Making the most of a Novel Writing Month

Hello gentle reader,

Two days ago Camp NaNoWriMo ended and I didn’t “win” it.

camp_nano_logo

The idea behind such a writing challenge (whether it is the original NaNoWriMo in November, JuNoWriMo in June or Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July) is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. All you have to do as a writer is sit down and write 1667 words a day for 30 days and you end up with a complete first draft on the last day of the challenge, which makes you a challenge “winner”.

That’s in theory, at least.

As you may know from following this blog or my Twitter feed, I am not a full-time writer. I have a Crazy Day Job which keeps me busy for at least 60 hours a week. I have to sleep, eat and show my face outside every day. I can’t just hide in my writing cave for a month, even if I really want to. So a challenge like Camp NaNoWriMo doesn’t sound like something I should have even tried to do, since it was clear from the start winning was going to be hard, if not impossible.

But I still made the most of Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Here are my tips to make the most of a Novel Writing Month challenge when you don’t have time for a Novel Writing Month challenge…

1) Be prepared.

Before you dive in the writing challenge, know what you are going to write. Have a rough outline for your plot, some ideas for your characters and your themes. This will help you not getting “stuck”.

2) Set yourself a goal.

1667 words every day is too much for me, I know that. I write slowly (700 words in 60 minutes at best) and I never have more than two hours a day to write. So during Camp NaNoWriMo, I decided to write 500 words a day.

3) Play with the rules.

Writing a first draft implies “not looking back”, even “word vomiting”. Write now, edit later. I can’t do that. Because I have so little time to write, I need to know what I’m writing isn’t going to end up deleted when I read it again at the end of the month. So I edit as I go.

4) Take part in writing sprints on Twitter.

A Novel Writing Month is about community. As writers, we can feel pretty lonely sometimes. A writing challenge is a great way to find other writers online, people who are also trying to write a novel in a month. Motivation and perseverance stems from talking to them, and sharing our experience.

5) Whatever your wordcount in the end, it is a success, because YOU WROTE WORDS. I wrote 23,000 words in April. That’s a third of a novel, guys. And I’m happy with that.

Have you ever taken part in a Novel Writing Month? How did it go for you? What advice would you give to new participants? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 4

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for the fourth check-in of this round! I hope you had a good and productive week…

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week, I managed to write

3/7 days

Word Count of the Week

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

I added 4000 words to my Work In Progress. I won’t win Camp NaNoWriMo this year, but at least I added some words to my Work In Progress.

TV Show of the Week

The Vampire Diaries - The Originals

The Vampire Diaries – The Originals (CW)

So what did you think of this first episode in the spin-off series?

Good news of the Week

The lovely Sarah Cradit awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award, the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and the Sunshine Award in this post. I have already received these awards, but I’m happy and humbled Sarah thought of me as deserving of them again. Go and visit her blog!

Links of the Week

This week on my blog I discussed how to build a bridge between Genre fiction and Literary fiction.

On the There And Draft Again group blog, Rachel wrote about the editing process and Kathi talked Myths and Legends in Fantasy.

Finally, make sure to check out The Write Stuff for Boston Auction and to bid for items such as signed books, advance reader copies (ARCs), artwork, critiquing services, book-related swag, author visits, book bundles, or the chance to name a character in an upcoming book. All proceeds will benefit the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013.

Next Week

Next week I’ll be writing a guest post for the wonderful Aimee L. Salter  so make sure to check out her blog on Monday!

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 3

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for the third check-in of this round! I hope you had a good and productive week…

Quote of the Week

“All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings.

Until, eventually, they came together to make you.

You are unique in the universe.”

The Doctor in Doctor Who, “The Rings of Akhaten”

Picture of the Week

EM Castellan April 2013

Daffodils in the park… it’s springtime!

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week, I managed to write

2/7 days

Word Count of the Week

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

I added 3000 words to my Work In Progress. Well below my goal, but still better than nothing…

TV Show of the Week

The Borgias

The Borgias (Showtime)

The Borgias are back! I LOVE this show. Can’t wait to find out what they are up to this season.

Good news of the Week

This week my wonderful Critique Partner Jessica Montgomery has launched her Editorial Services! Need  help with your query, your synopsis, your manuscript? She’s your girl!

Links of the Week

This week on my blog I’m holding a giveaway to celebrate my 400th Blog Follower! You can still enter here and win a signed copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Since it was also a week full of sad events around the world, I blogged about Kew Gardens, one of the most beautiful and peaceful man-made places on earth.

Elsewhere, you can watch Thirty Seconds To Mars new music video, Up In The Air. You know how much I love them.

And the Undiscovered Voices competition (for UK and EU Children’s Unpublished Writers) is coming up soon, so check out the website for information.

Next Week

Only ten days left of Camp NaNoWriMo… how is it going for you? Will you meet your goals?

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 2

Hello gentle reader,

this week’s post will be short because I am in London for the London Book Fair…

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week, I managed to write

4 days out of 7.

Word count of the Week

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

My goal during CampNaNoWriMo is to write 1500 words a day. This week again I only wrote an average of 1000 words a day.

TV Show of the Week

Hannibal NBC

Hannibal (NBC)

I started watching this thriller this week and found the first two episodes very promising…

Good News of the Week

I am now on Pinterest! If you are too, let me know, I’ll be happy to follow you!

Next Week

Next week I’ll have my 400 Followers Giveaway! Drop by to see what awesome bookish prizes you could win…

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!

My Week in Review – ROW80 Check-In 1

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for the first check-in of this second round! I hope you had a good and productive week…

Quote of the Week

Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 2, Episode 7 “Lie To Me”)

Picture of the Week

M.LIN Nature - Snow

Photo by my friend M.LIN

Look! It’s springtime! (Or not)

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week, I managed to write

every day!

Word Count of the Week

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

My goal during CampNaNoWriMo is to write 1500 words a day. This week I only managed to write an average of 1000 words a day.

Movie of the Week

From Hell

From Hell (2001)

I watched this movie for research (it’s about the Jack The Ripper murders in Whitechapel). It turned out to be a decent movie!

Good news of the week

DestinyGift-AMAZON-684x1024

This week my friend Juliana Haygert published her NA Paranormal Romance DESTINY GIFT! Find out more about it here.

Links of the Week

This week on my blog I wrote a recap of the SCBWI Europlitan Conference.

On There And Draft Again, I discussed Gender Bias in Fantasy novels.

On her blog, Carissa Taylor talked about rejection in a fantastic post quoting best-selling YA authors.

The amazing Summer Heacock also wrote a blog post entitled When You Wish Upon A Book… and you should read it!

Next week

Next week I’m attending the London Book Fair! Stay tuned for a recap…

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!

Goals for ROW80 Round 2 & Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello gentle reader,

ROW80 Logo

Monday 1st April 2013 (that’s today!) is the official start date for Round 2 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80). I have decided to join this writing challenge for the fifth time. Created by Kait Nolan, ROW80 is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life”, or “the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.” Each ROW80 round runs for 80 days and the participating writers have to set themselves writing goals for that time. The idea is to form writing habits that writers will hopefully continue once the challenge is over.

As you may know if you follow this blog, my daily life is pretty crazy. I have a day job that keeps me extremely busy, I travel a lot and I read tons of books. Fitting some writing time in my schedule is a challenge, but I’m still very intent on getting published one day. So here is my goal for this round (and yes, it is the same as the last round’s…) :

Write or edit every day

This Second Round starts today and will end on Monday 17th June.

If you would like to join in this writing challenge and become a part of the ROW80 community, here are the rules:

  1. Post a goals post in which you lay out your goals for this round.
  2. Post a check-in post every Wednesday and/or Sunday, in which you share your progress with the other ROW80 participants.
  3. Comment on other participants’ check-in posts.

Here is the Linky for the other participants’ posts. If you decide to join in the ROW80 fun, you may want to take part in our Twitter sprints as well, hosted by the ever awesome Lauren Garafalo under the #ROW80 hashtag.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

But this Spring, I have a novel to finish, and I’ve decided (prompted by Lauren!) that ROW80 won’t be enough of a writing challenge to get me where I need to be by June. So I have also decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMoBased on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo “provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help writers write a novel in a month… other than November!” Thus my goal is to finish writing LILY IN THE SHADOWS by 30th April. We’ll see if that happens…

What are your ROW80 goals for this round? Are you joining Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know your writing plans in the comments below!