Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2016 is here – Time for Another Bout

2016-11-01-18-25-29Yes, I may have neglected the blog for months, but I did move countries, change my career path, injure my back and encounter the wonders of Belgian bureaucracy. All excellent distractions and apparently kept me too busy to remember that I had a blog (or several as it turns out) to write for. But now NaNoWriMo is back for 2016, so why not revive the blog in the flurry of activities we call the “Write 50.000 words and don’t have a heart attack” party that is NaNoWriMo in a nutshell.

This year is going to be a bit of an experiment. I will be writing my own work, the progress of which you can follow here and add me as a writing buddy, while simultaneously starting a collaboration with my partner, the very talented Andrea, to write our own contemporary fantasy murder mystery.

And I haven’t been entirely inactive since my last post. I started a sister blog that pokes fun at corporate vernacular, that I have thoroughly enjoyed compiling and creating content for. You can find here should such shenanigans tickle your fancy.

Anyway, I am off to frantically type out the opening scene for my NaNoWriMo 2016 project. Best of luck to everyone out there. And if you need a reason to participate, you can find 5 reasons right here!

But what do you think? Is NaNoWriMo worth the time and effort and stress and pain and fun and excitement and other feelings both good and bad? Let me know.

And now… The NaNoWriMo song.

NaNoWriMo was here – 2015 After Action Report

Screenshot 2015-12-01 20.45.35

You fail only if you stop writing.”

– Ray Bradbury

To me, this is the key to have a successful NaNoWriMo. Finishing the 50.000 words in one month, like I mentioned in my previous post, is less important than not to give up on your writing and to keep building the skill.. NaNoWriMo 2015 is over, so thank you for playing if you did. If you didn’t, then join us next year. It’ll be fun. I super promise.

In any case, this year has been quite a learning experience. For one, the world has been annoyingly distracting with work drama, life drama and terrorist drama around the world. But it has also been a productive November. Although I didn’t make it to 50.000 words on my story this year, but I did get a lot further than I thought. 28.000+ somewhat intelligible words have been added to my novel, not counting character bios, world notes, questions, outline and miscellaneous research, which is far beyond what I expected. I also learned that statistics are useless, if you’re not consistent with you counting and writing. I write in Word, Google Docs + Google Keep, in Scrivener and in a notebook. If I can give you one piece of tangible advice, DON’T DO THAT. Pick a tool and use it. That way you won’t get surprised on word count.

I also came up with a new creative project for the blog: a weekly series that I’ll start the first week of January, and also have fun titles for several books in potentia. And jokes, I wrote a lot of bad jokes. So all in all, I’m very positive and looking forward to write more.

And should you need another famous quote on writing, then:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

– Ernest Hemingway

So back to bleeding daily. But what do you think? Was my November wasted or worth it?
Did you do NaNoWriMo and finish? (if so, well done!). Let me know!

And for the last time is 2015… The NaNoWriMo song.

NaNoWriMo is here – I got distracted

That’s life isn’t it. You set a goal, make a plan to get there, get your hopes up, then NaNoWriMo kicks off, and you immediately get distracted, the plan gets shot down, you adapt, you improvise, get distracted again, make small concessions to your goal, adapt some more, realize that it’s harder than you remembered, make bigger concessions, sob in misery and despair, wipe away your tears, and then suddenly it’s day two. Or five. Or ten. Or as it turns out; day twenty-two.

Screenshot 2015-11-22 12.36.32
Current word count

And I’m in fact behind on my word count. And that’s okay. And if you’re behind, that’s okay too. It would be nice to be able to say that I wrote a novel in a month and be looked at with awe, get showered with compliments, beer and sandwiches, but in reality that’s not the case. And that’s okay. This is the main point of this post: it’s okay to fail at NaNoWriMo.

Because what we’re building is a writing skill, with writing habits and a trust in our ability to put pretty words on a page and/or screen. We can worry about deadlines when we have actual paying jobs as writers.

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Not representative of actual cast. Clearly.

So if you’re like me, take stock and make a sensible plan for the rest of November, and then focus on solidifying that skill past November. Currently I have 17.000(ish) words down, a solid outline for act one and two with notes on act three, a list of named characters with their internal relationships mapped out, and nine writing days to go. My goal for this last period is to exceed 25.000 words, which means I need to put out 600 words a day. It’s manageable and will give me that nifty badge on my profile.

And then the work goes on. You keep working on your habit, your skill, and soon you’ll have a novel done. Or you’ll kill it and start something else. Or stop because you hate it. And all of those are OK.

But what do you think? Did I waste my November? Let me know.

And now… The NaNoWriMo song.

NaNoWriMo is Here – Time to Get Started

Screenshot 2015-10-07 21.24.59And here we go! Its NaNoWriMo time and I just wanted to share my plan for this year. I will have chosen to work on two projects, both in Scrivener, my main project being a near future Scifi novel with a fictional diary as my backup project, just in case I lose momentum on the novel. I often get distracted from my main project, simply because writing stimulates my creative centre and makes all the good ideas come out at the same time. Or at least, I think they are all good ideas. 🙂

I will get my 50.000 words in this time, even if I have to share it between to two projects. I will be updating my word count daily on my NaNoWriMo page, which you can fine here. If you wanna add me as a writing buddy, feel free to do so. I will be doing an after action post, detailing what progress I made and how this year was the best NaNoWriMo year (I hope)

And most importantly, good luck and happy wrting.

But what do you think? Am I wasting my November chasing a fickle fantasy? Let me know.

And now… The NaNoWriMo song.



NaNoWriMo is Closer – Considerations Before Showtime

nanowrimoiscomingSo… Two weeks or so to go before NaNoWriMo officially takes off and I’m doing research. Snicker… Not really, just a much needed holiday and I leave tomorrow. But I am mentally chewing my options when it comes to NaNoWriMO. Should I pick up an existing project and just get stuck in it, should I explore something different, like a factual piece, or maybe just make something up on November 1st? These are questions you should be asking yourself, and start getting ready for the groundwork. Below are a few tips for preparing for the coming month.

What to write?

This depends on your personal disposition; whether you prefer fiction or fact, whether you’re into superheroes, Chinese myths or salad dressing, you need to pick something that will keep your attention for at least 30 days, AND has enough meat to fill a 50.000 words book. If you lack ideas, here are a few suggestions pulled out of the ever more thinning air:

  • A bloodied baseball bat with a nail through it is found at a school. What happened?
  • A disembodied spirit decides to explore the universe. What does it find?
  • A niche bookstore hires new staff to deal with the holiday season. What happens?
  • A pyromaniac is dealing with having his hands burned off. How does he cope?
  • A romantic date in a castle goes poorly and the girl runs off. What does she find?

If you picked the wrong subject, don’t be afraid to pick something else. The core of NaNoWriMo is to get you writing so you’ll learn more about the craft, not to finish a novel. Would be nice if you could. Hell, I hope I will. 🙂

Preparing your work

People work in different ways, some can make with little to no outlining at all; others need all ideas prepped and organised with a full mapping of everything they want to cover. There is no ‘right’ way, so you’ll have to figure out which type you are. Personally I like the Snowflake method because of its more exploratory approach to writing and allows you to openly err without locking you to a specific idea. And you can stop outlining and start writing whenever you feel like it.

Keeping your chin up

We’re off and you’ve been writing for days (I assume), so how do you keep it up? How do you avoid turning a fun experience into a slog, something that just has to be done. Much like going to the gym or running, writing needs consistency to keep it going, yet if you push too hard, you risk burning out. Writing 50.000 words in 30 days averages out to 1.670(ish) words a day, so I personally aim at 2.000 words per sitting. It allows for a few off days (though I still intend to write every day), and mentally puts me in a place, where I know there is a buffer in case I want to maintain my social life.

Other ways of keep your motivation up include:

  • Using a physical reminder to track your progress, like a poster with your word count or achievement stickers in your calendar. I like shiny unicorns for that.
  • Using a writing app for tracking and reminding. Some apps even have rpg elements to keep you going by giving you a character to level. Just be honest.
  • Using a writing ritual to get the setting right. Some just need a cup of coffee and they’re good to go. Others have a uniform, or a writing hat, or a special chair that gets them going. Find your strong, but be careful that it doesn’t become a crutch.
  • Using a friend. I know it’s a strange idea, but telling other interested parties of your work can help motivate you. Forums can also function as an outlet, just take care to get more writing than commenting done.

And a final word

This is supposed to be a fun learning experience. Something that gives you insight into writing, builds your skill and lets you express yourself. Keep it up, but don’t let it consume you.

But what do you think? Is NaNoWriMo still an interesting project for you? Let me know.

And now… The NaNoWriMo song.

NaNoWriMo is Coming – 5 Reasons to Participate

If you have a writer in your life (amateur, wannabe, professional, etc.), you’ve probably heard of NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t, you probably need to diversify your social circle and get more writer friends, or your current writer friends should stop keeping secrets from you. Why is that? You should talk about that over coffee or alcohol or something. Could be nice…

Anyway… NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is officially described as a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”, a statement that is both accurate and blatantly distorts the real experience.

In reality NaNoWriMo is a self-imposed mad-dash-against-time challenge, where the precarious balance of your everyday schedule is given a hard knock with a keyboard, as you desperately attempt to produce 50.000 intelligible words in 30 days, by slotting your writing in between the hours of work, sleep and several Dr. Who marathon.

It’s hard work for the unprepared and prepared alike, yet you should still do it. Here are 5 reasons why:

It will challenge you

The goal of 50.000 words equates to between 180 to 200 pages in real book form, and while the challenge is to write words, it’s a bit more satisfying writing a fully fledged work, rather than just copy-pasting DickButt 49.999 times to reach the goal. That means outlining the work, selecting topics, picking viewpoints, doing basic research, and finally building/writing the work.


It’s something you should do / a bucket list thing

When I was growing up, I probably spent more time at libraries, than I did anywhere else. This might be sad, but I’m pretty okay with it. It established the notion that writing something big and complicated is something you do, so it’s one of the top things on my bucket list, as it should be on yours. Everyone should at least attempt long-form writing, if only to appreciate the effort involved in writing a book.

It will improve your writing

Thinking about writing and doing more writing will improve your writing. Simple. By actively engaging in creating content, you’ll gain a better understanding of all aspects of communication, which will greatly benefit everything else. From understanding subtext in fiction, to writing more engaging cover letters, or chat flirting with that new hottie at the office. Words always matter.

You get to share your unique point of view

Everyone has a story to tell, whether personal or professional, fact or fiction, epic or intimate, there is always something to share. It is your unique perspective, your individual take on a subject is what makes your story interesting. Your chosen topic is one thing, but how you explain, what literary devices you utilize to accomplish your goal, your twists on the established themes are among others what make your story truly unique..

Your parental units will be proud

What mother / father / legal guardian wouldn’t be proud of you? It doesn’t matter if you never sell it, they will still be proud of you. And if not, you should probably have a talk like the one above. Just saying….

And full disclosure, I have never completed a NaNoWriMo challenge. 5 years running I have never gone beyond 33.000 words (though my updated total is less). But I still learned a lot from those failures, and those learning points have henceforth informed my writing and ability to produce content more consistently. I will do a follow up post with tips and links to help you complete a NaNoWriMo. Lets do this together. 🙂

This concludes part one. Part two will be up in two weeks time. Brace yourselves for that.
But what do you think? Is NaNoWriMo an interesting project for you? Let me know.

And now… The NaNoWriMo song.