Diary Challenge Update

Big news, loyal followers: the diary is finished! I repeat, the diary is finished. 366 pages (January 1st appeared twice) of hand-written, totally random stuff. And it only took four years. Yippee! If you have no idea what I’m talking about it all started way back here.


The Diary – no, I didn’t take a new photo

It would be difficult for me to give a break down of exactly what is in the damn thing. At least 1 complete script, 50,000 words of a novel, and many many many short stories, flash fiction, ideas, characters, bits of novels, plots and poems. There are zombies, pirates, aliens, apocalypses, angels and demons, bond villains, parallel universes and a lot of weird Christmas stories. Sounds like the best book ever, right? Well it wasn’t all fun. There’s at least one page describing my fishtank, some shockingly bad poetry, and some filler days that are just my RPG characters having arguments with each other, just to mention a few of the pages I’m less proud of. But it’s done.

Now I have completed the diary challenge (a tiny bit later than intended), I want others to be able to do it too! The whole point was to write something every day and have enough prompts to get me through the year. My next job is to compile these into one handy document so anyone can do the diary challenge. In time for New Year, you say? Yes indeed! And I will put in proper prompts that anyone can do in place of the few weeks where everything was themed around my psychology revision topics. So get your page-a-day diary ready and you too could have a weird, wonderful, and occasionally cringeworthy, book like mine in just 12 months :).

But what’s next for me? Well I’ve got a lot of raw material to work through now. Who knows how many books and stories I can dig out of those pages. But I’ve also gotten pretty good and writing shorts and I don’t want to get out of the habit, so introducing…


my new book! This time there is no special challenge or set rules. It’s just a blank notebook. Well, it’s not blank anymore because I already wrote a story in it, and I will write many more. If the diary challenge has taught me anything it’s how to get over that fear of the blank page. There was a time I wouldn’t start writing down story until it was fully formed in my head. And by then I was so committed to it I was terrified of writing it wrong, so often it still got left unwritten. In my head a blank page had the potential to be perfect, and I couldn’t sully it without being sure that it would be. Now I’m free of that crazy notion. If I have an idea I just write it and see how it turns out. If it turns out wrong it’s no big deal, I can write it again, and again, until I get something I like. There’s always another blank page. The point is to not be afraid of starting anymore. It was a lesson worth learning the very very long way.

Maybe I’ll do another diary challenge one year. Maybe even next year, it depends what Santa brings me ;). But for now I’ve got a notebook to fill, two novels to edit and an MSc to do. Whatever happens in 2015, I’m not going to be bored! And I am going to be writing.

Diary Challenge: Pirate week

It’s post-NaNoWriMo and I’m trying to keep up the spirit of the Early Birds’ club by logging into the chat room every morning 6am to 7am and spending an hour writing. OK, so far my hour has been cut down to 20/30 minutes mostly as Ben has got wise to the fact I’m up. But I have been writing, and there are usually snippets of time to be stolen in the car or before work so I’ve done quite well.

This week I have completed Pirate week of the diary challenge*. Monday-Wednesday involved creating a pirate character and writing a couple of scenes for them. I created cyborg space pirate Captain Gemma Steel, deposed princess who now leads a ruthless crew and steals from the corporation that took over her home world. Sounds a bit outlandish, I know, but the setting might be interesting and I’m hoping Markie can be persuaded to develop the universe with me and co-write some space adventures :).

Free-writing saw a band of scientists on voyage across the Arctic Sea to investigate the rising of the threat that destroyed Atlantis.

‘The Hostage’ turned out not to be as helpless as his captor thought, and our genre bender mixed pirates with Lovecraftian horror and unleashed unspeakable tentacle death on the scurrilous toe-rags. Arrrh.

Not bad for four days’ work. This morning I had run out of Pirate week so I let Timmy, the NaNoWriMo chatbot, set me a flash fiction challenge. I didn’t think I could manage his first suggestion in the space of a page:

* Timmy challenges Starkitten: Find a way to kill your MC and bring them back.

And I didn’t think his second suggestion was very exciting:

* Timmy challenges Starkitten: Have someone exclaim, “Small children should not dart out from behind corners!”

His third suggestion was ok:

* Timmy challenges Starkitten: Have an inanimate object provide the wise counsel for the MC, similar to Brian’s level head in Family Guy.

So I used all three. Now I have a very strange flash fic about a recently departed woman discussing her right to appeal against her unfair death (after swerving to avoid darting corner child, of course) with a potted geranium who specialises in afterlife law for some reason.

Maybe I shouldn’t listen to Timmy any more…

But #amwriting so I shouldn’t complain. I wonder what I’ll write tomorrow.

*No one noticed that Pirate week was supposed to be done in September**, right?

** *cough*September 2011*cough*

Diary Challenge: reflection


My constant companion in 2011

2011 is over and 2012 is well under way. Last year I set myself an ambitious challenge.  I bought myself a page-a-day diary with the goal of writing every day and filling each page with some scene, story, conversation, etc. I can now officially reveal that I did not succeed at my challenge. Around 100 pages of the diary are still completely blank. Between work, University and my active toddler I just didn’t manage to pull it out of the bag in the end.

But I didn’t fail. I never gave up. The diary was not abandoned half empty, it just has gaps. I kept on going for the whole year, kept posting challenges even when I was miles behind and had no hope of doing them. I carved out time in my day to write and tried to form good habits. I came up with new ideas. Even though I didn’t write the 365 pages I set out to fill last January 1st I still spent the year writing. So in a way I think I still won.

So what’s next? On January 1st this year Markie asked me if I had any New Year’s Resolutions. I told him no, but that I have a theme for the year. That’s right, no fad diets or unused gym memberships for me this year. I’ve got a whole theme! The theme is ‘finishing’. I want to finish a book. Not write a new one, but pick up an old one I’ve left on my hard drive and jolly well give it an ending. I want to finish editing something so someone else can read it. I want to finish my degree so I can finally graduate. And I want to finish the diary challenge. I have 100 blank pages still to go. So perhaps I shall look silly sitting in coffee shops scribbling away in my 2011 diary, but I carried it everywhere with me for a whole year and I don’t plan on stopping until every page is full. Then I’ll really be able to say that I won the diary challenge.

Good luck for 2012 everyone. May we all finish something we started this year.

Diary Challenge: 26th December – 1st January 2012

It’s the last week of the year, and so the last week of the challenge! As it’s the last week it seems fitting to have a proper challenge (even if it is being posted late). So, this week the theme is ‘endings’.

Monday 26th December – description challenge

Describe a character who is at the end of their story. Maybe it’s a great hero who’s finished their adventure, or finally got the girl, or a villain who’s been defeated. It could be anyone. Just think about what their story might be and how it might have changed them from the beginning.

Tuesday 27th December – dialogue challenge

Write a conversation between two or more characters who are saying goodbye.

Wednesday 28th December – scene challenge

Write the final scene of a story. Tricky one, but probably easier if you write the ending to one of the novel ideas you’ve generated over the year.

Thursday 29th December – Dream challenge

Write something based on a dream. Hopefully you’ve got one weird or inspiring dream left in you!

Friday 30th December – Stream of consciousness

Do some free writing around the theme of finishing something.

Saturday 31st December – Flash Fiction

Write a piece of flash fiction entitled ‘the end’. It can be about anything.

Sunday 1st January – pot luck

You don’t have to do the 1st of January, but my diary has a page for that day so I think I should fill it. And so we will go full circle and the challenge will be the same as last 1st of January. Write a piece of flash fiction called ‘New year’s resolution’.

And that’s it! The last diary challenge. Next week I’ll report on how I got on, and look forward to what next year has in store!

The Diary Challenge returns!

NaNoWriMo 2011 is now officially over, and somehow I officially won! Not sure how that happened, but I’ve got my writing groove on and I’m ready to get right back to the diary challenge and make a really good go at it before the year ends. I’m further behind than I’d care to work out, so let’s not worry about that for now and just keep going forward :).

It won’t have escaped your notice that there’s some kind of celebration coming up. Can’t think what that’s all about, but apparently it’s kind of a big deal. So, the challenge for this month (or at least the first 24 days of it) is to create a Christmas/holiday story advent calendar. We want a very short story (or script, or advert, or poem, or song, or blog post, or anything at all you can think of) for each day of advent. Any format, any genre, any characters you like. I hope this is going to be fun and I don’t end up running out of ideas after the first couple of days!

Optional prompts for this week are:

Thursday 1st December – use the title ‘First Christmas*’ for a piece in any format

Friday 2nd December – write something inspired by your favourite Christmas carol

Saturday 3rd December – I’ve always wondered about the people who write the poems in Christmas cards. Write a story about one of them.

Sunday 4th December – script an advert for a Christmas product or service

*note – you may want to write about a different religious celebration, a different time in history, or a different world where they don’t have Christmas, so whenever I say ‘Christmas’ feel free to substitute with holiday name of choice :).

That’s all for now! Be back next week for more prompts and some musings about what next year will have in store…

Diary Challenge: 19th – 25th September 2011

It’s late on Monday before I’m posting again, but at least it’s the right Monday instead of the following Monday so we’ll call that a win and celebrate the small victories ;).

It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day! Which means there’s really only one theme we can have this week. Yup…Fairies! No, ok, it’s pirates really. Or pirate fairies if you like. Actually there’s a pirate elf on Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, but that’s neither here nor there.

Ahem, anyhoo, on with the challenges….

Monday 19th September – Description challenge

Describe a pirate character of your choice. They could be a nice pirate (Westley!), a ruthless pirate, a lovable rogue, any kind of pirate you like.

Tuesday 20th September – Dialogue challenge

Write a conversation between your pirate and someone official who takes issue with their pirating ways.

Wednesday 21st September – Scene Challenge

Write a scene involves your pirate doing something traditionally piratey, like attacking a ship or hunting treasure or pillaging a harbour.

Thursday 22nd September – Dream Challenge

Use a dream as inspiration for a piece of writing. Bonus points if it’s about pirates.

Friday 23rd September – Stream of Consciousness

Do some free writing around the theme ‘the sea’.

Saturday 13th August – Flash Fiction

Write a short story entitled ‘Hostage’. It can be about anything.

Sunday 14th August – Pot Luck: Genre bender

Create a pirate in a different genre to the character you’ve been working with this week and write a little something that shows them off. So, if you’ve been writing about a classical pirate you might try a space pirate. Or if you’ve been doing a fairy pirate maybe try your hand at a grizzly ghost pirate. Whatever you like.

I think that will do. Revision time!

Diary Challenge: 22nd August – 4th September 2011

Nope, the title is not a mistake, my dates for the challenge this week span 2 weeks. This week and last week, in fact. I did have a challenge in mind for last week, but due to being in Skye and having no internet connection I wasn’t able to do a blog post. My first thought was to just go with it retrospectively, but that just didn’t seem right. So what’s a girl with a year long writing challenge to do? I can’t go back in time and present last week’s challenges on time! Or can I…

OK, I really can’t, but this week our characters will have that chance! It’s a double challenge to fill in the pages for this week and the pages that got missed last week. Go back to Monday 22nd August. Write a scene which starts with a character making a choice, or having something happen to them and show how it plays out. Then they’re going to get to go back and do things differently, so flip forward to Monday 29th August (today!) and let them make a different choice, or avoid the event, and show how things turn out this time. Repeat for the remaining 6 days.

For those all important bonus points:

In at least 1 scene the character must be aware of the ‘do over’. It’s up to you if you want them all to be conscious of the process or not.

In at least 1 scene making a change must make things worse.

1 scene must feature a non-human character getting the ‘do over’.

In 1 scene the fate of the whole world hangs on the outcome, so no pressure there :).

That’s all I can think of for now. Have fun! TTFN.


Diary Challenge: 15th-21st August 2011

Once again I find myself home alone as hubby has jetted off to Riga for YAPC::EU. Last time he was away I went for rather melancholic challenges. This time they will not be intrinsically sad. Firstly, I would hate to be repetitive, and secondly, he’s only at a conference and compared to what some other people I know are going through it’s really no big deal. Sorry sweetie, but you know I still miss you, right? 😛

Anyway, this week we’ll be writing 7 scenes, or 7 flash fic pieces again. Each of them must feature a character who is alone for whatever reason. It can be any 7 people and any reasons at all. It could be a teen home alone, a mother indulging in a rare night away from the kids, the sole survivor of an apocalypse, you know, normal stuff like that. If you need a bit more inspiration than that you can try making them all different ages and see what emerges. I like to imagine that when I’m 80 I’ll still be playing Guitar Hero when no one is looking :).

And that’s it. It’s a short post but the week will be the same length it always is ;). TTFN!

Diary Challenge: 8th-14th August 2011

‘Where have you been?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’ve been busy.  I’d love to say I was busy writing my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, but mostly I’ve been busy doing college work and the novel challenge attempt was a bust. Yes, I know I have another month, but I now have a lot of empty diary pages to fill  and dwindling motivation, so if we’re going to make it through the year while managing to keep on top of college work I have to accept that it’s not going to happen and go back to 1 page-a-day challenges. Last week I tried some random free writing and conversations just to get the ball rolling again, and this week I’ll go back to proper challenges. Will work out how to back fill July at some point (suggestions are welcome!).

As writing has been overshadowed by University for the last month lets make University the focus and get something back from it.

Monday 8th August – Description challenge

Set the scene by describing a University setting. This may be a conventional University, or it can be something completely different like a magical university, or a alien university, or whatever you like.

Tuesday 9th August – Dialogue challenge

Write a conversation between two or more students at this University.

Wednesday 10th August – Scene Challenge

Write a scene that takes place in a lecture/class where the tutor has a challenging student to contend with.

Thursday 11th August – Dream Challenge

Write something based on a dream you’ve had recently.

Friday 12th August – Stream of Consciousness

Do some free writing around the theme ‘knowledge’.

Saturday 13th August – Flash Fiction

Write a short story entitled ‘Graduation’. It can be about anything.

Sunday 14th August – Pot Luck: Script

Let’s have another script. As a university administrator myself I know the plight of the ‘backstage’ staff is often overlooked, so we shall write a short script starring the support staff of your University. Bonus points if they save the world, because adminions rock :).

That’s all for now! Hoping to get back to normal over the next few months. My exam is in October after which I can start my planning for NaNoWriMo and we should be all set for a more successful novel attempt in November. I already have an idea in mind inspired by the fountains in Rome, and three characters to take part in it. What’s it about? Fountains of course. No, seriously, it’s going to be cool. Trust me.


Diary Challenge: 4th – 10th July 2011

Eeek! It’s Tuesday! Why didn’t anyone tell me? Shame on you all. In case you haven’t guessed, we’re busy writing novels this week. All month in fact, but that’s no excuse not to do a blog post.

Camp NaNoWriMo
is in major Beta this month, but it’s there and you can update your word count. There’s a place to chat to other campers on the NaNo Prime forums until the site is properly launched next month.

This month I was going to write the sequel to one of my previous NaNo novels, just because I’ve already got the whole thing planned, but it got to Friday morning and I started writing my witch story instead. I blame Terry Pratchett. Damn you Tiffany Aching and your impossibly high standard of witchy goodness that I can never hope to attain. My teenage witch sucks in comparison to you! But still I have to write it, because let’s face it, if I only write stuff that’s as good as Terry Pratchett I’d never write anything. But anyway, I have a crappy novel to write and I’m writing it, ok?

Also, I’m planning on cheating at camp, or being a camp rebel if you will. I have a baby, I have a college course, and I have a full time job. I can’t write a 50,000 word novel in a month as well. But I might be able to write 25k, and maybe another 25k next month, so I’m going to consider myself a winner if I manage a 50,000 word novel my the end of the second camp at the end of August, even if I can’t claim any shiny winner goodies.

That’s all for now, folks. See you next week!