NaNoWriMo Prep: Relax

If you are embarking on the perilous quest that is NaNoWriMo, you’re in for a stressful ride. Writing a novel in merely thirty days is quite an undertaking and it can feel like an unbearable amount of work. In fact, preparing for NaNoWriMo might be enough to make you anxious. In order to retain your sanity throughout the rest of this month and all of next month, it’s a good idea to figure out a way to relax. If you are too stressed out, you’ll never be able to write effectively… and this will stress you out even more. I’ve tried many methods of relaxation and I’ve found several that work for me. If you don’t see anything that works for you, keep searching. Everyone has something that can calm them down.

Listening to Music
I don’t know what it is about music, but it has the ability to take the listener to another place. No matter how stressed out you might be in your own life, music is able to reduce that feeling. I do listen to music when I write, but I tend to listen to a vastly different type of music when I relax. This way, my mind knows when it’s time to create and when it’s time to relax.

It doesn’t even have to be full songs that calm me, sounds do this too. Two of my favorite sounds are waves on the beach and the sound of rain. Everyone might find something different to relax them, but I know that these sounds help me to distance myself and relax.

Take a Break
When you’re trying to meet a deadline, it’s easy to overwork yourself. Working yourself this hard can actually be counterproductive and hurt you in the long run. If you’re at a point in your writing where you are incredibly frustrated, take a break. It won’t do any good to stare at a computer screen. Go spend time with family or friends. Spend some time outside and get some fresh air. As long as you’re getting away from the screen and giving your brain a break, you’ll recharge and be more productive when you go back to your writing.

In some cases, it might be a good idea to build in your breaks. Set a timer and write for an hour. Once the timer rings, give yourself a ten minute break. This type of system will allow you to mentally recharge and you’ll get more done while taking breaks than you would have before.

Exercise
Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and get your endorphins flowing. Endorphins are the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy. Regardless of your previous stress levels, these endorphins will help you relax in no time. There are many different ways to get exercise, even if you’re not particularly fit or active. Taking a walk is a way to get outside and get in some cardio. Yoga is a soothing exercise that may be a better option for someone who does not want to run. Play catch in the park with your dog or gather up some friends for a pick up game of basketball. Whatever it is, find a form of exercise and try it out.

Sleep
It sounds silly, but many adults neglect the amount of sleep that they need to properly function. If you’re trying to pound out 50,000 words, you may be sacrificing your sleep. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It’s been proven time after time that people are more productive after getting a full night’s sleep. You will be a lot more emotionally stable if you’re well rested, decreasing the amount of stress that you may feel. Even if you are still stressed with proper sleep, you’ll be better equipped to handle the stress than if you were sleep deprived.

Sleep doesn’t only refer to the sleep you do at night. If you’re feeling fatigued during the day, there’s nothing wrong with a power nap. Stepping away from a stressful project and taking a half hour nap could help you distance yourself from the problem. After your half hour, you can revisit your writing with fresh and well rested eyes.

Writing can be stressful, especially if you’re on a deadline. Reduce your stress and feel better about your novel by finding a relaxation method that works for you.

Until next week,

Debbie

I will continue my NaNoWriMo Prep series through October and I will pick up my NaNoWriMo series throughout November.

NaNoWriMo Prep 2014:

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management
NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November
NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal
NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

NaNoWriMo Prep: Just Say Yes!

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from all over take the challenge to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. It’s a literary challenge like none other and last year, over 700,000 writers entered the contest.

The thought of 50,000 words in 30 days is incredibly overwhelming. Writing at least 1,667 words every day is a huge commitment and many writers pass up NaNoWriMo because they’re scared that they will fail to reach their goal.

Last year was my first year to officially participate in NaNoWriMo and I had been apprehensive about it for that exact reason. I had known about it for quite a few years before, but I was never confident enough to take the plunge. I knew that I was more than capable of writing a novel, but the deadline discouraged me and kept me from participating.

When I did finally decide to participate last year, I completed my goal by Thanksgiving and couldn’t have been more proud. If you are unsure of whether or not you should participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I encourage you to just say yes and sign up for it. It may sound stressful, but there are many benefits that come with it.

Development of a Writing Routine
Before I started NaNoWriMo last year, I wrote whenever I felt like it. If I didn’t feel particularly motivated one day, I just skipped it and told myself I would write another day. You cannot do that during NaNoWriMo. If you don’t feel like writing, you need to power through your mental block. The deadline is too tight and the requirement is too large for you not to write often. When you know that you need to write every day, the development of a routine naturally occurs and you’ll soon find it easier to sit down and write every day. Writing will become second nature and as a writer, this is an amazing feeling.

Confidence as a Writer
As I mentioned before, the feeling that you get when you finish a novel is unparalleled. However, the journey to the finish line feels just as good. It’s fair to say that the more that you write, the better you get. If you write every day for thirty days, you’ll begin to get comfortable with your own writing style and you may notice your skills flourish. There is no better feeling than having confidence in your abilities.

A Network of Fellow Writers
Writing is typically a solitary act and it’s easy to feel alone with your thoughts. However, NaNoWriMo offers you the ability to connect with fellow writers who are also participating in the challenge. These people will understand the obstacles that you face, give you feedback on your novel, and lend their support and advice. Forming this network is completely optional, but the social aspect is not widely known.

A Rough Draft of a Novel
Once November ends, you will have a rough draft of a novel! Whether it’s your first or fiftieth, writing a novel is a major accomplishment. Once you have finished your draft, you can decide whether to hide it away on your desktop or eventually pursue publication. Either way, you will officially be able to say that you have written a novel and that’s something to brag about.

All in all, there’s really nothing to lose when you say yes to NaNoWriMo. There is no fee to participate and there is no penalty if you do not complete your goal. I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo again this year and I hope that you all do as well. If you’ve ever expressed any interest in writing a novel, just say yes and sign up at nanowrimo.org.

Until next week,

Debbie

I will continue my NaNoWriMo Prep series through October and I will pick up my NaNoWriMo series throughout November.

NaNoWriMo Prep 2014:

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management
NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November
NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal
NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

End of Hiatus!

It’s been a couple of months since I last blogged and I must say, I missed it terribly.

This summer was a bit of a whirlwind for me. I moved across the country and made a career change that has kept me incredibly busy. I love what I do, but it’s definitely taken my attention away from this blog.

I am now at a place where I have gotten into a routine and I believe that I can manage my blog again. Before my unannounced hiatus, I revealed the different changes that I wanted to bring to this blog. Those things have not changed and I can’t wait to unveil a new look, add new features, and get back into the blogging community!

To those of you who have continued to check back for updates, thank you for your patience! I’m happy to say that I’m finally back.

Until Thursday,

Debbie

Book Review: Uncaged

Title: Uncaged (The Singular Menace, Book 1)uncaged
Author: John Sandford and Michele Cook
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Rating: 3/5

Uncaged follows Shay Remby as she searches for her brother, Odin, who disappeared after a Singular animal testing laboratory was ransacked in Eugene, Oregon. Shay discovers that Odin is traveling with an animal rights group called “Storm” and follows him to Hollywood, California. Upon her arrival, Shay meets an artist named Twist, who owns a hotel for street kids, and decides to stay with him. As she attempts to find her brother, Shay begins to uncover the secrets that Singular is trying to keep hidden. With the help of West, a disgruntled Singular employee, and a few new friends from the Twist Hotel, Shay concocts a plan to break into the Singular facilities and save her brother from a horrible fate.

The novel is told from various viewpoints and because of this, I never grew especially attached to any of the characters. The majority of the book is told from Shay’s perspective. I liked her as a character and appreciated her determination to find her brother. The other portions of the book were told from different characters within the Singular corporation. Besides West, none of these characters seemed to have much personality. They were static, stereotypical “bad guys” and I didn’t think their chapters added anything to the novel. I would have preferred their portions being cut in favor of some additional character development amongst Shay and her friends.

The supporting cast in Uncaged was pretty entertaining. Twist owns the hotel that Shay finds herself staying in. Twist is a street kid turned wealthy artist and because of his humble beginnings, he takes in street kids. I thought he was an interesting character and a good companion for Shay. Shay befriends a few other fellow street kids while at the Twist Hotel, such as Cruz and Cade. Sandford and Cook allude to a deeper background behind both boys, but it’s never elaborated on. Shay’s roommate, Emily, was also interesting and I wish her character would have been developed more as well. Although Odin wasn’t in the novel very much, I thought that his relationship with Shay was very endearing.

The villain in Uncaged wasn’t a person, it was a corporation. Singular owns the laboratory that Odin helped break into and it is allegedly attempting to merge humans and machines. Throughout the novel, the operations and people of Singular are very vague and all that was revealed was that it’s a very important company that will go to great lengths to keep their operations private. There wasn’t much personality from any of the characters that worked for the company, aside from West, and I was never really interested when the book would venture into any of the Singular character’s points of view.

This novel is the first in a series and it unfortunately ends in the middle of a scene. Although I don’t normally mind when a novel that ends in a cliff hanger, this novel stops so abruptly that it’s jarring. There’s absolutely no resolution and I thought that it made the ending slightly frustrating.

In terms of the genre, I would definitely say that it’s a more mature YA book in terms of subject matter. There are a few graphic scenes, including torture scenes, that may not be appropriate for younger readers. There are some scenes throughout the novel that involve animal abuse.

Overall, I thought that book was okay. It’s a very easy read, but I was never really invested in it. The novel became very science fiction oriented and without a connection to any of the characters, I wasn’t hooked. I honestly don’t think there was much character development at all. I think that if you are more interested in a plot-based story with bits of science fiction sprinkled in, you may enjoy this book more than I did.

If you have read Uncaged, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Uncaged on Amazon, click here.

Book Review: Paper Towns

papertownsTitle: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Release Date: September 22, 2009
Rating: 4/5

Paper Towns is the young adult novel about Quentin Jacobsen, the boy who has never really taken risks and values his routine. One night, Quentin’s life is changed when Margo Roth Spiegelman comes to his window and convinces him to accompany her on a mission to get revenge on all of the people who have wronged her. Quentin has loved Margo, his next door neighbor, since they were ten years old and throws caution to the wind in order to assist her. After a thrilling night, Quentin is convinced that Margo will leave the crowd of friends that have been a source of her unhappiness and decide to spend the rest of their senior year of high school with him. That is, until Margo does not show up to school the next day. After several days and an appearance by a police detective, Quentin takes the case into his own hands and decides to find Margo. With the help of Quentin’s friends, Ben and Radar, he begins to piece together the clues that Margo left behind. Before he can find Margo, though, he must first discover who Margo Roth Spiegelman really is.

The entire novel is told from Quentin’s point of view and I thought that Quentin was an incredibly likeable character. He is awkward and quirky and it makes him easy to relate to. Quentin’s friend, Radar, is incredibly smart and spends most of his time revising and adding entries onto an online database. I definitely preferred Radar to Quentin’s other friend, Ben, who referred to women as “honeybunny” and was pretty shallow. The dialogue between the three friends was all believable and I preferred their conversations to the ones that Green constructed in Looking for Alaska. I thought that the characters in this novel were much more realistic and much less pretentious than the ones in Looking for Alaska.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is the girl that Quentin is intent on finding and although I thought that he seemed almost unrealistically obsessed with her, at the point of putting his perfectly planned future in danger, I thought she was an interesting character. I think Green used her character in order to make a point of never really knowing a person and how appearances can be deceiving. Although Quentin is trying to physically find Margo throughout the book, he’s also trying to find out what kind of person she is within the clues she has left behind. Margo is a different person to everyone and I thought that the point that Green was trying to make was fascinating. John Green has a tendency to get slightly philosophical in his novels and Paper Towns is no exception. Quentin has several internal philosophical musings throughout the book, but I never thought that they were too much. I enjoyed the themes presented in this novel and thought that the characters made the story even more enjoyable.

I really liked this book. It was a fun young adult novel about finding yourself and learning to search deep to find others. I thought that the ending worked well with the overall story and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good young adult novel to read. The characters were likeable and if you are a fan of John Green’s writing, you will not be disappointed.

The film adaptation of Paper Towns is scheduled to be released on July 24, 2015.

If you have read Paper Towns, please share your thoughts in the comments. To view Paper Towns on Amazon, click here.