Tag Archive | reading

July: Currently Reading

As I’ve said multiple times before, I’ve been meaning to catch up on my reading and get into the habit of reading more often, since I already have several books here that I’ve been planning to read and lists upon lists of books I want to read. I tend to read fairly fast, my biggest problem seems to be picking up the book on a regular basis so that can add up – I’ve been working on reading one book since April (which I wound up only reading 70-some pages of during that month, and somewhere between200 and 300 of it in my free time during May, with about 20 or so pages in-between Camp NaNoWriMo escapades last month) and when I’ve managed to pick it up I tend to get really into it and read quite a bit, but I never seem to be able to pick it up again soon and make significant progress.

That’s what this is for. I’m going to give you guys a report on what I’m currently reading now, at the beginning of the month, with titles, current page counts and a few thoughts, and at the end of the month, I’ll give another report – be it with pride, shame, or neither – to show what progress I’ve made, if any at all. I don’t expect to make a whole lot of progress, but I’m hoping to finally finish the one I’ve been reading since April and hopefully start one or two more.

In terms of novels, my ‘currently reading’:

‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker

Currently on page 400 out of 450

I’ve been reading Dracula since sometime during April. I really do adore the book, it’s entertaining and inspired me to get back into writing through journal entry format – I just really have trouble picking it back up after I put it down and why. It’s really a matter of picking it up and starting. If I’m able to pick it up once or twice between a few days, I’ll probably be able to finally finish the book, which I’ll admit, at the moment, I’m liking a lot better than any interpretation of the book I’ve seen before, although that’s admittedly, not many.

‘The Salem Branch’ by Lara Parker

Currently on page 166 out of 334

I don’t remember when I started reading The Salem Branch – not too long after I first bought the book, unlike most of the books I have lately. I’m enjoying it a bit, especially since I got it during my withdrawal from the series it’s based on (the original Dark Shadows soap opera, which I was only able to see the portion of the series on Netflix at the time). Now that I’ve burnt through all of my DVDs and will probably have some time before I can buy the next set of DVDs of the series, I’ll probably be making progress on this as well.

As for the non-fiction books I’m reading, I’ve been slowly making progress on ‘Making Comics’ by Scott McCloud (119/272 for page count) while I work on my comic. It’s fairly helpful, at least in getting inspired to work on it, and while I’m not drawing ‘noir comics’, Shawn Martinbrough’s ‘How to Draw Noir Comics’ (finished for the most part, still need to read the example comic it’s got left in the back) has a lot of good techniques and insight on the process of comics.

I’m not quite aiming to finish those two this month as much as I’m aiming to finish the fiction – at the very least, Making Comics is one I’m just trying to read through when I hit a dry spell for inspiration on trying to work on my comic and to get ideas on techniques to use, and I’m not very sure on when I’ll be up for reading the comic example to consider How To Draw Noir Comics completed.

I’m going to go into closing this with a quick apology for getting this posted a bit late (it was intended to be posted yesterday) and if the ending seems a tid-bit rushed. I’m a bit spacey right now, having some trouble fully concentrating on this, but I really want to get it done and posted so that I can have this up as inspiration for me to keep reading, plus for the sake of possibly getting some opinions on what I’m currently reading and answers to my end-of-the-post-questions.

What are you currently reading, and how is that going for you? Are you generally a fast, slow, or average reader?

End of the month update: What I have in store for July

Summer for me, thus far, has been fairly productive in the writing front – I’ve finally completed my first draft, I’ve been updating the blog fairly frequently, and at least trying a little bit to get involved with the community of writers on twitter. Now that I’ve finished up that first draft and Camp NaNoWriMo is coming to a close, though, I’m not too sure if I’ll be keeping up with productivity. While my novel is going to be a bit on the back-burner aside from a little bit of outlining every day or so during July, I have other projects that I do want to keep up with, some work, drawing and painting, and I’d like to at least keep myself writing -something- regularly (aside from this blog, of course).

In terms of keeping up with writing, I’ll probably stick mainly to writing things for the blog and doing some daily writing on oneword so I can focus primarily on outlining the novel when it comes to writing. I’m planning to try to update the blog weekly on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays and do a little writing at oneword on Mondays through Fridays, which may or may not be posted here, considering they’re practically just free writing from what comes to mind first for a minute for me (although maybe a weekly post of my oneword writings on Saturday or Sunday would be nice, or maybe just one at the end of the month of the best things I came up with? We’ll see, I guess). I’m thinking I’ll try to mainly stick to posts about writing, from my tips and opinions to posts on resources I use for writing and why/how. I also have some reading updates in mind, if I’m able to keep up with my reading like I really want to.

That’s another thing I’m going to try to keep up on this Summer – I love reading and I’m actually a fairly fast reader when I work at reading frequently, but I’ve been getting too caught up in other things to keep reading on a regular basis. I think to keep up with this I’ll try to do a post at the beginning and end of the month reporting how I’ve been doing with my reading and what I’ve been reading in general. Since I’m reading multiple books at once, I’ll try to get about 50 pages in each of the fiction ones read a week, minimum, until I finish one of them. I’ll probably go at a more leisurely pace with the non-fiction, since most of the non-fiction I read are books intended to help with the process of making comics, so I’ll be reading it along with working on things of that vein.

In terms of things of that vein, I’m also going to be trying to work on a collaborative comic my lovie and I have been working on throughout this month regularly on at the very least weekdays. I’m hoping to at least get a rough sketch for a frame (it’s going to be a single-frame-a-page web comic rather than a multiple-panels-per-page one – sort of an experiment on our part) done per day during the week. I’m hoping to finish up at least the first chapter before we launch it so I won’t have to rush to finish pages to update on a regular schedule – however, if I do seem to slack from the blog every now and then throughout July, it may be because I’m working on trying to get significant work on this done, since it’ll probably be my biggest focus of the month.

While working on the comic counts as working on art, I also want to keep up with doodling and digital painting, so I’m going to be trying to work on those more during the weekends and free time, which is why a lot of what I’ve said above seems to be focused on during weekdays. Weekends will be reserved to relax and work on various digital paintings and concept sketches for them. Doodling is something I’ll probably do during both the weekdays and weekends to just be silly and avoid getting burnt out.

I’m going to try to update my other blogs, which are all more focused on my art and inspiration for that rather than writing, at least once every week or two, as well, so when I get around to regularly updating those, I’ll probably put up a page on here that can redirect people to those if anyone’s interested. Over all, I have a lot in store for July to keep me productive and busy, which is something  I need to keep up with to keep my mood from taking a turn for the worse too often and is essential to my recovery. I’m not planning on overloading myself or taking it all too seriously – breaks will be there when necessary, and I’ll be keeping in touch with ways to relax, be it talking to my buddies or watching things.

What do you have in store for July?

Managing Writing Time During NaNoWriMo

I’ve seen a lot of posts around about making time to write, and I know there are people out there who can get a lot from these posts – but for me, it’s not so much finding time to write as finding time for other things while writing, specifically during times like these – basically, what I’ll call ‘NaNo season’, which, depending on whether you want to tie Script Frenzy in or not, is April or June 1st to November 30th, plus the aftermath and the time spent preparing beforehand if you do any prep-work, where I personally focus a lot on writing. I’m using NaNo season to get a story I’ve been working on and off on since November 2009, myself, but that’s a post for another time. During all of the hype about writing during this time, it’s easy to forget, at least for me, that there are other things I need to get done.

Writing is basically the center of my activities in life right now – aside from spending time with my lovie, it’s probably what I do the most out of all of my usual activities. But how, when I have the ability to bend all of my other things with my schedule, do I make sure I give myself time to do things important to me other than writing? A lot of the time, I find myself getting caught up in writing and not finishing other things that I either need to get done or would benefit from finishing, but I do have ways of managing my time so I can get all of that writing in and still finish the other things I need.

It’s generally a matter of knowing that while writing is a very important thing in my life, I can’t neglect the people and other things that I love. When it comes down to it, the people I care about are more important than getting as much writing as possible done. When someone needs me, I won’t force myself not to be there for them because of writing – that’d be ridiculous. I make sure to keep in contact with everyone, and to spend time with them, as well. I may love writing, but it’s not as important as these people are to me – it’s a matter of keeping your head balanced and knowing that you need to make time for other things and for the people who matter to you.

I make sure to give myself times that I dedicate as a whole to writing, to assure myself that I get it done, but give myself time to also nurture the other parts of my life, such as my relationships and hobbies. When I know there’s an event that may take away from my writing time, I give myself a little bit of extra-time the days beforehand so that I can make up for writing missed, and generally write a little bit more than necessary to hit my month’s goal anyways per day just in case.

I give myself a daily goal for my writing – I personally aim to finish at least one entry of my story and hit a certain word count while I’m at it, and I split that word-count in half, giving myself two separate sessions of writing, where I don’t stop until I reach at least that half-count. As I mentioned in my Camp NaNoWriMo plan post, I’m doing these sessions with a friend, and try to stop when he does rather than keep going until I’m burnt out if I can’t rip myself away after I personally hit the goal. I try to keep these sessions separate, and spend the time in-between doing the things I need to get done outside of writing.

Some things I use as a writing reward when I hit my half-count. For example, I let myself catch up a little on my reading when I finish my first writing session, and go on with the other things I need to catch up on after I finish with that, mainly art and schoolwork. I take my tests, which a bulk of my schoolwork is due to my homeschooling system, once a week, usually doing one on either Tuesday or Thursday, and spend extra time working on sketching or doodling, while going with my schedule and working on my paintings after I hit my daily weekend word goal on Saturday/Sunday nights.

I reserve two parts of the day to hit certain writing goals, and use the rest of the day to deal with the other things I need to finish up on, which can be applied to tighter schedules as well with some adjusting, perhaps to free-time or waking up earlier/going to bed a bit later or any other way that you’re comfortable adjusting it. Since I have a more flexible day, I give myself bigger goals (2,000 words per day in the week, 840 words per day on weekends, 1,000 words per weekday session and 840 in a sitting on weekends) and only break it into two blocks, but it’s a matter of preference and how much time you want or need to set aside for other things.

Now, there are more things here than getting other types of work done – yes, I’m talking about the social life (that term doesn’t really rub me the right way. It sounds a bit standoffish for some reason). That’s a bit simple for me – again, I have free-time that is flexible, mainly during weekdays, so I make my plans beforehand and give myself more time to write around the days before so that I’ll be able to make up for words and goals missed.

Since I’m giving myself a weekly reward for writing, I also use that as an opportunity to do things with friends – in this case, I’m going to be watching movies each Sunday this month, mostly with my writing partner, but there will be times that I invite some other friends to spend that time with me, one example being my birthday – since it falls on a Sunday, I’m going to write a little extra the day before and spend the entire day as a ‘reward day’ rather than just take a little block of time to watch a movie as reward, inviting all of my friends to essentially spend the day having fun. Using writing reward-time as a time to keep up with friends/family is, for me, a good method, so long as I make sure to set aside reward-time as time that they can work with as well.

How has NaNo season been going for you all?

Shake It Out: An Epiphany

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a slum. I haven’t really felt like ACTUALLY getting things done – I wanted to, but I just didn’t feel like it. I couldn’t find motivation. I felt lost, like nothing would ever turn out right, like I’d tried so long but nothing made trying worth it. I haven’t been doing my work, I haven’t been writing, I haven’t really been doing anything except eating hash browns, watching How I Met Your Mother, and wishing I could get it in me to actually do something productive.

But then something happened this morning.

I was catching up on HIMYM’s 7th season, and a song played at the end of the episode. I didn’t recognize the song, but I did recognize the voice, it gave me chills. I looked it up and lo and behold, it was who I thought it was – the song was none other than Florence + The Machine’s “Shake It Out”. I listened closely to the song and it’s lyrics once or twice, and I truly believe the epiphany I had at that moment was one that may just have saved my life.

I can’t deal with waiting for everything to sort itself out anymore. As frustrating and stressful as life can be, I won’t let myself give up like this. I’m not going to wait for motivation and progress, I will make my own progress. I’m going to start doing what I know I need to do – even if I don’t see immediate results, I will make progress. I can and will make this work. I just have to keep trying. Not only will it more than likely improve my emotional state, it will ultimately make my life better. How am I going to do it?

Baby steps – I’m getting back into the groove of doing my work, writing and researching, etc. When I finish writing this, I’m going to grab the book I’ve been on the same page of for five weeks despite my urge to get back into it, and make as much progress as my mind is up to. When I’m done, I’m going to finish some work, and maybe do a bit of research on the Regency Era for a writing project. I’m going to start crossing things off of my to-do list and stick to my schedule a bit closer, and I may start doing some warm-up writing exercises to get my mind working when I don’t quite feel the motivation to work on one of my projects, and I’ve got a few blog posts planned for the future.

Along with this, it’s been a hard decision, but I’ve moved the previous Camp NaNoWriMo project I was talking about to the August Camp NaNoWriMo. This June, I’m going to be working on a different story, a quick break to relax my current project while I pan out details and do more research. The story I’m working on will be a continuation of a short story I posted a while ago, which is using the project I’ve been working on for a few years as a basic outline with several drastic changes for the better. It’ll be a way to escape for a bit, while still getting work done and sinking my toes into my schedule.

Starting today, things will change. I will make progress, and so will my writing – if all goes well, you guys will be along for the ride.

And if anyone reading this whenever they do is having a hard time?

You can make it. It’s hard, I know it is, with personal stress piled on top of everything… but push through, shake it out and remember that it’s always darkest before dawn.

How are you guys doing?

The personal side of my writing

This is going to be a really short post, and a bit personal, so if you don’t like that kind of thing I’d suggest not reading this. It’s short, unedited, more than likely all over the place and bad with explanations, but I’m having a lot of trouble today (especially with writing) and I really want to at least post something if I’m not going to get anything else done.

Writing is a very personal thing to me sometimes.

It’s more than “just a hobby” as people I know personally seem to claim it to merely be, it’s a passion – it’s something that’s very emotional for me, and looking back at old drafts, I can see the mentality I had when I wrote them. I can see my fears and hopes and dreams shining through them, no matter how they’re laced into the stories. Writing unlocks several different facets of me that I may not have even noticed until writing a certain story or rereading draft of one. Drawing and writing are things that I have always loved to do, and are also ways of expressing myself.

Sometimes, they’re even a means to keeping myself happy, although that’s tied into that writing and drawing are things that I really enjoy, and some of the only things that I have to enjoy as of now. Sure, there are other things, but most of the time, what I’m proud of tends to be my writing or my drawing. Without them,  I’d probably drive myself mad with my own boredom.

But that also means that having problems with my work can cause some pretty bad effects on me in general. A lack of motivation to work on editing and revising my script is currently making me feel lost and hopeless in the process, where even forcing myself to do it ends up getting no where and helping with nothing, and trying to take a break just stresses me out even more. Problems with this end up unlocking problems with other things, and everything just grows and gets worse.

I just don’t know how to motivate myself to finish this chapter of the project. I really want to, but at the same time, I just feel like I can’t.

I’m relapsing, and it’s a horrifying experience. I feel helpless in terms of some of the only things that make me happy, and finding inspiration and motivation is one of the hardest things for me to do.

I really need some help here – how do you find motivation to write? How about inspiration?

Script Frenzy 2012: Finish lines, editing, and things I’m doing instead of working on that

Page count: 90 pages

It’s been two weeks since my last post already? I was planning on doing an update at the end of each week for Screnzy, but I got a bit sick around posting time and wasn’t able to muster up the inspiration to update. Honestly, I’m still not feeling my best right now, but I’m here, so why not try to get the ball rolling and start a post? I suppose, first thing’s first, it’s time for an update on my Script Frenzy project.

For the most part, my first rough draft for my script is complete. It’s a mass of scribbles, side-notes, and often, very misread-able chicken scratch (even misread-able by the person who wrote it – I misread someone laughing at someone’s action as someone laughing at someone’s erection). I finished it up around the late 50’s-early 60’s in terms of page count, and since a majority of it is being completely re-written as I re-type it, I decided to be a bit of a cheater and count it in my screnzy page count. While this does count as editing, it’s also re-writing a lot and typing it all out, adding and taking scenes away, and the counter going up can sometimes keep me motivated to keep going. I won’t be an official winner, but I got my goal of writing a script done, and I’m keeping motivated for the final drafting stages.

Of course, I’ve been having a little bit of trouble keeping to working on it a little bit every day. I’ve been keeping myself entertained productively with a lot of other things – in terms of this project, settling on character designs, messing with the designs in different poses to see if they fit the character and I like working with them, practicing my digital painting skills, and namely a lot of things involving my little project-devoted sketchbook and my tablet.

On the other hand, I’ve also been devoting a little bit of time every few days to a mini-comic I’ve been doing to relax and have fun, for the entertainment of my friend’s and I, rather than sitting down and forcing my hands to the keyboard when I don’t feel up to it. It’s definitely not something I’m pouring as much devotion as my main project into, and I’m going for a sloppy, fun look to it, something obviously quick but still with a lot of work into it, something that I’m doing quick and for fun but still making sure I’m satisfied with for the style before I consider it finished. I think this is essential to my improvement as well – learning to make things quick and keep things fun every now and then, and trying not to lose sight in that working on these things are what I’m supposed to enjoy, not force myself to do 24/7.

And then there are other things I should be doing – work, reading Dracula, and posting on this blog. I’m fairly sure I can put those things into my weeks at least a little bit without messing anything up too bad, but I’ve also been staying up quite late these days and adjusting to that sleep schedule when I should really try to be fixing it to something more up-in-the-mornings-and-days focused until I’m done with my work. I’m really trying to settle into being more productive, but I’m slipping up a lot, especially with holidays and sickness. My recovery from other things, however, relies a lot on productivity and satisfaction with the amount of things I get done, so I’m going to have to try a bit harder.

If that means forcing myself to start a scene or two in editing and to plan a brief idea for another script, trying to watch a little less of the original Dark Shadows and get things done instead, and trying to fit all of this into an odd sleep schedule or fixing my sleep schedule to something different, so be it.

Expect some posts on editing, rewriting, and the like in the coming months, probably, since that’s what I’m currently doing with my writing, myself. I’d prefer to focus on things that I’m currently working on to keep myself in that mindset when it comes to writing these posts. Hopefully, there’ll be some more posts about my project in particular, inspiration, and eventually some to finish up my posts on character creation. We’ll see, though. As I said – I’m still adjusting.

If you’re participating in Script Frenzy, are you going to be hitting 100 pages this month or not, and how has your experience been? If you’re not in the Frenzy this year, what types of things have you been working on and how is that going? And for all of you – what types of things do you end up doing instead of working on your ‘projects’?

Goodreads and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

Accomplished some things I’ve been trying to do for a while today thus far! I’ve had an account over at Goodreads for a while now, but I never really bothered with it after I first got it. I’ve fully intended to start using it more, and I was reminded of it earlier today, so I hopped back on there and found that it actually seems like it could be fun and maybe a little handy for keeping better track of anything. I’m just starting out with it so I’m still working at getting it all situated, and I don’t have anyone on my friends on there, and I’m definitely willing to be friends on there with anyone who would like to add me. Feel free to join me while I try to get nice and cozy there, whether you’re a long-time member, a new one like me, or anywhere in between that.

It’s made me realize that while I really love to read and get immersed into fictional worlds, I haven’t really read as much as I’d like. I have a few books I want to read, and a few books I’ve read and really liked, and of course, I’ve read people’s work online (Roninspath’s The Rosemary Saga stands out here, I don’t really remember much else I’ve read online thus far. I think it’s worth reading the summary and checking it out if you like how it sounds!) and work my friends have written, but I haven’t read much of what I’d like to. That being said, upon realizing this I was very disappointed in myself, and thus, took action.

I’ve started reading Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, since it’s the most appealing book on my shelf that I’ve not read yet at the moment and seems to really suit my tastes from what I know about it. I’ve been planning to do more research on the original vampire myths and older depictions for a long time through reading the novels and watching the older movies (I’ve seen Nosferatu, but nothing more than that) for a while now, and it’s really time that I start taking action instead of planning on doing things, because sitting around and planning to research, planning to read and planning to watch isn’t what I want to spend my days doing. As I write this, I’ve got the book marked at page 27 and might read some more later. For now, I’ve got a few things to get out of the way.

If you’d like to check out my in-progress Goodreads profile and maybe friend me, you’re more than welcome to, and since I’m trying to wrap up this post and keep it fairly small for once, I’ll go ahead and close it now. What’re your opinions on Goodreads if you’ve checked it out any time before, and have you read/started reading Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” before or are you planning on reading it? If so, what did you think of it, or why do you want to read it?