Monday, April 3, 2017

What I've Learned About Co-Writing a Book

It's Camp NaNoWriMo Season everyone!!! *cue the screams of excitement...or the screams of those still wondering what they're supposed to be writing about*
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This year, I'm undertaking something I have never successfully attempted before. Co-writing a book. I'm doing this with the amazing Lucy Agnes @ Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings.
 So how are we going about this? We're running headfirst into it like chickens without heads. Well, not quite that bad. Anyways! For those of you considering this, but feeling a little daunted, here's some things Lucy and I have learned about this.
Have two POV Main Characters
I don't write in the same way as Lucy Agnes. Our styles generally tend to be very different, and we knew that it'd be better for each of us to write a different character rather than trying to both write our different styles and ideas into one. So, each of us have a POV character. Each chapter-ish changes POV, so we each write about  the equal amount.
She writes as Elaine, and I write as Andrea. Both play equally important roles in the story, and both are very different.
You can't really pants something like this. Especially since you're not going to be able to write with each other the entire time. We were able to actually sit down together and plot ... some of it. :) Both of us were so busy with other projects that NaNo kind of crept up on us, but we still know at least the first five chapters, and we know where we want the story to go. We're still discussing details and things like that over email as we go, but for the most part we've determined what we want.


We make sure we're both talking about what we're writing as we write. I have yet to write anything about her character yet, but she's asked me a few questions about my character, to make sure I agree. If you make a change to the idea or anything like that, it'd probably be best to discuss it with the other person. :D Also, when writing, you might have a great idea that you suddenly want to add. But before you can, you have to check with the other person just in case.
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Assigning Chapters
This is super important. Especially if the chapters involve both characters. We tried to do every other chapter, but sometimes we have to adjust depending on the story, or who would be better as POV character in a certain scene. If we didn't assign chapters, it'd get confusing fast, with both of us writing our own takes on the same thing and doing more than we need to.
Writing in the Same Person
She always writes third person. I haven't written much third person since like...six years ago. So we talked and decided on third person.
Character Chatting
We've started this (just barely) so that we can see what the other person would like to have happen with her character in a scene she may not be writing. Or just so we can learn more about the other character (since neither of us have really read anything the other has written).
Listening to the other person
Since it's not just you, you're not the only person brainstorming. Maybe the other person has an idea you don't like (hasn't happened with this story :D ), or maybe it doesn't fit with one of your suggestions. Make sure you're not taking over, and also, make sure that you're not just letting the other person take over. Both people making the effort is what makes this work. And it's also how it can become a more original story. Don't take over the story.
Encourage each other
Word war with them. Congratulate on meeting daily goals. Check and see how the other person is doing. It also really helped for us to both do this book during Camp NaNo. So we're both working for the same amount of time toward the same goal.
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Have you ever co-written a book? Any advice as Lucy and I attempt this during Camp NaNoWriMo? Have you ever considered co-writing a book?


Monday, March 27, 2017

How a Character Becomes an Antagonist

How a Character Becomes an Antagonist (Featuring Wicked the Musical)
Part 1
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I LOVE the musical Wicked. This past year, I went to go see it, and I cannot wait until I have to opportunity to watch it again. It was beautiful, and amazing, and the character development is impressive.

While it is uncommon for a story to involve the protagonist becoming an antagonist, or an antagonist becoming a protagonist, it does happen. In Wicked, both leading characters begin as heroes and then at different points stumble and become villains in their own ways.

Even if you have no intent of creating a dynamic character such as this in your story, characters like Glinda and Elphaba can help writers learn how to write the villain. How did your antagonist end up being evil? What caused them to fall? Can they be redeemed? What if your villain actually has a good motive but a terrible way of going about it?
Today I'm going to be looking at the characters of Elphaba and Glinda and seeing what makes them end up how they do.

*There will probably be spoilers*

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How they grew up:
How a character grows up greatly affects her attitude and her worldview.

Galinda grew up spoiled by her parents. She's popular, loved by everyone, and has never done anything she doesn't want to do, or been forced to do anything difficult. She loves comfort and finds self assurance in the crowd. Because of this, she immediately rejects Elphaba, who looks weird, dresses weird, and has weird abilities unlike everyone else. After she is kicked out of magic class so the teacher can focus solely on Elphaba, the idea of Elphaba being the worst person possible is cemented in her mind.

Elphaba was basically ignored as she grew up. She was green. Her father despised her, and she spent all of her time caring for her invalid sister, Nessa, who her father loved. She is hardened, used to being made fun of, stared at, and treated badly. But she loves her sister and would do anything for her. Since she is not used to attention or finery, she can reject these things easier than Glinda can. Once she sees Glinda, she immediately dislikes her. Glinda strikes Elphaba as stupid and shallow and unpleasant.

How this applies to your writing:
What kind of situation did your antagonist/protagonist grow up in? Did they choose to rise above it and still remain good (like Elphaba), or did they get caught up in everything (like Galinda). Maybe something happened to them that made them decide to take a certain path. How your characters grow up can greatly influence their worldviews.
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Their Influence on Each Other:

As the story continues, we learn that Glinda is more clueless than mean, and at one point, she does a kind act for Elphaba's sister, Nessa. But then she turns around and gives Elphaba the famous pointed hat, knowing that she won't realize how ugly it is and think of it as a nice gift. However, Elphaba, who hears about Glinda's kindness to her sister, decides to repay her by convincing the magic teacher to allow Galinda to attend classes again and pursue her dream.
This action makes Galinda realize how terrible she's been, and she decides to save Elphaba from an embarrassing situation at the cost of her own image. From this moment onward, they become unlikely friends. Glinda learns wisdom and starts to think of others besides herself. She begins to care about issues that matter, such as the treatment of the talking animals in Oz, (Think Narnia) who are being locked in cages.

Elphaba has nothing nice to say about Glinda, but when she learns her sister Nessa is happy after a favor Glinda did, Elphaba swallows her pride and repays Glinda to show her appreciation. When Glinda goes out of her way to save Elphaba from an embarrassing situation, Elphaba realizes there may be more to her, and the girls become friends. She learns from Glinda to not judge everyone and hate everyone, as well as to have a brighter outlook on life that she did not have before.

How this applies to your writing:
How do other characters affect the one you are writing about? Is there a friend or family member that helps them become better, or maybe makes them stumble morally? Is there a pivotal relationship that changes the way your antagonist acts? People can influence the behavior of those around them, for better or for worse.
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The Decision:
There comes a moment where a character in a story makes vital decisions. Sometimes this is the inciting incident, and sometimes these moments can happen later in the story.

In Wicked, both girls make a choice that turns them into antagonists. When Glinda learns that talking animals are being treated terribly, she stumbles and chooses to follow the path of her dream, however twisted the path may have become. Without stopping to think, she accepts fame and power and wealth that comes at the cost of her beliefs.
Now, she's working with the Wizard of Oz, the most powerful man around, but in doing this, she has become a villain in her own way, especially in the eyes of the animals and those supporting them. She is also shown having constant internal conflict, especially in the song Thank Goodness, where she hears everyone talking terribly about Elphaba and says that she crossed a bridge she didn't even realize she'd crossed until then. You can tell that she's trying to reassure herself she's happy, since she's achieved her dream, but at the same time feels she has betrayed her closest friend and her own beliefs.
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At one point, she even causes the death of Nessa, though unintentionally, when an assistant to the wizard asks her how they could force Elphaba to leave hiding.

When she realizes that the wizard is asking for her to mistreat the animals (such as giving the flying monkeys wings without their consent), Elphaba flees. She becomes an outcast, and is labeled by the wizard as Wicked. Lies are spread about her in order to stop people from turning to her instead of the Wizard of Oz. At this point, she takes the path of the hero while Glinda falls onto the path of the villain. It is not until she learns that Glinda assisted in killing her sister, and that the man she loves is tortured and turned into a scarecrow by those who hate her, that she decides to give up and become as wicked as they've been making her out to be. She despairs, which causes her to lose her way, and she believes that every time she tries to help, another person she loves is punished.
In the song No Good Deed, she makes the decision to never strive to be the best she can again, since she has somehow determined that all it does is bring about disaster.
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How this applies to your writing:
What moments turns your villain into who he or she is? Do they give up hope, like Elphaba, do they sacrifice morals for comfort, like Glinda? Maybe they believe they're doing the right thing the entire time. The motivation of the antagonist of your story is vital, and giving purpose to this (unlike having the villain take over the world just because he wants to or something like that) can help make the antagonist feel realistic.
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That's it for part one of my Wicked post! Have you seen Wicked? What is your opinion on these characters? What made your antagonist become who he or she is? Let's talk!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Beautiful Book - 2017 Writing Goals

It's time for Beautiful Books! This is a very awesome link-up hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In.
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1. What were your writing achievements last year?
I feel like I really grew a lot as a writer in the last year. I attended two conferences, which I learned a lot from, and was able to meet tons of awesome writers.
At the first conference I attended, I won an award for my book, Dreaming Reality, and had it critiqued by a group of people way better than me at writing. One of the most terrifying moments of my introverted life. :D
I wrote and edited most of Dreaming Reality in 2016, which I then pitched (another terrifying moment) four times at Realm Makers. This was a huge step for me, and I learned a lot from this experience. Everyone requested to see at least some of my manuscript, and one even read the entire thing, but in the end I was rejected by all of them. However! It was an amazing experience, and I received some great feedback. Which led to me realizing that this manuscript could be much better. So, I am now far from done with Dreaming Reality. 
I won Camp NaNo in April and NaNoWriMo in Novemeber!
I have thought up the plots to two new books. One a Peter Pan Retelling, and one my NaNo book, which was my first Science Fiction novel. I also brainstormed some ideas for the sequel of Dreaming Reality and I've been plotting a fairytale retelling with Lucy @ Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings.
I also feel like my writing in general has improved. I mean, I still have a looong way to go, and a lot of improvement to do, but still.
2. What's on your writerly to-do list for 2017?
Write the first draft of the fairytale retelling (I'm super excited about this!) during Camp NaNo with Lucy Agnes.
Finish up Dreaming Reality, send it to beta-readers, then begin pitching it once more.
Write the 1st Draft to the sequel of Dreaming Reality. Or at least outline it.
So lots and lots of work.
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3. Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!
Finishing up Dreaming Reality, without a doubt. Of all the books I've written (Or have started to write), this is by far my favorite. So I will be focusing on getting this manuscript finished.
4. How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?
I hope to improve writing my characters. I know my characters really well, but when it comes to actually writing them down....ugh. I've been working on this recently, and I'm sure I'll be working on improving my characters for a long time. At the end of 2017, I hopefully will be completely finished with Dreaming Reality.
5. Describe your general editing process
I write the first draft. Which involves weeping and chocolate. It's actually my least favorite part of the process.
Then I go through it again, and basically delete and rewrite sentence by sentence. I fill in plot holes and try to keep things consistent.
I then go through it again. And again. And I weep. And I wonder why I'm doing this.
Occasionally I print it out. I've done that twice with Dreaming Reality now. I'm in the process of going through the second printed version now.
Honestly, my editing process changes all the time. I just do whatever I feel needs to be done at that time. Like now, my sentences need to be more interesting, and my characters need to be more developed. So I'm focusing on those two things.
6. On a scale of one to ten, how do you think this draft turned out?
I am currently still working on this draft, so I can't really say yet. :)
7. What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
My characters. Definitely.
8. What do you like most about your draft?
The plot I suppose. And all of the new ideas I'm adding in as I edit.
9. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Finding beta readers. Then querying.
10. What's your top piece of advice for those who just finished writing a first draft?
First. Celebrate!
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Take a step back for a week. Think about it. Work on the characters. Think about it. But don't open the document. And when you do start on the second draft, don't let the first draft discourage you.
Did you participate in Beautiful Books? Leave a link in the comments! What are your 2017 writing goals?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sunshine Blogger Award!

Hey everyone! I've been nominated for the Sunshine blogger award by Anna over at Swords and Quills. If you haven't read her blog, go check it out! It's amazing. :D Anyways, here're the rules:
Answer 11 questions from the nominator
Nominate 11 other bloggers
Ask them 11 questions
On to the questions!
What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Probably Believe by Josh Groban.

Who is your favorite LOTR character?
I think Sam. Or maybe Aragorn. I like Eowyn in the movies, but not as much in the books.

What is one book that you have read more than once?'d be easier to ask what is one book I've only read one. I reread all the time. I think I've reread almost everything I've read. My most recent reread is probably Cress. I haven't finished rereading it yet, but I LOVE IT SO MUCH! And basically everyone just needs to go read Marissa Meyer's books.
What was your favorite childhood book?
The Nancy Drew books. I had an obsession with these books, people. I own all of the original series. I've watched pretty much every tv/movie version. I dressed up as Nancy for Halloween. I had posters. Even though I don't read them anymore, my little sisters have finally started to (Squeal!). I've even picked them up and flipped through them now that they aren't packed away on a bookshelf anymore.
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If you had to choose between a dragon, a griffin, a phoenix, or a Pegasus for a pet, which would you choose? Why?
Ugh! This is a hard one. ;) I'd probably choose a Pegasus. Although, a dragon would be pretty awesome...
What is your favorite part about Christmas? Why?
I don't know. I love all of it. :) Going to Mass, then coming home and spending time with my family and relatives. Christmas morning. Christmas songs. :)
What is your favorite book genre?
FANTASY! But really just Speculative Fiction in general. Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Lunar Chronicles, Dragons in Our Midst, books like that.
What is your weapon of choice? Why?
A wand from Harry Potter. Because it is awesome! It is a weapon, or just really handy. And I would just really like one.
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What is one favorite Christmas memory?
One of my favorite Christmas memories was when I went to a Christmas festival with a group of friends a few years ago. We sang carols, went walking, went on a carriage ride, ate popcorn, stuff like that. :)
How do you react to awkward silence?
I feel like I am the creator of awkward silence. I can never think of anything to say. I just smile and nod.
What is one character trait that you value above almost all others?
Selflessness. Or humility. Because I think a lot of virtues tie in with these two things.

I'm going to leave this nomination open for anyone, rather than nominating eleven people. :) So, if you would like to answer these eleven questions, you're more than welcome to. :D

The eleven questions:
1. What's your favorite part of winter?
2. Who is your favorite book character?
3. Name one fictional character you would like to become friends with.
4. Do you prefer writing early in the morning or late at night?
5. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
6. Who is one author you would like to meet and have lunch with? (Dead or alive)
7. What is one superpower you wish you had?
8. Do you prefer sugary candy or chocolate?
9. What is your favorite book genre (stealing a question :D )
10. What is your least favorite book genre?
11. Name one book that you enjoyed a lot more than you thought you would


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chase Williams Bio

Lucy Agnes @ Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings and I are doing a dual interview thing (for lack of a better title)
Here's how it is going to go. At Lucy's blog, my character Chase will be interviewed by her character, Lillian.
And on my blog, my character Carmen will be interviewing her character, Pep!
So, today I will be posting Chase's Bio here. Ask him any questions in the comments, and Lillian will interview him as soon as possible! Then, make sure you go over to Lucy's blog and read Pep's bio. Then ask Pep tons of questions, and Carmen will interview her! Make sense? Good.
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Name: Chase Williams
Age: 19
When Chase was only ten years old, his father was shot and killed during a bank robbery, and because of this, Chase was raised by his mother. However, when he was eighteen years old, his mother remarried a widower with three young children. Chase, feeling as though he no longer fit in with his new family, moved to the city at the age of nineteen, renting a small apartment in the same building as a portal leading to Terron, the ruined world once belonging to the Vallan, a people who can pull objects from their dreams into reality.
While living there, he met Carmen, a Vallan about his own age, who was curious to see what a portal looked like. She accidentally used her abilities around him, and she was left with no choice but to explain everything about Vallans to him.
Ever since then, he and Carmen have been close friends, and he is one of the only people who believes Carmen is not responsible for the crimes that she has been accused of. Though there is not solid evidence, the Vallan Council has removed her abilities and given her the status of Rogue until she can prove herself innocent.
Chase, knowing that Carmen could end up in serious trouble if she does not prove herself innocent, will do whatever he can to help Carmen.
Eventually, he and Carmen team up with Kristen, traveling together into Terron to search for Kristen's older sister, Paige, who is on the run from the Council, and from a Rogue Vallan desperate to murder Paige and steal her abilities.
Despite the fact that he is not a Vallan, he begins to realize that the problems the Vallans are facing will affect all people, not just those with abilities, and he is determined to help Kristen and Carmen keep Paige and her abilities safe.
Leave any questions for Chase in the comments, and they'll be included when Lillian interviews him soon. And don't forget to stop by Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings and leave some questions for Pep from Lucy's story!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Writing Friendships

"I think it’s great to see how they’ve grown up, not just as actors but as people. They’re still very much the same kids that I met many years ago. They’ve grown up and they are funny and wicked and naughty and bright, and I think as actors their work is just getting better and better. They’ve blossomed.":  
Hey everyone! Sorry for my absence...there was a lot going on my life, but I've finally been able to return to blogging. :)
Friendships are important in stories. Especially YA. Maybe your MC meets new friends, or maybe they already know these friends. These friends are your MC's partners, and they're almost always some of the most important characters. These people, usually a trio, are who the story is centered around. If they and their relationships with each other aren't believable, then the story won't work.
What are some important things to remember when writing friendships? I have a list for you! Here are some things that are important to remember when writing your main character and his or her group of friends, especially for YA.
I will be using Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter series because they're the perfect example of friendships in YA. There may be a few spoilers.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004):
They're all different
They can all have similar interests or beliefs, or the same hobbies. But just because they're always together in your story doesn't mean they can all act exactly the same. Make sure each one expresses his or her own opinions. For example, in Harry Potter, which pulls off this friendship trio better than almost anything else, has a trio made of up of three completely different people.
Hermione is a muggle (human) born wizard obsessed with studying and following rules and doing the best she can in everything.
Harry is a half blood. He tries to do his schoolwork, but it's definitely not a priority. He loves sports and he likes to work alone a lot. Especially in the fifth book, when he is moody and frustrated at everyone. He doesn't care much for rules. He's famous.
Ron is a pureblood wizard. He isn't famous. Or particularly smart. He's loyal and goofy and loves eating and quidditch. He doesn't like school at all, and he tends to not think before he says things.
All of them are very different. But they all band together, because they have things in common. They love Hogwarts and magic, and they have the same beliefs and the same goals for the most part. They argue a lot. They get into trouble. But they all complement each other. Which leads me to the next part ...
They complement each other
I was listening to an interview of JK Rowling, where she said that she thinks this is one of the reasons that this famous trio works so well. Hermione teaches Ron to be more responsible and in tune with other people, and in turn, he helps her to relax and not be as uptight. Hermione and Ron teach Harry what it's like to have people who care for him and trust him, and Harry helps to teach them bravery. Each one of them makes the other one better, for the most part. Do your MC and his or her friends complement each other? Say one character is shy, and the other is extroverted. The shy character could learn confidence from the extrovert, and the extrovert could learn something from the shy character.
We're with you Harry. No matter what happens.:
They don't always get along
Arguments and conflict among these characters will help to make the story believable, even if the fights are about the tiniest things. Like what they should have for dinner. Or what they think about something. They don't have to be actual fights. But disagreements or tension among these characters helps to keep scenes mostly focused on them interesting.
There is no love triangle.
Hermione and Ron end up falling in love. This breaks the stereotype/cliché of the main guy and main girl falling in love with each other. Harry is like Hermione's brother, and this isn't a bad thing. The friendship between these two, and the way Harry supports Hermione is one of my favorite parts in this series. So, instead of worrying about a romantic love triangle, which is overdone in YA anyways, try and change it up a bit. A guy and a girl can be friends without having to be in love.
Hermione chooses Harry over Ron. | 7 Reasons Why Harry And Hermione Should Have Ended Up Together
They're loyal to each other
Loyalty is very important in these kind of friendships. It's really kind of what completes them. They fight for each other, they stand up for each other, etc. They never give up on each other, and they'd die for each other, and I feel like this really cements their friendship
Love is the most powerful tool you have. | 13 Lessons About Social Justice From “Harry Potter”:
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Is there anything you'd like to add about these kind of friendships in YA? Any advice for writing these characters? Any Harry Potter fans? Who are your favorite YA trio characters?
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Thursday, October 6, 2016

First Drafts

NaNoWriMo is approaching! And with that, many people will be beginning first drafts. And with first drafts comes the self-doubt many many writers experience. And thoughts like this tend to run through people's heads: 
"Oh no! How am I this bad at writing?"
*Sobbing* "I'm a failure!"
"This book will never end."
"Plot holes! Flat characters! Cliché plot! Typical MC!"
*Slamming keyboard with forehead*
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I'm sure you get the point. And most of you have probably been there. So, since so many of us are going to be experiencing this self doubt or just be freaking out in general over first drafts in this approaching month of November, I thought I'd write a post about first drafts, and why people shouldn't get down about them.
And the truth is, first drafts do tend to stink. They're messy, filled with inconsistencies, and they are often below or above the word count you're wanting.
But this is fine! Actually, it's normal. Completely normal.
And here's a list of why first drafts can and should be bad. And why you shouldn't worry about this during NaNo.
1. You're speed-writing
Unless you're one of those people who typically write several thousand words a day, everyday, until you can no longer feel your fingers and you see your computer screen every time you close your eyes.
During this NaNoWriMo month, you have to write over 1k a day, so you're probably not going to have time to sit there and make every sentence sound nice and polished. That'd take way too much time. It's more likely you'll just slap those required words down, and they're going to be messy.
2. You're not publishing your first draft
No matter how much time you spend on this first draft, you're going to need to edit it. There's no way a first draft will be perfect.
3. You're writing a new story
You're still getting a feeling for this story. You're still meeting the characters, learning the plot, and getting to understand it. For plotters, you know a bit more than pansters, but either way, things will probably change while you're writing. A side character may become a villain, one character may suddenly exist halfway through the story. Or the plot could completely change. Who knows when inspiration will strike?
4. You're writing an entire first draft in a month
And this is usually enough to make anyone freak out.
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 50k in one month, people! You can't expect all of those words to sound perfect! No one, not J.K. Rowling, or James Dashner, or Suzanne Collins, writes a perfect first draft in a month. At least, not to my knowledge...but I believe it'd take some kind of superpower to do this. Or maybe a time machine.
5. First drafts are only the beginning
For some reason, I tend to take the first draft way too seriously. Maybe it's the perfectionist in me. But this is really only the first step of a long journey. There's a second, third, fourth, and maybe fifth draft depending on who you are and how much editing you do. Then there're beta readers. Then you edit whatever they've suggested.
6. No one else is going to read it
Well, actually this is your choice. Some people like to show first drafts to people. But personally, I don't let anyone read my first drafts. Snippets, yes. The entire thing, or even a significant amount, no. But even though I don't let others read it, I still tend to write like I'm being judged. But no one's reading it. No one's judging. Except for that annoying voice in your head. Once you can get past this, it'll make the first draft much easier to write.
Good luck with your NaNoWriMo prep, and with writing that first draft in November!
What do you do to prepare for a new book? Anything you'd like to add? How long does it take you to write a first draft? 
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And yes, I used Pysch gifs throughout this posts, which make me very happy