Catherine Chidgey shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

 

Multi award winning novelist Catherine Chidgey shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busy beavering away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington. We thought now is an excellent time to step back for a moment take stock, seek advice and ask some of New Zealand’s leading authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

The fabulous Catherine Chidgey has the following tips:

  • What personal tips or hints would you pass on to new writers.

Shut the internet out of your writing room! No phones, no tablets…I write on an ancient laptop that cannot connect to the internet. If I want to look at pictures of cats, or check how many likes I have for my latest picture of my cat, I have to leave the writing room and go to my other laptop in the lounge. For me, this is the only way to get any work done.

  • Are there any writing traps that people fall into you can warn them about?

Don’t spend too long throat-clearing at the start of a piece of writing, and don’t overstay your welcome at the end. Once you’ve written a draft, have a look at these two spots – the start and the finish – and see if you can do some cutting in order to let a more powerful opening/closing emerge.

Branches hosting “Come Write In” spaces for NaNoWriMo:

  • Te Awe Library – Monday – Friday 5.30pm – 7.30pm; Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 2.00pm
  • Arapaki Library – Thursdays and Fridays 5.00 – 7.00pm
  • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library – Wednesdays 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Johnsonville Library – Tuesdays 4.00 – 6.30pm and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm
  • Karori Library – Fridays 3.00pm – 5.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 1.00pm
  • Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library – Mondays 5.00pm – 7.00pm and Wednesdays 2.00 – 5.00pm

We wish to thank Catherine for her invaluable advice.

And check out our previous hints and tips posts by Breton Dukes and Mikaela Nyman for more fabulous writing advice. For full details on NaNoWriMo click here.

Below is a selection of Catherine’s works including her recently released and highly acclaimed novel Remote sympathy. Enjoy.

The beat of the pendulum : a found novel / Chidgey, Catherine
” The Beat of the Pendulum is the result of one year in which Chidgey drew upon the language she encountered on a daily basis, such as news stories, radio broadcasts, emails, social media, street signs, TV, and many conversations. As Chidgey filters and shapes the linguistic chaos of her recordings, a set of characters emerge – In her chronicling of moments of loveliness, strangeness, comedy and poetry and sorrow, Chidgey plays with the nature of time and its passing. The Beat of the Pendulum is also an exploration of human memory.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The transformation / Chidgey, Catherine
“A tale of enchantment and obsession Tampa, Florida, 1898: a frontier where the progress of the modern world has not yet won the battle against the voodoo magic of the swamps, and where miracles of transformation are still possible. Dominating the town is the new Tampa Bay Hotel, with its tangle of Moorish minarets, cupolas, and arches, its Byzantine domes and thirteen crescent moons, and its electric lighting designed by Edison. This fairy-tale castle anchored at the water’s edge is a winter magnet for the best sort of people .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wish child / Chidgey, Catherine
” It’s 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who cuts prohibited words such as love and mercy out of books. Erich is an only child living a rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions. Drawn together as Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover In a Fishbone Church, Catherine Chidgey (ebook)
“When Clifford Stilton dies, his son Gene crams his carefully kept diaries into a hall cupboard – but Clifford’s words have too much life in them to be ignored, and start to permeate his family’s world. Clifford taught Gene about how to find rocks and fossils, and about how to kill birds and fish. Gene passes on a similar inheritance to his daughters, Bridget and Christina – they have their own ways of digging and discovering the past, keeping an account of life, watching out for the varieties of death that lie hidden. “(Overdrive description)

Remote sympathy / Chidgey, Catherine
“Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. Lying just beyond the forest that surrounds them – is the looming presence of a work camp. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietritch Hahn, is to take up a powerful new position. As the prison population begins to rise, the job becomes ever more consuming. When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naÏve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. A decade earlier, Dr Weber had invented a machine: the Sympathetic Vitaliser. At the time he believed that it’s subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might yet save a life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mikaela Nyman shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busily writing away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington, we thought now might be an excellent time to step back for a moment and check in with some New Zealand authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

Next up, debut novelist Mikaela Nyman — author of Sado — shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

Sado, by Mikaela Nyman on our Catalogue

What personal tips or hints would you pass on to new writers?

I would say: just start writing to find out the nature of the beast you’re dealing with and your own writing style. Don’t overthink it in the beginning. You might be surprised where it takes you. Depending on the project and your personality you might want to do some background research first, but at the end of the day nothing will come of it, unless you start writing. Even 150 words a day is a step in the right direction. If you feel passionate about an issue that’s fertile territory to lean into and explore further. Passion can carry a writer through a lot of rough patches. If you get bored with your own text, readers are likely to pick up on it too.

Do you have any writing rituals you follow before starting writing ?

Kids off to school so I can get some peace and quiet at home. Breakfast. Coffee. Apples in the fridge. I’ve found that I can’t write in cafes, unless I bring a small notebook. With a laptop I feel too conspicuous and become very self-conscious that I’m taking up space. All these people wanting my table, glaring at the woman with the laptop who’s pretending she’s still drinking her coffee …

Are there any writing traps that people fall into you can warn them about? 

It depends on the writer’s own personality and experience. Anyone who is the “constant editor” type, compelled to go through what they’ve already written from the very beginning every day, may struggle to get to the end of a first novel draft. I find I need to get to the end to know what I’m really dealing with; what to cut out, what’s missing. Find out what time of the day produces the best writing and block that time out to write. I used to hit my stride around midnight, now I find mornings produce the sharpest prose, which is exactly when friends want to meet up for coffee. Whereas poetry writing follows its own impulses.

Are there any best practices you follow when starting to write or to keep you focussed whilst writing? 

I write most days, even if I don’t feel like it. At least I have something on the page that I can edit later or discard. I also try to give myself a real break every now and then, without having a bad conscience. Specific music can be a great way to get into the right mood and time period. Other days quiet works best. But peace and quiet is hard to come by in a family of five, where both adults work from home, so I’ve invested in headphones to shut out TV, games and kids.

Is there anything you do to keep motivated when things get bogged down strategies, approaches etc ?

I read widely, in different languages, for inspiration and to see how other writers have resolved things that I’m struggling with. I derive pleasure and satisfaction from a beautifully crafted sentence, an astounding insight, and try to hold on to the joy of writing whenever it starts to feel like a slog. Alternating between long and short fiction, non-fiction and poetry is a way to come unstuck.

We wish to thank Mikaela for her invaluable advice! Check out her novel Sado on our catalogue below:

Sado / Nyman, Mikaela
“Tropical Cyclone Pam makes landfall with devastating consequences. Vanuatu is bruised but not broken. . Cathryn is an NGO worker from New Zealand who has a ruined home, a teenage son and a Ni-Vanuatu boyfriend she hasn’t heard from since the phone lines went dead. Faia is a community organiser, a radio journalist and a survivor who fights for women to be heard. Together and apart they navigate their places in the complex cultural and social systems of Vanuatu, where tradition clashes with modern urban life.” (Catalogue)

Coming soon: award-winning author Catherine Chidgey shares her NaNoWriMo hints and tips.

For more helpful suggestions, have a read of our interview with author Breton Dukes.

Don’t forget as well, we have ‘Come Write In’ sessions happening at some of our libraries, with dedicated space set aside for NaNoWriMo writers during these sessions. Find out more on our Event Calendar.

Come Write In for NaNoWriMo

Breton Dukes shares his writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

 

Breton Dukes author of What Sort of Man, Bird North and Empty Bones shares his writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busy beavering away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington. We thought now is an excellent time to step back for a moment take stock, seek advice and ask some of New Zealand’s leading authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

Breton Dukes has these tips:

Expect to fail. Over and over. Enjoy the failure. Enjoy the work of writing, forget about fame or whatever, just enjoy the act of sitting at your desk/table/wherever and making stuff up. Do it enough – the sitting and working – and you’ll create a habit. With the habit ingrained, you’ll get work made. Once you’ve made something, run through the whole thing again. Keep going through it until it makes a clear, seamless sound in your brain. Then give it to someone you trust to read. Make changes based on their feedback. Take time away from the project. A month or so. Then re-read and rewrite parts that don’t seem right. Send the work to a magazine/newspaper/online journal. While awaiting response, start a new project. Expect failure – embrace failure!

– Do you have any writing rituals you follow before starting writing?
Avoid rituals. They’ll stop you from getting work done.


Branches hosting “Come Write In” spaces for NaNoWriMo:

Newtown Library – Special one-off event on Monday 9th November 4.00pm
Kilbirnie – Special one off on Monday the 16th at 4.00pm
Te Awe Library – Monday – Friday 5.30pm – 7.30pm; Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 2.00pm
Arapaki Library – Thursdays and Fridays 5.00 – 7.00pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library – Wednesdays 10.00am – 2.00pm
Johnsonville Library – Tuesdays 4.00 – 6.30pm and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm
Karori Library – Fridays 3.00pm – 5.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 1.00pm
Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library – Mondays 5.00pm – 7.00pm and Wednesdays 2.00 – 5.00pm


We wish to thank Breton for his invaluable advice.

Coming soon award winning author  Catherine Chidgey and debut novelist Mikaela Nyman share their NaNoWriMo hints and tips. For full details on NaNoWriMo click here.


Empty bones : and other stories / Dukes, Breton
“From the author of the acclaimed short story collection Bird North, Empty Bones is a novella accompanied by five equally raw, intense, and comical short stories. Empty Bones is weightlifting, infidelity, drunk driving, facelifts, and childbirth. It’s a family and their weekend reunion. It is Lisbon to Madrid on the night train and Auckland to Wellington on a motorbike. It is the end, the beginning, and the gristly in between.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Bird North and Other Stories, Breton Dukes (ebook)
“The vignettes in these fresh, searing short stories, closely examine the complex male life. From a predatory act during a cross-country run in Fiordland to a doomed diving trip off Wellington’s south coast, this collection combines emotional urgency with a surprising dose of humor to a great range of worlds. The result is a startlingly candid portraiture of the modern man.” (Overdrive description)

Debut novelist Rachel Kerr’s NaNoWriMo tips!

NaNoWriMo celebrates the power of creativity, and is the ideal way of firing up your writing neurons. It also connects you to fellow writers, focuses your writing efforts by setting milestones and is a fantastic way to help budding writers create new worlds and stories!

To help you begin, we asked various authors to share their tips, hints and general advice for new writers. First up: debut novelist Rachel Kerr, who shares her advice on both the writing process and also how to get published.

Rachel’s book Victory Park revolves round a young mum who lives in council flats with her young son. The truth of her daily existence is that it is threadbare and unpromising. That is until the mysterious Bridget moves in to the flats, bringing with her unexpected friendship, glamour and wild dreams. But is all as it seems?

Rachel said that when she heard that Victory Park had arrived from the printer, she grabbed a carry bag and jumped on a bus and came straight down. “Nothing like holding your first novel in your hands and realising the words you sweated over for years are there, locked in, ready for others to read”.

Below is a short video with Rachel’s tips. We’d like to extend our thanks to Rachel for doing this!

Victory Park has now been published and will soon be available to borrow from our libraries–and is of course available from all good bookshops.

NaNoWriMo runs throughout the month of November in many of our branches. For full details see below.

Branches hosting “Come Write In” spaces for NaNoWriMo:

  • Newtown Library  Special one off event on Monday 9th November 4.00pm
  • Kilbirnie  Special one off on Monday the 16th at 4.00pm
  • Te Awe Library – Monday – Friday 5.30pm – 7.30pm; Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 2.00pm
  • Arapaki Library – Thursdays and Fridays 5.00 – 7.00pm
  • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library – Wednesdays 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Johnsonville Library – Tuesdays 4.00 – 6.30pm and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm
  • Karori Library – Fridays 3.00pm – 5.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 1.00pm
  • Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library – Mondays 5.00pm – 7.00pm and Wednesdays 2.00 – 5.00pm

Below is a selection of the many writing guides available from our collection that may help you on the way. Enjoy!

Overdrive cover How Not to Write a Novel, Howard Mittelmark (ebook)
“How not to Write a Novel, authors Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman distill their 30 years combined experience in teaching, editing, writing, and reviewing fiction to bring you real advice from the other side of the query letter. Rather than telling you how or what to write, they identify the 200 most common mistakes unconsciously made by writers . As funny as it is useful, this essential how-NOT-to guide will help you get your manuscript out of the slush pile and into the bookstore. (Adapted Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Write Your Novel in a Month, Jeff Gerke (ebook)
One of these days, I’m going to sit down and write that novel…. Everyone thinks about doing it, yet most people who do start a novel end up stalling after a few chapters. Where do these would-be novelists go wrong? Are the characters dull and cliched? Did the story arc collapse? Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or simply hoping to complete a draft over winter break, this book covers the entire scope of writing a novel. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, Jessica Brody (ebook)
Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story, this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate—and a novel that will sell. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

How to write short stories and get them published / Lister, Ashley
How to Write Short Stories and Get Them Published is the essential guide to writing short fiction. It takes the aspiring writer from their initial idea through to potential outlets for publication and pitching proposals to publishers. Along the journey this guide considers the most important aspects of creative writing, such as character, plot, point of view, description and dialogue. All of these areas are illustrated with examples of classic fiction, and accompanied by exercises that will help every writer hone their natural skill.” (Adapted from Catalogue)