I won NaNoWriMo!

2022, mental health, writing

Hello!

My first attempt at the NaNoWriMo writing challenge (National Novel Writing Month – 50,000 words in the 30 days of November) was in 2011 – it was for a novel idea which I’d called ‘On The Flipside’ (which I still think is a decent idea, maybe I should come back to it at some point!) but I didn’t put anywhere near enough planning in so I struggled up to 15k and had to call it quits. I was only 15.

In 2012, I won NaNoWriMo with the first novel I finished – ‘Type 3: Hyper-Intelligent’, my zombie apocalypse story was planned in advance and completed during my GCSE mock exams and my best friend at the time had major spinal surgery. It’s one of my proudest achievements to date and whilst I don’t think the story will ever quite see the light of day, it showed me that I had what it takes to plan a full on book.

In the ten years since then (I cannot believe it’s been 10 years), I’ve tried it a few times here and there – I’ve never had the right idea to turn into a full length story, let alone the inclination and motivation to do it and take it to fifty thousand words.

This year wasn’t much different – I was intending to use it as a planning period to flesh out a bunch of ideas that I could turn to next year, but I returned to my usual tactic of finding a thirty day word prompt challenge and writing a bunch of short stories – some barely covered the 1,667 word daily word count goal, some reached three or four days worth of word count. I only ended up using 16 of the 30 word prompts I’d found.

But I did it. 10 years on from my first NaNoWriMo win, I did it again – but not only did I write fifty thousand words, I did it in a month I got married, didn’t write on my mini-moon, my new husband then left to work on the World Cup in Qatar and I sank back into the worst depression I’ve had in my life (being fired in September has actually destroyed my mental health, but that’s a different story).

I hit the word count for three days, took ten days off writing then managed to hit 50k by the 29th – I wrote fifty thousand words in 19 days.

These last couple of months have been incredibly hard – my mental health was hugely suffering at the end of the summer, I changed new meds, I had panic attacks like I’d never had before, and then I got fired which snowballed everything into being a hundred times worse. I’ve not been able to sleep properly, it takes me hours to get out of bed and my anxiety has been manifesting into physical symptoms that make me feel ill 80% of the time.

I’m not looking for pity, but all these things rolled together meant I truly believed I was never going to be able to achieve a challenge like this – with no proper storyline, most of my writing only taking place between 10pm and 2am and barely being able to look after myself like a basic human, it didn’t seem like there was any way I could really do this.

But now I’m more inspired than ever – I did it; I did it 10 years ago in the middle of my exams, I did it this year with over a week of no writing and next year I intend to do it again. Although I intend to write more consistently and frequently next year (the goal is 1000 words a week!), I definitely want to do NaNoWriMo again in some capacity. Maybe it’ll be more short stories, maybe it’ll take an idea I spend the first 10 months of the year planning, who knows! But if I can win NaNo whilst going through all of this, hopefully next year will be a different picture entirely.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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November Goals 2021

2021, goals

Hello!

It’s always going to be a fantastic month with the 1st is on a Monday – my little organisational brain finds it incredibly satisfying and I can’t wait to start my first full month in my new job (at what point do I have to stop saying ‘new’? It’s been three weeks!).

My October Goals were somewhat of a train wreck – I expected to be unemployed the whole month and take some time for myself, work on creative projects and do lots of reading, but I got really depressed and overwhelmed by the concept of being unemployed for an indefinite amount of time and I started a job after only a week of not having one which had a much longer commute than from my bed to my office in the spare room, so time has been short, energy has been low but my mental health is on the way up (I hope!), so I’m cautiously optimistic about November.

Without further ado, these are the five goals I’ll be focusing on this month:

1 – NaNoWriMo

It’s National Novel Writing Month – the time where thousands of people all over the world get square eyes from looking at their laptops and attempt to write 50,000 words in just 30 days.

I saw a wonderful article the other day when I was doing some research on journalling of someone who just used it as incentive to write – he included journalling, blog posts and a fictional story (I believe) in his word count and although I’d love to write a 50,000 word novel this month, I think I want to include some ‘diary’ aspects to my word count too. Though they might not be a diary of my life and they might be relevant to the story, which would be an incredibly fun character development exercise if nothing else.

Wish me luck and tweet me if it looks like I’m not writing!

2 – Update my Portfolio instagram

I really intended to do this when I was unemployed so I could use it to get employed, but I haven’t updated my @salportfolio account in seven months, so I’m going to work on doing a bit catch up then it’ll be much easier to do little updates as and when (assuming I don’t forget about the account again).

3 – Cosplanning

I love the amount of words people mush together to make new words – cosplanning (thank you sibling for the introduction to that one!) is when you plan what cosplays you want to do (cosplay itself is a portmanteau of ‘costume’ and ‘play’, and yes I’m impressed that I used the word ‘portmanteau’ too).

I’ve spent all year saying I’m working on a cosplay, but I’ve spent all year putting it off but with the creation of the Mystery Machine prop for an office Halloween costume (see in my ‘Treasured In… October 2021‘ post), I’m feeling very creative and inspired but I want to properly evaluate what I’m capable of (both in terms of skill and the time I can dedicate) and figure out at least one costume to wear to MCM ComicCon next May. I have plenty of time, but if I’m doing it I want to do it well.

4 – Wedding Planning

As of November 5th, there’s less than a year till our wedding and it still doesn’t feel real! I feel like I’ve booked all the ‘big’ things but hopefully we’ll get really stuck in to working with the venue soon and it’ll start to come to life!

This month I want to review my goals for 2021 and work on anything that needs ticking off, particularly figuring out our finances in regard to the wedding and really knuckling down with the saving!

5 – Southampton trip

And with our anniversary in mind – my fiancé and I met in halls when we both went to Solent University in Southampton in 2015 so I thought for our last year before the wedding it would be nice to make a trip. We can’t go for our anniversary weekend but we’re tying it in with the release of a film we’re really excited about and we’re going to go to all our favourite old spots including Sprinkles Gelato for waffles, Forbidden Planet for nerd merch and maybe even wonder on down to the docks.

We’ve not been able to do any of the travelling we wanted to do this year, so I’m really looking forward to this weekend!


Starting a new job which involves two 45+ minute drives every day is exhausting – and don’t get me wrong, I am exhausted – but I’m working so much harder on planning my time and prioritising what’s important to me. I save admin tasks like wedding stuff and finance tracking for days my partner is away with work so we can play video games and watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ when he is home. Sometimes I delete things off my to do list in favour of having a quiet night watching ‘House’ and doing some cross stitch because there’s no point spending three hours doing a task that will take one when I’m in the right mindset.

I’m always getting to know myself better (as we all are, I think!) and learning to adjust and work with myself rather than berating myself and burning out.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

prepping for NaNoWriMo

2021, writing

Hello!

As, somehow, October slips further and further away from us, the creative writing community becomes acutely more aware that NaNoWriMo is creeping closer.

NaNoWriMo is the thirty day writing challenge where the only goal is to write 50,000 words – 1,667 words a day. It’s the reason I do my ‘training’ writing challenges throughout the year – to keep myself writing so I have ever so slightly better chance of actually making it to 50k!

So far, I’ve only done it once but I’ve tried several times and I still adore creative writing and maybe this year will be different? But even if I don’t get to 50k, whatever I do achieve is more writing than I would have done otherwise so I’ve never thought of it as ‘losing’ NaNoWriMo – if a runner doesn’t finish a marathon, they’ve still run at least some of the way and it’s an achievement none the less!

Here’s my top 3 tips to prepare for NaNoWriMo:

One – have at least a vague plan:

I know, it sounds really obvious, but I’ve tried a couple of times to go in blind and figure it out as I go along and no matter how excited I am about an idea, I always lose momentum because I don’t have time to do the slow logistic bit when I’m trying to write 1,667 words a day.

The whole point of NaNo (at least from my point of view) is putting together a word-vomit-esque first draft – it’s not for polished words, it’s not for a perfect story, it’s to get words on paper and what you do with them afterwards is of your own choosing. Anyone who’s writing a perfect first draft by writing 1,667 words a day is a genius (or a full time writer, who knows).

Two – time management is key:

Fitting in writing 50,000 words around daily life – full time job, keeping the house clean and tidy, having a social life etc – is a mission. I usually fall into the trap of doing all my writing between 10pm and midnight in bed and it ruins my sleep schedule.

I find calendar blocking the most effective way to organise my time – I use Google calendar to plan when I’m going to do my tasks at work then I generally just use a piece of paper to roughly plan how I’m going to spend my evenings and weekends.

Another thing I’m going to try for the first time this year, is using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word (is that controversial?). We used Google for everything in my last job and being able to log in to any device and pick up where I left off could be really helpful this year where I’m working full time and commuting for nearly 2 hours a day.

Even just having somewhere to jot down any notes or ideas when I’m on the go (obvs not when I’m driving) and not having to make sure I have the most up to date version of the doc on whatever device I’m using will be really convenient.

It’s super nerdy to be excited about trying a new software for NaNoWriMo, isn’t it?

Three – take the pressure off:

Like I said – the goal is 50k but anything written is more words than you would have written if you hadn’t tried, so not meeting the goal of this challenge (i.e. it’s difficult!) isn’t the be all and end all.

In one of my previous challenges this year, I managed to write at least something every day and that’s the mentality I’m going into WriMo this year with. Even if I only manage 100 words on my lunch break, if I can write consistently for 30 days that means more to me than the word count.

The other thing is to not put any pressure on what you’re writing – sometimes when I sit down to write, I’m ready to craft a new story, come up with new characters and get to know them, but sometimes all I want to do is write fanfiction of whatever show or movie I’ve watched recently and that’s fine! Writing is writing.


I feel a little more mentally prepared for November this year – I’ve been vaguely thinking about what I’m going to write for WriMo for a few months and I’m actually excited about what I’m going to work on. Will I fall back on writing superhero fanfiction within a week or two? Almost certainly, but writing a little every day is my focus and as long as I don’t resort to including my shopping list in my word count, it’s all good with me!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

how I wrote 30,000 words while working full time

2021, goals, writing

Hello!

When I was in it, it didn’t feel like January was that busy but looking back? I started a new full time job, I did really well with my January Goals, I read 4 books and I even made a more consistent effort at going for walks! As well as finishing a 30,000 word creative writing challenge!

I did my first NaNoWriMo challenge in 2011, where I attempted to write 50,000 words in a month (I managed 15k but I was 15 so I think it was still a good attempt!) and I fell off the creative writing wagon when I didn’t have the same evening downtime when I moved to uni and I’ve been trying to make it more of a habit since NaNoWriMo 2017.

For the last two years or so I’ve been doing writing challenge every few months to keep me writing and give myself a goal, because I find it way easier to ‘write X number of words a day’ than to just task myself with writing.

So this year I planned a 30k writing challenge for January, 35k for April, 40k for July, 45k for September and the traditional 50k for NaNoWriMo in November. I knew I was going to need practice to write daily (or the equivalent of daily) in that quantity whilst navigating my first proper career job and for the first challenge for the year, I smashed it!

Here are some of the things that I really think helped me hit my goal for the month.

Having a spreadsheet with my daily word goal made it really clear what targets I needed to hit when and having this visible when I was writing meant I didn’t spend half my time clicking between tabs checking to see how much more I needed to write (might be a me thing, but I’m always looking to be able to tick things off lists!).

Although it probably didn’t help my sleep schedule, I found going up to bed a little early and writing up there whilst my boyfriend played video games downstairs much easier to concentrate. If we had more rooms in our house I would have worked at a desk or something but currently my options are living room or bedroom! My word target was only 968 words per day (compared to NaNoWriMo’s 1667), so if I was feeling inspired I could write it in about an hour and then I’d snuggle into bed with my book and then watch the Repair Shop with my boy until we fall asleep. Lovely!

I’m not someone who can usually work with music – even when I was studying for school exams, I couldn’t study to music with lyrics because I’d get distracted by the words and inevitably end up singing along and not taking in any of the biology revision I was doing. I’ve gotten worse at multitasking since then and I get very easily distracted now, but I’ve found some brilliant playlists over the course of this month – magical instrumentals, lofi hip hop music – beats on relax/study to and ambient relaxation are great instrumental playlists and my current personal favourite is main character because they’re songs that everyone can pretend they’re in that bit in a movie where it’s a montage of the main character being sad or something. Also most of the songs are used in lots of tiktoks so it’s a lot of ‘oh it’s that song’.

It’s not been easy – there’s been a lot of late night writing sessions and yesterday when I had less than 1000 words to go I really struggled with motivation but I did it and it feels amazing.

I decided yesterday I want to start work on a new original novel for NaNoWriMo this year and I feel super motivated now!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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NaNoWriMo 2020… how’d it go?

2020, creativity, writing

Hello!

I feel like I’ve been talking about NaNoWriMo all year – with doing writing challenges every other month to ‘train’ for the 50,000 word challenge in November. But it didn’t go quite as expected…

My intention was to write the final draft of the novel I started eight years ago in my first (and only ‘winning’) NaNo – but then I ended up using the story of my novel for my masters dissertation project and the thought of having anything to do with it so soon after handing in was too much for my little anxious brain to handle.

I decided very early on that I was going to write some fun fanfiction instead – I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter cosplay tiktok and I was super inspired to write something, so I took that inspiration and went with it.

The other barrier I faced was again my dissertation project – I got a one week extension due to my mental health so my deadline wasn’t until November 5th, thus meaning I couldn’t think about anything else until it was done (still SO PROUD that I did it!). I didn’t start writing until the 7th of November and I calculated that I only needed to write just over 2000 words a day to finish on time, as opposed to the usual 1667 words.

I started writing and as my days were significantly emptier without a big uni project, I managed to catch up relatively quickly. At my most productive, I wrote 4000 words in a day but I was feeling really good – I was writing about characters I already knew and loved without the pressure of writing something good, original and ‘final’ in my own novel project.

I enjoyed writing again! With my fiancé still being away with work 3-5 nights a week (despite a national lockdown, because watching a bunch of grown men play rugby is so important…), I could really focus on writing and I got into a good routine. Not a healthy routine, as most of my writing was done between 10pm-1am from the comfort of my bed, but I was writing and that was the important bit.

In the last week or so, momentum tailed off – I don’t think I’d really given myself the time to mentally recover from my dissertation hand in but I’d been preparing for NaNoWriMo all year and I really wanted to do it. Thousands of words a day turned to hundreds of words a day and staring at a screen for hours whilst I felt like my original characters were sticking their tongues out at me.

In the end, I made it so-close-but-not-close-enough at just over 47,000 words between the 7th and 30th of November. If I’d even written a few words in the days I was finishing my dissertation, I’m sure I would have been able to do it, but we can’t change the past, we can only learn! And I still wrote forty seven thousand bloody words!

NaNoWriMo this year was a real experience for everyone participating – it was unusual circumstances, motivation and inspiration are running at an all time low and though in theory people have ‘more time’ because we’re staying home more, it doesn’t mean there was enough mental brain space to really write like life is normal.

I do feel more motivated than ever to really ‘win’ next year – I’ve got my monthly training challenges all planned out, I’ll probably stick with writing fanfiction because it’s fun to experiment and control characters I love (though that makes it sound much more sinister than it is) and NaNoWrimo 2021 is going to be my year – my first win since 2012!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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October Goals

2020, goals

Hello!

Another month, another fresh start, another new set of goals!

September was potentially the least productive month I’ve ever had in terms of my goals – I achieved maybe 1 of 5 and even then that was half of one and half of another but I’m not going to dwell on it; I’m going to use what went wrong to learn how to be better this month and adjust my goals accordingly!

Last month was incredibly busy and this month I actually have nothing planned, which is probably for the best because my dissertation is due in less than four weeks now (eek!) so I need to figure myself out and finally finish this masters (though I’m reluctant to call it that because I’ve definitely not learnt anything to a masters level).

So this is what I’m going to focus on this month:

  • hand in my dissertation project – the deadline is October 29th and I’m not taking any more extensions, I’m 100% so done with this course and I just need it to be over. Next month I finally won’t be a student any more!
  • exercise twice a week – with the state of my mental health, exercising has been really hard to motivate myself to do so I’m hoping if I can just manage twice a week whether it’s running, doing a home workout on one of the many apps I have, a yoga video or even a dance video on YouTube, just twice a week feels achievable (I hope?).
  • practice self care and get back to a routine – I really haven’t been very good at looking after myself recently; my sleep schedule has gone out the window, my skin is a mess, I haven’t read a book in a month, my motivation is low and my productivity is gone. For the sake of my mental wellness and actually getting my dissertation done, I need to make the time to look after myself and get things done. I’m making more of an effort with skincare and my routines as well as taking more notice of how I make my to do lists and scheduling my time to tackle the feelings of being overwhelmed that I’m struggling with! I think that’s a pretty good place to start.
  • start and finish my new cross stitch project – as well as all kinds of routine, I’ve not made much time for crafting recently which is so sad because it has such a positive impact on my mental health. I have a specific project in mind that I want to do this month so setting that specific goal might help me actually achieve it!
  • finish planning the redraft of my book – November’s NaNoWriMo is going to roll around faster than I expect I’m sure! I’ve got about 11 chapters left to plan so I’m feeling pretty good about having my plan ready to finish the draft of this book by the end of the year!

And my additional monthly goals for the year of date night and read a book are still standing! September was so bad that I didn’t even manage to finish reading one book so I’m hoping to finish what I’m reading and find something I’m really excited about to kick start the habit again!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2020, fitness, goals, writing

Hello!

Another month, another set of mini goals to work towards! Having reviewed my goals for the year and looked back on my June goals, in July I’m really working towards stripping things back, focusing on what’s important to me right now and setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound… I think).

Hopefully with the weather being a bit brighter and restrictions easing things might feel like they’re a bit closer to getting back to ‘normal’, but I’d rather be safe than shopping so taking things day by day!

Hopefully my July goals are SMART enough to make some progress! These are my goals for the month:

  • Start Couch to 5k again – it’s been over a year since I stopped the Couch to 5k program and I think I’m ready to start again. I’m going to aim for the three runs a week that the program suggests and even if I just start by doing laps around the park just to stay flat (there’s a lot of hills where I live) trying is the important bit. I’m nervous but determined!
  • Weigh less at the end of the month than at the beginning – hand in hand with the running, I’m going to try and do some at home workouts, be more mindful about what I eat, stop snacking and generally train my body into healthier habits. Lockdown has set me back almost to my heaviest weight in 2018 (which I’m trying not to beat myself up for) so I want to make some positive change.
  • Declutter my desk work space – our little house isn’t really designed for at home working but things have gotten so cluttered that I feel more stressed about it than it helps me get work done. I want to try and do a little bit every week to make the space less intimidating and more productive, even if it just means tidying it up a little bit.
  • Writing challenge – 36,000 words – every other month this year I’ve been setting myself writing challenges working towards NaNoWriMo in November (an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days!). Each month I do a writing challenge the goal is a little bit higher to get myself into the habit of writing a certain number of words per day. May’s challenge went really well so I’m hoping for the same kind of success in July, but simultaneously not putting too much pressure on myself. I have a Camp NaNoWriMo profile if anyone else is participating!
  • Craft goals – sew four face masks, finish knitting project, start new cross stitch project – I’ve written before about how handmade sewing related crafts, particularly cross stitch, have brought me such joy in lockdown so I thought setting myself some little goals would help keep me focused. Taking the decision element out of anything means I’m more likely to do it so rather than being faced with a box of embroidery thread and no direction, having something to work towards will definitely help me relax. At least, I hope it does…

And then my ongoing monthly tasks of have a date night and read at least one book still stand but I’ve managed six months with date nights and I’ve read 26 books so far this year so I think these two will be okay.

My motivation has been pretty bare minimum last month so I’m hoping to try and work to more of a routine in July. But with the world being so uncertain and changing so much, being adaptable and not putting too much pressure on myself is the main focus.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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November Goals ’19

2019, goals, lifestyle, organisation, writing

Hello!

How is it nearly the end of the year? My favourite month September went by in a FLASH and now it’s November and I feel like time is going by quicker than I can keep track of it! Not that I’m complaining – I’m getting better at handling the passing of time and I’m getting excited about the prospect of the future and a career again.

Rambles aside, it’s time for a new set of monthly goals – if nothing springs to mind I always refer back to my goals for the year that I set in January which helps me focus and make progress on my mid-term goals. Little top tip for you there! If you’d like a post about how I set goals then please do let me know, this is something I’d love to pursue but I feel like I haven’t achieved enough to warrant making this an aspect of my career.

I’m rambling again! Onto the goals…

One – be more productive with uni work
I don’t mean in the ‘getting more done’ sense, I mean working more consistently and achieving more in the long run if that makes sense. At the moment, I’m slowly trucking away and then I have to work just that little bit harder in the two or three days before an assignment is due to finish off. Even if I spread that work out over a week, I can work in shorter periods and get more done and work on more assignments at a time.

To implement this (another goal setting time – don’t just make goals, plan how to achieve them!) I think I need to start breaking my time down into more scheduled chunks. I’ve always been against this because I’ve taken the mindset that a task will take however long it takes but if I’m spending hours dragging my feet through one task, I’d probably be better off going and doing something else and coming back to it. SO if I set myself an hour of working on one assignment and then I’m going to spend an hour doing some reading for another unit and then an hour writing blog posts then I’ve at least made some progress in all three elements rather than taking all day to reach the point I wanted on a certain assignment.

Two – settle into my new job and the new routine
Getting a job has taken longer than I anticipated because I spent so long looking for jobs in the place where we were going to move and then we ended up moving somewhere else and then there was complications with my applications in the place we actually move to then there were complications with start dates but I’m finally due to start my new retail job next week.

I’ve made this one of my goals because my original intention was not to work in retail – I wanted an office job where I could refine my admin skills, but I just don’t really know where to look and the job I now have actually fits really well with where we live and where my boyfriend works so I just need to give myself permission to potentially enjoy it. I think I might be working in the homeware department so that’s always exciting!

Three – eat a bit more healthily and track my weight again
Now that we’ve moved and I’ve got a bit more control about what I’m eating (and I’ve rediscovered how much I love vegetables) I feel ready to start making small life changes to get back to the healthier lifestyle I had this time last year.

Being brutally hones, I’ve put on about seven pounds since my lowest weight of this year but you know what? That’s really not a massive setback and I can see lots of really obvious habits in my life that I can adapt so I’m looking forward to the challenge in a way.

Four – finish two books!
I made a good dent in catching up on my reading goal of 12 books for the year in September/October but fell off the wagon a bit with moving stress but I’d really like to be back on track by the beginning of December.

I’m currently reading ‘Our Stop’ by Laura Jane Williams and next I’ll be reading ‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F. E. Higgins.

Five – NaNoWriMo/write every day
And last but not least – another writing challenge! This is what I’ve been training for all year and I actually don’t feel prepared at all but as with the first week of any writing challenge I do, I’m excited – the key now it’s to maintain that momentum.

Although the goal is to hit 50,000 words, I’m not too fussed about the word count because I haven’t had the time to plan the novel redraft that I wanted to write, I’ve got a masters to get and a life to deal with but my focus is making writing a habit. I will be writing a combination of my original novel, a bit of fanfiction and some creative writing exercises just to get words on paper. I did consider including blog posts and any uni writing I have to do but I feel like that’s taking the mick a little bit!

My wrimo profile is sophiecountsclouds, if anyone wants to add me!

So those are my focuses for November! Writing these posts always motivates me – I love a new start and a new month just gives me a little boost and after how hectic October was, I needed that.

Bonus question – I started drafting a blog post during the week of a ‘day in the life of a masters student’ and I started feeling very insecure about whether this would actually be interesting to anyone? So let me know if you have any thoughts on that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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October Goals 2019!

2019, goals, student

Hello!

I swear September just didn’t happen? It’s gone before I could really settle into it and it really has been an absolute whirlwind – mostly stress and busy-ness and driving more than I could have possibly imagined driving. I didn’t achieve many of my September Goals because everything was just so manic but I’m rolling with it and using it to make my October Goals more successful! Let’s jump straight in

1. Plan time and stick to it

Having gone back to uni full time and knowing I need to get a part-time job as well as dealing with trying to rent a house and car insurance and hire cars etc, I know now more than ever that planning my time and sticking to it as much as possible is crucial to making sure I get everything done.

Whilst we’re waiting to move, it’s going to be hard and stressful because I’m so overwhelmed but I can only try my best and that’s the important bit.

2. Less frivolous spending

September was tough – preparing to move, then not moving, and having birthday money and sad spending, my bank account is in dire need of a rest.

I’ve been good at taking packed lunches to uni and trying not to spend unnecessarily but when someone suggests Wetherspoons it’s hard to resist! It’s a work in progress but October is a fresh slate and I can only learn from my mistakes!

3. Plan for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo standings for National Novel Writing Month, I’ve been doing little writing challenges all year to ‘train’ for it and to be honest I don’t feel ready at all so over October I want to plan what I’m doing, plan some backup writing and maybe some prompts for the less inspired days, make sure my account is all set up and link to the ‘planning time effectively’ goal to make sure I can actually give it a fair shot!

4. Move house!

I’ve only mentioned it about three billion times but moving has been a journey and HOPEFULLY (cross all your fingers for us!) we’ll be moving in the middle of October and I need to plan everything.

Prepare for lots of house content! Hopefully! If we actually get to move!

5. Play Overwatch on Switch but moderately

Overwatch is my favourite video game and thus far I’ve only really enjoyed playing on X Box (PC gaming just isn’t for me) but they announced earlier this year that they were releasing it on Switch and I preordered it immediately and I can’t wait for it to come out but it’s meant to be the day we move into the new house so I need to make sure I don’t get caught in a loop of avoiding all my other responsibilities to play this game. Because that’s what happened when I got Pokemon Moon and it didn’t do well for my uni work.

But similarly I also want to give myself time to chill and enjoy this game so that’s important too!

And that’s the plan for the month! A lot happened in September and I feel like I just need to strip it all back, but it might take until November before I feel really settled in our new place and can relax a bit but that’s when the assignments are really going to start piling up so we’ll see how that goes.

Any tips, tricks or words of encouragement would be much appreciated right now because I am a ball of stress!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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training to write a book

2019, books, goals, writing

Hello!

For four of the seven months of this year so far, I’ve set myself ‘writing challengers’ of writing a certain amount of words in so many days. It started at 20k, then 25k, 30k, 35k and in August I’m aiming to write 40,000 words.

All of this is my way of training myself to write an increasing amount of words per day to work up to the 50,000 words in 30 days that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – an online community aiming to write a novel in a month!).

My history with creative writing started all the way back in October 2008 when I was on a family holiday and I found a loose tile at the bottom of the swimming pool and I was inspired to write my own story inspired by the characters in BBC’s Merlin (what a throwback) so my journey with fanfiction began.

From there, I was writing every single night sat in front of the TV with my family – whether it be a notebook, my laptop or my iPad I was always writing from 2008 all the way through to 2015 really when I left for uni. In 2011 I gave my first attempt at NaNoWriMo but only made it to the 15/16k mark – in 2012 I won NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of my novel that one day I’ve vowed to publish and I’ve told my best friend Katy she can play the lead female character when it gets made into a film too so I’ve got to keep that promise.

Then I went to uni. And I spent evenings with friends rather than alone watching TV and writing fanfiction and developing my own novel – at various points over my degree I tried to get back into it but I just didn’t have the time or the motivation to properly invest myself in writing again.

And then came the year after I graduated where I couldn’t get a job to start my career and I’m back in my childhood bedroom but I’m 22 and my long term boyfriend is with me.

Either way, I had much more time to dedicate to writing! I tried NaNoWriMo again in 2018 but it really is a challenge, however it gave me the drive to rediscover what I loved about creative writing and get back into it – thus the monthly challenges training for WriMo begin!

The challenges have been a mixed bag so far – the first one went really well, the other one was a complete failure, the third one started well but I fell behind a little a caught up in the early days of the following month. The most recent challenge I didn’t really start writing until about a week in and somehow I pulled it back and finished a whopping 35,000 words in July ready to jump straight into 40,000 words in August!

What I’ve found in the last three months works really well is using fanfiction and writing prompts just to get myself writing anything – having 30 prompts to write short little excerpts with characters I’m already familiar with and haven’t had to design has really got me in the right mindset and excited about delving into my own characters again in November where I’m hoping to finish draft 2 of my original winning novel seven years down the line!

In June I used Carrie Hope Fletcher’s May, Myself and I words as prompts, in July I used Hannah Witton’s Dear June and for August my darling, hilarious boyfriend has written 31 prompts for me to follow. I’m genuinely surprised that they were so thoughtful – I’ve got a good boy that will endorse my little writing challenges and I don’t know about you, but I think I have the best boyfriend (he’s my favourite team mate).

That’s a little summary of how I’ve been training for NaNoWriMo this year – creative writing has been my biggest outlet since I was 12 years old. In my worst moments, I take my feelings and vent them out in fiction and it just make everything feel much less isolating – especially back in the days where I shared my fanfiction and I got so much positive feedback from pieces that were written from the heart and that’s always been how I write. For my blog, for my creative writing – I want everything I write to sound genuine and conversational and I think I’ve done that fairly successfully.

There’s still three months until NaNoWriMo begins but I’m already excited!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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