Sort-of-Nanowrimo 2015: All Of The Editing

It’s that time of year again!

Around the world, many a brave, foolish soul is starting a brand new novel for National Novel Writing Month. Not so with me…


Enjoying my sharp design skillz, heh?


I’m still kind of participating, because how could I not? But, for the first time in all my years of Nano-ing, I don’t have a wordcount goal. YIKES.

That’s because, right now, I’m editing The Paradise Swarm.

I have plenty of ideas for new stories but stopping my edits to write something new would just be giving in to the temptation of the Shiny New Idea (sooo tempting!) and leaving this novel hanging.

I know what I need to do now is FINISH THIS BOOK, if only to gain the experience of getting to the end of a novel.

I’ve completed five Nanowrimos, and taken a good chunk out of two more, it’s something I know I can do. I haven’t completed a novel yet, so I’ll work on that.

Here’s how it is going to work

My plan is to do 50 hours of edits in November: it’s a big chunk of the work, more than an hour a day, and obviously I like that it keeps the magic number 50 in the equation.

I’m not sure how to log it on the Nano website, or even if I should – some people have suggested I put down 1,000 words for each hour of editing, since that would give me a win once I reached 50, but I’m not sure about that idea.

I write quite slowly and I know I’d never reliably 1K an hour all November long, so it doesn’t feel quite write to equate 50 hours of work with a Nanowrimo win when I normally put in about double that amount of time.

My Book Progress

Luckily, this new progress bar widget I backed on Kickstarter just funded, so I can use this as well as (or instead of?) the wordcount feature on the Nano website.
MyBookProgress looks pretty nifty so far, although it doesn’t have an option to log hours at the moment – I’ve suggested that for a future update. So, for now, I’ve set my goal as 50 scenes edited in November, which is a bit more of an ambitious goal than 50 hours – but ambition is no bad thing, especially not in November!!

The Paradise Swarm
Phase:2nd Draft
Due:8 years ago

I’ve only done an hour so far (coincidentally, I did a full scene then as well if a short one), but I should be able to do more this evening!

The Nanowrimo Tag

If you’d like to hear more about my Nanowrimo experiences in general, check out the Nanowrimo Tag:


Is it December yet?

Woooot! I’ve won!! *happy dance*

I completed my fifth Nanowrimo out of six attempts at 23:15 on Saturday night. One day, I swear, I will put down my 50,000th word in the morning of the 30th.

And though it is never easy to write 50K in a month, I found this year particularly challenging and I really struggled with my writing.

I’ve been writing The Paradise Swarm for a long time and as Nano approached, I really didn’t feel like switching to a new story. I did start something new on November 1st, because I generally think it’s good fun, but I couldn’t get stuck in. I couldn’t start over again from scratch, slowly building characters and conflicts when I had just been getting to a really exciting bit of The Paradise Swarm just before Nano kicked off.

After approximately a week and 6,000 words, I switched from my funny university slice-of-life story about exchange students to ‘The Other Novel’, an adventure-filled Sci-Fi idea that sounded like the perfect distraction at the time. That lasted three days and about 4,000 painful words before I had to face the hard truth.

It was time to break the rules again, by going back to what I really wanted to be doing, which was writing The Paradise Swarm. I wrote about 40,000 words in the second half of the month, bringing me to just under 50K altogether. At the same time, the Prologue and ex-Chapter One and Two were relegated to the ‘Cut Scenes’ folder, as they didn’t really fit any more.

I started the year with 8,000 words, most of which have now been cut, and I’m ending the year with 48,000 words, mostly new and mostly from Nanowrimo. That is quite scary to me, but at the same time, I’m closer to my overall goal than I’ve ever been. I won’t finish the manuscript this year as I had hoped, but I am firmly decided to finish it before next November.

Famous last words…


A writer by any other name

A good deal of the questions I get from new Wrimos are about how, when and where people write during Nano. They know what word count they’re aiming for (11,666 today, scary heh?), but there’s plenty more to figure out:

Are you a plotter or a pantser? A typist or long-hand writer? A tea fiend or a coffee guzzler? A morning person or a night owl? A social or a solo writer? A marathon-runner or a sprinter? A home buddy or a coffee-shop regular?

You could do worse than answering those questions for yourself, if only because it can help you prepare the best environment in which to pen the masterpiece you can see so clearly in your mind.

If, like me, you’re a plotting, sprinting, coffee-guzzling social night owl who’s a regular at her local coffee shop, you’ll love the idea of an after work write-in in a coffee shop, with yummy lattes galore. I find forty-five minutes is a bit long for me to write without a break, so I often use Write or Die for shorter sprints instead, and I can always rely on my colour-coded notecards for guidance.

Someone else might prefer a long, quiet coffee shop session on their own, or an hour’s worth of Twitter sprints in the morning before work. If you haven’t yet, take a moment to figure out what works best for you and try to create as many opportunities to get that perfect environment as you can.

Does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t write under any other circumstances? Heck NO! Because in the end, there is only really one type of writer – one who writes.

Nanowrimo is all about filling a blank page with words, as clunky and imperfect as they may be. You have to accept your words won’t always be as good as you hoped, and you also have to accept your writing environment won’t always be as good as you hoped either.

On Tuesday, I went to an evening write-in in a coffee shop, one of my favourite places to write and managed to forget my laptop at work! I’m just smart like that. I would probably have skipped the write-in altogether if I hadn’t been in charge of organising it. Typing really slowly on my phone, I only got 531 words in about an hour and a half. That’s a pretty tiny amount to get done in that time, but I bet I’ll be glad of those 500 words when I reach the final stretch.

So in the next few days, your mission if you accept it is:
Write anywhere, anyhow, anything.

Anywhere – Your time is precious, and doing Nano will show you just how much you can accomplish in just a tiny nugget of it. Let’s not kid ourselves, Nanowrimo WILL take over your life this month, so why not embrace the fact and whip out your writing tool of choice for a quick sprint whenever you have a few minutes? Lots of Wrimos write at lunchtime or on their commute, but I also find the stress of waiting rooms highly reduced by some impromptu novelling.

Anyhow – Most of us adore our computers, but there are many other ways to write. Check out one of the many free note-taking apps for your phone or tablet. Record a message for yourself on your voicemail or scrawl all over the napkins when you go out for dinner. Try something new, you might end up really enjoying it. I recently rediscovered the joys of writing longhand and now that’s always a favourite option.

Anything – Don’t be afraid to go over the top (you can always cut it in December if you don’t like it). Pick a prompt or dare from the Nano forums. If you can’t figure out what comes next, why not skip ahead to the nifty scene that got you excited about the story in the first place? Or if a scene is too difficult to write, you could leave it to your future self to deal with, as I did in my first Nano – which genuinely included the line: ‘Insert Space Battle here’.

(4897 words, not even that far behind by my standards!)


Originally posted at


Happy Anniversary, London!

Last Sunday marked the five-year anniversary of my arrival in London.

I’ve now lived in this country longer than it took me to go through high-school, or complete my degree. I’ve now lived here almost a fifth of my life. More than a fifth of my memories are from here.

It is officially A BIG THING.

Five years ago, I stepped off the overnight coach from Paris with a big suitcase filled with stuff too heavy for the plane, and went to meet Amy, who I went on to live with for several years. The house-hunting started that day, and that night there were tears of frustration and homesickness.

Less than a week later, I met Jenn and Rach, who let us stay at their place, geeked out about Harry Potter with us and took us out for sushi and karaoke. We eventually found a place, I met my other lovely flatmates, more awesome friends, an over-enthusiastic ginger kitten made of adorableness, and life went on.

One day, everyone was getting super excited about this thing that I didn’t get, because it was early days and I couldn’t catch everything everyone was saying. When I asked what the fuss was, I got more than I’d bargained for. Had I ever wanted to write a book? Did I have a lot of essays due in November? Did I fancy writing a book with them? In a month?

I thought ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen?’ and it didn’t even occur to me to think of the best thing that could happen. I’ve met so many amazing people in the NanoLondon community, and in London in general – I just can’t wait for the next five years, the next ten, etc.

Bring it on, London.


Writing in non-November Months

I had only written a few things before I moved to the UK, including some really bad fanfiction and a generic epic fantasy first chapter starring a feisty young princess with flowing red hair and a mysterious elf with two apostrophes in his name.

It was only after my first Nanowrimo, having met the amazing NanoLondon writing community, that I started to write original fiction.

I didn’t write much, and my output was extremely inconsistent in terms of quantity.
Let’s not discuss the quality, okay?

Last year I wrote 100,000 words across all of my writing projects, including this blog – meaning that it took eleven non-November months to write as much as I wrote during November. Not a great result, though it was definitely progress. Earlier this year, I entered a LiveJournal challenge called Get Your Words Out, aiming for 150,000 words in the year.

I won’t lie, I’m not keeping up with the monthly goals I’ve set for myself at the moment, but the year is only just beginning. I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up the pace once I’ve gotten more practise under my belt. I’m always trying to set up regular writing habits for myself, and I’ve never been very successful at it. When I started writing The Paradise Swarm again, though, with a plan, a word count goal, and some scenes in mind, things seemed to pick up quite a bit.

Progress is definitely very slow, but it is at least steady, and I think the slower pace allows for better quality too. I brought some of the novel to read to my Critique Group, who were very encouraging and told me to just keep writing.

As I tend to fall prey fairly easily to the ‘Work on this one scene for six months until it shines’ monster, I made an extra effort to take that one on board. One scene gave me quite a bit of grief, so much so, that in the end I straight up ignored it and moved on to the next. Truth be told, as it’s currently in Chapter Two, and I’m pretty bad at beginnings, it’s probably going to die a nasty death later on, rather than being re-written. So all’s good.

The next few months look to be fairly bad in terms of productivity as work is getting busier and I have to move soon, but I’m going to try and keep writing through the chaos.