Tag Archives: Notyournano

Not Your Nano day 6 & 7 – Stars

Sorry about yesterday, we’re currently experiencing loadshedding in South Africa, so I had no access to my website until today.

Did you get your 100 words?

I  did, barely. I was so not in the mood to write, having had a sparkling wine breakfast in Kirstenbosch gardens, followed by a cidery farewell on Llandudno beach. I knew it would suck f I didn’t get my words down, (oh hai thar public failure) so I forced myself to work on just 1 scene, and managed to scrape out 174 words. So I got to give myself a star.

Yep, I totally reward myself with stars. A friend of mine has gold and silver star stickers for various goals, and sticks them on her calendar. I’m cheap, so I have a markerpen-month on my cupboard. (as you can see, I haven’t written yet today, nor have I been doing great at not spending :P)


I can’t explain why being able to reward myself with that star feels good, but it does. Do you have some kind of reward/notation system in place? How does it work for you?

Not Your Nano Day 2 – Square Brackets of Absolution

The Spawn were talking in the car the other day about writing and how hard it is, especially the beginning. As Younger Spawn says, “When you have to start you can’t think of anything, but by the end, you’ve run out of space for all your ideas.” She was talking about writing prompts for school, but I think it holds for most writing.

For me, part of it is about Fear of Suck. How can I begin something if I know it’s going to suck? What’s the point? Who am I kidding? I should give up and get a real job….and so on.

So, I have come up with a plan to get me started until the ideas start rolling, and means I don’t have to feel bad about The Suck. I call it the Square Brackets of Absolution. (SBA). They’re basically a safe space to suck and write crap until I feel confident in my writing. All I have to do is when confronted with a Blank Page of Doom, I open up a square bracket, and begin typing kak.

Like so: [I have no idea what I’m doing with this scene … It was a dark and stormy night when Jane was woken by the sound of breaking glass. Her heart was going like a thing that goes really fast and all she could see in the dark was the dim tracery of shadowed furniture. Something was out of place – a cupboard door left open,with a coat thrown over it. The coat moved….

At some point the suck is going to give way to some decent writing as your creative brain crawls out of its cave and blinks blearily into the dawn of Cool Ideas. When you’re done writing you can go back and find the spot where things change, and put in your closing square bracket. You don’t have to delete the suck, you can let it stay – you never know what ideas might be hiding in the suck that you’ll only spot come revision time. The square brackets make it easy to find these passages with a search, which will make deleting them easier later.

So if you’re ready to start writing your 100 words, open up that SBA and let the ideas roll.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk a little about outlining and mapping, and give a list of some resources that have been helpful to me and other writers with different approaches to planning.

NotYourNano Day 1 – planting your tomatoes

Happy December 1st, writer-people!

This being post one, first let me add some well-rotted manure to our soil. Everything I write here is a suggestion. There is only one rule, as such – write a minimum of 100 words. If you know what you want to write, go ahead and ignore the rest of the post – it’s just going to be there for extra guidance for those who want it.

Some of you are hopping in mid-novel, you already know what you want to do and you’re just here for the tea and cake, others want a little more input. However you work is fine – there is no one size fits all for artists – if there were, we would have software writing our novels while we sit back in our hammocks drinking pink gins.

So, to start. All you have to do today is write a few sentences about your novel. It doesn’t have to be good, or catchy, or clever – this is not to hook an agent. This is to plant the idea in your head. This is the tomato seed, the very basic starting point of what you’re going to do.

Want an example? (and as I say, this doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to get the basic idea down, it only has to make sense to you.)

My story is about a girl who feels like she can’t compete with her older sister, and after she loses her and is forced to take her place, tries to replace her with her step daughter. She’s spent her whole life trying to be daddy’s little girl, only to realise he doesn’t care because she’s a girl. It’s inspired by Snow White, but will go completely off track because that’s me. Also, it’s all about witches and women and their power, and what is good and what is evil, and how it all depends on who is doing the story-telling.

that’s 100 words.

And now the seed is waiting.

(and as an added extra, let’s talk about the novels we’re working on as tomatoes. Walk in to any grocery store, and you will be confronted with ranks of these:


I’m not going to pretend – they look great, so red and delicious and I want them on fresh bread right now with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and black pepper.




they are not the only tomatoes, they’re just the most popular.


Go do a google image search of heirloom tomatoes or tomato varieties, and go pick one you like. I’m not even kidding, go do it. (i did, it’s part of my self-encouragement strategy) Here’s mine, it’s an Indigo Rose:


Every time I look at my tomato and decide it’s not as good or round or red or perfect as those grocery store tomatoes, I’m going to look at what *my* tomato is supposed to look like. I will be happy that my tomato is different. Revel in my tomato’s idiosyncrasies of colour and taste and shape. *This* is the tomato* I am growing.)


*If your novel is not a tomato, that’s perfectly okay. It can be an aubergine or a cucumber or a courgette or a patty pan, as long as it’s yours.




Not The November Novel

More like the December Let’s Start A Novel And Talk About Process And Take It Easy But Still Make Progress. Or something equally snappy.

I love the idea of nano, I really do – thousands of people all eagerly word-warring and tapping out novels in a month – that is impressive. Nano, unfortunately, doesn’t work for me. Mainly because just the thought of a high word count goal makes me freeze up and start crying. My creativity is like a scared little penis; it can do amazing things when it’s in the mood, but put it under pressure to perform and it shrivels up to a sad peanut.

Woops. that metaphor got away from me. Sorry.

Okay, so here goes. While out walking the Hounds of Hell I was thinking about how and why nano doesn’t work for me (pressure, I don’t work like that, exams/school stress/end of year ughness) and decided I would start a new thing for myself in December, with very easy goals, daily ones that would get me writing a little bit every day, with some vague structure to keep me focused. And I decided to blog each day to keep myself motivated.

And then I thought, hey, maybe some people would like to join in the process, which would be cool. So if you would like to take part, feel free. I’ll be posting what is and isn’t working for me, my goal for the day, and whether or not I hit it. There will be *some* structure, but no actual outlining and so on, in the sense that most people mean (though I’m of the opinion it’s all outlining, just some outlines are longer and more detailed and more prone to rewrites than others. :P)

So, if you’re keen, join me on Dec 1st, with nothing more than your pretty brain, and the willingness to write 100 words. Yep. 100.