NaNoWriMo Week 3: Yes, You Can Do This!

(Our guest blogger today is wrimo xetheriel, otherwise known as Thomas. Thanks to Thomas for writing today’s post! — ML )

I remember the first time I did NaNoWriMo. It was 2010, and I had no idea what I was doing. I had never written before, I had no idea for a plot, no idea for characters, and no clue how I was going to finish 50,000 words in 30 days. That first year, it took me until November 25 to come up with any kind of inspiration, and when I did, I wrote like mad and finished 18,000 words in 5 days.

Not too shabby.

No, I didn’t win. But I felt accomplished anyways. And I kept writing. I finished 50,000 in 30 days anyway. After all, I made a commitment. That’s really all NaNoWriMo is about right? A commitment to yourself to keep writing no matter what, and get that novel out of your head and onto paper or into a word processor.

It’s a personal challenge, and nothing more. Yes there is a community built around it to provide friendship and support throughout the challenge, but it really comes down to this: Can you do it?

I’ll be participating again this year, and by the time you read this, I’m hoping to be a 5-time consecutive winner.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is: “How do you do it?”

I’m friends with a large number of writers, and even a few published authors, and the general consensus is that doing NaNoWriMo is a pretty tough task. Here’s some tips for how I manage to pull it off:

-       Don’t give up. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people throw in the towel, telling themselves that they can’t do it. You can do it. It’s not an impossible task.

-       Stay positive, even if you only finish 40k, or 20k, or really anything at all. Those are words you didn’t have at the beginning of the month. The idea is to get creative, to stimulate your mind, and to do the best you can. If you wrote anything at all, you accomplished that. And if you said “Yes, I can do this!” you took the first step that many hundreds of thousands of people never take. It’s the first step on a journey to write that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

-       Write as much as you can when you have the inspiration. In order to accomplish 50k in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words each day. If you stop each day once you hit this goal, then sure, you’ve hit your goal, but if you feel like you still have words to write, and you still have time, get more in. There is no harm in finishing early, and this will build up a buffer in case you have days when you can’t write as much.

-       Write every day. Even if it’s just 50 words. The idea is to establish a routine. To write every day, without fail. Make a commitment to yourself that no matter how little time you have in a day, you will write a certain number of words each day.

-       If you fall behind, don’t get discouraged. Everybody has good and bad writing days. Just keep up the routine, and keep getting those words down.

-       Kill your inner editor. Yup. Kill him. An inner editor is of no use to you when attempting this challenge. If you hate what you’re writing, write it anyway. You’re still practising your craft. Worry about editing later.

-       And last but not least, one of the most important things you can do to accomplish your goal is get involved with a local writing community. The support and encouragement of other writers around you will do wonders for your creative mind. If you haven’t been to a local write-in yet, make an effort to get out to one. You won’t believe how great it can make you feel.

Always remember that NaNoWriMo has as many winners as it has participants. Even if you don’t write all 50k words, the fact that you started at all is a big step, and something to be proud of. Good luck, and keep writing!

fail bradbury

NaNoWriMo Week 2: Right Now? Just Write.

(Our guest blogger today is wrimo Angel on the Moon, otherwise known as Lyndsay. Thanks to Lyndsay for writing today’s post! — ML )

Welcome, Wrimo, to the dreaded Week Two. At this point, the characters that you had a perfect picture of in your head before this whole thing started aren’t looking so pretty – in fact, it’s turning into a nightmare to get this story going in the direction you thought it would go. You’re way behind on your word count, and it’s getting worse by the day. And those plot holes are starting to rear their ugly heads. Especially for the rookie Wrimo, but for all of us, Week Two is where you start to wonder how you could have ever thought writing 50,000 words in a month was a good idea.

Fear not.

Week Two is also probably the most important time for us to remind ourselves what NaNo is all about. It’s about fun, and letting our creativity run amok. It’s tough to let go of our preconceived notion of our novel when our characters come to life and start to make their own decisions for us, but that’s okay! I say to you now that if you haven’t already, now is the time to chloroform your inner editor, as one of my favourite pep talks put it. Let those characters tell you what they want to do, plot holes be damned. There’s a reason it’s called a first draft. You have the rest of the year to make it pretty.

Right now, just write. Jump around, if you have to. Get stuck? Write that silly scene that’s chapters away but you’ve been imagining for weeks. As long as it gets you to write. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing, not even for a day. Whether you’ve written ten words or ten thousand words, once you stop, it’s an even bigger challenge to get that momentum going again. Besides, at the end of it all, if you only wrote a fraction of the 50k you aimed for, that’s still more words than you had in October, and that’s something to be proud of.

So grab that coffee, sit down, and keep writing, Wrimos.

best thing write

NaNoWriMo Week 1: Writing Like a P.R.O.

(Our guest blogger today is wrimo My.Zombie.And.Me, otherwise known as Kassie. Thanks to Kassie for writing today’s post! — ML )

If you’re reading this page, it’s very possible that you’ve made the first step into taking part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month. Or you’re procrastinating on doing so. Or you’re a time traveller. These are all excellent options.

However, in the event that you’re gearing up to write away the gloomy month of November, I have some fun advice for you!

My name is Kassie, and I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for several years now. Basically, ever since Brantford has been an official region. Between ever changing story ideas, start overs and non-starters, I have found this event to be one of the most uplifting, inspiring and insane things that a writer can do.

It’s intimidating at first, and if you’re feeling that heavy lump of self doubt, that’s okay. Even seasoned veterans get that way. The awesome thing is that you’ll be joined by lots of people who have experienced the same, and we’ll all get through it together.

The best thing I can suggest for a successful NaNoWriMo is simply to keep this acronym in mind: P.R.O. What does it stand for? “Practice Relentless Optimism.” Yes, NaNo can be stressful, and at times, frustrating, but you need to give yourself permission to be creative. Have fun. Make mistakes. Treat yourself to the same level of generosity that you give to anybody else on this crazy adventure with you.

The long and short of it is that there’s no ‘one weird trick’ to winning NaNoWriMo. Just by attempting this challenge, you’re already a winner of sorts.

So kick back, gather your writing implements of choice, a snack, and your IV drip filled with coffee. This is going to be great.

Give ‘em word filled Hell, kid!

make things happen

Welcome to NaNo 2015!

It’s here! It’s real! And it’s happening RIGHT NOW!!!

And you’re here on our site, so that’s cool too. In previous years we’ve used this space for motivational posts, notifications, or (like last year) we’ve more or less ignored that it exists. This year, we’re trying to boost our community engagement by providing you lovely Wrimosaurs with some great guest posts written by Wrimos in our region. Yay!

These posts will hopefully inspire you, make you laugh, and encourage you as you plug away at your 50,000 word goal.

Please leave a comment if you enjoy the post — everyone likes comments!

And if course, if you have an idea for a NaNo or writing-related post for this blog, please contact me (the ML) either through NaNoMail on the website or by sending an email to

Stay tuned! The guest post for Week One will arrive tomorrow so that you can start your Monday off feeling motivated to tackle the week ahead.

Write on, Wrimosaurs!


NaNo is Coming…


(NaNo, I mean… not the shirt. Well, unless you’ve ordered one, in which case I suppose both are true. WHATEVER. Anyway. IT’S STILL COMING one way or the other.)

50 DAYS.

The Anthem

Here it is, folks… in all its, er… “glory.”

Well played, Pretoria. Well played…


Taking Risks, Telling the Story

riskWhat does it mean to take more risks with your writing?

Do you ever feel that need to branch out, dive deep, and search the inner recesses of your psyche…?  To want to create stories that have purpose, writing that has meaning, ideas that comb the murky depths and make readers gasp in horror, awe, delight, and disbelief? I don’t know about you, but I want readers to think, “how could she write something like that?” while being compelled to turn the next page.

We’ve all read books like that. Those are the stories that we read and wonder how an author could put those words on the page without crumbling into a million pieces, or without falling prey to the dark void. The plot twists are unimaginable, the villains are truly evil, and the situations, setting, and action are all reflective of a realistic, very human, very harsh, very scrutinous look at the world.

But how does a person revert to that darker, riskier way of looking at the world? How can an author make conflict real, how can they make their villains real, without it?

I found an article about risk-taking in writing by Judy Reeve, posted on her website, and I encourage you to head over there and read the whole thing (along with plenty more useful articles on the writing process!)—but for now, here are a few paragraphs that really spoke to this concept:

“If you’re not willing to take risks, chances are your writing will be bland, shallow and boring. Even to yourself.

So, what does it mean, taking risks in your writing?

This is where you move out of safe, familiar territory, into something that feels a little dangerous. Risk-taking differs from individual to individual, so it’s difficult to say exactly what “taking risks” means. One writer’s risk is another’s walk in the woods. And another writer’s walk in the woods feels damned risky to a third.

Following are some of the ways it might feel when you are taking risks in your writing: Maybe your hands tremble and your handwriting gets a little out of control. Maybe while you’re writing, your breathing becomes shallow. Or you stop breathing completely. Sometimes you can tell when you’re taking risks because this is where the censor will step in: “Hey, you can’t write that.” Or the critic: “That’s certainly not a nice thing to write.” Or the editor: “You might want to be a little less specific there, maybe use words that aren’t quite so… well, graphic.” Hearing these voices can almost guarantee you’re working in risky territory.

You may stop writing what you’re working on, or it may deviate off into some safer territory, meaningless details or worse, generalities. You may feel restless and want something – a cup of coffee, a cigarette (and you don’t even smoke), something to eat, anything to alter the direction of the writing and the way you feel.

Taking risks means telling the truth, whatever your truth is.”


Point to Consider: How do you take risks in your daily writing? How do you find the strength to “tell the truth”, and how does it make you feel during the process?

(A version of this blog post first appeared on Literary Coldcuts on Toasty Buns in June 2009.)

IMAX-ing Your Story

imaxRemember the last time you saw a movie in IMAX? What was your reason for choosing to go out of your way to see it on the screen in, say, Hamilton or Kitchener instead of the theatre in town?

I’m betting: BIG screen = EXCELLENT picture quality = BEST way to watch action scenes (Marvel’s Avengers, anyone?).

On a screen like that, you see the big picture even better than on a typical theatre screen. But at the same time, a giant screen allows you to see the details better than you otherwise could. You can notice the little things, the smaller touches the filmmaker inserted to make the story that much more realistic and immersive for the viewer.

I think we need to look at our manuscripts in a similar way, particularly during the editing process—a stage which you may come to this December or January.

It’s very important to be able to see the big picture as clearly as possible: Theme, Tone, Voice, Overarching Character and Plot Development. Those things must pervade the entire story and jump out at the reader just like an amazing explosion on a Big Screen.

But at the same time, a Big Picture perspective on our manuscript also allows us to add those little touches that make the story even more exciting for the reader… details in the setting, the clothing, accurate & plausible action (ie. fight scenes or battle scenes in particular), correct description & technical elements of specialty interests (ie. how long a horse can actually gallop for, or the correct pay grade of a field  archaeologist).

Those touches make the story that much richer, that much more exciting and believable for the reader. Without them—and without a clear Big Picture to contain the details in—you might as well be writing a standard theatre screen story. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But I’m pretty sure you’d rather have it in IMAX. :)


(A version of this post originally appeared on Literary Coldcuts on Toasty Buns in April 2011.)

It’s Time For… 10K Friday!

NaNo 2013 has been amazing… Wrimosaurs in our region have been smashing through personal records all over the place, and we’ve raised a record amount of donation cash for both the region and NaNo HQ, to help support the continuation of NaNoWriMo in 2014!

Naturally, the end of the month can sometimes be a bit sad — it’s hard to say goodbye! — so we’re going to end this month with a BANG!

10k Friday is a 24-hour virtual event, beginning at 12:01am, running until 11:59pm on Friday night. For more info on the why/how/what, read the thread in our forum here.

But to get you pumped for this upcoming writing challenge (in just a few hours!), here’s a brief overview of tomorrow’s schedule!

You might want to set a few alarms on your phone, because you’re not going to want to miss the Scheduled Word Wars… we have prizes! They’ll be distributed at Saturday’s write-in / at the TGIO / mailed out, so everyone is welcome to participate! Images of what’s up for grabs will be posted approximately 15m before the Word War begins, so you’ll learn what you’re playing for!

PRIZE RULES: One prize win per participant for event duration… if you win, you may choose to pass on receiving the prize and offer it to the next person, and remain eligible for an upcoming Word War prize. If no one chooses to accept the prize, it will go back in the “pot” and be added to the next Word War!

And of course, we’ll be running sprints throughout the day as Wrimos are available, so be sure to post on the forum thread and the Facebook group when you’re sitting down to write for a few minutes — someone might join you!

If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #10kFriday (and select “people you follow”) to connect with other Wrimosaurs throughout the day!

10K Friday Virtual Event Schedule

dino write12:01am: Scheduled Word War – 15m

7:30am: Scheduled Word War — 15m

8am: Twitter Prompt

9am: Scheduled Word War – 30m

10am: Scheduled Word War — 15m

11am: Twitter Prompt

12noon: Scheduled Word War – 15m (join us on your lunch break!)

2pm: Scheduled Word War – 30m

3pm: Check out a blog post on our website!

4pm: Twitter Prompt

5pm: Scheduled Word War – 30m

7pm: Twitter Prompt

8pm: Scheduled Word War – 15m

9pm: Check out a blog post on our website!

10pm: Scheduled Word War – 30m

11pm: Twitter Prompt

11:59pm: Congratulations! You made it!!! Post your day’s total word count in the forum!

writing compy

Have a Party with Your Bear Day!
This bear is happy to meet you.

(This bear is happy to meet you!)

Every day is a “something” day, but not many days are as important or under-recognized as International “Have a Party with Your Bear” Day.

Oftentimes, bears get a bad rap. They’re considered “dangerous” and “wild,” and humans tend to be warned to lock up their food overnight when camping, lest a hungry bear make its way into camp looking for a midnight snack.

Well, tomorrow at Coffee Culture, we want to celebrate our bears… have a party with them, if you will. (And if you won’t, well… I don’t want to be the one to tell your bear that you don’t care about it, is all I’m sayin’…!)

All Wrimos are encouraged to bring their bear to the write-in, using whatever interpretation of the theme you’d like. Perhaps it’s a bear shirt. A “teddy bear”, or variations on that theme. Maybe you cheer for the Chicago Bears and have a jersey. Or perhaps you’re best friends with a live bear, and until now, haven’t been sure just how to show your appreciation for his friendship.

(Also, don’t tell Wrimona. She has no idea, and we want to keep it that way, just in case… )

Come on out at 2pm tomorrow, and let’s PARTY (ie. write a lot) with our bears!

Bear can't wait for the write-in!

(This bear can't wait for the write-in!)

PSA: Please ensure all live bears are brushed before visiting Coffee Culture, lest other patrons become disturbed by shed bear fur in their drinks.