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).

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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! 😀

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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…

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015 (JULY)

  

 CAMP NANOWRIMO IS AROUND THE CORNER! *screams with a mixture of delight and fear*

Camp NaNoWriMo is a branch of NaNoWriMo and takes place in April and July. I post about it every year, but this year I’m super excited because I’m doing something totally new.

I posted about this on my personal blog a while back, but I thought I’d bring it up again. I’m doing a series of short stories, not related, full of different genres to test out what I like, what I’m good at, and what I should just definitely stay away from.

Normally I blabber on a bit about why you should do NaNoWriMo and why NaNoWriMo is beneficial to you but I’m kind of hoping you can see this from my extreme enthusiasm.

So, although you might not want to, just do me a favour and at least check out the website, give it a try and make sure you join a cabin! (And, if you really don’t want to, try and write something in July, yeah?)

(Find me on NaNoWriMo – MidnightBeast1098!)

And my NaNoWriMo posts will be making a reappearance from the week after next too! 😀

A Discussion About Targets

I don’t know about you, but I thrive under pressure. I have 15 minutes to complete a task that takes 30? I’ll give it a shot and be damned if I don’t have something near to a finished product. Last minute revision? I’m your man. 30 days to write 50,000 words? Bring it.

So since I discovered NaNoWriMo, I have done every November and every camp. Except… I won’t be doing April.

The main reason? Because I respect my parents’ wishes not to. However, I am also under a lot of stress at college (I EVEN HAVE COLD SORES WHAT IS THIS) and life events.

So, when are targets bad things?

  1. When they’re taking over your life and mental health.
  2. When they’re causing you excess amounts of unnecessary pressure (unfortunately due to the messed up schooling system, projects don’t count as ‘unnecessary pressure’ despite however many nights you spend crying about them).
  3. When people have asked you not to set them because they’re worried about you.

This post might seem to be rather angry – and it is, about some things – but what I’m trying to say is it’s fine, probably healthy, to set targets. But, hey, don’t go crazy.

My target of writing a 20,000 word novella during a month wherein I should be madly revising plus trying to have some sort of a social life may be a bit unrealistic. But 10,000? 5,000 even? That’s not crazy talk. Neither is having a goal of having 3 novellas written by the end of the year, or even by the end of next. That’s realistic. And that’s what you have to be too.

I’m not trying to be demoralising here. Targets are good. Without them, we’d never get anything done. But if they’re too much for you, no matter if your friend/family member is doing it, then don’t. Know your limit (much like with alcohol. Also caffeine. Perhaps I should listen to the latter). But keep writing and don’t give up!

This post also appeared on Hannah Brown.

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!

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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