Monday, 27 July 2020

CAMP NaNoWriMo 2020 - I WON!

Kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it? Whooop!

Yes, I managed to get the most super special secret project ever (should I start just calling this TMSSSPE? Or maybe come up with a codename?) to 30,000 on Monday last week, which completed the challenge I set myself for Camp NaNo this year.

Honestly, it was a massive relief, and I nearly cried with the sheer release of anxiety over getting there. Trying to work on the WIP from 9:30 to 13:30 every day AND rewrite my thesis proposal AND edit my dissertation essay AND read and offer detailed feedback on the work of twenty-four students every week AND find time to, you know, adult (walk my dog adequately, exercise every day, eat something approaching healthy food and prevent my house from turning into a black hole inhabited only by person-sized sentient dust bunnies, warring clans of silverfish and a slowly decaying TBR pile the size of a Welsh mountain) was starting to make me go a bit frazzled. And sure, I could have given up, but having managed an unbroken streak of 20 days of writing made my competitive streak burn to life and I just couldn't make myself do it.

If you're thinking that it may have been a bit overly ambitious to decide to do Camp NaNo during what is apparently already an incredibly busy period - yes, you are right. But on the other hand, it accomplished what NaNo is intended to accomplish, which was getting me to that target. And I knew without some kind of motivation, even if only my own competitive streak, TMSSSPE (codename: Times Pee? That definitely doesn't work, does it?) would almost certainly have stalled completely in July, which I didn't want.

So I'm not mad. I might even try Camp NaNo again next year, provided I have slightly more breathing room in July 2021.

(Please do not cause me to be cursed in some inventive fashion, discover I am really a troll princess in the middle of a troll civil war, or send a flying house to crush me during July next year, universe - it would not be funny, just mean. Thank you very much)

I'll be popping the WIP on the back-burner for a couple of weeks to give myself space for everything else. I don't really want to: I'm still loving it. But it's the only thing that doesn't have any deadlines or contractual obligations attached to it just now. And I'm still researching and scribbling down notes as they occur to me.

Are you still pressing your noses to the NaNo grindstone - or other grindstone - muffins? And do you have any suggestions for a codename for TMSSSPE? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 23 July 2020


Hello, Dear Readers! Happy Thursday to you all - I hope the week is going well for you so far.

This week I have a podcast for you from the Royal Literary Fund's Writers Aloud series! I absolutely loved writing and voicing this (and especially working with lovely Amanda, who recorded it) and I think it turned out really well. We actually recorded it a quite a while ago and I've been waiting for ages for it to be ready, so please do check it out.

The first part is by a writer called Marcy Kahan and talks about how she fell into playwriting manuals (which might be of interest to any Dear Readers who are into screen or plawriting). The second half is mine, and I talk about how characters are central to creating a fully realised fantasy world - like a Northern Star by which I navigate.

My section of the podcast starts at roughly 15.15, if you want to go there directly, but do try Marcy's part as well if the topic's appealing to you.

I hope you enjoy the podcast - and that you can find a Northern Star by which to navigate the journey to Friday, muffins 😊

Tuesday, 14 July 2020


I was honestly doing so well, Dear Readers. And then... the Nano Curse. For once it didn't attack me ( a refreshing change). No, it killed my computer for a whole day. A whole day. For just... no reason.

I still did longhand writing, but I couldn't input it, AND I couldn't get any other work done, so on Monday I was totally snowed under, and all I could do was type up my longhand notes and then (in fairness) divide the word total between Sunday and Monday.

This is how I was doing before:

And this is what it looks like now:

Eugh, that drop. Speaks for itself, really. *Sigh*

EDITED TO ADD: And, now, having spent the morning revising the first half of the sections that I typed up yesterday, I go to what should be the start of a new chapter and find... no new chapter. All the work I did after about 1pm yesterday is gone. Even though I KNOW I saved it. So. I don't even know. Nano Curse, you are a cunning and evil gremlin indeed.

I should have known. But I'm going to keep ploughing on anyway, because a) I've made hella progress overall and b) I love Camp NaNo's progress interface and you can only use it during July (or April) so why not? Let's hope the Curse doesn't take my fingers out next time.

How are you doing? Sound off in the comments, muffins!

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

CAMP NaNoWriMo 2020!

Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! Happy Tuesday to all. I hope your weeks are looking positive so far and you're all safe and well.

So here's a question. Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month? 'Cos I'm going Camp NaNoWriMo this month.

I know, I know, the NaNo Curse. It's true, as long-time Dear Readers know, that I've never managed to complete the OG NaNoWriMo successfully because every. Single. Time - every time, going all the way back to 2011! - either before I can start or within days of starting... something really awful happens to me. Sometimes it's horrendous illness or hideous injury. Sometimes it's even worse. After the last time I just gave up, honestly.

BUT. This is Camp NaNoWriMo, which is technically something different, right? It's July, not November. You can set your own word count and even work on edits if you want, without 'cheating'. It's got a different logo and everything!

And, just between you and me, I need the help. I've got a really special WIP right now that is truly and utterly different to anything I've ever worked on before, and I LOVE it. I desperately want to get it finished by the end of this year. But between researching and writing the dissertation for my MA, designing modules for and preparing to teach two writing courses on Creative Writing Ink from this week, and launching The Book of Snow & Silence (in addition to the world, you know, being AN ACTUAL TRASH FIRE) I've been choked on it for months. I haven't made any real progress since January. I just kept opening the file up, fiddling with a few lines, and then getting vapour-locked.

So: Camp NaNo. I decided to give myself a really small and manageable goal, not only to ease myself past my writing roadblock on this one, but because I know that the teaching is going to take up a big chunk of time going forward. I can't see myself writing anything good if I'm panicking over finding time for that AND hitting 3000 words a day.

I started July the 1st, and I'm pleased to say that not only did I not get a horrendous injury/hideous illness, or suffer a personal tragedy, but I actually managed to write some new stuff for the first time in months:

And that I've managed to keep it up and make steadily increasing progress:

It's good enough for me. I know that when the teaching starts, my daily word count might sag down again, but that's OK - so long as I can manage to get to my overall target by the end, I'll count this a massive success. Hurray!

You can start Camp NaNo anytime during the month, and (as I said above) set your own overall word goal - so if you've been struggling to get something started or wade out of the middle muddle, now might be the time to give it a shot. Or maybe you're already up and writing. In either case, feel free to add me as a buddy if you want.

Oh, and here's a new writing playlist I made, although it's super project specific and very heavy on the Enya, so if you're not into that, maybe give it a miss.

Happy writing, muffins!
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