I gave up on Camp NaNoWriMo – afterthoughts

I never thought it would happen, but it was meant to happen at some point I suppose.

I have always tried my best to commit myself to NaNoWriMo events regardless of the situation since I find that I write best when under pressure. And there is never a drive as strong enough for me than trying to get a first draft done within a 30 day period.

This time around, however, I gave it up.

The reasons are varied, ranging from time constraints to stress, as well as a couple of unforeseen situations throughout the first half of July.  But at the end, it all came down to one thing and one thing alone:

I was lost.

Even back when I was a pantser, I always somehow managed to string a storyline (even if it wasn’t all that great) and I would finish whatever project I was working on. But this time around, even after several months of preparation and planning…

I had no idea of where my story was going.

I had read about this sort of thing before, but I never thought it would happen to me. After being so acquainted with my characters and my setting… it just seemed so unlikely that I would not be able to write their story.

So I thought and thought and thought again of what was causing the problem. Turns out, ideas can feel exhausted.

The Rara Avis was meant to be a prequel to the world of THE HIDDEN ONES, and as such, many of the characters I had already written about which in itself was already a hefty problem. But the biggest issue was that: the characters in The Rara Avis had extremely similar problems to those of The Hidden Ones. It felt like I was writing the very same story, just in another epoch, and from someone else’s perspective.

And when I did try to make the plot differ from that of The Hidden Ones, it all went out of control and I could no longer figure out just where was the plot heading.

Thus, my decision to give up on Camp, for the very first time and with a very heavy heart.

The Rara Avis was a project I was incredibly excited about (still am, if I am honest) but until I really figure out the purpose of it, it will remain behind closed doors.

As for now, hopefully, a fresh idea like Mors Tua, Vita Mea will restore the creative flow and I will be able to pick up The Rara Avis soon.

As for the Camp NaNoWriMo campers that were able to push through – I hope it went great for you guys!!! NaNoWriMo events are, after all, a great way to get ideas set down and ready to be worked on!

Hugs,

Geraldine M.

 

My Camp NaNoWriMo essentials

With July just a couple of days away, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I prepare in order to survive the Camp NaNoWriMo madness.

For those who do not know of it, Camp NaNoWriMo is an event taking place every April and July, in which writers set a word count goal for the month. Camp NaNoWriMo was the offspring (so to say)  of the main event – NaNoWriMo – in which writers attempt to write 50k throughout the month of November.  In Camp, the writers set their own word count goal, but that does not make it any less challenging!!!

This year, I’ve set my goal to 80k so that means I will have to write around 2500 words EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to make it to the goal.  It is very draining, and in order to refuel, I have a “NaNoWriMo Survival Kit” to survive the month. This is what works for me personally, but I thought I’d share!

1. A little liquid help

I like to start my early mornings with a nice espresso or a cup of tea. For the mornings I tend to drink black teas much more than greens, but later on in the day, when I am beginning to feel a little drained, I reach out for green tea (I like to think of black tea as the punch-to-the-face wake-up, whereas green tea is more of a gentle nudge, thereby the order of consumption) and it keeps me going for long.

With those crazy wordcounts, sleep stops being a priority. I suffer from insomnia so that makes staying up a tad easier, but when Merlin’s spell begins to get to me I will indulge in another espresso. I try to stop having caffeine past midnight for the sake of well-being, and I’d advise other Campers to do the same.

2. Snacks

“I believe in a benevolent God not because He created the Grand Canyon or Michelangelo, but because He gave us snacks.” 
― Paul Rudnick 

I like to keep snacks at hands reach at all times. I stock up in the weeks leading up to Camp and NaNoWriMo with chocolate, caramels, and baked goodies. I am not really keen on “healthy” snacks myself, because, truth be told, I find pretty looking snacks inspirational on their own. Raspberry tart, however, is my obsession.

I mean, what is there to muse about kale chips? On the other hand… a raspberry tart… it’s beautiful.

image (3)

3. Preferred writing clothes – uniform for the month.

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter?'”
― P.G. Wodehouse

I am not really comfortable not wearing bottoms of some sort but if you think that will make writing easier go ahead!

During July, I plan which comfy clothes can be worn both in the house and outside without much criticism. The story is slightly different in November when certain things can be hidden under a nice winter coat, but for July I stick to bottoms that are somewhere between pyjamas and workout clothes and “inspirational” t-shirts that make me believe in myself. Last year the star was a #savegansey t-shirt, this year it will probably be my Attack on Titan Scouting Legion t-shirt but the future is uncertain.

4. Inspiration “triggers”

Each writer knows what works best to turn on the writing mood, but for me, it is specific songs and sometimes even specific film/anime scenes. Not so much book excerpts, but there are a few too, and I keep those ready for when I need them as well.

But THIS always works wonders:

 

5.  Something that will keep the inner editor away.

Although not best for general writing, for NaNoWriMo, which in a way encourages speed over quality (hey, you will revise what you’ve written later!)  it is best to suppress that inner editor. I focus on moving on rather than look back at what I have written, not only because fixing it will take time which I could be using to write more, but also because by reading back and deciding it’s terrible I get discouraged – and discouragement is the last thing we need!

I know a lot of people like to use Write or Die, which deletes words if you have stopped writing for a certain amount of time, but I limit to writing in white when I feel like the inner editor might kick in. By using a white font on a white page, I cannot see what I am writing and therefore cannot look back at it, which keeps me writing rather than worrying about what I have written.

Those are my essentials for the month in a nutshell! Being honest I am always more excited about NaNoWriMo than Camp, but this year I am really looking forward to the July session since it has been so long since I’ve solely focused on my writing for a long period of time!

To all those attempting Camp NaNoWriMo, best of luck!!!

Love, Musteetk’ab.

Writing music?

I am often asked about what I listen to when writing, and although it might be a little odd the answer is: pretty much a fair mix  of things I do not like, as well as things I love.

I know that many writers in fact find it difficult to write whilst listening to certain music, or often opt for “non-disruptive” music, in particular instrumentals. That personally does not work too well for me unless it is to create a specific sense of setting.

The music I listen to is all about “sense of” so to say. I use music as a way to connect with my setting, with my characters, and the mood of a scene.

Although I do count with a generic “writing playlist” it is only to put me into writing mood. I found it easier to have specific playlists per work, as well as per character and in some cases, per location.

For the characters, I try to think of what kind of music a particular character would likely listen to – this helps me a great deal to really grasp who this character is. And I feel like this aids character buildup overall. So I would definitely recommend it! It is true that some music genres my characters would likely listen to I am not a big fan of, but it is always fun to explore no? I do the same for couples, assigning a “soundtrack” to each as to understand the pairing better and how they are likely to interact when together.

As for locations, and scenes – I try to find music that matches the feel I am expecting from the place or the scene. For example, while writing The Hidden Ones, I listened to a lot of music in German as to help me feel a little closer to the location (the story is set in Salzburg) and with The Rara Avis I have been listening to a lot of 80s music, since that is the time period I am trying to write about.

Most of said playlists are in my Soundcloud account, however, I do have project-specific as well as my generic writing playlist available on Spotify – feel free to check them out and see if you find anything you might find resourceful!

General writing playlist:

 

The Hidden Ones / The Forgotten Ones playlist:

 

 

Hope this post was a little helpful!

Tons of love,

Geraldine.

New project!

Considering I have already decided to write The Rara Avis for Camp NaNoWriMo, this one idea will be my November project but I could not wait to share so here it goes:

Mors Tua, Vita Mea

(working title, but I am pretty keen on keeping it)

I will not go too much into the details, but it is something I am excited about because of the following:

  • Half Japanese, Half Belgian main character
  • Set in Flanders
  • A lot of “dreamscapes” (I guess you can already get an idea of where this is going)
  • Tsarist Russia glamour (yes, the story is still set in Flanders)
  • Story told in 2 POVs + the two are in the 1st person
    • This is a new one for me so I am pretty hyped about it. Goodbye omniscient narration!
  • Classical music galore!
    • Plot clue: Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor
  • Not a happy story
    • My other works also have dark themes, but in general, the most recent ones end up having an uplifting mood most of the time. It won’t be the case in this one.
  • Going back to the origins
    • I first began writing horror and this work will be exploring that to a certain extent.
  • Gothic elements
    • I am looking forward to exploring theme again since I haven’t written anything “Gothic” in a very long time.

By the time November rolls around, I will already be in the Netherlands so the fact that this story idea came to me now worked out just perfectly with my schedule. Throughout September and October I will be researching in Flanders (just like I did in Austria for The Hidden Ones) so I am thrilled to move already!

Who knew the move would help my writing?

I was quite upset since my writing has been Austria-centred for almost two years, and I found it quite daunting to move and lose that source of inspiration but… I’ve been given a purpose already!

I’m so looking forward to writing this! But in the meantime, I will be focusing on The Rara Avis – I have to finish writing it by the end of July so this will be quite a hectic summer!

Tot de volgende keer! 

Musteetk’ab

The reason I believe writers can learn a lot from MUN events

For those not familiar with the term, MUN stands for “Model United Nations” and as the name suggests, it is a simulation of what the international organisation does. These events are particularly popular in high schools and university, with many institutions counting with their own MUN Club as an extracurricular activity or even their own conferences in which delegates fro different institutions participate.

It had been a while since I had participated in a MUN event, and I really had forgotten how much I love them. So today was a bit of a reignition of my passion for learning about diplomacy and international relations via roleplay – because let’s be honest, that’s a pretty decent summary of what really happens.

But, really, MUN is not all about play pretend diplomats, nice after parties and a couple of new contacts on Facebook. And today, as I said, I came to the realisation of something I had not been aware of before:

MUN events are great for writers. Not just the young, but also the older people you wouldn’t expect to see at a high school MUN or even university level conference.

How? Well, isn’t writing about becoming aware of your surroundings? creating worlds? developing characters and ideas?

Surprise, MUN is useful to fulfil all those previously mentioned.

Looking at my manuscript for THE FORGOTTEN ONES, I realised just how much MUN had influenced it. Gatherings to discuss the marginalisation of a specific group? Check. Presenting groups and characters with rather radical points of view and trying to come to terms with them? Check. Discovering the sociopolitical outlooks of a nation/federation/kingdom? Check.

I realised that MUN gave me the skill to be able to create leaders as well as understand them. A well-intentioned faerie queen wishing to overthrow the vampire monarchy? – MUN gave me the tools to be able to make her express her views on politics and law. The speeches of an intolerant head of a nationalist religious sect? – The result of endless of speeches brought forward by delegates throughout the years when discussing issues that might bring out intolerant points of view.

True, many may argue that those skills could be obtained by watching/reading the news, or stepping out of comfort zones and interacting with various groups of people. And although that is a valid argument by all means, there is an aspect of MUN that makes it  very easy to apply that obtained knowledge on a Work-in-Progress: the fact that during MUN, one is forced to take on the role of someone else, and understand that role, without trying to present one’s own ideas and beliefs.

And that I find an incredible trait for character development as well as world building.

In addition, MUNs give the chance to engage in other cultures either via interacting with others in after parties or during breaks unrelated to the conference (many delegates come from other countries/states, all of them have different views) or sometimes even by travelling. I must say that after my MUN experience in Warsaw, I have become very good friends with some Polish people I met there, and to a certain extent, them and their beautiful country have made their way into my writing. For instance, the Aos Si Queendom, a land featured in THE FORGOTTEN ONES, is loosely based on what I have learned from Poland and its people thanks to MUN.

I would not call myself a MUN expert, but from the few conferences I have attended, organised or helped out in, I would say I was able to give a touch of brilliance to my writing that I believe would not have been there if it weren’t for the MUN conferences.

So, do I recommend other writers to sign up for a MUN conference as soon as possible? Definitely, for I really do think it enriches people in a way that has a very positive effect on their writing and that I really cannot compare with much else.