Inner bearded fantasy writer has finally made himself heard, and I’m getting back into writing my blog. That, and I have to make that £27 quid for a domain name worth it 😉

So what’s been happening? It’s November. Somehow. Most years this means NaNoWriMo for me – or National Novel Writing Month, a writing challenge in which participants write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve managed to complete NaNoWriMo 3 times before, and one epic year I managed to get 30,000 words done in 9 days… those heady days of disposable free time! Perhaps some day soon I’ll post my previous NaNo efforts, if I feel like giving you a good laugh.

Anyway, whether it was people incessantly pronouncing it Na No Ree Mo (Wri is short for Writing… come on) or trying to fit 1667 daily words in around the cutest little distraction ever (it was definitely this), NaNo hasn’t clicked for me this year. I haven’t been able to keep up with the daily word count, and unlike previous years, I wasn’t enjoying the process of binge writing. I think this is partly because I really want my latest project, a choose your own adventure novel called ‘The Shard Palace’, to be good. Not just good – brilliant. Binge writing is not the way to make this happen. I’m excited about putting the effort in to plot and plan it out properly; and I’ll be posting segments as I finish them to the blog, so watch out for that!

For those of you still plugging away in the trenches of NaNo land, here are some of my favourite (cheeky) strategies for winning:

1. Little and often
You’d be amazed how many words you can get down in 10 minutes, and who can’t find that? It’s the length of a cigarette break, or a debate with your work colleagues about tea break ettiquette. If you can find 4 or 5 little slots of time like this, when you sit down at the end of the day for some extended writing, you’ll be a third of the way done already, perhaps even half. You’ll also find that the amount of words you write in these little slots increases with practice. This technique was a lifesaver for me the last time I did NaNo.

2. Writing prompts
I’ve mentioned before about The five minute writer, and there are a wealth of writing prompt lists on Pinterest and the net generally. If you find yourself getting stuck, look for one of these. Even if the prompt you like doesn’t fit in with the story you’e trying to tell, the aim is to get you unstuck and get the words flowing again. Give it a try!

3. Putting yourself in the story
I have made use of this a couple of times when I get desperate. Sometimes, if you really can’t figure out where to go next, write yourself into the story and talk to your characters, explore your settings, pick up the objects, touch the trees, stomp the ground, feel the air around you. It’s not pretty and would never make the final review of your masterpiece (unless you are Martin Amis), but it’s words on the page, and it will help you figure out where to go next.

4. Cheat

I’m not proud of it but when the clock edges closer to midnight on the 30th of November, I am not averse to changing every instance of don’t, aren’t, it’s and you’re to do not, are not, it is and you are. It’s (sorry – it is) so worth it when you get that e-certificate at the end!

If you’re doing NaNo this year, good luck – you are nearly there!

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