaNoWriMo attempt.

Well, I hate to sound like a broken record but, guys, I failed once again. I can’t say I’m surprised by this point. I’m not even disappointed in myself. Because me failing NaNoWriMo seems like a foregone conclusion, even when I’m barely “doing NaNoWriMo” “properly”. For full disclosure of just how badly I failed, take a look at my not-so-regularly updated Twitter thread which charts my waning interest in anything to do with NaNoWriMo. Yes, I only made it to 6th November aka Day 6 (yep, we were still in single figures) when I dropped off the Twitter radar as far as NaNoWriMo was concerned. I ended up having a pretty great reading month, but that’s by the by. By all accounts, I failed NaNoWriMo… and quite spectacularly at that.

However, I don’t want to constantly be 100% negative about my various failed attempts at writing a novel, I want to look for the positives so here are some achievements that came out of NaNoWriMo 2017:

  1. I confirmed my sneaking suspicion that my novel, in fact, errs more on the side of gaslamp fantasy rather than steampunk.
  2. The story I’m trying to tell might actually be a duology?!? (Getting ahead of myself here, I know.)
  3. I decided to make it an alternate-history – it’s set in the early 19th century but in my story’s world the Napoleonic Wars are still ongoing as the Coalition didn’t defeat Napoleon at Waterloo.
  4. The addition of the ‘at war with the French’ element (which is apparently what I’m calling it now?) also helped me to flesh out my magic system and integrate this ‘kraken’ idea which I couldn’t get firm hold on during previous attempts at NaNoWriMo. Basically, the French have discovered how to harness magic, the British haven’t, so obviously it’s putting them at a disadvantage in warfare and the government is putting pressure on various factions to come up with a solution of how to mine and harness this magic effectively so that the British can hold their own in battle against the French.
  5. I worked out a hell of a lot of backstory for one of my male MCs which explained how he could be from a well-to-do family yet require him to have a profession of his own and be financially independent from his family. No spoilers but obviously his dad was involved in a shady scandal that sent the family name into disrepute.
  6. I decided I needed to entirely drop one of my male characters because he didn’t really serve a purpose.
  7. I fleshed out one of my French characters who is a journalist in England writing under a male pseudonym, obviously  – the additional of the whole ‘at war with the French’ element means I can do some interesting socio-political things with her too, or so I hope!
  8. My Pinterest board for ‘The Upper Deep’ got bigger, including a brand new board with an entirely different “Dark Queen” story idea which has been plaguing me ever since I saw this Paso Doble on Strictly Come Dancing last year.
  9. I allowed myself to write when I felt like it and not write when the inspiration well was just well and truly dry as sticks. This meant I unofficially “quit” NaNoWriMo for yet another year only 6 days in but, do you know what? I’m not even really that ashamed about it because I think I managed to achieve a lot more constructive progress this year that I have in previous years, despite what the lacklustre word count may suggest. This is what I will take from NaNoWriMo 2017 and hopefully into working on my novel more in 2018.

Did you participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo? What was your novel about and how did writing go this year? Did you achieve all that you wanted to?
Or, have you never tried NaNoWriMo or don’t think it’s really for you?
Comment below and let’s chat writing and story ideas!


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NaNoWriMo 2017 | This Year’s Approach

Well, my friends, November is on the horizon again which, for those of us who are so inclined, means only one thing – National Novel Writing Month. Yes, it’s that time of year when tens of thousands of writers get together online, all in the name of the ambitious task of writing 50,000 words – 1,667 words per day. It doesn’t sound like that many words, when you put it like that – after all, every great novel started with an author just putting one word in front of another, bit by bit, until they had told the story they set out to tell. In theory, it’s a very logical process; in practice, it feels like anything but.

Once again, I have decided (probably foolishly) to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo despite not having planned out anything of my novel. Well, that’s a lie – I am now on my third attempt of writing what I have tentatively called ‘The Upper Deep’ for the last two years, a story inspired by Tennyson’s poem ‘The Kraken’, so I have some ideas by this point. (Check out my Beautiful Books 2016 post if you’re curious!) But I have no plot, really. I have a concept and I have characters and you’d think that would be enough to be getting on with but, as previous years have proven, it really isn’t enough. Roughly speaking, NaNoWriMo participants describe themselves as ‘pansters’ or ‘plotters’, with the latter (lucky) group plotting out their novel ahead of November, probably with detailed chapter summaries and planned characters arcs and all sorts of snazzy things, and the former group winging it all the way and seeing what story comes out when they sit down to write on 1st November. Of course, as is so often the case in this world, there are also those who don’t fit neatly into either label – they are ‘plantsers’, a hybrid mix of the two camps and I suppose, to some extent, that’s what I must be.

So, what is my plan come 1st November? I will be writing, for the third time, my ‘The Upper Deep’ story but, as I wasn’t organised enough to do Preptober, November will basically (hopefully) be a mix of prepping my story and then writing some of it. I plan to properly invest time into prepping my novel, rather than just getting by on little snatches here and there when I remember in October, as I ordinarily do. So, every word I write of plot ideas, brain dumps, character profiles, and so on will count towards my total. Am I doing NaNoWriMo correctly? I don’t know, but at this point, I don’t really care – for me, NaNo stops being fun when I feel undue pressure to keep writing even though my writing isn’t going anywhere, and I want so badly to keep the fun up for the entire month, rather than throwing in the towel halfway through the second week.

With that in mind, fellow writers and/or NaNoWriMo participants – if you are reading this and have ANY kind of planning or plotting techniques or advice, please do share them in the comments below because I’m struggling to tease out a plot structure from my overall, overarching idea. I have the big picture, but none of the necessary little bits that will get my story from beginning to end. If you have resources or techniques or books that would help me to help myself work out this idea then I would be immensely grateful if you shared them with me. And in the meantime, I’ll be getting ready for properly working on my novel come 1st November because, in the end, that’s what NaNoWriMo is really about – allowing yourself the time every single day to work on a project you’re passionate about.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Please do say hi in the comments if so, and we can help cheer each other on throughout the month, or why not add me as a buddy on the siteAre you a plotter or a panster? And do you have any winning techniques to plot and outline novels? 


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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the third of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in or my second quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of July, August, and September, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: Completed
I’ve definitely smashed through this challenge this year, to the point that I’m considering whether or not to up it to at least 75 books, or maybe 100 if I’m feeling especially industrious.  I’m currently sitting pretty at 67 though so I’ve upped my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 75.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing-ish
I’m getting better at writing reviews in general, even for books I was just so-so on but these reviews are rarely ever written on time. I like to leave a little bit of time between finishing a book and reviewing it, to let it really sink it etc. (and also because I’m lazy), but it’s just a joke sometimes. Must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
I’m really trying to get into a proper weekly schedule and, for the most part, I think I’m getting there. I’m now aiming to have 4-5 posts a week up, and these are usually a mixture of tags, weekly memes, discussions, TBRs, and reviews – I’d like to have more reviews and discussions and less tags but I’m happy-ish with the direction my blog is headed in. Actually scheduling ahead of time really helps me to read more of other people’s blogs and leave comments – I’m now trying to write my posts for the week ahead on a weekend but that doesn’t always happen.

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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the second of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of April, May, and June, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’m sitting pretty at 46 books which Goodreads informs me is 20 books ahead of schedule. Let us take a moment to bask once more in the glow of that meaningless and arbitrary accolade, shall we? Back in Quarterly Check-in #1 I was wondering whether to up my Goodreads goal to 75 books but I’ve decided now not to do that. Whilst I’m sure it’s an achievable number, I want to concentrate on reading some longer books over the summer and I don’t want to constantly be thinking in the back of my head about my Goodreads goal – so at 52 books it shall stay!

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
Let me explain something – if I dislike a book, I find it infinitely easier to write a review explaining why me and the book didn’t get along very well. A recent case in point is Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. When it comes to a book I liked, if I loved it I will be high and delirious on the buzz of all the feelings and I will then happily skip onto reading my next book, forgetting to write a review. Skip forward a few weeks and then I have a moment of realisation that I never did write that gushing review about that book I loved. At that point I start to feel that perhaps too much time has passed for me to properly convey my adoration so the review remains unwritten. This is a silly cycle to get trapped into and I must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
For a while back there I was on something of a roll with posting to a vaguely regular schedule. And I wouldn’t say I’m failing this goal because I do still post a decent enough amount of things every week – it’s just that in recent days and weeks I’m feeling a bit disheartened about the quality of my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love participating in weekly memes and all that jazz but I do find myself settling on doing posts like this because they’re “easy posts” for me to write and don’t require huge amounts of thought on my part. I’d like to have more discussion posts and reviews and interesting content. Truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve been truly 100% happy with any of my posts and I constantly struggle to find the right tone for my blog given my academic literature background but desire to appeal also to a more popular audience. (Maybe that in itself is worth a blog post to unpack some of those feelings – would that be of interest to anyone?)

4. Read at least 4 classics

Verdict: Completed!
Guys, guys, guys, I’ve actually completed a goal – yay! I’ve read Hard Times by Charles Dickens, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, Howards End by E.M. Forster, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Ok, ok, so Atwood probably counts a modern classic at a push, but it’s still considering a classic so I’m completely allowing myself this one. I didn’t even have to think “ugh maybe I should read a classic”, I just found myself picking up A Room with a View and then that led to me realising I found Forster’s style very readable and then I followed it up with Howards End and voila, here we are. It feels good to actually have something completed and so early in the year – but I suspect that’s because this was an easily quantifiable goal and I set the bar pretty low… even so, I’ll take it!

5. Be mindful of Reading Challenges and actually complete them!

Verdict: On Track
In terms of the Goodreads Challenge and the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge, I’m on track. For Around the Year we’re at week 27 and I’m at 36 out of 52 books which is not too bad at all. As for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, I’m no longer failing it quite as spectacularly as I was at my first quarterly check-in – I’ve now completed 8 out of 24 challenges which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t brilliant but it’s definitely better than I was doing. Must keep these challenges more in the back of my head as they will definitely require some tailored TBRs for me. And finally as far as Mount TBR goes, I’ve achieved Pike’s Peak (yay!) and am now aiming for Mount Blanc which means another 12 books – I got this, guys.

6. Explore more TV shows/films

Verdict: Failing
Unless you count watching far too many episodes of Police Interceptors as “progress” then, yeah, I’m failing this quite spectacularly. Case in point: yesterday when stuck on a train journey I chose to re-watch Ed Byrne’s Different Class rather than watch The Circle which I had not seen and wanted to. I ALWAYS choose re-watching for the sake of nostalgia/assured enjoyment and I need to stop doing this and let myself explore some new TV and film.

PERSONAL GOALS

 

1. Exercise more regularly

Verdict: Failing
So I changed jobs during quarter 2 which has meant that my walk to/from work has shortened considerably. However, that 10 minute (as opposed to 20 minute) walk in on a morning is now uphill and at speed because I panic about being late. And the downhill walk on the way to the station to get home is also at speed because otherwise I’d miss a train by like 2 minutes and have to wait for the next one. All of this is a way of procrastinating talking about what I really should be talking about… the gym. Ha hahahahaha ha ha. yeah, no, the gym is taking my money for no reason at all since I couldn’t tell you the last time I went. A combination of sheer laziness, lack of motivation, and near-constant blisters on the back of my feet making wearing my gym shoes uncomfortable have all meant I haven’t been in a while. It’s gonna hurt when I do but I know I need to work on my fitness. Sigh.

Also, if any of you happen to know of any beginners yoga videos online can you hook me up? I’m not so much about the mind-clearing and meditation aspects of it but I really need to improve my core strength, stability, and flexibility so I’d greatly appreciate any recommendations.

2. Experiment and find a skincare routine that works

Verdict: On Track
I’m still loving the St Ive’s face scrub in my morning shower but I’m yet to find a day cream that I really like. I continue to use No. 7 but I’m still vaguely suspicious that, despite its claims, it’s not actually the best thing for my sensitive skin. Will report back more later.

3. Travel more

Verdict: On Track
Ok so technically I haven’t been anywhere much since my last check-in (aside from tagging along with Liz and her parents on a lovely day trip to the Lake District which remains stunning by the way) but I do have a pretty damn exciting holiday planned – I’m going to Washington DC and New York! This is all down to Liz being amazed and getting flights but yeah we’re popping over to Washington for a few days to see all the sights and then we’re on a train to NYC for a couple of days and seeing Phantom on Broadway. I’m so ridiculously excited I can’t even begin to explain. Also, if you have recs for places to eat and/or things to do in DC or NYC, please let me know!

4. Allow myself to write more

Verdict: Failing
As I stated in my previous check-in: “I need to let myself write more, whether that is working on that novel I abandoned during NaNoWriMo or trying to get inspiration for some kind of new project. Or maybe I should just allow myself to write more reviews, for a start.” Nothing has changed since and I agree with that previous statement.

Overall

As we stand at the mid-way point of the year, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on a lot of my goals. I’m on-track mostly with my blogging and reading related goals, it’s just my “real life” and personal ones that could do with some much needed attention. That’s pretty par for the course for my life in general, to be perfectly honest. As the weather gets better though, my excuses for the exercise and travel goals really don’t really hold much weight and I will hopefully be trying to address these in the coming months.

Did you make New Years’ Resolutions or goals for this year?
How are you doing at achieving them?


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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

I have a horrible tendency of setting New Year’s Resolutions and then promptly forgetting about them completely until 1st January of the following year when I start setting new ones for the year ahead. Obviously that defeats the entire point of having goals to begin with, so I’ve decided to do quarterly ‘check-ins’ with my goals and progress, partly to keep me accountable but mostly to force me to remember to actively work towards achieving resolutions rather than having them become utterly pointless. This is the first check-in, so I’ll do a quick look at each of my 2017 Resolutions and see how I’ve fared in the months of January, February, and March.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2017 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing…

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’ve read 26 books and Goodreads informs me that I am well on track to completing the arbitrary 52 books goal I set myself as I am 14 books ahead of schedule. Thank you, Goodreads, that’s very good to know, I shall bask in the glow of that meaningless accolade. I know my own reading pace, and I know it fluctuates, so setting a book a week seemed like a manageable goal, and I have previously achieved it. Maybe I can even get to 75 books this year – is that too ambitious? We’ll see how I’m feeling when I get to Quarterly Check-in #2.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
I really need to  buck up my ideas when it comes to writing reviews. Sometimes, it’s much easier to write a review for a book you hated – does anyone else ever feel that? My A Court of Thorns and Roses review just spewed out onto the page/screen so easily, whereas trying to explain why I love Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy is a bit harder and so I keep putting it off which is silly because of course I want to gush about the books I love, that’s part of the whole point of this blog in the first place. Must do better.

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On Giving Up [NaNoWriMo edition]

Sometimes in life, you have to let go. Sometimes in life, you have to accept that A Thing is categorically Not Happening.  Sometimes in life, you just have to admit that you’re not going to continue doing something because trying to do it is actually making you mildly miserable along the way. Sometimes in life, you have to give up.

Yes, my friends, once again I have given up on NaNoWriMo before I’d even reached the mid-way point.

If we’re being honest, I gave up last week, but I’ve been writing dribs and drabs of text here and there in order to be able to truthfully update my word count every day (gotta have that streak!). However, I’ve just reached a point where I am categorically Not Having Fun. And NaNoWriMo is meant to be fun, right? Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s also hard work – writing a novel is never going to be remotely easy – but the fun element is meant to be included somewhere in that, right? And when it genuinely stops being fun, why continue putting yourself through the slog every single day?

Why put yourself through the constant internal argument you have with yourself where one voice is saying ‘I can’t write, I’m not a writer, I’m not good at this, I don’t want to’ (this voice is the whiny one) and the other voice is saying begrudgingly ‘come on, just write 100 words, you can write 100 words in no time and you’ll feel better about it’. There’s only so long that second voice can continue to reason with the whiny brat that is the first voice.

When I do get into the swing of writing and everything is working and my characters are conversing of their own accord, yeah, okay, that’s a lot of fun and it feels great. Hey, look at me, I’m creating, I’m writing, I can write!!

But when I’m forcing myself (by way of snacks and treats) to just hit word count every day? I end up feeling like crap about myself, about my story, about everything around me. And that doesn’t sound like a very healthy mind set, does it? I end cranky and down on myself and then feeling like crap because writing (or, rather, procrastinating writing) is taking up all my time that I would normally spend reading and I haven’t read a thing all month etc. etc.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, once again, my NaNoWriMo attempt has been abandoned for another year at least. And I’m strangely okay with that. In fact, I feel something like relief, like a weight has been lifted. Because it’s dumb to put this much pressure on yourself if you’re just consistently Not Feeling It.

And I still love my story idea, I’m not giving up on that, it just might take me a little longer than 30 days to truly do it justice. That’s fine, that’s good, even. And, hey, I might start writing again tomorrow, I might start writing again next week, or next month, or next year, and that’s honestly okay. For the sake of my own mental health and self-esteem, that’s okay.


To all those amazing, amazing writers doing NaNoWriMo this year…
I salute you. I wish you all soaring word counts and delightful fun with your novel.
You can do it, go smash it.


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Beautiful Books 2016: Introduce Your Novel

Well, it’s November 1st once again… seriously, where the hell did October go? I swear I blinked and missed it! Since it is November (though I’m still finding that hard to believe), it’s that time of year again – the time when this foolish girl who was never much of a writer tries to write 50,000 words because a bunch of people on the Internet are also doing it. It’s NaNoWriMo time! In case you’ve somehow managed to avoid the phenomena that is NaNoWriMo, let me briefly explain. National Novel Writing Month is an annual event in which people pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days… or die trying… ok maybe not die. Roughly speaking this means writing 1,667 words a day, which doesn’t seem too difficult on the surface but when you haven’t written a single word for 5 days, well, those daily word goals stack up quite quickly. (I know this to be true.) The key with NaNo always seems to be making time – a novel isn’t going to write itself after all! And I’ll bet quite a lot of people would put “write a novel” on their bucket list. Well – now’s the time!

bb-redoneThis year I’m going to be attempting to turn last year’s failure into at least a half-decent attempt at a novel, so I’m reworking the same idea, but I’ve had a year to occasionally think about when I’m daydreaming on the train. And since it is the first day of NaNo and all is still optimistic and exciting, I thought I would share a little bit about my novel via the wonderful Beautiful Books link up at Paper Fury. I have answered a few questions below to help “Introduce My Novel” which all sounds rather grand!

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

4 main things: I love the pirate bit of the Stardust film; I have a penchant for steampunk and gas-lamp fantasy (though I didn’t know that’s what it was called when I was reading and loving it); I enjoy the gritty-history/Victorian-y tone that seems to be popular in TV nowadays with the likes of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, Ripper Street, and Peaky Blinders (yes I know Peaky Blinders isn’t Victorian but just go with me on this one); and I’ve always been fascinated with the Industrial Revolution’s effect on society. So I’m trying to smush all of that together, because clearly I’m interested.

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Discussion | Stagnation & Slumps

WordPress reliably informs me that my last review (The Alloy of Law as it happens) was published a whole 51 days ago. That’s practically two whole months. Since that point I’ve published 12 posts which isn’t terrible, but it isn’t brilliant by any stretch of the imagination. As I look back, however, I realise that very few of these posts have actually been a sustained discussion of anything I’ve read. There are bits and pieces of reviews and comments on things I’m in the midst of reading, but nothing sustained.

The truth is I cannot accurately say I’m in a reading slump because I have read a good deal more books since that last review (10 books to be precise), I just haven’t particularly had the enthusiasm to review said books. I don’t have the excuse of being busy because I only work part-time and, as it happens, I have slow periods at work in which I can (and do) blog. Now, given the amount of time and books I’ve consumed, I ought to have more frequent reviews? The lack of them suggests a problem… it’s not a stretch that one might think perhaps these books weren’t very good. But the truth is quite the contrary; I’ve read some amazing things lately (some more literary than others) but, for some reason, I just haven’t been able to formulate my thoughts into reviews or discussion posts.

You may have noticed lately the majority of posts I’ve published have been weekly memes and to be honest relying on these for posts feels like a little bit of a cop-out to me. I hasten to add that weekly memes are by no means lesser than reviews or discussion posts, it’s just that I know that I personally complete weekly memes with less care and attention than I would pay to other posts. There’s an element of the autopilot or mechanical posting to it. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone and I’m really not trying to suggest everyone is quite as lazy as me when it comes to filling out such weekly themes! It’s just that weekly memes appeal to the lazy side of me because they provide an existing jumping-off point, so I don’t have to think about that initial reason to write a post. It makes posting a lot quicker and a lot more mechanical. When it comes down to it, I personally feel like I’m not really contributing much with my own answers to these weekly themes, even if I do adore doing them. Because of this, I feel like the quality of these posts isn’t quite where I’d like it to be… and I’m not quite happy with my blog as it is, or indeed as it has been for a while now.

(This entire thing also feeds into my incessant anxiety about my own personal lack of originality or voice in my writing – an ongoing running sore that we won’t probe any more right now!)

The long and short of all this self-indulgent reflection is that I’ve come to a conclusion: it’s about time I stopped stagnating and actually did something about the fact I’m not happy with my blog as it is at the moment…

I am going to stop obsessing over participating in weekly memes, for one. I’m still going to participate, of course, because the themes of Top 5 Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesdays, Book Travelling Thursdays etc. are always wonderful, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it if I miss a week, which is actually what I do now even though you might not realise that through the relative silence on this blog.

I am going to focus more on the quality of what I publish rather than the quantity. Of course I would like to be more regular with my posts on this blog, but I would much rather be happy about what I put out there than post every other day out of necessity. Which leads me to the next (and main) point of this rambling post…

I am going to try to be more thoughtful in my posts. Part of my problem when it comes to writing a post is always my innate lack of confidence that makes me think ‘well what more am I actually saying that others before haven’t said? Am I actually contributing anything by throwing this post into the ether that is the internet?’. As far as I can see it, the only thing I do have, really, is a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English Literature… for what that’s worth (little in the wider world but, personally, quite a lot!). So I’d like to approach my blog more like I used to approach my seminar preparation and essays – with thought and attention and care. I want to be able to immediately identity a point, a purpose, to any given post, rather than just what was clearly me thinking ‘oh balls, I haven’t updated in three days, what day is it? Friday? Perfect, I’ll just quickly shove a Friday Reads onto my blog’. (And yes, that has been my thought process at times!)

If you’ve been reading this blog with any regularity you may have witnessed similar grand pledges or posts in the past. Every so often I have a sudden crisis of confidence where I vow to be better, to write better, to create content etc. etc. It’s all rather tiring to hear, I know, but here’s to me saying it again. Hopefully this will be the last time I need to make such a pledge because this time I’m going to actually schedule/plan out posts for the future. Jesus, whilst we’re making grand plans let’s kid ourselves that I might even dig out that abandoned bullet journal to help with scheduling my life into more productive days!

Hopefully this time something will stick.


 

Thoughts from NaNo | The Perils of Pantsing

I feel as though every NaNoWriMo blog ought to include some kind of Ron Swanson gif and, since I seem to have unwittingly started some kind of pattern, I’ll somehow have to try to drop that in the middle of this summary of Week One’s progress.

As the graph below visually shows, I was doing splendidly until Day 6/Friday, at which point I started to fall behind. Considering I was away all of Saturday enjoying a catch up with friends in Manchester, I’m not altogether surprised by this falling behind, but I had hoped to compensate for it before or after Day 7. Unfortunately I am better at making plans than I am at following through with them – story of my life, and part of why I’m trying NaNoWriMo at all!

nano stats 9

I was mildly surprised by how well the first few days of NaNo went for me. I should preface this with the reminder that, even at this point still, I don’t have a plot outlined. I don’t have a set of actions from point A to even point B. What I do have thus far is a series of random scenes and vignettes, 9926 words’ worth of them! My imagination is firmly the kind where it dreams up scenes and snippets of dialogue and a clever phrasing or two here and there, it isn’t very adept at sustained and coherent plot lines. This is most of the reason why I would never describe myself as a writer – I worry that a vague concept or idea isn’t viable as a narrative and so I never actually get around to fleshing them out into a timeline or chronology.

It was fine pantsing for Week One, but I’ve quickly realised, as the days have passed by, that this month would be so much easier on myself and my self-doubt if I did have some vague semblance of a chain of events to get me from beginning to end. Unfortunately, however, I am drastically behind – I’m meant to reach 15000 words by the end of today – so I feel like I don’t have the time to play catch up whilst also working on an outline. Of course, this is what I need to do in order to continue writing past this block I seem to have developed around the 9000 word mark.

Why, oh why, did I not decide to do NaNo earlier and so have plenty of time in October to at least cobble together some kind of outline? Curse you lack of foresight, curse you!

So, NaNoWriMo-ers, do share, do you have any tips and ticks for how to tease out a plot from a slightly anxious and overworked brain which is feeling less than creative (to say the least)? Nothing is too basic considering I don’t even have a synopsis or end-game for my novel!