Blog Archives

Author Interview: Douglas McLeod

Barbadian_Backlash_Cover_for_Kindle
Today’s author is not only the self-published author of two novels in a murder mystery series, he is also a several time Nanowrimo winner and a dear friend of mine. Please give a warm welcome to today’s guest, Douglas McLeod.

* * * *

1. Can you tell us a bit about your books?

Both of my published books are in the hard-boiled mystery genre. They’re the case journals of Detective Gary Celdom, a 27-year veteran of the Toronto P.D. He tries to follow the proper letter of the law, but there are times when he doesn’t follow proper procedures, and ends up paying for it; whether he’s suspended, or gets injured in the line of duty; much to the chagrin of his superior officer. His partner of a couple of years, Detective Jessica Amerson, also doubles as his current girlfriend — they started dating at the end of my first novel, “Scarlet Siege.”
However, Gary is constantly haunted by the spirit his former fiancée, Karen Prairie. Karen and Gary were partners on a case 25 years ago, and they began a long-distance relationship (she lived in Edmonton, and they were assigned to be part of a Nationwide security task force for a major sporting event in Calgary.) Then, 20 years ago, they were to be wed, but the criminals they busted during the Calgary case returned, and sought revenge. The criminals would assassinate Karen on her wedding day, and she died in Gary’s arms. Nowadays, Karen appears before Gary and Jessica to provide advice and give her former fiancé a hard time.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

I guess for me it was the allure of seeing my work in print. Usually, if you “win” Nanowrimo, one of the event’s sponsors, Createspace, will provide a special code that will enable you to transform what you toiled away all those days on into an actual paperback book. The first two years I participated, the code was for a free Proof copy, but in 2011, they changed it to 5 copies of the finished product. This modification in the reward made me think about wanting to turn this from a hobby into something that I could actively pursue. I’ve always had an interest in creative writing; since I was in grade school, but to see myself as a published author; it’s something I could only dream about all those years ago.

3. You’ve participated in Nanowrimo four times and also participated in Camp Nanowrimo this year. What do these challenges mean to you?

For me, it’s the thrill of pushing yourself to do wildly creative things in such a short period of time. Whenever I’ve told people about the premise of Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo, they all think I’m crazy: writing 50,000 words in one calendar month. However, at the same time, they’ve all commended me for all of the effort I put into that first draft. I’ll admit I have had my doubts over the years; thinking the challenge is too daunting when life gets in the way. That was the case in August 2011 when I attempted Camp Nanowrimo for the first time. I was unable to finish that year, and I was dejected that I failed to rise to the challenge. But, I dusted myself off, got back on the proverbial horse, and prepared myself for the upcoming November.

What also helps is the camaraderie there is within the Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo community. Yes, you’re embarking on a creative and insane journey; however, there are others out there who are making their own sojourn into this craziness, as well. As the month draws on, you learn to support them in their endeavour, and they will return the favour in kind. You develop a special bond — a kinship — with your fellow writers, and form friendships that last a lifetime. I have come to know so many wonderful people over the past four years I’ve participated in the month long challenge, and I look forward to writing alongside of them every November. Now, with the formation of Camp Nanowrimo, I can develop new friendships and reunite with ones I’ve already established during the spring and summer months.

4. What advice would you give to people hoping to participate in Nanowrimo next year?

Try to formulate an idea for your story a few weeks beforehand. Brainstorm possible novel concepts when you have the opportunity, and write them down. There have been times when I’ve come up with a premise and failed to get it down on paper, only to have it vanish from my mind a day or two later. Once October rolls around, go to your list, and start determining which one you would like to write the most for Nanowrimo. Remember not to discount all the ones you reject; you can use them for future Nanowrimos.

As soon as you’ve settled on your story use the balance of October to plot and plan it out. Develop your characters, formulate key plot points; your Outline will be your compass on the journey you’re about to set out upon. That way, you won’t be scrambling around; trying to iron out unresolved details once the clock ticks 12:00:01 a.m. on November 1st, because as soon as that moment arrives on your computer clock, “it’s Showtime.”

5. You self-published your books through Createspace. Can you tell us a bit about the process of turning your manuscript into an actual book?

The concept of turning what you’ve written, edited, and re-written into a published book may seem daunting to most, but Createspace makes the process quite easy. Once you set-up your account and log into the site, you can set up your book. They’ll ask you the specifics: the title, whether it’s part of a series, and to provide a brief synopsis of the book.

The next step, Createspace will ask you for an ISBN number. A book cannot be published without an ISBN number. If you’re lazy, you can get Createspace to generate an ISBN number for you, but you’re limited to selling it through them. Your best bet is to obtain your own ISBN number. Fortunately, since I live in Canada, obtaining your own ISBN number is free. You just need to register with the Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS) – which is free, as well – and you can apply for an ISBN number anytime you publish a paperback or eBook. Just remember, you’ll need a different ISBN number for each edition you publish; you cannot use the same ISBN for a paperback as you do an eBook. Once you’ve established your ISBN number on Createspace, you will be able to upload your actual novel, or “Interior.”

Here, you’ll have the option to print your novel on white or cream paper, and if you prefer the Interior to be done in standard black and white, or colour. Since, I don’t use photos in my Interior I opt for “black and white.” You have the option here to select your book’s dimensions (My paperbacks are in 6” x 9”), and adjust for whether or not you want your text to bleed towards the edge. However, as you’re setting this up, this is where you’ll need to adjust your Word document to reflect how it will be printed. After you’ve done the necessities regarding page size, margins, headers, page numbers, and throw in the title, copyright, and acknowledgement pages, you will need to convert that entire revised document into a PDF file. If you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find a free online converter, if you don’t have one already on your computer. Once your Interior has been converted into a PDF, you’ll upload it onto the Createspace site. Once it’s been uploaded, they’ll give you the option to review your Interior online to make sure it looks alright before it’s sent to printing. If you’re satisfied with it, then you can move onto the next step, and my favourite part: designing your cover.

If you have Cover Art already pre-made, you can convert that into a PDF file and upload it to their server. However, if you have no idea about graphic design, like I do, Createspace has an online Cover Creator tool that will walk you through the process. They have pre-made templates to choose from, and you modify it accordingly with back cover blurbs, front cover photo, change the colour to your preference; it allows you to be your own cover designer. As soon as you are satisfied with the cover design, you can submit it, and then comes the next step in your journey. If you have all the necessary files submitted, you will submit your entire project for review. The review process takes about 24-48 hours. If they find any issues, they will email you and let you know of any changes you need to make to get it approved. Once you’re approved, comes the second-last step in the process: the Proofing.

During the Proofing process, they will offer you two options: you can purchase a printed Proof copy of your novel and/or review the Proof online. Personally, I do both because having a physical bound Proof of my book gives me a hands-on idea of what the finished product will look like. But, depending on where you live, and the speed of shipping, it could take at least a couple of weeks until you receive it. That’s where the online Proofing comes in.

It allows you to virtually look at your Proof, and allow you to comb over every final, minute detail of your creation. During the Proofing process, Createspace will also allow you to set up your sale pages-to-be. Since Createspace is affiliated with Amazon, they will allow you to decide where your paperback book will be sold; whether it is through Createspace’s online store, Amazon.com, or European Amazon outlets in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. In doing so, you can set up the price for which your title will be sold for. The default for the European Amazon outlets is to base it on the U.S. price, but you can adjust the U.K. and Euro price to your liking. As soon as you’ve completed this step comes the biggest decision you will ever make regarding your novel since you started writing it: approving the Proof.

This is the final frontier you have arrived at; all of the days and nights, hours after hours of writing and fine-tuning have brought you to this particular moment in time. You are on the cusp of taking that final leap to changing your life as you know it. When you click the “Approve Proof” button, you will have done something that people will admire your guts and determination for accomplishing. You will have become a published author. The Createspace eStore listing will be instantaneous, but the Amazon listings take about a week to build. In that time, you can be content with the Paperback edition, or you can expand your horizons, tweak the formatting a little, and publish it as an eBook on Kindle, Kobo, or Smashwords.

6. Why did you choose to self-publish?

I’ll be honest it is tough to get published by the big publishing houses. Most places won’t take you seriously unless you have an agent, and combine that with the self-esteem issues I have, the fear of being rejected would prove discouraging for me in the long run. I have heard horror stories of people who have gone to some of the smaller publishing houses, and their experience ends badly. By going the self-publishing route I find it allows me to be more in control of the entire process. It enables me to decide where my books are being put up for sale. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to one day be able to walk into a Chapters and see one of my novels on their shelves. However, I do realize it is a process, and one that should only be progressed based on the author’s comfort level. The notion of being a published author can be overwhelming at times. I just feel that if I’m able to call some of the shots, I can enjoy the journey better.

7. How have you chosen to market your self-published novels?

Admittedly, this is one of the toughest parts of being a self-published author. When you decide to publish on your own, all of the facets are do-it-yourself, and I confess, when it comes to marketing, I completely suck at it. So far, I’ve been trying to advertise my novels on my blog at http://garyceldom.blogspot.com , as well as, on Twitter and my Facebook page. I’ve been trying to go via the word-of-mouth route, but alas, it can only take you so far. I’m hoping to expand that network through doing interviews, like this one, but we shall see.

8. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for aspiring writers to remember?

The best piece of advice that I could give to aspiring writers is to remember that to be a successful writer, you have to love and believe in the subject you’re writing about. I have found over the years that if I’m in the middle of writing a short story, a fan fiction, or a novel, and I’m not “feeling it”, I will lose interest and not see it through to its eventual completion. However, if it is a story that I invest myself in to its very core, then it helps motivate me to make sure that I see it through to the end. When I’m able to do that, I find it to be the most rewarding part of the craft, and the most fun in the long run.

9. What will you be reading in 2013?

I have quite a few books on my reading agenda in the next calendar year. A friend loaned me his copy of Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep,” and I confess I haven’t started it yet because of Nanowrimo. I also plan on reading the debut novel by my good friend, Hilary D. Slater, “The Bird People: Children of The Dragon,” and in a few weeks I should be receiving a copy of Joel Mark Harris’ “A Thousand Bayonets.” That reminds me, I have a plethora of books stockpiled on my Kobo Touch that are waiting to be read. 2013 is going to be a busy year regarding reading.

10. What are you working on next that readers can look forward to?

Currently, I’m in the midst of editing my 2012 Nanowrimo project, “Rouge Numbered Week.” It is the third novel in my Gary Celdom Case Journals series where Gary and Jessica are on the trail of a mass-murder that is causing havoc during the celebrations for a professional sporting championship. I’m hoping to have that available for sale by the end of June 2013. In between, I will be participating in both sessions of Camp Nanowrimo this April and July. The July edition will see me attempting to write the fourth volume in Gary’s series, but in April, I’m thinking of doing a different story all together. It’s about a bunch of fans of a professional football team’s journey through what is the final season of a venerable stadium that has seen its better days.

003
Bio: Douglas J. McLeod is a self-published author who resides in Toronto, Canada. He is a four-time participant in National Novel Writing Month and two-time participant in Camp NaNoWriMo. His debut novel, Scarlet Siege, was penned during the November 2011 campaign, and its sequel, Barbadian Backlash, was written the following June.

So Who CAN Write 10K in 4 Hours?

You’ll probably remember the insane challenge I posted last month to attempt to write 10K in 4 Hours. I originally promised to post a list of everyone who succeeded here on my blog, but after attempting the challenge myself and realizing that it’s much harder than I remembered, I decided to post the usernames and final word counts of everyone who dared attempt this with me. This is because I realized that just like in Nanowrimo itself, anyone who even attempts this crazy feat is a winner–and incredibly enough, all of my brave participants won Nanowrimo itself and therefore deserve a huge pat on the back.

And so here is the long awaited list of brave champions who dared try writing 10K in 4 Hours, divided into two–the brave participants and the champions.

Brave Participants

RandomChaosElement–4, 273
Wulfae–6, 905
WnGoddess–4, 000
Litharukia(me)–8, 910

Champions
Sunstreak–10, 000
Moogle99–10, 001
EliteGundam–10, 385

Congratulations to everyone who participated! Whether or not you made it, remember that you are a winner–and that there’s always next year.

Slowing Down in December…

November is finally over and hopefully so is your novel. If you’re anything like me, that means you’ve spent half the weekend celebrating and the other half catching up on sleep, and now you’re getting ready to dive into your December projects. It means you have time to get back to all those things you were neglecting this November. It means you can slow down your writing to give yourself time to focus on those things–your friends, your family, sleep.

But how do you slow down without losing momentum completely? It’s hard–and the fact that I’m writing this post now, after having spent the last two days in a coma, is proof of that–but it can be done, even with the holiday season looming over your head with a thousand distractions. Over the nine years I’ve spent doing Nanowrimo, I’ve learned quite a bit about keeping some of that November momentum, and I thought I’d share some tips with you today.

1. Have a set to-do list for the month. In order to stay organized during December, you’ll need a list of things that you’d like to accomplish this month. However, in the interest of being able to write in January and taking into account the holidays, you don’t want this list to be too long. It needs to include just enough to challenge you without making you continue the break neck pace of November. My own list only has four things on it: finish editing Moonshadow’s Guardian, get all the content written for a free e-book I’m working on, write a query for a shorter project, and write a new short story. These goals are enough to keep me busy all month without drowning in the amount of work I have to do.

If you’re unsure about where your balance is, put less on the list than you’re naturally inclined to. It’s totally normal to think you can accomplish more than is realistic. So to find the perfect balance, write the list of things you’d ideally like to accomplish this month, and then cross two or three things off the list. What’s left over is bound to be more realistic than what you were thinking.

2. Have designated writing time. It should be easy to implement a writing schedule since your family’s already gotten used to the idea. My suggestion is to take half the time you spent writing in November and dedicate that to writing in December. This way, you’ll have a little more time for your family and other needs, but you’ll still have a set time during which you work on your writing.

3. Don’t take too many days off. Now that there’s no deadline looming over your head, it’s easy to miss days and to fill up your writing time with events or even just with TV. But once you’ve started taking days off, it’s hard to get back into the routine. While it’s a good idea to take some days off this month–say, for example, you might decide not to write on Christmas Eve–too many will totally destroy your discipline. This is most dangerous if you take several days off in a row.

Personally, I find that taking a couple days off doesn’t hurt my discipline, but if I take more than three days off in a row it instantly becomes a lot harder to get back into the routine. So I never take more than two days off, and even on my days off I try to write something–a short scene, a descriptive paragraph, whatever I have the time and energy to write. Make sure you don’t spend too much time away from your work this month, or you’ll find it much harder to keep a writing routine in January.

4. Plan your writing time. By this I mean not to plan what hours of the day you’ll use to write–that’s what #2 is all about–but to plan what you’re going to do with that writing time each day. During Nanowrimo it’s easy. Your goal is already set for you: 1, 667 words every day. After Nano, it’s easy to get sidetracked and start working on things that don’t really matter. To combat this, create a daily to-do list.

Your daily to-do list should include goals that help you complete your monthly to-do list and should be balanced so that you’re not over working yourself. For me a typical daily to-do list includes things like write a blog post, edit three pages of Moonshadow’s Guardian and brainstorm future story ideas. I usually find I can complete about 4-5 items in my writing time, more if I’m really focused or if I have nothing to do but write after I get home from school.

Create your own list by breaking your monthly goals into chunks and figuring out what you can do every day to get closer to those goals. Don’t create your lists too far in advance though–I find the best time to create my to-do list for one day is right before bed the night before. This way, you can account for the fact that you’ll have different amounts of writing time on different days. For example, my to-do lists are always shorter on Tuesdays because I go to my writing group on Tuesday evenings. Remember to account for whatever events you have to go to when creating your own list.

These are just a handful of tips to help you remain productive in December and beyond. While today I mention them specifically to help you keep your November momentum, they’re good tips to keep in mind at any time of year. And while this is what works for me, different things work for different people–don’t be afraid to keep trying new ways of managing your time until you find one that works for you.

Oh, and one more thing–congratulations, guys, you survived another crazy Nanowrimo adventure!

Under 24 Hours Left!

Today is the last day of November for most Nanoers, though some of our friends “down under” have already run out of time. For those of you lucky enough to have a few hours left of November, today is the last day to make a final push towards 50, 000 words or whatever your final goal for the month happens to be.

Of course, unless you’ve already made arrangements for it to do so, life probably won’t just stand still so you can finish your novel. I myself have a full day of school followed by an evening school trip to dinner and a movie premiere. This means that while I’ll probably be lugging around my laptop all day, I probably won’t get a chance to write until at least 9:30 tonight. Still, I am hoping to write a couple thousand more words before midnight hits.

So today, no matter what your word count is or what you have to do, I challenge you to write with me. In fact, I challenge you to find some time on this final day of November and write at least 1, 667 words. It might not get you to your goal, but at least you will be able to say you tried, that even on the last day you didn’t give up.

And tonight when the clock strikes twelve and November ends, give yourself a pat on the back no matter what your word count is. It is time to celebrate, because the only way to be a loser in Nanowrimo is to give up.

Tonight, I congratulate you, my fellow Nanowrimo novelist. You have survived Nanowrimo 2012 and hopefully come out of it with a novel–or at least most of a novel–and some new experiences and insights. Now, let’s hope the world doesn’t end before you manage to get the darn thing out into the world.

What’s Next?

Usually in the first week of December I write a post discussing what to do when you’ve finished your novel. In the interest of organization and planning ahead, this year I’ve decided to write the post before November ends.

So what should you do after you finish your novel? You can do just about anything, but I have two main suggestions which I hope you’ll take seriously. The first is that you should keep your momentum from November. The second is that whatever you do, you shouldn’t start editing your novel.

Now, before you get all righteous and tell me how your family needs some love and your novel is horrible and needs editing like some people need heart surgery, let me explain what I mean. I don’t mean for you to ignore your family completely for another month. What I mean is that now, when your family’s already used to you taking some writing time out of every day, you should explain to your family that you need to write and create a writing schedule. Of course you can spend less time writing than you did last month, but the important thing is that you write regularly. It’s easy to fall out of the habit of writing regularly and to let your family distract you, but if you maintain a regular writing schedule, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you finish projects–and at how much better you feel.

Now, about editing your novel. The reason I tell you to wait is because to properly assess any piece of writing–or art, or just about anything else–you first need some distance from the work. Since you’ve just spent a month living and breathing your novel, you really won’t have that distance on December first. Instead, put your draft aside for the month and work on something else, preferably something quite different from your novel.

So if you’re not working on editing this novel, what should you be doing this December? Well the first thing is to pick up any other writing projects where you left off. This December I plan to finish my edit of Moonshadow’s Guardian; while there are several other projects waiting for me to get to them, this one is most important to me. Once you’ve finished those projects–or if you’re someone who really needs to have multiple things going so you can switch when you get stuck on one–start the project on your list of possibilities that is most different from the novel you just finished writing. For example, once I finish editing Moonshadow’s Guardian, I will be putting all of my energy into producing a non-fiction ebook with information and exercises for writers. This will distract me from my fiction, ensuring that when I get back into it I’ll have the distance I need.

Long story short, this December you should make a point of working on something new or finishing an old project totally unrelated to your novel, and you should make sure to work on this project every day. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you keep even a small amount of that November momentum and work at it every day.

The Final Stretch

Today is November 26th. If you’re like me, you planned to write a ridiculous amount of words this weekend, not only catching yourself up but putting yourself ahead, but life got in the way and your plans were totally ruined. Which means, if you’re like me and you’ve got a lot on your plate this week, you’re wishing there was another week in November. Of course, there isn’t, so you’re left with a choice: to give up, or to scramble frantically towards your desired word count, using every spare moment to write(which you should have been doing anyway, but I’m not judging).

No matter what your word count is or how busy you are, I’m here to tell you to go for it. While we all have our limits, you can’t know what’s possible until it’s done. I personally have written 50, 000 words in three days before. Of course, I didn’t have anything else to do on those days, but even on days when I’ve had other commitments I’ve managed to write over 10, 000 words–sometimes even over 20, 000 words. And certainly not everyone can replicate my writing speed, but you never know until you try.

So no matter what your word count is, this week I would ask you to try. Grab every spare moment you can and race to the finish line. In the words of Nike, “just do it”. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a few short days, and remember: even if you don’t make it, you’re still a winner for trying.

Week Three Pep Talk

Today’s guest is a long time Nanoer and a dear friend, known lovingly by the ToNano community as Tabs. Though she hasn’t actually lived in Toronto for the last many years, she is just as much a part of my Nano family as all the people who do. Please give her a warm welcome.

* * * *
It’s ironic that this year has been the hardest year for me with NaNoWriMo and yet here I am, writing a pep talk. But the thing with NaNo is that not every year is going to be your golden year. We’re rounding into the last week, which I always find is my toughest. I get frantic, I get upset, and as I look at my word count goal, I find myself feeling like I’m just not going to make it.

The last week is always tough. That’s why there are two things that you should focus on to get you through.

1) No matter what you finish at, even if it’s not the goal you set, you’ve likely been more productive on one novel in a single month than 90% of writers will be in a full year. That’s a lot to be proud of.

2) If you fall short of your NaNo word count goal, it’s not over. Sure, you’re not going to be pounding out 1667 words a day for the rest of the year, but the project doesn’t have to end on Nov. 30.

This is the point in the month where you need to look back at what you have accomplished and remind yourself of the great work you’ve done. To look at it and realize that you have done fantastic this far, and that, as much as reaching that 50k, 100k or whatever your goal is would be awesome, you’ve already done awesome. The last week isn’t the time to panic. It’s the time to focus your energy on finishing up the story as much as you can. It’s the time to breathe and cheer yourself on, because you have done something awesome. This is the week to make sure that, if you haven’t done so already, you have fun with it. Because really, when it comes down to it, that’s a major part of what NaNoWriMo is about — having fun.

So don’t give up, and certainly don’t give in. Keep on going, and focus on doing what you want to do with that story this week. It might just surprise you how much more you end up writing.

What to do When You Can’t Stand Your Novel Anymore

Whether it be due to your characters rebelling, your story shifting, your muse abandoning you or a dull ache in your wrists, at some point this month you will hate your novel. In fact, you’ve probably already had a moment like that. At some points during the drafting process–both inside and outside of Nanowrimo–you will be unable to look at your novel anymore. The key is to remember that these moments pass, prepare yourself to play catch up and then go off in search of something better to do than look at your novel, because staring at your novel at these times will probably give you the intense urge to delete the whole thing.

Today I’m going to suggest an activity to distract you entirely from the awful draft you’ve been working on all month, one that’s in keeping with my practice of productive procrastination, an activity that will keep you moving towards success as a writer while also distracting you from the less pleasant task at hand.

So what should you do when you can’t stand your novel anymore? Start planning future projects! Do you have any idea what your plans are for December? If not, now’s a good time to start making them. It’s also a great time to start setting your 2013 goals. By starting now you’re actually getting ahead, giving yourself more time to plan the next year than many people do. You’re also staying productive, even though you’re refusing to face your novel.

Of course, depending on whether or not you’ve already given this some thought, you might not want to start making to-do lists for next year right away. Instead, you might want to brainstorm future projects. One way to do this would be by creating a mindmap of potential project ideas. Another would be to create categories that sort ideas in terms of topic, genre or length.

When you’re choosing what projects you’re actually going to put on that list, first consider what you’re actually able to accomplish in a given period of time. Consider the obligations you already know you’ll have–school, work, childcare, that sort of thing–and how much time you’ll have after those. Then consider how much time each kind of project takes you. Once you’ve figured out an average time for each kind of project and you have an idea of the time you’ll have available, create a list of the projects you plan on completing in the time period you’ve chosen.

My advice when you’re creating a plan, whether it be for a month, a year or a day, is to plan for two thirds of the projects you want to complete. Humans are over confident and that over confidence leads to over commitment and a cycle of procrastination and guilt. Life is also impossible to predict or understand completely, so leaving some room for error is always a good idea–this way if a family catastrophe occurs or you come into a new project you never expected, you have some leeway.

In December I’ll be talking a lot more about creating your plans for the next year, but right now, if you can’t stand your novel, the best thing to do is get ahead by planning out your 2013 now. When December comes around you’ll be happy to find yourself already prepared with the beginnings of a plan–or a detailed plan, depending on how much you hate that novel right now.

10K in 4 Hours?

At my best, when I took this challenge, I reached the 10K easily. The first two or three times I did it, I wrote a little over 12K in the four hours I had been assigned.

This Saturday, I devoted four hours as fully to writing as I was able–and I wrote 8.9K. I’d already been feeling slow this year, but this challenge really brought it home for me. I just can’t keep the pace I used to.

So what changed? It’s not that I became a slower writer. I still type just as quickly as I did then. My story is falling from my fingertips as easily as any novel ever has–maybe even more easily at times.

What changed is not my typing speed or my level of inspiration. It was the condition of my wrists. I’ve struggled with tendonitis in my wrists for several years, but this year the amount of pain peaked after March break, when I spent a week in so much pain that I could barely lift a small bottle of Dr. Pepper. In June I could barely write a page by hand without tears forming in my eyes from the pain.

I spent August with my left wrist–where the pain is worst–in a splint all the time, and I have been splinting when I sleep ever since. While the pain is certainly not as severe as it was in June, some nights it takes all my energy just to write a thousand words, and I find myself having to take more breaks. Once upon a time I could easily write for four hours straight, my only breaks being when I got up to refill my glass. Now I find myself having to take several breaks in those four hours, even after taking painkillers.

What does this mean? It means that I’ll probably never be able to write 300, 000 words in a month again. It means that until my wrists recover–and I don’t think they’ll ever fully heal–I’ll be extremely limited in how much I can write on any given day, and some days I will not be able to write at all. It means that when I’ve worked myself too hard, I’ll know because of the blinding pain in my wrists. It means that some days I’ll have to be careful how I open doors, because if I do it wrong I’ll hurt myself.

And why am I telling you all of this? There are a few reasons. One is to show you why it’s important to take care of yourself. If you start doing regular wrist stretches and invest in a heating pad and a cold compress for when you overwork your wrist muscles before you have tendonitis or carpal tunnel, you’ll stop yourself from developing these issues. And if you do have tendonitis or carpal tunnel, remember to care for yourself so it doesn’t get worse.

The other important reason why I’m telling you this–other than that it’s good fodder for blog posts–is because my failure to hit 10K in four hours means I will be trying this challenge again this Saturday. This Saturday from 2-6PM, I will be trying again to write 10K in four hours. I’m determined to stay focused this time and more determined to prove that I have not been completely conquered by tendonitis.

Of course, since I’m doing the challenge again this weekend, you’re all welcome to try with me. Pick your own hours or write with me in spirit, it’s up to you. If you participate, just leave your username and word count achieved in the comments on this post and you’ll be recognized on my blog.

On account of this being more difficult than I remember, I am changing up the list a little bit. It will now be two lists: one list of those who succeeded, and another list for all those who tried. Just like when you attempt Nanowrimo, failing to meet the official goal doesn’t make you a loser–in fact, you’re a winner just for being brave enough to try. So I’ve decided that everyone brave enough to attempt writing 10K in four hours will get a place of honour on my blog. I’m also hoping this will encourage more people to try, because it’s always more fun with a bigger group.

So, do you think you can write 10K in four hours?

What Makes You Ecstatic About Nanowrimo?

Today’s guest is also the main admin of the Toronto Nanowrimo website, Errol–who is also already a winner with over 50, 000 words!

* * * *

Back in the day, I learned about NaNoWriMo from a Fan Fiction site. It was the most awesome challenge ever and even though I was horribly late, I signed up immediately.

It changed how I did things. It changed how I approached creative projects.

However I am not here to talk about that. I am here to tell you to grasp joy.

Do you remember when you first heard about NaNoWriMo? Do you remember the trepidation, the elation, the first time experiences that brought about the determination to continue doing NaNoWriMo?

Or are you going through it now?

I utterly love NaNoWriMo. I do it every year, and there are so many aspects that I enjoy that I am willing to write songs, craft pep talks, socialize in chats, draw cartoons, anything because it’s a crazy time that I want to celebrate!

And I hope there is some aspect of Nano that gives you that same joy. Or at least did. And if you have ever experienced that elation, grab hold! Remember it! Don’t take it for granted!

If you are having problems, if you are losing motivation, if you’ve lost your drive, remember the encouragement. Remember why you are doing this. Remember the joy you have when writing.

Not that this means it can’t be frustrating. Not that this means it’s not hard work.

But there is something that keeps us doing this. Hold on to that. Never take the good things you enjoy for granted. Celebrate it! Rejoice in it!

Remember that quote from Simon Pegg about geeks?

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. … It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

I am a geek about NaNoWriMo. I will talk to my friends about how awesome it is and not be ashamed of my excitement.

Find those things that make you ecstatic about NaNoWriMo.

And then go finish that novel. 🙂

Bio: Errol Elumir has done NaNoWriMo for 7 years. He is the co-creator of
Nanotoons, he is the co-writer of the
NaNoMusical and he has written 50 thousand
words in 24 hours.

When not fanboying about NaNoWrimo he writes geeky songs
and eats rice.