Resolutions for 2014

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2014 is almost here!  Here is how last year’s resolutions measured up (strike = accomplished, red means still working on it).

  • Become a townie
  • Indulge in Staycations.  I actually did more long-term traveling than I thought I would!  My job change, combined with some more funds allowed me to indulge places other than Long Island.  Now that I’m working from home however, I hope to resuscitate this resolution.
  • Get to know the Weekend Getaway – sort of.  We did do a few weekends away, to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and I went to Saratoga for the 4th of July, but ironically, it was easier to take more time off to travel, than less time.  I have some weekend trips planned for 2014 though, so we’ll see!
  • TBEX ’13
  • Last-minute “field” tripwe went to Costa Rica in August and it was awesome!

Here is the new list:

Take “working out” literally.  My mom recently lost a boat-load of weight through a combination of Weight Watchers and (wait for it) walking.  Every day she took a walk, around the track at the high school, around the neighborhood, etc.  I want to start hiking, biking and camping more.

Spend less.  So like, I have to start paying back my student loans, not to mention the whole filing-for-my-taxes-quarterly business, so I have to stop adding my name to novelty subscription services, refrain from purchasing anymore bags from Coach, and (le sigh) quit buying plane tickets for a bit.  The good news is I spend a LOT less cash while working from home, so I’m sure it’ll even out.

Craft more.  I have a whole craft area in the basement of my apartment, complete with glitter-stocked shelves and an electronic die-cutter – I gotta use it yo.  I’ve started making decorations for the holidays, as well as sewing/mending things.  It’s a nice creative break!

Hone in on my “brand.”  I want to have a cool blog.  Seriously.  This thing has been so neglected and I need to get back into the habit of updating it with worthy content.  While my main gig is Matador, there’s a lot I think I could bring to other locations that I couldn’t necessarily do for Matador, so having a worthy space/portfolio for those people to find me would be AWESOME.

Favorite Things I Wrote, 2013

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2013 was certainly a year of “growth” for me.  The other day, I looked back at some of the first articles I ever wrote for Matador, and compared them to recent ones.  It’s funny how over time you can just sort of “fall into” place, when the place feels right enough.  I’m definitely lucky to have a job that allows me to write, and be creative.  Here are some pieces I am most proud to have published this year:

Books

101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die | St. Martin’s Press.  I just recently read over some of the entries I wrote for this book, which will be officially released on January 7, 2014!  And damn, if there is anyone who excels in the art of trashy travel, I.am.it.

101 Guys to Date Before You Die | Thought Catalog.  While only an eBook, I’m proud to say I have written some kind of literature.  Plus it was fun walking down memory lane and constantly cringing at my idiotic romantic mistakes.

Articles

Why you should start traveling alone | Matador Network.  A fast-turnaround, reactionary piece, I never imagined it would explode over the internet like it did.  I received a lot of emails from people who were inspired by it.  Awesome!

How to piss off a Czech | Matador Network.  This piece was fun to write, but also made me think about what exactly “identity” means to people, and how we should never judge someone, or say they are not something they wish to be, because their sense of identity is not literal enough.

What to Pack for a Travel Shows and Conferences | Travel Fashion Girl.  I always love writing for Alex when I get the chance, and this piece was fun because it combined my love for fashion and design as well.  Plus, it helped me prep for TBEX!

Dear Mom: I want to travel with you | Matador Network.  My mom is imPOSSIBLE to get gifts for, so I wrote this for her for Mother’s Day.

How travel has ruined me | Matador Network.  This was probably THE most fun article I’ve ever written, and one of the most true.

I’m At A Funeral | Thought Catalog.  While not necessarily “cheery,” I felt this was a very vulnerable piece for me, and the style in which I wrote it is very different from what I usually do.  I also found comfort in the people who left comments.

Where to get shitty like a president this July 4th | Matador Network.  While this piece totally flopped, I still had fun combining my love of history with my love of getting schwasted, and that’s all that matters to me.

What are some of the things you’re proud to have accomplished this year?  Link me!

NaNoWriMo update: Complete and Epic Fail

 

I thought that, with an extra week to write, NaNoWriMo would be a piece of cake.

My hubris got the better of me.

Last year, I was soooooo diligent in writing my novel, because I didn’t really have anything to do.  Sure, I was dealing with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, but I also didn’t have internet for about a week, so it was easier to hunker down and, you know, write.  I also was able to sneak in passages at my shitty job, and my semester was donezo, so I had loads more time to spare.  Back then, I wrote only a few articles for Matador, so NaNoWriMo took up most of my editorial timing.

Now however, I’m working for Matador full-time, and working on some awesome freelance gigs for a major company, and student teaching.  I try to write whenever I can, but it’s hard to even get my 1,500 words a day goal in – I teach until 3pm, get home and work until 11pm, and suddenly, it’s time for bed.

I don’t think I’ll be nearing the 50,000 word mark this time around.  I’m halfway there, which is admirable in itself, but the odds are not looking good.  What is good is that I will definitely be working on this project after NaNoWriMo is over, with plans to publish it sometime this summer.  So I won’t be abandoning the idea swiftly, but I won’t be achieving my goal of NaNoWriMo winning for a second year in a row.

But who knows?  December doesn’t start until Sunday – maybe I’ll get a second win, and come out all right.  For those of you participating this year, how is it going during this final stretch?

5 reasons why travel writers should participate in NaNoWriMo

Sardinal, Costa Rica. ©KatkaTravels

It makes you try out a new style of writing.  While it’s awesome to be an expert in a certain genre, as writers, we should be challenging ourselves.  That means diverging away from traditional travel writing, and trying something different.  How would you incorporate your travels into a fictional story?  What elements from your writing can you bring to something totally out of the box?

It instills diligence.  The best way to get better at writing, is to write – a lot.  Like, all of the time.  You should honestly write something every day, even if it’s just a short blog piece, or a letter to a friend.  Even journaling is good.  But to really excel at writing, you have to write with a purpose.  Crafting your NaNoWriMo story is an awesome way to up your game.

It teaches you the art of setting small goals.  “I want to travel to Alaska from Argentina by motorbike in one month!”  Awesome idea, maybe not totally realistic – especially if you don’t own a motorbike.  It’s the same thing with NaNoWriMo – “I’m going to write 50,000 words in one week!” is totally unrealistic, but setting a smaller goal like “I will write 1,500 words a day” is like saying “I will learn to first ride a motorbike before embarking on this adventure.”

The 21 rule.  Some debate this as actual truth, but supposedly, if you do something for 21 days in a row – yoga, using new vocabulary, washing the dishes – it becomes habitual.  I think there is some credence to that, because if you do something long enough, you do get better at it, and it does become somewhat second nature.  So if you write every day, for 21 days at least, most likely, you’ll continue writing on day 22, 23, 24…This is good for travel writers because you will always find time to write, even when days on the road get hectic.

There is publishing potential.  This is the perfect opportunity to get started on that eBook you’ve been putting off.  When my eBook was published through Thought Catalog, I had a limit of 30,000 words – if you choose to go through a publisher, you may have already exceeded the maximum amount of words required of you with NaNoWriMo.  If you choose to self-publish, all you will have to worry about is cohesion.  After one month and a little editing, you’ll have a completed work that you can actually make money off of.

Are you participating in this year’s event?  

Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.

Dos and Don’ts for a Successful NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year!  National Novel Writing Month is upon us.  For the entire month of November, people around the world will attempt to write 50,000 words in thirty days.  It’s intimidating for many, but with a bit of diligence and planning, your NaNoWriMo experience can be pretty pain-free.

I participated last year and sneaked by with an official word count of 50358.  It was particularly challenging because I was dealing with the destruction of my apartment from Hurricane Sandy (which the novel was based on), but I forged through it and it came out awesome in the end.  It really helped me develop my writing skills, and more than a year later, I am an editor for Matador Network, and I’ve published my first eBook.

NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be hard.  These Dos and Don’ts will help you achieve the 50k goal without too much stress:

DO Keep the concept of NaNoWriMo in mind.  Your goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, not produce the perfect piece of literature.  NaNoWriMo works on the kamikaze concept – let it flow, just write words, and don’t bother with editing.  You’ll have all year to edit your novel and make it better/into something publishable.  For now, just write.

DON’T make it about the word count.  If you stress over making the goal, your experience will be less fulfilling.  Setting goals outside of the word count will put things into perspective for you, and will be more structured overall.

DO set smaller goals.  Like writing at least one page every day (you’ll probably write more than that).  Or writing for at least one full hour a day (it’s amazing what you can accomplish during the time it takes to watch a mind-sucking reality TV show).

DON’T set out to write “The next great American novel.”  It’s not going to happen.  You might get to the point that you’ll publish it some day, but don’t think about that during NaNoWriMo.  Just be super creative and have fun with it!

DO write something you’d actually want to read.  Maybe it’s a fantasy you have with Channing Tatum.  Or perhaps you have a great idea for a Game of Thrones-esque story.  Go with it – forcing a novel based on what someone else might want to read is annoying and counterproductive.

DON’T work in front of the TV.  You’ll never get anything done.

DO use the NaNoWriMo website.  There are some awesome tools, forums, and support groups you can join that will help you along the way.

Are you participating in this year’s event?  

Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.