Sunday, 27 May 2012

Summer 2012: The Write-Lympics

I made my UCAS decisions today! While I'm hoping I don't meet my offers so I can go through clearing and get onto a more 'fun' course, I'm anxious to do as well as I can. My future is at stake here! haha!

So I will be going to Law School in September. Well, that's what the plan is.

And Law School = no time for writing.

And that is going to suck a lot. So I'm hoping to finish my novel and have it edited by a certain date so I can print it off, put it in a folder, and keep it to remind me that if I can't get an agent and a book contract while in university, I'll need to work hard so I can get a proper job after.

And that is why I'm going to be taking part in something I'm calling the Write-Lympics.

Right now, I'm training which means the following:

  • Finish outlining
  • Make a list of all characters
  • Write at least 100 words a day

And when I finish my exams on 21st June, I'll be moving onto the gruesome challenge:

  • Write the first draft

And then I will be fasting during the summer from around 20th July so about 21st August so I'm hoping to have the novel completed just before that so the date I am setting for the completion of the first draft is: 18th July 2012.

I know what you're thinking. I'm crazy.

Because that gives me 27 days to complete a draft which I am expecting to reach about 60,000 words.

That gives me a daily word count of 2222.22... words per day. Keep in mind I will get a few thousand done before this.

So my daily word count will be at least 2200 words per day if I have at least 594 words completed between now and 21st June.

Between 18th July (or before if I finish earlier) and 20th July (a space of two days, I know), I'll take a break. And then I'll edit from 20th July to 25th August which is the date by which I want a completed manuscript.

On the 15th August, I hope to have a completed manuscript. If I don't then I will have to spend three years with no time to write without a full length novel to my name.

Part of me thinks this is completely nuts because that's a lot of words in a very short space of time.

I just have to hope I survive this ordeal. And I might make changes to this challenge between now and the 21st June.

So stay tuned to watch me write my way to a nervous breakdown!


EDIT: check on the page Write-Lympics '12 to see my progress!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Many Uses Of Breaking Dawn

I don't like Breaking Dawn but I have recently found other uses for this 'brick'.

Here they are

  • A brick to keep the door open
  • A weapon 
  • Motivation to keep going - if that can get published, so can your book!
  • Motivation to improve as a writer 
  • Toilet roll 
  • Flood barrier 
  • A book end 
  • Something to stand on so you feel taller
  • Keep your table up if one of the legs is wonky 
  • An effective sedative 
  • Squishing bugs 

I actually find it most useful for the last bit although it is also adequate to squish spiders.

Here's a video of a bug I had to squish today.

What a useful item for everyday life!

I don't like burning books and I don't want to pass this illness on to someone else so I keep it to protect myself from bugs/spiders/gross stuff like my brothers.

How do you put your copy of Breaking Dawn to good use? And what do you do with a book you don't like?


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Writers And Insomnia

Looking around, I see a lot of writers have something called insomnia.

It feels like everyone has it but me.

Yes, I don't have insomnia. In fact I go the other way.

I sleep a lot. 12 hour nights along with occasionally napping during the day, I tend to oversleep and have a deep attachment to my bed.

The only time when I'm not like this is when I'm very stressed out and then I'll stay awake and that's due to my anxiety problems. Nothing to do with sleep habits.

I love sleep. If I could marry it, I would. Well, no I wouldn't but you get the picture?

School work is often something that keeps me up till the early hours but I find that once I'm in bed, I'm off. During high school, I slept for an average of 5 and a half hours per night. In my first year of college, 4 hours. Now, I am at about 6 hours. But if I am not woken up by someone else, I'll continue sleeping until I've had at least 10 hours of sleep.

I've lost count of how many writers tell me they have insomnia and sometimes I feel like it isn't fair. If I was like that, I could write when I can't sleep.

Honestly though, I am a hypersomniac with the schedule of an insomniac. I have to stay up doing college work and go to sleep late. But I have to wake up in the mornings to drink Red Bull. And it's my mother who wakes me up. I can't sleep by myself and alarms don't work. I could put it on the other side of the room but in the morning, I'll get up, deactivate it and just go back to bed.

Also insomniacs can survive during the day on low levels of sleep. I can't. I am still incredibly sleepy for about two hours after waking and am still not alert until about 3pm. But by 8pm, my energy levels drop.

Caffeine keeps me going.

It feels like an addiction to be honest.

It makes me feel weird that I'm not an insomniac since so many writers are though. It makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong! lol!

Do you suffer from insomnia? And are you a writer?

I'd love to know.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

What Is The Best Time Of The Day For Writing?

I've always been the kind of person who writes during the evening and at night. At any other time, it becomes very difficult.

I tend to be very tired after waking and it takes a few hours for my energy levels to rise. In fact, they continue to rise until about 6/7pm and that's around the time I usually do my writing. And then my energy levels start to drop after 11pm. I usually stop activities by 2am as my energy levels are so low that I can't stay awake.

So I write late during the day.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this.

Advantages of writing during the evening/night:

  • The world is sleeping or getting ready to sleep so emails slow down, less people call you and you're confronted less by distractions. 
  • You've had the entire day to do other stuff and can now concentrate on writing. 
  • The house is quiet. I like to be able to hear myself think and it's easier when no one is talking/banging doors/running up and down stairs. 
  •  The night time can be inspiring for some. 
  • Space. While everyone else is in their rooms, you can temporarily migrate to the living room/dining room and splatter your writing stuff everywhere.
  • You get to wear pyjamas. You can do this in the morning too but you'll smell in the morning, have bad breath and be hungry. At night, you'll just be cosy. 
  • It gives you something to do if you have insomnia. 

But there are also disadvantages.

Disadvantages of writing during the evening/night: 

  • Some people can be tired at this point and will go to sleep. You may find that your energy levels are higher during the morning. 
  • You may still have other things to do. If you're a parent, you'll have children to put to bed and then get their school uniforms ready for the morning. Or you may work night shifts. 
  • Most writers work other jobs/are students and so will need to wake up early to get to work/school. So not everyone can write at this time. I write at this time during the holidays. My writing slows down during term time. 
  • It can mess up your sleep clock and that can have a serious impact on your health. It is ideal for people to sleep in a dark room and going to be at 2am means that the sun will soon rise and you will be sleeping in a light room. This prevents you from going into a deep sleep and most people will wake up early and be tired. 
  • Some people will be completely unable to get anything done at this time. They just may not feel motivated/full or energy/would rather wind down in front of the TV. 

It doesn't matter at what time you write. The most important thing is, when you do WANT to write? When do you have TIME to write? And when do you get the MOST writing done?

I personally find the evening is the best time and will write into the early hours of the night if I have the energy.

If you are going to write in the morning and suffer from sleep drunkenness then take a short walk or run in the morning just to help you wake up. And take a shower before writing so you can smell nice shampoo when you get stuck for words!


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Really Bad Ideas For Your Novel - Part 3

It's been a long time since I last did one of these. They were fun so I thought I'd do another one.

Click below to go read part 1 and 2.
Part 1
Part 2

Make your chapters really long. Readers need breaks and this comes in the form of chapters. Keep chapters to a maximum of 7500 words. If they get too long, it becomes more likely for a reader to turn off.

Give your characters unpronounceable names. I hate writers who give their characters foreign names or make complex ones up and then provide no information on how to say the damn name. I used to call Hermione (Her-me-own-knew) and it was really embarrassing when my teacher laughed at me for it.

Include no chapters whatsoever. And you'll end up with a big, ugly block of text. Formatting is good people! Take advantage of it.

Include personal details. Would you like a stalker?

Include the personal details of other people. I'm pretty sure this is illegal.

Have a prologue. Go read this post on prologues (CLICK HERE!)

Set your novel in a real life place you have never gone to and then include a lot of specific details of this place. This is dangerous. By including a vast amount of detail, you're digging yourself into a hole. When you include this detail and have no idea whether it is right or not, you're increasing the likelihood of a reader catching you out. If you haven't visited this place, invent a new place based off it.

Hope you enjoyed this post!


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Blogging Mistakes And Tips

I've been blogging around the internet since around 2007 but I never really got the hang of it and I still haven't. This blog is probably the best blog I've created since I manage to actually update more than once a month with actual content. On my old blog, I updated around once in a blue moon with a few lines that went like this

Title: OMG I forgot about you!!!!

"Oh My God! I haven't blogged in ages! Got lots of work to do. Really busy atm! And the weather here is awful! My life sucks."

Now it's pretty easy to see what is wrong with this blog 'post'.

Here is essentially what a good blog post includes:
  • One clear subject.
  • Clear formatting without chunky paragraphs. 
  • A good title.
  • Original content/perspective.
Now look back at the bold bit.

Is there one clear subject? No. In fact, I don't see a 'subject'.

Clear formatting? No, it's just 6 sentences running together with no direction. 

A good title? Hell no. Never include more than one exclamation mark. It can look messy in a title.

Original content/perspective? Look at other teen blogs. Most of them will have at least one of the example 'post'.

So you can see why my other blogs were pretty fail right? Because I can. And that's because I had no clear direction with the posts. Now, I update with posts that have quality (I hope) and I update as often as I can.

Although this blog has gone further than I expected and I've improved a lot, I'm still making mistakes.

These are the mistakes I'm still making:
  • Not posting consistently. - It's advised to have a posting schedule such as two blogs posts a week or once a week. But I just update when I get the chance to sit down and write. 
  • Not writing within a specific niche. - I'll admit that I've failed to fit into a niche. I'm trying to develop a more writer/student tone but it gets hard when you just want to talk about your grocery trip to the supermarket!
  • Failing to edit all blog posts. - Yeah, I'm just lazy.
  • Not marketing the blog. - See above.
  • Not interacting with other bloggers as much as I should. - I try and do this often but it gets very difficult especially with some blogs where the author doesn't respond. It makes you feel like your comments are being ignored.
  • Failing to use sources and research. - A well researched blog post is a good one. I'm lazy.
  • Publishing posts that don't deserve to be published. - I've written about two blog posts so far in May that I've deleted. I just couldn't see someone reading them but I still have some blog posts that I should either take down or modify. 

So here are some simple tips for all bloggers:

  • Format Format Format. No chunky paragraphs and organise how everything is going to be laid out. Don't ramble on one topic and switch to another in the same paragraph. And don't ramble!
  • Edit every post.
  • Determine a posting schedule. It doesn't have to be every day but make sure that when you do update, you actually post something meaningful. 
  • Have a clean design and layout. No one wants to see 100 'Follow Me On Twitter' icons. And black text on a white background is easier to read than white text on a black background. No funky colours unless it follows a colour scheme. 
  • No background music.
  • Make sure your pages aren't too loaded with content. People instantly switch off from a blog that takes ten minutes to load. 
  • Make sure your title is relevant to the post. 
  • Post on other blogs. 
  • Do your research.
  • Be consistent. Aim to have all blog posts up to a certain standard. 
  • Connect with your readers. Reply to their comments. Ask them questions at the end of the post. Visit their blogs. 
  • Stay fresh and passionate. Blogging can be boring when it swallows your life so keep yourself motivated by loving it and try to stand out from the crowd.


Friday, 4 May 2012

Book Love: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It's been a LONG time since I have posted a Book Love post (and a BIHTEL post) so I thought I'd write a bit about The Book Thief.

Reading this book was strange because I couldn't understand some of what was happening and the narrative from Death was unusual. As Death was the narrator, I had a feeling that we would see the life of someone who would die. I won't mention any more of that if you don't want a spoiler.

In History lessons we were taught that Nazi Germany was an evil place full of evil people and were always told about Hitler and his crimes. But it was rare to see what life was like for people living in Nazi Germany and how their lives were affected by what was happening.

This was a fantastic book in my opinion. We see the life of a girl, Liesel, who is living with foster parents in Nazi Germany. She is an innocent girl surrounded by horror. But this is not a depressing tale. I wouldn't call it happy either but it's somewhere in the middle. There are moments where you'll smile and moments where you'll feel sad. You see how Nazi Germany affected now only gypsies, Jews, homosexuals and the disabled but how it affected the lives of ordinary people who were victims of the brutal regime.

I wouldn't call it a novel and see it as a fictitious account of history documented in a long book. In novels, there are usually a clear set of chapters where the pace is steady and then peaks towards the end. The Book Thief was different. While the pace was steady mostly, there were moments where it dived but it picked up again.

Why do I love this book?

I didn't care too much about the characters themselves but understood what they were going through. I was able to see what was going in the book and why they were reacting. When I was done reading, I saw the Nazi regime from a different viewpoint: the ordinary citizen's life. Plus, I read this while studying Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany so it was fascinating to see history without the facts and figures that plague the majority of History courses out there.

And for anyone who hasn't read this, be prepared for a book that will require effort. Although I love this book, it was heavy and required effort. This is not the Jersey Shore of Literature.