NaNoWriMo: are you lost?


It’s day ten of NaNoWriMo, and if you are keeping to the ideal daily word count of 50,000/30=1670, you will be approaching the 20k mark. If so, congratulations!

I started my first two novels with NaNo, and have sped each of the others on in November. Sadly, I’m not doing it this year – I’ve just handed in the second draft of my next one and really need to have a bit of a brain defrag before I embark on the next project.… read more

How NaNoWriMo stopped my fear and helped me find my fourth career


(This post expands on a NaNoWriMo pep talk I wrote a couple of years back).

Are you at the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo 2013? If so, congratulations!

If you are (and even if you’re not), it’s likely that you will be very familiar with this scary thought:

When you start to create something, YOU ARE FACED WITH INFINITE POSSIBILITIES.

You may sense the germ of an idea, a character, a colour, a bit of story or a setting, but beyond that, once you sit down to start whatever it is you’re making, anything can happen; you’re simply finding the best path through the whole universe of choice.… read more

About Plotting and Planning

Last week I ran a three-hour MA class on plotting at City University. Apart from being one of the scariest things I have ever said yes to (and I admit this as a constant yes-person), planning the session coincided with a small sea-change in my working process.

If you have even glanced at some of my previous posts, you will have gleaned that, in NaNoWriMo parlance, I am a pantser, not a plotter.… read more

Best Laid Plans

CUCKOO paperback – in a bookshop near you, at a nice price

So, I didn’t keep up my resolution to post here three times a week during NaNovember. Man, it’s hard, writing 50,000 words in a month. Even when it’s the day job. Nearly there, though. Just 1500 to do tomorrow before midnight. Might just about do it.

Hats off to everyone who has managed to get their novel written this month. Especially if you’ve had to fit it around work, children, aged parents, ill pets, whatever.… read more

All Over the Place like a Bloody Great Rash

Me on the sofa at BBC breakfast talking about NaNoWriMo

So it’s National Novel Writing Month again, and I seem to be all over the place talking about it. Sorry about that. It’s all totally heartfelt though. For lots of people, it’s is a great way to get a novel out into the world. But I am aware that it’s not for everyone. Some people like to take their time on their first drafts, planning and thinking as they go.… read more

A Great Book for Writers

I’ve just been reading this: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and it’s kind of helping with the first draft of Bad Jean, although I know it will come into its own when I’m editing it. I’m definitely what he calls a NOP (No Outline Person), but I really like his analysis of structure and how it can work just by keeping it in the back of  your mind while writing.

My one problem is that, after reading this, I am having to work double hard at pushing my internal editors away as I write, and that tends to hinder the free flow of the story.… read more

Poised, ready to dive in

Yesterday I lugged all 450 pages of the Every Vow You Break manuscript – with line-edits and my own final alterations – up to London to hand over to Leah, my editor at Headline. Tomorrow, I start on Bad Jean. Although character, place and story are pretty well formed in my head, I have not yet written one single word. Eek.

Looking back over this blog, I realise, with a little frisson of horror, that by November 24 2010 I was printing out the first draft of Every Vow You Break.… read more

Line Edit Fun

Keith and Sandy 'helping' me edit Every Vow You Break

First, my excuses for not posting in over a month – ‘very bad for the blogging profile’ according to internet wisdom.

  1. Life: I’ve been busy packing Big’Uns off to University, preparing LittleSon for Secondary School and settling in my half-empty-nester consolation prize of two kittens named Keith and Sandy. While OldMan has been away, directing The Taming of the Shrew at the RSC (la di dah).
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What I did on my Holidays part 1: Pilgrimage

Can't believe I'm actually here.

Top of my list to do while we were in the Bay Area around San Francisco  (after finishing the second draft of Every Vow You Break, of course) was to visit my Alma Mater – the Office of Letters and Light, out of which NaNoWriMo is given to the world every November.

Now then, if you have read this blog for a bit, or if you have ever bumped into me anywhere, you will know that I am a bit evangelical about NaNoWriMo, so feel free to skip the next para or two.… read more

Weightlifting for weedy writers

Note the spaces around the words. Not empty for long...

I have printed out my first draft of novel #2, and it comes to nearly 500 pages, and used up a whole black inkjet. This environmental abomination is going to be my constant companion for the next six weeks or so. I’m going to read it, scribble on it, cross out great chunks, add bits and make lists from it and fill in a pile of index cards.… read more