Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspiration Frenzy

Well, folks, we only have a few meager hours to go before the insanity begins.

I'm collecting inspiration today.





What about you? How are you spending your time before Nanowrimo?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Truth About Cat Vacuuming

In the coming months, when more everyone starts logging their hours, you may see the phrase 'cat vacuuming' pop up.

Cat Vacuuming means to vacuum your cat in a sarcastic procrastinating way. Not literally. That's cruel.

You know that feeling that today you've got to make yourself write. You've got to do it and you're going to give yourself another fifteen minutes before your chain yourself to that desk and do it. Then, much too soon, your fifteen minutes are up. Instead of being a good girl and sitting down and writing, you are going to pick some stupid, menial task that you HAVE to do first. Like cleaning your room. Cat vacuuming is supposed to colorfully illustrate the extent to which you go to so you don't have to make yourself write. Like picking up individual pet hairs. Then deciding to vacuum them off your cat because you've cleaned them up everywhere else and you've got to find SOMETHING to clean instead of sitting down and writing. 

The Inkblots have also extended the meaning of Cat Vacuuming to include that nasty bit of unfocused writing that we're all guilty of. When you're writing along and you write a great paragraph. You read over your great paragraph and think 'wow, great job.' Then you hop on Facebook for no apparent reason. Ugh, you say. You turn off your browser, write a sentence, open it again twenty seconds later and watch a music video. This continues at an alarming rate till you find yourself reading a stranger's Twitter updates and think to yourself 'I should be writing.' 

This sort of poor self discipline is unproductive, bad for cats, and causing you more problems than you think it is. Half of writing is getting yourself to sit down and write AND STAY THERE. 

So even though there might be some literary merit in looking this up when you're supposed to be writing,


it's really just going to kill your stream of though and rob you of four brilliant paragraphs. Yes I know, they seem very sweet, but they just want to make you vacuum your cat. Flee. Fast. Cats and writers everywhere beg of you. 


How the Spontaneous Beauty of Writing Never Ceases to Amaze Me.

Writing to me is always changing. Every time I sit down to write, a different thing happens. And I'm never fully ready for it. However, I've found consistency in in this ever changing, inconsistency.

The last three times I've sat down to write, it's been different because I've approached it differently. First, I had lost the scene in my head I had to write. I had to create a new one when I couldn't recall the old one. Then, for the next time, I had the scene in my head and it came out in the most perfect way imaginable. When I've written today, it came out somewhere between those too. It wasn't particularly amazing and it wasn't frustrating either. It simply felt like a very creative chore.

What else never stops amazing me is how things suddenly connect while I'm writing. How a little something I added twenty seconds ago spirals and explodes to be this remarkably beautiful thing that I never had any clue I was creating. I tend to think of this as a skill. I like to think of it as talent or intuition. It feels more like magic than any of those things.

 My last novel I wrote (all 80,000 words of it mind you) in two months. I have very little memories of actually putting hard, backbreaking hours into writing it. Looking back, it simply feels like I breathed on a window pane and voila, I had a novel. The entire process was pure magic.

This novel is intricate to the point where I'm only aware of all the points I've created in the very back of my head. That part behind your cerebellum where you can't access your thoughts. I keep finding more and more things that connect. I'm not even aware of connecting them. They just seem to materialize from the tips of my fingers.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is writing is magic. Not a hocus pocus sort of magic that I'm-only-writing-this-for-halloween-magic. A sort of magic that you-can-see-every-day-and-still-be-amazed-by sort of magic. At least, I'm still amazed by it.

Two hours.
1,973 words.

Three hours.
2, 512 words.

Two hours.
1,718 words.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Writing Sisters and Loaded Arsenals

Is it . . . Friday already? These weeks go by so fast, I feel short of breath.

The other night, my sister and I got talking, and our conversation led to a plan to write a novel together.  The next day I got out the laptop and showed her the basics of Word. She is bound and determined to learn how to use that computer, and it's fun stuff to watch her. Right now, she's spending more time comparing fonts than actually writing, but I think we'll reach take off soon. The two of us will write this novel, but she'll be the principal contributor. I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

The arsenal
On a NaNo note, I have my supplies for the month in order. I plan on writing the novel by hand, as the laptop in my possession is rather heavy and gangly, and I'll want to be able to write at school without having to camp out in the computer lab. And of course, the laptop will be otherwise employed by a precocious nine-year-old girl. :) So I have a handsome black notebook, new Sharpie pens and G2s, and a little calculator all lined up. I can't wait to use them, but . . .

. . . I'm also nervous; there are so many difficult assignments going on in school, I still haven't the foggiest about what I'm going to write about for 30 days, and my parents aren't overly pleased about my upcoming foray into a novel. The odds aren't in my favor, but I still have this ambiguous determination to do this thing! Thousands of Wrimos cope with way more than I have to cope with. I understand now why Ellyn included the Emerson quote a few posts back.

My motivation and excitement have fluctuated greatly over the past week.

My goals:
~Write every day.
~Write something I am proud of.
~Be happy that I'm writing! It'll be good to grow in the sport.

Next time I sign in here, I'll have an actual writing log + wordcount to show.

Oohh . . . there goes one of those stabs of excitement. *grin*

~ Mia

PS - Three days!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Rogue Rebel Strikes Again

It's only six days till November 1st. Sadly, I thought it was actually seven, but then I found out that I'm counting till November 3rd, when Bones comes back on TV. That's all I'm counting too. I'd like to make a joke about how my priorities aren't in order right about now, but I actually perceive them to be completely in balance. Bones is very important.

Maybe the reason I'm not counting till November 1st is because I'm not having to wait to write. I actually have to write. It sounds very fun from what I've read. I've never made myself wait to write. I've never had to build excitement that way. It of course sounds very fun. I've always had to say to myself, 'Sarah, you are ready. Now WRITE.' Holding back and getting all giggly about my plot is something I've always done after I've written it. I may need to rethink that order.

Sadly, I did not write anything over the weekend. Yes, I know. Very pathetic. But the last three days, not counting today, I have written.

Fifteen minutes.
958 words

Three hours, fifteen minutes.
3,957 words

Two hours, thirty minutes.
1,642 words

Make what you will with those numbers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

From the Rogue Rebel

I am only calling myself that because everyone else is so excited about starting and I'm excited about crushing my character's hopes and dreams as I start the decent from my climax. It feels as if I am strangely older than everyone else because I am a few months ahead of them. I can't wait till people start writing with me. Then I won't be all alone.

I must admit, since I've been on a semester break, I've done little more than crochet, watch food shoes, and listen to the radio. I have accomplished very little on break, but I'm fine with that. It was a break after all.

Two Hours.
1,380 words

Three Hours.
1,776 words

Hour and Fifteen minutes.
1,559 words.

Nothing, I ate Indian food instead.

Sunday, hopefully something.

Plot wise, I had to go through all my notes just no to remember what I was thinking before. I had a huge scene in my head that was very pivotal before I even started writing. I have forgotten all but the just of it and have not recorded any of it what so ever. But it's okay, because the whole scene is more or less worked out in my head. I think.

I seem to keep forgetting, once I'm three quarters of the way through writing, how much I've shaped my plot to intersect in different areas. This novel is basically five different plots coming together to form one big plot. Inside that, I have subplots. Each one is, metaphorically, a loop. Each loop intertwines in every other loop. My book is a chain length fence. Or a necklace chain, if that's more elegant. Either way, it's all connected and I either forget it OR I do remember but it's in the back of my subconscious. At least I have it written down somewhere.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Raring to Go

Nine days.

I can't wait.  There are butterflies in my stomach and I hyperventilate whenever I look at the countdown clock on the Nano website.

I think I'm finally prepared too.  I've got my pretty little blue folder all filled up with character charts and plot ideas and steampunk-y pictures, and I pulled the plug on outlining yesterday, saying, "NO MORE" so that my ideas will still be fresh when I finally start the book itself.  (Yes, I did draw a little bunny next to the word "Plot.")

A week ago, my dad and I went to the basement booksale at our local library and I found a priceless copy of "Athens at War" for fifty cents.  Since my Nano novel takes place during the first year of the Peloponessian War, you can understand why having a translation of a book written by an eyewitness of the war (Thucydides) would be so valuable.

I also went out today and bought an Acer laptop.  I have wanted a laptop for so long and I can't believe I am finally sitting at my desk and typing on my very own computer in the privacy of my room.  This is just what I needed for Nano - there is no way I could have made it on the family computer down in the dining room.  Not in a thousand years.  I would have gone mad.  I'm sure you know how annoying it is to have people walking back and forth, back and forth, while you are trying to diligently pound out your word quota for the day.  But now, I'll be able to write in my room, outside, under my bed, younameit.  And, you know...go on Facebook and Pinterest and stuff.

 In addition to all of this, I've got a secret stockpile of chocolate waiting in my desk drawer, a map, and several original drawings representing scenes from my story.

Now all I have to do is wait.

Wait and wonder - can I really pull this off?

- Ellyn

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Week

It's Day 2 of my mid-semester break, and I'm living it up - two days off of barrages of homework and assignments can do wonders for a person's morale.

But I must confess that even through this respite, I haven't committed myself to any writing. Ellyn, I cat-vacuumed. But here is some good news: I went to the library yesterday. Friends, it had been weeks since I indulged in a leisurely stroll through that hallowed hall. I picked up some books for research for the November novel, too. So far, my ideas have been pretty circular and dull, but reading up on illegal immigrants and mathematical curiosities has bolstered my inspiration. I'm conjuring up a rather eclectic cast of characters for the novel . . .

Also, a major news item: I finished The Hunger Games series. I liked all of the first book, the first half of the second book, and the last chapter and epilogue of the third book. They're an altogether harrowing ride; could you imagine actually living in them? Katniss Everdeen is one formidable person.

And for your Internet reading material pleasure, here's an article I came across on the merits of giving NaNoWriMo the college try. I definitely like this authors compassion for us Wrimos; we need every bit of it. *dramatically long-suffering sigh*

Enjoying October,

Monday, October 17, 2011


At the end of September, I was dithering about Nanowrimo.

I had writer's block - by choice or by prescription, I don't know - and I needed something to get me back into writing.  30 days and nights that would make my eyes red and watery, my fingers sore from typing, and send my brain into an insane state of worlds and characters seemed like the perfect event to restart my writing career.

And Nano sounded like so much fun.  I had known about it for years, and I had followed people who had done it.  It was definitely on my do-before-death list.

As I sat in our uncomfortable computer chair, mentally flip-flopping the issue, I tried to figure out why I shouldn't do Nanowrimo.

1.  I'm scared I can't win.
2.  My school may suffer.  (This may not seem like a serious reason to some, but I am very serious about my grades.)
3.  I'm scared I will write a huge mess that will be beyond repair.
4.  My whole November would be committed to writing a novel, potentially not leaving time for anything else. 
5.  I'm scared to take the leap.

As I looked over this list, a favorite quote came to mind: "Do what you are afraid to do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I've had countless other chances to obey the above quote, and here was another chance that had tumbled into my lap.

I took the leap.


Creating my Nano account and starting to outline my story did not abolish all my apprehension completely.  But I have added a great deal of excitement and anticipation to my apprehension.

It's gonna be an adventure.

Here are my goals for Nanowrimo:

1.  Complete the month with a 50,000 word novel (no matter how legalistic Sarah says it is.  Haha.  That was a joke, Sarah.)

2.  Dive so completely into my novel that I believe my hands are flying over the controls of a steamwalker instead of my keyboard.  I want to live and breathe my story while I'm writing, not stopping to worry if I chose a strong enough verb or formulated my sentence just right.

3.  Come out with good grades and have time to ride my horse and be outside, enjoying my favorite season, which doesn't last long.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Goals, Logs, and Reasons

Hmm, call me anti-establishment, but it's not accurate. I just don't like the 50,000 word necessary-ness. Can't stand it all. All my goal is for NaNo is a finished book.

Goal: Finished Book.

My book, which is already mercilessly long (I apologize in advance, printer) should be finished in roughly ten to twelve chapter. Tonight I wrote for an hour and a half.

Writing Log: Hour and a Half.
Tremendously unfocused, however.

Words: 1,162

It's not so bad. It's quite good actually. Tomorrow, I'm going to ruin my poor character's life. The worst part; I'm not even going to feel bad.

My plot for this novel is unlike anything I have written before. Usually, I am a very structured writer who keeps very detailed outlines and sketches out how many words I'm allowed to use for a conversation. Not this book. This book I'm just writing along then all of a sudden my brain goes, 'Hey, Sarah, what about a sub-plot.' Then I just throw a sub-plot in there. It's going to be a nightmare to edit. Then again, all editing is a nightmare. Not looking forward to that.

For tomorrow; ruin Harper's life, write without doing another twelve different things, start earlier, and go longer.

As Mia asked for, I've pondered my reasons for writing, or doing Nano, over the day. I'm doing Nano because it's fun to write with friends when you know you're writing with them. Writing's very solitary, and it's nice knowing you're not the only one who doesn't care about ruining your character's life. And I write because I go insane otherwise. If I don't write, my head implodes. If I don't write, I get intolerably crabby. I have to write just like I have to breathe. It's necessary to my DNA.

On another note, this book itself as felt more pressing than my other books to write. It actually feels like some divine being wants me to write this book very badly. I get these odd subliminal pushes to keep going when I get stuck.

On my author's page is a summer of my current writing project, and reading it will have this make a lot more sense. My novel is all about celebrities, and even more so about what happens when two of them mate, then spawn. It's a book about rock star offspring, and their difficulties in the world. It's also about prodigies. Over the course of writing this book, which I've been doing since late August, I have had SO MANY stories of married musicians, children of two very talented people, teenage prodigies, or on rare occasions, all of them combined into real, living, breathing people. They are constantly falling into my lap.

That to me is reason enough to powerful even the worst of writer's block.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why NaNo?

NaNoWriMo is celebrated/dealt with by thousands of people who want to either write a novel or write 50,000 words. According WikiPedia (Of course I trust it!), over 200,000 people took part in NaNo 2010. Even in a world of  nearly 7 billion people, 200,000 is a big number.

But here's my question: Why? Don't we 200,000+ people have better things to do than risk our jobs, GPAs, or sanity over an iffy novel?

I'm sure we do. If nothing else, there is always another good book to read and learn from! So why don't we do those better things and forget about 'literary abandon'?

In the population of Wrimos worldwide, there must be a myriad of reasons for hopping on the NaNo bandwagon. This year, I am a full-time PSEO student without an idea for a novel, plus a part-time job to keep things exciting. There aren't any reasonable reasons for me to participate; why should I risk my passing grades and quality of life for a novel that might be horrendous?

Because . . . it just might not be horrendous. Unlikely, but there's a chance. More importantly, I've got to keep writing. If there was ever a time I was tempted to throw in the writing towel, here it is. I've entered the real world and I think I don't have time.

But no. Writing really isn't something one should grow out of, especially if one loves it. And regardless of what I feel like on a given weekday, I know I love writing. And anything worth loving is worth fighting for.

So this November, I'm starting a war. Or a battle, at least. It's my last stand (probably not as dramatic as those words suggest) to keep being a writer, and so help me, I am going to come out on top. I want to write.

There is my reason. What are yours?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Inkblots Meet Famous Author!

Anyone who knows me or has read my previous blogs will know that I'm quite obsessed with Scott Westerfeld and his Leviathan trilogy.  He's also the author of Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and some other books, but the Leviathan trilogy is really all that matters.

To prove how obsessed I am, here's a bit of fan art I drew that got featured on Scott's blog in this post.  Sorry about the bad quality.

deryn in a dress

Anyway, everyone reading this blog should also read the books, especially if they enjoy stories about young girls dressing up as airmen, hoity-toity boffins, steam-powered walkers, and orphaned princes.

It just so happens that the Inkblots (or a portion of them) got to meet Scott-la in person when the last book of the Leviathan trilogy came out near the end of September.

Talk about cool!

There is another member here, but she's taking the picture with her amazing camera.

Stay tuned - soon we'll post some Nanowrimo goals for November.

- Ellyn

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Writer's Introduction to NaNoWriMo

So, why start a blog now? Inkblots has only been in the world, what? Eighteen months? A full two years? It can't be too years. We're not that old. Wow, if I count back to which novel I was writing in my head at the time it is like two years. Thoughts on this Ellyn? Is it really two years?

Anywho, this blog has sprung from the attic of my mind also. This is what the phrase attic of my mind makes me think of;

The real reason for this blog is the Almighty NaNoWriMo. Which I have never done before and I guess am doing this year. Ellyn for sure is going NaNoWriMo this year. I'm doing it a tad bit. What is NaNoWriMo you ask. It's an acronym. Above all, that is what it is. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Mostly it's where writers celebrate their craft in November by swearing off procrastination devices (like the devious blogs and deplorable Facebook we all indulge in) and vow instead to crank out 50,000 words. If not a whole novel.

To be honest, in the past I haven't been a fan of either blogging or NaNoWriMo. But know I'm doing both. Blogging was something I really loathed for awhile. I would read blogs. I loved doing that and still do. The idea of writing a blog was repulsive to me. I wrote a book filled with reasons I could never really have my own blog in which I tortured a protagonist who had a blog. Not literally, but like all writers I ruined her life for a wee bit. (It was called Complications of a Pen Name, it lives in a drawer, and they were all happy in the end. Ellyn read it. Audrie may have a copy. I cannot remember) That has dissipated over time. I still don't have a personal blog. I have a blog which I keep for an art class I teach and this blog here. Maybe one day in the future, I will have a personal blog.

You never know.

NaNoWriMo annoyed me for a long time and still does. I can put my finger right on why too. It's so legalized. You NEED 50,000 words you you are not a REAL NaNoWriMo writer. I'm sure that's not true, but it's always felt like that to me. And I can do that too. 50,000 words is accomplishable by me, but I do not want to do it if you obligate me to do it. But, when everyone started getting goosebumps about the coming month of November, I found myself with my own set too. I had never had anything to work on for the write time in November before. I was always editing. An activity I hate, so maybe that made me crabby to NaNoWriMo. We'll never truly know what editing does to the brain.

This year, I had friends doing it, a book that needed finishing, a huge schoolwork load that is bound to make it even more challenging than having a social life. So of course I wanted to do it this year. I just had to legalize it in my own way. But I didn't want to be doing NaNoWriMo all by myself and then have Inkblots meet once in November and everyone talk about it. I wanted an email chain or something. Top this with the fact I had to get down to nitty gritty with my book. I'm going to hit the climax probably before the week is even over. I can't just diddle daddy with it. I had to get down and serious.

What I usually do when this opportune times comes is write down how often I've been writing. Which days, how long, how dedicated, how distracted. A blog seemed like the perfect place to do that. Plus, everyone in Inkblots suffered writer's block over the summer in differing severity and it would have been great not to have to realize once everyone mostly got over the worst part that we were all miserable at the same time. We needed an online forum. The attic of my mind demanded a blog.

Thus here we are! Hurrah.

This blog's first and foremost use is to record hours writing. Like a log book, if you don't mind a simile. Everyday I am going to write down how long I've written, how many words, and how focused I was. Everyone is free to decide how often they want to do this. Some people may just want to write once a week and accomplish 500 words. Some people just want to write. Some might want words. I simply want a finished book.

That leads us to number two. Everyone logging hours on here should, and this is important, write down their goal for NaNoWriMo. A goal might be 50,000 words, or a finished book, or to make a conscious effort to write for a month straight. It does not matter what your goal is, it matters that you have one.

Three. Ellyn has very clearly outlined what this blog is not a place for. I'd like to make clear that this is a writing forum. Everyone on here is more than happy to gush about how much they love writing and gives loads of unnecessary advice. If you get stuck, write it on here. If you have a question, write it on here. If you are overflowing with love for what you just wrote, write it on here. (The joy, not the actual paragraph).

Fourth, I'd like to encourage everyone to add to their author's pages. I will do this once I figure out how to. Add a quick blip about yourself. Like what you're favorite book is and why. How long you've been writing. How many novels you have in a drawer. A favorite writing quote. But most importantly, add some synopsises. Everyone wants to know what you're writing hours are being spent on. It doesn't need to be huge, it doesn't need to be tiny, but it needs to be there.

Also, happy National Novel Writing Month of November everyone!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Inkblots, Their Blog, and Their Rules

Hello, fellow writers!

The Inkblots is a Christian group of teenage girl writers - Christians who write, not necessarily Christian writers - that began several years ago in the attic of one girl's mind.  The idea spread from Sarah to Ellyn and from that, Inkblots was formed.  The club met / meets in an upper room of a cafe, and discusses everything from gypsies in Paris (was it Paris that had all the gypsies, Sarah?) to plot denouements.

If you'd like to join this blog and you were not present in physical form to experience an actual Inkblots meeting, drop us a comment anyway.  We'd love to have you.  We're trying to spread our club even farther and encourage hard-core writing.


This blog won't take the place of our meetings, but it will motivate us to write and provide a way for us to encourage each other to write.  (Or give us a chance to virtually fistfight other club members in an attempt to get them to write.  We're still working on that page...)

If you'd like to post on the Inkblots blog, the following subjects are acceptable:

- Your personal writing log for the week (aka, how many hours you've written that week and what you are currently working on.  In a time log, please specify if you cat vaccumed or not.  If you don't know what cat vacuuming is, you should.)

- A writing tip or link to an article you found helpful, on the subject of writing.  We'd prefer not to have posts that consist of just a link.  Add your own thoughts, wit, and cheer.

- Exciting things like if you got to meet a favorite author, if you got a short story or novel published, reached a word count goal, or anything of the sort.  You can also include this stuff in your weekly time log if you wish.

- Elaborate on the ups and downs of writing life.  Vent to the world your passion against your current novel when things are bad.  Gush about hugging your manuscript when things are good.

- Books you've learned a lot from, read recently, or greatly appreciate.  

The following subjects are not acceptable:

- Anything that includes obscenities like language, sex references, or crude jokes.

- Chapters or excerpts from your book.  We know you're excited about your novel - we're excited about ours too.  But if you have an excerpt you'd like to have edited, we'd prefer you to send it privately to Sarah, Ellyn, or another club member.  Don't post it on the blog for everyone on Google to discover and possibly steal.  And don't risk someone trashing it in a comment.  That hurts, and it could destroy your writing career.

- Anything random that doesn't directly relate to writing / books / Inkblots.  It's great you have a new dog, but don't create a whole post on him.  Email us if you want to let us know.

Enjoy the Inkblots blog and feel free to comment with ANY suggestions!

Please also fill out your author page at the top with some information about you (here, randomness is accepted) and a brief blurb about each of your books.

- Ellyn
(co-founder of Inkblots)