Tag Archives: nanowrimo

NaNo Done – Delayed Post I

DecemberFor those of you who might have been wondering what happened to the end of November and NaNoWriMo – I did manage to complete the 50k word target… As usual, I was running right up until the deadline date and over, if I’m honest – finally stopping on 30th November with a grand total of 52, 242 words.

I wrote this post and thought I’d put it out on 1st December, but just came across it in my drafts now – so obviously I’d got writing fatigue or something 🙂 So, here it is – two weeks after crossing the finish line!

After completing this, I went cold turkey for the last couple of weeks, returning to the normal world where everything isn’t measured in sentences and words counts; where people are real and not characters I can control with a few strokes of a keyboard… Unfortunately, when I went to input my final figures into the NaNo site itself, my attempt for this year has closed and I couldn’t add my final five days of stats – so they have me finishing at 46,109. Oh well, at least I know the words are written!

Looking at the length of the first two books in the series – which hover around 115k words – it looks like I’m well over halfway through Outlanders and with having a lot of the planning for it mapped out, continuing to write it will hopefully be less of a struggle than I’ve found so far.

I know everyone says there’s never enough time for things – perhaps I should try the disciplined ‘chip away at it’ style of writing a little every day…? The only problem is that I tend to have big writing spurts then nothing – any advice on how to keep going, or even get started on a sustainable plan?


Nanowrimo Day 10: Captain’s Slog

A fellow NaNo author’s experience and getting out of a writing slump, if you fall into one this year.

He’s definitely not alone in the NaNo slump – I got myself ahead of word count in the first couple of weeks and had – dare I say it – three days off last week!

This author seems to write in a similar way to me – I like to write all the big, exciting, important bits (which flow nice and naturally) and then go back through to join them together. My main struggle this year has been when I got bogged down in the bridging stuff to get my main character from one part to another, when I just wanted to write the exciting action stuff. I also find, that if I’m getting stuck, I start to mini-edit which then affects the flow as well…

In the end, after my break early last week I’ve skipped writing in order, in favour of doing the big stuff again. I had quite a few one-shots drafted in my note books as well, which I’ve typed up and used as prompts to get me going into a scene – always helpful to have old notes, for when your writing mojo abandons you 🙂

Anyway – check out the post to see how NaNo is for someone else

Mel x

NaNo So-So

I’m still plugging away with my ‘new’ idea – I’m definitely getting more written, just in writing  scenes that are quite clear in my head at this point. It’s a bit scatter-gun as I’m jumping forwards and backwards in the chapters of the story, so probably will be a bit inconsistent when I come back and re-read for editing.

Best solutions so far to the dreaded block? A playlist that gets me picturing the scenes like a mini-film in my head (you’ve got to have a montage!) and just jumping from one action / dialogue piece to another 🙂 Let’s see how we go from here.

If you’re interested, here’s the prologue updated a bit…

It wasn’t late – only about six o’clock – but the dark rain clouds hanging over the city had brought an unnatural, early night with them. He liked the darkness, so this was perfect. He was hungry and it had been a long journey. He wouldn’t wait to feed – he never did.

Crouching on the turret of the cathedral clock tower, he watched the figures below in the busy street. The little people scurried here and there, many of them hidden beneath a multi-coloured sea of umbrellas, trying to avoid the unexpected rain. It was the outskirts of the city and there were too many people here in the crowds, but from his position he could see that beyond the train station and bridge their numbers began to dwindle.

There would be a good place to start.


*   *   *

Corinne Hawkes sloshed her way quickly down the busy street, through the crowds of people ambling along the pavement. The weather was horrendous, with heavy rain pounding down, so you couldn’t escape getting soaked.

Why would you want to be out in this if you didn’t have to be?

People were crazy, she concluded, as she squeezed herself between a dawdling couple and the steam-filled window of a coffee shop. The air was full of brightness and colour – it wasn’t even December yet, but the Christmas shopping season with all the lights and the street markets was in full swing. Seeing everyone else carefree made her even grumpier that she was on her way to work. The holiday season was no fun, if you weren’t part of it.

She was past the crowds now and able to move faster. The alleyway to the right was unpleasant – filled with stinking bins and fire exits that looked like they’d never been used in the last ten years – but anything that offered a faster way to get out of this weather was a good thing in Corinne’s mind.

At the start of the street, where the people were still close-by, Corinne felt fine. But, as she hurried deeper into the dank, darkness of the alley she felt strange. An odd sensation at the back of her neck, under her hair, prickled on her skin. Corinne shivered and began to move faster, as cold fingers trickled down her spine telling her she was being followed or watched from the shadows. It suddenly dawned on her, how vulnerable she was in the deserted passageway: no one would notice if anything happened down here.

Why are you thinking about stuff like that right now?!

She shook her head, scolding herself for getting wound up. “It’s nothing,” she muttered, sounding convincing. Even so, as she stuffed her hands deep into her coat pocket and found her house keys, she gripped them tightly in her fist, pointing them out through her knuckles. You know, just in case.

She escaped the alleyway, only to be greeted by a fresh blast of wind, which pushed more rain straight into her face. It was a really bad day to have come out without an umbrella.

You’ve been living here for two years now, you should know that Manchester can always guarantee you rain.

Pulling the hood of her jacket tighter against her face, Corinne ignored the zebra crossing further up the street – one hundred metres felt a long way today – and sprinted across the main road instead, dodging the two nearest, slow moving cars.

Up ahead the tram station beckoned: bright green sign and white florescent lights. Wood Green Road station. It was like a beacon, shining through the darkness and calling her in with the promise of shelter.

“Finally,” she muttered and scurried into the station, pausing for a few, drippy minutes at the ticket machine. Her wet fingers stuck to everything as she searched through her purse to find change, but eventually her gluey hands found what she needed and she pushed a few coins into the slot and grabbed her ticket from the tray at the bottom.

NaNo – No no…

Head Desk Day 13 of NaNoWriMo and I’m really not doing very well… Four weeks ago, when I was finishing RMT I was bubbling over with enthusiasm and ideas for another book: scenes kept springing into my head, one-shots were pretty much writing themselves, cover design was done in a single sitting….

Then 1st November rolls around and pfft – nothing, nada, zilch. I tried the next day and the next – I tried the prologue, and skipped forward to chapter 1, because I wasn’t really feeling good about the writing. I tried jumping ahead to some of the ‘action scenes’ thinking they might spur me on (yeah – I’m not even going to bother letting you see those). By 4th November, I had a grand total of 462 words:


“How can there be this much friggin’ rain?”

Corinne Smith was muttering to herself as ran for the shelter of the tram station platform. Her feet squelched inside soggy boots as she stomped down the stairs, annoyed that no one had thought to enclose them to protect passengers from the elements. Twenty seconds later, she stepped into a dark, damp recess on the platform and out of the storm.

She shook her head, which made ringlets of wet hair stick to her face and the inside of her hooded coat. I hate being damp.

(Note: Insert major action scene to draw in reader and bump off this lovely lady in a pretty gruesome fashion).

The creature pulled himself up into a tree, his long finger nails sinking into the wet bark. It was an easy climb for him up to a low branch, which gave a good view of the platform and his recent handiwork. He didn’t miss being human, not one bit, but that didn’t stop him being fascinated by them.

hapter 1

“Beth! Psst – Beth!”

I turned in the direction of the voice. As did half of the people on the tables surrounding me – they obviously didn’t appreciate being interrupted either. My fellow students looked at the whispering girl and then glared around the library workspace until they identified the other guilty party. Perfect, it was me.

Please don’t come over, please don’t come over…

“Hey!” Kerry greeted me, at full, normal ‘non-library’ volume, as she plopped into the chair opposite.

“Hey,” I whispered back, closing my books and piling them together as quickly and quietly as possible.

“Are you finished?” Kerry continued, still on full volume.

“I am now!” I hissed back, getting out of my seat and grabbing the book tower I’d just made. There was no point trying to continue working and I was eager to get away from the death-stares we were receiving from the people studying around us.

With my books in my arms, I hurried through the library stacks, passing dozens of bookcases with shelves crammed full of every type of book and document you could imagine. Kerry trotted along behind, close at my heels until we passed through the glass doors into the main library entrance hall.

As soon as we moved into the hall, we broke out of the bubble of silence that existed inside the main library and re-entered the normal world,

“Who the hell says psst, anyway? You sounded like a character from a bad spy film or something.”

“Whatever – I stand by my method of extraction.” Kerry shrugged. “I had to get you out of there: you were turning into one of those brainiac zombies who devours books and craves silence.”

I nodded, in mock-agreement. “Yeah – those guys are crazy. You’d think they were there to learn or something, who’d want to do that when you’re a student?”


So, for the last nine days I’ve been stuck – I really like this story (the one in my head, not the one I’ve managed to get down on paper), but my mojo has definitely gone. I’ve 17 days left in November – and I actually think I could still complete the challenge – but I don’t think it will be with this book: there’s too much planning and prep to put into it, to write something I’m not sure I’m ready to write.

Maybe if I want a break from Ambrosia but can’t get into gear on this piece, I should try something else… ?

Your thoughts (and any additional word count you can offer!) would be gratefully received!


Do you want to come on a journey?


2013-Participant-Vertical-Banner I suppose this isn’t a particularly fair question, as I’ve already kind of decided that I’m going to share some of my NaNoWriMo 2013 experience as I go along anyway 🙂 As I’m working on a brand new project this time, I didn’t think it would hurt to share some of the bits I write this month – first draft, mistakes and typos and all, because NaNoWriMo is about writing and not editing. So, if you’re interested in seeing what I’m doing, how my word count is going or catching snippets of bits as I go along, then keep an eye on me in November, and I’ll try and remember to post, along with writing a couple of thousand words a day to meet the 50,000 word target.

As it’s 1st November, I’m off now, to get started on Chapter 1 – no title for it yet, because who knows where it’s going?

30 days – 50, 000 words – are you up for NaNo in 2013? Tell me what you’re doing if you are 🙂

Feeling Inspired…

I’m officially done on NaNoWriMo – 50, 265 words in twenty-nine (ish) days – phew! There’s lots more writing to be done and a whole load of editing, but still, this has been a great experience and quite inspirational in its own way. Just having something behind you pushing you *ahem* forcing you to write each day, actually reinforces what you can achieve. Perhaps it is too easy to say I’ve been busy at work, or must read someone else’s book or lose some time on Facebook…

One of the best things about NaNo has been the regular motivational posts they send you to keep you going. Of all these my favourite came on Day 2 (which I’ve copied below to share with you) and I think has probably given me the best idea for something I can take away and keep doing after November, because goodness knows you couldn’t keep rolling off 50k words a month indefinitely! (Sorry – going to go off at a tangent now) NaNo is a bit like speed walking – ‘speed writing’ if you like: when you speed walk, you look more silly than you would do normally, but you are driven and have a purpose for wiggling those hips in a slightly odd manner; speed writing is the same, you go a bit faster than usual, probably write some downright silly stuff at times, but you have a clear start and finish and it gives you something to aim for.

So, back to being motivated…Kate DiCamillo wrote one page every day – whether it was good or not, needed editing later or got deleted altogether…she wrote it. That’s what seems to be important about NaNo really – just get on and do it! Don’t flap, don’t edit, don’t procrastinate…just write it and sort the problems out later. Writing in this way can feel quite cathartic, especially if you’ve been sat on a book for a while (figuratively speaking, obviously) – you just put it down on the page, instead of leaving it turning over and over in your head.

So – I’m NaNo’d out for now – I’d definitely give it a go next year again, just to get a kick-start…but in the meantime, I’m now back to final edits on RMT…slightly less inspiring and creative, but altogether necessary 🙂 Hope you like Kate’s letter:

Dear Writer,

When I was 30 years old, I moved to Minneapolis and got a job in a book warehouse. My official job title was “Picker.” This meant that I went around the third floor of the warehouse holding a computerized print order in one hand and pulling books off the shelf with the other hand. I put all the books into a grocery cart and I took the grocery cart and wheeled it into an ancient, crabby freight elevator and went downstairs to deliver the order to the shipping department. Then I took the stairs back up to the third floor and started over again.

It wasn’t a challenging job. It didn’t pay much. I was on my feet all day long. My back hurt. My hands hurt. But I was happy. I was surrounded by books and by people who loved to read them. Also, for the first time in my life, I was writing.

I got up every morning before work (the alarm was set for 4:30) and wrote two pages before I went into the warehouse. And then, when I arrived at work at 7:00 to punch the time clock, I received my daily so-you-want-to-be-a-writer pep talk from a coworker.

Let’s call him Bob. (Even though his real name is Gary).

Bob wanted to be a writer, too. But he wasn’t writing. Every morning we had the same exchange.

Bob: “How did the writing go?”

Me: “Fine.”

Bob: “How many pages did you write?”

Me: “Two.”

Bob: “Do you think Dickens wrote two pages a day?”

Me: “I don’t know how many pages Dickens wrote a day.”

Bob: “Yeah, well let me tell you something, you’re no Dickens. So what’s Plan B, babe? What’s Plan B for when the writing doesn’t work out?”

For this question, I had no answer.

I turned my back on Bob, pulse pounding, fists clenched, and climbed the stairs to the third floor and started picking books.

When the alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning, I thought about Bob and that is part of the reason I got out of bed.

It is a truly excellent to have someone to believe in you and your ability to write.

But I think it is just as helpful to have people who don’t believe in you, people who mock you, people who doubt you, people who enrage you. Fortunately, there is never a shortage of this type of person in the world.

So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you.

In other words, do it for Bob!

Your friend in writing, 
Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is the author of The Tale of Despereaux (Newbery Medal), Because of Winn-Dixie(Newbery Honor), and a The Tiger Rising (National Book Award finalist). 

NaNoWriMo… Are you in?

So… this year I’ve decided to take part in NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month – which takes place every year and runs throughout November. I considered trying this last year to kick-start my creativity, but was heavily into editing Hope’s Daughter at the time and so couldn’t commit to being creative and an editor at the same time – there’s not enough room inside my head.

But this year…I’ve done my editing on The Rainbow Maker’s Tale and it’ll be with the people doing their edits and beta reading for the next few weeks, so I thought ‘why not?’ Helpfully, I’m already into Outlanders, which is what I’ll be working on for NaNoWriMo, and so I have a huge amount waiting to be written after months of kicking around the ideas and one-shots. I’m hoping that writing each day – just pouring the story out of me – will help get me into a good routine, that might continue into the new year… but then again, that sounds far too organised for me! 🙂

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? What are you going to write about?