Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Obligatory pre-NaNoWriMo Post

Don't tell anyone, but this year, for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I'm not actually writing a novel.
I'm going to finish rewriting the fantasy story that I have been working on all year (and all of last year, too) and, then, with the time left over, I'm going to write several short stories set in the same world, expanding on some of the characters.

This year, I've seen a lot of blog posts presenting tips on how to succeed at NaNoWriMo. I thought I'd add my own advice. Here are some things that have helped me in the past and are helping me currently:

1. Turn OFF the Internet.
If you're like me, the Internet is a huge distraction. It's so easy to stop writing to check email or Facebook or Twitter (or, if you're a weird music geek, to look up the biography of the composer or band that you're listening to). These things may only take five minutes (or, half an hour as you find out that Jeff Lynne, leader of the group ELO—whom you are currently listening to—was the one who played "Something" with Dhani Harrison at the Beatles 50 Years in America concert which means, of course, that you have to go and watch that video, which thus inspires you to do a Google search of what Dhani Harrison is up to these days, which then leads you back to Youtube to listen to some of his music, which then leads to five minutes of wondering whether Dhani Harrison is George Harrison's son or George Harrison's clone), but that's five minutes that you could have spent writing.
In addition, when I'm constantly interrupting my writing, it's harder for me to get back into the story.
A few weeks ago, I unchecked the little box on my computer that says "connect [to the Internet] automatically," so that, when I want to go online, I have to manually click "connect." This tiny change has made such a huge difference in my writing. With the Internet turned off, I have found that the temptation to go browsing has almost completely disappeared. I've written about 35,000 words in the past two weeks during the time that I normally would have wasted on email, social media, Youtube, and Netflix!

2. Reward yourself.
After I get significant writing done (which, right now, is rewriting at least one chapter a day), I allow myself to turn on the Internet as a reward. I can answer emails, read blogs, look at Twitter, or watch videos on Youtube or Netflix.
A second reward that I'm instituting in honor of NaNoWriMo is a candy reward. For every 1,000 words that I write, I may eat one mini Kit Kat. This is also a lesson in self-control.
Rewards can be anything from a piece of candy every x-amount of words (I would suggest every 500 or 1,000 words) to a thirty minute TV show after the finish of each chapter (that's what I did for a past NaNoWriMo).

3. Hide the chocolate.
I've learned not to leave my chocolate lying around the house because, sooner, rather than later, it will disappear. So, I've taken to hiding my Kit Kat reward in my bedroom where I know prying fingers won't find it.
Hiding the chocolate can be beneficial not only because it keeps it from being stolen from its rightful eater, but also because it forces one to get up to go an fetch it. During NaNoWriMo (and a writer's career in general), it is all too easy to become a stagnant extension of your chair. Keeping your reward across the house forces you to rise (though not necessarily shine) and stretch your legs every once in a while.

4. Write even when you don't want to.
Sometimes, especially toward the end of NaNoWriMo, it's hard to keep writing. By this time, your story has probably become a quagmire of inane babble. Your characters resemble a wet piece of cardboard more than people. Your plot... wait, what plot? The best thing to do during these trying times are to keep writing. Who cares if your sentences aren't correct, if your characters are soggy, and if your plot is nonexistent? That's what editing (at a later date, not during NaNoWriMo) is for. Even when you're tired, and even when you're feeling like your story is a hopeless mess, just keep writing. When you have a completed manuscript at the end of November, you'll be glad that you persevered.

5. Have some extra words written, just in case.
Nearly every Thanksgiving, my family escapes into Canada to visit relatives. And who wants to seclude themselves in a cold, back bedroom to write when there is family around? Not me, certainly! So, I always make sure I have a few thousand extra words stored up for when I go away, or if I'm too tired to write, or if my day is so packed full that I don't have time to pound out my daily word count. Usually, I end up writing these extra words on the weekends, when I'm not doing anything else.

6. Get involved.
Grab a friend and have a Word War—see who can write the most words in a set amount of time!
Or, go on Twitter and participate in Word Sprints (@NaNoWordSprints). For the past few years, even though I didn't have a Twitter account, NaNoWordSprints has been my best friend during November. I actually joined Twitter (@agwerff) a few weeks ago just so that I could Tweet along with the other Word Sprinters this year.
If you are brave, find out what your local region has planned for November. I live near a big city, so there are always events at libraries and coffee shops where my fellow Wrimos gather to write. I went to one two years ago and got a free sticker.
For those who live too far away to participate in live events (or, for those who only leave their hermitages every few years to attend Hermits United meetings), never fear! There are Virtual Write-Ins every week on NaNoWriMo's Youtube Channel.

7. Have fun!
The goal of NaNoWriMo is to exit November with a 50,000 word novel under your belt (or, on your hard drive). But another, perhaps more important, goal is to have fun writing a novel!

Do any of you have NaNoWriMo tips to share? If so, comment below!

Live long and prosper.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Thoughts on Harry Potter

There is a corner of Youtube called "Booktube," where people vlog (video blog) about books. I have been watching Booktube videos for months now and have debated whether or not to start my own channel. Well, I have. I don't know how active it will be, but it's nice to have a secondary outlet (in addition to my blog) where I can ramble about books! The channel's name is A.G.Werff ReadsandWrites.
My first video on this new channel (which is linked with my email address) is all about my thoughts on Harry Potter. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Adventure of the Chocolate Cake

Step one: Get chocolate cake and chocolate frosting mix from your garage where it has sat in a plastic bag for who knows long (and hope that your mother wasn't saving it for something... Not that you can ask her, because she is over 1,000 miles away visiting your grandparents).

Step two: Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Step three: Crack two eggs into a bowl.

Step four: Add some coconut oil (after deciding that the recipe didn't mean olive oil or car oil, and desperately hoping that it will work the same as cooking oil, which you are out of) and water and whisk it all together.

Step five: Add the cake mix and continue whisking.

Step six: Pour into buttered pan.

Step six-and-a-half: Lick utensils (this is very important).

Step seven: Bake cake for twenty-five minutes. While the cake bakes, make frosting. Wait an immeasurable amount of time for cake to cool before applying frosting.

Step eight: JUST EAT IT (*epic Michael Jackson guitar riff*).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cruising, Part 2

You've seen what we did when the boat docked in port... but what did we do on the cruise ship?

One day, we sailed into Glacier Bay National Park to see some glaciers. The scenery in Glacier Bay really boasts of God's creative power.

Chunks of glacier in the water.
The Margerie Glacier; the largest glacier we saw.

It extended far back into the mountains.

Looks like a bird to me.

   On board ship, there was lots to do:

  Read. Play games. Swim. Soak in the hot tub.

Whale watch
Go to the bar. Go to the casino. Go to the spa. Listen to the jazz band, the classical duet, the BB King band, the piano man, or go to the nightly performance.

Hang out on deck
Play ping pong. Play Nintendo DS with your cousin.

Admire the towel animals the staff left in our rooms each night
And, of course, EAT! Along with the all-day buffet, the ship had a formal dining room. We had two tables reserved for us for dinnertime. It was so nice to eat all as a family! And, my, was it fancy! The servers pulled out your chair for you and scooted you in (speaking as a woman, it made me feel special) and then laid your napkin on your lap. Then, they would hand you the menu and you would have to pick an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. They would bring each course one at a time.
Chicken stew and biscuits.

Some sort of zucchini and cheese appetizer.

A fancy strawberry dessert.
The ship even had formal nights where you couldn't enter the dining room unless you passed the dress code. It was fun to see all the different patrons in their fancy dresses and collared shirts and the servers in their dress uniforms.


But the best part of being on board the ship? Spending time with my family!