The NaNoWriMo challenge

For years I have heard about NaNoWriMo – a month to write a 50,000 word novel. I have always been intrigued by the idea of it, by having to force yourself to sit down and write because there is an actual deadline to make an achievement by. Normally, I forget all about it until half way through November, by which point I decide there’s no point starting late.

But not this year. A few weeks ago, during one of my regular ‘I must think of some new ideas to keep my brain in shape’ sessions, I came up with the idea for a novel and I was really excited by it.

Instead of doing my usual; rushing into writing, quickly growing frustrated and giving up before the novel has even begun, I decided to hold on to it and save it for November. Safe to say, I am looking for to November 1st. However, there’s a lot to be done before then.

I don’t like writing without a rough plan. I won’t allow myself to write any words of the actual novel before the start date, but I need to plan out characters, a rough plot line and the core events, otherwise I know my writing will turn a scrambled jumble of junk.

With just over three weeks to go, my preparations have begun. I’ve join NaNaWriMo.org (Username: JenniferCW26 if you’ve also signed up and want to find me), created my novel and I’m ready to go. I’ll be sharing updates on my progress as I go. Here’s hoping by November 30th I’m celebrating hitting 50,000, not still staring at a blank piece of paper!

My NaNoWriMo Novel

NDA – After a whirlwind night of drinks, dancing and daring moves, Ellie wakes up in the bed of a stranger. A rich, attractive, very famous stranger.

But when Ellie discovers her celebrity one night stand is going to have a much longer lasting effect on her life, she is thrown into a world of secrecy and lies, and forced to sign away all rights to the truth through a legally binding NDA.

Ellie’s realises path to motherhood isn’t going to be easy.

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Back to writing

I’ll admit, I thought I’d be better at keeping this blog up to date. But over the past few weeks my world has been engulfed by work deadlines, social gatherings and the envitable flu as summer immediately turns into winter in England.

I managed to reach the end of episode 8 of Hunters Ridge at the end of August, but the script app on my phone is rapidly gathering dust as I hunt around for where I last left my inspiration. It’s currently winning the game of hide and seek.

At the same time, I began writing a novel version of Hunters Ridge. I am deliberately challenging myself to write it in a very different way, to bring in alternatives and place the focus on slightly different characters to see a new angle on the whole thing. Currently standing at five thousand words, it hasn’t been the smoothest process, but I’m please with how it going.

Now, with NaNoWriMo not long away, my mind has returned to coming up with new ideas. I have never taken part in the challenge of NaNoWriMo but I’ve decided this year is as good as any to begin. I’ve spent countless hours scrawling through Reddit’s Writers Prompts (Some of which are pure genius) and have taken to spending my train journeys daydreaming in the hunt for the perfect idea. I now have three to choose from, and I’m excited by two of them.

I definitely won’t be promising to update more, but I’ll work to get better at balancing my life. Eventually the characters in my head will rebel and force their worlds into existance, one way or another.

Trying not to skip ahead

This week, I figured out what I wanted to happen in the season finale of the script I’m writing. It’s all very exciting. Problem is, I still have 4 other episodes before I get to write that episode.

I found myself torn. I was so thrilled and excited by what I have planned, that I immediately wanted to write it. This has happened a few times across my two years of working on Hunters Ridge, but each time I have resisted, determined not to write ahead, because to me it feels like skipping chapters when reading a book, you’ll never really want to go back to those chapters you skipped.

But this is my season finale, it’s where everything is leading to and I found myself wondering if, for once, it was okay to break my rules. If I wrote where it all ends, then I can lead myself there easier. I allowed myself to write segments, including the very final moments. Then I forced myself to go back to work on episode 8.

It’s hard to believe that after two years, I’m coming close to the end of my second full draft. It’s still feels like there’s going to be a long journey to get it from page to screen, but for a project that started as something to do when I was bored on my commute, it’s come a long way. Here’s to the next two years

Rediscovering a love of reading

This week I didn’t do any writing. I tried, but I was distracted. What’s my excuse this time? Reading.

Last weekend, I watched the whole of Big Little Lies. I knew very little about the series. Everyone at work had been discussing the show and the book, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I was instantly hooked. Fantastic characters, beautiful cinematography, a gripping story.

With the series complete, I went into work and was immediately handed the book. I haven’t read anything for a while, I’ve found it difficult to focus and get the to end of a book, mainly because most of the books I’ve been reading haven’t had good enough plots to keep my interest.

Big Little Lies was different. I couldn’t put it down. I was prepared to be disappointed, I already knew the plot, it couldn’t compare to the series, could it? Well it did. In 4 days, I read all four hundred pages. And when I reached the end, I was disappointed, not by the book, but by the fact it was over. I wanted more.

I’ve rediscovered the joy of reading. And now, I’m on the hunt for more good books. Any recommendation? I’m open to all suggestions.

Finding Inspiration

On Monday, as usual on the train to work, I was reading articles about selling your writing and getting an agent. One after the other the articles spoke about having not just one very good piece, but a selection of other options. It makes sense. But having spent the last two years working on Hunters Ridge, I don’t have a lot of variety in my portfolio.

So I set a challenge to myself: each day this week I had to come up with at least one new story idea. It didn’t matter what it was: novel, script, non fiction. And very idea I had, I had to write down. Something’s I came up with were terrible, cheesy romantic with not real strong plot. Others were too complicated, I could tell they would just lead down a path of unintelligible muddled plot points.

There were a few I felt excited by. Ideas that could have strong potential. In fact a few I have been working on developing to something more.

I wrote all of these ideas on the notes section of my phone. This morning I was looking through them, surprised by the variety and number of ideas I’ve had in just one week. 14 in total (in 4 days).

Each of these ideas had different sources of inspiration: a song on Spotify, a storyline in a TV show, an overheard conversation or a phrase said by a coworker. Some were just there, in my mind, waiting to be discovered. It’s made me remember that there is a wealth of ideas inside me and that inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. And it’s reminded me never to instantly disregard an idea. Everything has potential. Keep your eyes and ears open, you never know what will spark that one idea you have to write.

When bad days make things better

This hasn’t been a good week.

Sometimes I have days, occasionally an entire week, where the world just doesn’t feel right. This week was one of those weeks.

It started on Tuesday. It was a perfectly normal day, no reason for me to see it as any different to any other day. But then something small happened. Someone got offered something I wanted, and I didn’t. It wasn’t something I expected to get offered, but it was something I wanted and I didn’t get it. The minute I found out, I couldn’t stop feeling sad. Not ‘oh I’m a bit disappointed’ sad. I struggled to fight back tears the rest of the day, my heart beat raced, I felt uncontrollably upset, and found myself on a downward spiral of questioning everything about myself and my life. The logical part of my brain screamed at the emotional part that I was over reacting, that it wasn’t a big deal, and I knew it was right, and yet I couldn’t help my emotional explosion. It was almost painful.

Why am I am rambling on about this bad day I experienced? Because out of it, something brilliant happened for my writing.

I have been struggling with the seventh episode of my script for Hunters Ridge. It has quite a serious subject at the centre of it – the death of a lead characters father and the knock on emotional effect of his death. I have been trying to write this from a place of knowledge and experience – write what you know. Having been through a similar experience, I expected this to be easy. But for the past few weeks I have failed to get into the characters mindset, to understand how she would feel or why.

After my terrible day, I sat at the train station waiting for a train home (as I am right now, writing this). I opened the app I write my scripts on, and stared at the same page I have stared at every day for the past two weeks. And there it was, out of my terrible mood, the sudden spark. Finally I understood how she felt, understood the uncontrollable outburst of emotion. I felt her helplessness. It all felt real to me. And I used it. I started typing and I didn’t stop until my train pulled up at my local station almost an hour later. The dialogue I had struggled with just flowed from me, believable and truthful. My darkness sat on the page as beautiful, wonderful writing.

That darkness isn’t fun, I can tell you that much. But for once, I found a way to deal with it. I didn’t bottle it up and try to push it away, pretend it didn’t exist. I used it, to create something I can look back at proudly.

We all have our dark days, the triggers that set us off on the downward spiral. But for once, I realised that darkness doesn’t have to be all bad.

Now I’m off to have a weekend of doing nothing. Because sometimes, we need to give our minds a rest. Mental health is as important as physical.