30-Day NaNoWriMo Tag Challenge

NaNoWriMo

30 Day NaNoWriMo Tag Challenge

As Day One of NaNoWriMo begins, so begins our 30-Day NaNoWriMo Tag Challenge. The questions are below, so feel free to join in 🙂

Day One.

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo before? If yes, what years and what was the end result? If not, what made you participate this year, and what are your expectations?

Day Two.

You’ve committed to 30 days of hard core writing, what are you most worried about?

Day Three.

What’s your story called? What does it mean? How does it represent the story? Are you happy with it?

Day Four.

How did you choose which story to write for NaNoWriMo? Was it the only idea you had? One you’d been planning for ages? One of many?

Day Five.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your novel. What’s its story?

Day Six.

Pick a female character, and tell us about her, from her point of view.

Day Seven.

What genre is your book? Is this a genre you normally work with? If not, how do you feel about treading new ground?

Day Eight.

Choose two songs from your NaNoWriMo playlist. What do they say about your story? Do they connect with your characters? Their personalities? The things that they will face?

Day Nine.

Where do you write? In bed? In an office? At work? On the toilet?

Day Ten.

How much writing do you do in months other than when you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo?

Day Eleven.

Tell us a fun (writing) fact about you.

Day Twelve.

Name a book that has really inspired your writing.

Day Thirteen.

What is your current word count? How do you feel about it? Are you meeting your goals?

Day Fourteen.

Half way through, how many friends and family know about NaNoWriMo? Have they been supportive? How do they feel about your challenge?

Day Fifteen.

What has been the biggest challenge, so far, with regards to writing your novel?

Day Sixteen.

A lot of writers find the idea of writing 1,667 words every day, for a while month, quite stressful. How do you think you’re doing, in terms of stress? Does stress motivate you?

Day Seventeen.

Writers are often known for their heavy caffeine intake. Do you drink a lot of coffee? If not, what is your beverage of choice?

Day Eighteen.

Share some lyrics that you think are inspiring. They don’t have to relate, or connect, to your actual writing or writing process.

Day Nineteen.

If you’re facing a sticky patch – either writers block, or a general struggle knowing how to progress your chapter – what do you do to get your head around it?

Day Twenty.

It is often said that “real” writers don’t take part in NaNoWriMo. In your opinion, what is a “real” writer?

Day Twenty One.

Pick a male character, and tell us about him, from his point of view.

Day Twenty Two.

Where is your novel set?

Day Twenty Three.

Describe one protagonist’s appearance, in great detail. This could be one you’ve mentioned before, or not.

Day Twenty Four.

How are you feeling about NaNoWriMo at this point?

Day Twenty Five.

If you have completed NaNoWriMo before, what happened to your previous novel? Did you finish it? Bin it? Still editing it? Or is it hidden away in the To-Do Pile for further work?

Day Twenty Six.

Other than writing, what are your other passions?

Day Twenty Seven.

If you could have written any other novel by any other author, which one would it be?

Day Twenty Eight.

How has NaNoWriMo affected your life? Have you cancelled anything? Put off anything? Forgotten anything, or anyone?

Day Twenty Nine.

Have you been giving yourself goals along the way? How have you rewarded yourself when you have met those goals?

Day Thirty.

Final day. How are you doing? Finished? Nearly there? On the verge of cracking up? How do you feel the month has gone?

 

Good Luck 🙂

Five NaNoWriMo Tips for when Life Throws You Lemons

NaNoWriMo

Life is incredibly unpredictable, and discovering that fact is a major part of the growing up process. It is really easy to make the decision to dedicate an entire month of our lives to something like NaNoWriMo, but sometimes life doesn’t feel like being obliging. Instead, it will throw you everything it has got in some vain attempt of throwing you off track, and it is even easier to give in to life and put NaNoWriMo off for yet another year.

But, do not give in to life. No matter how chaotic things get, it is possible to fit NaNoWriMo into your busy schedule. You can do it, there are enough hours in the day and you will complete this epic task, even if it (nearly) kills you…okay, I’ll stop with the hyperbole, I promise!

1. Make Time

“There’s not enough time in the day”, has got to be one of my favourite excuses, but it is merely another form of that writer-love – procrastination. There is time in the day, you just have to make it.

No matter how busy life gets, promise yourself that you will schedule in time to work on NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, anywhere between ten minutes and an hour should do fine. You will probably have to alter the amount of time, or even the actual time-of-day to slot in with each different day, but as long as you promise to write, on each day, for a certain amount of time, then you can work around the hectic chaos of life.

2. Don’t be Afraid to miss Daily Word Counts

1,500 words is a heck of a lot of words for most people, especially if you don’t have a lot of free time. But one of the good things about life, is that whilst some days you will have time to do 1,500 words (or more), there will be days when you can barely fit in 500.

You know what? That is okay. There is nothing wrong with only writing 500 words on the days when you only have a spare ten minutes to write, or you just can’t get your writing mojo going.

Having off-days is perfectly normal.

Not making your daily word count does not mean that you have failed. It just means that you will have to work a bit harder on other days, but life may have its busy days, and it also has its quieter days when you’ll find it easier to write.

3. Remain Focused

When you do sit down to write, especially when things are getting stressful around you, the only way to survival is to force yourself to remain focused. Easier said than done, right? Wrong.

Here are a few extra tips that will help to keep you focused:

  • Tell everyone what you will be doing and when. Ask them not to disturb you at a specific time, and make sure that you turn your phone off.
  • Turn your Internet off. Either unplug it, or switch off your wi-fi. The Internet is a breeding ground for procrastination; so don’t allow yourself to give in to the temptation. For this time, the Internet is NOT your friend.
  • Turn up the volume. Put on a good set of sound cancelling head phones and listen to your NaNoWriMo playlist as loud as you can concentrate with. It’s amazing how focused having music blaring directly into your ears – rather than through speakers – can be, and it cancels out any background noise that might put you off, like the sounds of children killing each other….

4. Stress as Motivation

It sounds crazy, but for a lot of people, stress is actually a really good source of motivation. It’s like the world is going crazy around you, everything is coming at you from all directions and somehow, from somewhere, you get this need to work harder in order to meet all of your goals for the day, week, month etc.

However, if the stress feels like it is getting on top of you, don’t be afraid to step back and take some chill-out time.

Allow yourself to figure things out in your head, and then when you’re back in the right frame of mind, get back into it with guts and determination!

5. Just Write

One of the biggest problems a great deal of writers face when it comes to writing pretty much anything, is knowing where to start. The problem, for me at least, is that I feel this need to write with a sense of linearity. This need to write the beginning, the middle and the end in a specific order.

But, who said that you have to write like that?

The Answer? You don’t.

If the beginning flows easily, that’s great, keep going. However, if the beginning is just looking like this huge wall, jump right over it, pick a random scene and get writing.

It really does not matter what order you write in. Do you really think that Directors film movies in the right order? Well, the don’t.

Once the first draft has been written, you can rip all your scribblings apart, and put them back in the right order – a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. Then, your second draft will be like stitching each chunk together.

Also, if you’re struggling with moving a scene along. Leave it – for now – and move onto another one.

The important thing isn’t about the story being perfect – remember that this is only a first draft, it will not be published in its first form – it doesn’t need to fit perfectly together, it just needs to exist.

Imagine that you are creating the bare bones of the story, and your following drafts will be pulling together the muscles, padding it out with organs, and then finalising it with the skin – also known as the book cover!!

Just remember:

Five NaNoWriMo Tips for when Life Throws You Lemons

NaNoWriMo 2013 Countdown

NaNoWriMo

So, November is nearly here, which can mean one thing – okay, two things, but not including my birthday – it’s nearly NaNoWriMo time. After the epic failure that was NaNoWriMo last November, I was all set to not even attempt it this year, because this November promises to be busy. For me, November is always busy in the midsts of birthdays etc. but with turning thirty, this one is going to be even more so.

However, the huge success that I had doing Camp NaNoWriMo, earlier in the year, in which I actually managed to complete it over a week early – not really sure how the heck that happened, has inspired me to push myself harder to doing it this year.

I’m not going to deny that the word count terrifies me – in July, my word count was only a fraction of 50,000, but I have done this before so there is absolutely no reason why I can’t do it again.

The key, I think for this year, is to really sit down and do a lot of preparation work, hence why I am here writing this blog post. I’m trying to get into the routine of writing as well.

Also, to keep myself focused on the task at hand, I’ve decided to do a 30-Day NaNoWriMo Tag Challenge here on the blog. The hope is that it will inspire me to write. So, stay tuned for more details about that.

For now, I’ve put together a checklist of things that I need to finalise before the end of the week:

NaNoWriMo 2013 Checklist

 

Let me know if you’re planning on taking part this year.

Good luck to all participants: I know you can do it 🙂

NaNoWriMo Progress Report: Day 8

Fiction, NaNoWriMo, novel, Writing

So, eight days in and I am finally getting around to writing a progress report. I’m not going to lie – the first week has been stressful, but you know what? I’ve been enjoying working on this story. I don’t know if it’s because I wrote a plan for the first half of my novel, but I’ve yet to reach a point where I’ve gotten stuck or not known where to go. It also feels like everything is flowing really well.

With one week down, I’m feeling completely different to how I felt about my novel, at this point last year when I was already having doubts about my story and was already thinking that it wasn’t flowing and that the story was just weak whilst not really working. To demonstrate, look at how rubbish last years daily word counts were:

 

For so long, I struggled to meet the daily word counts, showing how much I really wasn’t feeling it with my story. This year, however, has so far been completely different:

 

I feel quite proud that every day I’ve managed to be over the daily word count, with the help of some forward planning for the days that I’ve not been able to write. This weekend is going to be another with very little writing, so I’m trying to keep on top of it.

The funny thing is that the further along I get with my story, the more paranoid I get about falling out of love with my story. I’m getting a bit anxious about when I reach the end of my plan, and hope that I can find the time to work on the second half of the plan. But I’m currently still incredibly confident about my story, and that I might actually finish this one. Well, I have written the epilogue after all, so I do know exactly where this story is heading.

How is everyone else doing? I’d love to hear your stories so far 🙂

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NaNoWriMo Final Countdown

NaNoWriMo, novel, Writing

In less than five hours, NaNoWriMo will officially commence. The plan had been to keep organised in the build-up, to have everything set out including scene breakdowns, character motivation write-ups etc. Has any of that happened? Well, not entirely. Most things are half written, because as usual life has gotten in the way. Am I worried about being unprepared? To be honest, not this time. I’ve planned about fifteen scenes so far, with – very – brief summaries, and there is plenty of room for expansion into additional scenes etc, so I certainly have a big board to jump off. A much bigger one than last year.

And that is the reason why I really am not worried, because even if I’m not as prepared as I feel I should be, I’m prepared enough to get go in confidence that I know where I am going.

Every so often, I do find myself thinking “hmm, maybe I should do that story instead”, but no, I am sticking to my guns and I know that I have chosen the right story to work on.

For anyone who is giving NaNoWriMo a try for the first time this year, I wanted to offer a few tips that might put your mind at ease. These are, of course, all based on my own personal experiences and everyone will have a very different experience of NaNoWriMo, that does without question.

One. Do what you can

Writing 1,667 words in one sitting is daunting as hell. Trust me, I know. A lot of people can do it easily, but then a lot of us really can’t. If you’re like me, don’t force yourself. If you can only manage 150 words, that’s great and it’s better than nothing. Just dip in and out of your work at various intervals during the day.

Two. Back Up

Don’t forget to back everything up. There is nothing worse than a power failure, your PC to die and you to find your story lost into oblivion. I like to store my work on Google Docs, because I don’t always use the same PC, so it makes things easier. I’d also “like” to believe that Google won’t lose it. But, if you’re a bit sceptical, I often email my work to myself to, so that’s another back up.

Three. Don’t give in

November is going to be a stressful month, especially once you reach the halfway point. Don’t give in, instead you should feed on the “fear” to drive you forward. If you find yourself in a rut, just write ANYTHING. Literally, anything. Well, maybe not literally, otherwise you’d just keep writing the one word….seriously though, just write a character biography. Write what something in the scene looks like. Put yourself in your characters shoes and describe what they can smell, see, hear, feel etc.

Four. Get Competitive

NaNoWriMo is not a competition. You won’t win any prizes and at the end everyone is ultimately a winner whether they complete it or not. But who is to say that you can’t treat it like one? Last year, I fond that seeing my friends’ word counts really spurred me on. If they were higher than me, I always felt pushed to catch up. On the other hand, if they were lower than me, I felt pushed to keep going so that they couldn’t catch up with me. It really does work, and is all harmless fun of course 😉

Five. Have fun

Yes, NaNoWriMo is stressful but at the end of the long slog of a day, writing is meant to be fun. Okay, so we all dream about publishing our novels. But, is there any point if we haven’t enjoyed writing it?

Good luck to everyone taking part in thirty days and thirty nights of writing abandon.

Let me know how you get on 😉

When Two Worlds Collide

NaNoWriMo, Writing

It’s no secret that I run three blogs – I know, I’m a blogaholic!! There’s this one that I use for beauty, fashion, lifestyle etc (albeit a little think on the ground at the minute), I also have an Entertainment one that I run with my other half and I also have a writing-based one. Whilst makeup and entertainment very easily collide, I generally don’t talk so much about my (fiction) writing over on this blog anymore. So, when I do manage to find something that brings my writing and my love for beauty – or namely, my love for Nail Art, I know that I have to share it with you guys.

Seriously, how awesome are these NaNoWriMo-inspired nails??

How amazing are these? I’m always jealous of Nail Art like this, because I don’t have the steady hand or artistic ability to achieve anything even close to as beautiful as this!
I found this over on Coewless Nail Polish Blog, which everyone should definitely check out, even if only to see more images of these nails, or her amazing My Neighbor Totoro ones, which are just WOW!

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What is a “Real Writer”?

Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo

Earlier today, I received an email from GoodReads telling me that an author that I follow had added a new blog post. Sounds boring, you might be thinking and to be honest I very rarely ever read them, so what influenced my decision to read this one, I’m not entirely sure. But the point is, that I did and boy am I glad that I did.

Basically, author Catherine Ryan Howard was having a little rant about snobbery, generally from published authors, towards people who participate in NaNoWriMo. The idea being that anyone who does it, isn’t a “real writer” and that they are tarnishing the name of “real writers” blahblahblah. You get the picture.

But, it raised the question: What is a “real writer”? Some people seem to come to the following conclusions:

  • A published writer is a real writer
  • However, a self-published writer is not
  • Someone who has been writing since birth is a real writer
  • Someone who started writing last week is not
  • A person who spends a large amount of time working on a novel, is a real writer
  • A person who can write a novel quickly, is not

To be perfectly honest, I think that this is a load of old rubbish. As far as I see it, as long as you perform the act of sitting down with pen and paper, a laptop, a typewriter, chalk and the pavement or whatever and wherever, and actually piece things together then you are a “real writer”.

Of course, a person might not be a very good writer but surely that is personal opinion and who is to say what is good anyway?

It sounds absolutely ridiculous that we are even having this kind of debate. The world of literature is so broad, that surely there is room for everyone? Does it matter how a book was put together? Is the point not about content? Plus, just because a first draft of 50,000 words happened to have been written in the space of 30 days does not mean that that is the end of the process. I don’t think that anyone is going to try and publish what they write during NaNoWriMo, because I don’t know about anyone else, but what I write during those days is generally a load of rubbish. But that isn’t the point. The point is that I have 50,000 words to edit, mix around and re-write so that they work out into something much better.

It’s almost as if these “real writers” think that we’re trying to publish our 50,000 words of crap, when we’re actually not. A lot of time – post NaNoWriMo – is going to be put into working on second, third etc drafts.

We are all Real Writers. We all have the same dreams.

 

NaNoWriMo Playlist

NaNoWriMo

Writing to music really seems to divide writers, no matter how experienced they are. Some people can’t concentrate with any kind of background noise, whilst others thrive on it. This of course isn’t unique to writers, but pretty much anyone.

For me, I need background noise, but it has to be my own noise. Other people’s music distracts me to the verge of sheer annoyance. It’s funny because someone else’s music could be my favourite band (Linkin Park, if you were interested!) and it would still get on my nerves. I don’t have a clue why that is, but it really does.

I don’t normally put together a playlist for my writing work, because even though I love music and get really inspired by it, I’m more a type of girl who just puts my MP3 Player on Shuffle and ends up skipping a load of crap. So, for NaNoWriMo I’ve decided to pull myself together and put together a list of music that will hopefully inspire, invigorate and get me writing throughout November and well, I wanted to share that with you.

Do you have a playlist that you listening to when you are writing? 
What do you listen to?
 Or does the idea of music drive you cuckoo?

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Five Ways to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, Writing

Whether you are a newbie or a novice, there is no denying that NaNoWriMo never gets any less intimidating. C’mon. The idea of writing 50,000 in the space of 30 days is absolutely crazy when you really think about it.

I’m a big believer that preparation is most definitely the key to success, in anything – not just NaNoWriMo – so here are my Top Five Tips to help you to prepare for one of the biggest writing challenges of the year.

#1 Find a Support Group

This doesn’t have to be a literal support group. It could be your friends and family, people you talk to on Facebook or Twitter, fellow writers or even a community of people who will also taking part.

I find that other people taking part are a much better supportive unit than people who aren’t, because ultimately you are all in the same metaphorical boat. However, friends and family can be supportive in their own ways, perhaps by offering rewards and encouragement when you achieve specific milestones, or maybe just by understanding that you won’t necessarily be prioritising Friday Night pints for the whole of November. And they might even forgive you – a little – if you forget their birthday!

#2 Have a Plan

Last year, the only plan that I put together were wishy-washy “this happens in each chapter” type things, but they didn’t come together very well, and as a result about half way through the month, my story began to fall apart.

Some people write better completely without a plan, but for me personally, I find that I tend to stray into shady territory if I don’t. I just write and write and write, and the next thing I know I’ve gotten too deep into the unknown, with no idea which direction I’m heading in, no idea where I want to go and most importantly I haven’t got a clue how to get there. But, maybe the worst part is that I’ve usually gotten so far that I don’t know how to step back, especially during NaNoWriMo when going backwards isn’t even an option!!

#3 Start Writing Early

I’m not necessarily encouraging you to start working on your Novel before the beginning of November. However, during October is a great time to analyse your time so that you can find a time of day – preferably every day – that you can sit down and do some writing. For most people, sitting down and writing at the same time each day works well, whilst for others this isn’t always an option.

I like to start getting into a routine of writing throughout October, just so that it feels more natural when I absolutely have to do it.

Tip: If you do find yourself struggling to actually get something down, set a timer for around 15 minutes and just write. It doesn’t matter what you write, it can be absolute rubbish. Write out the lyrics to your favourite song. Write out a conversation between you and your friends, or even better between your characters. It might seem pointless, but it is amazing how often this branches into something more productive.

#4 Give yourself Goals

Just like people reward children for good behaviour, consider setting yourself a few goals for November. Then once you meet those goals, decide on a reward for yourself. Perhaps a piece of jewellery that you’ve been eyeing up. The rewards can build up to better stuff once you nearer your overall goal of 50,000 words (or higher, if you’re feeling daring!).

#5 Face your Challenge!

50,000 words is a lot of words, there is absolutely no denying it, and writing those words in 30 days is daunting. But, people have done it. You can do it too. It really is incredible what all of us can do if we just put our minds to it. Just believe that you can, and you will.

Never give up believing that you will achieve what you set out to achieve.

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NaNoWriMo 2012 Chapter Breakdown

NaNoWriMo, Writing

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was planning on doing some Chapter Breakdowns. This is actually something that I have never even tried to do before, but I spotted it on someone else’s website, and I’ve sort of adapted it to meet my own needs.

But, for anyone who requires a little help, this is basically the guideline that I am using for each chapter…of course nothing is set in stone, and will no doubt the ones that I write will change over the course of November!!

Chapter Breakdown

  1. Which characters are involved in this scene? The main characters? Protagonists? Antagonists?
  2. Introductions: Will this chapter introduce any new characters?
  3. Exits: Will this chapter see the exit and/or demise of any characters?
  4. From which P.O.V. will the chapter be? If the novel is in first person, this may seem obvious. However, if the novel is in third person, who will be the main focus?
  5. Where does the scene happen? At home? Various locations? Mobile or immobile?
  6. Major plot points: What happens in this scene to move the overall story along? If nothing moves the story along, it might be worth considering whether the chapter is necessary or not.
  7. Minor plot points: What happens in this scene that might not move the chapter along, but suggests or foreshadows things? Perhaps it hints at future events, or represents a weakness that will be overcome? Maybe you just use it to show someone’s personality or relationships with other characters, this is especially ideal when introducing the main characters.




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