Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


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I’m making a list – and checking it twice!

Yes. Yes, I did indeed go there, nearly two months after that holiday season came to an end. What can I say? I prefer Christmas to Valentine’s Day, and the title fit the topic of today’s post.

Why does it fit?

Because, just as the title says, I am making a list – and checking it twice! Not a list of children and who has been naughty or nice, but a list of titles and ideas and stories! Writing, Books, Text, List

My muse has been in uproar lately, throwing idea after idea at me and to make sure I can push those aside and focus on The Forbidden Series, I’m making a lovely list with basic information, so that once I finish this series, I can start another one without spending ages trying to remember the basics.

Believe it or not, I have at least thirty books worth of material; needless to say, I still have a few years of writing to go! And this number keeps rising. Why, just yesterday, after discussing very vague ideas with my friend, Elisa Nuckle, these ideas morphed into an entirely new series – one I am quite interested in, no less.

What can I say, the idea of breaking the fourth wall sounds quite intriguing to me.

So, I’m throwing all these ideas into a document that I’ll safeguard until the time comes for me to move on to something new; or, until I need to add another tale to the still-growing list.

Lots of work? Maybe. But in the end, it’s definitely worth it.

How do you go about keeping your stories organized, and choosing what to work on? Is there a method to your madness?

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Change of Pace: Summer Holidays

Very little feels better than getting that piece of paper that signifies your grades at the end of the semester and coming to realize that you passed with flying colors. Top of the class and on to the next year.

One of the things that surpasses that sensation is time off; six weeks, exactly. As of yesterday, June 22nd, my holiday has begun and I will have freedom until the 9th of August. A month and a half that I will use to work on my novel, catch up on my reading and just general relaxing. My novel is at a solid 36,000 words now. By the end of my holiday, I intend to have at least 50,000; it is very likely I will overcome that obstacle and venture even closer to my last word count.

To give a more precise plan: It is my goal to write a minimum of 5,000 words per week. With that schedule, I shall reach 50,000 by the midway point of my vacation. By extent, it means I could easily hit 65,000 words by August. Let’s make that my secondary goal, shall we?

The nifty little progress bar on the side of my page will change when I complete a chapter. After the holidays, it’ll reach at least 50%. Making my secondary task will have it at 75%. That’s progress, if I ever saw any.

I plan to get so much writing done, because I have a busy year ahead of me. As it is my exam year, I’m unsure how much time I’ll have to spend on my novel – and writing in general. It is a journey into the unknown. When the time comes, we will know how matters turn out. I will make it work. Nothing, even impending exams, will keep me from finishing this book by my nineteenth birthday.

As for unknown and uncharted territories; I will find my way into one from the 24th of September until the 21st of October. For four weeks, I will live with a yet-unnamed family in France, for an obligatory abroad work experience, organized by my college. For almost a month, I shall live and work in France; I will learn the culture, improve my language skills and find inspiration in ways that I never would have otherwise. Even if I cannot write while there; when I return, I will have inspiration aplenty.

Nothing will stand in my way of completing this novel, nor commencing the editing process and its sequel.

What are your plans when it comes to writing this summer? Do you have specific plans for your blog, reading or writing? Or do you have different plans altogether?


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Change: Is It Necessary?

This is something I know a lot of people wonder and the answer is something neither here nor there. It all depends on the change itself and the person the change influences. For example, an artist could choose to change their sleeping patterns to free up more time for creating. An author could do the same on their writing. Maybe someone intends to change their career path, or maybe something as simple as changing what they have for breakfast.

Change comes in the smallest forms.

I made a change recently. While I don’t wish to delve deeper into the change itself, it hurt. Sometimes change is a necessary evil that will harm you on your way through the process of making the change. Even if that is the case, it is something is necessary; it is often for the best, even if it does not seem so at first.

Moving on, more changing are coming. I’m aware that I need to change my writing habits, or else I will never finish a novel. Because of this, I plan to write a lot this summer to compensate – especially as I’ll be away for four weeks this fall. I must take the time to focus on my goals and what I want to do; it is necessary. A necessary evil in some ways.

Change always is.

I don’t want to drag this post out longer than it needs to, so I’ll leave you with a last piece of advice. If you feel there is something you need to change, no matter how small it seems; don’t be afraid to do so. In the end, the change will be worth it and even if it isn’t, nine times out of ten, it’s just as easy to switch back to the old way.

Have you ever changed something major in your life before? If so, did it work out well for you, or not? If you haven’t; are there things you’d like to change?


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Collaborations: What They Do For Inspiration

I’ll be the first to admit that a collaboration is something I’ve never properly attempted, but I’m open to many things. Because of this, when a friend of mine mentioned the idea of us collaborating last week, I jumped at the opportunity. We spent this past week discussing details; the characters, in what kind of style to write and a vague idea of what we wanted to happen and more specifics for the first chapter.

Granted, we live halfway across the world from each other, so our only option for the joint project was online.

And we’re making it work.

It took us two nights of back and forth typing in MSN – her doing a section (anywhere from a one-line paragraph to multiple paragraphs), then me following suit and repeating that process until we finished the first chapter. I can honestly say that this form of collaborating is both intriguing and immensely fun and satisfying.

One of the pros for working together on a story is that, even if you don’t have inspiration, your partner in crime can continue. And what they write just might spark your muse and send you into a writing frenzy. I speak from experience when I say that writing with a companion changes so many things dramatically. By writing together, you inspire and motivate each other and keep pushing one another to write, write and write some more. It’s both a challenging and rewarding experience; something that is worth it in the end.

So long as you have someone you share interests with and can connect to and stay on the same wavelength as them, venturing forth into a collaboration will be easy. Have a rough idea of what you want, but make sure to discuss plans and ideas with your partner. The key to keeping a joint writing functional is to have constant contact with your friend or fellow writer. Always talk, always compare and always discuss things that could be done better or differently or not done like that.

Never close yourself off from constructive criticism; the other writer’s contributions are just as meaningful and important as your own.

Accept it with open arms. Knit it a little sweater. It’s meant to help you improve.

Teamwork is an essential part of collaborating, so make sure you’re willing to compromise and spend time changing or discussing things that you may feel are fine the way they are. But most of all – have fun. Writing should always be an enjoyable experience and a collaboration is no different. The only different in it, is that you’re two – or maybe more – authors working on the same story.

Don’t hold back. It’s an amazing experience.

Have you ever collaborated before and if so, how did it go? Do you have any advice for people who would like to collaborate?
If you haven’t; is it something you can see yourself doing?


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New Place; Alive and Still Kicking

In the very least, this past week has been hectic.

Between working overtime at my part-time job, having my last busy week in college and getting ready to move to a new apartment; life wanted to make sure every shred of my time went to those three things. Needless to say, I have done little to no writing this past week, but change is coming!

College is nearing its close, I expect work will be less severe and as of today, we moved in.

This means I won’t need to spend as much time on those matters and will free up time for my writing. A very good thing, I do believe. I intend to do a lot of writing throughout the summer holidays. I have a word count to catch up on and I want one novel finished, at the very latest, by the end of 2011. My last chance to get a fair amount of writing done might be summer, as after the holidays I will enter my college exam year. As if it couldn’t get any worse, I will also be abroad for four weeks. While the prospect is intriguing and I am very much looking forward to working in France for a month, as part of my education; it will cut into my time. Depending on how things go while I’m abroad, though, I will attempt to get writing done every day, even if it’s only a paragraph.

But for now, I’m going to spend the rest of the day relaxing and hopefully getting some writing done. It’s been a long day, so I’m looking forward to kicking back and letting the rest of the day pass by; uneventfully, preferably.

My next blog will focus more on my writing, promise.

How do you deal with writing while life is throwing obstacles at you? Have you ever worked or studied in a foreign country and if so, how did you deal with it?


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Dodging the Law

Or, in the case, teachers.

I’m typing this in the middle of English class, bored out of my mind. We’re on the computers, so I figured; what better to do than start writing a blog?

Go away, teacher. Stay towards the front of the class.

We’re practising business conversations – hotel reservations and the like.

Speaking of writing; I have written lately, but my time dispersed all over the place between college, writing, my job and moving. We’re moving at the end of the month and we’ve already been packing and moving things to the new house. My poor books – they’re probably so lonely without me. I know I feel alone without them.

I am working on settling back into a regular schedule when it comes to updating my blog. The next two or three weeks will be a little rough as teachers are piling on last-minute tests before the summer holidays, but then I’ll sort things.

Once a week, Natasha. Once a week.

I’ve said that a lot before, but I promise it’ll become reality.

The teacher isn’t even paying attention to me.

That’s all I have to say right this moment; this is just a quick update to let you know what’s been going on. Saturday will be great! My parents and I will be heading to Cologne to see the Exhibition of Tutankhamun’s tomb. It’ll be a nice day out, something I really need after all the school work.

Expect an awe-filled blog not long after Saturday. I can’t promise I’ll hide my ecstasy and have millions of things I need to get off my chest.

Cheers.

How do you handle mixing college or work with writing and regular patterns, or goals? What would you recommend others to do?


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Breaking Out The Big Guns

Education is both a gift and a sin.

For these past two weeks, college has piled on so much work that I have been unable to find time to write – both this blog and my fiction writing. To prevent this from keeping up, my Easter Holidays have decided to arrive at a convenient time. In two days, Friday the 15th of April, my vacation will start and I will be free from class until May 2nd. This means the days will be long, time will be there, and specific Word documents will get dusted off.

My deadline for the first draft of my novel is approaching.

With all this free time on my hands (because, honestly; the holidays are pretty much here already), it’s time to up my game.

7,500. One week. Three weeks of vacation.

Minimum.

What this means is that I intend to write at least 7,500 words a week throughout this blessed freedom. It breaks down to 1,500 words in five days – nine to five, excluding weekends. Writing is a job; a profession to focus on like any other career, or else it will smack me in the face and send me rolling downhill until I hit the brick wall at the bottom called Writer’s Block.

I don’t want that to happen.

With the amount of 7,500 words a week and nearly three weeks of holiday, that totals to 22,500 words. I’m at 19,070 words now – I would essentially write at least double what I’ve done thus far, if not more. That progress sounds like the gentle tone of Angel’s singing Hallelujah in my ears. Or maybe more like Eureka.

Either way, progress is good. I won’t fight it, but I’ll sure as heck fight for it.

The work I have during my vacation is minimal – a couple of hours here and there, so there’s no reason for me not to write. I will hit 22,500 and I’ll try my best to soar through that and end up further than I expected. 50,000 total, anyone? I’m only 30,930 words away from that. A little over 10,000 words a week for these three weeks and I’ll reach it.

If I manage that, I’ll be ecstatic and you’ll definitely know it. For now, it’s time to get started on the 7,500 words between now and next Wednesday. I’m living this very second, so why not get it started, right?

What is the most you’ve ever written in a week, or a day? How did you do it?