I thought that, with an extra week to write, NaNoWriMo would be a piece of cake.
My hubris got the better of me.
Last year, I was soooooo diligent in writing my novel, because I didn’t really have anything to do. Sure, I was dealing with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, but I also didn’t have internet for about a week, so it was easier to hunker down and, you know, write. I also was able to sneak in passages at my shitty job, and my semester was donezo, so I had loads more time to spare. Back then, I wrote only a few articles for Matador, so NaNoWriMo took up most of my editorial timing.
Now however, I’m working for Matador full-time, and working on some awesome freelance gigs for a major company, and student teaching. I try to write whenever I can, but it’s hard to even get my 1,500 words a day goal in – I teach until 3pm, get home and work until 11pm, and suddenly, it’s time for bed.
I don’t think I’ll be nearing the 50,000 word mark this time around. I’m halfway there, which is admirable in itself, but the odds are not looking good. What is good is that I will definitely be working on this project after NaNoWriMo is over, with plans to publish it sometime this summer. So I won’t be abandoning the idea swiftly, but I won’t be achieving my goal of NaNoWriMo winning for a second year in a row.
But who knows? December doesn’t start until Sunday – maybe I’ll get a second win, and come out all right. For those of you participating this year, how is it going during this final stretch?
It makes you try out a new style of writing. While it’s awesome to be an expert in a certain genre, as writers, we should be challenging ourselves. That means diverging away from traditional travel writing, and trying something different. How would you incorporate your travels into a fictional story? What elements from your writing can you bring to something totally out of the box?
It instills diligence. The best way to get better at writing, is to write – a lot. Like, all of the time. You should honestly write something every day, even if it’s just a short blog piece, or a letter to a friend. Even journaling is good. But to really excel at writing, you have to write with a purpose. Crafting your NaNoWriMo story is an awesome way to up your game.
It teaches you the art of setting small goals. ”I want to travel to Alaska from Argentina by motorbike in one month!” Awesome idea, maybe not totally realistic – especially if you don’t own a motorbike. It’s the same thing with NaNoWriMo – “I’m going to write 50,000 words in one week!” is totally unrealistic, but setting a smaller goal like “I will write 1,500 words a day” is like saying “I will learn to first ride a motorbike before embarking on this adventure.”
The 21 rule. Some debate this as actual truth, but supposedly, if you do something for 21 days in a row – yoga, using new vocabulary, washing the dishes – it becomes habitual. I think there is some credence to that, because if you do something long enough, you do get better at it, and it does become somewhat second nature. So if you write every day, for 21 days at least, most likely, you’ll continue writing on day 22, 23, 24…This is good for travel writers because you will always find time to write, even when days on the road get hectic.
There is publishing potential. This is the perfect opportunity to get started on that eBook you’ve been putting off. When my eBook was published through Thought Catalog, I had a limit of 30,000 words – if you choose to go through a publisher, you may have already exceeded the maximum amount of words required of you with NaNoWriMo. If you choose to self-publish, all you will have to worry about is cohesion. After one month and a little editing, you’ll have a completed work that you can actually make money off of.
Are you participating in this year’s event?
Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.
It’s that time of year! National Novel Writing Month is upon us. For the entire month of November, people around the world will attempt to write 50,000 words in thirty days. It’s intimidating for many, but with a bit of diligence and planning, your NaNoWriMo experience can be pretty pain-free.
I participated last year and sneaked by with an official word count of 50358. It was particularly challenging because I was dealing with the destruction of my apartment from Hurricane Sandy (which the novel was based on), but I forged through it and it came out awesome in the end. It really helped me develop my writing skills, and more than a year later, I am an editor for Matador Network, and I’ve published my first eBook.
NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be hard. These Dos and Don’ts will help you achieve the 50k goal without too much stress:
DO Keep the concept of NaNoWriMo in mind. Your goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, not produce the perfect piece of literature. NaNoWriMo works on the kamikaze concept – let it flow, just write words, and don’t bother with editing. You’ll have all year to edit your novel and make it better/into something publishable. For now, just write.
DON’T make it about the word count. If you stress over making the goal, your experience will be less fulfilling. Setting goals outside of the word count will put things into perspective for you, and will be more structured overall.
DO set smaller goals. Like writing at least one page every day (you’ll probably write more than that). Or writing for at least one full hour a day (it’s amazing what you can accomplish during the time it takes to watch a mind-sucking reality TV show).
DON’T set out to write “The next great American novel.” It’s not going to happen. You might get to the point that you’ll publish it some day, but don’t think about that during NaNoWriMo. Just be super creative and have fun with it!
DO write something you’d actually want to read. Maybe it’s a fantasy you have with Channing Tatum. Or perhaps you have a great idea for a Game of Thrones-esque story. Go with it – forcing a novel based on what someone else might want to read is annoying and counterproductive.
DON’T work in front of the TV. You’ll never get anything done.
DO use the NaNoWriMo website. There are some awesome tools, forums, and support groups you can join that will help you along the way.
Are you participating in this year’s event?
Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.
What’s the best international cuisine you’ve ever tasted?
“British food!” said no one ever.
Even the most eclectic of foodies will tell you that once landing in London, most visitors have suddenly “lost their appetite.” The thought of subsisting on fish and chips, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and Cornettos during their stay is enough to make them break down and head to the nearest McDonald’s.
“It’s so bland.”
Let that taste of a Cornish pastie linger a little longer and you’ll see how the British use local herbs and spices you won’t find anywhere else.
“Those recipes have been around forever.”
Obviously – why mess with perfection that is Brown Gravy Stew?
“It’s not creative.”
You’re seriously telling me a cheese dish called “Welsh Rarebit” is unoriginal?
So I want to “find my appetite” in London – hopefully with help from Expedia Viewfinder ™ and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY). I’m entering the Expedia “Find Yours” contest* in hopes that I’ll get to explore the capital of the United Kingdom’s culinary scene, and prove to future visitors that yes, British food is delicious – can we stop making fun of it now?
London’s rich history coincides with its culinary scene. Not only can you dine in the “house of chess” but you can also eat sushi in the air at the world’s first restaurant to use a hovering tray. And visitors can still experience Afternoon Tea, a British tradition that has existed since Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, decided she wanted to eat cake for lunch.
Haters, hear me out – cuisine in London is going through a revolution. Chefs are sourcing their ingredients from local, sustainable farms, and menus now include classic recipes made with the modern diner in mind. At Bumpkin, I’ll taste British dishes with a “facelift,” including their “iced dark chocolate and honeycombe slices, with fresh strawberries and a yoghurt dressing.”
Then I’ll talk to the chefs at St. John’s, a restaurant whose Georgian architecture has remained the same except for a few coats of paint. I’ll sample meals that are representative of the city, such as Pigeon & Radishes, Lamb Sweetbreads, and Stinking Bishop (Britain’s smelliest cheese).
Finally, I’ll explore areas in East London such as Brick Lane, where ethnic food is still British food when mixed in one of Europe’s largest “melting pots.” Because British food is some of the best I’ve ever tasted –
The world just needs to know what to order.
*How can YOU enter?
Expedia Viewfinder™ and NFFTY are giving one travel blogger the chance to star in his or her own travel short film. Travel bloggers must write a blog post on their own blog about how they would “find theirs” in one of the following famous film locations: Australia, Paris, Morocco, London, and Seattle. If chosen, they will receive help from a NFFTY representative and an assigned NFFTY filmmaker, to make a 2-3 minute film that will be shown on Expedia Viewfinder ™. Winners also receive an all-expense paid trip for up to four nights to the winning destination to create a “Find Yours” video.
Enter by sharing your post on Expedia Viewfinder ™ – put your blog post URL in the comments of this blog. Entries must be submitted by June 30th and a winner will be contacted July 12th. Good luck!
I was first introduced to Le Pain Quotidien on a visit to Washington, DC the summer before I moved to Europe. My best friend took me there for brunch. It was the first organic restaurant I’d ever dined in but the atmosphere was not pretentious – sitting at a communal table, elbow to knee with strangers who I engaged in conversation with, was surprisingly comforting. My free-range egg omelet, topped with slices of avocado and a stripe of tomato puree, and the chocolate-dipped macaroon I had for dessert, is something I dream about to this day.
And then of course, there was the bread. Who can forget about those crusty slices of soft, grainy goodness?
Hearing about the release of Alain Coumont’s second cookbook, Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook, I became excited by the prospect of emulating the meals of Le Pain Quotidien in my own kitchen. Coumont himself spoke on his book tour at an event co-hosted by Visit Flanders and Octopus Publishing. It was inspiring to hear his own story about his life in New York, and learn about his passion for sustainable, organic cooking with a touch of his Flemish flair.
Hors d’ouvres were served from the restaurant itself – cheeses, pastries, and tartines, some of which I will be able to re-create with help from the book. Wine and champagne complemented both the treats and the direct view of the Empire State Building from the Visit Flanders office at the New York Times building.
Belgians know how to throw a classy party for a classy cookbook. Purchase your copy here. Now, who’s coming over for dinner?