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Writers' & Artists' Blog

Winning NaNoWriMo with the Online Community

Lee Warren

Going into NaNoWriMo last year, I was never going to have been able to win. I had good intentions, but always fizzled out a third of the way into the month. As I look back, one of the main issues I struggled with was writing in isolation.

None of my family or friends knew about, or understood what I was doing. They had never heard of NaNoWriMo, so it was hard for them to offer support. And I didn’t do a very good job of explaining how important it was to me. That was a mistake, by the way – one that I fixed going into NaNo last year.

In addition to not having a lot of support, I’m a freelance writer and editor, so I have to work on paying projects during the day while working on my novel at night. After working by myself all day, taking on a huge project like writing a novel in isolation at night just didn’t work for me. Without any support, I often opted for social gatherings instead. 

Last year I sought out other writers who were participating in NaNoWriMo, knowing I would …

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Completing NaNoWriMo With An Impossible Schedule

NaNoWriMo advice

I’m going to let you into a little secret: there’s no such thing as the perfect time to write. And I know this, because I spent many years waiting for that right time, and if I hadn’t realised that little secret, I’d probably still be waiting. It’s as Anne Tyler said: If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.

I always imagined those sorts of mild epiphanies to strike when gazing up at a starry sky, or standing upon a snowy mountain-top (not that I’ve ever hiked higher than Debenhams’ second floor). Instead, it was June, 2013, 2am, I was staring at an email from ‘Camp NaNoWriMo’, my hair on end from another sleepless night with a teething toddler, and Play-doh trodden into my socks, remembering with sadness the novel I always planned to write before I’d put it off for a month, which turned into a year, which turned into many. I thought: if I didn’t have enough time then (pre-toddler, pre-university, …

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Back in the Saddle Again

Writing advice

My first NaNoWriMo winners’ certificate indicates that I participated and won for the first time in 2005. I can’t say it feels like yesterday, but I do have some clear memories of the experience. I didn’t know if I could write a complete story; I had never really tried. I didn’t know if I could create living characters, or even make it to the end of the first chapter. All I had was an idea for a book: who would be in it, why they would be there, and how it would end. I was scared of failing but I was driven by a deep need to find out what I could do.

After years of being a driven proto-professional, I had fallen off the cliff of motherhood. I was unemployed and at home with a toddler. Doing NaNoWriMo was the suggestion of a friend in a similar situation. “Just try it,” she said, like any good pusher. So I signed up on the website and set up a desk. I even made a calculation of how many words I would have to produce per day. Then, on November 1st, I sat down and started. …

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Why You Should Take Part In NaNoWriMo

Writing advice

When I was first asked to make a guest blog post about NaNoWriMo, I was probably not in the best position to do so.  I had fallen out of love with my plot and while I was still pretty sure how the story was supposed to end, I had no idea how to even begin this novel.  I was frustrated and worried that November 1st would roll around and I would be unable to find the words to even begin the story.  And so, I confess that I was thinking of throwing in the towel.

What kept me from backing out of NaNoWriMo, however, were my writing buddies who refused to let me walk away before I’d even started.

I was asked to talk about why I think NaNoWriMo is beneficial to writers.  There is certainly a good deal that I can say in regards to this.  I could tell you that NaNoWriMo is for ALL writers, from hobbyist to professional to everyone in between.  I could talk about how for one month out of the year, we are given the permission to focus, heart and soul, on one of the …

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NaNoWriMo Profile: Katie Gerrard


Name: Katie Gerrard


Hometown: London

Occupation: Employment Adviser

When/where do you write? With a job and young children I need to make time to write. I enjoy a blissful few hours at home on Tuesday and Friday mornings so this will be my bulk writing time and I’ll sneak an hour or two in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

Writing background: I’m lucky enough to have two non-fiction books published by the wonderful people over at Avalonia Books; “Odin’s Gateways’ a beginner’s guide to the runes and ‘Seidr: The gate is open’ about Nordic witchcraft.

Moving over to creative writing has been more challenging than I ever imagined. I’ve had some small successes; a short story accepted for an anthology and becoming shortlisted for the Writers' and Artists' historical fiction competition but it’s fair to say I’m still honing my craft. I was delighted to be part of the WoMentoring project and lucked out with my mentor, …

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