Planning and Mind-mapping for NaNoWriMo 2017

A woman is having a Skype call with her brother. In the background can be seen the living room and the door to the hall. Off-screen, the kids make a commotion, and the woman has to go and check on them. The brother is left looking at an empty living room. Then, in the background, a shadowy figure moves from the hall to the living room, then off-screen.

A mother hears her young son talking up the hallway. When he comes into the living room, the mother asks who he was talking to. “Just the man up the hall,” the boy says with a smile. She knows it’s just his imagination, but is still unnerved by the situation, and feels compelled to check.

An obnoxious, over the top celebrity superstar falls from fame when a prank he orchestrates causes the suicide of the target while millions watch. Disgraced and shunned, he has to rebuild his life. But maybe something from his past mistake is haunting him, and won’t stop until it has revenge …

And there you have it: my book for NaNoWriMo 2017, Haunted. Those three ideas bounced around in my head; years apart, but all inspired by real events or real people. When I decided I wanted to do a quick, stand-alone Continue reading “Planning and Mind-mapping for NaNoWriMo 2017”

50,000 Words Done: NaNoWriMo complete.

It’s the 22nd of November. A few weeks ago, I got stuck in to drafting the manuscript for NaNoWriMo and let everything else slide. On the plus side, I’ve finished drafting the 50,000 words. Here’s a quick rundown of what the month has been like, and what I’ve learned so far … Continue reading “50,000 Words Done: NaNoWriMo complete.”

Switching to Something New.

By Anthony Kentuck – 31st October, 2015

There’s one final thing that I’m committing to change on the eve of NaNoWriMo: I’m writing my novel in Ulysses. Scrivener, the program that I’ve been writing with since I knew it existed, is being shelved for this project. And if Ulysses works out well for the novel, it might end up taking Scrivener’s place permanently. If none of those words above mean anything to you, the rest of this article isn’t going to get any better. You might want to skip it. Continue reading “Switching to Something New.”

Two Things I’ll be Changing during NaNoWriMo

It’s been great realising the most important things that I’ve learned so far when it comes to writing fiction. But there is one belief I have that I wish to challenge, and one skill I’ve always meant to improve.

The belief is something that I just came to accept about my process: I can only write in the mornings. The skill is handwriting: something that I’ve always planned to incorporate into my writing but just haven’t got around to it. Well, in November I’m going to look at changing these two things.

Production Cometh in the Morning.

Writing first thing in the morning is a theme amongst a lot of authors that have spoken about their daily ritual. The process of getting up at 5am, working for four hours and then having the rest of the day to do other things seems pretty common.

I’ll admit that I feel the same. After lunch time my willpower is drained, and usually that’s when I’ll slow down or do something else, like photography. Or play Xbox. Here’s the problem though: I wasn’t born with the drive to write in the morning. Being able to get up early and write for a few hours every day – that’s a habit that I’ve built up over time. I didn’t just switch it on one day; it took months of working a little more every week.

When I first started the habit, sitting down to write for half an hour took a lot of willpower. Now it takes a lot of willpower to take a break (if it’s before 11am). My point is, after lunch, I feel the same about afternoon writing as I used to about morning writing. For some reason I’ve accepted it because it’s something other people do. And for a while now I’ve wanted to change that.

I like the idea of working into the night. Of sustaining myself on coffee at 1 a.m. while I finish a chapter or frantically edit a scene. So in November, I’m going to push the limits of my working day, and build a habit of extending it out to the whole day.

Hand writing.

I have a love/hate relationship with hand writing. I love the idea of having pages of hand written notes to pore over, but my own hand written notes tend to look terrible. I know I cannot write a draft by hand. The faster I write, the worse my hand writing becomes. I have to slow myself down and pay attention to the way I am forming the letters so I can actually read them again later. However, for planning and plotting, this is ideal.

I’ve been wanting to make hand-writing a part of my process for a while, but have struggled to find a way that works for me. The question has always been ‘do I use just one notebook, or have a different notebook for each project?’ I’ve gone the one notebook route so far. I label the top of the page with whether it’s a blog post or a character sketch or a story idea. However, the only way you can sort through this is chronologically. For example, I can’t really see all of my blog post ideas in one place.

The solution presented itself to me when I was sitting on the bus the other day. A high-school kid got on board clutching the obvious answer: a binder! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. So I’ve got myself a binder for November, with little dividers and everything, and I’ll be making all initial outlines and character sketches in that, away from the computer.

I know. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be about writing a novel, not cramming as much self development into the month as possible. For me, being under a stressful deadline is the perfect time to find out what works and what doesn’t. I won’t have time for anything that doesn’t feel natural or comfortable. A month is a very short time to put a novel together. If having that stress isn’t enough to get me working into the night then I’ll know for sure I’m a morning person. And if I don’t feel I’m getting any benefit from hand-writing notes, then I won’t have time to just do it because I like idea of it.

I have one more big change coming, too – I’ll cover that tomorrow.

The Most Important Things I’ve Learned So Far, and How I’m Using Them for NaNoWriMo

Over the past couple of years, I’ve gone through a few ups and downs in terms of forming a writing habit. In this post, I want to cover the three things that have had the biggest impact on my productivity.

The rough draft is not the final draft…

This is the number one, fundamentally groundbreaking concept. Once I understood and applied it, everything changed. Three simple things:
1. No other person can ever read your rough draft, so it doesn’t matter what you write.
2. Don’t stop typing. Write what comes to mind.
3. No editing until the story is finished.

Continue reading “The Most Important Things I’ve Learned So Far, and How I’m Using Them for NaNoWriMo”