And so our story begins… #NaNoWriMo2017 #IWSG


All Hallow’s Eve is done, the ghosts move back into my writing and November is here. Are you ready for some musings on NaNoWriMo?

I recently posted my thoughts on tackling this years event starting with the concept that 50,000 words in a month can’t be too hard, or can it?

The conclusion was absolutely not if…

  • Your story doesn’t die after 10K.
  • Writing is done every day and daily word count targets are met.
  • Accept absolutely it’s first draft mode; no stopping to edit, rethink, ponder grammar or tautology. Nothing matters except words on the page.
  • Plan. Not the novel, but life around the writing. Time scheduling is everything, those groceries won’t fetch themselves and the kids might like to eat now and then.
  • Plan. The novel, if that’s what you need to do. But don’t start November in this phase, that time has passed. Personally I don’t plan in detail, I write. It works or it doesn’t.

I won’t re-hash that post here, but I will say the points are entirely valid for the beginning of the challenge.

This months question on the Insecure Writers Group is interesting in context too.


Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?


I’m not a fan of the word “win” in the relation to NaNo. I know it’s a challenge, but given the bullet points above hitting that target is not always as easy as saying write 16667 words a day for 30 consecutive days (yes I rounded it up for mathematical purists!).

Actually, it is easy to say and is very doable, providing nothing goes wrong. Flagging word counts early on can grow exponentially later and make the whole task impossible. My advice here is one of my few constants. I set several targets, the first being 20K and thereafter in 5K increments while trying to keep to 2000 words a day to provide insurance when that’s just not possible. If I reach 20K then I’m satisfied, anything else is a bonus.

In context of “win” or “lose” also consider what no words means by not doing it, or giving up because the 50K ambition quickly fades away. Yes, it’s fantastic to see that WINNER badge, but think in a different direction.

If your story dies, then consider it time well spent exorcizing a plot that was lurking, but didn’t have enough to fulfil a novel. It’s an idea tested and now removed from wondering. You might rediscover it later too as a short story, novella or even as part of another book.

If you don’t reach the target, then does it really matter? You have started a novel. One thing I’ve learnt recently is that many people haven’t heard of Camp NaNo months. This project is now suited to using those. Here the writer sets their own personal goal; be it editing a novel, writing another, finishing a book or outlining a new one. Word counts are at your own discretion. An unfinished November novel thus moves into a Camp. “Losing” November can be turned into “winning” in a Camp.

That said, any words are winning in my book, if the alternative is staring at an empty word processor. Writing a book is a huge commitment too, it takes dedication, sacrifice, emotional trauma and time. Not all books are written in a month either. Many take years so think hard on what you mean by “win” or “lose”.

As for the question in relation to me, I’ve done NaNo once so far and managed almost 60K words. My game plan is an idea and then just write and see what happens (see third bullet point). I have a general template aiming at 80K with 5K per chapter, so sixteen chapters in total. That gives me the time needed in each phase of the book without requiring a story outline. Yes, I know many people use those and all well and good if it works for you. I feel we all have to find our own method(s) that work for us and roll with them.

I am still to finalise last years novel and this years book prologue has defined the ending clearly. If nothing else this month, I now have my ending and the concept for a sequel. I call this “winning” before even starting!!!

So, yes, I will finish all my NaNo projects, unless they die on me. Even if they did then they would be will be filed and not deleted; you never quite know.

In truth, last years is alive and kicking and this years is not going to die. I have strong character voices in my head and a year between writing the first and now the sequel has consolidated the plot.

Publishing is indeed the ambition, although I have a few manuscripts pending there. Not with publishers as such, but my own mental ramblings on the best way forward #ISWG and all that.

For now this is my WIP. I know some have seen it before, but I’m trying to boost up my mojo!




MarshBank House is haunted, so say the locals. It consumes people, or sends them to the lunatic asylum.
Alan and Joseph Carmichael run a paranormal investigation side-line. Two years ago they lost Conrad while helping Emma Strickland with her late father’s estate. He went into the house and never came back. He was not the first.
Behind the house lies a marsh that gave rise to the name. A Black Marsh with a long forgotten past. One that bleeds out every so often and consumes what it can, laying waste to the rest.

The brothers are done mourning, they want answers. They are not alone. The dead are walking and the film between past and present grows thin.
Journey with Templars, howling ruins and a pub with the world’s longest serving landlord.


Anyone wanting to buddy up on NaNo is welcome to do so; juts leave your handle in the comments and I’ll come and find you!


30 thoughts on “And so our story begins… #NaNoWriMo2017 #IWSG

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  1. Hey Gary! Long time no see!! This is Melinda, oops I mean Purple Slob. I’m at the library, and can’t remember my WP password! Drats! Anyway, I’m writing about Vanronica, and needed to come get a link. It’ll be publishing on Fri!

    1. I would recognise the name straight away now!! and apologies for the delay; recovering from NaNoWriMo so abandoned social media for a month to write!

      Is this an elegy to the a van beyond repair?? I really must read this one so give me a poke if I miss the notification πŸ™‚

  2. I owe you such an email…haven’t forgotten…

    You sound as if you’re doing really well, the synopsis…😒😒😒…you…you…did it then!!! I have had a particularly trying month – I got as far as the NaNo website…😒😒😒…Belated happy birthday too xx

    1. I do worry about you. Silence is a terrible reminded that things are either busy or boo hiss…or both!

      The synopsis is where the ending came to me. It just wrote itself. All I have to do now is write the chapters showing it. The NaNo is a sequel and thus far the fallout of what happened has had terrible consequences.

      Thank you too….this birthday is not one to dwell on adding up wise!! Oh, I saved your list notification on Time. I will comment on it but brilliant is what I will say now!!

  3. Hm…maybe, I think to simple..but..If (like with everything else in life) its important enough to a person, making time to write, shouldn’t be the issue ?

    1. commenting to myself….the problem is …there could be more ‘things’ equality important. Isn’t that the reason you still ! haven’t finished reading Gary’s Dragon story?


      How are you Gary? Besides the writing part of your life?

      1. There are always important things, it’s prioritising…and..if I’m honest…writing is now back up there! Commenting to yourself is quite funny too!!

        I’m mostly good! Another year older as of the 8th…but in good company as that was also the day the world received Bram Stoker! Next year I really must sort out publishing too! I hope you are well Patty and as per the other reply, I’m having trouble with commenting on yours. Will try and figure it out after NaNo and catch up 😊

        1. Nope…nothing in the spam folder.
          But important things first; write on!
          Don’t forget to enjoy the weekend πŸ˜‰
          Big hug, XxX

          1. That’s annoying πŸ€•

            It did submit, there was a pause and the page reloaded but it was missing. Next time I’ll copy it to your other blog too and see which one appears.

    2. It’s a balancing act. Writing is time heavy when I get going, it makes demands emotionally too and doesn’t lend itself to interruptions.

      That said, I’ve axed social media which is why replies here are once a day. Humble apologies for the delay! I think the issue that hits NaNo writers is its everyday, weekends included averaging 1600 words a day. Sounds easy, but if you’ve a busy family life it’s not!!!

        1. Spot on! It’s a case of swapping time on social media for writing. It then struck me the point of me starting blogging was, in fact, writing….DOH moment lol

    1. Thank you and apologies for the delay replying. A certain story is taking normal blog time away at present! Will also link up on NaNo too. Looking forward to it 😊

  4. Your synopsis sounds very interesting, Gary. I hope the writing is going well. I am doing this during my December holiday as November at work is far to busy for such a commitment.

    1. Thanks Robbie, so far so good. Mind you it’s only day 4!! Exciting to hear you are going to do it too in December. I’ll have time then to pop over and throw support your way then too. I’m having quite a few discussions with people about time and life commitments. There aren’t many people who can just shut down life and write. Although I have had to close off the BUYB hours today to fit some in. #withdrawalsymptoms !!

    1. Thanks Ellen, at present there is just a relic spirit from the previous book and the fallout is causing a few emotional crises. So far so good though 😊

      1. I pantzed when I picked up the challenge and found it exhilarating, but i was shattered after. You I believe are bravely taking a second go at Nano… mad, confident or just crazy. Good luck Gary.

        1. I tend to pantz each time I write. I find it makes things rather exciting. You’re right too. Last year I was totally zoned out for months. However now I know what to expect things are more in control. I want to go from here to Camp NaNo’s too. I’ve spent almost a year pondering writing after writing three books in 18 months. A madness took me last month and I threw the decision out to bloggers on a previous post. Comments were so in favour of me doing it I felt the challenge was set. At the moment I’m quietly confident I have the story. I may be pantzing, but since it’s how I write I can usually pick up a thread to nowhere really quickly. This ones not doing that and know my characters from the previous book so fingers crossed!

          And thank you 😊

            1. Next you’ll be asking for an update post with an excerpt lol. I’ve done 6000 words though. Not bad for day 3, well I think so lol. Weekends are more tricky though….life and all that 😱

    1. Thank you kindly…mind you it’s still only day two. Although, between you and I my characters are speaking very clearly so I’m already comfortable this ones not going to tail off!

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