nano prep


It’s October, which means time to plan for nano. The website and forum are open and this year’s images available for download.

First up, the easy part, updating the spreadsheet. Change dates and clear data, took 5mins. Everything else calculates automatically, including the charts.

Next, the hard part, deciding on what to write. Nothing special stands out so far, there are 3 contenders:

  1. Running accident
  2. There was an article about a marathon runner who was hit by a car while riding his bike and then one year later, running a half marathon with the driver who hit him and the doctor who treated him. There was also an AMA from cyclist who forgave the driver who paralysed him in a bike accident.

    I’ve had a similar idea mulling for a few years, about a similar circumstance and the driver being forced by a judge to train and run a race with the victim. It’ll be about redemption on the part of the driver and forgiveness on the part of the victim, which is tougher.

  3. Impact of social media on small business
  4. Imagine a small restaurant or shop that suddenly gets famous whether it was positive after inventing an instagram sensation bakery product or negative after going off on a famous celebrity chef. The additional publicity, needing to re-train staff, possibly even a tv crew camped on your doorstep. The conflicts and challenges faced both professionally and on a personal/relationship level is worth at least 50k words.

    This can be part of the Party Planner series. #1 (nano2014) was about the OPs meeting, #2 (nano2005) was about planning the restaurant so this one can be #3.

  5. Spotter
  6. I probably need to read a few more dystopian books before tackling this one. I know what I want, and I practice spotting while out and about myself so one of these days it will get written.

I can’t decide between 1 or 2. May be I’ll go for 1 because it seems to be more fleshed out. I’ll give myself a few days, then start mindmapping.

nano 2016 validated


Validation started. Scrivener says I’m at 50819 but the validator says 50727. That’s almost 100 words, not sure why such a huge discrepancy. No big deal. Green bar turned to purple bar, yay.

I’ve been adding 100 or so words a day and will do so until the 30th. I hope that when I come back and edit this one I can do better than have the characters constantly going to restaurants and have talking heads conversation.

I’ll wait till next year to activate my evernote upgrade. Disappointed that there’s no sponsor offer for Scrivener app, apparently they can’t use coupons or discount codes on the app store. Frustrating. Their price doesn’t make sense, you have to pay for different platforms so someone with a pc, a mac and an iphone will have to pay 3 times.

nano day 16 | 3306 words 50131 total


Done. Another nano. Yay. Took me less than 2hrs to get the final 3000-ish words to get to 50k.

I’ll probably continue writing small amounts up to the end of the month, to earn that update wordcount every day badge. I think after this, I’ll put this story to one side even though it’s far from finished. Probably only half done. The premise was good, the interactions between the characters was good but the execution or progression of the mystery wasn’t that good. I got more interested in the people than the mystery. Ah well. That’s the point of nano, to get a novel started. Hopefully it gets finished one day, I’d like to seek some help and bounce around some ideas with other people.

Validation starts on the 20th I think. Another purple bar. Yay.

nano day 15 | 3468 words 46825 total


Had some bank errands to run, then went to the market. Writing was done between 8-10pm. I’m getting a bit bored with the mystery. I have an idea of the outcome and now I have to lay red herrings and explore various people’s motives and action before I can go to the big reveal. We have a couple of suspects and a couple of missing people. I’m not convinced the suspects are suspects. They are not all aboveboard, but are they directly responsible for the friend’s disappearance? May be I should take the MCs in a different direction. The mystery is nowhere near close to being wrapped up.

The good news is, I’m at 46k. One, max two more days to go. So here comes the dilemma I face every year. Do I stop at 50k or do I continue with the story. Grr, I know what will happen. I’m disappointed at myself already.

nano day 14 | 3070 words 43357 total


Went with mum to the clinic in the afternoon and ended up having shabu shabu dinner. This was an ayce place and we could choose soup base and quality of beef. Usually with mum or mm I pick the second cheapest option, which comes with freeflow soft drinks. I splashed out today and picked the third cheapest option, of Australian beef. It turned out to be a great choice, the meat was tender and not fatty. The kind waitress gave us lean meat when we said we prefer it over fatty meat. She seemed surprise that I keep thanking her whenever she came to clear our plates or give us extra meat. Are manners that lacking in our society? Anyway another benefit was freefow Asahi in additional to soft drinks. May be this third cheapest is an option for next time I go with mm.

Wrote a little after lunch before we went out but the bulk of today’s writing was done after we got home from dinner. Wanted to get 3000 words for the day. The MCs are enjoying their alone time too much but I made one of the suspects call them up and arrange a meeting, so more to come and we can get back on track with the mystery in the next chapter.

Wrist update: under control. Foam rollering and wearing the brace to bed are effective remedies.

nano day 13 | 4072 words 40287 total


Target of 40k this weekend reached. More about machine learning, and description of MC1’s home. I didn’t go overboard with the description, one paragraph per room. There’s quite a lot more of the story to write about, especially about the mystery which has gotten neglected.

Non-nano stuff, themes from today’s readings and gospel were apt for these troubling times. We had a father visiting from Italy and he told us: for those who despair and there seems to be no hope, the sun is coming. There will be good shepherds to lead us. The gospel warns us that there will be people who come in Jesus’ name who will deceive and persecute and hate us, but we are not to despair:

by your perseverance you will secure your lives

It’s also Remembrance Sunday. I didn’t see any place that sold poppies this year (some people say m&s but I didn’t see it). Anyway, I guess it’s what is in our hearts. I kept listening to this moving I Vow to Thee My Country, from the festival of remembrance at the Albert Hall a few years ago. It’s a hymn I know very well, we sang it often at school.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

nano day 12 | 5002 words 36215 total

5002 36215


When I woke up this morning I had no motivation to carry on the story. Not that I was out of ideas, I just didn’t feel like it. The trick was to skip the section that was coming up, which I didn’t want to write about, and then onto the sections after that. That worked. It’s only 9pm, I could have pushed further but I’ll leave it till tomorrow. Another 5k Saturday, there’s a chance I can get to 40k tomorrow.

Most of the last 2000 words were filler. MC2 runs a startup that has a product in the internet-of-things / machine learning field. I was doing research on machine learning. (Yes, yes, I know no research during nano.) So fascinating. Sigh, what if I had taken computer science at school? I would have loved to know more about machine learning, neural nets and artificial intelligence. The famous google alphago algorithm that beat a professional go player, self-driving cars, the machine that raced a journalist to write a short financial news report, even the basic teach a robot to pick up pieces of legos, all examples of machine learning.

This is a great video of ten must see machine learning products.

nano day 11 | 154 words 30213 total


Office day, busy and didn’t get much chance to do personal stuff. Met mm for happy hour and dinner, so was home late.

Wrote a couple of sentences. Added a couple more sentences after getting home. It’s fine, I expected few words on an office day. I may not be able to get to 40k by Sunday, it’s also fine.

Had some time to do a little research today on machine learning. MC2’s startup is related to that. Fascinating topic. Don’t understand the technology or how the algorithms work, the concept alone is worth finding out more.

nano day 10 | 2682 words 31059 total


My niece’s birthday today, so we have dinner plans. I wanted to go out earlier to find a book for her, I already have her birthday presents, the book is an addition.

Nice dinner at a great burger restaurant. The adults shared a bottle of wine and everyone tucked into the starters and burgers. Mum and I had lamb, sis had cheeseburger, gis had bacon cheeseburger and Rob had beetroot burger. I told the server it’s my niece’s birthday and they gave us dessert on the house.

I worked hard to get to 30k words before going out. Too tired after coming home to add to it significantly. This is the part of the story that delves deeper into the MCs’ lives and secrets. Will they accept each other’s secrets or will the secrets drive a wedge through them? evil laugh

nano day 09 | 3260 words 28377 total


I woke up and found a livestream to watch the US election. Watched in horror as the results started coming in. It got too much, I had to go out to the park for a walk (and pokehunt). Coming home it was even worse. I tried to stay watching until I couldn’t take it anymore. First Brexit, then China meddling with our indepedent judiciary system, then this Trump. I feel like there’s nowhere to run away to.

I had no motivation to continue with nano. Then when I started I found it cathartic and somehow incorporated today’s dismal news into the story. Dark elements rear their heads. It wasn’t just the MCs’ missing friend, it was something bigger that involved organisations in other parts of the world that were up to no good. Terrorists, arms dealers, the alt-right in America that has declared war on their neighbours at home.

Target wsa 28k. I’ll be busy tomorrow and Friday but no plans at the weekend. Hopefully I can get to 40k by the end of Sunday.

When I updated wordcount on the nanosite, I saw that I’d gone over 600k lifetime nanowords. One tiny thing to smile about.

nano day 08 | 3012 words 25117 total


Went grocery shopping but detoured to the small park I used to do short runs, apparently it’s a charmander nest. I managed to catch 6 or 7 within half an hour; a couple ran away. Then it was as if they were taking a break and none appeared for the next half hour, so I went off to the market. Got home around 4pm. Was distracted by the NYT’s opening up access for free until Wednesday. Lots of articles to read.

Target was 25k. Just managed to get to 23k before dinner and added the usual 2k before bed. Getting to the halfway point on day 8 is right on schedule. Also right on schedule is pain in my left wrist. I wore the brace to bed last night, it looks like a bout of serious rollering before bed is needed.

This next chapter isn’t finished. I’m focusing more on the various characters’ secrets which get revealed as part of the investigation. Ultimately, whether the main mystery is as important remains to be seen.

nano day 07 | 3557 words 22096 total


No plans today. I should go grocery shopping, may be tomorrow. I also sorted out more bank stuff, online access is so convenient. Basically a lazy day that if I weren’t in the middle of nano, would have been spent reading.

Target was between 21.5k and 22k, so that I can aim at 25k tomorrow. I got to 20k before dinner and now I’m at 22k. I find I’m writing almost a chapter a day. In this next one, the MCs finally do some work investigating the mystery. All I can say is, oftentimes it’s the staff and domestic servants that provide the most information and insight. Oh, and bring cakes and pastries.

nano day 06 | 3350 words 18539 total


Homily today was about living in the present and not dwelling on the past which has…passed and not thinking all the time about the future that we have no idea what will bring us. Make the best of the current moment because that’s what we can control.

There was a lot on tv for a change. 5 episodes of TAR Canada, which I’d never seen before. Then Harry Potter 1 and 2. Argh. No time for nano. I watched the TARCANs and gave up on the HPs.

Target today was 18k total. The MCs are spending too much time hanging out with each other, going on weekend outings and sitting at outdoor cafés watching an elderly fisherman hauling crab pots. Not doing much work on solving the mystery of their missing friend. But hey, another chapter finished.

nano day 05 | 5163 words 15189 total


Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Happy Guy Fawkes’ Night! Nothing is happening here but I always remember bonfire night even when I’m not in the UK.

Today is double up day. Things we can do include doubling our donation and getting, for instance, $50 gifts for $25. We can also aim at doubling our current wordcount or doubling our daily wordcount target.

I always try to get 5000 words a day at the weekends. Today I had no plans to go out but plans to make chicken curry for dinner so I split the writing into chunks. I wanted to get to 12k by the time I started prepping the chicken, which I did. I chopped up 4 chicken legs, on the bone. Mirepoix, garlic, ginger, potato, carrots, curry paste and coconut milk. While the chicken was cooking, I aimed at getting to 13k by dinner. Another 2000 words between 8.30pm and 10pm and I’m at 15k. Yay.

Chapter 4 is done, the MCs went to dinner and took a late night stroll along the seafront park. The beginning of chapter 5 is the next morning. I’m going through the days slowly. They are going about their day separately today but they made a date to have phone lunch together. Hahaha.

nano day 04 | 2246 words 10026 total


More bank stuff with sis. Lots of waiting and signing forms. This one bank is done. Lunch at a foodcourt, went with her to the supermarket, bus home by 2.30pm.

Did filing and other stuff. Long dinner and watched tv till 9pm so bulk of writing was done between 9.30pm and 11pm. The target today was to get to 10k to get back on track.

The MCs continued their investigation and met with one of the dinner participants. Originally the chapter was on their missing friend but I’ll tackle the secret of this other friend first after she unwittingly revealed possible motive. It’s interesting how the characters and the story takes on a totally different direction by themselves. The second half of the chapter is the MCs’ car breaking down and they spend some time chatting and getting re-aquainted. I have an idea of what MC2’s secret may be. Everyone seems to be having financial troubles.

nano day 03 | 392 words 7780 total | office bbmm


In the office today, started a new project, not much time to slack off. Wrote one paragraph in the morning, that was it.

Met mm after work to visit a craft exhibition. All sorts of masking tape in different colours and patterns. The idea is to decorate plain objects like cups, books, picture frame with these tapes. I got something like 20 rolls for my niece as birthday present next week.

Sake and umeshu tasting at the supermarket, bought more bottles.

Dinner was at the food section of a wet market. It’s a housing estate we’d never heard of before, let alone visited. Found it online, good reviews. Definitely one of those unassuming neighbourhood places. Lots of customers, reasonably clean. All you can eat seafood hotpot. The clams, fish and prawns were okay, nothing to write home about. The crabs though were fantastic so we focused on that. Small flower crabs, fiddly to eat. We were there until 12am, one of the last tables to leave. The friendly ladies there gave us two large crabs that weren’t part of the buffet. We were too full by then so we cooked them and sneaked them inside a plastic bag to take home.

Caught the last train to mm’s stop and she drove me home. By the time I showered it was almost 2am. Wrote another small paragraph. Not worried about nano, I knew today would not be productive so banked wordcount the past 2 days.

nano day 02 | 4227 words 7388 total


Wrote on and off from 10.30am to 9.30pm. The first few years when I was giving myself too much pressure to get 5000 words a day I would have continued until bedtime. The last few years I’ve taken a more relaxed attitude. Since I’m in the office tomorrow, I wanted to get a decent wordcount today and 4000 is okay.

It was so easy to slip back to nano mode and deploy the tried and tested tricks. One of the MCs is called Sarah Jane, her name is never shortened to Sarah or SJ. Keep all dialogue tags, delete the extraneous he said, she said when editing. Padding in the form of weather and food description. Have the MCs drink sauvignon blanc not chardonnay; pinot noir instead of malbec.

In the early years, and even now, we are taught to just type. Never hit backspace, ignore punctuation, forget about capitalising the first letter of of sentences, use abbreviations (eg the aforementioned Sarah Jane would be S J when typing). I don’t need to do that.

Chapter 2 is done. The MCs meet up to plan their next steps. Make a list, make notes, do research. I could do an American Psycho and spend pages, or a whole chapter, talking about using evernote, onenote, google drive, dropbox. I don’t need to do that. I’ve made a start on chapter 3. More meeting up for lunch. The next part is where the investigation starts. I’m trying to plant clues about secrets. I know what MC1’s secret is, but I’ve yet to figure out MC2’s. I still don’t know the outcome of this story, it’s like writing a whodunnit without knowing up front who did it.

nano day 01 | 3161 words


It’s november again. Even though I don’t feel like writing, I know I’ll regret it if I DNS, like how I hate that I didn’t even try in 2007 and it’s too late to go back.

I procrastinated all morning. Read the news, bummed around reddit, played candy crush. Anything to avoid making a start. But I forced myself to open up scrivener at 10.30am. Mum was out for most of the afternoon so I made some progress. I haven’t been able to focus for long periods of time lately so I typed a few paragraphs and did something else. Got to 1667 mid-afternoon and 2000 before dinner.

Finished the first chapter at 9.30pm and it’s a good place to pause. Initially I thought this might be a prologue but it’s okay as chapter 1. Mostly backstory, introducing the cast of characters and the backbone of the storyline. Since it’s a what-if on what happened at the reunion dinner with my actual college friends, I’m using their real names in the interest of typing fast. I’ll change to fake names when I edit, it’s easier to have a picture of the person in my mind when writing. I really haven’t seen these people for years, so characterisation is perception, memory and imagination. Only the two MCs have fake names, since they’re made up people.

Most of chapter 1 is written as text messages as the group communicate with each other on whatsapp. At first I’m typing the texts like dialogue, with quotation marks, but it didn’t look right. I asked my JAFC crew and they said to use italics. It looks so much better. I’m also not labelling the texts with the person. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who spoke something. When necessary, I’ll have someone call someone else out by name. I wish I can layout the texts like how they look like on the iphone, it’ll be much clearer.

There are 12 people at the dinner and the idea is that all 12 have secrets and are potential suspects in the mystery. My aim is to focus on one person per chapter, then a wrap up at the end. Thing is, I’m not even sure that the mystery is, or even the final outcome. That makes it a very interesting writing exercise.



nano starts in 7 days. I struggled to come up with an idea; I still feel it isn’t the right year for spotter so I need a fresh one. Up to a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d do a collection of short stories based at an airbnb. All sorts of characters and stories. Probably not the most original and don’t really have any clue on what ties them together.

Then I had an aha moment after going to the college friends’ reunion. As the menu was fixed and there was no corkage, we knew how much the meal was gonna be approximately. The organiser took our contribution at the beginning of the meal. She rounded it up to the nearest 100 and suggested that any left over money she’ll go buy lottery tickets. She was super transparent and posted the tickets she bought to our whatsapp group. Needless to say we didn’t win.

But it got me thinking. What if the same thing happened to a group of college friends. Instead of posting the tickets, the organiser was silent and a few days after the draw, disappeared altogether. Did we win? Did she abscond with the money? Did something happen to her, someone stole our winning ticket? Like an Agatha Christie mystery, I thought about every character having a hidden motive for the money. The police wasn’t interested so that’s where the MC (or MCs) come in.


I asked mm about the idea last week and she came up with a few suggestions. As we were in toastbox and we didn’t have any paper, I used the tried and tested napkin method of brainstorming. I’ll copy it to a mindmap before I start.

I’m quite pleased with the idea. Not all fleshed out yet, see how it goes. So the graphics are downloaded, the spreadsheet template updated and finally I’m ready for this year’s nano.

#15 nano 2015 validated

Task #15 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2015. Got to 50k on day 15, but to truly complete means having it validated on the nanosite and getting the winner’s badge. Validation started today, and I validated at 52,219. Scrivener gives me 52,282 and google docs 52,199—there’s always a discreprency when using different tools.

There’s an achievement badge for updating wordcount 30 days in a row, so I’ve been writing a few hundred words a day to keep it going. I’ll try to remember to continue until the 30th. I think badges reset every year so I’m not entirely sure why I’m so keen to get the badge. I suspect it’s OCD, that I can’t bear to have one greyed out badge amongst the entire set. 

#nano day 15: 6297 words | 50345 total



Done. I’m surprised and happy about finishing on day 15. I barely managed the goal 2k during the first week (blue vs red on chart). Once I got some peace and quiet and am mostly over jetlag it got better (blue line growing exponentially). Did a big push today, and the characters helped. Resolved a big conflict and made a lot of progress in the relationship. These are good characters, I quite like them. There is a good crew of side characters too. Originally I didn’t think this story is publishable, now I think there are possibilities.

If novels were 50k in length, I can type in THE END. But they are not, so I’m giving the characters another adventure. A change in location, trying to find a little conflict, developing the relationship further, happy ending. I say this every year, that I’ll try to contine writing until the story is finished vs stopping at 50k, but I never do. Let’s see.

The traditional statistical part of the yay, 50k post:

  • 50,345 words in 15 days = average 3,356 per day
  • highest wordcount day = day 15 at 6,297 words
  • lowest wordcount day = day 03 at 1,305 words — I was surprised I got any words in, that was the day of my flight
  • dares used = 1 — Mr Ian Woon only, didn’t even look at the dares thread
  • total nano years = 11
  • lifetime nano words = 568,301
  • finishing on day 15 is the average finish day
  • quickest finish = 10 days (2004)
  • slowest finish = 23 days (2011)

Validation is from the 20th this year. Oh, remember the book I was reading? I got distracted by #paris news cycle, I finished nano before I finished the book. Wrist pain update: painful from the first day, relieved by wearing brace all day and using the smaller foam roller on hand, wrist and arm.



nano day 14: 3633 words | 44048 total


3633 words | 44048 total

Woke up to the sad news of the tragic terrorist attack in Paris. So awful. Spent the morning glued to the livefeed from the guardian and NYT (they took down the paywall) as well as twitter. Hence no writing got done.

The target was to get to minimum 2000, so am happy that I found more. It’s a day off for the MCs, They started the day with declarations of love (yay!) and then spent the day touring a chocolate factory (yay!) and more kissing. Going okay.



nano day 13: 5096 words | 40415 total


5096 words | 40415 total

For most of the day I had the flat to myself. Distracted with reading and cooking. Just managed to squeak past 5k.

The thing about the middle third of a novel is, there never seems to be enough material to go around. I can’t just have one conflict, one suspicious act, then it all gets resolved straightaway. Have to drag it out, have more discussions, more layers.

Today is also love your ML day. I have friend who was ML for a while, when nano was still small. Don’t know if she’s even involved anymore. #weloveML


nano day 12: 5116 words | 35319 total


5116 words | 35319 total

Some years I’m done by day 12, it’s my highest ranking finish day—4 times in total. Anyway another 5k day is worth feeling good about. I finished the book I was reading and immediately moved to the sequel. It may become a race, finish the book first or finish nano.

And finally at 35k we make a move to act 2. A little intrigue, some suspicious behaviour and look! first kiss. The story and characters are surprising me in how well they are coming together. I shouldn’t jinx anything though.

The next nano event is backup day, which falls on the middle sunday, I think. I hope I’m sufficiently backed up. I’m writing in scrivener, which gets copied every day to google docs and a word doc. The scriv file, the word docs and the xls tracker are saved on the mbp, dropbox and my flashdrive. Basically everything is on the mbp, somewhere in the cloud and on my flashdrive.



nano day 11: 5025 words | 30203 total


5025 words | 30203 total

A 5k day to get to 30k, it’s all good. Which is a relief because I started reading a book last night and: a) it’s a good book; b) I shouldn’t be reading during nano. It acts as a good reward system though—get to x and read a chapter.

For a nano that wasn’t well planned, the pieces are coming together quite nicely. I don’t just write, I do research and look stuff up as I go along. So far, I’ve have information not just on work travel but mapped out the past trips of MC2, who’s been doing this for 9 months. Other research include flight departure & arrival times, art exhibtions at airports, a brewpub beer menu, shower facilities at a beach, the nearest mcdonald’s to an airport, alaskan tribes, ATV riding on sand dunes, sunset times, rice & water proportions to make congee for a layman. I quite like this doing research as I’m writing, in fact I haven’t taken out my handwritten planning sheet yet.

Mr Ian Woon has made his annual appearance. This year, he is an outfitter ATV expert who takes guests from the ranch on four wheeler trips on the sand dunes of southern oregon.

Of course at 30k, my left wrist has been hurting for a few days. Hurting a lot today, I have the brace on almost the entire time.


nano day 10: 3958 words | 25178 total


3958 words | 25178 total

Halfway on day 10. Reasonable progress. I’ll be fine if I finish on the 20th; I hope I can finish earlier.

Chapter 4 is done. MC2 completed her long journey to the destination and MC1 was the volunteer who picked her up from the airport. The sign spelled her name was wrong so they had a humourous introduction. There’s already some mild flirting.


nano day 09: 3685 words | 21220 total


3685 words | 21220 total

I think this is the first full day I’ve stayed in, without going out. I suppose I have to start running again some time. Ah well.

Received some very sad news in the morning, that our friend had passed away. Lots of tributes and heartfelt posts on fb. She would have wanted us to carry on living our lives in full as before.

Took it easy with the writing, didn’t stress myself out too much. Around 1k in the morning, more in the afternoon and another 1k after dinner. Finished chapter 3, MC1 arrived at the destination and met a bunch of side characters. I took time out to create the side characters in scrivener. In chapter 4 it’s MC2’s turn to travel. A longer flight, with 2 layovers. They will meet at the end of the chapter.


nano day 08: 2500 words | 17535 total


2500 words | 17535 total

Went out to Jamie’s Italian for my niece’s birthday lunch, had a mussel pasta that was actually quite bland, the gelato dessert made up for it. Too full for dinner, just had a plum.

Got to an even 2500 words for the day and it’s a good point to stop. Not very often do you get even wordcount like this.

MC1 had breakfast at the airport, then boarded a flight heading west. There was a layover, which added words. It’s an actual flight, I got the details on departure, arrival times, layover times and even layover terminal map. She arrived, got a rental car and found a place to have a late lunch. Everyone is proceeding to the destination slowly.

nano day 07: 2022 words | 15035 total


2022 words | 15035 total

It’s #doubleupday, and we’re encouraged to:

  • double your wordcount or daily goal
  • donate $25 to get $50-level goodies
  • enter into the Grand Prize and hourly prize draws

I didn’t double my daily goal or anything ambitious. Tired today, so utilised an old trick to add wordcount, wrote 1000 words explaining sharing economy. Seeing that MC1 is the CEO of one such startup, it’s not too far off track. In the editing process, information dump (or writersplaining, a sibling to mansplaining) like this will be deleted or dramatically cut.

Anyway, day 7 and I’m at 15k, which looks more impressive when it’s converted to a pie chart. It’s a good achievement considering I spent almost one complete day travelling and the next 4 days jetlagged. But if I’m only at 30k next weekend, I’ll be disappointed.

Just started chapter 3 after 2 lengthy introductory chapters. MC1 is in the process of flying to the destination, hence the discussion about uber vs taxi and airbnb vs hotel. She’s not even at the airport. There will be some more padding about flying tomorrow, hahaha. MC2 isn’t on the same continent, so she needs to find her way there. Not before saying tearful goodbyes with her friends.

nano day 05: 2253 words | 11278 total


2253 words | 11278 total

It’s Bonfire Night. Celebrated with a whisky, small one because I’m sleepy. Woke up at 5am, went out to the post office to pick up a registered letter and stopped off at the supermarket to get food. No fridge, so limited in selection. Bought carrots and kale to make carrot soup. The kale came in a big bunch so used the stalk in the soup too which was an improvement in flavour.

Continued with chapter 2, it’s dragging a bit now, but good for nano. Averaging 2256 words after 5 days, extrapolating finish on the 23rd.

nano day 04: 1945 words | 9025 total | flight home


1945 words | 9025 total

Day of the flight. Car’s cousin Mike kindly took me to the airport and I was checked in and through security in no time. Bought a Balvenie triple cask 16 that we first tasted in Heathrow, then bought 4 pork buns at wow bao for lunch. Beer at the bar next to the gate was expensive, $11.

The flight was full, and I got upgraded to premium economy. Here’s the dilemma, which is the better seat: an aisle seat in economy or a middle seat in premium economy? I would have preferred an aisle seat but the lady sitting next to me was nice and slept most of the way. The additional seat width and leg room were good in helping to make 15hrs pass faster.

Disappointed that there wasn’t much to watch, no big action film, no Bake-off and too many old tv programs (Prime Suspect s1, Entourage s1, ugh). Watched Spy (funny, good) and The Hundred-Foot Journey, which was a real gem. An Indian family’s car broke down in the middle of the French countryside and they decided to settle down roots, opening a restaurant directly opposite a Michelin-star establishment. War ensued, but of course it was a happy ending in the end. Helen Mirren was brilliant in this predictable feel good movie, perfect for watching on the plane.

PE had better food. Filet steak and creamy shrimp on rice. I had half a glass of wine, but mainly stuck to coke zero and sparkling water.

Door to door was 20hrs, and I lost most of Wednesday. Got home around 9.30pm, showered and unpacked quickly.

My nano time is based in Chicago so when I woke up at 5am there was enough time to write and assign it to day 4. I wanted to get around 1000 words in, and am pleased that I got almost 2000.


nano day 03: 1305 words | 7080 total


1305 words | 7080 total

My flight is at 2pm so there was time in the morning to get some writing done. It would have been nice to get to the 1667 minimum but I’m pleased at the progress. Chapter 2 introduces MC2, sitting at a bar with a view of a nice bay sunset. I’m not being very creative this year, I’m using locations I’m sure I’ve used before, but these are locations I’m familiar with. If/when this one ever gets moved to the possibly publishable list, then I’ll rewrite.


nano day 02: 3029 words | 5775 words total


3029 words | 5775 words total

My last full day in Chicago, I’m still home alone. Another brilliant blue sky day that was too good to stay in all day. I continued with the story, getting 1000 words in before heading out. Walked 2 miles to a really nice supermarket, with so many great fruit & veg, meat and other goods I so desperately want to buy. But I can’t. I limited myself to a thin sliced porterhouse, which was on discount. One artichoke and some biscuits for Mum and Gis. The steak, together with leftover kale and two green tomatoes I bought at the Mexican supermarket yesterday, was for lunch.

Packed up both suitcases and tidied up a little. Watched a bit of tv then wrote some more. Made dinner of cornish game hen and artichoke. Watched more tv, writing some more during comercial breaks. Finished chapter 1 after the program finished, MC1 is introduced. The chapter dragged on a bit, isn’t as punchy as a first chapter as I’d like. Quite pleased that I reached 5k on day 2.<p>&nbsp;</p>

nano day 01: start


It was funny to see last night on #nanowrimo people in Australia and Asia already starting. For the next few days I’ll be at the end of the nanoday, before doing back to being at the start. I’ll miss a day or two when I’m on the plane which is okay.

There was also the #moranstrong 5k to run this morning. It was supposed to be yesterday but a) it was raining heavily and b) I had a bad cough. Wrote about 1000 words before setting out.


Had lunch then went outside for a walk since it was such a nice day, and such contrast to yesterday. It was about 1 mile to Blue Island “high street” which was mostly closed except for a few eating places, a bakery, two liquor stores, a Mexican supermarket and a few bars. Not a very prospering town centre. The strange thing was that I encountered barely any pedestrians during the walk and back. May be 10. A few people waiting for the bus, a couple of cyclists, two men smoking outside a bar. I guess people simply don’t walk here. Americans are so dependent on their cars.

Came back before 4pm. The clocks changed last night so sunset was earlier. Wrote some more. I’m most proud of the 520k lifetime average. Aiming at 2500 per day.


nano prep



It’s almost nano time again. Year 11. I see many more people signing up, because nano has gone mainstream. I also see many people saying this is the month they will add 50k words to their 30k manuscript. Sigh. Another problem with going maintream. Traditionally, and for purists like me, nano means starting a novel from scratch and getting to 50k words. But no, the faq has been changed:

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo works best when you start a brand-new project. It may be an arbitrary distinction, but we’ve seen that novelists do better (and have more fun) when they’re free from the constraints of existing manuscripts. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate!

That said, we welcome all writers at any stage. Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged. Just be sure to only count words written during the month.



Anyway, I’ll continue to do it the traditional way. This year, I struggled to come up with a theme. And took a long time before I was able to come up with some semblance of a plot. But I finally was able to scribble a pageful of stuff. I may have to resort to more dares than usual.

The setting is based on a review I read on workaway, a sort of airbnb for working holidays. The website matches hosts who need help, for instance at a farm, with volunteers who offer around 5hrs of work a day in exchange for room and board. The comments on the review was that the location was great but the host was disorganised and volunteers were not treated with respect. Got me thinking along the lines of undercover boss meets secret diner. Let’s see at the end of the month if it works.


#14: nano 2014


Task #14 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2014. It’s one of those tasks I put in there because I knew I’d get it done. It’s not me trying to show off or anything, the fact is that I’ve finished all the nanos I’ve started, so the odds are very good.

I’m very pleased they opened up validation on the 20th this year, I think it’s the earliest they’ve done so. Actually I don’t see why validation isn’t available on day 01, since there are people who challenge themselves get to 50k in one day, and the validation code surely hasn’t changed in years.


Anyway, I validated at 60k words, but actually only 57k was written in november. I could have deleted the pre-nano words when I copied over to validate, but I couldn’t be bothered. Details, details. I got to 50k on day 12, which is pretty good. (My average finish is day 15.) Since day 12, I’ve slowly written a few hundred words a day. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it now, or leave it till later. It’s not a bad story.

nano day 12 | 3050 words 50081 total


3050 words 50081 total

Another year, another nano finished. The story isn’t done, let’s see if I have the interest and motivation to finish it this month. I may be able to carry on this year, I’m not tired of the story yet. There’s a good 10-15k left, and if I can stretch it out to 20k, it brings me to 73k overall and a good length. Even though there is A LOT of editing and probably deleting needed. That’s the point of a first draft. 

nano day 11 | 3254 words 47031 total


3254 words | 47031 total

I spent most of the day frustrated. In the morning, firefox updated to v33.1, and then decided not to load all google sites. This meant no search, no google maps and no google docs (plus no gmail, no youtube—it’s amazing how we rely on google). Important because the next chapter was about the MCs going on a road trip and I need to look at distances, routes and sights. I tried skipping to the next chapter but I find that I can’t write out of order. I was pretty mad.

I’m extremely glad I’m writing on scrivener and not google docs this year.

I was able to get search working by using, and I google maps worked perfectly fine on the ipad. The problem was solved after dinner by deleting all google cookies, clearing the cache and restarting the mba. I should have thought of it earlier but it never occurred to me that updating firefox would screw things up like this. Not sure what happened.

Yes, even though it would have been good to push to get to 50k, it doesn’t matter. 3000 words needed tomorrow, I’m relaxed. 

nano day 10 | 3374 words 43777 total


3374 words 43777 total

Today is my niece’s birthday. We went for dinner at the crêpe restaurant near their home, her choice. I was busy in the afternoon, and we left early to go to the market beforehand. Great dinner, good food. I had buckwheat crêpe with ham, egg, emmental, roquefort and salad, we had a couple of large bottles of cider. Little one was very happy with her presents.

In terms of nano, today was a short day. 3000-odd words is not bad. I’m not in any hurry because, touch wood, there is no way I won’t make 50k. Let’s see how I feel, whether I want to finish the novel or finish at 50k.

I incorporated one of the dares:

have your characters get involved in a food fight
BP: if it takes place in a place you wouldn’t expect a food fight
DBP: if it takes more than 1667 words to describe
TBP: if it’s important to the plot

So MC2 got fired because she called her boss on him taking money from the restaurant’s bank account. Although ultimately all profits go to him, as the owner, it wasn’t the right thing to do. So her best friend decided to hold a food fight party to cheer her up. That satisfies the dare.

BP: best friend’s family owns a swimming pool supply and maintenance business. The food fight party took place there, they had pools and gardens set up on display so it was easy to clean up.

DBP: the entire section of party planning, the actual party, the fight and the après fight party was 4568 words; the part dealing specifically with fight prep (had to prepare all the food), actual fight and declaration of winner was 2089 words

TBP: was it important to the plot? The entire story is going from party to party, as the MCs’ relationship strengthens. This food fight party was to transition between MC2 getting fired and the next section, of them going on a road trip. I guess it’s important to the plot.

nano day 09 | 5000 words 40403 total


5000 words | 40403 total

No one sets out deliberately to write exactly 5000 words in a day, and neither did I. When I came to an appropriate stopping point at the end of today’s writing—the end of a section—I saw that I had 4999 words. So it was easy to add a single word to the last paragraph bringing me to exactly 5000. I’m now at 40k for nano, 80% done. Not bad.

Today is Remembrance Sunday. I was delighted to see I could get a poppy the other day when mm and I had lunch at the Marriott. There are still some isolated pockets of Britishness left, it’s one of the unspoken aims of #occupyhk, to retain the heritage. One of my favourite quotes for Remembrance Sunday is from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, which was first published in The Times in September 1914:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

I can’t incorporate Remembrance Day into my story, since it’s set in Nashville and my characters are too young. I did have them have a discussion about Memorial Day menu in the restaurant where MC2 works. I could have written a poppy in, but it would have felt forced.

Coming up: a food fight party and a surprise party for MC1. The entire story has been written from MC1’s pov so I guess the trick is to establish the surprise party without her knowing about it and then having the surprise element.

nano day 08 | 5369 words 35403 total


5369 words | 35403 total

What is surprising is I’m 35k (actual total 39k) in and I’m not hating the story. There’s enough to story to write on, and my MCs have only been together 4 months. May be I’ll bring them to 6 months together, or 1 year. Find other events and parties. End on a high note.

Today is what the nanofolks call #doubleupday. They want us to double our daily wordcount target, double the time we write, and in return they will double the rewards for donation. Since my A goal is 2000 words, I’ve been doubling up almost every day. I’ve done 10k days before; but with my wrist in this condition, it’s not something I particularly want to do these days.

Anyway, the first saturday or sunday is usually back up your novel day. I make sure I have backups. I’m writing in Scrivener for the first time this year, the .scrv file is copied to dropbox and the flashdrive every night. I also copy what I’ve written to both google docs and Word every night, the .doc is copied to dropbox and flashdrive. So basically there are copies on the mba, google docs, dropbox and flashdrive. That’s more than doubling up, right?  

nano day 07 | 4458 words 30034 total

The Collywobbles
flickr / ministryofstories under CC

4458 words | 30034 total

I got to 30k. Looking at last year, 30k was on day 8 so I’m one day ahead. One of these days I’ll do a chart comparing daily progress of all 10 nanos. That’d be a busy chart, heh.

All but about 300 words written today was for one chapter. And I had the MCs spend the entire chapter making lunch. Cooking, discussing about cooking, tasting and eating. At the beginning of nano, Carleen posted as one of her words of the day the word collywobbles, and the word made me laugh so much that I said I’d include it as a challenge. So here is the passage:

Melody settled on her usual seat against the open counter and watched as Samantha marinated chicken in a soy, honey, mirin and ginger sauce, then checked a pot of simmering mushroom broth to which she added a tablespoon of miso paste. On her chopping board were diced onions and crushed garlic.

“Asian styled chicken?” Melody asked.

Samantha sighed. “I wish.” She picked up a packet of arborio rice and shook it at Melody. “Lenny challenged us to a cook-off. He and Rich wanted to add deep fried teriyaki chicken with a miso and mushroom flavored risotto to the menu.”

Melody made a distasteful face. “Gives me collywobbles just thinking about it.”

“Collywobbles, that’s perfect. May be we can name the dish fried chicken collywobbles with risotto,” Samantha said.

This is also the point in the story that I feel as if I’m repeating myself. I keep having those déjà vu impressions that I wrote the risotto cooking scene already in another nano, but I can’t remember which one because I don’t re-read them. May be it is time to re-read and edit some of them.

nano day 06 | 3658 words 25576 total


3658 words | 25576 total

Had lunch with mm at the marriott lounge — salad, noodles, curry, a little pasta, dessert. She had a 50% off card she borrowed from a friend so we took our time and sampled as much of the food as we liked. Afterwards we walked around occupyhk main site, it’s the first time she visited. Still lots of tents and more artwork. We came across an origami station and a display table with umbrellas, pikachu and giant duckies. Very cute.

Got home at 7pm, so with futzing around and shower, writing started at 9pm. Two hours and 15 later, I got to 25k. Halfway in 6 days, that’s about right, looking at the past few years.

This is the point when the story gets a little rambling, some of what I wrote will definitely need to be either rewritten, moved or deleted altogether. I’m not bothered, it is what it is. The point is wordcount, nothing else. Heh, I’m not only preaching to the converted, I’m preaching to myself. 

nano day 05 | 3607 words 21918 total


3607 words | 21918 total

Happy Guy Fawkes!!

No fireworks, and I have more than 8335 words. At almost 22k for nano it’s pretty good for day 5. Also, I know I’m only counting nano words, but overall the novel is at 25k, which is a nice landmark to reach.

Most of the latest chapter was at Vegas where the MCs’ best friend and sister eloped to get married. It’s sort of a portend to what may happen to our MCs, somewhere down the line. Their friend is stinking rich, so they got the best suite, superstar service and had a 5-star wedding banquet (as much as a meal for 4 can be a banquet).

Oh, and Mr Ian Woon showed up. He was the officiant at the wedding.

nano day 04 | 3239 words 18311 total


3239 words | 18311 total

Went running and then a little bit of shopping at the market. Barely hit 1000 before dinner. I noticed I’m too distracted during the day and most of my writing is done for around 2-3hrs at night. Decided to finish early today, before 11pm. Want to read a bit.

A fb conversation led me to post about my tracking spreadsheet. I didn’t make it, someone shared on the nano forums a few years ago (I just went to look at the original, it was 2009, back when it was called a report card). I’ve used this every year, changing the dates at the beginning of each nano. There are other versions floating around. I fixed some of the charting idiosyncracies so people using it won’t have to manually adjust. So far, about half a dozen people have asked for it. Good stuff. 

nano day 03 | 5064 words 15072 total


5064 words | 15072 total

Another 5k day, good stuff. MC1’s best friend gets introduced and there’s another party. This one wasn’t as successful as the previous one, ending pretty much in disaster and tension all around. I was reading nano2005 yesterday to get a sense of how these character feel about each other, and I wanted to foreshadow the tension. The sequel takes place 13 years after this, but first impressions are so important.

I also managed to, gasp, write a 300 word sex scene. The last few years sex scenes have taken the form [insert sex scene here] so I’m quite pleased I got this one in. I remember one of the most important writing lesson of show-not-tell, and I was afraid that I wasn’t showing my MCs more in love. Hence the little sex scene.

nano day 02 | 5880 words 10008 total


5880 words | 10008 total

Yay, 10k in 2 days.

Started in the afternoon, took a while to hit the 1667 mark, but once I got over a small hump, it was fairly smooth sailing. I got to the end point of the short story, with MC1’s planned party successfully completed. Trying to add some more background and family interactions. There is a bunch of side characters (both MC’s best friends, MC2’s family and sakura festival people) still to be introduced and of course more parties to be planned.

The wrist is…okay. Need to wear the brace whenever I type.

nano day 01: 4128 words


4128 words

Another year, another nano. I’m writing PP this year, and starting the wordcount at 3604. Reached 7732 today, so nano wordcount is 4128. Going forward, I’ll just report nano wordcount.

I’m sort of an old hand at this, hahaha I have no excuse. This is my 10th nano. I’m still smarting over missing 2007, but I have to get over it one of these days. For the past few years I’ve adopted a relaxed approach:

  • basic: 1667 words
  • BP: 2000-2500 words
  • DBP: 2500-5000 words
  • TBP: anything over 5000 words

It’s worth remembering:


Anyway, I’m on chapter 4, the MCs have already met, stalked each other, had the beginnings of getting-to-know-you conversations, kissed and faced a family emergency. I’m around 2/3rd of the way through the original short story, so I haven’t padded it out too much. The plan is to go into the party in question in more detail, then expand from the short story to other events and parties.

In terms of wrist pain, this will be a tough year. I injured my left wrist I think when I was doing weights. It’s the same left wrist that gets RSI during nano, so it has been occasionally painful the last month or so already. Something is visibly swollen, I don’t know what it is. I’ll just have to push through and wear the brace more often.


30in30 #25: outline nano2014


Task #25 of 30in30 is to outline this year’s nano.

Original plan was to write spotter this year, but I don’t feel like it, mainly because I’m having too much fun with it in my head and writing it down will take the fun away. In any case I want to get some momentum going for party planner, so I’m going to tackle PP this year. And since it’s already outlined, I’m sort of cheating on the task, but whatever. I’ll call it auto-completed.

I’m also cheating on nano because there’s about 2,000 words already written. Technically, nano is supposed to be writing 50k words from scratch. But hey, I’ve been doing nano enough years to know that it’s the spirit of writing 50k new words that count and it’s about time I joined the nano rebels group for a year. I just did a calculation and this will be my 10th nano.