Day 7! [NaNoWriMo 2013]

Aaaand it’s the end of Week 1! If at this point you are feeling completely stumped, totally frustrated, uninspired, and wondering why on earth you thought this was a good idea, never fear: welcome to Week 2, otherwise known as The Week Of Slump. It is entirely normal to begin feeling like you’ve got nothing more in your head, like no one will ever read what you’re writing, like this is all pointless, and like you should just give up. If you’re not quite here yet, congratulations, and hope it doesn’t come in the next few days. I’ll say it again! It is FINE to feel this way.

Advice, you ask? Well. Here’s the thing. This is where I’ve often stopped writing until the last week or so, when I do a serious writing sprint to catch up. That’s easier, in a way, that staying on track and steadily plowing through the words. But I do have a few tips, and I hope they help! (For the record, I’m at around 12k in my rewrite, so I’m sort of on the same page as all of you at the moment)

1. Take a break! Get away from your novel. Often our best ideas come to us when we’re not actively thinking about the problem. There’s a reason why people “sleep on” important decisions – your subconscious is a really effective processor, and it works more efficiently when your conscious isn’t beating it over its head to come up with something. Don’t be afraid to skip a day; you will catch up, and sometimes taking a break is the best thing you can do.

2. Procrastinate and write a blog post, like me! Ok, but seriously, writing about what is frustrating or bothering /stumping you in your novel can be a huge help. We are writers, after all, and it really does work to do this.

3. If it’s writer’s block or a lack of ideas that is tripping you up, try the Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints forum for ideas. Definitely try doing the Pub Crawl, and if you can do it with another Wrimo, all the better. Maybe be brave and venture over to Write or Die. In short: find something that will get you writing, even if it’s not great quality.

4. Which brings me to: just keep writing. You don’t have to churn out an award-winning  first draft, you have to get 50,000 words on the page. Don’t be afraid to take a serious risk in your novel and let the story go where you never thought it would. Sometimes pressure is a great game changer.

5. Now more than ever, set aside a specific chunk of time to write. While it’s good to squish in writing whenever you can throughout the day, having a planned time for writing (say two hours) is a really good motivator.

5. Get off WordPress. Yeah, yeah, I’m going…

Day 4 [NaNoWriMo 2013]

Hello! It’s day 4! How’s everyone doing? I hope you guys are still in the honeymoon period of NaNoWriMo…week 2 and its dreaded Slumpiness is on its way, so make sure you get in all the words you can while the inspiration is flowing.

So, I did in fact attempt my 50k Day One, wherein I tried to write 50,000 words on November 1. I made it to 40k, which I’m still really excited about because frankly I thought I would only get to 30k. I’ve never written more than 18k in a day, so this was huge! For those wondering, it involved a whole lot of coffee, no solid meals (I ate things like nuts, biltong, and toast with peanut butter because they’re quick), a glass of wine, only 1.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, and a lot of stretching/doing jumping jacks throughout the day to keep my joints from dying a slow and horrible death. Thanks to everyone who sent me supportive messages throughout the day, you guys helped to keep me going! It was hard and intense, but it was completely worth it and I’ll definitely do it again. And I made it to 50k yesterday, so yay!

Now my goals have changed a little bit, though. Instead of finishing the draft I started on the 1st, I’m going to rewrite it now. Writing that much in a day made me realize how many problems there are with the plot, but I’m in love with this novel and I want to fix it asap, so I’m working on that at the moment. I’m going to try and rewrite The Hilt & the Blade and the first two books in the Shard trilogy by the end of the month. So we’ll see how it goes! Follow my progress here.

Remember, Day 4 is still great, but by next week things might be looking different and you’re going to hit a wall. I’ll talk more about that later, but for now, enjoy the rest of Week 1 and just keep writing!

Also, I am not a vlogger. At least not at the moment. So now there’s a random, unaccompanied africanstardust NaNo video floating around YouTube and it’s kind of embarrassing, but oh well.

‘Twas the Night Before NaNo

Ok guys, I’m going to be going to bed here in a little bit so that I can wake up at 10 pm and be ready for NaNo! Some people from the Christmas Islands and that time zone have already started writing, and Australia will be starting in about 2 hours, I think. I doubt I’ll be posting on here again before the 2nd or 3rd, but again, you can follow my progress here for the 1st day, and here for the month. I will also be on twitter here along with some other people, if you want to join us!

Remember to follow NaNoWordSprints and NaNoWriMo on twitter as well. I wish you the best of luck, and enjoy the ride! 🙂

T-Minus 36 Hours

Ok people, it’s the 30th and NaNoWriMo is happening the day after tomorrow. If you plan to stay up until midnight to start, then it happens rather soon! About 36 hours, in fact. The point is, it’s almost here! So here are some more practical tips for starting the month off right. I’ve already posted a more general tips thing and some other NaNo 2013 blogs, but this is the hands-on, nitty-gritty stuff!


Good Snacks For NaNo

Soooo a lot of people eat tons of chocolate and candy and junk food during NaNo. While I totally understand this, it’s better to eat healthier so that your brain can actually function instead of just try to keep you breathing. Obviously candy will happen, but some other, healthier snacks that are easy, fast, and in some cases eat-able-while-you-write, are:

1. baby carrots

2. tzatziki & wholewheat crackers (you can make your own tzatziki if it’s too expensive)

3. popcorn (if you pop it on the stove using olive oil it’s much healthier)

4. toast & peanut butter

5. protein powder with milk (preferably a healthy brand, not one with a bunch of added stuff)

Posture Pizazz


1. Especially if you’re going for a higher word count, but even if you’re doing the traditional 50,000 in a month, your posture is really important. I know it’s temping to lie on your bed and write, but your back will murder you in your sleep if you do this all month. Try to sit at a desk or table when you write.

2. It’s good to vary your position now and then, especially in a long writing stretch. If you have a laptop, alternate between a comfortable position for your neck/back and a comfortable position for your arms/wrists. You can’t have both with a laptop, but if you alternate it will help. If you have a separate keyboard you can use, definitely use it; elevate your laptop/monitor on a stack of books until you can keep your back/neck straight while looking at it (at eye level, in other words), and put your keyboard on the desk so that your hands can rest comfortably while writing.

3. Get up regularly. When you take a writing break, try to spend at least half of the break actually standing/walking/doing jumping jacks/stretching, and not just surfing the ‘net.

Other Stuff

1. Write whenever you have time, even if it’s 15 minutes. You don’t have to get your whole word count in one sitting.

2. If you live with other people, whether your family or roommates, explain what you’re doing and ask them not to bother you while you’re writing.

3. Do use the forums (especially the Shoutout forum) to check in, motivate others, and get motivation for yourself!

4. ENJOY IT. Aside from the actual writing, the point of NaNo is that it’s fun. So have fun 🙂

Warning Novelist at Work Neon Light Sign

Tomorrow Night is the Big Night!

If you’re staying up until midnight, it’s tomorrow night, people! That’s exciting! I’ll post another short blog tomorrow before I get started.

I’ve started a vlog about NaNo but I don’t know if I’ll keep it going. Also, here is my day one spreadsheet and here is my month spreadsheet in case you want to see how it’s going 🙂

A day and a half to go!

A Progression of Covers

A long-standing NaNo tradition is to make your own book cover and forum signature banner for the new NaNo month. It helps to get you excited and you also are forced to think more about the atmosphere and emotion you’re going for in the novel. I just made a cover for The Hilt and the Blade yesterday, so I thought I’d share my other covers with you so that you can a) laugh at the awfulness of the first one and b) be encouraged that if you want to make your own, you will in fact get better with practice and anyone can do it with enough tries. I’m not a graphic designer or anything…it’s just me, my laptop, and Pixelmator.

Here is 2009, my first NaNo novel, with a main character I hated so much that I changed point of view halfway through just so I could finish. She was so…just…annoying. The concept was good though, so I’ll do a rewrite at some stage. The only picture I had of someone remotely resembling my MC was one of me, so here is me at 17 doing a slightly awkward pose and dressed like a strange person. I also apparently thought that font small enough to need a magnifying glass was a good idea. In my defense, this was literally the first thing I ever made on Pixelmator.

Mocking is very much allowed.

Then we have 2010. I planned to do two novels, but due to a trip to India I got to about 15k total and bombed NaNo that year. Oh well…here are the covers! Slightly better but still not great, and I was using other people’s photos. (At least the font was bigger and not made for tiny little gnats to read.)

Yes, that is Wentworth Miller. I had a teenage crush on Michael Schofield, ok?
This one is the better of the two, I think. I definitely spent more time on it.

Technically I should have 2011 next, but I don’t even know what happened…that November is a total blank. I didn’t blog about NaNo at all. I think it’s because it was the end of my first year of university, and I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I don’t even know if I got past 2k in NaNo. I definitely didn’t make a cover and I have no memory of the book idea, book name, or where it’s even stored on my laptop. So either there is a ghostly 2k floating around the hard drive or I just deleted it. So let’s move on to the gloriousness that was last year: NaNo 2012. All the excitement of NaNo came rushing back and I had a blast (and a win!) This book is something I’m actually still working on and I will incorporate it into my Kirael series. I also like the cover, even though it’s not really that great and I used someone else’s photo again. The title is wrong and I can’t find the file where I fixed it, but it’s supposed to be Prin Ten Arken, which is classical Greek for “Before the Beginning.”

not bad, except the font is for gnats again

And finally, my favorite cover so far is the one I made for The Hilt and the Blade for this year. I don’t know if I’ll make covers for the Shard books, because Shard is my baby and no cover will ever be good enough 🙂 But here is The Hilt and the Blade. I really love it. I took the picture and did everything from scratch, so I’m quite proud of it. This necklace, which originally was obviously not broken, was one of my favorites, and when it broke I was really upset. But then it became the inspiration for basically a fourth of the history of Shard and Kirael, so…all in all, a win!

So much ❤ for this cover. In fact, if I self-publish, this is the cover I’ll be using.

That’s that! If you want to find someone to make a cover for your NaNo novel, go here. If you want to download Pixelmator (I think it’s only for Mac) it’s about $15 in the App store (the desktop version). It’s super user friendly and with a bit of practice you’ll be able to make cool things. And of course, come back soon for more NaNo-ness! I may or may not do a vlog this year, so stay tuned.