Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

In NANO revision, no-one can hear you scream…

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So, it’s like this: I completed my 50,000 word draft for NANOWRIMO back in November.  I told myself I would put it aside for the whole of December (which was just as well given the whole Christmas thing…) and in the new year, with the perspective which comes with distance, I’d pick it up again, and start work in earnest knocking it into shape.  Well, we’re now two days into the new year, and have I joyously re-read my draft? Have I fixed the holes in the plot?  Eradicated the contradictions?  Er….what do you think?

Partly this is my usual procrastination.  There’s no better housewife than a writer with revisions to do.  I can find all manner of other jobs which absolutely need to be done before I can even think about sitting down with such a big project as a whole novel.  I’ve written my piece for one of the writers’ groups.  I’ve subbed a story to one of the women’s mags.  I’ve even taken down the Christmas decorations.  But I’ve not touched the novel.

I wish it were just laziness – the awful thought of having to come up with solutions to the problems I know currently exist with the book.  But it’s more than that – it’s fear.  The whole joy of NANO is the liberation in putting your inner editor to one side and simply getting on with the writing.  But now I have to invite the inner editor back.  And I’m scared that when I start reading, she’s going to hate the whole thing.

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I’ll make a start.  Maybe.  Unless I can find some ironing to do… 😉

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NANOWRIMO: The Finish Line!

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It’s been a bit of a slog, but today I’ve finished NANOWRIMO 2014 – with a day in hand – phew!

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The first scrappy rough draft of my novel (working title “With One Stone”) will now go into hibernation for a month, while I catch up with a month’s worth of life (plus Christmas shopping!).  I’ve not yet read it through, but I already know it will be littered with contradictions and huge unexplained jumps in the narrative, but by the time I get round to looking at it again with a fresh eye in the new year, I hope I’ll be in a position to make it all fit together – somehow.

At the bottom of this post is the draft blurb I wrote at the beginning of NANO – it’ll be interesting to see if the book turns out anything like the blurb!

Oh, and just before I sign off and sag into a post-nano heap in front of the log burner, I’d just like to say thank you to Paul (OH) for putting up with NANO month, a house that’s even more untidy than usual, and even fewer meals cooked than he might reasonably expect.  Having a supportive family really does make all the difference.  I’m also going to thank my writing and reading friends in advance given that I will probably ask them for feedback on the first proper draft in the new year…  Oh and finally, a mention for Mark Pearce from one of my writing groups, who undertook – and won – NANO this year for the first time.  Congrats, Mark!

 

With One Stone – the Blurb:

Jonathan says it’s the perfect solution – they’ll rent the cottage in Wales for a few weeks.  He can do the research for his new book (an exploration of the deterioration of the rural economy), and Caroline…well, she can have a much needed break after all that hassle with work and the redundancy.  It’ll be great to leave the hustle and bustle of the city for a while – have a complete change of scene.

But for Caroline, a cottage in the country, miles away from all her friends, and miles out of her comfort zone, might not be quite such a good idea.  With her husband obsessively focused on his research, she finds she has too much time on her hands, too much time to think.  When they accidentally stumble upon a long abandoned mental asylum, Jonathan’s work, and Caroline’s family history collide with terrifying consequences.

 

5 Places to Find NANOWRIMO Ideas

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So, it’s day 10, and the first flush of enthusiasm is over.  You had some good days at the outset and you thought the whole process was going to be a breeze.  But suddenly the words have dried up.  Your characters are standing there, blinking at you, waiting for you to give them something to do or say.  But you’ve drawn a blank.

What do you do?  Give up?  No!  Start something new? No!  You just need an injection of new ideas.  But where to find them?

Fortunately, your brain is on your side.  One of the qualities that is so appealing (and useful) about the mind is its desire and ability to make links, find patterns, add new knowledge to its existing store.  You will know this from when you were a kid, worrying about something.  As soon as something was on your mind, that thing, or things relating to it, would be everywhere around you – your teacher would mention it in class, you’d overhear a conversation relating to it on the bus, there’d be a telly programme about it in the evening.  Had the world somehow discovered your secret fear and decided to taunt you with it?  No, of course not.  Was it all just spooky coincidence?  Maybe.  But more likely it was just that because you were already thinking about the thing, your mind was tuned in to finding new bits of information relating to it.

You can harness that power now as a writer.  Try to keep your novel in your head all the time, ticking over at the back of your mind while you’re going about your everyday life.  And look for ideas everywhere:

1) Stick the radio on in the car on the way to work or the supermarket.  Listen to the news or any random programme – chances are you’ll hear something which links to your novel, or triggers an idea in your brain.  Read the paper in your lunch hour.  Not the main headlines – go to the smaller articles, the more obscure items.  Or read a novel – preferably unrelated to yours.

2) Ask someone to give you a random word or a setting or an event which you have to weave into your daily word count.  The apparent restriction will focus the mind and you’ll be surprised how you can shoe-horn in some completely bizarre idea.

3) Get out and chat to people you don’t normally talk to.  Everyone has a wealth of personal experiences – a random anecdote could take your plot in a new direction.

4) Go on a course/listen to a talk/learn a new skill.  Stimulate the mind.

5) Incorporate your writers’ group task into your novel.  You won’t have time to write something new, but if you can build it into your word count, you won’t have lost anything.  And chances are, you’ll have an interesting new slant on the topic area.

The most important thing is to keep writing, even if you think it’s drivel, even if it’s not linear but something from later in the story – you can go back and fill in the blanks afterwards.  Keep adding to that word count – that’s the only thing that matters.

Onwards!  🙂

And they’re off! #NANOWRIMO

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Day 1: Gulp.  Blank page, always very daunting.  And that vague sense that perhaps you should not have wasted October idly chatting about the possibility of doing NANO,  or designing a mock up cover to upload to the site, but rather should have concentrated on building a proper plot line etc.

But hey, we begin anyway.  So far, 1920 words (satisfyingly coming up as 1930 words when uploaded to the site owing the vagaries of word count systems).  I could stop here, or I could try to do more, thus building myself a nice fat “word cushion” (as a friend and fellow past-Nano-er has just described it) for the rest of the week when I’ll no doubt be much less productive.  I am trying to keep the pace slow initially to give me time to develop character and storyline, but with sufficient hooks to keep the reader (and me) interested.

This is the first year when I didn’t already have a strong feeling about the opening sentence or scene – so the first few lines were probably the hardest.  Now I have a tone for the book, and a sense of place, and am slowly drip feeding little pieces of backstory info into the current narrative.  So far so good.  But I suspect there’s trouble ahead – probably somewhere around day 4 or 5!

If you’re NANOing too, best of luck out there.  Keep the faith, and if you have the time, let me know how you’re getting on.  🙂

Recharging the Creative Batteries

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This month’s Writer’s Forum magazine suggests taking a step back from your writing and having an “ideas week” as an antidote to burnout.  Well, I think I agree with their approach!

Just back from a week in a holiday cottage in Wales – sleeping, eating, walking, site-seeing – all very conducive to battery-recharging.  Have managed to return with at least one almost fully formed idea for a long story (possibly even enough for it to be the basis of this year’s NANO attempt), and another scribbled beginning.  Last night in that dozing moment before properly going off to sleep, I even had an idea for a potential amendment to a previously rejected story, so might have a crack at that today.

I deliberately didn’t take my laptop on holiday – partly, it has to be said, because the thing is on its last legs and tends to do rage-inducing things like randomly switch itself off whilst I’m in the middle of typing (and that sort of thing always seems to happen when you think you’ve written something spectacular, and the re-write never quite measures up). But partly it was just to have a change of pace. I took a notepad and pen instead.  And I scribbled.  It was fun.

Mid-week, issue No 78 of The People’s Friend Special was out, and it was an extra special joy to pop along to the newsagents in tourist-mode and be able to pick up a copy – which includes my story ‘Going Solo’ (with an excellent illustration by Jim Dewar – Judy is exactly as I pictured her!).  ‘Going Solo’ was a story originally written for my local writers’ group – yet another reason I have to be grateful for the group’s support, encouragement and deadline-provision!

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The publication of this story though has given me a bit of a slap as it’s the last thing that was “out there”.  I now have no other stories so much as submitted, let alone awaiting publication.  So it’s official: the holidays are over – time now to get back to work!

DONE IT!!

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NaNoWriMo ends today – and I managed to finish and upload my first draft this morning.  There was a slight hiccup when I ran out of story at 49,606 words, but I went back and added a bit to an earlier scene which was sufficient to tip me over the 50K threshold.  2011-Winner-Certificate

Of course, it’s a very rough and ready first draft, and there are many holes and problems still to sort out.  But at least it’s a place to start from – so much less intimidating than a blank screen.   

And guess what, tonight I’m just going to settle down and read a book – not attempt to write one! 😉

NaNoWriMo – Beginning of Week 2

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After a few days of slipping back to only just keeping pace with the word count, have had another productive day today with 2,400 words done.  No, it doesn’t have the same sparkle as it did on those first two days (though I’m not allowing myself to read back over it), but it’s building, and some of the things which started out as quite insubstantial now seem to be firming up in my mind.  Hopefully I can crack on tomorrow with another decent day. 

Had a standard confirmation email from Ether Books re my uploaded story – just waiting for them to get in touch to tell me what happens next now.  Do need to get another short story out in the big wide world, but haven’t currently got anything suitable, and don’t feel like embarking on another writing project in the middle of NANO.  Also have a piece to do for my Masters, so mustn’t forget that. Eek! 😉

Day 3 – and the pace is slowing!

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Well, I wasn’t going to keep it up, was I?  3,000 words a day? Come on!  But I’ve still done just short of 2,000 words today.  It’s not quite as sparkling as the first two days’ output, but I’m still well ahead of the target word count, so I’ve got plenty in hand for next few days when I fear no progress will be made at all!

Also, was slightly distracted today by the Ether Books people getting in touch and me then having to upload Out of Her Misery onto their site.  Hope I’ve done it right.  Had a moment’s panic over the requirement to provide a photograph – there’s something I’d not considered the need for! 

Anyway, gotta go – got to upload my new word count onto the NaNo site.  😉

‘Out of Her Misery’ gets the honours

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Just had an email from the good people at Circalit telling me the judges have selected my short story as the winner in their CircaChallenge competition.  Absolutely delighted!  Never expected, when I first saw the competition and decided to enter, that I would win – just thought it would be an interesting exercise, and liked the scenario which formed the basis of competition.  So there you go – it’s always worth entering.

Day 2 of NaNo – am over the 6,000 word mark.  Really wanted to press on during these two days, so am exactly where I hoped to be.  And while I’ve so far resisted the temptation to read back over what I’ve done, I’m really pleased with the way the characters feel and are turning out on the page.  Sometimes in my stories they start off a little shadowy and take a while to develop but these guys are really shaping up already – let’s hope they work as well for the reader.

And they’re off…

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NaNo day 1 – and what a successful day’s work.  Well, morning’s work.  Sat down a little after 7am and by lunch time, I’d done 3,104 words – that’s the whole of Chapter One drafted out.  Brilliant prose, it may not be, but it’s definitely a good start. 

I need to clock up a decent word count over the first few days to give me some slack on the days I have other commitments and know I won’t get much done.  And if I can keep up the current level of output just for even a short while, I’ll be pleased.

Right, bed now – need to rest before day two!