1 week to NaNoWriMo: where I’m totally behind but still cautiously optimistic

So, just over a month ago I wrote a post announcing that I was taking part in NaNoWriMo 2016, with a list of things I was hoping to achieve before November 1st.  With a week to go, I’m definitely NOT where I had hoped I would be but I’m still cautiously (perhaps foolishly!) optimistic, and determined not to throw in the towel before I even start!

My list of things I’d hoped to achieve:

  • Get excited about taking part, brainstorm ideas etc
    • Well, I’ve sort of achieved this one, I’m excited about all the possibilities… but also terrified because right now my ideas are non-existent and what if come November 1st I just fizzle out?! At this point I’m definitely going to end up being a pantser rather than a planner if I don’t have a breakthrough in the next few days!
  • Blog Ahead for October
    • I currently have 2 posts scheduled for October so er, more work needed here!
  • Read Ahead, get ahead on GR challenge
    • Woo, one I’m actually on track for! I’m currently 6 books ahead on my reading challenge.
  • Get some NaNo cheerleaders
    • Done! I’ve let friends, family and work colleagues know I’ll be taking part!
  • Get an opening ready
    • Er, see above on the plot = 0
  • Outline/Novel binder
    • Well, I’ve sort of started… by which I mean I’ve started a Pinterest board but I don’t have an outline or anything more concrete than a few half-formed ideas
  • Get Scrivener up and running
    • Done! And what few notes I do have are in there.
  • NaNoWriMo calendar
    • Prepped but not yet in place
  • NaNoWriMo survival box
    • I’ve started gathering stuff but it’s not yet all there.



So, as you can tell, I’m pretty behind on where I wanted to be, so I’m joining in with Michelle for Task It Tuesday to try and get a little more on top of things.  Here are my (perhaps too ambitious!) goals for the rest of the week:

  • Tuesday
    • Finish planning sci-fi month posts
    • Draft & schedule October wrap-up
    • Schedule Graphic Novels TBR
  • Wednesday
    • Dinner out
    • Read Saga vol 2
    • Create NaNoWriMo calendar for Bullet Journal
  • Thursday
    • Possibly at the cinema
    • Draft & schedule November looking ahead
    • Schedule November TBR vote
    • Read Saga vol 3
  • Friday
    • Dinner with friends
    • Make a list of everything else needed for NaNoWriMo survival box
    • Order/buy remaining stuff
    • Rot & Ruin review
  • Saturday
    • Family day out!
  • Sunday
    • Schedule post on sci fi anime to watch
    • Set up planner for next week
  • Monday
    • Schedule Top Ten Sci-Fi books
    • Schedule post on Top Ten sci-fi books this year
  • All week:
    • NaNoWriMo brainstorming!!!
    • Finish Cardcaptor Sakura manga
    • Finish Sword Art Online Season 1 (only on Netflix unil 1st November!)

The days definitely aren’t set in stone, and I doubt I’ll get all of this done, but it can’t hurt to try right?!  If I COULD manage all of this I’d be in a much better starting place for both Sci fi month and NaNoWriMo so I’ll be doing my best.


Why I DO count graphic novels, manga & audiobooks towards my Goodreads Challenge

I’ve never really read many graphic novels or manga, and although I knew I really wanted to get into reading more of both, one thing that put me off a little was my goodreads challenge (I know, now that I’m writing this it feels a bit silly to me too!).  I’ve seen a lot of debate over whether graphic novels and manga – and to a lesser extent audiobooks – should count towards a GR challenge or not, and it was something I’ve been debating with myself over the last couple of months as I read more of them.

Things I considered in my should-I-count-them-debate:

  • I can read a manga volume or graphic novel in a couple of hours, whereas a full length book can take me a day or more of uninterrupted reading time to finish
  • Audiobooks take me longer to read than a novel – probably about twice as long
  • I don’t read many novellas, but on the rare occasion I do, I count them without even thinking about it
  • As well as using my GR challenge to motivate myself, I also love goodreads to keep track of series, what I’ve been reading etc – while I could do that outside of GR in order to skip certain types of books counting towards the challenge, I don’t really want to track in multiple places
  • The books I read vary hugely in length – in 2015, my shortest book was a 60 page novella, and the longest was 994 pages.
  • A play also takes me less time to read than a novel but I wouldn’t think twice about counting one of those
  • Reading isn’t work, it’s fun, so why shouldn’t I read whatever I want?!

I spent a long time (way too long!), considering various stats to consider how I could ‘balance out’ the graphic novels/manga in terms of my reading challenge…

Graphic novels/manga are (often) shorter than a novel, which means potentially I could read more books per year but less pages overall.  Looking back at my previous 4 years on goodreads, my average book length ranged from 324 to 427 and looking at other GR friends’ stats, there’s a lot of variation, from <200 pages to >400, but I remember reading on twitter (I think in a tweet from Joe Hill) that the number of pages read per day = (approximately) the number of books you’ll read in a year: i.e. if you read 50 pages per day, you’d read 50 pages in a year.  For that to work out you’d need an average book length of 365 pages – an average length I’ve hit or exceeded for three of my four years tracking on Goodreads so that seems like a reasonable goal!  As of writing, I’ve read a total of 86 books, 15 of which have been manga/graphic novels (17%).  The average length for the books I’ve read still comes out to 376 pages so from that side of things, all looks good!

On the other hand, the year in which I read the most pages per day, my average book length was the lowest (324 pages), so reading shorter books seems to mean I do more reading overall, so I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t average out at over 365 pages per book!  Instead, I’ll just be reading what I want and trying to read 36,500 pages by the end of the year, because that means I’ll have read 100 pages per day.  As I said above, reading is supposed to be fun – while I love nerding out about the stats, and I’m a total sucker for a challenge, I don’t want either to dictate what I do or don’t read, and as long as I feel like I’m reading as much as I reasonably can I’ll be happy!

Looking Ahead: October 2016

What’s on in October?

Blog Ahead 2016-Oct
Well, September was a bit of a disastrous month in terms of reading and blogging so for October I’m taking a step back.  Throughout October I’ll be on semi-hiatus, posting only very occasionally, and instead taking part in Blog Ahead so that hopefully I can still get some Sci-fi month posts up despite NaNoWriMo craziness (because I apparently have ALL OF THE THINGS on in November!).

October’s TBR list

Indulgence in Death | Borrowed
The Rose Cord | Purchased
Three Dark Crowns
| Review Copy
The Final Empire | Purchased

Given how poor my reading was last month, I’m trying to keep my TBR list for this month reasonably small.  I’ve started both The Rose Cord and The Final Empire already so I’m hoping to get those finished this month.  Indulgence In Death is the next J. D. Robb I need, and I find they’re great for mixing things up now and again.  I’m not sure whether I’ll get to Three Dark Crowns this month, or whether I’ll fancy it, but I’ve put it on the list just in case.

October’s Listening Plans

Well last month I had hoped to listen to Fear The Sky which I just never really clicked with. This month I’m going back to a tried and tested audiobook success, and listening to the next Dresden Files audiobook instead.

October’s Manga & Graphic Novel Plans

Cardcaptor Sakura Volumes #6-10
Yu-Gi-Oh Volume #1
Attack on Titan #1

I didn’t read any of the manga or graphic novels I’d had planned for September so I’m aiming for the same titles as last month!

October’s Watch List

On TV at the moment:
– Nashville
– The Great British Bake Off

Catching up with:
– Grey’s Anatomy
– Avatar
– Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
– Once Upon a Time
– Pretty Little Liars

Goals for September

  • Lose 4lbs
  • Keep working on NaNoWriMo prep
  • At least 15 posts scheduled by the end of the month (I’m aiming for 30 but I’d be okay with 15)
  • 8+ workouts (of any kind except walking)

What do you have planned for October?


September Wrap-Up – The one with all the tv!


Cardcaptor Sakura vol. 5 & 6 | The Wolf Wilder | Empire of Storms | Fantasy in Death

Books read: 5 (8 less than August)
Pages read: 1679 (3257 less than August)
Average pages per day: 56 (103 less than August)
Average book length: 336 (44 pages less than August)
Favourite: It’s got to be Empire of Storms!


Frozen –
My movie of choice for days when I’m sick, and since I was super sick for a few days this month it was a must!
Captain America: Civil War – a rewatch since we bought the DVD when it came out. Still loved it the second time around too.
Kubo & The Two Strings – This was awesome!

Grey’s Anatomy (4 x 14-17) – Probably the least Grey’s Anatomy I’ve watched in any month since starting the show, but Now TV was having a few issues.
The Originals (3 x 2-22) – Season 3 obviously hooked us more than Season 2 did!
Zoo (1 x 1-13) – A new show for us, since we’d run out of The Originals to watch. It’s been enjoyable enough but I’m not 100% hooked yet.
The Great British Bake Off (7 x 3-7)Can’t go wrong with cake!
Nashville (4 x 2-5) –
I seriously love this show, and I’m not enjoying waiting each week for the next episode!
Pretty Little Liars (1 x 1-22) –
I started this on my sick day and got kind of hooked…


Book Haul

Books gained: 5 (1 more than August)
Books bought: 3 (2 more than August)
Total spend on books: £6.99 + 1 audiobook credit
Books for review: 1 (2 less than August)
Freebies/Gifts/Borrowed: 1 (1 more than August)


No posts found.

Other posts:

NetGalley % change: +0% (72%)

Challenge Updates

 ** [Bookish Resolutions update to follow in a separate post because otherwise this post was going to be ridiculously large!] **

Finish the series
This month’s progress: 1 series completed/caught up [Throne of Glass]
Running Total: 8/7

2016 Audiobook ChallengeThis month’s progress: 0 audiobooks

Running Total: 10/10

How was your September?


6 weeks to NaNoWriMo: AKA how to not give up before you even get going

So, there are 6 weeks until NaNoWriMo 2016 which means it’s beginning to seriously invade my thoughts and my sensible-brain is warring with my impulsive-brain incessantly about whether or not to sign up.  I’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo once, back in 2011 and I’m really hoping to make 2016 a second successful year, although my circumstances now are pretty different to how they were back then:

  • I now work full-time, compared to ~15 hours a week of university lectures + however long for assignments
  • I also volunteer one day a week
  • My successful year was as a rebel, working on fanfiction, whereas this year I hope to write original fiction
  • I was a pantser last time, and this year I’m experimenting as a plotter

Last year I hoped to take part, I talked about it briefly, and within about two days I’d given up, so this year I’m starting early with my planning and organisation to try and give myself the best odds. I figure there are three potential big danger-zones I need to work on:

  1. Making sure I sign up in the first place

  2. Making it through the first week

  3. Continuing with the effort until the end of the month

Addressing these three danger zones doesn’t guarantee winning – I could try all month and not hit 50,000 words – but they’re the reasons I’m most likely not to TRY.  If I try and don’t hit the goal, I’ll still consider that a success and buy myself a cake because I am a sugar fiend (though of course, winning would be a bigger success and I’d buy a bigger cake).

Making sure I sign up in the first place

 – Get excited about taking part

For the next two weeks I’ll be brainstorming ideas, creating pinterest boards and generally doing anything I can to try and come up with a story idea I love and can’t wait to write

 – Minimise excuses NOT to sign up

Blogging: Throughout October I’ll be taking part in Blog Ahead to schedule as many posts as I can for November – which also happens to be sci-fi month, one of my favourite blogging events all year! – so that I can take a step back from blogging if I need to.

Reading: I’m hoping to build up as much of a head start on my GR challenge as I can before November begins – while I’m sure I will definitely still be reading, it might be a bit less than normal, since I’ll be trying to squeeze in writing time too.  As well as trying to gain some momentum on my GR challenge, I’ll also be brainstorming a list of manga and graphic novels I’d like to read ready for breaks when my brain is feeling a little frazzled throughout November!

Work/Social etc: There isn’t really anything I can do to make work easier, but I can ensure friends and family know I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo. This both ensures they understand why I might be a little less available than normal, and hopefully also gives me a few cheerleaders!  I’ll be trying to make regular plans as much as possible so that I know that say Wednesday evenings are movie nights, or Friday evenings are gym sessions etc.


Making it through the first week

 – Have a starting point

The last thing I want to do is get prepped and organised and then be intimidated by the dreaded blank page!  I want to have an opening scene pretty well planned out so that I know where to get started.

 – Have an outline/Novel Binder/Some form of helpful notes!

Like I said, last time I succeeded I was very much making it up as I went, in full NaNo spontaneity spirit. But, NaNoWriMo isn’t against planning, and whereas fanfiction gives you characters and settings you’re very familiar with to play with, this time it’ll be all new.  I don’t know yet whether I’ll have a detailed outline, a random collection of bullet pointed notes or a binder Hermione Granger would be proud of, but I know I want SOMETHING I can keep coming back to.

 – Get Scrivener up and running!

Scrivener is what I used before, and while I didn’t love it, I liked it well enough.  I like the added features in terms of word counts for the day etc, and although to be honest I’m pretty happy using Word, using Scrivener just gives it the added special NaNo ritual feel.


Continuing until the end of the month

 – A NaNoWriMo calendar

I am a total geek and I love planners, spreadsheets, calendars etc. I’ll definitely have a calendar with daily target word counts etc to tick off, as a more visual representation of progress – and something that I can’t just avoid by never turning my laptop on!

 – NaNoWriMo survival box

More on what’s actually in my box to come (… when I’ve made it!) but this again comes back to the special NaNoWriMo ritual feel – guilt-free treats as reward, fun things to inspire me etc.

So, there you have my plans for how to hopefully not fail before I’ve even begun!  Since NaNo will be taking up a big chunk of my life/time/brain power, expect to see more posts soon.  Let me know if there’s anything in particular ou’d like to see, but I’m expecting some more planning, progress updates and the survival box contents!  Will you be joining in with NaNoWriMo this year?