Writing Encouragement

Camp Nano: End of Week Three Update

6:00 AM


(Because you all totally want to know how things are going between me and camp Nano. Come onnnnnn. Admit it, you stalkers.) XP

Oh and just so you know, I made some updates to my What I'm Writing page. Feel free to check it out! *whispers* I added some info on the next project I am going to write mwahahahaha.

Camp Nano went a little better this week, starting on Tuesday. I hit my daily word goal for the first time in for-ever. *pauses to let everyone belt Frozen*

For the fiiiirst time in for-everrrrrrrrrr there'll be writing, there'll be liiiiiiiife!

Ehem. Anyway, for the first time in ... quite some time, I hit my daily word count. It was hard. And it took a lot. But I did it again on Wednesday. It's Thursday as I'm writing this up, since I won't be here Friday-Saturday, but hopefully I will hit my word goal tonight.

Any-whoooo. This lead to a revelation.

We writers are awesome.

Yeah, I already knew that. But I mean, we are like ... really awesome. Everyone just sit back and give yourself a pat on the back and revel in what a boss you are. Have some coffee and/or hot chocolate. Eat lots of junk food. You deserve it.

One word came to mind when I thought of just how awesome we are. No matter what kind of writer you may be, I think we all have this one trait in common.


Merriam-Webster describes perseverance as, "The quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult."

Us writers? We don't give up. We don't abandon our books because they're terrible they need some work. We push on. We strive to make the Things the best they can be.

Us writers? We don't let failure or fear stop us. And if you are letting past failures or fear or *gasp* fear of failure *duh duh duhhhhhh!* stop you, then you need to stick your chin up and take a deep breath. Go read my post on fear and kick it in the butt. Okay? You don't need to be afraid.

We are really amazing people, us writers. So when you're drowning in edits, when you're overwhelmed with all the stuff wrong with your book that needs fixing, when you've allowed yourself to believe that you're a failure (which is a STUPID L I E E E E E AND YOU NEED TO NOT BELIEVE IT BECAUSE IT IS STUPID) ...

Just take a deep breath. Look at what you're doing. Remember how far you've come, how much you've already accomplished. Like, W O W.

And also, you don't have to do this. This is your choice. Let that sink in. Let yourself bask in your own amazingness for a moment. You are doing this Thing. And you know, deep in your beautiful writer heart, that you can't quit.

We are awesome!

How are you guys? Still holding up? Has anyone finished nano yet? *eyes a few certain people* Or are you like me, struggling to get there? Either way, we all deserve some coffee. *hands out warm mugs*



Very serious matter here, before I wrap up.

It has come to my attention that quite a few of you do not ... *swallows hard and bits lip* like ... coffee. *hugs Stan and sobs*

Anyway. I have decided to hand out coffee and hot chocolate because I must be considerate. There are a lot of new people hanging out here *squeals and waves vigorously* and Stan and I must be welcoming.

Anywho. Yeah. Go do Things and persevere and BE YOUR AMAZING WRITERLY SELVES, OKAY? OKAY. I'M DONE RAMBLING.

[Hehehehe not really. I'll never be done rambling. Now, you must tell me (after reporting your status of life and nano) if you like coffee or not. I must face the truth.]

(I hope this was coherent. Was this coherent? My apologies if it wasn't ... ah well. HAAIIII BAIIIII *stumbles off to edit*)


Camp Nano: End of Week Two Update

6:00 AM

Hello everyone! *tired waving* I'm going to keep this short, since I already posted today over at A Writer's Faith (and you should totally check it out).

Just wanted to bop in here so good ole' Stan doesn't get offended. He's getting bigger by the day, isn't he? *pats keyboard fondly*

Anyway. Nano. Right.

So far, I have ...

1) Ranted to a writer friend about me being afraid to write and learned ... It's okay if people read bad stuff from you. It is okay if your betas do not read perfection. That's not what they're for, anyway. They are there to read what you have and help you make it better.

2) Made a new writer friend (Hi, Petra!) and become aware of our very small world. She is awesome and is an epic word warrior and her blog is beautiful so you should go read it now. Yeah. Read all of it. Right now. (Stan will forgive you for leaving. Just make sure you come back at some point to apologize. Gifts of coffee beans are welcome also.)

3) Lowered my word goal for camp nano to 50k. And I'll probably end up lowering it another 10k, at least, because I am so stuck right now. It's not even funny. *sighs heavily and goes to drink all the coffee in the house*

4) Been a lazy turd muffin.

Yup. You heard me. I'm lazy and I'll admit it. I have spent more than one word war this week curled up in the chair with my WIP's music booming and playing Sudoku and I am not ashamed know it was not the best way to get stuff done like I told myself it was and have accepted that Sudoku is the best thing ever and really good for brainstorming I will only get stuff done if I get my butt to work and ... get stuff done. Because that just makes so much sense.

I am learning so much more and growing lots as a writer through this book I'm writing. Because I've also learned ...

5) Editing is hard, guys. So is rewriting. Rewriting is the Worst Thing Ever. (okay, there might be a few worse things, like coffee deprivation and no air conditioning, BUT IT'S STILL HORRENDOUS.)

But seriously. When you finish the first draft, this new pressure falls on your shoulders. Suddenly, you can't just look at a plot hole and say, "Oh, I'll fix it later." You can't just change POVs in the middle of the chapter and say, "Oh, I'll fix it later." Because suddenly now is the later. And you've got a whole lot of issues and things that need to be seen to in your story that you simply can't put off any more.

Which leads to my little bit of advice for today (aside from what I think about book blurbs).

It's okay if your first draft is terrible. We all know that (well, we should. If you didn't, now you do).

But you know what?

It's also okay if your second draft is terrible.

Yeah, I said it. We all want the next draft we write to be better, of course. But, just like we can't make a perfect book our first try, we can't do it on our second try either (well, most people can't. And if you can, you need to keep your mouth shut and just ... leave. Right now. Before I slap you or do something else I am supposed to will regret). It could take you eight times to produce a good book, and that is O K A Y. Okay? Take a deep breath and just ... chill. I am talking to myself us much as I am to you. Editing is hard. And it's going to take a lot of time and work to make your book as good as I know it has the potential to be.

Editing is a real test of perseverance for a writer. Editing is when the fun stops and you have to take a hard look at your manuscript ... and yourself. Is this really what you want to do? Do you really want to tell this story?

I hope you'll say yes to these questions, and that you'll keep saying yes. Because, though writing is hard, it is beautiful. And, as I like to say, the things in life that bring the most satisfaction, that are the most magnificent and beautiful and amazing, are the things that are hard to do.

How's Camp Nano going for you guys? Is anyone still alive? *pokes the readers with pencil* Comment your state of awareness and I'll send you appropriate survival necessities like chocolate and coffee. *showers you all in coffee beans*


Camp Nano: End of Week One Update

6:00 AM

Hello, my lovely stalkers blog readers. Week one of Camp Nano has come to a close, and I am certainly feeling it. I'm a little behind, but that's okay! I set a high goal, and I am still getting a lot done.

Which is why I'm bopping in to offer a little encouragement to all you lovely writer beans. Are you behind on nano? Well. Remember something. You set this goal. No one else did. You are under no obligation but your own to finish.

You see, goals are there to encourage us and help us get stuff done. I set a goal of 70k, but I don't think that's going to happen. But I also haven't changed it yet, even though the temptation is quite strong and I'm fairly positive I cannot do 70k words in a month. Writing, yes. But editing? Ha. No.


The goal of camp nano - of all nano-y things, actually - is to push yourself. To step out of the comfort zone. I edited nothing for all of January, February, and only a little bit at the beginning of March. So my goal with camp nano was to edit again. I am attending a writer's workshop in June (*screams* I GET TO MEET THE KATIE AND THE AIMEE AND THE CAROLINE, ALL FELLOW WRITERS AND BLOGGERS AND I AM SO INSANELY EXCITED AHHHHHH *ehemmmmm*) and my goal is to have finished draft two of my WIP and have the first three chapters of draft 3 polished.

Why am I telling you this?

I wanted to push myself for camp nano. So I set a high goal. But the important thing I told myself is that it is okay if I am behind. It is okay if I don't meet the 70k mark. As long as I edit something.

I want you all to think about this as you charge onward in your manuscripts, whether you're doing nano or not. Goals are there to encourage us, not make us feel terrible if we fail to meet them, and stressed as we're striving to do that.

My advice?

Find out what works for you. 50k in a month isn't too crazy for me (heck, I did it in 17 days PLUS A THREE DAY TRIP OF NO WRITING in November - so basically in two weeks) but for some people it might be beyond their pace. And that is okay. All writers are different.

So please, do not stress! What you need to do is find your pace. That way, when people set higher goals then you, you don't have to worry. You can't write that fast, and that is okay.

DO NOT beat yourself up if you are slower than someone else. Okay? Okay. Glad we could clear that up. XP

So write on! Conquer camp nano! And if you didn't write as much as you wanted, remind yourself that it is okay. You may not be able to write 50k in a month, but if you keep on writing you will hit 50k sooner or later. And if you only wrote 100 words in the month when you wanted to write 50k, well ... I still say you're a winner. ;)

Are you doing camp nano? How's it going for you? If you're not doing camp nano, have you set any goals for this month? Please share them with me in the comments!

World Building

To Create a World: Part 4: The People

6:00 AM

At last. The post you have all been waiting for ...

Part 4: The People

Every post in this series so far has been leading up to this.

The people. The people who live on this massive chunk of land we named and mapped out, who belong to the history we fashioned, and who hunt the animals and harvest the plants we created.

The culture is probably the most important part of world building. Especially if your MC, or if any of your MCs, grew up there.

This post is going to be unique because of how important the content is. I’m going to go step by step as usual, but I’m going to go through the previous posts and go in depth about how they influence the people of your world. (If you missed any of them and want to catch up, you can read post one on maps here, post two on history here, and post three on wildlife here.)


Step #1 (Aka. Post 1): The Map

Where you live really influences culture. A village in the mountains is going to have vastly different daily activities than a village, say, on a tiny island. A village in the desert will have to get most of their food by trade, so the villagers will not be gardeners and they will rely on something else to get goods to trade with. But a village placed in lush green fields with ground perfect for farmland will be full of farmers.

Make sense?

I'm going to use my map again as I create a culture. I'll plop the scanned pic of it here for you.

Ain't she a beauty? XP

Alright. So, I already have an idea of my main character's backstory, and in my mind I see him coming from the far right of this map, in the province Chenpei. His home village is among the hills you see to the right of the rivers.

So he lives in farmlands. With rivers. Hmmmmmm.

Get your creative juices flowing. Logic it out. His family is probably not what you'd call wealthy, since there aren't going to be a bunch of big cities and opportunities here in the middle of nowhere. But living where they do, they won't need much money anyway. The people are likely tight (an everyone knows everyone kind of thing) and so it's a quiet town allowing those who grow up there to do so peacefully.

And just from that, from deciding the people are mostly on their own out here in these farmlands, and pretty self sufficient, I already know quite a bit about the culture of this little town. They do as they're told for the most part, because they like their quiet life and don't want to be disturbed. So they send in their taxes (which could be very high and causing a rebellion in less quiet places) and they don't complain. This works out perfectly for me because my MC in this project is a thief. He's crazy and always on the run, very defiant ... You can see how the culture of his little world shaped him. Plunk a person like him down anywhere, and he's going to do all he can to defy every stereotype and rule placed before him.

NOTE: As I'm building the culture of my MC's hometown, it spreads out. I know that most of the villages around his will be similar. There are few big cities in this area, and even those are small. The BIG cities where lots of people are will be further north of the province, closer to the desert and the border.

Step #2: History

What happened in your story world in times past? What happened before the Now will really effect culture today. Say there was a war fifty years ago. Not everyone will have recovered from that. And the war had to happen between two countries ... and someone had to lose. These two countries probably don't get along too well, which gives culture and conflict. The people would still be recovering too. They might have to be careful about rationing out food and water and clothes.

Say one hundred years ago, the people of Chempei and Khamir had a war. The ruler of Chempei, after looking through old history books written by the Founders (the four Chinese people who found this world) finds something about a great wall from the Founders' homeland that was built to keep out intruders.

The emperor thinks this is a good idea.

So he decides to build a wall.

Now, this influences culture in several ways. Villages near the wall most likely house lots of imperial soldiers who are either quiet and nice to the villagers (ha) or who like to rough them up and make them cook for them and stuff. TENSION. CONFLICT.

NOTE: see how much world building does for conflict? If you're stuck in your WIP, just do some world building!

ANOTHER NOTE: The history is likely going to include religion. What do these people believe? What do they worship? Back to the village of farmers that my MC grew up in, they lead quiet lives. They, as a whole, don't really care about religion. But there are probably a few older natives who are very adamant about it, who rise early every morning with the rise of the sun to pray in the hills, and go out every sunset to do it again. Instead of praying as we think of it though, they spread their arms and face the rising/setting sun and close their eyes and throw their head back and they stay that way for sometimes hours at a time. The village children who have not been taught what this means might even dare each other to sneak out and poke one of the statue still worshipers to see if they'll move.

Step #3: Wildlife

As you've probably guessed, this has an enormous effect on the culture. What they eat, how they eat it, when they eat, how frequently they are able to do so.

Are pets common? What types of pets? Why that certain type? Are medicines hard to come by, or are there an abundance of healing herbs to help treat illnesses and pains?

You can use animals to come up with great local stories/myths too, that mothers tell their children to scare them into obeying. Say there is rumor of a giant wolf that dwells in the hills. At night, the wolf ventures down into the village. The children must stay in their beds and not venture out, or else the big bad wolf will snap them up and devour them.


What if there's a certain type of weed that, even at the smallest taste, causes a rash to spread over your tongue and down your throat?

What if the Empress of the land loves lilies, so the villagers grow them in her honor, and hang them over their doorways as a sign of respect? And, each time they enter their home, they look up at the lily and cross their heart, as a promise of loyalty to the royal family.

There are so many possibilities.

And remember: A little goes a long way.

Step #4: Day to Day Life

Another really good way to develop culture is to figure out what your MC does everyday [Or, if your MC is crazy (like mine) then what their parents or best friends do].

Do they rise to pray with the sunrise? Or do they rise before then to take the long walk to their work in the city twenty miles away? What do they eat before they leave? Do they walk there, or do they have a horse or bike or some other method of transportation?

When they get there, how are they treated? Is their boss terrible or does he never even show his face? Do they get a lunch break, or do they work till dark with no respite? Do they make their way home in blackness? Do they have to carry something to protect themselves against robbers who might lurk on the sides of roads, waiting to rob the workers heading home?

There are so many possibilities. And it all affects your MC. How they act. How they think. How they respond to situations. How they treat others. What they believe. 

That's it for now! I am very sleepy and can't really think of much else right now. Not to mention camp nano starts today and as I am typing this, I still have to write over 2k words. *pounds head against desk* AND IT'S 12:30. WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?

Any-who. There are just a few things coming up this month.

Due to camp nano craze, I will probably end up skipping one or two posts, or just writing very short ones.

Also: I am guest posting over at A Writer's Faith on the 16th. Fun, right? I'm so excited and honored! I will not be writing a full post here on that day, but I will link you to Katie's blog so you can read what I have to say over there. XP

That's about it, I believe. Did you like this series? I will probably write another post to add in any extra aspects of world building that I forgot or didn't have room for (like religion).

Do you enjoy culture building? Is it hard for you? Are you doing camp nano? Anything else going on? Please share in the comments!


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