Monday 9 November 2015

It's Nanowrimo and time for Writercise Boot Camp - How to Get Motivated and Write that Novel!

Unlike my warm hearted, keep at-it post  on the joys to come when you've sold your first book, this is going to be a motivational post of the boot camp variety. Read on only if you're tough enough.

Do you want to be a writer but just don't have the time? Do you hear of other people writing books and think,   I could do that if I weren't so busy?

Well you need to get yourself another ambition sister/brother/sibling of some variety, or get your butt to Writercise Boot Camp. That's right  get your face in front of this blog post and listen up.

I'm posting this in Nanowrimo people, or National Novel Writing Month if you've not heard of it and think that's yet another Evans typo. No. It's a month designed to get you WRITING.

To whip you into shape, I've assembled some hard core boot camp volunteers.

  • Our host,  keeper of multi-coloured elephants and Lord of all he surveys - Philip Ardagh. 
  • Writing guru  and owner of not one, but TWO swishy velvet coats - Tanya Landman.
  • Personal trainer, part time Spiderman  and close friend of young Bond -   Steve Cole
  •  Agony aunt and genuine Queen of Teen,  Cathy Cassidy
These guys know what they're talking about - they have a haul of books and awards between them that would make your eyes water. 

So, are you ready for this? Are you? I SAID ARE YOU? Drop and give me twenty you lazy, no-good recruits! That's twenty sentences, on paper, in some semblance of order.

Okay, good, now we've got your attention, I'll hand you over to  His Tallship Philip  Ardagh:

Lord Ardagh in the Small Hall

"When asked if the boot camp could take place in my house, I didn't hesitate in saying "Not on your Nelly." The East Wing is currently being used for a pyjama party and, anyway, writers are generally a grubby lot with the combined social skills of a lethargic monkey. I did, however, agree for it to be held on my estate in the Old Lodge House; the old lodger being so old that he's practically mummified. And if you want my advice - and if you don't want it you're getting it anyway - it's simple: rather than boring everyone to death with the novel you're GOING to write, just write the d*mn thing. If you write just 100 words a day, that's 36,500 words in a single year. So what's your excuse? And don't smoke in the log store. It's where I also store the dynamite."

Some life saving advice from Lord Ardagh there, and don't forget, at 10 foot  6 inches tall,  in all likelihood he's  bigger than you, so I'd just do as he says.

Now line up people, here's your boot camp uniform:

Pyjamas. Your writer's uniform.
Pyjamas, Your Uniform.

And down to the Estate Theatre for your first session with trainer Steve "Young Bond" Cole. With over one hundred and fifty books to his name, I'd advise you listen up.   Also, he looks quite fierce.

Steve "I'm Not Crazy" Cole

" I find time to write because that book's got to get written...It's a battle of wills. The book's got to be pinned down in words so it will stop laughing at me and calling me names. If I don't it will drive me slowly mad. MAAAAAAAD I tell you MAAAAAAAAAAAAD. this fate will befall you too if you don't write regularly and often until you've killed it. MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD." 
We best leave slowly now,  he's got that look in his eye, just back out of the room and...

Tanya Landman,  Guru in an Igloo

Follow me quietly,  to the Ice House, for some words of actual wisdom from Carnegie medal winner (yes, you heard me recruits CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER) Tanya Landman. You'll be issued with your own snuggly writing bag later. Remember: Cold is not an excuse. Nothing is an excuse.

Supply your own tingling bell sound and  breathe in the advice, and out the negativity - Tanya:

"Your book is out there waiting. But it won't get on the page unless you're there at the keyboard."

Well, exactly.

Some of you are looking a little distressed. Let's take a break in the tea tent where resident agony aunt, genuine Queen of Teen, Cathy Cassidy is preparing cupcakes. She might be sweet and lovely but she's also got over twenty five books to her name, possibly more, I lost count, but the point is, this woman knows what she's talking about. Take a seat you lot.  Cathy, I'll pour the tea while you talk some sense into them:

Cathy Cassidy Coaxing The Best Out of You

"I often tell my readers that daydreaming is the secret to writing. It's definitely part of the process - I gather in all my ideas, inspirations and research and allow them to unfurl in daydream form, and if I'm lucky, a story takes shape. Value imagination and give yourself time to explore your ideas, even if some of the paths you follow turn out to be dead ends. Imagination is not enough, though - you need determination too. Believe in what you are doing and give yourself a fighting chance to achieve it, carve out time in your day, put writing at the top of your to-do list, show up every day at that desk and stay there until you hit your word target. Dream big, and hang onto the dreams...but don't expect them to happen by magic. Get writing. Go for it!"

Okay, that's it, you are now  fully primed, like a coiled spring, ready to pounce on your story. And if you're not, some final words from me...

Are you sure you want to be a writer, are you sure you don't just want to be published? Two completely different things.

Thing 2: Being Published, means payment, congratulations, kudos, pride, a sense of well-being, of achievement, people being nice to you. Thanks very much , that's lovely. Who wouldn't want that?

Thing 1: Being A Writer, means writing, quite often not knowing if you'll ever be published and  still writing. It means getting words on a page. Agonising over whether they're the right words. Re-writing. Scrapping chapters. Starting again.

Not sure which is you? Here's the good news - it doesn't matter! The path to both is writing the book and trust me, if you really want either thing,  you will have the time. Although you may end up looking  a bit like this:

I did warn you this post was not for the faint-hearted.

So come on people!

Get up early
Go to bed late
Take a notebook wherever you go.
Write in the car while you're waiting for the kids.
Write on your lunch break, your tea break, your loo break.
Write in the bath.
Don't watch TV
Don't play Candy Crush Saga.
Don't download 2048.
Work out plots while you're walking the dog.
Write while you're cooking the dinner.
Write while you're waiting for hospital appointments.
Join a writer's group and motivate each other.
Set targets, aim to meet and beat them.
Fill your spare minutes with words.
Stop googling 2048, I'm telling you, you don't need that time sucker in your life.

Basically, stop talking about it and do it.

To your desks now,  and don't spare the horses. Unless it's part of the plot.

Write people, write, let's make glorious words!!!!!!

 Kathryn Evans is the award winning author of More of MeA gripping thriller with a sinister sci-fi edge, exploring family, identity and sacrifice. She loves faffing about on social media: find her  on Facebook and Instagram @kathrynevansauthor and tweeting @KathrynEvansInk 


  1. Yes ma'am! In fact, why am I even spending time writing this comment when I should be starting a new book?

    1. Yes, go on, get on with it! (Before Steve Cole catches you....)

  2. Where did Tanya Landman get that sleeping bag onesie??? Phenomenal advice from the people who know and now I want pink hair as well! Spirited and inspiring post, thanks, Kathy!

  3. Brilliant! And I am getting on with it, honest I am.


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