(Not) NaNoWriMo

Mechanical Paper Art by the talented Jennifer Collier
Mechanical Paper Art by the talented Jennifer Collier – www.jennifercollier.co.uk

On the podcast this month, I interview thriller author Catherine Ryan Howard. Catherine was lots of fun and the interview has been described as ‘giggly’. Good thing I cut out lots of the laughter in the edit…

Hop over here to listen (it’s free!) or via iTunes.

In other news, I have been attempting to get a chunk of my new first draft done. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, but a personal challenge to get 30,000 words down in November.

How’s it going? Well… Given that this first two weeks has been filled with visitors and life stuff and volunteering at my daughter’s musical theatre group for their annual production (backstage only, you’ll be relieved to hear), I’m pretty pleased: 9,288 words.

Yes, this leaves me with the lion’s share, but the next two weeks are infinitely quieter than the start of the month, so I have every faith I shall catch up.


I also finished reading this fantastic collection: P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters, Edited by Sophie Ratcliffe. It’s a fascinating look at the life of a prolific writer and full of reassuring  lines such as:

‘I am now trying to get a plot for a new novel, but so far only incoherent ramblings.’

How about you? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo?

[Wonderful typewriter art found via DesignSoak]

Starting A New Book: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

autumn

Hello, my lovelies!

I had such grand plans for October.

I was going to finish the second draft of my supernatural/fantasy book and send it to my agent. I was going to start the first draft of a new book. I was going to update this blog regularly, take a week off with my family, sort out some DIY tasks, and, in all likelihood, solve the global warming crisis at the same time. In other words, I succumbed to the ‘do all the things’ trap. My perfectionist side likes to do this every so often – it piles on the pressure and watches the inevitable meltdown with a giant carton of popcorn. Sigh.

This was probably a result of finishing the old book completely and finally (copy edits done!) and not having started the new one. After a few weeks of panic (I’ll never have another idea! I’ll never finish another book! The others were flukes!) I settled back to work. And nothing happened. Even if I managed to write, it came out stilted and weird.

First I bullied myself (‘you must write 2000 words today or else’) and my brain froze and refused to work at all. Then I took a week off to read and watch films and walk and think and, by the end, my creative mind was beginning to wake up and send me little snippets.

Today, I finally seem to be in the zone. I have a couple of characters I adore and a ‘feeling’ which, for me, is the most important part. The relief is enormous!

In other news, it appears to be the end of October. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you lots of luck (and words – lots and lots of words!). I won’t be taking part officially, but I will be trying to write as much as possible on my first draft. I’ll aim for 30,000 and will check in here throughout the month. Do feel free to set any goals in the comments, so that we support each other during November!

theworriedwriter_300Finally, if you haven’t tried my free podcast, yet; do consider checking out the latest interview with Joanna Penn (from The Creative Penn). If you need inspiration to get more productive or to follow your writing dreams, Joanna’s energy and enthusiasm may be just what you need.

Episode #08: The Worried Writer: Joanna Penn ‘I Measure My Life by What I Create’ 

Alternatively, if you’re struggling with getting words down at all and are in a writing slump, this post may help: The Only Way To Defeat A Bad Writing Day

Progress Update: Includes Stickers!

Just a quick check-in today, my lovelies, but I thought I’d let you know how my November mini challenge worked out.

As I’ve long suspected, the secret to getting anything done lies in stationery…

I wanted to re-establish my morning writing routine during November, so I gave myself a cute shiny star sticker for every time I wrote as soon as I woke up.
progress

As you can see, it worked a treat. I’d set the bar nice and low (twenty minutes of writing at a time of day that really suits me) and, once I had a nice line of stickers, I didn’t want to break my streak.

Plus, I was reminded of just how much I can get done in a short time. Even on those mornings when the kids needed me/the new kitten wouldn’t stop jumping on my hands, and I literally wrote for twenty minutes ONLY, I still got at least 250 words down. That doesn’t sound like much, but it all adds up, and it kept the story live and kicking in my mind.

My other goal for the month was to write (at least) 15,000 words. I’m not certain of my final tally (I had to switch back to my official WIP halfway through and that involved lots of deleting/rewriting as well as new words) but it’s in the region of 16,000, so I’m delighted.

How about you? Did you take part in NaNoWriMo or something similar?

 

 

 

Short Story News and Not Doing NaNoWriMo

wintertalesThe nice folk at Write Romantics have put together an anthology of winter-themed short stories in order to raise money for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust.

Titled Winter Tales, the anthology features bestselling writers such as Annie Lyons, Helen Phifer and, um, me. (Meep!)

My story is called ‘The Art of Giving’ and it features Iris Harper. So, if you enjoyed The Language of Spells and wanted a peek into Iris’s past or you fancy an excellent selection of uplifting stories or you just feel like doing something good for charity, please consider purchasing a copy.

Winter Tales is out on Saturday 8th November (tomorrow!) in Kindle format with paperback to follow soon. There’s a launch event tomorrow afternoon on Facebook with competitions and giveaways.

In other news, I will (yet again) not be taking part in NaNoWriMo. I think it’s a brilliant event and I wish everyone taking part lots of luck, but I know it’s not for me. The pressure of 50,000 words just makes my brain freeze.

I do love writing challenges, though, so I’m joining author Karen Mahoney’s cut-down version.

After sending off the latest rewrite of the book to my agent, I wanted to have a fairly chilled month, plus I respond well to a low bar, so I set my target at 15,000 words.

Hop over to her blog if you’d like to join in, too.

 

Writing Challenge Check In: Week 3

red_typewriterHello, my lovelies. How was your week?

I hope you all managed to get lots of words written or a chunk of editing completed. Whatever goal you set yourself, I hope it helped you to get work done when you might not otherwise, and to appreciate your progress, no matter how small.

Speaking of small… I managed just under 3000 words. I really wanted this to be the week that I hit my ‘5000 word’ target, but it wasn’t to be. I have excuses, of course. I always have those.

I got stuck. I got ill. The kids were off school on Friday for a random in-service day.

I also have a bit of news. I will be, um, altering my goal for the remaining five weeks of the challenge. Purely to demonstrate the importance of remaining flexible while juggling different projects, of course. Ah-hem.

I heard back from my amazing editor on Friday. She’s read through draft two of the follow up to The Language of Spells and, as I suspected, it needs a fair amount of work. (Translation: A flamethrower would come in handy).

I’ve spent the weekend re-reading the book on my Kindle and marveling at just how wrong I can get things, and at the unbelievable inefficiency of my ‘process’. My brain seems to find it irritatingly necessary for me to write all the wrong words, before I can clearly see which are the right ones. Sigh.

So, my goal for this week is to rewrite the first third of the book.

How about you guys? Are you busy with your NaNoWriMo word counts? Editing away? I wish you luck!

Friday Five: November. Seriously?

ID-100114850Yes, yes, I know I’m always commenting on how quickly time flies, but really… Seriously? November?!

1. For many writers (both aspiring and professional), November means one thing: NaNoWriMo.  I’ve previously established that 50,000 words in a month is utterly beyond me, but I’m still setting myself a writing challenge. Read about it here and feel free to join me!

2. I also wrote about NaNoWriMo for Novelicious.

3. Still need inspiration? Rainbow Rowell (author of one of my favourite books of this year, Eleanor & Park) has written a brilliant pep talk for NaNoWriMo.

4. In addition to stationery and writing challenges, the change in season has brought something else to the front of my mind: knitting. After a break over the spring and summer, I’ve picked up the pins again and started a new project. (This pattern, in case you’re interested.)

5. Contrary to the weather, I’ve just started Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell. I’m a big fan of her writing, so have high hopes… I’ll report back later!

[Image Credit: Free Digital Photos]