NaNoWriMo Countdown – 3: To Plan Or Not To Plan


For many people, the only way to get through NaNoWriMo is by extensively planning their novels ahead in October. Everyone seems to have a different strategy for doing this. While three days is perhaps a little too soon to start planning, it’s still enough time to get some sort of outline prepared.

I can’t sit here and tell you HOW to plan your novel and how to structure your outline because everybody has a different, unique way of doing it. You need to sit down and figure out what works best for you. I read a book once on ‘how to write creatively’ which basically said you shouldn’t read books on how to write. In a lot of ways – although a little ironic – this makes a lot of sense.

Figure out what works best for you. Experiment with your story lines and chapters, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also, no amount of planning is ever too much. That’s really the only advice I can give.


The way I plan for NaNo may surprise some of you (especially if you’ve picked up on how obsessive-compulsive and anal-retentive I can be). You see, my plan for my novel is not to plan.

Sometimes I feel that writing out an exhaustive outline can be just that – exhausting. If you’re anything like me then you’ll equate an outline with as close as you can get to writing your novel without writing your novel. Since your novel is thus ‘quasi-written’, it can become awfully boring and dull to flesh it all out with sentences and paragraphs. I know it is for me.

I think that sometimes, dependent on how flexible you are willing to be with your outline, planning out a novel extensively can take away from the spontaneity of creating a novel worth reading. Chances are if it becomes a struggle for you to write, it will be a struggle for a reader to read.

The most planning I generally ever do is to acknowledge the end. As a writer, you have to know where the novel is going. As long as I know how the novel is going to start and how I want it to end, everything else will fall into place during the writing process. A lot of times, I don’t know how it will all tie together or how it will even progress, but eventually it all begins to become clear to me.

That, I think, is the beauty of writing. It’s as if my mind knows the novel, but I have to work and write and progress to uncover what my mind knows – which is really just another way of saying “it just came to me.”

So, for November 1st, I know where my novel will start. The first few pages, and probably even chapters, are mapped out in my head already. I won’t reach the ultimate fini during November (I generally aim for novels over 100,000 words), but I know where I want the characters and to be at the end and how I want the plot to go.

Exactly how everything is going to get there is still a mystery. But it’s my mystery. And I intend to inspect the hell out of it.

By the end, I should have something that resembles a novel and I won’t be tied down or held back by an outline. That’s more a comment on my inability to outline than it is a critique on outlining.

If planning and outlining is how you write and is what is going to get you through November, then all the power to you.

Good luck, everyone.

Let’s get ready to NaNo.

Till Next,


Categories: Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

NaNoWriMo Countdown – 4: What To Write…



This is me when NaNoWriMo is four days away and I have no idea what to write.

Yes. Here we are. It is October the 28th, 2014. A Tuesday, if you care.

It snowed all day yesterday, but was too warm for any of it to stick around. Today was equally drab. But, you’re not here to read about the weather in Saskatoon…are you?

Oh, you are. Okay. Well, last February (don’t quote me, I could be TERRIBLY wrong) or at some point in the last year or two, Saskatoon reached so low a temperature that, for a day, it was literally the COLDEST place on Earth. Colder than the Arctic, colder than the Antarctic and, with most certainty, colder than India (am I right, Shaun, or am I right?)

Seriously, though. You’re not here to read about Saskatchewan weather. You’re here because the title of this post mentions NaNoWriMo and you want to read something novel. (hahahahahah haha ha)

Do you know why Canadians are so prone to talking about the weather? It’s because weather patterns are unpredictable. You never know what to expect, or when to expect it. Change is so sudden, that weather is actually the most riveting discourse one can have (mostly).

But I digress.

Seriously. Let’s talk NaNo.


Do you see why I generally have no idea what to write for NaNo? It’s because instead of actually thinking about NaNo, I think about the weather. And the way my pinky has such trouble typing. And that cracked nail on my third toe. And…

Yeah. I may have ADHD. No, I really don’t. More like an aversion to planning. And thinking ahead.

So, when it comes to WHAT I’M WRITING for NaNoWriMo…it can change at a moment’s notice.

Right now, I think I’ll write the newest addition to my Demonria series, Saints of the Silence. This will be book number five for all of you who haven’t taken the time to check me out on NaNo and see that I wrote the first four books for previous NaNos (2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 – to be PRECISE).

I’m not really sure what point this post serves, except to say that NaNoWriMo happens in four days. Or three (technically) if you’re a picky jerk.


Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve written such a useless post. But this gets at the hardest part about NaNo – it’s choosing an idea that will carry you through the entire month. It’s creating a story that can keep you motivated to reach that 50,000 word mark.

If you’re like me, you’ll understand that the problem is not coming up with one idea but, rather, choosing one out of the plethora of ideas stored away in your head – not to mention all the new ones that pop up each day unexpectedly.

So, while I think I’ll be writing Demonria: Saints of the Silence, I really can’t say FOR SURE until November 1st. Call me crazy, but it works. (This is the part where I could brag about my eight consecutive ‘wins’ of NaNo, but I won’t.)

Anyway, you already know NaNo is approaching. And I’m guessing you didn’t gain any value in life from this post. So why not turn the tables and give me something to sink my teeth into?

Tell me, dear reader and enthusiast writer, what are you writing this year? Because, while I have a tendency to make everything about me (and really it should be), even I have to admit that NaNoWriMo is about writers everywhere. I am just a teeny brushstroke in that masterpiece. (I’d like to apologize for my modesty. It won’t happen again.)

Cheers to everyone writing this November. Good luck. You can do it.

And, to all of you who won’t do NaNo because you “haven’t had time to think of an idea and plan,” consider me and then reconsider NaNo. If I can sit and ramble about nothing and still manage to keep your attention until the end of this post, surely you can write a little, teeny 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Embrace the chaos.

Until Next,


P.S. This is tots my 300th post here. I can’t believe I’ve posted 300 things. I also can’t believe I just said ‘tots’.

Categories: Just Another Day, Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

NaNoWriMo Countdown: 5 – Why NaNo?

I shouldn’t be writing this post.

What I should be doing is reading my history texts, perusing my essay sources, formulating theses, writing those weekly summaries, reading that book for the review, and so on.


By this time next week, I’ll be saying much the same. Except, I’ll begin with:

“I shouldn’t be writing this novel.”

The reason, dear friends, is that next week I’ll be immersed in National Novel Writing Month (and hopefully you will, too).

People often question why I put myself through the intensity and deadlines that make NaNoWriMo seem so daunting. I could argue about the creative merits of such seat-of-your-pants writing. I could mention the encouragement from fellow writers, across the world. I bring up the atmosphere and energy that NaNoWriMo fills you with. It’s a response to a challenge. It’s a test to my fortitude as a writer. I could argue it is for bragging rights.

In reality, I could – and I have – argue any number of things to make people understand why I do NaNo , or perhaps even to justify why I do it. But I don’t expect you to truly understand unless you’ve taken part in the craziness that November brings writers every year. And, really, I don’t need to. NaNoWriMo is MY time. Believe it or not, it’s a relaxation. It forces me to forget about life for an hour or two every day and just write.

It is also proof that a person really can survive on coffee and chocolate and that, no, I don’t need eight hours of sleep to function normally.

I used to try to explain NaNo and offer up very thoughtful, in-depth, even philosophical answers to the question this post poses.

Nowadays, though, when asked why I do NaNoWriMo, I answer with the single, most-important factor in consideration. I answer without trying to sound like a snobbish writer. I answer without trying to explain my lifelong romance with writing and to explain the intricacies of how NaNo is a creative release, an amazing environment, etc.

I don’t do NaNo because other writers do it.

I don’t do NaNo to brag about it after.

I don’t do NaNo to connect with like-minded individuals around the world.

No, these things, and so many others, are byproducts of doing NaNoWriMo.

The real and most important reason – and probably the only valid one – why I do NaNoWriMo is because it is incredibly fun.


Thanks for reading!

Till Next,


Categories: Demonria, Just Another Day, Life, Nanowrimo, Writing, Writing Devices | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

‘Tis The Season Of NaNoWriMo (Almost)

NaNoWriMo Participant 10                   Participant-100x100-2


Yes, that time of year is upon us once again. While most of the sorry souls stalking the streets are beginning to shiver in the cold, complain about the frost and warn the weather gods what will happen if it snows too soon, the writers of the town are jumping for joy. Not that there are many – which is good, because I don’t like competition – but there are enough.

                                        NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner_SmallNaNoWriMo 2007 Winner_SmallNaNoWriMo 2010 Winner02

Actually. It wouldn’t really matter how many of them there are. I’d still be excited. November is coming. National Novel Writing Month is coming. These words are nearly synonymous.

NaNoWriMo 2008 Participant_Icon02NaNoWriMo 2008 Winner_Small02NaNoWriMo 2009 Participant01NaNoWriMo 2009 Winner03NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner04Winner-100x100-2 2013-Participant-Square-Button

For the previous eight years, November has meant one thing and only one thing: the month where I get to furiously write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. It sounds daunting, yes, but it’s really not that bad. Especially considering that NaNo is all about having fun and celebrating writers and writing, no matter HOW MUCH or how LITTLE they write. All that matters is that people write. And they do write. Some 700,000 people around the world participated.

For some people, NaNoWriMo is that extra encouragement to write when they don’t seem to have the time to otherwise. For others, it’s a fun atmosphere that they can put themselves in and meet some great writers around the world.

For me, it’s about the excitement. I’m all about excitement. And there is nothing more exciting than partaking in the craziness that is NaNoWriMo. And I love bragging rights to saying I’ve reached the 50k all eight times I’ve done it. Every year since 2006.

NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner_Large

I can still remember the first time I had ever heard of NaNoWriMo. It was early October of 2006. I was thirteen years old, in Grade 8. I’d been writing for as long as I could remember, but had only ever completed one novel – the embodiment of the previous three or so years of my life. It was 60,000 words long. So you could imagine my self-doubt when my mother came home from work one day and said that some of the Library Ladies were going to be doing this thing where they write a novel in a month. It took me three years to write that puppy. How could I possibly write a novel in a month?

I was skeptical. Could you blame me? But I decided it was worth checking out. As soon as I visited the website ( my eyes light up, my heart started beating a little faster and I knew that something magical was going to happen.

A month after that I was starting. My first NaNoWriMo. I reached the 50k – only because of a desperate final stretch on the 30th that saw me hit a word count of 50,008 by 11:55 pm) – and I literally jumped for joy. 😀 The sad part is, I still jump for joy when I reach that fifty thousand word count.

Honestly, I don’t know what to say other than what I’ve already said before. NaNoWriMo fricken’ rocks and you should do it. If you’re a writer, it’s perfect for you. If you’re not a writer, but have always been curious about it, it’s perfect for you. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, it’s probably not perfect for you. So, you know, if that’s you, you just wasted about four minutes of your time. Unless you’re a slow reader, in which case it was probably seven or eight minutes. But if it only took you two or three minutes to get through this, then I’ll take it as an insult and suggest you go back and re-read more carefully. That way we can avoid future disputes.

Anyway, I’m rambling. As I’m infamous for doing. You should’ve stopped reading thirty seconds ago. There’s nothing more intelligent coming.


Just stop.

Don’t you have something better to spend your time on, anyway?

Till Next,


Categories: Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | 4 Comments

I’m Back. Unfortunately For You.

Well. I guess I decided I missed blogging, finally. That, or I’ve got a rejuvenated passion for the damn art of blogging because of a surprise I’ve planned for next Wednesday (which I can’t say much about as of now). I guess, I just realized, it could be part of my two year celebration. Yeah. That’s right. I wrote this first post two years ago.

So, I figure explaining why I was absent for so long might be nice. Which is why I’m not gonna do that.

I’m here now. With more to come. NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. That should be fun.

Referring to above was I this sarcastic and cynical when I used to, you know, post these things regularly?

Anyway. I need food. And you need two minutes of your life back for having to read this. I hope you guys are still there, reading this. I don’t expect you to be. I’m sure I can find new followers. Wait. This is the part where I’m supposed to be nice and endearing? Ah, damn. Better luck next time.

Stay tuned for a NaNo post. Always my favourite. If it’s not yours, then move along.

hahaha I really am joking. Mostly.

Anyway, I’m here. See?


Until Next,


Categories: Just Another Day, Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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