Tag Archives: how to

I Wrote a Novel in a Month, Well, Almost

In November, I started writing a novel by participating in National Novel Writing Month or better known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a community of writers that support each other in writing a novel in a month with a goal of producing 50,000 words. It is exciting, anxiety-provoking and crazy being a part of a big movement like this one. There were 175,000 writers involved this year from all over the world.

I was introduced to NaNoWriMo by my good friend Erin Van Der Molen Pater. She also participated this year and we became writing buddies on NaNoWriMo’s website. We could follow each other’s progress and provide encouragement throughout the month. I really enjoyed emailing her and talking about the writing process. It really helps to have a sounding board in someone who is doing the same thing.

Writing a novel in a month is utter madness and it to say that I produced a full blown novel in a month is a bit misleading. The novel that is produced is not a finished, polished novel when you arrive at the word count goal. It is a first draft and probably a lousy first draft. In my case, I wasn’t actually finished the novel because at 50,000 words, my novel was about two thirds done. I figured my novel would end up somewhere in the 80,000 word range but that remains to be seen once the novel is edited.

So why try to write a novel in a month? I did the challenge for motivation. I have talked for years about writing a novel, but I never seemed to find the time. However, putting my goal on a website publicly put my pride on the line. The site itself has a number of fun motivators such as badges and a word tracking tool where I would enter my word counts each day. Watching the graph progress and seeing how I was doing against my daily word count goals was inspiring. I kept working hard because I wanted to maintain my pace and post wins on that graph. There was plenty of emails, prompts and encouragement from the site itself. Authors who had written novels using NaNoWriMo provided ideas for keeping up the momentum.

I wrote the novel in a program called Scrivener which is what I refer to as a “writer’s software.” It is not a word processing program although it has many features of one, but rather, it is designed for writers and works with their writing process. This software is so versatile it adapts to almost any writer’s style of writing.

At the end of each day that you write, you tally your word counts, which Scrivener will track for you and enter them onto the NaNoWriMo website. I would actually add my counts first thing in the morning since there were times I would finish writing in the afternoon, but come back in the evening to finish a scene or continue writing. I wanted to have an accurate count so I could understand what I was capable of writing in a day if I applied myself. Once I hit 50,000 words, which is the goal of the challenge, I could validate my word count by copying and pasting the entire novel contents into a word count validator on the NaNoWriMo website. It was a proud day when I validated my word count and my profile showed that I was a NaNoWriMo 2014 winner.

This community challenge has occurred every November for many years. I love that it provides a forum for authors wanting to work virtually along side others for the excitement of writing alone but together. The virtual support system was vital for me.

So I’m at the end of January 2015 and I have not finished that novel from November. I’m close, but not done. So I’m working on strategies for power writing the rest of the novel. I’ve set a goal to finish by mid-February so I can set it aside for a month and then start a program of re-writes. Surprisingly, I’m just as excited about the prospect of editing the novel as I am at finishing the first draft.

I plan to feed chapters to my writing group in March to ask for a writer’s critique. Once I’ve incorporated the writer’s group feedback, I plan to seek out beta readers who can commit to reading the book and providing me a reader’s perspective. Once I’ve incorporated that feedback, I’ll start looking for an editor. Who knows maybe by next November I can say I have published a NaNoWriMo novel.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

Are you interested in the ideas that influence and inspire me? Check out Life Simplified by Catherine on FaceBook.

I’m writing short stories on Medium.com. I’d love to hear your feedback on them.

I write a weekly life [simplified] letter that is delivered straight to your inbox. You can sign up here.

Clutter Busting

Since quitting my job, I’ve been tackling projects around my house that never seemed to get done when I worked full time. My intention is to reduce the amount of clutter I have around my house to create a fresh perspective. I also want to simplify my surroundings. I use the following approach.

  • I select just one small area. For example I might start on one cupboard that is full of clutter.
  • I remove everything from inside.
  • I wipe the inside and outside the cupboard to ensure it is clean.
  • I take a moment to decide the purpose of this storage space. This step is important as it will determine what I put back into it. To avoid the problem of labeling the area “a catch all” where items go to get lost, I try to be as specific as I can. For example, I may decide the cupboard will be used to organize storage containers.
  • I sort through the contents that I removed from the cupboard. I return the things that will be stored in there. I ensure that I only return one of each item or only one set of each item. Why only one of each thing? It makes it easier to find an item. Besides I can only use one item at a time. It also makes me more conscientious about looking after what I have. If I only have one, I’ll make sure I put the item back where I found it.
  • Usually, I have a number of left over items that will not go back into the cupboard. I sort through those items and decide their fate. I create a pile to keep, a pile to sell, if the item could be worth some money, and a pile for donation.
  • If I am keeping items, I find a new home for them.
  • If I plan to sell an item, I will try to sell them on eBay, Craigslist, or Kijiji depending on the item.
  • The donation pile gets put into a box labelled for donation. Our city has a wonderful Reuse Centre that takes a large number of items. I will also donate to the Canadian Diabetes Association which will come a pick up used clothes and household items from the house.

After I finish one area, if I feel like it and have time, I move onto the next area to clutter bust. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m finished.

Question: How do you tackle clutter around your home?

Cheers, Catherine, Location: Edmonton, AB


Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!


I’ve used lists for years. I’ve made to-do lists, Christmas card lists, shopping lists, wish lists… you name it.

I’ve recently discovered another use for lists. As I work to reduce my stuff, I’ve learning the power of lists to create motivation and momentum.

Continue reading