Posts Tagged: writing

November Is for Writing Novels

November 4, 2017 books, miscellaneous 20

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What’s New?

Halloween is over, and my grandma is already panicking about baking Christmas cookies, so November is officially here. And you know what November means – it’s NaNoWriMo time! I had this whole plan of carefully plotting a new novel, so I’d be all ready by November 1st, but then Things™ happened, the 1st of November arrived, and I had nothing. I figured I’ll skip it this year, but like every year I just couldn’t resist the momentum of NaNoWriMo, so on the evening of November 1st I decided I’ll join in anyway. Who needs plots, right? Me. The answer is me.

There was a creative writing group at uni when I was doing my postgrad in Newcastle last year, but now I live in the countryside, so I had to get creative. The feeling of community and getting to know other writers is what I love most about NaNo, so I breached out and found some small writing groups in the area. By in the area I mean I have to drive 30-60 minutes to get there, but hopefully next year I’ll be a little better situated again. I went to my first meeting yesterday and got some writing done, so yay for that! I think one of the major reasons I haven’t finished NaNo so far besides being frickin busy is my perfectionism. This time, I’m trying to just get down 50k without constantly worrying that it’s not good, so wish me luck!

The Shiny

genuine fraud by e.lockhart cover any way you slice it by kristin carlsson aselin cover

I got these on netgalley, so thanks to Hot Key Books and Whicked Whale Publishing! Reviews coming up soon.
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[Guest Post]: On Writing a Character With Anxiety + Mental Health Book Recommendations (Shattering Stigmas)

October 4, 2017 books, recs, writing 7

I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Marie Landry to the blog today! Marie is an author, and she is going to tell you about her writing process and how much of herself she puts into her own characters in this post. She will also give you a couple of book recommendations for YA/NA books discussing mental health. Make sure to check out Waiting for the Storm and Marie’s other books. I’ll let Marie take over from here.

Shattering Stigmas graphic
Shattering Stigmas is a two-week blogging event focused on mental health in literature and mental health generally – check back for guest posts, reviews and discussions around mental health.

Marie’s story

When I started writing my YA book Waiting for the Storm five years ago, I didn’t intend for it to be about a girl with anxiety. Initially it was about a girl, Charlotte, who had finished high school at home while taking care of her terminally ill mother. After being shut away for almost a year, she had become anxious and jumpy, afraid of things that never bothered her before, and unable to cope with her emotions. As I continued writing and Charlotte became more fully formed in my mind, her actions – things like jumping to conclusions and overreacting – seemed familiar.
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Essay Writing: Online Resources for University Research

March 7, 2017 miscellaneous, recs, reviews 2

This post is probably completely irrelevant to anyone who reads my blog on any sort of regular basis, but maybe someone will be redirected here by a random Google search. As you may know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while (which you probably haven’t for the aforementioned reason), I’m a student. Having to Write an Essay is a constant state of anxiety for me. I’m not saying my essays are perfect (I feel like they would be much more entertaining if I could use my authentic writing style, but apparently informal writing and mediocre jokes are frowned upon in the academic world), but I did manage to get my B.A. last summer, so I must be doing something right. Obviously this qualifies me to share my wise knowledge with you.

Disclaimer: I am not actually any sort of expert or authority on this, so if you mess up your essay don’t point to me.

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A 2016 Review (Not the Dumpster Fire-y Parts) & Goals for 2017

December 25, 2016 miscellaneous, psa 8

Hello-ho-ho-ho and Merry Christmas, blogglings!

If you come back after weeks of absence, come back with a bad pun, I say. I haven’t been around much due to both my laptop and my netbook breaking and being swamped with essays I should be writing (but why am I even mentioning that? Procrastinating an essay is a permanent state of being for me at this point). Nevertheless, now that my laptop is repaired, and I can use it again (fingers crossed it’ll stay that way), I’m continuing the great tradition of setting goals for the new year. I did this last year as well (and the year before that), so let’s see how I did first. I also noticed some of you wrote down your goals in the comments of last year’s post, so if that’s you feel free to go ahead and see how you did along with me. :D

My goals for 2016 were

I want to get good grades and finish my Bachelor’s

Hey, I actually did that! What a good start. I got my BA this summer, and I was pretty satisfied with the grade as well, so I’ll count this one as a win.

…so I can apply to university in Glasgow (I might not get in and if I do it’s going to be one hell of an organisational and financial challenge to move to Scotland for a year, but I think this is an excellent idea, so wish me luck!)

HA! Another one I accomplished. I have a good feeling for this year. So I’m not studying in Glasgow, but that was kind of random, because someone told me there are no student fees in Scotland (or at least that they’ll be payed back by the government), but it turned out that that’s not true for postgraduate degrees, so instead I applied to universities all over the UK and ended up in Newcastle, where I’m currently living and studying. (And you were right, Vlora of the past, it was one hell of an organisational and financial challenge, but it was worth it so far!)
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November 8, 2016 writing 4

Welcome to November! Wow, that went fast, didn’t it? Then again a lot of people seem to be comparing 2016 to a dumpster fire, so maybe you’re looking forward to next year already. Either way, November means it’s time for my favorite holiday of the year: National Novel Writing Month! If you’re not familiar with the concept, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50.000 words in one month. You don’t really win anything at the end, other than bragging rights, so all it proves is that writers are masochists. Seriously though, it’s great for inspiration and motivation.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I figured what would be a better way to cheerlead than talking about all the various struggles writers and by writers I mean mostly me face. I already wrote a sarcastic post on writing struggles, so I decided it was time for a real one. I am nothing if not an optimist.

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Polish Films and Scottish Universities

April 23, 2016 books, miscellaneous, movies 16

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What’s New?

What ISN’T new would be the better question. The last few weeks have been kind of crazy, but mostly in a good way. I’m writing this from the sofa of my temporary flat in Berlin, where I’m staying for six days to participate in a film journalism seminar. It was all very last minute and stressful, because I was also visiting a friend in Dublin last weekend, but now that I’ve had some sleep and rest again I’m very glad I did it. I love movies and writing, and we’re learning a lot about Polish films, because the seminar is organized by the Polish Institute, so overall I’m having a great time.

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How to Finish Your Project

February 19, 2016 fun, miscellaneous 16

No idea how to finish that project you should have been working on for the last three months? As a chronic procrastinator, I have some handy tips for you. Here’s my ultimate guide for finishing your project. Guaranteed to work!

  1. Remember that new show everyone keeps telling you about? You should start watching it.
  2. Your parents always told you, but it took you this long to realize that a clean house really is a clean mind. This is the perfect time to become a cleaning monster and vacuum, scrub and dust every surface you can find. Daily.
  3. YouTube has more than one billion users. So many people can’t be wrong – it’s time to check back and catch up on your subscriptions, your suggested videos and that one cat video you watched three years ago and then couldn’t find anymore. Look for it now, what’s more fun than a quest?
  4. Made it to the library to work on your paper? Phenomenal, take a break. You deserve it. Put on The Great British Bake Off, get yourself an actual cake from the cafeteria and kick back to appreciate the fine art that is turning boring ingredients into something magnificent. If one of your friends stops by, lecture them on the importance of breaks. People say they do their best work when they’re under a bit of stress, but they’re clearly wrong. Stress is unhealthy. So is your cake, but at least it’s delicious, and it’s more for your soul than your body anyway.
  5. You know where dust collects? On lamps. Get yourself a chair, dismantle that lamp and make sure there’s not a fleck of grey left anywhere.
  6. It’s time to be social. Reconnect with those old acquaintances from school you haven’t seen in ten years. Look for pen pals. Hell, why not be bold and sign up for those dancing classes three times a week you thought you didn’t have enough time or skill for. You have to make the time.
  7. What’s the opposite of procrastination? That’s right, productivity. The law of logic dictates that being productive means you’re not procrastinating, so if there’s project you’ve been waiting to realize, you should do it now. No time like the present. Who knows, it might even become profitable, and who could tell you you were wasting your time then?
  8. Now that you’ve spent so much time on YouTube, you should start thinking about making your own videos. You might have to think of a name and a concept and yes, you will have to learn how to film and edit from scratch, but it’ll be worth it. Just make sure to be consistent in your upload schedule. Twice a day should suffice for now.
  9. Just shove a pizza into the oven? Not you. You suddenly decide to start living healthy and make the pizza from scratch. And by from scratch I mean you not only make your own dough, you grow your own freaking wheat. Tomato sauce? Well, better wait for the right season to harvest the sweetest tomatoes, because a subpar tomato sauce is not a tomato sauce you are going to subject yourself to. Clean away those old pizza cartons while you’re at it.
  10. You know what you need? A pet. Yes, you’ll have to walk your dog several times a day, but you’ll be more energized for it. And think of all the cuddly love you’ll receive. That should be sure to boost your spirits and give you the strength needed to finish your project.
  11. In fact, why not add another addition to your family? A baby is a project much more important and fulfilling than the one you’re working on.
  12. Unless you want to focus on your career right now and don’t think a baby fits in. That’s fine, but you should really put in some extra hours at work to get ahead. Not getting paid as much as you were hoping? Apply for a second job. But remember: Make the money, don’t let the money make you.
  13. And haven’t you always wanted to experience a different culture? You’re young and free and if you’re not you’ll want to feel that way again. Be daring and move to a different country. It’s important to expand your horizon.

And if all else fails, start writing lists and post them to your blog. There, I’m sure that was helpful to everyone involved.


Top Priority Writing Projects

January 7, 2016 miscellaneous, writing 9

I’m doing this again, because I thought it wouldn’t hurt to set some writing related goals for this year! Also, I like replying to questions I can actually answer as opposed to Why do we exist? or Is this term paper you’re writing the same term paper you told me about last summer? Fine, I can answer that last question BUT YOU WON’T LIKE THE ANSWER, MOTHER. Ahem. Let us commence.

What were your writing achievements last year?

I almost won NaNoWriMo! It was SO CLOSE. I mean what’s 30.000 words in the grand scheme of things, right? I also wrote some term papers and stuff.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

The book I started last November! I have 20.000 words, and I’m totally not considering starting something else NOPE NOT ME. And my bachelor thesis
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Shit I’m Going to Do in 2016

December 30, 2015 miscellaneous 16

Last year around this time I wrote a post called The End Is Near: 2014 Accomplishments and 2015 Goals, in which I set some goals for 2015. Now is the time to see whether I actually accomplished any of them. Let’s take a look!

The Moment of Truth

In 2015 I wanted to…

…do well in university

You know what? I’m gonna give myself a check on that one. I procrastinated so much I could write my dissertation on it and I would have done better if I had studied harder or studied at all, BUT overall my grades were between good and really good, so I’d say that’s a mission accomplished. Now I only need to do well on the things that actually count towards my bachelor grade.

…want to work or intern during the lecture free times

I have two major lecture free times a year, in which I’m supposed to write term papers, but don’t have to be at university for seminars. I have to admit that I didn’t do much during the first one, but I did an internship at my local radio station during the second one and also have been working at an office 1-2 times a week since May, so I’ll give myself a check for that one too.
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Speed Typing Test Review (How Fast Can YOU Type?)

December 29, 2015 discussion, fun, miscellaneous, writing 15

Help. There are so many more productive things I could be doing. But Kristen asked me whether I’ve ever done any typing tests in the comments of my speed reading test review, so you know what I’m doing for the next hour. I’m much more confident about my speed typing abilities than my speed reading abilities, but we’ll see how it goes. Please no one link me to anything that looks like a test, survey or buzzfeed quiz in the comments after this though, because I will have to forward my university expulsion letter and a bucket full of my tears to you.

If you know me, you’ll know I did my research and totally didn’t pick out the very first test that came up when I Googled “typing test”. This test prides itself on being able to tell your “true” typing speed in 60 seconds (I wonder what a false typing speed would be) and is preset to give you a text from Aesop’s fables, but you can choose different texts to copy. I chose Space Cowboys, because that sounded a lot more fun.

I got 64 words/minute with 1 error, so 63 words per minute. I wasn’t sure if quotation marks and such counted as errors and the fact that the test always colored the next word I had to type blue distracted me a little even though it was supposed to be helpful (my brain is weird and confused but loveable, like Kirk from Gilmore Girls). The test says between 60 and 80 words per minute is fast, but the next level is “pro”, so you know I had to try it again. I left it on Aesop’s fables this time and got 77 words/minute with 2 errors, so still fast, but 5 missing to be a pro. I, um, got competitive with myself then. I chose Baseball Rules and typed 85 words with one mistyped word, so an adjusted speed of 84 words per minute, which officially makes me a PRO. YES, MY LIFE GOALS ARE COMPLETED.

You know I had to use this gif.

I also switched to German once and got a science-y text on musk deer (WTF) and typed 68 words/minute with 51 mistyped words and an adjusted speed of 0 words per minute. Um. I don’t quite know what happened there.
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What I Learned During NaNoWriMo 2015

December 9, 2015 miscellaneous, writing 6

November, or as some writers know it “that crazy month where you ditch life and try to write a book in four weeks”, has come and passed and selfless person that I am I’d like to share some insights with you (fun fact: I once wrote “insides” instead of “insights” in a university essay and didn’t catch it while proof reading, so now I’m always worried it’ll happen again and people will think I want to share my innards with them – I do not).

So first things first: I didn’t win. It pains me to admit it, but since I so cockily declared that I Bet I Can Write a Book, I figured I should share my failure with you and explain to you why it wasn’t actually a failure. HOW CONVENIENT, you might think and you would be completely right, but keep an open mind. Generally, I mean, not in relation to my fake failure, you may judge me on that all you want. It never hurts to keep an open mind, does it? Look at Aberforth and his goats – some might wonder why JK Rowling chose to include bestiality in her books, but never explicitly mentioned Dumbledore was gay in the text, but to those people I say keep an open mind; maybe Aberforth loved his goats more than Dumbledore loved Grindelwald and clearly love is more important than taking over the world is what I say to deflect attention from my devious plan of taking over the world (fun fact number two: Sometimes I wonder whether what I’m writing is inappropriate or only makes sense to 0.2 out of a hundred people. That’s usually the stuff that I keep).

Before I grace you irritate you with more weird Harry Potter humor, let’s take a look at the things my first NaNoWriMo experience taught me!
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Snow and Capitalism

November 22, 2015 miscellaneous 10

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What’s New?

This week I’ve spent some time at the university library not getting any work done; went to work where I did actually get some work done, because they pay me for it and apparently money is a stronger motivator than my self-development (who would have thought? Oh right, capitalism); and met up with some friends. NaNo is still on hold and will probably continue to be so, because I didn’t make that much progress on my term paper. In unrelated news, it was snowing today, so apparently winter is a thing now. More importantly, Christmas chocolate is a thing now! I mean, technically I’ve been seeing Christmas products in stores since August, but this is the time when I start to actually acknowledge them.

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NaNoWriMo Week 2 + Snippets

November 16, 2015 miscellaneous, writing 2

My week two writing process was very… mercurial. You’ll see what I mean. I did write words though, so I decided to share some snippets in between my daily recounts. Everything subject to change, obviously.

Day 1:

I challenged myself to write 5.000 words today. I needed 3.700 to make up for not writing over the weekend, but 5.000 was a prettier number, and I like a good challenge. Actually I hate a good challenge, and I’ve been struggling all day, but- OMG I DID IT. I procrastinated all day and didn’t really start writing until late evening, and it’s exactly 3 am now, which isn’t ideal, because I need to get up and go to work at 8 am, BUT SCREW IT I ACTUALLY DID IT. I’d like to thank the academy, my family, my writerly friends, and, most importantly, the progress bar in the Scrivener project and session target tool that turns from red to green as you reach your target word count and makes writing seem like a mini game I am 97.6% convinced it’s the reason I’ve been reaching my goals so far. Word written: 5.211

Alex sat down on her bed to put on a pair of tights, swearing when her fingernail caught on the silky material. “I swear these things are made to torture people.”

Allie looked over her shoulder at where Alex was fighting with her tights. “I’m pretty sure they were used during the Spanish Inquisition. Who needs an eyeball scraper when you can use tights?”

“An eyeball scraper? Sometimes you scare me,” Alex said. She was finally happy with the tights and stood up to smooth down her dress. She had still been wearing her make-up when Allie arrived, but she added some dark red lipstick to round out the look. Allie beamed at her in the mirror.

“Thank you. I do try.”

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We’re live in 3… 2… 1…

November 14, 2015 books, fun, miscellaneous, writing 10

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What’s New?

Me and my friend Verena (she blogs in German, but I’ll link to her blog anyway, because you can look at her drawings) are going to have our own radio show soon! As you might or might not remember, I did an internship at a local radio station this summer, and I decided to ask whether I can do my own show. I convinced Verena to join me, because I thought it would be more fun together. We worked on a concept last week and presented it at the monthly meeting yesterday. They all voted yes, so we’ll be going live for an hour every four weeks starting January. I’m really excited about it, because I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’s good practice if I want to do something radio-related after uni. In other news, I’m still doing NaNoWriMo, although slightly less successfully. I’m a bit stuck in my story, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out and persevere.

I also edited my England vlog, so if you’re interested in seeing what I got up to, you can do that here. I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath.

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Strange Dates and Face Tattoos

November 9, 2015 miscellaneous 12

I’m supposed to write 5.000 words today, so I thought what better way to accomplish that than to …write a blog post that does absolutely nothing for my word count. If you’re new here, don’t worry; this is normal behavior. Well, for me.

I’ve always wanted to participate in the Beautiful People link up, but I wasn’t actually writing much, so there wasn’t much of a point. I am doing NaNo this year though, so MY TIME HAS COME.

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Errr… both? It’s kind of too early to tell. I had very little expectations to begin with and the few things that I do have semi-worked out in my mind won’t be an issue until later in the book.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Dammit, you’re gonna make me share snippets? That’s not fair. Fine, here you go.

It was going to be great. No, it was going to be phenomenal. It was going to be the best date she had ever been on, and there was nowhere she would rather be at the moment. – a delusional character

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NaNoWriMo Week 1

November 8, 2015 miscellaneous 4

Day 1: Took me a while to get going (read: all day), because I was tired as hell this morning and realized I should have plotted more in advance, but I managed to reach the daily goal in the end. I had about 2500 words before I started, but the project completely changed from what I had in mind when I was first writing it a few months ago, so I had to rewrite the entire first chapter and change up the rest. I’m counting the rewriting, so I actually did okay on my first day. Words written/rewritten: 2733.

Day 2: It’s actually going well! I only really started writing in the evening, but I’m always tired in the mornings, so it’s probably for the better. I finished my rewriting and then kept going to add more words to the story. I really got into it the last couple of hours, but it’s almost 2 am, and I have to be at work tomorrow, so I’ll stop here. Words written/rewritten: 2505

Day 3: I’m kind of amazed I actually reached my daily goal today. I had to work during the day, and then I went to a friend’s place to write, but I was struggling with my (non-existent) plot, so I had to go back to the drawing board. I still need to plot more, but I actually managed to persevere and reach my word goal back home. I thought for sure that I would have to settle for less, but somehow I pulled through. It is 2 am now though, and I have to get up early tomorrow, so I’ll log off now. Words written: 1670.
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She Needs to Sort Out Her Priorities

November 6, 2015 miscellaneous 14

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What’s New?

Writing has first priority at the moment, so I’m more or less ignoring everything else. I went to work, obviously, because money, but university is a mess. I haven’t had time to write my term paper, which wouldn’t be that horrible if it weren’t for the fact that I have no clue how late would be too late to hand it in. I also dropped a lecture, but I don’t feel bad about that, because I wasn’t that interested in it, and I replaced it with a three day seminar in January, when I will hopefully have more time to attend to mundane matters like getting my degree.

The only other interesting thing I did this week was to work on a radio show concept with my friend Verena, who got roped into the whole thing, because I thought it would be more fun together, and I had no clue what to do on my own. I think we came up with something good, so let’s hope it gets the green light next week!

I’m off to visit a friend for two days, which means I probably won’t be able to write, but I’m looking forward to the trip!
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I Bet I Can Write A Book

October 30, 2015 discussion, miscellaneous 20

After all, how hard can it be, right? Hahaha. Haha. Ha. Help.

Let me tell you a secret: Ever since I was a child, I wanted to write a book. As you all know, I still like reading today, but when I was a child it was basically all I did. I devoured books. It was my happy escape from reality, and I don’t know what my childhood would have been without books. So I guess it only made sense that I wanted to give some of that back. I wanted to give someone else the chance to experience what I’d experienced. More than that, writing became my way of dealing with things. I wasn’t writing that much, but whenever that teenage angst overcame me, and I was overwhelmed with some emotion or another, I turned to writing.

Over the years I wrote short stories for friends, in which they got together with their crushes; took Literature in school and wrote some more short stories, and a couple of years ago, I dabbled in fanfiction for a bit. I wrote shitty poetry and whiny diary entries and a story about our car Brunnhilde (don’t judge, she was part of the family). And then, of course, I started blogging. The one thing I never wrote was a book. I started countless books, but, like so many others, I never had the motivation to write past chapter two.

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Legitimate Reasons Not to Write

June 9, 2015 books, discussion, fun, miscellaneous 28

No Time

You would be writing if you could. Really. It’s just… there’s no time. In between work, education, your family, and your social obligations there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But don’t worry. If you had the time, you’d already have written at least three bestsellers. You’re going to have time someday. And the world better prepare for when you’re a millionaire.

No Muse

You specifically took this time to write. You cleared your schedule, cleaned your home and organized your stationery. There are even some motivational quotes pinned to the side of your desktop. Unfortunately for your future writing career, you’re just not feeling it today. The blinking cursor on a backdrop of white, blank page might as well be your best friend with how much time you’ve been spending together. Ah well, maybe some other day. There’s no need to torture yourself with putting down words you know aren’t going to be up to your standard anyway. You’ll just make up for it when your muse returns.

Bad Environment

Your fingers would already be flying across the keyboard; it’s just… your writing space sucks. Your office is too dark, the coffee shop is too loud and the library is too quiet. Besides, the laptop is cramping your style anyway. You could see yourself with a notepad, somewhere on the windswept cliffs of Cornwall, writing poetry. Or maybe on a summer meadow, leaning against the trunk of a tree as you come up with the outline for your next seven books. This just won’t do.

Shiny New Ideas

You’re well into your new book. You’ve already written five chapters and the genius twist you’re planning to implement in chapter 14 fills you with a sense of evil joy pride. But… there’s this other idea you had, and it was even better than this one. You should really write it down before you forget everything. In fact, was the old one even that good? Maybe you should try to write a couple of chapters of the new book first, see how it feels… Of course you’ll return and finish this one though, no question about it. If you had run with another idea every time something shinier came along, you’d never have completed an enti- oh, right.

NaNoWriMo Limits Your Creativity

You decided to finally participate in NaNoWriMo, because you’re sure it will give you that extra surge of motivation you need to finish your book. Less than 2000 words a day – piece of cake, right? Definitely doable – after all, you’ve written more than that on several occasions. It should take you what, an hour a day? Please, you can write for an hour in your sleep. The first week goes well. You miss a couple of days during the second week, but there’s still plenty of time to make up for it, right? By the middle of the third week you’re 15 000 words behind and finishing your book in the next one and a half weeks doesn’t seem very likely. You’re not sure where you went wrong. You’ve been thinking about writing so much, surely there should be something to show for it?? It’s okay, you’ll just put in some extra time during the weekend. You spend the entire weekend catching up on Game of Thrones, because otherwise people would spoil all the new episodes. You give up by the beginning of week 4, because this was a stupid idea to begin with. Writing is a creative endeavor. Creativity can’t be contained to a schedule.

You Have to Do More Research

See, the thing is you don’t want to just write a book. You want to write a good book. What if you mention those windswept Cornwall cliffs you’ve been imagining as your perfect writing space and then find out that you’ve been wrong all your life and there’s no wind in Cornwall? What if you set your murder mystery in Brussels and refer to it as the capital of Germany before you realize it’s actually in Belgium? You don’t want go making a fool of yourself, so you should do some more research. Yes, you’ve already spent weeks researching that one scene, but… there is no such thing as thorough enough. Definitely spend some more time Googling, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re procrastinating. They’ll all be jealous of the believable atmosphere in your book once it’s published. Which it will be. Soon.

I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of absolutely everything on this list. Hell, I didn’t even start NaNoWriMo to begin with. What are YOUR best writing excuses?