Uhaul moving truck flying through the air over tree and building

July has been a crazy month.

There's been a few minor wins, and a lot of major setbacks to talk about in this monthly update. Most of it down to unfortunate timing and there isn't much that can be helped in that department.

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Not without magic, anyway.

In short, I had four major things happen in July. The first was Camp NaNoWriMo, the second was getting a promotion at work that came with three events that need planning, the third was participating in NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction Challenge, and the last was moving house. It was a perfect storm of so much to do, so little time.

Why so busy?

While I enjoy event planning and have a strong background in it, it is a tremendous amount of work, on top of some things I already had going on. Working full time left very little time for writing, which also had to compete with packing and routine housework for my free time in the mornings and evenings and weekends. One of those weekends I dedicated to the Flash Fiction Challenge (though I did that quite gladly, it's a wonderful contest and I had a blast writing my entry!), and now our intended new home has fallen through and is probably going to end up being a major pain at this point. We're scrambling to sort out living arrangements for next month, with some very promising leads. So without further ado, here's what was accomplished:

Photography:

I had a lovely shoot at Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral, bolstered by a few shots around Lincoln in general and some by London Waterloo. I've already started posting these on my Instagram, and started a travel-only Instagram featuring a tiny pink bunny. Follow my personal 'Gram for bees, cats, and highlights from my photo shoots. Follow the bunny for his travel blogging.

pink stuffed bunny sitting on stone wall
How can you resist that face?

I've also signed up for several stock photography sites. You'll soon find my work for sale on several websites, such as: Dreamstime, Alamy, Crestock, and Photo Dune. Watch this space for links.

Writing:

I didn't reach my word count goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I wrote 16k words for my first draft of Nushada. I'm still proud of that, because it's 16k words I didn't have written previously, and it's still an impressive amount in a short time span. I'm finding it particularly cathartic, and I still want to, and plan to, have it ready to query by 2018 (Agents...).

I did complete the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. You can read that here, if you're interested, and I'll be finding out how I did before the next round in September, which is fine by me as it gives me a month to recover from July.

That pretty much covers all major developments this month, and I have high hopes for August. I want to continue working on Nushada, take more photos, and continue to brush up on my flash fiction skills. Until next time, kiddos!

rbR4W

 

Camp NaNoWriMo is going about as well as this car's owner's day.

As with every NaNoWriMo month, I did it. Part of me probably knew it was coming, but I still didn't see it coming. I hit The Wall.

Runner Athlete Fitness Wall Run Exercise

It started as a headache on Friday after an evening out with people from work. So that nixed Friday's writing. Saturday I still had the headache. And now we're at Sunday and I'm  struggling to reclaim that momentum I built up over the previous week.

I'm currently sitting at 13126 words, and by Day 9 I should be on 14516. 1390 words to go. I'm struggling to make it to 750.

What have I been relying on to maintain any sort of a habit?

1. The Extreme Harry Potter Word Crawls

This is the number one tool in my kit. Any time I've really seriously dedicated myself to writing, it's been with this. You can find it here (requires a log in to NaNoWriMo's website) and I highly recommend it. It makes things fun, and gives you small, achievable goals. Things like 'write 250 words' or 'write for five minutes'. And it follows everyone's favourite wizard! There's even stuff for multiplayer (the 'word wars'). What's not to like?

2. 750 Words

We've all heard about the morning pages. For those who somehow are writers but haven't ever googled 'how to be a writer', the morning pages are a recommended prescription for a busy brain. You write (by hand, if possible) at least three pages of whatever comes to mind.

This website allows you to write that, and provides some nice analytics tools as well as badges to incentivise maintaining writing streaks. It's pretty addictive, especially if you're like me and metrics are your kink. They can tell you how long you spent writing, what you accomplished while you were doing it, tone, POV, and most commonly used words.

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My most visually impressive selection of stats.
3. Accountability Buddies

Guilt and embarrassment are probably the biggest motivators in human history, outside of the usual (carnal) suspects. So I decided to load up on those.

Nelson_Ha-Ha

I post about it as close to daily as possible on my Twitter and Facebook, to keep me accountable to both my close friends and family as well as the stellar writing community on Twitter.  I also exchange emails with a friend who is studying for a license exam and we check in on each other that way. Lastly, I've instructed a colleague (and friend!) to bung sweets across the divider between our desks if I'm able to provide proof of progress to her each morning. I'm grateful for the support. (P.S. The aforementioned colleague is a talented artist! You can find her here.)

4. Heavy Pre-Planning

I'll return once more to the tropes littering every website that touches on the topic of writing: pantsers vs. plotters.

I fall heavily into the realm of plotters. Some people don't need to do this, and they write beautiful organic stories and everything's neatly filed away in their brains. I am not one of those people. Instead, I take plotting to its cold, functional extreme. I used the worksheets on Annie Neugebauer's website, which you can find here.

They've totally become my crutch, because once I find something I like that produces even mediocre results out of my usual sludge, dammit I'm going to use it until it's unhealthy.

5. Habitica

I go through highs and lows with my mood, and with it my productivity and creativity peaks and troughs as well. If I'm not careful, one day I'm going to end up with a diagnosis. But the important point is that I go through periods where I do a ton of research on boosting productivity and tracking goals and building habits. This leads to a flurry of apps to go with it and notebooks that are painstakingly designed and will most assuredly sit empty (RIP bullet journals).

The latest success story from one of these is Habitica. It's a basic sort of RPG where you grind by completing tasks and goals IRL. You can set daily tasks, habits, and long term projects/goals, and even break these down into their individual component actions. There are pets, and quests, and equipment for your avatar, so the appeal is fairly obvious for most, as are the addictive elements. I'll have to check back in with a later post about the long term results of Habitica, but so far, so good. It's kept me on track with Camp NaNo, as well as the myriad other things I'm attempting.


So that's what I'm using to try and tackle this behemoth of a project. What have you found useful in keeping the words flowing, come what may?