NaNoWriMoLax 2021

Philip HarrisNaNoWriMo, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has rolled around again. If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month and thousands of people around the world take part in the challenge. I almost attempted it this year. I have my (probable) next book outlined and ready to go but my schedule is jam packed and I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing. Adding the pressure of NaNoWriMo would have been bad for my mental health. But lots of people are attempting NaNoWriMo. If you’re one of these people then you’ve hit the halfway mark. Maybe you’re excited because your novel is hurtling along and you’re on track to finish your first draft by the end of the month (that’s a lot of your/you’re). Alternatively, you’re not. Maybe every day is a struggle and the pile of words remaining looks like an insurmountable hill to climb. If that’s you, it’s okay to abandon NaNoWriMo. You’re not a lesser writer because you haven’t managed to crank out a completely arbitrary 1,667 words a day during a pandemic. Take a break, refill your creative well then jump back onto the writing horse when … Read More

50 Ways to Unblock Your NaNoWriMo Novel

Philip HarrisWriting, Writing Advice1 Comment

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has rolled around again. If you’re not familiar with the concept, basically the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month and despite the National moniker thousands of people around the world take part in the challenge. As usual, my day job takes up too much time for me to commit to the 1,667 words a day it takes to hit that goal but I know a lot of people who are attempting it. Today is the halfway mark of the month and it’s become traditional for me to post some helpful prompts for people who’s NaNoWriMo novels aren’t progressing as well as they might like. So, without further ado, I present to you NaNoWriMoLax 2015 Giant worms erupt from the ground and swallow your hero whole A malevolent AI shuts down the Internet The hero’s best friend/husband/parents are revealed as aliens A firestorm hits the city Earthquake! Zeus appears in the sky and sends your hero on a quest to find a golden goblet/sword/cheese The hero has been poisoned The hero has misheard something he’s been told and does the opposite of whatever it is he’s supposed to be doing A trip to the bathroom turns nasty … Read More

How to Write Every Day

Philip HarrisIndie Publishing, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

On 30th June 2013, I sat down and decided I would start writing every single day. I haven’t missed a day since – which means a couple of weeks ago I hit the two year mark in my writing streak. I’ve already posted a by-the-numbers breakdown of my streak so far, but I thought I’d also post a few tips on how I’ve kept that streak running. I’m talking specifically about writing here, but the same principles apply to forming other habits – like running or push ups or monkey juggling. So, here are my tips for anyone trying to get the writing habit to stick. CHOOSE YOUR GOAL WISELY The first thing you need to do is decide what habit you’re trying to form. I kept mine very simple – write or edit some fiction every day (blogging doesn’t count). No word count goals, no time goals. As long as I write at least one word, I’m done. In reality, I try to get down at least 100 words, otherwise I feel like I cheated. The key here is to not overstretch yourself. Pick something that you are confident you can achieve. It’s very easy to get overexcited and commit to something that’s too hard. Goals like “write 10,000 words a day” or “write a novel … Read More


Philip HarrisWriting, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

So, we’re about half way through NaNoWriMo. Things may be going swimmingly, you may be rattling out the most spectacular prose you’ve ever written and be well on your way to becoming the next Lee Child/Stephen King/Charles Dickens. Or maybe not. Maybe every word is like pulling teeth and it looks like you’ll struggle to get enough words for a kid’s picture book, let alone a novel. I haven’t taken the NaNo plunge yet, my schedule never seems to line up, but I can provide support of dubious value. Don’t Give Up! Seriously, 15 days is plenty of time to right a novel. All you need to do is inject one of these award-winning* plot twists into your manuscript and you’re be unblocked quicker than a really blocked thing is unblocked by someone who’s really good at unblocking things that are blocked. The sun explodes Beavers burst through the walls and begin eating everyone The hero loses her voice Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Alien zombies! Alien zombie vampires! A chain-smoking marmot arrives with a briefcase The dream was real It starts to rain kumquats The universe collapses in on itself A popular internet meme comes to life and starts eating everyone A popular internet … Read More

Five Things I Learned Last Week

Philip HarrisChatter, Five Things, Links, Music, Videos, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

Happy March. Here’s some things I learned last week. I’m doing revision wrong. One of my favourite sessions at last weekend’s WANACon virtual writing conference was Gabriela Periera and Julie Duffy’s Simple System to Rock Your Revisions. It made me realise I’ve been mixing up character, structural and line edits. That’s not a smart thing to do because the the broad edits will change so much that the lines you’re editing may well change. Do character and structural edits first. Shero is a word. People use it. Where to get images for this blog. WANACommons is a collection of photos that can be safely used on blogs as long as you give credit. There are some really nice photos, like this Squirrel from tdthread. Posting a Gratuitous Kitten Picture gets hits. I like Meg Myers’ Music. Thanks to John Scalzi I bought both of Meg Myers albums and I really like them. Particularly these songs : When I first heard Tennessee I labelled it as one I was likely to skip over but then I listened to it in the car on the way to work and fell in love with the lyrics. [Five Things I Learned Last Week by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset … Read More

Wise Words from Delilah S. Dawson

Philip HarrisWriting, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

I think I’ve mentioned Chuck Wendig’s fantastic blog before (and if I haven’t I should have) but yesterday’s guest post by paranormal author, Delilah S. Dawson is fantastic so I’m going to link to it repeatedly. It’s called 25 STEPS TO BEING A TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AUTHOR: LAZY BASTARD EDITION and it’s both funny and useful which in my book is a winning combination. Here’s a quote (that happens to be very timely for me) “Any author who says their first drafts are fantastic is either lying or highly delusional or John Scalzi, who is neither. A first draft is meant to be a malleable chunk of clay that you barf out onto the worktable. If you keep reworking that first sentence, first page, first chapter, you’ll never get to the end. So just barf it all up. Without judging yourself. Without showing anyone. Without rereading it. Without thinking of genre or sellability or trends. Tell your story in any way you can, in whatever way feels best. Does it change POV or tense in the middle? Do aliens land in your historical romance? WHO CARES? KEEP WRITING. Don’t look back. You can fix it later.” There’s a whole host of … Read More

O Wendig

Philip HarrisLinks, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

If you’re not reading Chuck Wendig’s blog, terribleminds, you should be, especially if you’re a writer or would like to be one. Because: He’s smart He’s funny He posts things like this. His books are pretty damn good as well. [O Wendig by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 24 July 2013]

Like-To, Want-To, Need-To

Philip HarrisWriting, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

There are three types of writer (or musician or singer or actor or insert-creative-job-of-your-choice). The first type are the people who would like-to be a writer. These are the people who’ve got a great idea for a novel and they just know they’ve got the talent. These are the people who can see themselves spending a few minutes at the beginning of each day dashing out a couple of thousand words of their next bestseller and then sitting around, soaking up the sun at their lake house while inspiration strikes and the royalty cheques roll in. These are the people who would love seeing their books on shelves in their local bookstore and giving readings to hundreds of adoring fans and going to exotic launch parties and giving interviews to the New York Times and Oprah. Of course, they don’t quite have the time to write their book at the moment, but they like the idea of being a writer. Maybe next year. You haven’t read any books by like-to writers. Next, you have the people who want-to be a writer. They know there’s work involved and it won’t be easy, but they figure they’ve got some good ideas and enough talent that with a bit … Read More

Trust me, I’m a Writer

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

I’ve taken a couple of online writing courses and had the original version of my novel, The Ghost Smuggler, critiqued and I’ve learnt a lot from those experiences. I’ve also learnt to trust my instincts. I got a lot of good feedback from those courses and especially from Jeff VanderMeer’s critique and my writing has definitely improved as a result. What I noticed though, was that at least 50% of that feedback related to writing that I wasn’t happy with. There was something missing or something “off” about that part of the story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I knew it was weak in some way, I just wasn’t sure why. Or, it was part of the story I didn’t like, I just hadn’t been able to come up with anything better. Having a third party read the story and point out, not only that the writing was weak, but why was invaluable but it also showed that my instincts weren’t completely out of whack. I just needed to persevere and keep refining the story until it worked. Which brings me to The Ghost Smuggler. There’s a point in the novel where our hero gets captured by a bad guy and, … Read More