NaNoWriMo 2016: Day 1

First off, no, I am not going to write a blog post every day. Sorry not sorry, ain’t nobody got time for that.

But I will be writing every day, I’ve just decided. Whether I work on my thesis novel or a short story, I will get some words down on digital paper.

That being said, what are your goals for NaNoWriMo? I’m a big fan of writing down your goals and breaking them down into bite sized, achievable chunks. So while I’ve only just decided to participate in NaNoWriMo in some facet, here are my improvised goals for you to hold me accountable on:

  1. Write at least 500 words a day. – Reward: a feeling of accomplishment and maybe one of those mini Reese’s in the fridge.
  2. Write at least 2 blog posts per week. – Reward: nothing, because I should already be doing this.
  3. Write at least 3 short stories this month. – Reward: buy a book I’ve been wanting, because short stories are the worst and I need to entice myself to write them.

I’ve written before about rewarding yourself, so make sure you do that this month as you type or scribble away furiously.

And for a little inspiration, here are a few NaNoWriMo authors like yourself who got their work published:

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Wool by Hugh Howey
  • The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
  • CinderScarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer

If you want to read more about these books, click here.

Have fun this month, friends, and break a pencil!


Shadow and Bone | Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


I’m squishing both of these books into one post because I can’t just do a review on the second book in a series. That would be completely irresponsible, right? (Ps. meet Sock Bun, my creepy sock bunny my mom bought me forever ago. He is now the guardian of my books.)

So I’ll be honest, I really liked the first book while I was reading it, but then after I was just like, okay, that wasn’t bad. I wasn’t quite blown away by the plot or the world. It seemed kind of been there, done that. But I still liked it enough to read the second one, and even though the second book is largely a setup for the third, it was when I realized that Leigh Bardugo is a dang good writer.

What do I mean by that? I just said the first book was okay. How can she suddenly be so great?

Honestly, it was during the second book that I realized how flawless her narration was. Her characters still drove me nuts sometimes – I’m just not a huge fan of love triangles – but her execution? Superb.

So without further ado, my thoughts:


So I hinted at this above, but some of the characters kind of made my eyes twitch. They can be a little moody and woe is me at times. BUT, and this is a big but, Leigh introduces some new characters in Siege and Storm that I really really love. So if you’re like me and kind of want to punch a few people in the face during Shadow and Bone, just hang tight! It gets better. Promise.

Plot/Narrative Arc

The second novel is mostly setting up for *drumroll please* a siege. But you get a really good look into how Alina’s world works and the politics behind the war. I was surprised at how into it I was. Leigh sets up for multiple possibilities in her third novel, so I’m interested to see where she goes with it.


So believable. So so believable. Leigh really creates an airtight world, and she includes some Russian culture into it, which is totally respectable. I don’t know a lot about Russian culture, but I’ve been wanting to do the same thing with Polish culture – no, not a Holocaust novel, more like Water for Elephants – so I totally give her props. I do wish we had a better understanding of where magic comes from or how Mal is such a good tracker. To me, his tracking skills seem even more magical than some of the actual Grisha.


The idea of people with special powers in a war torn country isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but making the setting a fictional version of a real world country is on the newer side. The more the story progressed, the more original things became, though the family dynamic did remind me a bit of Victoria Aveyard’s royal family. Not so torn but definitely dysfunctional.


Like I said, Leigh is a brilliant writer. She weaves together realistic dialogue with an engaging story in a dynamic setting to create a seamless story. The more I think about her second book, the more impressed I am with her abilities. Now I just need to get my hands on the third one…

Overall result: yes! Go read these books.


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Inspiration vs. Dedication

Most people consider inspiration to be the driving force behind writing or any other kind of creative work. I think I speak for all artists when I say that if we waited for inspiration to take the lead on our projects, nothing would ever get done. If you want inspiration to drive you, don’t expect to make it to your destination.

Being creative goes far beyond a muse. It’s a conscious effort to get to where you want to go. Don’t confuse inspiration with dedication.

I’ve watched extremely talented people lose their will to fight for what they love, simply because they don’t feel like fighting anymore. These people have never learned how to work without feeling inspired, and because of that, the world loses.

So here are a few thoughts I have on the whole inspiration vs. dedication deal:

Set a goal.
This ties into my post on Monday ( about developing plans for your writing. You need to develop your thoughts and ideas in order to make your time more efficient, but you also need to decide what you want to accomplish with those thoughts and ideas. Set realistic and measurable goals that allow you to work outside of feeling inspired.

Honesty time: I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to write tonight. I was originally going to do a Buzzfeed style post on awesome libraries, but then I realized you’ve probably seen a billion of those. As I was sitting here trying to come up with alternatives and debating quitting, I realized I was too caught up in trying to feel inspired. Inspiration can help you, but it can’t control you.

Don’t let the small things defeat you.
If you get caught up in the little battles you lose, you’ll never be able to see the bigger war at hand. So I may forget to write a post here or there, or maybe my post totally bombs and not a single person looks at it. Those defeats do not define me. I am a writer, and as long as I’m writing, I’m winning. Now of course we both want the writing to be good, but if my goal was to get coherent words on a page and I’m doing that, then I’m getting somewhere, even if that place is off the couch and into my desk chair.

An old teacher of mine used to say “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” Remember that.

Just keep swimming.
Need I say more? If you think you should quit because you “just can’t anymore,” then you should probably keep going. If you think you should quit because you’re going to kill everyone in your story because you’re so hungry, then you should take a taco break and get back at it afterwards. The biggest challenge here is to push yourself. Train yourself to go beyond what you think you can handle. You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself and the quality of work you can put out when things become more difficult.

Writing is hard. You have to work at it and it most likely won’t come easy. But funnily enough, we often appreciate things more when we have to work harder for them. So I encourage you, don’t let inspiration be your guiding force. Love your craft and work for it.