Wordy Wednesday: Balancing College and Writing

Things going on right now:

1.) Ch1Con activities will be starting back up again in the next couple weeks, so watch that blog (here) for info on live chats, writing sprints, etc. Also keep a lookout for conference-related announcements! Registration and the speaker list should be going live really, really soon.

2.) My first post is up on Teens Can Write, Too! I talk about why critique partners are awesome. Check it out here.

3.) The bot chose the winners for my third blogiversary giveaway and I’ve been in contact with all of them. Congrats if you won, and thanks anyway if you didn’t! I wish I could give a book to everyone who entered.

Classes started today and while I’m nervous about being able to handle everything I need/want to do this semester, it’s also really nice to start getting back into a rhythm. I work best when I’ve got a routine and deadlines, sooo. Yay school, I guess?

The biggest thing is about finding a balance between all the different things I’m doing. So, for this week’s Wordy Wednesday: some of the ways I do that.

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Keep Several Types of Schedules

I personally use a planner to keep up with my day-to-day activities, especially homework and events I’ve scheduled with friends. But I also usually have a weekly to do list on my computer, a day-to-day to do list on a white board on my wall, and if I’m in the middle of a writing project, I’ll have a separate schedule written out for handling that as well.

The more detailed my schedules are, the more easily I can stay on task and keep up with everything I need to do.

Dedicate Time to Writing–And Dedicate Time to Not Writing

This is one I have trouble with a lot, but basically what it boils down to is this: It’s not healthy to write for long stretches without breaks. (And I’m talking mentally, not what sitting around all day on your laptop does to your poor defenseless abs.) So even when it feels like you don’t have time to get everything done that you need to, it’s important to take time away from working to hang out with friends or catch up on your favorite TV show or whatever.

HOWEVER, it’s also important to take time to write. A lot of people don’t see writing as a real job, but we need to treat it that way if we want to get anywhere. Set aside time to write each week and don’t let people take that time from you.

Don’t Write During Class

It can be really tempting to write during class, especially in those really boring three-hundred-person lecture hall gen ed classes, but DO NOT GIVE IN. By writing during class, you miss what the professor’s saying, then end up having to take more time later to look up and learn that info on your own. So what little time you save by writing during class, you lose two fold later on.

Instead: Pay attention in class. Don’t procrastinate on your homework. Then reap the benefits of all the free time you suddenly have.

Be Flexible

You can plan and schedule and work ahead all you want. Things will still get in the way sometimes.

Be flexible. Write in the little moments. Stay in to work instead of going out with friends sometimes (but also still go out with friends sometimes). Take a break from doing homework by writing and take a break from writing by doing homework.

And more than anything: Do what feels right for you. Sometimes it’s going to be hard to fit writing in with school, but if you want it badly enough, you can do it.

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Thanks for reading!

Are you back in classes this week? How’s that going? (Please tell me it’s warmer where you are.)

~Julia

On Endings

One of my favorite people, Kira Budge, posted on Teens Can Write, Too! last week about what she’s accomplished in 2014, divided into categories, and I thought it was a really great idea. A year’s a long time, and by the end it’s easy to forget the things you did a couple months ago, let alone back in January.

So as I procrastinate from studying for finals and get ready to move home for winter break, I figured I’d look over what I did in 2014, too. I’ve kind of really loved this year.

Personal

  • Made it through a rough patch winter semester.
  • Taught myself to (very poorly) play ukelele.
  • Went to lots of great concerts, plays/musicals, and advance screenings with lots of great people.
  • Made some vlogs with Hannah.
  • Went to BookCon and a little bit of BEA!
  • Within the US, traveled to the Florida Keys, New York City, and Chicago.
  • Ran the 2014 Chapter One Young Writers Conference.
  • Outside the US, traveled to Amsterdam, Paris, and around England and Wales with friends/my study abroad program, and around England, Scotland, and Paris/Versailles with my family. (So many great things happened during my two months in Europe, I’d never be able to list them all. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for this summer.)
  • Met so many amazing people I’m beyond grateful to have in my life now.
  • Met some of the people I look up to most in the world, including but not limited to Lauren Oliver and our queen JK Rowling.
  • Moved into my first apartment with some of my best friends.
  • Joined the Teens Can Write, Too! team.
  • Accomplished my goal of reading fifty books in a year.
  • Started actually maybe working out once in a while and actually eating somewhat healthily. (Except also I just had macaroni and cheese and Golden Oreos for dinner, so maybe not.)

Educational

  • Over winter semester, completed a remote internship with an awesome literary agent.
  • Also over winter semester, got back into performing a bit by joining one of the university choirs. (Continued to sing with them this semester. We even got to perform at halftime at the Big House!)
  • Didn’t kill my grades too terribly much. (My GPA’s not as high as I’d like, but after how much I’ve challenged myself by taking courses outside my comfort zone–SO MANY SCIENCE CLASSES–and going to Oxford, I’m okay with it.)
  • Speaking of which: Studied abroad at St Peter’s College (via Magdalen College), Oxford over the summer! I took a six credit literature course on the Oxford Inklings and wrote a two credit bonus natural science research paper on the effect of the Welsh environment on the Inklings’ writing.
  • Declared a Screen Arts & Cultures minor!
  • Only have one grade back so far for this semester, but it’s an A+ in creative writing, so whoooo. (*cough* We’re graded on participation. *end cough*)

In Writing

  • Lots of Top Secret stuff I’m not sharing. But also:
  • Won a Hopwood Underclassmen Fiction Award.
  • Won the Arthur Miller Award.
  • Participated in the 2014 Cafe Shapiro Anthology. (Besides one of my short stories being published in the anthology itself, I also got to read at a special reception thing at the undergraduate library, and all the anthology participants were featured in a slideshow shown on the monitors there for a couple weeks.)
  • Got to write at the Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh, where JK Rowling used to write, and at the Eagle and Child pub, where the Inklings used to meet.
  • Wrote many songs and poems and short stories (and, you know, blog posts).
  • Won NaNoWriMo 2014.

Aaand so much more, I’m sure, that I’m not thinking of.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around how a year is somehow both so long and so short.

2014’s been really good to me. I’m more than a little scared for 2015, because I don’t know how anything could live up to this year, but I said the same thing last year too. So, ready or not: 2015, I’m coming for you.

What did you accomplish in 2014? Share your awesome with me. 🙂

Oh, also! The 2014 Project for Awesome campaign’s Indiegogo has launched and they’ve got some kickbutt perks again this year, so make sure to check it out here.

~Julia

NaNo Day 28: Interview with Patrice Caldwell

Happy Day After Thanksgiving! I’m about to leave on a road trip to my fourth and final Thanksgiving dinner of the year, out in Chicago. And I need to work on my twelve page film history term paper in the car, so today should be fun. (Benefits of finishing NaNo early: Writing my term paper earlier. Downsides of finishing NaNo early: Writing my term paper earlier.)

Like last year, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

Today’s interview is with Patrice Caldwell, Ch1Con’s Master of Marketing and all around brilliant human being. Patrice and I met online what feels like ages ago–I think through a group for college writers on WriteOnCon? (You know it’s been a while if I don’t even remember.) Long story short: I’ve been following her blog forever and she is intelligent, and passionate, and hilarious, and you have no idea how grateful I am to have her as part of the Ch1Con team. Take it away, Patrice.

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patrice-caldwell_(1)Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

A: One sentence, yikes! *cracks knuckles* Okay.

Set in a land where magic is strictly forbidden HEIRS OF FIRE AND ICE is the story of two young women, Zahra, a trader of items of questionable means (call her a pirate and she’ll have your tongue), and Aaliyah, a princess without a country, who are forced together by unforeseen circumstances and must journey to uncover their mysteriously linked pasts and save their empire.

Vague. I know, but I’m working on it. I will say this it’s set in a land based on medieval African civilizations, and my Pinterest board is to die for… now if only my novel could reach that level :/

Q: What is your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?

A: The accessibility of it. I love how it breaks down the myth that you have to have studied writing for years, yada, yada, yada. NaNoWriMo is all about jumping in and doing a crazy/scary/usually thought of as unrealistic thing. To me it never matters if you’re actually able to reach 50,000 words. Let me be honest, I never have. It’s the fact that you tried, that you started, and for me, NaNo is the burst of energy and support I need to finish the MS by the end of the year since most of my manuscripts/most MSs are longer than 50,000 words anyway.

Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow?

A: Ha! Can Write Anywhere, Anytime type of person…do they actually exist? TEACH ME. No, but seriously. I wish I could do that. Being a college student, I would write so much more if I could write anywhere (of course I have been known to plot stories and figure out entire scenes during class when I should be taking notes). I, however, have some rituals. The main one being that I like to brew me a nice (hot) cup of green tea (I’m a bit of a green tea snob) before I start writing (usually in the morning). I sit at my desk (or stand at my standing desk) near my window with a great view of campus and I write. I also make sure I have one of my yellow legal pads with several multi-color ink pens beside my laptop so I can take notes, etc. if need be. My writing process also involves a lot of pacing and talking aloud (mostly to my stuffed animals, LOL) so I like my room to be clean so I have a clear path.

…See what I mean. I must seem like a (writing) diva.

Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and NaNo at the same time?

No secret. I firmly believe if something’s important enough to you, you MUST make time for it. It’s something I struggle with every day. But, writing is my life. It’s the way I relax, and so when I don’t write I get stressed. It’s crucial to my well being that I make time for writing whether it’s 30 minutes before class, during class (haha), or before I go to bed I always try to make time to “put pen to paper.” It’s hard though but discipline really is the key to success (and happiness).

Q: Any advice for the troops? 

I love the quote do what you love, the rest will follow. And so I like to say write what you love the rest (the story) will follow. Laini Taylor has this great quote where she talks about the importance of “just writing.” Don’t stare at a blank screen. Writing about writing is better than not writing. Eventually you’ll figure out where you got lost or stuck. It’s currently my desktop background so I thought I’d leave it here for you along with a quote by Isabelle Allende:

It’s what helps me. Taking it word by word, and not thinking or stressing about the rest.

Also, I have a collection of resources for writers on my blog. They’re posts, videos, etc. that have helped me get through certain points of the writing process. Hope that helps. Good luck! You’ve got this 😀 Carry on.

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Thanks for letting me interview you, Patrice!

Want to learn more about Patrice? You can find her at the following links.

Goal for today: 3,000.

Overall goal: 50,000.

Current word count: 50,127.

How was your Thanksgiving?

~Julia

NaNo Day 25: Interview with Aisha Al-Amin

Last day of classes before Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to go home and see my friends and family. And I’m going to Chicago in a couple days to celebrate with some relatives out there, so I’m obviously excited for that too. Now it’s just a matter of getting through these last few hours and assignments so I’ll have enough time to relax over break before I need to kick it into high gear on final projects.

Like last year, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

Today’s interview is with Aisha Al-Amin, one of Ch1Con’s new Creative Consultants. She’s hilarious and brilliant and she seems to be the only team member Google+ actually likes during our monthly Ch1Con Chats (so obviously Google agrees that she’s awesome). Take it away, Aisha.

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Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about? 

A: In the year 2050 for the first time in history humans discover another world with intelligent life.

Q: What is your favorite part of Nanowrimo?

A: I would have to say the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of the month, even if you haven’t won, it’s still amazing.

Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow? 

A: Yes, yes I do! I have to have a cup of my Grandma’s hot chocolate with creamer, and a sweater that goes to my fingers.

Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and Nano at the same time? 

A: I always make sure to write extra when I have the time, because I know some days I just won’t have the energy -so the days that I do have the energy I make sure to put in extra work.

Q: Any advice for the troops?

A: I would say don’t be discouraged because someone else has written more than you! It’s all about you this month and challenging yourself.

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Thanks for letting me interview you, Aisha!

Want to learn more about Aisha? You can find her at the following links.

https://twitter.com/miss_hijabi

http://hijabionhilltop.tumblr.com/

http://nanowrimo.org/participants/aishamonet

Goal for today: 1,000.

Overall goal: 47,000.

Current word count: 47,537.

~Julia

NaNo Day 22: Flow

I was going to do a room tour today, but my room is a mess and I’m exhausted, so it’s going to have to wait until post-November, likely. (I just finally partially unpacked yesterday after being home last weekend, if that gives any indication of the state of things.)

Due to said exhaustion, I’m not going to ramble on too much today. But what I will say is that today I had brunch with friends, and chiseled away a little at my never ending mountain of homework, and hosted a couple Ch1Con online events, and, oh yeah, WROTE 10,210 WORDS AND GOT AHEAD OF MY SCHEDULE.

It’s the most I’ve done in a single day this NaNoWriMo and I don’t even know how it happened. It’s not like I was working extra hard or anything. But I did finally reach that sweet spot in the novel when my love interest is actually around a lot and, like, bantering with my protagonist and making her fall in love with him, and I love that part.

The fact that it didn’t come until nearly forty thousand words into the novel proves that if I choose to revise this thing once it’s finished, I’m going to have a LOT of cutting and restructuring to do. But right now I don’t care. I’m just excited to watch their relationship come together.

Anyway, I’m going to go read or Netflix until I fall asleep (which probably will be soon).

It’s days like today that remind me why writing is a thing. When it just starts to flow, and it’s so easy, and maybe the writing isn’t amazing, or even good, but it’s there.

Less than 4K left in NaNoWriMo 2014. Let’s give these last nine days our all.

Goal for today: 2,000.

Overall goal: 43,000.

Current word count: 46,333.

~Julia

NaNo Day 17: Interview with Ariel Kalati

Having one of those days when it feels like absolutely nothing will ever go right ever again and I might as well melt in a pool of my own tears and never go outside again.

Which is stupid, I realize. Because I’m currently sitting in a really nice and cozy apartment at a really good university and I had a really good breakfast and two of my really awesome roommates–who I do not in any way deserve–are sitting beside me and just talked me down from the tantrum I was throwing over some news I got and yeah.

I’m so incredibly lucky. And sometimes it’s hard to remember that after getting bad news and more bad news and not knowing how to proceed from this point and ugh. But it’s true.

So I’m trying to hold onto that. And remembering that yesterday was a really good day, and up until recently I’d been having nothing but good days for a long time, and we all have to pay our dues to karma eventually.

Also, it’s snowing and I’ve got good music playing and I read a good book this morning. (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, if you’re curious.) So life is good. Today, even, has overall been good. It’s just about what I focus on.

And, starting now, I’m focusing on the good parts of today.

Speaking of which: Today I am thrilled to share with you an interview!

Like last year, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

Today’s interview is with Ariel Kalati, one of my oldest writing friends. We’ve known each other forever, went to BookCon 2014 together, she’s spoken at the previous two Ch1Cons, she has this AMAZING eye for grammar, AND she’s one of Ch1Con’s new Creative Consultants. And she is fabulously snarky and hilarious. And yeah. Take it away, Ariel.

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Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

(A rewrite of NaNo 2012 ’cause I’m a rebel) Two teenagers are forced to convince the beast of winter to help them save the human race from evil spirits.

Q: What is your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?

My favorite part is when you didn’t write for a few days and you’re moping about and then it’s like you’re in an inspirational movie montage and you write EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS IN ONE DAY and you’re very proud of yourself.

Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow?

Not really. I like to write between 10 pm and 1 am generally, and some chocolate is always helpful.

Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and NaNo at the same time?

There’s a lot of crying involved and yelling at people that they don’t understand the hardships of NaNoWriMo.

Q: Any advice for the troops?

You don’t necessarily have to write every day. Some days are “ugh writing sucks” days and some days are “so much writing yay!” days. Try to focus more on your weekly word count than your daily word count. And remember, bribing yourself with food and blackmailing yourself with lack of food are unhealthy but efficient ways to get that word count up!

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Thanks for letting me interview you, Ariel! And thanks for reading!

Goal for today: 2,000 + yesterday’s leftover 2,000 + Saturday’s 3,000 + Friday’s 3,500.

Overall goal: 35,000.

Current word count: 27,754.

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday: We Need Diverse Books

It’s currently 6:55 PM and while so far today I’ve watched an episode of Gilmore Girls, read some of Eleanor & Park (using it for a project on banned books for my YA lit class!), attended two classes, taken a quiz, completed a film project, played guitar for a couple hours, run through my choir music, watched last night’s episode of The Flash (this show is so campy and wonderful), and made lots of really yummy food–I am yet to open my NaNoWriMo file. The NaNoWriMo file I need to add 5.5K to today, when you combine my allotted 3K for today, 2K from Monday, and 500 words from Sunday.

And Ch1Con is putting on a Twitter chat tonight about what it’s like to be a young writer using #Ch1Con at 9:30 PM EST, so time I have to write tonight = negative hours.

So that’s great.

But anyway, this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a writing process post. And, conveniently, I just got another paper back in YA lit, so I figured I’d share that. (This one got an A. Booya.)

Like last time, because this was a paper for class, I addressed the topic through the lens of the books and articles we’ve read this semester and had a three page limit. But hopefully this covers diversity in YA lit fairly decently.

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The need for more diversity in young adult literature has been an issue relevant in the publishing industry for years, but only recently has it come to mass attention. Now, it’s a prevalent topic in all segments of the industry, from editors and literary agents calling for more diverse submissions, to writers learning how to write diversity realistically and truthfully and readers begging for more. In order to face and solve the problems associated with diversity today, and provide hope for a better-represented and less challenging reality for everyone tomorrow, it’s time for young adult literature to diversify.

The term “diversity” itself refers to a number of different sub-definitions that are all relevant in their current necessity for further representation, including but not limited to all the various races, classes, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and disabilities that exist in society. It’s important when writing diverse literature to remember that no human being can accurately be defined by just one thing, and it is the layers and combinations of all these factors that make characters feel like people. Readers take interest in characters with whom they are able to relate, but these relatable features rarely are characteristics like the texture of someone’s hair or the ability to use her legs so much as the things she feels and thinks. For example, in Gene Luen Yang’s young adult graphic novel American Born Chinese, protagonist Jin’s classmates ostracize him for something he cannot control, and although many readers likely don’t know what it’s like to for others to define them in this way due to their race, they do know how it feels to want to change something they cannot and to be alone in a crowd. As Ponyboy realizes in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, “[m]aybe the … different worlds we live … in … [aren’t] so different. We … [see] the same sunset” (Hinton 41). While many parts of two people’s lives may be different, they will always be able to find some sort of common ground.

Writers can approach diversity in two primary ways: apparent and incidental. In apparent diversity, the writer references the diversity in such a way that it becomes an element that furthers the story. For instance, in a plot-driven narrative, events might occur that would propel the story because the protagonist suffers of obsessive compulsive disorder, or in a character-driven narrative the protagonist might do things that would propel the story because he suffers of OCD. This sort of apparent diversity appears in both issue books, in which the diverse element is central to the underlying concept, and more complex stories in which diversity simply has a strong influence. Matt de La Peña masters this second type in his young adult contemporary novel We Were Here, in which the protagonist Miguel’s story is primarily about his breaking out of a group home with two fellow juvenile delinquents, but race plays an underlying role as he also learns to reconcile the Mexican and white sides of himself. For example, at the Mexican border to which he has fled so that he will never have to return to the group home, he wonders:

Why [was that kid] on the Mexico side of the fence, and I was on the American side? … Just ’cause my moms is white? ’Cause … how gramps snuck through a sewage drain … just to make it to America? … What did I do? (de La Peña 218)

While this element of Miguel’s character is not the focus of We Were Here, it’s still important to him and the plot.

Incidental diversity, on the other hand, is diversity that just happens to be there without actually affecting the plot or central development of the character in question. If the character is gay, the story is not about him coming out to his parents or being bullied at school. He just happens to be a boy who likes boys, and the plot itself is about something else entirely. Many authors, including Matt de La Peña, argue against this type of portrayal, because it omits the truth behind what diversity looks like today. In modern society, diverging from the norm in any aspect generally leads to trial and adversity. However, it is also arguable that while incidental diversity might not be wholly realistic in a modern setting, the authors don’t fully mean their portrayals to be. Their primary goal, instead, is to sow hope.

In a world in which everyone is defined by both their similarities and unique features—and beautiful due to the combination—, hope for a kinder future is just as crucial as addressing the problems of today. By portraying a society in which it is not an issue to be someone other than a white, straight, protestant, able-bodied and minded, middle to upper-class male, authors normalize this vision. One of the most significant things diverse literature can do is let readers into the heads of others, so that different characteristics no longer feel like unknowns and therefore potentially dangerous. Showing a reality in which it is the norm to accept and understand diversity makes a future in which that occurs no longer feel potentially dangerous, and in turn makes such a future more likely to occur.

Perhaps someday soon literature and reality will mirror one another. Books will represent all the very different people reading them, and society will accept and embrace this diversity the way characters do—not only in the scarce offerings currently on shelves, but in the hundreds of manuscripts the various members of the publishing industry are currently feverishly writing, submitting, and editing in hopes that readers will fall in love with a more colorful future. It’s time.

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Thanks for reading!

Goal for today: 3,000 + Monday’s 2,000 + Sunday’s 500 = 5,500.

Overall goal: 22,000.

Current word count: 19,046.

~Julia

PS. The title of my paper is also the name of a really awesome organization that promotes diversity in literature. You can check them out at their website: weneeddiversebooks.org. (And they’ve got an Indiegogo campaign going on to raise funds to send diverse books and authors to underprivileged schools, support diverse authors, etc. that you NEED to donate to right over here. They’re so close to their goal!)

NaNo Day 10: Ch1Con Indiegogo!

Ch1Con Badge 2014 [Matted]It’s live! Help us fund the 2015 Chapter One Young Writers Conference and make teen writers’ dreams come true! (Also mine. Just saying.)

You can find our Indiegogo campaign here.

Ummm. Okay. Let’s see. What else for today?

I’ve got a mound of homework to do. (I ended up falling asleep before I could get started on it last night.)

I’ve got classes to attend. (Yay weekdays.)

And 2K in NaNo to write. (Plus 500 words left over from yesterday’s 1K, because Once Upon a Time was more distracting than expected. By which I mean the special effects were even more terrible than expected. By which I mean: Yay. Once Upon a Time.)

So yeah. That’s what I’ve got on my plate today.

Goal for today: 2,000 + yesterday’s 500 = 2,500.

Overall goal: 19,000.

Current word count: 19,046.

How’s NaNo going for you? Real life getting in the way yet?

~Julia

NaNo Day 9: Miles to Go

When I woke up this morning, I finished my Fangirl reread and did a quick writeup on it, because I’m a Literature major.

Later today, I need to rewrite a short story because the other half of my major is Creative Writing (it’s one major, with an “and” in the middle), and sometime in the next couple days I need to do my film history reading and a project for another film class (because I’m a Screen Arts & Cultures minor).

After finishing Fangirl, I immediately got to work on Ch1Con stuff (because besides being a college student, I also run a writing conference that’s about to launch an Indiegogo campaign), and in between Ch1Con things I’ve been replying to critique partner questions (because I’m an aspiring author), working on stuff for Teens Can Write, Too! (because I’m an admin), and staring longingly at my NaNoWriMo novel (because I’m a NaNo addict).

I’ve also been eying study abroad applications and internship information and winter semester course guide descriptions. I’ve been considering if I should add another minor and if I should clean the revision notes off my white board and if I should make my bed.

If I should be spending more time with friends. If I’ll have a chance to see Interstellar before it’s out of theaters. If I should be reading more books.

I want to go for a run, and I want to see my dog, and I want to turn everything off for five minutes. Write a song. Cook an elaborate meal. Stand in the shower while the water runs cold then hot then cold again with Bastille blasting through my iPhone speakers.

Sometimes I feel like I do way too much, and other times I feel like I do way too little, and I’m honestly not sure I will ever find a balance.

But I’m having a good time of it. And that’s what matters.

After this post, I’ll finish my Ch1Con work for the day, then maybe write a little on NaNo, then hopefully write a lot on my short story. I’ll eat something halfway decent for dinner and watch One Upon a Time with friends. I’ll get a few pages further in The Cuckoo’s Calling.

I think ultimately it’s less about how busy you are, as much as how much fun you’re having. And as exhausted as my brain is, it’s a happy sort of tired.

In Fangirl, Cath quotes a line from a Robert Frost poem that I also relate a lot with:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Welcome to week two of NaNoWriMo 2014. Let’s spin those miles into words and those words into miles. We can sleep when it’s December.

Goal for today: 1,000.

Overall goal: 17,000.

Current word count: 18,524.

~Julia

NaNo Day 8: Double Up Day

Today is a part of NaNoWriMo known as Double Up Day.

The goal of Double Up Day is to A) donate to the organization that runs National Novel Writing Month (as a means of doubling your commitment to competing or something like that; honestly, I’m not sure, but donating is definitely involved) and B) double your word count.

While I went into the day planning to donate, I did not go in with the plan that I would double my word count. After all, I was already 5K behind on my personalized schedule. And I had another 3K planned for today. And still, if I managed to do all that writing, I would not have doubled my word count.

Then, the first word sprint happened.

As part of the year-round Ch1Con activities we’ve started putting on, Kira and I co-hosted an hour-long word sprint on Twitter at 1:00 PM. I got 1,641 words in through that. Then almost right away afterward, some of the Ch1Con team and I were talking on Skype and decided to do just a “quick word war” between us to get some more words in.

Like yesterday, it’s nine hours later again. But this time I’ve got 9,381 shiny new words in my NaNo project to show for it.

Today was way too much fun, almost constantly doing word wars and sprints with my friends while curled up on my apartment’s couch in an over-sized t-shirt and yoga pants. Sunlight streaming through the window and wrists sore from typing.

It’s days like today that remind me why I love NaNoWriMo so much.

More than how much productivity the month inspires, it also brings the writing community together. It’s a month-long party.

Now I’m off to try to actually tackle my to do list for the day, then tomorrow is homework and hopefully a little more time for writing. Fingers crossed there’ll be a few word wars thrown in there.

Goal for today: 3,000 + yesterday’s 5,000 = 8,000.

Overall goal: 16,000.

Current word count: 18,524.

~Julia

PS. Miss any of the big news from Ch1Con the past couple days? Find links to our announcement posts here and here.