Some News!

Well, it has certainly been a whirlwind the last couple months… And once again, my schedule has gone all to hell.  My apologies for that.  But I have some exciting news, at least I think it is quite exciting.  I have finished a manuscript!  Currently, I am working on edits (or trying to– it isn’t going quite how I want it to, but that will change).  As soon as edits are completed, it will be going to some beta readers.  Eventually, the hope is that I will be sending it off to some agents.

To that effect, I am in the process of doing a few things, including creating a website for myself as an author.  The new site is coming along nicely.  There will be a blog attached to the site.  That means, this blog will be retired.  I’m not getting rid of it.  In fact, it will remain and it is being linked to the new site so folks can peruse the content here.  But after today, all new updates will be over on the new blog.  If you wish to continue to follow me, be sure to take a gander over there!  It’s jb-wolfe.com.  Hope to see you there!  If not, I want to thank all my readers and those who have commented over the years.  You guys are amazing!

Keeping Track of Goals

Since my last spate of regular updates, I have been looking for something to really help with keeping track of my writing goals.  At the moment, I have a day job (which I love, don’t get me wrong) and sometimes it can make writing difficult.  I’m really struggling some days to help get myself on some kind of writing routine.  For me, setting myself a goal (and a deadline) helps.  For something like writing, there are a myriad of ways to set yourself a goal.  It can be in how much time you want to spend.  It can be in word count (my preferred method), or characters, or– the list goes on.

Finding a reliable way to keep track of your goal can be a bit troublesome.  I did some Google searching one day.  I was looking for a way to keep track of word count.  I love the graphs and the progress bar that you get with NaNoWriMo; I wanted something like that, but not just for November.  I stumbled upon Pacemaker.

It has become invaluable in keeping track of my goals.  I’m the type that getting to see Pacemaker8how far I am can help me keep going.  It gives me motivation and satisfaction.  What I like about Pacemaker is that it is supremely flexible.  You can use a lot of different metrics like word count, time, sections, chapters, pages.  They have even added things for those needing to keep track of other goals like money, fitness, steps, etc.  I used it for outlining and since I tend to do outlining in my WriteMind before I start writing, I used pages for my metric.  It also has a wide variety of ways in which to proceed.  For example, using a steady goal means that it will automatically calculate how many words (or whatever) you need a day during the Pacemaker5time limit you set.  You can do other settings aside from a steady pace as well.  There’s Rising to the Challenge, Biting the Bullet, Mountain Hike, Valley, Oscillating, and Randomly.  The great thing is, you can change it as much as you want and it calculates automatically based on your settings.

One of the other things I love about it is that if you know specific days or specific dates are going to be better or worse for your goals, then you can either skip them, have the daily goal change to be less than other days, or more depending.

They also have four different ways to view it.  There’s the table, the graph, the calendar,

and the bar graph.  Personally, I keep it in calendar as I’m working on things, but I love looking at the bar graph every so often and when I complete it all, I plan on saving the graph and printing it out.  There is also a progress bar up at the top of the screen at all times, which is lovely.Pacemaker7

Now, I have the Premium account because I wanted to be able to use everything they have as well as everything they plan on coming out with.  Their free account gives you the ability to make two plans at a time.  The premium account (at $8 a month or $72 for the year) gives you no limitations plus more features.  I have found it more than worth the price, but even the free account might work well for some.  One of the features you can get with the premium account is another calendar view that shows all of the current projects/goals you may be working on at one time.  So if you are working on a novel, maybe another outline, or a short story plus if you want to keep track of how often you go to the gym, it would all be there at a glance.  There is also the ability to put a small description for each project and I do believe that is only for premium as well.

There are a few things I would love them to do, mostly have a mobile app and not just browser based, as well as maybe a built in timer.  But then I’m greedy and I love one-stop shopping as it were.  The less windows/apps/things I need, the better!  As it is, I use Pacemaker and an Android app called Writeometer.  But overall, I do love Pacemaker and I love the fact that they are so responsive to their community!  They quite lovely and I can’t wait to see everything they come out with in the days, weeks, months, and years to come!

A Slightly Dampening Realization

So, this week, I had planned on delving more into my writing process, but I think I am going to delay that one for a week or so. I’ve been talking with some friends of mine about Works in Progress (hereby known as WIPs). I had said I was a bit scared to go back and see what all I have to work on (I’ve been collecting ideas for far too long XD). Well, last night, I did some cursory diving into some of my writing folders to see just what I had.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I REALLY need to just- finish something. I have about 15 novels just from past Nano projects (starting in 2013), plus at least another 15 novels from other projects, some of which have been kicking around since junior high, or even before. Of those 30 novels (and that’s a low estimate, honestly since some of the other projects might need to be split up into more), there is only one completed first draft.
As I came to this realization, I made a few decisions. The first one is: I need to finish something, not just the first draft, but all the way through. The second one is- I have no idea how to do that. I tend to go into fairly intense cycles when it comes to working on projects where I will be almost manic when it comes to working on a project. I’ll devote large chunks of time, focus, etc on working on it for days, weeks, even months. But eventually, that peters out. And then I will lose focus, lose motivation. I need to find a way to keep plugging on a project. I have attempted to slow down a bit, do little parts at a time, hoping I don’t burn myself out, but that only works for so long and then the same thing happens: I lose that motivation.
Right now, I plan on trying to pick a project, a new one and go from first step (outlining), then to the first draft, and even to editing. I have never managed to do it. The reason I am telling my readers this is because I am truly curious to know any little secrets you may have for your own writing, any advice. I have been writing since kindergarten and still, I can’t seem to stick with a project long enough to finish it. I hope to change that and again, any advice (including links to blogs, books, just personal stories) would be greatly appreciated!
So feel free to reply in the comments or through the contact form. Next week, I will tell you a bit about my writing process, where I start and I will be focusing on my WriteMind planner!

Huzzah!

Hello out there! So I survived another November and another Nano. It was a tough one. This entire year has been tough it seems. But one thing I’ve learned: I want to write. I want to complete a project, from first rough, horrible draft to a polished piece that others may want to read, even pay for! So, to that end, I am going to do my very best to actually do that. As I embark on this journey, I plan on updating this blog once a week. I know I have been terrible in doing that, but I am making a promise to try and stick to that schedule. I am going to utilize scheduling on WordPress since I think that will save me quite a bit.
At this point and time, I think Fridays will be the easiest day to make sure I can get something up by, so expect something each Friday! I am sending this one today, of course, in order to let those of you who read my rather sporadic updates, that I am going to strive to be a better writer, and a better blogger. For now, I am going to concentrate on writing craft, book reviews, maybe a few bits and bobs of other things or thoughts on writing in general. Later on, I may start posting a few rough drafts of various works I’m pecking away on.
Just as a quick aside, I did win NaNo this year, though it was a very rough year. I struggled through 3 projects. Only the last one seemed to help any with the terrible lack of focus I suffered through this year. Still working on that a bit, though I’m running into bits and snags in my motivation. I keep wanting to take a break, just let my brain rest, but then that’s when my characters pipe up with, “Oh, but what about this idea? Or this one? You totally should do this!” -.- I think this is their revenge for what I put them through when I write.
I am happy I won this year, though I am disappointed. My initial goal was to get 100k words in for November, or at the very least, finish the manuscript I had started. That didn’t work out and by the end, I was struggling just to get the 50k. I got it though and now I get to use the discount to purchase a full copy of Scrivener. I started using that this year and I love it. It’s great. It’s so flexible… in some ways, it’s almost too flexible. So I’m currently doing some exploring on how best to set things up for myself to make writing as seamless for me as I can. Once I find it, I will be including that in a blog post, but it might be a while XD
As it stands now, I am giving myself a bit of a break (or trying to anyway) by doing a bit of reading! So look for a book review this Friday! That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and happy writing!

Some Planning/Prep Thoughts

So it is week two of Wrimoverse (well since we officially launched it anyway).  For those of you that don’t know what that is, myself and several of my ML friends have embarked on even MORE insanity for NaNoWrimo than we ever have before.  It’s a multi-region event, encompassing multiple countries and timezones as well.  There is a weekly story (in October, will be bi-weekly come November) piece that goes out with all of our regional mails, a Ship Cup (our four ships all compete by having their officers and cadets record points based on earning badges, completing tasks, and attending/participating in the online events that are planned), as well as just lots of general writing insanity.

It’s gotten a lot bigger than I think we were thinking it would.  HQ has even asked if we mind if they send out an announcement about it 0.o  So it’s probably going to get bigger which is pretty awesome for our first time with this!

Aside from what goes into that, been trying to do some planning/prep for my NaNo novel.  I’ve switched to Scrivener in order to write this year.  I’ve always used OneNote and Word in order to keep my notes and write my novels, but I love that Scrivener keeps all that in one place.  The first time I used Scrivener was when it was still in Beta form for Windows and sadly, it just didn’t have what I needed at the time.  But now that the Windows version has a lot of what the Mac version does (and is continually getting new things as well), I can safely say that it will now be my new writing software of choice.  The one drawback I’m finding is that is a bit overwhelming.  The basics aren’t too hard to get down and the flexibility is amazing, but I’m actually finding that it’s a bit TOO flexible XD  I’m trying to find the organization that I like best and that works for me.  I think I’m keying in on it, but we’ll see how that goes as October progresses.  I will say, my favorite features at the moment are: The Snapshot, Corkboard mode, and Outliner mode.

Perhaps, when I’m feeling more adventurous, I’ll post up some of the organizational ideas I’ve decided to go with.  I won’t do tutorials for it because there are so many great ones out there, far better than I can explain, but I do know seeing how others organize their projects has been helpful, so I might do that once I’ve settled on it.  Also, the NaNoWriMo trial version and template are out as well, which can help those doing NaNo ^^

To help me keep track of word counts and progress, aside from Scrivener, I use an Android app called Writeometer.  At the moment, it is only for Android, but I love it.  You can have as many projects as you want, list word count goals, daily goals, etc.  It has timers built in and even allows you to make little notes to yourself when you fill in your word count entries.  I often will make notes about what I plan on doing next, or maybe if there was a name or something I need to look up in case I forget (which I do XD).  Again, Scrivener also has a great way to track progress, but I like using both.  Plus, Writeometer has a couple fun tools as well, and it has “guavas” which are rewards you earn for doing word sprints with the timer.  You can spend those guavas on treats that you can program in.  For instance, my big reward this year will be getting to play Sims 4 (the new EP comes out the 1st XD), but ONLY after I get my daily goals XD.  You can assign a worth to treats (I made Sims cost 5 or 6 guavas I think XD).

I think that’s about all for today.  Going to attempt to keep a regular schedule.  Every week or every other week at least.  Would be happy to answer any questions for anyone as well ^^

Camp NaNo and Goals

So today, as in just now (midnight) marks the start of Camp NaNoWriMo.  I’m excited for it, mainly because I’ve decided to make this blog and my two sims stories the priority for this month.  I might be able to sneak some work in on the Wyverns as well, but figured I need to ease my way back in.  Being unable to focus lately has been really difficult.  It’s even affecting being able to read which is agony!  So, here’s to hoping!

Now, Camp NaNo.  The one thing I love about it is that it allows you to set your own goal.  And you can choose any project you wish.  Which is why I’m focusing on the blogs this time around.  My goal for this months is 25k.  I think it’s doable. But if for some reason, I run into any snags, I won’t have to push myself to make that goal.  In the same vein, I can blow that goal out of the water.  In fact, I might up that goal if I meet it first.  Here’s to hoping that’s what I can do!

Now, I’ve talked about goals before.  It’s important to have them.  But it’s also important to realize that even if you don’t meet that goal, it isn’t the end of the world.  One of the things I’ve learned from NaNo is that it’s better to get any words down at all.  Will they be the best?  Most likely not.  But the real challenge is getting those first words down.  Whether it’s the first words of that rough draft, beginning a chapter, or a blog post.  The beginning seems to be the hard part.  Oh, sometimes the middle can be tough too, so that’s why just getting words down can be very helpful.  Now, normally, I’m a pretty linear person, linear writer.  I like going in order.  But sometimes, it’s just not possible.  Being flexible is important.  All it might take to get that ‘spark’ that everyone seems to think is how writing happens, is to move onto a different part, or maybe to work on an alternate scene.  Sometimes doing that is enough to make you realize that alternate scene is exactly what you were looking for, or it’s enough to get things going for the actual scene.

It can take a bit to get used to it.  It took me a while, I know that.  Finding stuff like the Snowflake Method helped, as did doing something called Word Sprints.  Word Sprints are the things that have saved me!  Pick an amount of time (I prefer half hour increments because it always takes me a bit of time to get started), pick a starting time, and then just write for that amount of time.  Look at your word count during that time.  Trying to up it each time, or having others to compare word counts with can be a big help.  Here’s a big shoutout to the PA Elsewhere group!  Without them, I don’t think I’d ever have been able to get through Nano!

Actually, I’m writing this for a sprint!  I’m sure it’s pretty rambling, so apologies for that, but I think you can see my point.  I think for my next post here, going to finally get that post up about the various writing tools I use and others that I’ve tried as well.  If anyone wants information on either NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNo, leave it in the comments, or just check out my General Writing Sites Page.

An Update

Ok guys, I know I’ve been terrible.  Nano kicked my butt.  I did it, I got to 50K but it was a long road.  I certainly haven’t forgotten the Wyverns.  But because of the amount of time that the scenes take to set up, let alone get the screenshots, and then write, I am afraid you won’t see much of an update until after the New Year.  But if you are anxious to read something in the meantime, head over here: Wolfie’s Sims and More! This is a place where I’m throwing up all links for stories, past and present.

To keep myself in the writing mood, I am slowly working on two different Sims 4 stories.  There’s my legacy, Cornerstone: the Rampart Legacy, which I’ve already linked to.  And since Carl’s Guide and Forum brought out their Immortal Dynasty Challenge, I have a story with that now too. To Paint the World with Color.

I don’t imagine they will be very fast-paced.  I’m thinking only once or twice a week.  But it gives me something to do to keep writing without feeling a ton of pressure.  Fear not folks, the Wyverns will return, just not for a little while.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!  And a very happy New Year!