I’ve made the journey from South Carolina to New York City about a month ago– the last time I’ve updated this blog! Ever since I’ve changed the name from IndiaHillWrites to BooksandBigHair, I’ve been meaning to give this blog a revamp and jumpstart things with series about living in New York. Of course, it was easier said than done because I’ve been super busy literally since I stepped into Manhattan. Not an exaggeration haha. But, maybe it’s is a good thing, because I’ve been here for a month and I have more of a grasp of what I want to say.
Happy New Year! I haven’t said it on this blog yet, but I hope everyone has had a great start to 2016. This year, I had the pleasure of seeing Lauryn Hill LIVE in concert and she was just as amazing as you’d think she would be! Us South Carolinians have had a rough year in 2015 (Flood, Charleston, Confederate Flag, and Spring Valley High School) and I think bringing someone as influential and inspiring as Lauryn really helped with the morale and togetherness of the state.
2015 was an interesting year for me. Although I had a few highlights (seeing Ariana Grande in concert, hosting a beauty event, meeting Chrisette Michelle, and appearing in Southern Weddings magazine) and ups and downs just like any other year, nothing really stood out. I had some part in this, because I didn’t take risks or do the things I needed to do to really have an outstanding year. I’d call it a “transitional year”, because I really found out some things about myself and wrote two manuscripts (!!!) and I’m super excited about working on them, and tons of other things, in 2016.
I wrote my goals in my Lara Casey Powersheets this year, and it was so helpful to me. I’ve already talked about why I love them so much, but I can’t reiterate enough how much it helps you figure out your goals by asking questions like “How will this goal get me to where I want to be when I’m 80?” and “What will I regret if I don’t achieve this goal?” She also breaks them down into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals, and helps you create action steps to achieve them.
Although the Powersheets are so helpful, I want to post my goals here monthly so someone can keep me accountable. If no one knows my goals, it will be easier for me to give up quietly, and I don’t want that!
Okay, onto the goals! This post is a long one, so grab a snack 🙂
I talk in depth about my readings goals on my book related YouTube channel here! In short, they are:
- Read something out of my normal genre (I tend to read fantasy and contemporary more than anything)
- Get my family/boyfriend to read more
- Read a classic
- Dive to my OWN book collection and stop buying as many books
- Provide more original content for my bookish YouTube channel
Polish Manuscript(s) and Send to Literary Agents: I’m serious about this, espeicially the NaNoWriMo manuscript. The mistake I made last year was not getting my manuscript as polished as it should be before I sent it to agents. The novel is now on the back burner (although I love it so!) while I thoroughly edit my NaNoWriMo novel. I just love it so much and can’t wait to get to the point where I can start querying agents about it.
Apply to Writers’ Residencies: Uninterrupted writing time in a beautiful location, while maybe even getting paid to do it? Yes, please! A writer always makes time to write, but it would help to be in an inspiring environment (like a cabin, or a big city) without daily stresses to distract me. I’m going to be applying for a few this year.
Drive more traffic to my blog: This blog is very new, and I want to drive more traffic to it this year. I plan to do this by writing guest posts for other bloggers and doing a giveaway soon.
Make Waves in Freelance Writing: I want to continue freelancing while making some huger strides doing it this year.
Create Bloggging/Vlogging Schedule: I want to create a schedule that works for me as far as blogging goes and stick to it. Right now, I’m going Vlogs on Sundays and Blog Posts on Wednesdays, so we’ll see how this goes.
Lose weight, get fit, become healthier: I know this is very cliche’ but its’ so true. I’ve gained a lot of weight in 2015 to the point where I don’t even feel comfortable wearing certain things anymore. My healthy eating habits have also plummeted– I’m just out of shape, to put it bluntly. I’m already preparing a meal plan and I may start to share it on the blog once I officially start it this month!
Listen to God MORE: I can be very impulsive on certain things (in 2013, I quit my full-time job to pursue writing full-time) and I need to make sure before I make a big decision that I consult with God and counsel before acting. I want to make sure I’m acting according to His will, and the only way I can do that is by listening to Him. Let me know if you have any advice on this!
Become financially responsible: I’ll be honest here. A big reason that I wasn’t able to have an ‘outstanding’ year on some fronts is because I was not as responsible with my money as I should have been. I really want to change that this year and do more with saving, budgeting, and not impulsively spending money.
Become a better friend: I know A LOT of my friends are side-eyeing me right now. I’ll admit it, I haven’t been that good of a friend this year! I suck at texting back, and I haven’t been available for a lot of coffee dates or just lazy days at friends houses’. Part of this is because I’ve been sooo focused on the writers’ end, but I realize that isn’t necessarily the life the want to cultivate for myself, all work and no play! So I definitely want to change that.
Establish Independence: I’m 24 years old, and although I try to deny it, I’m pretty much in my mid-twenties and I’m not “straight outta undergrad” anymore. There are some things I need to accomplish in my life pretty soon, independence-wise. Seeing as though being 10 years old again isn’t really an option.
Begin my meal prep: Going along with my weight loss/healthier eating goals, I need to start prepping meals if this is going to be effective. If I’m supposedly on a diet and caught without any food at any given time and I’m closer to a Bojangles than a Whole Foods… well, what would you choose? Prepping meals will help me buying unhealthy food impulsively.
Go to church/Livestream when I can’t: I know nothing beats actually sitting in church, but on the days I can’t go, I need to make sure I’m continuing to Livestream a church service. I’m doing good with this so far, but I need to be active in GOING. TO. CHURCH. this year.
Pay more on Student Loans Debt per month: Ugh. This is self-explanatory and not fun. But like I said, I’m trying to be more financially responsible.
Hang out with a friend or Line Sister: I have so many people I need to catch up with this month! I want to try to hang out with at least 1-2 of my friends or sorority sisters this month. Texting is fine but nothing is better than in person conversation!!
Finish 1st round of novel edits: Right now I’m just in the stages where I’m figuring out if the pacing and overall story line makes sense before I get into the “nitty gritty”. I’ll keep you posted!
Make Waves In Freelance Writing: I’m working on something right now that might pertain to this goal already. Very exciting, and I’ll will be sure to post more about this when I can!
This post was a doozy! I would love to know about your 2016 goals and January goals in every aspect! Let me know in the comments and we can chat about them!
If you’ve taken a peek at my sidebar, you may have noticed that I WON NaNoWriMo this year! YAY!
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Your goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by December 1st. More on that here. I also vlogged my progress for the entire month of November, check that out here!
On November 30th, I finished the first draft of a 53,000 word novel. Although it was fun, challenging and rewarding, it was NOT easy. I didn’t write every single day like I had planned to. One day my laptop didn’t want to turn on at all and the next day the memory was too full for me to write a single word without cleaning it first (which turned into hours of cleaning it out and a non-successful writing weekend. I vlogged these things in real-time, here). But at the end of November, I pushed through writing a few thousands of words a day and hit the 50K mark early that morning, and my end of the 1st draft sometime that evening. I was motivated because I really love the story I’d written, and I can’t wait to go back into it and edit and polish it as much as I can.
This was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, so I wanted to talk about some things that worked for me, some things that didn’t and how I felt about the whole experience.
I can’t say this enough. @NANOWORDSPRINTS played a HUGE part in me meeting my word count. It’s a twitter account run by different NaNoWriMers who set up sprints, anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 mins, every so often. During these sprints, you write as many words as you can without stopping, along with a bunch of other people. This was incredibly helpful for days when I only had a few minutes to write, or was having writers block. I would log onto Twitter to participate in whatever the next sprint was, and it just really helped me out. Five minutes here, and 10 minutes there really adds up. I did sprints the entire day on November 29 and got a few thousand words in.
Backing Up My Story: Backing up my story on a flash drive really helped my word count. Since I had my story anywhere, I could write a few lines when I was on the go or when I had a few extra minutes at work. Plus, when my laptop crashed that day, if I would have had to take it to the shop (Thank GOD I didn’t) I could have continued on another computer.
Writing in the Morning: I made it a point to write (almost) every morning a few hours before I went to work. It helped my word count tremendously because the morning is always the best time for me to read, write or film. It’s my ‘quiet time’ and when I’m doing something I love, I’m the most productive at it as soon as I wake up.
Reading: I said I wasn’t going to read during the month, but it ended up helping me a lot. It was a great way for me to separate myself from my story when I had Writers’ Block and it helped me get excited to write my own story. I would also reward myself with reading a chapter or two every time I finished a NaNoWriMo Sprint.
Pantsing the 1st half of my story: I completely pantsed the first half of my story and it was the best thing I could have done. I knew where I wanted my character to go, a few moments I wanted him to have on the way, and that was all. Everything else was completely organic, and it made the story so easy to write!
Talking with other NaNoWriMers: I would talk to other writers through Twitter and through messages on NaNoWriMo.org. We encouraged each other and shared difficulties we may have had during the month. It was a great way to connect with other writers and keep each other on track!
What didn’t Work:
Not doing household things ahead of time: My hair takes AT LEAST three hours to wash, dry and style once a week. And then you have non negotiable things like cleaning and laundry. Trying to do all of these things at the last minute when trying to write a novel was not a great idea. I should have done these things at the beginning of each week (or a little bit of it each day) instead of trying to lump all of it into one day. Writing would barely get done.
NOT writing at Night: I thought that if I set a time to write every morning, my nights would be free. Although this did free up time to do things that I really needed to do besides write (see above) I missed a lot of valuable writing time and probably could have finished the novel earlier in the month if I didn’t block out nights for myself. On November 29, I stayed up until 3AM writing 5,000 words so I could finish on time, so I ironically had to do the one thing I said I didn’t want to, which was pull an all-nighter.
Vlogging: If I do NaNoWriMo next year, I will most likely not do weekly vlogs. Picking up the camera every time I decided to sit down and write didn’t work out like I planned to, and then the editing and uploading process took a few hours that could have been devoted to actually finishing the novel. Next time, I’ll vlog once at the beginning of the month, and once at the end of the month.
Reading: Notice reading was also under What Worked. While it definitely helped keep my creative juices flowing, it was definitely a distraction as well. I was reading Winter by Marissa Meyer (look out for the video discussion that I’ll be posting soon!) and once the book started to pick up, I started writing my own story less and less until it was crunch time. It worked out once I had a formula (NaNoWordSprint, then read a chapter) but before then, it definitely slowed down my writing process.
Trying to pants the second half of my story: I wanted to pants through my whole novel, but once I hit like 25K, I had no idea where the story was going. I had to sit down and make outlines, checklists, and small summaries to power through the second half of my story. It helped me keep the direction and voice of the 1st half of the novel. As much as I would like to be spontaneous with things like this, I’m a planner at heart and lists and things really keep me organized.
Would I do it again?
If I’m not agented by this time next year or on deadline for an editor (I fully expect to be, you have to speak these things in existence, people!) I would definitely do it again. This experience was so fun and challenging and I learned a lot about myself as a writer. I pushed myself to write 53,000 words with the support and structure of NaNoWriMo, and I read that Marissa Meyer wrote three novels during November, so, why not? If you are an aspiring author, I encourage you to do the same!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, check out my NaNoVlogs if you haven’t already and let me know how your experience went if you participated!