The Waterproof Notepad: A Thing of Genius

I have gone to so, so many author events where the discussion inevitably ends up somewhere around getting great ideas in the shower and having to try and remember them. I’ve sat in the audience while authors cry “why isn’t there a waterproof notepad” to which I tell myself I will speak to them afterwards and tell them that there is in fact a waterproof notepad but alas, I never do. I’ve even considered raising my hand and telling them during question time but that’s a whole different hurdle to overcome. Instead, I thought I would share it here publicly with you in case you too are suffering the frustration of having million dollar ideas and perfect story plots lost down the drain ever night.

May I introduce you to Aqua Love Notes, the waterproof notepad.

Despite the name, Aqua Love Notes are the greatest thing ever created. This is the absolutely fabulous one that I bought a few years ago that has been a pure life saver. It isn’t used for fun notes and message to others in my household, it is used for when my mind is mulling over menial things in the shower and suddenly an idea comes to me, or a piece of dialogue or scene and I need to write it down lest I forget.

There are multiple pages, and if you are like me who writes small and scribbles all over the page you can use the same pad for years. You get two pencils, red and lead, one which has a rubber on the end and both are able to be sharpened in a regular sharpener.

I used to try and write in the steam on the shower but I’d always forget about it by the time I finished and it doesn’t last once it dries. Who knows how many brilliant ideas I have lost over time, but not any more. If you are looking for something to jot ideas down on or plot out your next epic story than this is ideal. I bought mine from Amazon because it was the only place at the time I could find one, but now you know such genius exists you may find some elsewhere with some clever searching.

With NaNoWriMo happening this month it might be the perfect thing you need when you are plotting and planning and need all the ideas you can get when you are starting out.

Go forth and never be stuck in the shower with nowhere to put your ideas again!

10 Years of NaNoWrimo

It’s the night before NaNo (Oh my god it’s the night before NaNo!), and I thought since this will be my tenth year participating I would honour the occasion by looking back at my previous NaNo years. I first heard about the National Novel Writing Month in 2008 from a friend at Uni and made the last minute decision on 31st October to sign up and participate. I remember being so worried about not reaching the 50k goal my first story had 4000 words just on a lady vacuuming her house. I have since learnt my lesson and trusted my story will stretch without the inane fillers.

I have been lucky enough to reach the 50k goal each year, mainly I think because I couldn’t stand it if I didn’t. I’ve had a few years where I have been well behind, well behind, and had marathon word count days to catch up. In 2013 I had to write 12 800 words on the final day to make my goal. It was probably the most stressed I have ever been for NaNo. I finished at 11:56pm, uploaded and verified with minutes to spare. I had been counting down the clock for the final 24 hours and had 15k to write in that time. It didn’t help either that that particular year was tough because while I’d loved my story idea, after the halfway point it was like pulling teeth.

I also finished with 45 minutes to spare in 2015. That wasn’t a tough year story-wise, I quite enjoyed it. The main rule to remember is as long as you get 50k by the 30th, it doesn’t matter when you hit each word count goal. In 2014 I didn’t get 25k until the 22nd and yet by the 30th I had my 50k. I’ve also started one week in on numerous occasions when I was still at uni, sometimes even two weeks in. The delightful year was when I had to do the two side by side and was trying to do NaNo and assignments alongside one another. Fun times.

My best and the most favourite year wasย in 2012 where I smashed the 50k and wrote almost 60 000 words, exceeding the daily word count every single day. I went back and worked on this story again last year, adding another 25k whilst writing a short story collection alongside it. I plan to do the same again this year, it’s definitely the story I want to finish and refine out of all I’ve written.

There is a wonderful thrill about doing NaNo. I love the prospect of diving into a fresh new story, discovering where it will go and realising more often than not how unprepared you actually are. And knowing you are doing it alongside millions of people around the world is a great comfort. There’s a resource right there for guidance and support, people who know what it is like.

My favourite thing on the website is the personal stats. Not only do you get the usual per day ones once the event starts, you also get the Expected Finish Date, which in the past has often said mid March the following year when I’ve been quite behind. I also love the new one which tells you the Total Word Count of all your NaNo pieces. It makes you feel rather proud when it tells you you’ve written over 465 000 words.

Ten Years of Genres

I have written many types of stories for NaNo, I’ve liked writing all of them, but some I pulled off better than others.

2008: Mainstream Fiction
2009: Satirical
2010: Romance
2011: Historical/Family Saga
2012: Mainstream Fiction
2013: Historical
2014: New Adult
2015: Fantasy
2016: Short Stories
2017: Mainstream Fiction

I couldn’t really say which one I liked better in terms of genre. Fantasy was fun, but historical was as well. And Mainstream is easy because there’s technically less you have to research when it’s all right in front of you and not 80 years ago or locked in your imagination.

 

Advice

I can’t go on about being part of NaNo for ten years without leaving you with advice for first-timers.

  1. Quantity over quality

Resist the urge to edit. It will be hard, I know the pain of wanting to get a scene/paragraph/sentence just right, but this is not the time. There’s a strong chance the entire page and the three before it will be scrapped in the second draft, so don’t waste valuable time critiquing what you have. Just get it on the page; the time to edit is December 1st.

  1. Use the Forums

They are a brilliant resource for inspiration, challenges, distractions, or self-promotion. I have used the forums numerous times over the year for title ideas, shout outs for personal word count goals, or just for some fun games to relax. You can talk through problems or discuss non-Nano things as well. There’s groups for other people in your area too so you can have some nearby support, and there’s always someone willing to help.

  1. WriteOrDie is a gift from the writing gods

It is your friend, your saviour, and a god among writing programs. My love for this online resource knows no bounds. It has helped me through every single one of my stories. It helps you push through the urge to stop and think by punishing you if you pause to long. It also makes me think on my feet and actually makes ideas flow much better.

  1. Reward your achievements

They donโ€™t have to be big. Have a chocolate for hitting the daily word count. Hit a personal goal? Reward yourself. Motivate yourself to keep going; it will be amazing how much you can get done when you add up the little goals you’ve set during the day or the week.

  1. Listen to all the advice out there.

There are always tips and tricks for doing NaNo. The NanoWriMo Twitter is always offering advice and doing writing challenges to help the word counters rise. There are professional and published authors out there who still do NaNo, they have advice as well on how to keep going when it seems like you’re at a loss.

  1. Don’t Worry if You Don’t Reach 50k

And last of all: don’t worry. If you don’t hit 50k, that’s fine. You still tried. And maybe next year you’ll get closer. Remember that whatever you ended up with is more than what you had in October, and it’s a start onto something amazing.ย Be proud of what you are doing. Not everyone is trying to write a novel in 30 days.

Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNo, whether you are seasoned or diving in for the first time.

National Novel Writing Month 2015

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResThe National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo) is soon to be upon us. This is the time of year where people all over the world sit down and try and write a 50k word novel during the month of November. The official website was launched this morning and I have already spent a good hour on it looking at the forums, updating my own details, and sorting out my plans for this year’s story. The trouble I had was dragging myself back from diving into too much research and not doing the things I was supposed to be doing instead. Once you venture down the NaNoWriMo hole you easily become lost in character names, descriptions, and tiny details like shoe colours and character quirks. Or even worse perusing the forums and chatting to people before the month has even begun!

This will be my 8th NaNo, which is nothing considering how long it has actually been going for, some people have been at it at lot longer than I. But I am still looking forward to putting my ideas to paper. Of the past 7 stories I have written I could honestly say only two I would make into actual books, and one a short story. These I have sitting on my computer, in their little folders, patiently waiting for me to edit them. I am adding notes and snippets to them all the time though so I like to think that counts for something for now.

This year I am writing a fantasy, first time for NaNo and for myself in awhile. I don’t think I have written a fantasy since primary school so it will be great to get back into the world building and mystic creatures side. I am returning to an idea I first thought about in 2009, but I started planning all the way back in April and by the time November came around I was over-planned and didn’t actually know where to begin so I changed stories the day NaNo started (a risky move on my part). In the years since I have thought about it some more, added bits and pieces to my idea and hopefully come 1st November I will be rearing to go.

There is so much to enjoy with NaNo, the joy of writing (and actually writing for a reason where you can’t keep making excuses not to), talking to other people from all over the world, and I even get a thrill from the stress of falling behind of word counts and doing mass catch ups in one sitting.

One of the changes to the NaNo site is the new badges that can be earned. Some of these are for simply updating your novel details, others are for participating in discussions, and for the consistent workers out there a few are even for daily novel updates, and even one for 30 days of constant updates. I may try and aim for that one this year.

Good luck if you’re choosing to participate this year. Whether you are a first time NaNoer, a seasoned participant, or somewhere in between, I wish you immense luck on this journey because it can be tough and challenging. The forums are your friends; you can turn to them for ideas, celebrations, discussions of shared experiences, and of course distractions and great games. As always WriteOrDie is a godsend I implore its use at all times, and I wish you all the success in reaching the 50k word goal!