This post was originally set out to be published during IndieAthon last month, but due to circumstances you’ll be able to read it now! Charles Harris is best-selling author and award-winning writer-director for cinema, BBC and Channel 4. His debut satirical thriller novel The Breaking of Liam Glass has been an genre best-seller and finalist for a Wishing Shelf Book Award for fiction. It also breaks many of the rules.
Whatever you set out to do in indie publishing or self-publishing, there’ll be people who are only too keen to tell you the rules. Yet, history is full of people who’ve broken the rules and succeeded brilliantly. Who wore the wrong clothes so well that they became the right clothes. Or served strange-tasting food and won Michelin stars for it. How do they get away with it?
I won NaNoWriMo! It feels good to write that! For everyone that has cheered me on, helped me in any way, did word sprints with me (Ilsa thank you <3), or whether you just chatted with me, thank you alllllll!
During NaNoWriMo I’ve struggled a lot, but I pulled through and ended up with 50,060 words (I honestly don’t understand because MS Word counted 50,054 words, I don’t know where those final 6 words came from). I’ve made most of it up as I went. I had an outline, but I haven’t even looked at it in the final half. I knew most of it by heart though and there wasn’t much work put in the outline.
If you look at my stats, it seems like I had a pretty relaxed month, but that’s not really the case. I’ve had pretty bad days on which I barely wrote anything, and on other days I wrote 3k, but I wrote something on every single day.
The end of November is so close and I am so happy, but also a bit sad. I love writing. I love having this pressure to write daily, because it really helps me to stop making silly excuses and write. But on the other hand, my schoolwork and other less fun activities have been really lagging. I’ve barely done anything more than the absolute necessary. And I hate that, because all my free time is taken for writing, and there are so many other things I want to do.
However, the month is almost over, and I’m so close to the 50k mark. I’ve had so many downs this week, but also ups. I’ve barely written on one day (I wrote 1 word, how smug) and another (I wrote 4… but I literally had no time to write more), and then there are the days like today on which I write about 3k.
Week three of NaNoWriMo has arrived and it has gotten harder and harder to keep up with the 1.667 words per day. Not only is it harder to find the motivation, I also got a bit more school work to do. New classes at my university started and I’m already behind (oops), but I also have to attend more classes and work more on projects. So time is a bit of an issue. But somehow I’m still on schedule.
This is the second week of November and I’ve officially been writing for NaNoWriMo twelve days and it have been twelve crazy days. At the beginning of week two of NaNoWriMo (last Wednesday), my motivation was so low! I just couldn’t get myself to write and eventually had to force myself to keep going. After that Wednesday, things went up and down, my motivation is still not that high but it’s better than it was. On Friday I almost didn’t write at all, which was so demotivating! However, on Saturday, I suddenly wrote 3k.
NaNoWriMo has started and I am so excited! Last week I wrote about how I really wasn’t excited and since then a lot has changed! On Tuesday, the day before NaNo started, I finally realized that working on a WIP that didn’t excite me anymore wasn’t gonna do me any good. I, instead, changed my story idea to something that I’ve been wanting to write since this summer and had been afraid to start. And it is so much fun to write!! More about that story idea later.
What I noticed already is that my drafting is going way easier and faster, because I’ve finally come to realize that drafting does not need to be perfect. My draft is gonna be a mess, with incoherent sentences, spelling errors, repetitions and messy dialogue and you know what? THAT’S OKAY. This draft can be as messy as I want it to be because in the words of Jen Wang: First drafts are like practicing dance moves in your room alone in the dark; it doesn’t matter what it looks like because it’s just for you.
So what’s my story idea?
You might remember, I once wrote a post with several story ideas that I was considering writing for NaNoWriMo, one of those was a transgender Mulan retelling. I was so excited for that one and I’ve finally decided to just go for it. Research can come later, now I just need to get the story out.
The story initially was set in 5-6th century China because that is where the story of Mulan originated but I’ve decided to change it to modern-day China. I wanted to include modern media and it was much easier to make the story diverse, which is something I really wanted.
My current working title is Making Mountains Bow. The story is about Xiulan, who is a transgender boy but not openly because his family doesn’t understand. I don’t want to spoil the entire story but it includes: an amazing sibling relationship, quirky friends, a tragic death, a war, dragons, expectations, betrayal, battles, strong male and female characters, and much more!
I have created many character aesthetics for my story, some of which are below! Some of these characters I haven’t introduced yet and there’s even one that I have no clue how to work into the story.
I’ve currently written 6.813 words and I’m really happy with that! I hope to write another 1-1.5k today, but I have obligations so I’m not sure I’ll be able to write a lot. So far I’ve had one day on which I just couldn’t write more than 1k, which was because I wasn’t feeling very well.
I’m having a hard time finding snippets I love, because the prose I use right now is not that good. But that doesn’t matter right now, anyway, I can change it in the rewrite. I do have a lot of dialogue that I just love so here are some snippets from that:
“You look like shit,” she said pointedly. Another thing about Kailee, she never knew when not to talk. She had no filters between what she thought and what she said.
“Well, thanks, I hadn’t noticed,” he said sarcastically. He felt like it too.
“Wild night?” she smiled, “got to meet any cute girls?” She and her girlfriend had just broken up a few weeks ago but she was already on the look-out for new flings.
“Ha, if you call my sister cute, then yes. Or champagne, is champagne a cute girl? I met a lot of champagne.”
She grinned widely, “ooh got a little tipsy, then?”
“I think I rambled on about the stars, walked into twenty people, puked in a bush and then woke up with an axe hammering my head. Figuratively then.”
“So your ordinary Friday night.”
“I’m sorry for ruining your night,” he said softly, the guilt biting at his voice.
“No! You didn’t ruin it, you were a sweet drunk. Very… wise.”
He chuckled, “oh god, I made a fool out of myself, didn’t I?”
“Only a little bit.”
How is writing going for you? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? What’s your favourite snippet that you wrote in your NaNo project? Any tips or tricks you’ve discovered?
I am looking for people who are Chinese and/or transgender and would like to help me out with the representation, so if you’re either of those and don’t mind me contacting you ask some questions while writing, please let me know!
I have mentioned NaNoWriMo and Inktober a couple of times on here probably, but I’ve never updated how these things were going, so that’s what I’m gonna do right now.
Let’s start with the basics: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place in November, and people from all over the world attempt to write a novel of 50 thousand words. Inktober is a drawing challenge that takes place in October and basically it means you draw one ink drawing per day for each day of October.
Inktober was a bit of a mess. I did not realize how much time it was gonna take me to draw every day. And then it was not just the drawing, I was much of a perfectionist and wanted to make them look good when I uploaded them. This meant, scanning them with my printer, then editing them in photoshop (making the background completely white) and then uploading them. This was just too much work to keep up for an entire month. I also didn’t prepare anything the month so I had to think of topics while I was drawing and it became too draining combined with two big projects and university. I had to stop. I made it to day 8… Anyway, here’s what I drew in those 8 days:
I wish I could tell you how excited I am for NaNoWriMo, but I can’t. I’m still doubting whether taking part is even a good idea. I was planning on continuing with my current WIP. I’ve been referring to it as Our Shattered Minds and it is a YA fantasy about four magical outcasts who get caught up in a rebellion that wants to steal their magic. The concept is quite fun and I love the characters but I’ve been watching a lot of writing videos lately and it has made me doubt about every single thing about it. I don’t know if the plot is strong enough, I still don’t have an ending, I’ve been doubting whether my writing is good enough and basically everything has just put me off from writing it.
A couple of days ago, I was scrolling through pinterest as usual and got inspired for a title for another one of my story ideas. I’ve talked about the one before but I’m trying not to tell people (spoiler: I fail), anyway, it has sparked my excitement over that other story so much I just want to start on that one instead. The problem with this is that I can’t start it right now. I need a plot, outline, character profiles and I need a hell of a lot of research. I really want to do it right, so I wanna do a lot of research before I actually start writing it. And 3 days before NaNoWriMo starts is probably not the best time to start this.
So what am I going to do about NaNoWriMo? Honestly, I’m still in doubt. I want to try to participate, I really do. And I guess I could continue with my WIP, like I was planning to do. I might try that? But I also might give up after day 1, which would be really sad. It’s also so sad that every time I get stuck in this cycle of getting a story idea, being super excited about it, writing quite a big part of the story and then losing all motivation to continue. It feels so hopeless.
Well. Anyway. I guess I should try to get excited for NaNoWriMo because if it’s not gonna happen in the next couple of days I don’t know if it’s gonna happen at all.
I really wish this was a very happy post about how I completed Inktober and was super excited about NaNoWriMo, but I guess life is not always about the successes and more about what you learned along the way. If you want to follow me on the NaNoWriMo webite: go here (you can also see the complete synopsis of my WIP there), and if you’d like to see more of my art on my instagram: go here.
Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? How are the preparations going? What do you do against the writing blues (Idk if that’s a thing but I just made it up). Or are you taking part in Inktober?