The Dare Machine & Word Sprints | NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participantHello! Welcome to my first NaNoWriMo post of the month and week one of NaNoWriMo has already gone past! How has your first week gone? Are you on target? You can see how I’m doing by heading over to my other blog and my Twitter, where I post regularly! (Oh, and, of course, by being my buddy on NaNoWriMo!)

Today I am talking about the NaNoWriMo Dare Machine. It’s a feature on the NaNoWriMo website which I think was originally on the Young Writer’s Program (at least, I haven’t seen it on their main website before now).

To use the ‘dare machine’, all you have to do is click ‘dare me’ and it will give you a prompt which you should use in your next scene/chapter/however you want to use it. I used this on my first chapter for example, and got ‘Use a literal plot bunny in your next scene’. In the scene where my character decided she wanted to write a novel, what was bounding away? A plot bunny.

(It’s made funnier by the fact that not everyone gets that.)

dare-machine

I think it’s a really cool way to get some more ‘oomf’ into your writing. I know I really love this, and even if I don’t use the prompt directly, or even forget about it when I’m writing, it gives me so much more inspiration and a kick up the backside to get it done!

On the dare machine page, there is also a Word Sprint machine. This is a widget where you can set a timer, click start, and at the end of however long you’ve set it the timer will go off. It’s a race against the clock to get as many words as possible and I live by word sprints. Even if I don’t have a timer or anyone to race against, word sprints are generally how I write bigger words of fiction like novels (eg, I’ll write for half an hour, and then I race for half an hour to get as many words as possible on the screen).

writing-sprint

I’m pretty sure that these are new add-ons to the NaNo website, so even if you’re an old hat at this they might be new to you, too! I’m so excited that these have been added (I was gutted when the YWP page was wiped!) and I’ve been using them basically every day since NaNoWriMo started.

(And if you were wondering what sound the timer made (I nearly peed myself the first time around) then here’s NaNoWriMo HQ telling you themselves! I fangirled a bit.)

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So, do you think you’ll use the Dare Machine and Word Sprint widget if you don’t already? Are you as excited as I am to see these be added to the site? Let me know in the comments below! 😀

The Good And Bad Novel Lists

I am planning my NaNoWriMo novel (*screams*) and I am using the lovely book called No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty (aka NaNoWriMo founder). In it, Chris suggests listing two lists: the Good Novel List and Bad Novel List (or, as he calls it, Magna Carter I and Magna Carter II). On these lists, you’re meant to put things on them that you like/don’t like in a novel. Continue reading

Why It’s Ok If NaNo Isn’t Working Right Now

I haven’t started writing my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel. Scary, right?! Bad? Evil? …daft? Uh, probably definitely the last one. But, hey, that’s why I’m writing this blog post!

Basically, don’t worry if you haven’t started. Firstly, it’s only Day 3 and that means you have about 26 (ok for me it’s too late to write so it’ll be day 4 soon) left to get all of your writing done. Secondly, the weekend is coming up (ok so it’s only Tuesday but it’s still coming up!). And thirdly, if you need some time to recharge your batteries (or, uh, initially charge your batteries) so be it.

If you haven’t started writing, as I obviously haven’t, here’re some top tips…

  1. Don’t try to catch up if it’ll burn yourself out. It’ll be a bit of a disaster, I think.
  2. Make sure you’re all planned and collected. If you have to get more writing done than you usually would, you might as well know what you’re doing.
  3. Have some time. Tell your friends, family and SO that you’re doing all sorts to catch up. Hopefully they’ll understand and bring you suitable caffeine products.

Good luck with NaNoWriMo, whether you’re already 10k in, are only a little done or haven’t started yet. I’m sure you’ll do great whatever.

How To (Successfully) Procrastinate NaNoWriMo

Sometimes, the words just aren’t coming and you don’t know why. Well, don’t despair! Simply procrastinate (or, look for inspiration). On my other blog, you can see how I managed to expertly procrastinate, but I thought I’d do another post if you do need some help to get through the month. 

1) Chat to your writing dragon/kitsune/imaginary writers friend. Don’t lie, we all have one. Get in touch with yours, rant a bit and perhaps ask for advice, or talk over your plot line. Alright, so this’ll look like you’re talking to yourself, but all the best are a little crazy. 

2) Make your NaNo survival kit! Check out the forum here. I’ll probably be posting about my NaNo survival kit on my other blog if you’re curious. 

3) Go out. Going out for the day/evening is ok, too, and you’re kinda procrastinating NaNo, but you’re also having fun, a break, and getting inspiration to get back into it again! 

4) Write your characters’ back stories. For fun. Maybe. 

5) Browse the NaNoWriMo forums and get chatting to some other Wrimos. They might be able to help with your predicament! 

Obviously, procrastinating the entire month of NaNoWriMo probably isn’t a good idea, but, hey, we all have bad days, and don’t let it bring you down! And sometimes, successful procrastinating is just as good and helpful to you as writing for 5 hours straight. 

Good luck for NaNo, folks! 

Is NaNoWriMo “Write” For You?

is nano right for youIt’s coming up, people. You can’t put it off any longer… Yes, it’s the big o’ National Novel Writing Month. First offs, what is it? Well, it’s where a bunch of crazy people (or, some few hundred thousand writers from across the globe) get together to try to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Okay, I’m just gonna keep it as a bunch of crazy people.

NaNoWriMo isn’t right for everyone. I’m a student with a lot of work, and just about convinced my mum to let me do the Young Writers’ Program (YWP). Some people might just have become parents, or got a new job (like my mum! Congrats, mum). So… how do you know NaNoWriMo is or isn’t right for you?

  • Do you cope well – or, at least, well-ish (aka you don’t cry/get overly stressed/stop doing something else like eating) – with stress?
  • Are you able to write at the moment? Aka – no other, more important commitments like exams or family commitments?
  • Can you write? Like, you’re able to somehow get words on some sort of page, either by typing, hand writing or spoken word for example?
  • Do you think you can do this?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, I’d probably have a bit of a think before you try and conquer NaNoWriMo. I had my first 50,000 “win” last year, and, let me tell you, it was hard. I was mega proud when I’d done it, but it wasn’t easy. This year, I’m not aiming for the big 5-0, but a more realistic goal of 30,000 on the YWP. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, what with my other commitments, but I’m giving it a try because I know it’s also unlikely to stress me out if I don’t get it done.

If you answered “yes” to any/all of those questions, I’d still give NaNoWriMo a thought before you sign up. It’s difficult. Like, really difficult.

Now I’m sure that negativity has got you all nice and happy, so let’s throw in some more rainbows to lighten the mood (no, seriously, this bit is positive): NaNoWriMo is a great experience. It really is. You can do things you never thought you could, and you’ll have so much more confidence if you won or not, because, you know what? You tried.

Why am I writing this article then, you ask, if I’m just saying go for it anyway? Because, for some people, right now isn’t the time. And, if it isn’t, that is ok. There are always the camps, or next year, or, you know what, you don’t need NaNoWriMo to write! Say you can write 20,000 words in a month – over the course of six, that’s at least one novel!

NaNoWriMo is daunting and scary, but if you’re able and want to do it, I say give it a shot. It might mean you are a little more tired, or spend a little more of your spare time not reading but frantically writing, but hey-ho. It’s all fun and games.

Feel free to comment on anything or email me if you ever need any advice and/or encouraging writerly words for NaNoWriMo and/or any other endeavours.

And good luck if/when you sign up.

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I use this picture every year…

Evapouration

I quit science as soon as I finished the compulsory exams, but evapouration occurs when something reaches its boiling point (correct me if I’m wrong, but I really hope that A* in Chemistry wasn’t lying). After NaNoWriMo, you can feel all hot and excited (um… all those dirty minded people (including me, I guess) go and wash your mind out with soap! (mm soapy water (maybe just take a bath))) and then it evapourates into nothing and you feel rather deflated.

This happens after most writing projects. What to do, though? Especially if, like me, you’re burnt out from NaNo but still have a novel to finish.

  • Have a cry (or, in Greek, pathos (that technically means suffering, but y’know)). Crying helps, believe me! I had a little weep after I finished my first novella, and after I finished NaNoWriMo, because I worked so hard. You can be happy and cry, believe me! It’ll leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the next hurdle.
  • Have a (little or large) break. I’m having today and tomorrow and yesterday and possibly the day after off from writing my novel. Mainly because I have a script I need to do, but also because it’ll make me really want to go back because I’m so close to the climax oh my gosh. 
  • Write something else for a while – and then go back to the main thing. Pretty self-explanatory. If you want to keep it related to your novel, write a short story about your current set of characters!
  • Do something completely unwriting related like, shock-horror, go outsideThe nature of it all will make you want to scurry back to your writing retreat ASAP.

Remember, writing’s meant to be fun, and after that little evapouration, when you feel like you’ve pulled the plug on your blowhole, it takes a while to heat up again. Just keep the gas on, and you’ll be fine!

Poof.

Wow, I DID IT! [And So Did You!]

GUYS!

LOOK WHAT I DID!

NaNoWriMo-2014-Winner-Certificate.pdf1-page-001

Wow. I’m so happy!

Although the past 30 days have been sometimes depressing with crippling self-doubt, sometimes enjoyable when I adored my characters and their story, I finally did it. I wrote 50035 words in a month, and am nearly finished with my first ever novel. I’m so proud of myself and my characters, and so grateful to my awesome friends for cheer-leading me on even when I just wanted to give up. Now just to finish it… (According to my plan, it’s only 5 chapters to go, but also according to my plan I should be on chapter 15, not 17, so who knows!)

And that’s my story. For the rest of you… 😉

It’s over. Phew. Breathe. Relax.

Give yourself a pat on the back, a biscuit from the tin and a break from your whining characters. They can wait until the morrow when you pick yourself up from the euphoria of surviving 30 days.

Don’t panic if you didn’t hit your word count. You’ve done something most people only dream of: you’ve started writing a novel. Sure, now all you have to do is finish it. If you don’t hit 50k during this month, don’t be down hearted. Maybe take a few breaths and have a little scream, but make sure you carry on writing. Do your characters care that you didn’t make it? No, of course not! They’re just pleased that you’ve finally got around to writing their story after years of saying you would and then never actually doing it. You’ll finish it eventually.

And if you do hit your word count? Yayy! Cookies for all! Treat yourself to something good (I had my first ever roll of Tootsie Rolls, which was incredible because I live in the UK!), have a little dance. You’ve done incredibly.

And then… sit back down and keep on typing! There’s words to be written, characters to be killed, perhaps sex to be had, antagonists to be destroyed, love to fall for and hope to bring.

Most of all? Keep writing!

I believe in you. 1229838_646781908728779_744216109_n

The Last Hurrah

Let's change this into 'winner', eh?

Let’s change this into ‘winner’, eh?

It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo. Well, seeing as this is characteristically late, it’s the last four days.

How many words do you have left? None? 100? 1000? 10000? 50000?!

Never fear. As people have proved it’s possible, you know it’s possible. Perhaps you just need some encouragement.

  • Your characters need you. They will bug you until you finish.
  • Your novel needs you. Do you think you could bear the pain of never writing ‘THE END’ in big bold letters before bragging to your friends that you have, yes, really, written a novel.
  • Related to this: um, hello, bragging rights! I’m going to claim mine when I hit that 50k.
  • You can move on up! Now the revisions start, but, after this, you can venture into the big wide world of published. *gasps*

If you need some more words to be written, why not create a Twitter account and settle over to the NaNoWriMo word sprints page? Another I can recommend is Get Wordies, who are fantastic encouragers too!

If you really dislike Twitter, set a timer and write, write, write! You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

Good luck Wrimos; I believe in you!

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Looking Forward

There comes a time, especially during NaNoWriMo, where you dread sitting down to write each night. Your characters are driving you bananas, the plot is going nowhere, and you just can’t be bothered.

Writing isn’t just the act of putting words on a page, or typing them on a screen. Like a film, so much more happens behind the big screen than on it.

When you’re feeling low and you hate your characters so much you want to kill every single one, it’s hard to get back into it. Stop. Right there, stop. Even if you’re enjoying your novel, stop!

Sometimes, you need to slow the pace to avoid this happening as well, whilst other times it’s already begun. Don’t worry; you can reverse this effect and love your book again.

Whilst in NaNo the ideas below aren’t possible most of the time if you’re really busy, you can still try these things if only for a minute or two; and if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, these can still help. All can be done before, during or after your novel/novella/epic/script are in the works!

  • Draw your characters. Can’t draw? Eh, skip this step. Got a friend who can draw? Oh, look, I just enticed you back! Even if you can’t draw yourself, try asking a buddy if they’ll draw your characters (perhaps they’ll do it for cookies). If you can draw, then yay, you can do it yourself. If you do have a buddy, sit with them as they draw; make sure they’re all right with you telling them exactly how you want it to be. Bonding, and character development!
  • Write back ground stories/AUs/just extra stories. Background stories are something that the reader often doesn’t get to see (such as JKR with Umbridge…although she published that). AU’s stand for Alternate Universes – if you’re writing in the past, set your characters up in the present day and see how they react!
  • Chat to someone about your novel. Look, it doesn’t matter if it’s the dog, but you might be able to find out so much more about your characters, plot and setting. Make sure you have a notebook on hand! It helps if they’re a writer; they might be able to toss ideas back at you.
  • Read. What is more relaxing? …and, of course, it tells you how the pros craft their work. Obviously. (Seriously though, wouldn’t you like to be holding a paperback copy of your own book in your hands?!)
  • Watch a film. Now, this is technically procrastinating, but this time grab a film that you’ve already watched and a notebook. Make a note of any time it changes setting, character, what happens; all ideas for your novel, or if it’s a script you’re writing, equally as helpful!
  • Write a letter to your characters – or even your novel! This can help with understanding your characters needs and wants, and your needs and wants. It might make you feel stupid writing to a book, but it can help you gain confidence, you’re still writing, and you can understand your work better. Besides, you might realise that you don’t, in fact, hate your work; just a strong dislike that will pass over in the near future.

I hope these ideas have given you some fuel for your fire. It’s week three of NaNoWriMo, so if you have a spare moment, jot down some thoughts to your characters, or have a chat whilst with your next door neighbour over the fence. You don’t have to constantly breathe your novel, but thinking about it as you go about your day-to-day business – providing it’s in a positive light! – might help you to look forward to writing when you get home.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀
PS – How’s NaNoWriMo going for you?