NaNoWriMo 2020 Wrap Up

Well that was a bit of a fail, wasn’t it? My aim at the beginning of the month was to write 30,000 words, (I’d fully accepted I wasn’t going to get anywhere near the challenge target of 50,000) but I only managed to write 15,000. I had loads of time off this month but when it came to sitting down and writing, nothing happened and I was suffering from some major writer’s block and lack of confidence.

I’ve learned that I don’t cope well with time pressure especially when it comes to my creative outlets, it worked when I was writing essays at university but this is completely different! So the aim from the 1st January 2021 (or earlier) is to write 150 words a day for an entire year which would equate to just under 55,000 words by December 31st 2021. And hopefully, at the next NaNoWriMo I should have 46,000 words down and a more detailed outline of this story, so things should be a little easier and more productive.

Every year my lack of confidence and doubt is one of my biggest writing demons, you think you’ve defeated them but then they’re right back with you, watching over your shoulder whispering insecurities and lies. I’ll write a paragraph, re-read it and feel proud of what I’ve just written, but then I realise it’s not perfect and that it needs tweaking when it doesn’t. I’m trapped in this endless cycle and I don’t think the time pressure and daily targets helped, so hopefully writing in smaller chunks might eliminate this.

I understand that the confidence in my writing will come with time, it’s not something I can just fix. The main thing is that I’m not giving up, this project might take me five months or five years, either way, I am excited to watch my writing develop and my story blossom into something epic!

I’m going to try and focus on the positives because, in reality, this month hasn’t been a complete failure! Not only did I manage to write 15,000 words but I also organised all my Pinterest mood boards, developed my character profiles and now have a clear outline for the first 10 chapters.

Overall this has been quite a different month than expected but is has been one which has allowed me to identify my weaknesses and move forward with new and exciting plans. And to finish off this post, I thought I’d share a little snippet of what I’ve been working on during NaNoWriMo, it’s not much but its a start!

The most dangerous person at any party is the one who hides in the shadows. The second is the one who has nothing and everything to lose. Every seat at the table was filled, the haze of cigar smoke masked the fear of doubt and clouded reason, leaving a game balancing on high stakes and arrogance. Unlike usual, the game wasn’t privy to any select few instead it presented itself to the watchful eyes of the spectators and the gossiping of high society, the players wanted attention, and their audience was more than willing to accept it.

7 Books Written During NaNoWriMo

We’re about halfway through NaNoWriMo, and I swear every year this month flies by! For those who don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs through the entire month on November with the aim to encourage its participants to start their novel and write a grand total of 50,000 words! It’s a wonderful event that brings together the writing community and although we’re all unable to meet up this year, organisers have scheduled little Zoom chats so everyone can get involved!

I only started my project on Sunday as work has been a bit manic with people panic buying Christmas presents and re-arranging entire stores following government guidelines. But I’ve now got a week off work and plan to do some major catching up! As I’ve mentioned previously my goal for this months challenge is to write 30,000 words instead of the usual 50,000, so I’m eager to get into the swing of things.

I love reading everyone’s updates all of them are so motivational and, it’s great to see so many people smashing their goals, so keep it up! In previous years, however, this is where I begin to falter and where I start to doubt myself and my ideas. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with their confidence so I did a bit of research into published and well-loved books that were written during NaNoWriMo for a bit of inspiration and it’s given me the boost I needed! So I thought I’d share my list with everyone and hopefully, this will help and fill you with confidence if you’re struggling. You never know your project could be the next New York Times Bestseller, so if they can do it, then so can you!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Probably NaNoWriMo’s most successful novel of all time and rightly so because everything about this book is beautiful, especially the lyrical and magical writing style that brings this world to life. This book was written throughout three NaNoWriMo’s so there’s no pressure to finish your entire book this month, sometimes these things take time! But what I love most is Morgenstern’s advice to writers which is to ‘take risks’ and ‘to let yourself be surprised’!

Cinder by Marissa Myers – Myers is a legend when it comes to NaNoWriMo as she wrote THREE of her best selling books in a single month! This insane amount of writing was inspired by a competition in which whoever wrote the most words during NaNoWriMo would win a cameo in a Star Trek episode. Although she didn’t win, she did manage to kick start her writing career and publish her much-loved series, The Lunar Chronicles!

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen – Another huge NaNoWriMo success story and one which even got its own film adaptation! Gruen’s advice in her pep talk was to ‘focus on the fun scenes and let the rest flow, and also to remember that we’re all in the same boat when it comes to trying to bring our ideas to life.

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard – Although I’ve yet to read this book, I have read the first book in Dennard’s Witchlands series, and it just proves that once you start there’s no stopping you and that you never know what next adventure is around the corner, so keep writing!

Wool by Hugey Howey – Years and years ago, I started writing the first few chapters of a young adult dystopian novel, only to find that my idea was already a published book! Since then this book has been sitting on my shelf unread! Whoops! Anyway this story, like my own, started off as a short story and then eventually grew into something bigger, so this is another remind to never give up!

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – This is one of my go-to young adult contemporaries because it’s just so lovely and I can’t believe that I never knew it was written during NaNoWriMo!

Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – I watched one of his writing tips videos recently, and he revealed that a part of this book was written during NaNoWriMo, which for me was a huge confidence booster! As many of you will know, Sanderson is one of my favourite writers of all time, his ability to create intense storylines paired with intricate characters and an endless imagination is what makes his books so special.

Third Time’s the Try? – NaNoWriMo 2020

I deliberate over this decision every year. On the one hand I’ve got all these ideas and untitled drafts that I want to bring to life but on the other hand I don’t know if I really want to put myself through an entire month of intense writing. BUT, one of my aims for this year was to work on my writing, so I’m going to throw logic and reason out of the window and give it a shot, third times the try, right? Plus I’ve just bought a new laptop, so what better way to break it in than writing 50,000 words!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs through the entire month on November with the aim to encourage its participants to start their novel and write a grand total of 50,000 words! It’s a wonderful event that brings together the writing community and although we’re all unable to meet up this year, organisers have scheduled little Zoom chats so everyone can get involved! If this sounds like something you want to attempt then I’ll leave a link to the website here!

I participated in NaNoWriMo way back in 2017 (and attempted it again last year, but we won’t talk about that) and managed to reach 25,000 words, which, with no planning, I thought was pretty good! I’ve already accepted that I probably won’t reach 50,000 words, so my personal aim this year is to reach 30,000 and to work on a) my untitled fantasy book, b) my flash fiction and finally c) my trashy highlander book for a friend!

All the way back in 2017 I started writing the first few chapters of my fantasy adventure and over the years I’ve fallen out of love with the story and struggled to find an ending. Flash-forward three years, and I’m back with another idea! There are elements and characters I’ve kept from my 2017 draft, as I couldn’t leave them trapped in my forgotten drafts folders and I’m actually really excited about this story!

My flash fiction is another thing I’ve forgotten about over the years and its time I start bringing my ideas to life! Flash fiction for those who don’t know is a piece of fiction characterised as being only a couple of hundred words, that sometimes centres around a snap-shot filled with open-ended questions and a shroud of mystery. I was first introduced to the format whilst studying it at university and instantly fell in love with its ability to hold so much story and possibility within only a couple of hundred words and knew it was something I wanted to try and replicate. Again I’ve got loads of ideas and first lines, all I need to do now is finish them!

Earlier this year I was introduced to the wonderfully trashy world of highlander romance novels, everything about them is fabulous! My love for them has also extended to one of my good friends from university and fellow ‘Reading Between the Wines’ book club founder. It has now become a tradition that every time we meet up we gift each other with the ‘best’ highlander book we can find! The joke has even gone as far as planning our own book, so as a Christmas gift I want to surprise her with the first few chapters!

I know I’ve set myself up with lots of projects but I wanted to be able to switch writing styles depending on my mood! One of my biggest challenges last time I participated was my lack of confidence and that horrible shadow of doubt that echos your fears of not being good enough. I know that I’ll never be able to banish that feeling but I’ve learned to remind myself that this whole experience is just a bit of fun and that my writing IS good enough! So if you’re also participating this year then always remember that, your story is important and deserves to be shared, I believe in you! Good luck!

To NaNoWriMo or Not to NaNoWriMo?

This is always one of the most difficult decisions to make each year as I battle between realistic and optimistic writing expectations and whether or not its worth putting myself through such an intense month. As much as I’d love to write 50,000 words in a month, I know that it’s sadly not possible with my current work schedule but I do hope to write 25,000 words whether that be in the form of flash fiction, a detailed plan or the first couple of chapters.

Flash fiction for those who don’t know is a piece of fiction characterised as being only a couple of hundred words, that sometimes centres around a snap-shot filled with open-ended questions and a shroud of mystery. I was first introduced to the format whilst studying it at university and instantly fell in love with its ability to hold so much story and possibility within only a couple of hundred words and knew it was something I wanted to try and replicate.

What’s been my downfall in previous years was my failure to properly plan and layout my storyline correctly, which in turn left me struggling in deciding where I wanted my story and characters to go. If you have any tips for planning then I’d love to know as I’m currently watching lots of YouTube videos and reading lots of really helpful blog posts.

It’s not NaNoWriMo without writing a couple of draft chapters and one of the most important tips I’ve learned over the years is to just write and worry about the edits later! I’m one for getting hung up on different words and sentence structures but hopefully this year things will be different and I’ll be able to complete my target of 25,000 words. I plan to keep you all updated with my progress and planning but at the moment it’s all a bit chaotic and I need to start finally putting my ideas onto paper. What I can tell you, is that I’m juggling two completely different ideas, one of which is for a honest and fluffy contemporary novel and the other for an intricate and adventurous fantasy novel and I’m sure it’ll come down to a toss of a coin in deciding which one I’ll dedicate my time too!

Let me know if you’re considering of participating in NaNoWriMo and again if you’ve got any tips then I’d love to know! Happy writing everyone!

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up – 12 Days of Blogmas

First things first, I’m really sorry for the lack of activity on our blog recently, but I’m back home now for the holidays and I’ve got all my essays done so I thought I’d participate in 12 days of blogmas and get back to posting on here! Anyway, let’s start the first day of blogmas off with my NaNoWriMo Wrap Up!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs through the entire month of November with the aim to encourage its participants to start their novel and write a grand total of 50,000 words! This was a very spontaneous idea so I didn’t do much preparation which certainly backfired when I reached the third week as I got to various scenes where planning was vital which meant I had to stop my writing and start googling; a process I wish I’d done before I started writing. Nevertheless, I managed to reach just over 25,000 words which I am super proud of as I already knew I wasn’t going to reach 50,000 words as I had loads of uni work to juggle at the same time. The first few days started off really well and I managed to keep up with the word limit however as soon as I got back to Uni everything went downhill and my time for writing was taken up by essays and seminar prep.

Next year, I think I’m going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo which takes place in April and July and hopefully then I’ll have more time to focus on writing and possibly achieve writing 50,000 words because I enjoyed this experience so much that I think it’s going to have to be something I do every year! The increase in my confidence is one the biggest gains I’ve had from this experience, I’m more confident in my writing ability, my story and myself.  I never told anyone that I was participating in NaNoWriMo because I was scared of people reading my work and I still am a bit but certainly not as much as I was at the beginning of the process. Being able to finally put my story and characters into words has been so exciting and I’m even ready to share my writing with a few of my close friends and family. 

For those who are considering to participate next year, here are some tips and lessons I’ve learned throughout my experience:

  1. Just keep writing – When I asked people for tips, this is one kept popping up and I totally understand why. There’s no point stressing out and getting hung up on trying to find the right word or sentence structure. The aim for NaNoWriMo is to write as much as possible and to finally put your ideas onto paper. Just remember you can always adjust and change bits after NaNoWriMo.
  2. Planning is Important! – I hate planning but for a task as big as this it is vital and it will really help you the further you get into writing your novel. I learned this the hard way and wasted valuable writing time. I didn’t expect to admit this but the planning element of it was actually quite fun and I really enjoyed fleshing out my characters and storyline.
  3. Confidence is Key – As cheesy as it sounds you need to believe in yourself and have confidence in your writing ability. That story that’s been developing in your head for however long is important and deserves to be shared. If I can do it, then you all can too!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Update #3+4

Update #3 – 22nd November

We’re over half way through now which terrifies me and to make it better I’m currently suffering from major doubts about my writing and my story in general. I knew that I would hit this point in my writing, but luckily for me, I managed to shake myself out of it fairly quickly. I blame John Green for all my current doubts as I’ve just finished reading ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ which I thought was incredible. I’ve never been a massive fan of John Green as I’ve only ever enjoyed one of his books but after reading his new release I might be starting to change my mind.

After conquering that first major road bump, I hit another one which had a much bigger impact on my word count and started making me doubt whether I would even hit my personal goal. That road-bump was my research and planning as I got to various scenes where planning was vital which meant I had to stop my writing and start googling; a process I wish I’d done before I started writing. Nevertheless it something I can learn from and hopefully next year I will have learned from my mistakes. Fingers crossed I can catch up with my word count because I’m seriously behind!

Update #4 – 30th November

It’s the last day of NaNoWriMo which is crazy as I don’t know where this month has gone. I’ve still got just over 2,000 words to write but luckily I’ve got the day off Uni so my whole day has been dedicated just to writing. I don’t want to go to much into detail about my writing process and my experience as I’m going to leave that for a review post that should be up later this week, but I will say that this has been a great experience that has allowed me to discover more about my writing skills and process. Being able to finally put my story and characters into words has been so exciting and I’m even ready to share my writing with a few of my close friends and family. I never told anyone that I was participating in NaNoWriMo because I was scared of people reading my work and I still am a bit but certainly not as much as I was at the beginning of the process. Now I am so proud of my characters, my story and my ability to put them both into words and I can’t wait to see where the rest of this journey goes.

I hope those who were also participating in NaNoWriMo this year managed to hit their target and that they had as much fun as I did! And I also hope that I’ve encouraged other people to give it a go next year, if I can do it then you can too!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Update #1+2

Update #1 – 8th November

It’s been over a week since NaNoWriMo started and I’ve only just realized how much work and effort something like this requires. Trying to balance University and NaNoWriMo has certainly been hard and has a big impact on my word count. On the first few days, I was winning at NaNoWriMo, I’d managed to keep up with the word count and I was really getting into the whole writing process however since coming back to University I’m ashamed to admit I’ve only written around 500 words! My aim in the next week is to sort out a timetable and try and work out some sort of balance between the two. I already know that I won’t make it to 50,000 words by the end of November but my aim is  25,000 words instead and hopefully I’ll be able to achieve that.

I don’t want to give anything away yet about what I’m writing, and I am still trying to decide whether or not I should post it on What-pad after I’ve gone over everything and edited it. If you’ve got a What-pad account I’d love to hear what your experience has been like and if you’ve got any tips for new members!

Update #2 – 15th November

We’re halfway through November which means I’ve only got 15 more days to hit my target of 25,000 words, panic! But in all honesty, I’m doing well in terms of word count, and I’ve currently written 13,567 words which equate in my book to just under four chapters which I’m so proud of! Starting this process and learning different things about the way I write is something I’ve really enjoyed and it has even inspired me to work on a few flash fiction projects that I’ve been planning for a couple of months now. My confidence in my work has also increased however I’m still not confident enough to share my work with friends and family just yet, maybe by the end of this month I’ll have sent it to someone to read.

One of the main tips I was given before I started NaNoWriMo was to ‘just write as much as I can’ and at first I really struggled with the idea of not editing or spending ages thinking of the exact words or sentence structure. However, in this last week, I’ve got into the hang of ‘just writing’ and not getting too hung up over the smallest of things and I think it’s because so much more is about to happen in my book. Their adventure is about to begin, I’m introducing new characters and new relationships and I’m at the stage where I’m excited to write and finally see this story take place. Fingers crossed this phase lasts until the end of November!

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year then I’d love to know how things are going and how you’re finding the whole process?

Happy Writing!

Writing My Own Novel? – NaNoWriMo 2017

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This is something I’ve been considering for a while now and it’s only today that I’ve finally convinced to sign up and join in with this years NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs through the entire month on November with the aim to encourage its participants to start their novel and write a grand total of 50,000 words! I’ve had a couple of book ideas and accompanying notes jotted down in various journals and Word documents, however, I’ve never managed to write more than 1000 words due to the horrible feeling of doubt and my enormous workload!

I always compare myself and my work to others and then that horrible feeling of doubt beings to grow in my mind and I start to question whether my work is good enough and whether I should even be writing. I don’t plan to have a finished product by the end of the of the month, instead, I just want to finally put my ideas on a page and into complete sentences and hopefully, the whole process will increase my confidence when it comes to writing!

This is a huge task which requires a lot of work, and I know I haven’t left myself much time to prepare but I’m going to give it a good old go! Fingers crossed, that I can keep up and not get too overwhelmed with the word count! I plan to work on my YA fantasy novel which I’ve been hinting about on here for a while but I don’t want to reveal the synopsis just yet! That is something you’ll just have to wait for!

If you’ve participated before or are planning to participate this year then I’d love to know and I’d especially love to hear some of your tips for surviving NaNoWriMo! I plan to do weekly updates where I’ll record my progress and my thoughts on the whole process so keep your eyes peeled for those! Finally, if you’re interested in joining or just want to follow all the action then you can head to the website www.nanowrimo.org and sign up there!