#NaNoWriMo – Week 4

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I did it! I actually went and bloody did it. Here are my stats now that I’ve completed NaNoWriMo2016.

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As you can see from the graph, I finished on November 28th and officially wrote 50,000 words. It was touch and go as to whether I made it to the word count because, not only was I really busy in my private life, but I also developed a chest infection in the last few days, which really hindered my ability to write. I’m thankful I pushed on through though, because now I can say I’ve won NaNoWriMo two years running.

I didn’t actually complete my story, which is the weird thing. I never think about my stories or novels to be particularly long. Even last year when I wrote The Last Four Years, my story finished, quite appropriately around 50,000 words. So when I realised I had only written half of my story at 50k, I knew that with the finished product, I was going to be in for some serious editing! That being said, I really enjoyed the idea that I was writing, but for now I’m going to put it aside and mull it over rather than push myself at the same pace.

I have started thinking about another project that I ideally want to work on this coming April for CampNaNoWriMo, but that is five months away! I’ve realised just how important it is to have a plan, but sometimes, even if you have an outline or a structure, sometimes it’s not enough. I’ve learned to write where my heart takes me and worry about filling in the blanks later, because those blanks might just end up filling themselves over time.

I can happily say that this NaNoWriMo was very educational and productive indeed. I would like to thank NaNoWriMo and the whole team behind the event and also my writing buddies who kept me going. You are the unsung heroes of a writer’s life!

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#NaNoWriMo – Week 3

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Apologies for being slightly late with week three’s update. Life seems to have run away with me at the moment, but despite this I’m still making good progress. Let’s see how I’ve been doing.

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I’m yet to complete my words for today (23rd) but I’m confident that I will by midnight at the latest. I have passed the 30k mark, and even the 35k mark as well, and I am ever nearing the 40k mark with each day. As I said last week, I wanted to have 40k by the end of week three and I’m almost there, so only over 10k left to write in the last week. I’m confident that I can win NaNoWriMo again this year.

I’ve been continuing to jump around with scenes which has really freed me up and helped me get the words down. It’s also helped me flesh out the other scenes that I haven’t had at the forefront of my mind just yet. I’m still not even half way through my story and so I’m thinking my final product is going to be much longer than 50k. It will be the longest story I’ve every written, as the most I’ve ever achieved is 50k, which was last year’s effort titled The Last Four Years.

So we’re coming into the fourth and final week, and I’m hoping to just continue writing as much as possible each day. I don’t want to worry about writing loads and loads each day, as long as I can get the daily word count done, I’ll be happy. So 50k is the goal regardless of whether my story is finished or not. I’ll have plenty of time to finish it over Christmas.

Here’s to the last week!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 2

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We are officially half way through NaNoWriMo2016 which is a crazy, crazy thought. Let’s see if I’m on track to win by the end of the month. week2

I’m a day late in posting this update because I was consumed by writing last night. I have still been struggling with some scenes, and although I wanted to write the story in it’s linear timeline, I’ve decided it would be best if I jumped to the scenes that were burning at the forefront of my mind.

Whilst I’ve been mulling over this story, there have been scenes that I’ve had ready to be written, so I think it’s the best for my progress to write those scenes down first and then fill in the blanks. It certainly helps with my word count and it stops me from feeling blocked when trying to write other scenes.

I successfully reached 25,000 words on the 15th day which means I’m on target to win by the 30th. I’m not half way through my story yet, probably a third, so I’m expecting the finished product to be at least 60,000 words, which will be the most I’ve ever written for a manuscript. I don’t think I’ll complete 60k by the end of November, but I’m sure the story won’t be 100% finished by the 30th.

By the end of week three, I’d ideally like to have achieved 40,000 words, leaving a leisurely 10,000 words for the last week, but I’m not sure whether that will happen. I’ll strive for it though. That’s all I can do.

Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2016

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I never thought I would ever finish my book, let alone have written two before I turned 25. That’s a crazy achievement for me, and it’s all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Four years before I first participated, the thought of doing a month long writing sprint filled me with anxiety. But once I found ways to prepare and manage my idea, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. So here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.

  • Find an idea you’re happy with

Writing your novel won’t be enjoyable unless you genuinely like what you’re writing! If you’re stuck for ideas, or simply want some help to guide you through the writers block, see my blog post on writing a book here.

  • Make an outline

Some people are pants-ers, some people are planners. I am personally a planner, and I feel so much more relaxed when I have an outline of a scene in my head ready to be written. Sometimes I’ll even write the dialogue in script form, just so I can get it down on the page and then convert it to prose later on.

  • Make a schedule

This is coming from a certified planner! However, designating time in your day to sit down and write will help you achieve the 1,667 words you need to win. It could be an hour before you go to work, on your commute, during your lunch break, after work or even before bed. I always find I work better in the late afternoons/evenings, so I always make sure I’m sitting poised and ready to write by then.

  • Enter in your novel

On the NaNoWriMo website, you can start entering in your novel from early October. The sooner you do it, the more committed you will be to the project. You can even upload a book cover as well, so until November comes you can get creative and make something that fully represents the novel you intend to write.

  • Add your friends!

Something that kept me going during the first NaNoWriMo I did was seeing how my friends were progressing throughout the month. Whether it’s a healthy competition or just checking in and talking through ideas, having friends by your side always makes the experience more enjoyable.

Add me to your buddy list here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/clareholmanhobbs

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Either add me to the buddy list or let me know down in the comments what you intend on writing this year. Happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th. Each participant aims to write 50,000 words in a month, which averages out at 1,667 words a day. You can find all the information on the project at the website: nanowrimo.org

Promises and Wishes: 2015 Edition

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On Christmas Eve 2014, I wrote a blog post titled Promises and Wishes, where I looked back on my university bucket list that I’d written three years prior. In the same post, I also made a 2015 to-do list of things I wanted to achieve by the end of the year.

As most of you know, the past year and a half has been very difficult for me. A year ago when I first wrote my Promises and Wishes post, I was five months into my recovery having been diagnosed with severe depression and an anxiety disorder. Since that post, I have completed 16 weeks of talking therapy and have just begun a cognitive behavioural therapy-based support group. I’m still on medication, I’m still struggling, but I’m winning the battle every day, and am that step closer to winning the war against my disorders and illness.

That being said, let’s look back and see what I wanted to achieve this year and whether I did or not.

  • Learn to manage my depression and anxiety.

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Sometimes meditating on a candle can be all you need to relax.

TICK. Although this is quite a difficult thing to measure, I’m beginning to know my own mind, know my triggers, not rely on safety seeking behaviours and find the courage to be more assertive, both emotionally and mentally. To be able to say that, and mean it, is a massive achievement for me.

  • Buy some trainers and take up running. 

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A photograph of the haul where I bought my trainers.

TICK. Well, half a tick. I bought some trainers and I TRIED to take up running, but unfortunately after my first run I conveniently had a panic attack afterwards. My energy levels are something I struggle with on a day to day basis, and I don’t think I’m at the stage of my recovery where I can successfully go for a run without doing some major damage. Regardless, I bought some trainers, gave it a go and saved the idea for when I’m a bit further down the road. (see what I did there?)

  • Do something that scares me. 

Wake up every day? Adult successfully? Do things by myself? Yes, I do things that scare me everyday. Once again, this one is hard to measure. Not sure if I have, or haven’t achieved it.

  • Learn to Knit.

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Mum’s scarf.

TICK. I actually learnt to knit. I knitted a whole scarf for my Mum who wears it with pride, especially now it’s winter.

  • Get better at French.

No tick. Don’t ask.

  • Pass my driving test.

Still, no. I have paused my driving lessons for the time being because my coordination isn’t good as a result of my medication (and is kind of a fundamental skill for driving), so once I am figuratively and literally further down the road of recovery, I shall pass and go on a road trip… probably… maybe not.

  • To finish The Last Four Years.

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The last day of progress on The Last Four Years.

TICK. BIG TICK. BIGGEST TICK EVER. Not only did I structure my story as a screenplay, I also completed NaNoWriMo and achieved 50,000. Doing NaNo was such an amazing tool to explore my story more and I found that I was really writing my best work. You can read about my progress here.

  • Get another piercing.

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The day I got my piercing done.

TICK. I got a labret piercing in February.

  • Get another tattoo.

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The day I got my tattoo done. 

TICK. I got a semi colon tattoo which donated money and services in aid of Mental Health charities and for the Mental Health Awareness Campaign.


So, I think it’s safe to say I had a pretty successful year in terms of goals. Now, let’s start as we mean to go on and look at what I hope to achieve by the end of 2016.

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.
  • GET BETTER AT FRENCH.
  • Start sending The Last Four Years out to literary agents.
  • Finishing structuring/plotting the next big idea.
  • Begin volunteering somewhere, even if it’s just an hour a week.
  • Come down on my medication dosage, as I think it’s contributing, at least some, towards my lack of energy. (Although a hefty dose of depression is enough…)
  • Write more blogs.

I’ll probably make some more along the way, but for now that seems like a decent, achievable amount of goals to have. I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season and has a fantastic time full of food, family and frivolities!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 4

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I am so happy to say: I WON!

Yes, last night at approximately 11:50pm I reached fifty thousand words and won this year’s November writing challenge. Here’s the graph to see my progress:

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My aim was the use the last week and the ten thousand remaining words that I had to flesh out areas of part three of my story that I had glossed over in the linear writing process. This included clarifying extra description, dialogue, ironing our any errors or lump sentences, which I achieved. I also added a prologue and epilogue, just to amp up the mystery element to my story which I felt was lacking as I re-read through.

I found this last week incredibly difficult because I felt as though I had really run out of steam, and pushing myself to write every day when I had little mental energy was incredibly challenging, but I’m so glad I persevered because I can now say I’ve got a first draft of a novel and I won my first ever NaNoWriMo year. Cheers to that!

#NaNoWriMo – Week 3

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We are on the home stretch, WriMos! And what a week it’s been. Let’s look at the stats to see how we did:

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My goal was to reach forty thousand words by the end of this week which I’m happy to say that I achieved. At the end of last week, I got through to the end of part two of my story, and so this week I embarked on writing part three which I also finished.

Although I’ve come to the end of my story, linear speaking, I’ve been aiming to write the bare bones of my story for far, and so have spent the last two or three days going back through my story and fleshing out areas with extra description and characterisation that I skimmed over in my first draft. Once again, this took me up to the end of part two once again, and so for the last week of NaNoWriMo, I’ll look at polishing off part three.

I’m so proud of everyone who has reached their winning stage of NaNoWriMo. Everyone who has been taking part has done so well, but even if you haven’t reached your personal writing goals, know that you wrote more this month than you would have, had you not been participating. In my eyes, everyone is a winner!