Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.


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Day off + writing progress!

If you read my previous post, then you’ll know that I created a new writing schedule that I feel very strongly about. I think it’s a schedule I can stick to, and so far I it hasn’t proven me wrong.

Halfway through the first week of this schedule and my writing is going absolutely swimmingly. As you can see from that lovely progress bar at the top of the sidebar, I’ve already passed the 10,000 words mark in my current project!

Three days of writing and I’ve written that much. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true and I’m absolutely ecstatic about it!

After two days of getting a lot of writing done, today was a welcome day off and I’m glad I chose to take Wednesdays off. It will help keep me energized, so to speak. But it’s only for one day!

Tomorrow, I will get back to work! Many words are waiting for me. I must write them. All of us need to do the things that call to us! I wish all of you luck in accomplishing your goals.

Let’s do this together. ūüôā

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play some more Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to finish my day off.

Have a great day, everyone!

How has this week treated you so far? Let me know!

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Down With The Sickness: Defeat It

As of this moment, I will do my best to update regularly.

I will blame my lack of updating on the fact that for the second time in six weeks, I ended up with an infection that affected my ears, throat and sinuses. It wasn’t pretty. The last time I had it, it started on a Sunday morning, I stubbornly went to class on Monday, then finally went to the doctor’s office Tuesday morning. I got sent home with medicine and a note obligating me to stay home for the rest of the week.

This time, I was perfectly alright. Tuesday evening, my throat started to act up. I went to bed, hardly slept due to it worsening and went to the doctor’s office first thing Wednesday morning. I wasn’t taking chances.¬†This time, I got sent home with the same medicine, along with antibiotics and nose drops, and a note matching the previous one. In total, I had to take six pills a day; it was not pleasant, but I survived.

That weekend, a week ago, I felt well enough to write and I ended up spewing out words like there was no tomorrow. During the course of the weekend, I wrote over 3,500 words. To top matters off, I wrote 2,960 words this Wednesday. Three chapters completed within five days. If anything, getting ill helped me find my muse. Not only am I ecstatic that my inspiration is treating me well, but it has inspired me to create a new goal.

I will finish the first draft by the end of June, the start of my summer holidays.

While I don’t know yet how long this novel will be (probably in the 60,000 – 80,000 range), I do know that I’m at 19,057 words now and still have¬†a lot to¬†go. But that won’t deter me from hitting that goal. If all goes as planned and I finish the first draft by the end of this school year, I’ll let the draft collect dust throughout summer as I start the second book. When college starts back up again, I’ll get the draft off the shelf and start the editing process. How it goes from there, I’ll see when that time comes.

Instead of just informing about my writing habits, I’d like to give some advice that I find helpful. Have someone proofread your novel, whether they read each chapter as you finish it or wait until you’ve completed the draft. Assistance from a friend or family member is essential and not only does it help you to improve your writing, but hearing what someone else thinks about what you’ve written will keep you motivated.

Before, my urge to write wavered. Now, I have an amazing friend who not only reads each chapter when it’s written, but who is always willing to discuss in great detail what she thinks of the different¬†aspects of the story. Her help makes a huge difference and there is nothing I can do to express my gratitude properly.

Thank you.

What do you find useful when you write and edit? Do you have one, or multiple, people proofread your draft, or do you do things a different way?


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Creating the World

Believe it or not, sometimes even writers don’t keep their promises. A daily word count goal can fail under the stress of other things and just like that, you can hit a wall. If writing a specific word count a day isn’t your thing, then maybe you should try writing every day, but focusing on a weekly, or even monthly goal. It all comes to how much time you’re willing to commit to the craft and what you’re capable of.

Creating a world means you spend your time expanding on it – the surroundings, the realm and the characters who live inside it. Without believable characters who fit the world you’re crafting, the story won’t reach its full potential. Ponder the ideas you have, execute them and work hard to mold together every aspect of your creation. Writing the story itself is only half the battle; understanding your characters and the world they live in comes first and is another large section of it. Once all of that is over with, you’ll be able to focus on editing. But that’s another story entirely.

As of this moment, my daily word count goal of 1,000 words a day is failing. Why? Because sometimes I want to do other things. Throughout my long weekend, what I wrote is as followed:

Friday: 1,238
Saturday: 0
Sunday: 0
Monday: 1,500
Tuesday: 368

That makes for a grand total of 3,106 words in five days – 1,894 words short of the 5,000 I should have gotten if I’d stuck to my goal. Still, it’s more than I’ve written in weeks and that is what it’s all about. Writing. I may not make my goal every day, but I try my best and that helps me get words¬†onto paper. It helps me progress in my story and the best part is that, even when I’m not writing, I am thinking about my novel; its characters, the environment, the plot, and everything around it. The thought process is more important and essential than many think. Without it, there would be no novel. I will not deny that there are some who can start writing the instant a hint of an idea pops into their subconscious, but even if they start that way, their mind will dwell and elaborate the story.

We writers are always working. Whether we’re lounging on a couch with our trusty notebook and pencil in hand, curled up with our laptop or sitting at our desk with our computer, or staring out the window: Our minds are always working, even if we sometimes don’t know it ourselves. In our subconscious, stuff is always being processed and created. With our knowledge, or without.

The above-noted word counts allowed me to both write the second half of chapter four, then proceed to write well into chapter five. Tuesday, I went back and did some editing to the disaster that was chapter four, by adding bits, changing things around and all-in-all, spicing it up a bit.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have.

While editing is key to great stories, it’s best done after the fact. I’ve already toned down my editing skills, but I can’t deny my inner editor everything. I have no problem with finishing a chapter, letting it sit for a few days while I move on, and then looking it over. Will I edit again once I finish the novel? Of course. Will I edit sometime throughout the course of the novel? Highly possible. The fact of the matter is to not limit yourself. You could say you won’t edit at all and be miserable with everything you’ve written and lose the will to go on, or you can find a way to make it work for you. The key is to keep writing.

Keep writing – it’s all that matters. If you do, you’re one step closer to accomplishing your goal.

What are your experiences when it comes to mixing writing new material with editing? What would you recommend others to do?


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Write or Die: Goals

My earlier¬†blog was the last thing I wrote. I haven’t written anything for a good two weeks, if not more; this is something I want to change. Fighting to keep up with college, work and general life makes it difficult to find time to write properly. However, I¬†came to the conclusion¬†I need to make time, instead of wait for it to come to me. If I keep waiting, I’ll die before it finds me.

I intend to use National Novel Writing Month¬†as a base for my writing. There’s no beating around the bush: I failed this November, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. Maybe I need to start with a smaller goal and work my way up. As long as I get some words down on paper, it’s an improvement. To help along the way, I’ll be setting a daily word count for myself.

1,000 words.

While I’m sure I’d be able to write more, I don’t want to overdo it and the last thing I need is for my writing to feel like a chore. I’ve learned from experience that when a battle to get words down begins, my muse and my will implode. I need to prevent that from happening. A very doable daily word count and not pushing myself too hard – it’s the ideal situation to get myself into gear.

With a four-day weekend ahead of me, freed from college and work, it’s the perfect time to get it started. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be on a roll and write more than I intend to. If that’s the case, it’s an added bonus; one I will gladly embrace.

With the prologue and three chapters of my novel finished, I don’t want to give up. I’ve spent too much time developing this story, this series, to do that. September 30th, 2008 is when I started writing this idea. A lot has changed since then and after many writer’s blocks, rethinking the overall idea and planning, I’ve finally gotten it to a point where I’m happy with it. Now, the time has come for me to get more written – to expand the 8,247 words I wrote for the first chapters.

This word count will help me reach my goal.

This word count will help me finish the first book and allow me to move on to the second.

This word count will help me live.

Do you have any experience with writing goals? How do you prefer to write: With goals, or just as is?