Category Archives: Writing

The unseen triumphs and challenges behind the stories we watch and read.

The Story Behind Camp NaNoWriMo 2017

In April 2017, I embraced NaNoWriMo’s ‘No plot? No problem!’ mindset and decided to write a 15k story in 30 days without planning anything before hand. The only thing I planned before April was the first few lines because I needed to start somewhere.

Going into the challenge, I also wanted to practice one technique: hooks. I’ve read plenty of stories that didn’t have the best writing or storyline, but threw a big hook early on that compelled me to keep reading until the end. I decided to try that out with Camp NaNoWriMo. In every single part/chapter, I made sure I introduced a new question that I hope would make people want to keep on reading to find out more.

Because of that goal, I spent almost the whole of April doing something like this:

When writing the post: Let’s throw a question/new element/twist/hidden secret/cliffhanger at the end so people are compelled to continue reading

After posting: *freaking out* What’s the answer/secret/thing that happens next/history/truth?

For most of the month, I was discovering the story as I wrote. Which was pretty interesting. I didn’t expect all the extra people and family history that turned up in the end.

Another trick I used when I wrote was to start from the character who knew the least information. Most of the time, that was Darius, but throughout the story there’s always someone who knows more than everyone else. That way, I can focus on what’s happening, and in the next chapter, revisit the scene with another viewpoint character, but this time fleshing out the why/who/how and progressing the story. It’s also a great way to add words 😛

The story is still pretty rough, and I’ll need to do a lot of editing, but I wrote a 15k novelette in 30 days! Will I do it again?

We’ll see.

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NaNoWriMo Day 15-19

I’ve been doing variations on the same strategies to churn out words in the past few days. On good days, I aim for at least 2k. On bad days, I aim for at least 500. It doesn’t sound like much, but every little bit counts.

We’re stepping into the last third of NaNoWriMo, and I’ve only just reached the halfway mark. This will be tough. If I don’t update very often, it’s because there isn’t much to add, and I’m throwing all the words I can into my NaNoWriMo project instead.

Fellow NaNoWriMo participants, don’t give up. Approaching deadlines have a funny way of bringing words out of hiding 🙂

 

Current total word count: 27046

NaNoWriMo 15

I did so well yesterday… that I didn’t feel like writing much today.

Well, I had other things to do too, and I wasn’t going to slack on my other responsibilities just to hit one goal.

I’m halfway through NaNoWriMo, and now I have a more realistic grasp on which days are actually good for writing and which days aren’t. Armed with this knowledge, I hope my second half of NaNoWriMo would be much better.

To everyone else doing NaNoWriMo, hang in there. Only half a month left to go.

Today’s word count: 896
Total word count: 21069

NaNoWriMo 13 & 14

Tried some word wars today. It actually helped a lot. I wrote more in that 15 minutes than I did the whole morning. Now I just need to put more 15 minutes sprint into my writing.

Tomorrow is the 15th, the halfway mark. With my current pace, it’ll be hard to hit 25k, but I’ll get as close as I can.

 

 

Yesterday’s word count: 1161
Today’s word count: 2648
Total word count: 20173

NaNoWriMo 12

Having a writing playlist is really helpful for NaNoWriMo. Well, I say writing playlist, but probably any music will do.

The music isn’t necessarily to keep me inspired while I write. It’s more like a musical reminder that I should be writing. And the longer I play music while I write, the stronger the connection between music and writing becomes.

It’s like the classical conditioning with Pavlov’s dog. Ring a bell whenever it’s time to feed, and eventually, just ringing the bell would be enough for the dog to start salivating, even though the bell has nothing to do with food.

That said, the playlist isn’t 100% foolproof. After awhile (usually when I’m stuck), I’ll start wandering off looking for distractions. Which is terrible, because then I’ll need to replace that lost time later, when it’s late and I want to sleep XP

 

Today’s word count: 1771
Total word count: 16364

NaNoWriMo 11

Every day, when I’m writing, I feel like I’ve written a large chunk, but when I add up the words at the end of the day on a separate word document created specifically to keep track of my word count, it’s a lot less than I expected, which is really discouraging.

Today, what I did was paste what I’ve written on the new word document in bits and pieces as I write them. It shows me exactly how much I’ve written throughout the day and motivate me to pick up the pace so I can actually reach 2k by the end of the day.

It actually does help. Because with every little bit I write and add to the word count, I can physically see myself inching closer to the finish line, which gives me that extra energy to write a little more so I’m a little closer to my goal.

If you’re having trouble staying on track, maybe you can try this too.

 

Today’s word count: 2060
Total word count: 14593

NaNoWriMo 10

Today, I had the whole day to do assignments and clock in some words for NaNoWriMo.

In terms of assignments, I managed to finish one and almost finish the other.

In terms of NaNoWriMo, I managed to write 1798 words, not including the other words I wrote down for other scenes I thought about but haven’t fleshed out into actual sentences.

Switching between the assignment and Melan did help force me to work on both projects, but what really helped me write for Melan was getting the inspiration for a pretty big scene. In the end, tricks and technique help, but there’s no substitute for a real idea.
Conclusion: I was just short on both sides for my goal, but NaNoWriMo went from predicting I’ll finish in 12 December to 10 December, so today was great 🙂

 

Today’s word count: 1798
Total word count: 12533

NaNoWriMo Day 9

I thought I had plenty of free time to write.

I underestimated how long it would take me to put down words.

In the past, I was one of those students who started working on assignments with a few weeks to go to the deadline. Not because I was hardworking, but because I know I’m the kind of person who likes taking breaks. Some people can sit for eight hours straight and churn out pages and pages of work. I am not one of those people.

Given a chunk of time, I’ll jot down some ideas, check out something else, come back to flesh out some sentences, scroll through some pictures, add more details, play a bit, return to continue the scene, etc. It’s a routine I’m comfortable with, but it also means I waste a lot of time. At the rate I’m going, according to my NaNoWriMo stats, I’ll only reach 50k sometime in mid December.

Something needs to change.

Today was a full day out for me, so I didn’t have the luxury to work my way slowly towards my 2k+ goal. Instead, I wrote in little sprints. One sentence when I woke up, a few words after breakfast, as many pages as I could on the train, little bits and pieces throughout the day. When I came back, I had accumulated 400+ words written on stolen time. Which wasn’t as much as I thought, so before I sleep, I’m squeezing in more. I would have liked to at least hit 1k, but it’s past midnight.

Tomorrow, I’ll need to focus on finishing my assignments. Hopefully, I can switch in between that and my writing as if I’m ‘taking breaks’ on one side while working on the other for extra productivity.

Or maybe I’ll end up procrastinating on both sides. We’ll see.

 

Today’s word count: 765
Total word count: 10735

NaNoWriMo Day 8

I got distracted in the morning by someone else’s story. Fortunately, I managed to write quite a bit on the train, but it’s not a good feeling to know that I wasted a ‘good day’ for writing. With the time I had, I should have been able to hit 2k.

That’s fine. The month has only just begun. And if NaNoWriMo is anything like uni assignments, my writing pace will definitely pick up as it gets closer to the deadline.

On a different note, having a writing soundtrack of (mostly) lyric-less songs does help me focus on getting words out. I’m still adding more as I go, but I’ve found some pretty good ones with different tempo and styles. Any suggestions?

Today’s word count: 1015
Total word count: 9970

NaNoWriMo Day 5-7

On 5th and 6th November, I helped out at a convention for most of the day, which meant very little writing. This was something I knew would happen before I started NaNoWriMo, which was why I divided my 50k word count by 20/25 days instead of 30 days.

Aiming to write 1667 words a day wouldn’t give me any buffer for days where I wouldn’t be able to do any writing. And anyway, 2k and 2.5k are round numbers. Round numbers are nice.

I’ve already used up a lot of my ‘off days’, and it’s only the first week of NaNoWriMo. Better pick up the pace just in case I have more days where I can’t do a lot of writing later in the month.

 

Today’s word count: 2470
Total word count: 8955

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