Author Archives: Grace Tierney

NaNoWriMo – Week Three – Going Crazy by Grace Tierney

A writing friend accused me yesterday of borrowing Hermione Grainger’s time-turner in order to write this much in one month. I would love a time-turner!

I’m just back in the door from our region’s Sunday Night Write-in. I wrote 550 words, which is a help as yet again I’m behind on word-count. I’ve got 28,788 words written. I’m 5000 words off target.

Those are 28,788 words I probably wouldn’t have written this month without NaNo. It’s ten thousand more than I wrote in 2007 when I tried NaNo for the first time. But it’s not enough. This time last year I had already passed the 50,000 word finish line. My final word count was 74,000 words in 2010. But I wasn’t working part-time in 2010. I wasn’t training to become a Beaver scout leader. And I didn’t have mid-term or my entire immediate family falling ill during November either.

That’s the problem with a month-long writing challenge. Life happens during the month, whether you like it or not.

I asked my writers tonight to sum up their week three. “Like a cyclone”, “mental – but good”, “hellish”.  So much for my theory that week three is a dream, an easy run-in to the final finish-line. That only works if you’re well on top of your word count, and most of us aren’t.

However spirits remain high. We’ve cheered on the writers who’ve passed the halfway point this week (well done Maera, Barroc, Scribblerbug, MariaM, MariaH and others). We’re all still confident that we can manage the 50K by midnight on November 30th. In fact I’m going to host a “woo-hoo, we did it” chat on our regional NaNoWriMo forum just after midnight, as I’m convinced I’ll write up to the wire.

That deadline is the whole point of NaNo really. Having a deadline makes you write. Every reporter knows that.

So tonight we worked out how we’d like to celebrate finishing NaNo. We’ll be throwing a traditional Thank Goodness It’s Over Party (or TGIO) on the 1st of December. It’s a social gathering, where for once we don’t write. We’ll swop war-stories of late-night writing, ignored housework, and runaway plots. We’ll rejoice that the month is over and think about the draft completion, revisions, and editing which lie ahead for those of us who write year-round.

December 1st is just ten days away. Thanks to tonight’s brain-storming – as a writer I have clues to lead my heroes to the treasure and the final showdown with the grave-robbers, and as a Municipal Liaison for Ireland NorthEast I have a time, date, and venue for our TGIO parties, both online and virtual. Ten days. 20,662 words still to write. Me, my laptop, and my imagination. Wish me luck.

Grace Tierney (www.gracetierney.com) writes in Meath. Her work has been published internationally in print and online. She is the Ireland North East organiser for Nano (www.NaNoWriMo.org) and actually enjoys the challenge of writing 50,000 words in just one month. After Nano 2011 she will complete her second chick-lit novel. She blogs on unusual words at http://wordfoolery.wordpress.com/.

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NaNoWriMo – Week Two – The Art of Catch Up by Grace Tierney

Haven’t started yet? Way behind on word-count?

Me too. Which is why I tried all the Nano Tricks this week.

  1. I went to the Write-In

This is an in-person meeting of writers from the same region where we sit around, chat a little, and write a lot. It’s like a date with your novel. The Nano statistics elves claim attending write-ins massively increases your chances of writing 50,000 words.

It worked. I clocked up 1,240 words, handwritten. I discovered everybody else has already scoffed the chocolate I put in our kick-off-kits for consumption after passing 50,000 words. I met a twelve year old who’s writing a novel. She’s marginally too young for official Nano (participants must be 13+ to register) but she made me jealous of her amazing plot and writing confidence.

  1. I followed my own advice

I finished my target word count before writing this blog post, because just for November, novel-writing comes first.

  1. I promised myself a prize

There are a few perks of “winning” Nano. The one I like the best, apart from the amazing feeling of having done it, is the Createspace offer. This American print-on-demand company print a copy of your book, privately, for you to have on your shelf as proof of this crazy adventure. This year they will charge postage, but they are giving five copies which is just enough for my two kids, my two godsons, and one for my shelf. Perfect Christmas gifts. It’s not limited to your Nano novel or to 50,000 words. It could be your self-published poetry collection, a double-spaced draft copy for you to edit on, or simply one to lend to people who don’t “get” this novel thing. Writers in my region have done all of the above.

  1. I joined The All Ireland Word War

The provincial team with the highest average word count wins. Writing – a team sport. Who would have predicted that?

  1. I fell in love with some characters, a wild pony, and an evil Garda

In my story, I mean! My outline is filling up. The story is starting to take over. Ideas are popping into my head at odd moments. This is the power of writing every day.

  1. I challenged other writers to race me via the forums

I wrote 5,940 words today. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. But now, finally, I’m on target with 15,000 words so far. This is priceless.

Week two is when many writers quit Nano. Halfway is so distant. All I can say is that week three rocks. You’ll be on the downhill slope. Just slog on through week two. It gets easier, honest.

Grace Tierney (www.gracetierney.com) writes in Meath. Her work has been published internationally in print and online. She is the Ireland North East organiser for Nano (www.NaNoWriMo.org) and actually enjoys the challenge of writing 50,000 words in just one month. After Nano 2011 she will complete her second chick-lit novel. She blogs on unusual words at http://wordfoolery.wordpress.com/.

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NaNoWriMo – Week One – Yes, it is possible by Grace Tierney

“You’re doing WHAT?” is the most common response when I mention that I spend my Novembers writing 50,000 word novels.

The second most common response is “I started writing a novel once”.

National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org), or Nano to its friends (and there are more than 2,000 of those in Ireland this year), is a 30 day challenge to yourself to write 50,000 words of fiction in just 30 days. There’s no prize except the most important one – knowing that you can do it.

Chris Baty started this crazy idea in America in 1999. It has since become a worldwide challenge to writers from age 13 upwards.

This is my fifth year. In 2007 I wrote 17,000 words, with two pre-schoolers underfoot. I was hooked. I completed and revised that chick-lit novel afterwards and it’s out seeking a publisher at the moment. In 2008 I managed a more respectable 35,000 words and began to feel that 50K was actually possible.

But 2009 was when I dove right in and signed up to be a Municipal Liaison (regional organiser) for Ireland NorthEast (http://www.northeastnovellists.wordpress.com). I encourage writers across my area (Meath, Louth, Cavan, and Monaghan). I host writing parties, hand out Nano stickers, moderate our online forum, circulate pep emails, oh yeah, and try to write 50,000 words in my spare time.

Amazingly, despite the ML volunteer job, I crossed the finish line, along with nine other writers in my region. One of whom was only 15 years old. The feeling was immense, plus I’d learnt I could churn out 2,000 words of rough draft in just two hours, especially when I wrote every day. By 2010 that meant I cruised to 75,000 words.

Since then our still small region has grown to over 200 writers (other regions in Ireland cover Dublin, Galway, Northern Ireland, NorthWest, SouthEast, and the catch-all Elsewhere). This year we have sub-groups in Dundalk IT and young writers in Waterstone’s Drogheda.

But back to week one. I’ve started, which is the hardest part. I’ve a patchy outline for a children’s adventure story and some character notes. But I’m already behind on word count (only 2,093 vs. the target of 5,000 by today). Having extra work and volunteer commitments and kids on mid-term break is not helping. Add in a vomiting bug (him) and a chesty cough (me and her) and I’m in trouble. But once they return to school and I can write in the mornings again, those words will accumulate. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s only day 3. There’s still plenty of time to join us. You need ideas, words, and a few hours. Write on the train. Write in the waiting room. Write during your lunchbreak. Stop watching those soap operas for a few weeks. Imagine characters during your shower. Scribble notes on receipts. Let a novel take over your brain this month. You won’t regret it.

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