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Writers' & Artists' Blog

NaNoWriMo Profile: Ashley Newell

NaNoWriMo advice

Name: Ashley Newell

Age: 25 

Hometown: Prince George, BC; Kelowna, BC; and Calgary, AB – basically western Canada

Occupation: Teacher

When/where do you write? I write when and where I can. Usually it involves many late nights.

Writing background: I have been telling stories long before I could write them. Once I got the pesky spelling issue out of the way, I became unstoppable.  A short story I wrote when I was 13 years old won in the youth category for a writing contest and was published in an anthology, and then I moved on to larger works. I’ve tried my hand at novels, screenplays, stage plays, and at one point I was convinced that I’d be a song writer… we shan’t speak of that.

Why NaNoWriMo and why now?  Peer pressure. Seriously. I was in university, all the cool kids were doing it, and so I took a deep breath and sacrificed many hours of precious sleep. That was back in 2008. I fear I may be addicted now. 

Genre (of NaNoWriMo novel): In short: drama. In the …

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NaNoWriMo Profile: Shea Wong

NaNoWriMo advice

Name: Shea Wong

Age: 38 (but I dress like a 70 year old, and curse like a 16 year old, so…I guess it actually evens out again to 38.)

Hometown: Sandusky, Ohio, USA

Occupation: Current part-time MBA student with the Open University, and full time everything to my four year old. 

When/where do you write? Very late at night, or very early in the morning. Those short, dark moments keep me going when I write. 

Writing background: I’ve loved to write since I was very little, but it was mostly poetry. I did my first poetry slam when I was 13, and fell in love with it. Positively despised college writing classes, but my initial degree in theatre meant reading and interpreting a lot of text. Spread from poems to short stories, and finally longish short stories. 

Why NaNoWriMo and why now? This is my one and only November off from school during my entire grad/postgrad studies, so I went for it. Also, I tend to write really dark dystopia stuff, so I wanted to step away and …

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Teaching NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo advice

NaNoWriMo is difficult enough by itself. Once you add in the challenges of working around a very real schedule, the challenge increases exponentially. I started out with a four year losing streak during college and I thought that was hard. Then came full-time occupation and I learned my lesson. Last year was a near miss at 40k words, but it was also the first time I, as a teacher, started looking into the possibility of doing NaNoWriMo along with my students and that opened up a world of possibilities.

I guess I should back up a little. Just over a year ago I moved from my hometown all the way to South Korea to work as a teacher. It means I’m half a world away from my friends and writing buddies. As a foreign teacher here in South Korea, you either teach English at a hagwon (academy) or a normal school. Last year I was the former and NaNoWriMo couldn’t be fitted in. However, I was determined this year to push it through.

What enabled this was my changing jobs …

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Conquering NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo advice

Last November, I dedicated myself to writing the first draft of a novel in thirty days. I had attempted NaNoWriMo the previous year while studying for my Masters degree, but failed miserably, giving up after ten days. Though I knew I desperately wanted to be a writer, the fear of failing in my studies prevented me from dedicating the necessary time to writing. But, there was another reason for my failure that year: the idea for my novel wasn’t solid enough.

NaNoWriMo 2013 was another experience entirely. That August while I was writing my Masters dissertation, I went to visit a friend in London. My route back took me via the Underground. While on the Tube, I was listening to Ramin Djawadi’s score from Pacific Rim. The score had such an epic feel to it that I soon imagined a fight scene taking place while I sped through the Northern Line. The hairs on my arms prickled as the scene in my imagination played out: inspiration had struck. My first thought after that was, why was the …

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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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