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.

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?




Creativity, time-out and tasty rice

Okay, confession time: I’ve been in a writing slump.

I had a knock-back (or two) and I didn’t manage to shrug them off with a casual ‘it’s their loss’.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what I’ve done wrong, questioning the direction I’ve taken, my genre, and my ‘voice’. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has had a knock-on effect on my creativity.

I’ve been reading blogs (more than usual), aimlessly clicking through the internets and, instead of being inspired and uplifted by the brilliance (and community) found within, I’ve felt drained and miserable.

In short, I was beginning to think that whatever writing talent and drive I’d once had, was gone. Used up. I was a husk, I tell you! A self-dramatising husk!

So, I decided to take time off and focus on other things: Sewing, reading, gardening and walking. And, praise be, it’s working… For starters, I’ve felt happy again. Huzzah!

Then, while I was potting these flowers, I felt the tickle of a new idea in the back of my mind. Next, a character’s voice began chattering in my head.

It seems that creativity can be like a shy woodland creature; if you blunder towards it, it runs away. If you pretend you’re not looking, sometimes it creeps out of the undergrowth and nuzzles your hand. Or something.

Hello, little deer. Are you my missing creativity? Please say 'yes'.

So. Since I’m feeling a wee tiny bit better, I’m going to take part in Karen Mahoney’s Spring writing challenge. I’m signing up to write 30,000 during April. That’s just 1000 words a day. 1000 more than I’ve been managing recently, but still. Gotta love a deadline. Anyone want to join me?

In other news, I had the urge to cook something new on the weekend. I spotted this spicy jambalya recipe on my sister-in-law’s drool-inducing cookery website and decided to give it a go. I hoped that the addition of chorizo might persuade my son to choke down some rice, much in the way that a bucket of parmesan makes risotto palatable to him.

Some recipe notes in case you want to follow in my footsteps (and I urge you to do so – it’s yummy):

I didn’t have a carton of tomatoes, so used a tin of Napolina chopped tomatoes instead.

I used trusty Marigold Swiss vegetable buillon for the veg stock and followed the amount stated even though it looked like an alarming amount of liquid. It wasn’t. It cooked perfectly in just over 20 minutes.

As I was making this for the whole family, I omitted the chillis and I’m glad I did. It was still super-tasty but both kids said they wouldn’t have wanted it any hotter.

I adore lime so I doubled up on this, cutting a whole lime into wedges and giving everyone a piece to squeeze their own.

The rice goes all deliciously smooth and silky (from the fat in the chorizo, I assume) and the smokiness of chorizo and paprika cut with lime juice is sublime.

We all loved it – even my son. Towards the end of his bowlful he was mainly just picking out the chorizo, but I’m okay with that. I’m all about celebrating the small successes this week.

The 15 minute habit

Ooh, this post  by Alice Bradley is good. Yes, it’s advice I’ve heard before, but put in a very compelling way.

Also, I thought it might be timely… By this point in November, many of us are despairing of ever hitting our NaNoWriMo (or KazNo!) targets or may even have given up the challenge completely.

While I love the crazy-beautiful insanity of NaNoWriMo, it isn’t for everyone. It is, after all, a massive challenge. If you don’t manage it, does that make you less of a writer? Less of a creative person? No!

What I love about Alice Bradley’s advice (in a nutshell; cultivate a creative habit of writing for 15 minutes every day) is its kindness and inclusivity. Almost everyone can carve 15 minutes from their schedule.

What I also love is that this kind of ‘low-bar’ setting has worked for me in the past when I’ve been feeling low or stuck in a rut. It’s such an easy target (no set word count, just spend 15 minutes on your writing) that it’s embarrassing not to hit it. And if you do miss a day? Well, there’s tomorrow. And the day after. It’s not a short-term challenge, it’s developing a creative habit for life.

[Rabbit hurdling image courtesy of The Telegraph]

Progress report. Ahem.

It appears to be week three of November which means week three of KazNo (or, if you prefer, NaNoWriMo). I should be at around 21,000 words.

I am not.

Last week flew past in a blur of stressful work-stuff and last-minute suit shopping (just as much fun as it sounds) and motherly duties. This should not have made a difference to my output (that’s kind of the point of a writing challenge) and yet, it did.

So. To distract you from my woeful word count, I’m pointing you to this post from Karen Mahoney on why she writes. Enjoy.

Week one check in

So, how has the first week of NaNoWriMo (or, in my case, KazNo) gone for you?

Personally, I had a shaky start… I failed quite spectacularly for the first few days of the challenge and wrote absolutely nothing.

I’ve started now, though, and thanks to a reasonably quiet weekend and an understanding husband who took the kids to the fireworks, I now have 4,800 words.

I’m feeling pretty wiped out today, but I’m hoping to get to 5000 before bedtime.  Then I’ll only be 2000 words behind. Ho hum.

Just dive in…

I am procrastinating. It’s day three of November and I have yet to start KazNo. In other words, I am already 3000 words behind. Eep.

Worse still, I haven’t even decided which project to work on. I’m tempted to start something new and flail about in first draft territory for 30,000 glorious words… After months of solid revision, that sound pretty damn fine. However, my sensible side says I should knuckle down and beat my YA paranormal into submission.

I know. This blog post is more procrastination. The decision is procrastination.

In the words of Maureen Johnson (who is posting lots of NaNo advice throughout November), I should:

Go forth and do this thing. Have no fear. Just walk right in.

Okay, then.