my prep for “cheating” in NaNoWriMo 2014

Time to read: 4 minutes

I have participated in NaNoWriMo since first discovering it the early 2ks. I have managed to “win” (write 50’000 words in 30 days) ONCE. It is a daunting challenge of quantity over quality. And this year I am planning to cheat. I will write essays instead of a Novel, and below I share the topics I have chosen. NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.


why NaNoWriMo

That one “win” gave me immense satisfaction, forced me to focus and spend time by myself -writing- every single day, and to just keep. the hell. going.
50’000 words. 30 days. That’s NaNoWriMo.
Perseverance. That’s the trick.
A worthwhile lesson that I am keen to repeat. Like this excellent post by @jseiden reminded me this morning: writing is not editing. Make that your wallpaper for the month. Write it on the cover of your notebooks. Stick it to the top of the screen of your laptops. Put it as the “screensaver” image on the lock screen of the tablet you write on. Writing is not editing.

My challenge with NaNoWriMo is that it is a National NOVEL Writing Month. Novel. Not short stories, not essays, not novellas, not blog posts. A novel. I have always been better at working with arguments, points to make, outlines, a structure to work to. Thoughts. Give me a blank canvas and I will draw you horizon lines. I need boundaries to be creative (said the designer / engineer). And a novel has no boundaries. So this year, I am going to cheat.

the cheat

My cheat is that I will not write a novel. I would like to, but novels are not my writing style. I write as I think. So I will write about my thoughts. My 50’000 words will be a collection of essays on various topics that interest me. Amateur philosophy hour, perhaps. 50’000 words of it, that I hope nobody will ever read.

Incidentally, odds are the blog will go quiet in November. Now you know why.

the prep: playing by the rules; mostly

As preparation to this cheating mechanism, I have (in accordance with NaNoWriMo rules) not written a thing, but created a list of topics (some with a short outline of points to expand on) that I want to write about.

These are what I am sharing with you today. Why? Because telling someone else about a goal you are striving for makes you twice as accountable. Letting myself down is easier than letting nearly a thousand twitter followers down. I don’t expect they all care, far from it. But the idea of them knowing I have not keep my word will spur me on through the daily 1667 words quota. And you need a spur to win, believe me.


Here is the collection of topics for essays on the philosophy of technology, consumerism, marketing, media, branding, archetypes, design, psychology, behavioural economics, and other big ideas of the 21st century.
Be warned: this is a braindump.

  1. Technology and the home
  2. Multilingualism
  3. Lack of time
  4. Postpartum
  5. Ancient greek philosophy alive today
  6. Islam, judaism, christianity, and religious intolerances
  7. Kindle & physical attraction of books
  8. Members’ clubs
  9. How engineers think and why it is so strange for non-engineers
  10. How to measure success Siblings. Friends. House size, neighbourhood, comparison. Money.
  11. Armchairs
  12. Shoes. Pedestals. Office. Women. Men. Career progression. Success. CEOs being very tall.
  13. Etymology. Butchering languages & destroying millenia of heritage
  14. Public transport. Buses vs tube. City-off. Paris London Athens Rome Berlin Montreal The Hague Brussels
  15. Making
  16. Coffee
  17. Iterative design process
  18. Desserts, chocolate, sugar, happiness, diet
  19. Depression
  20. Personal computers, mobile technology, tablets, phones, the future of technology and human interaction and integration, tech in the home
  21. Clothes, jewellery, and the habit doesn’t make the monk. Or does it?
  22. Beaches, taking a break, the joy of reading & deciding where to eat next
  23. Handbags, work, and the impossibility for humans to carry all that shit around. Essentials, tools of the trade, modern tech, etc…
  24. Holidays. Beaches, mountains, cottages, and city breaks. Brain needs a holiday, body needs a holiday. Various goals when going away.
  25. Meat, vegetarianism, diet, carbs, calories. Exercise. Health. What is “fit”.
  26. Ethnography. Observing others. Context of thing. Context of behaviour. Lack of belonging: lack of a context shared / in common with the people around you, the current tribe. Ability to observe like an ethnographer comes from having lost context repeatedly as a child.
  27. Journaling, writing, philosophy. Or poetry and literature. Or being a historian. The many ways of writing and what they each turn us into. Blogger writer poet diarist philosopher futurist storyteller science fiction author. What is writing.
  28. LEGO. Toys for kids who do not have friends. Instructions. Breaking things. Starting again. Houses. Cities. Restaurants. Hospitals. Police. Role playing. Growing up. Structures. Xmas assembly of a bridge. Phone camera to record a fly by. What is the phenomenon of play.
  29. Shopping. Habit. Addiction. We are what we own. We are what we wear. Quality, price, persona. Market. Life phases. Credit cards and financial risk.
    The perfect meeting. meeting rooms. agendas. goals.
  30. Philosophy. Philosophers. The luxury of thinking, quietly, too much and how one person can move the world forward. Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Freud, Jung, Sartre, D’Ormesson. Is “philosopher” a posthumous title? Are writers philosophers? Were painters philosophers too? Dali, Magritte. Paintings that make us think. Surrealism.

If I write it, is it a win? I hope so. If nobody hears a tree fall in the woods, does it make a sound? Given nobody will read my manuscript, what I have written is less important than the fact I have consistently written a daily quota and reached the epic milestone of 50’000 words in 30 days. So yes, I think it’s a win. Call it the diary of an amateur philosopher, and the technicalities are sorted…. right?

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