NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and all my plans for planning have gone up in smoke. ‘Oh well never mind’ as my mother says. So I will be writing from the seat of my pants as usual. I’ve been undecided whether to write this years novel on my laptop or not. Last years is divided into two notebooks, my laptop and the back of some Costa serviettes. Yesterday I found a pretty notebook, given as a Christmas present last year, and creativity flows better with handwriting. Proven fact.

I have managed to almost get on top of everything so as to leave November free for writing. And mums sudden serious bout of anemia has been sorted and she’s on the mend so that’s something less to worry about. One problem I haven’t solved is the Blue Screen Of Death which has visited the main household computer (you will know if you have ever had it). Another reason to write my novel in a notebook. I’m cautious with my laptop now in case it receives a visitation too.

I have an idea for my novel, and some of the characters sketched out, but there’s no pressure. I did it last year so I can do it this year, probably of a better quality as well. I’m more worried about the other commitment I’ve made to Bibliophilia, a new free online magazine out tomorrow. Natasha, (the editor) sent me a proof a few days ago, I showed it my sisters who thought it was great. They asked me how I was going to write my next article as good if not better. They weren’t being cruel, they just thought it was so good that I couldn’t do better. Of course they are biased. Whatever their reasoning it has made me panic and the deadline is creeping closer.

I’m also a little worried about my regional buddy. This year Jacki, our ML, has buddied us all together, winners with newbies. I’m a one-time winner and my buddy Hannah is a newbie. Only I haven’t heard anything from Hannah for few days now. It would be heartbreaking to think she has abandoned NaNoWriMo before she has even begun. And mortifying for me, losing a newbie I was supposed to be supporting, a failure worse then failing NaNo!  It would be akin to killing a friends pet that you are supposed to be looking after while they are on holiday!
And I’m not sure Jacki will be happy if I replace her with someone similar.


Six Days to Go

With only six days left to NaNoWriMo I’m getting a bit panicky. By now I’ve usually cleared the bulk of my overloaded monthly tasks to leave enough free time to write that little bit extra in November. However the combination of a persistent head cold causing prolonged headaches, blurred vision and sleepless nights, computers (all three of them) repeatedly breaking down, a sudden upturn in work, a flux of social invitations and one very ill mummy I have had very little time to write anything. Hence my rather quiet period on here.

I think I may also have hit burnout before I’ve even started. On the last visit to the hospital with my mum the doctor decided I was the patient and queried if I was well enough to go home. When informed it wasn’t me but my mum he should address the relief on his face was visible and he happily okayed it for her to be treated as an outpatient.

In light of this I have decided to keep a NaNoWriMo blog, once a week during November to chart my progress. That should see me off completely.

The Value of Research

Rather stupidly I thought I did not need to sleep. After overcoming writers block which had plagued me for these past three months I emerged believing I was a super powered creature. I was a Writer.

Ideas were forming in my unclogged brain, words came tumbling from my fingertips, my imagination wanted to be fed. So I submitted an idea for a 6 part series to a new online magazine which was accepted. Yay. I planned several short stories for competitions, deadlines due during the next two months. No problem. I joined three history courses with Future Learn about Hadrians Wall, Shakespeare and Shipwrecks, all starting this week. I can do this. I signed up for NaNoWriMo in November. Hmm…sorted I think. And I joined a creative writing course due to start end of October. Add to that my regular jobs to do (the one that pays)and a phenomenal amount of social events I’ve been invited to. I’m sure sleep isn’t that important. My body disagrees. The obvious thing to do here is quit my job. The practical thing to do is quit the online courses.

Research is the second best tool a writer can have. The first is a pen. Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction, an historical murder mystery or a romantic sci-fi, at some point you are going need some real facts otherwise, like Walter Mitty, your readers will notice you’ve been making it all up. Luckily, the internet has made research so much easier.

Wikipedia is invaluable but after starting Future Learns online course I’m beginning to appreciate how much more you can learn from real people. During week 1 we looked at, amongst other things, The Vindolanda Tablets, scraps of thin wood used for letters, lists, business account and just about anything that needed to be written down.

Amongst them was a series of letters from a Roman Commanders wife to another woman of the same social standing who was stationed nearby which proved interesting and inspiring. They talk of arrangements for a birthday party in the first, sickness in another and the dangerous journey one of the woman must undertake to reach her friend with medicines. Excellent start for an historical drama.

Another letter from a foreign merchant to a Roman official speaks of unfair and brutal treatment from a legionnaire for a crime his was innocent of. A murder mystery perhaps or a political tale of corruption.

The Wall was one of the most heavily fortified outposts of the Roman Empire, a place occupied by an array of people both foreign and native, full of tensions, rebellions, law, corruption, love, loyalty and the odd party. Lots of ideas for stories about an historical era I knew nothing about and I’m only halfway through week 1! Can’t wait to get to grips with Shakespeare.

I know what I must do. I’m quitting my job.

You can sign up for Future Learn at

I’m contributing an article about Scrivener and other writing programs to a new online writing magazine Bibliophilia Magazine out 1st November. You can find it on Facebook at