ID: Mock cover image of Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One. Text reads: Camp NaNoWriMo Day 30, Final word count: 12, 042

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 30: Why I Feel Like a Winner

So, my final word count was 12,042. It hasn’t changed since my last update, but do I ever have a good reason for that! (Coming up in my next post, so stay tuned!)

I had set a goal for 40,000 words, knowing it was really ambitious, but I wanted to prod myself a little. As with many creatives who are experiencing all the ups and downs that go with this pandemic, it was difficult for me to focus on writing this month, too.

But that’s so totally okay because I feel like a winner!


  • I wrote words! Those are 12,042 new words for my manuscript that weren’t there in March!
  • I got to know my characters. This is a different world from the ’Cosm series, but I’ve learned to love these characters! I’m very attached to them and hope I’ll write more books with them.
  • Our writing group came back online. The Inkonceivables is back, which is wonderful, and means they’ll influence me to keep writing. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to read and to listen to works in progress!
  • I went through a bad spell, but my writing community was there for me! Because of their encouragement, I feel ready to go with drafting the rest of the “episodes” of Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One! (Read also: My Writing Community Rescued Me Once Again)

So, once more, I’m glad Camp NaNoWriMo came around this April. It served its purpose: getting me back to my keyboard. It also reignited my love for our writing group. I feel all set up to continue my new WIP, and that’s all I could ask for, really.


Take care and stay safe, folks.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.

ID: Hand holding light blue pen, writing in a notebook.

What To Do When You’re Not Writing Enough

First, ask yourself: What the heck does enough even mean?

In my opinion, a dangerous game to play is the comparison game. Before anything else, I recommend the following self-check:

  • Am I forcing myself to fit someone else’s writing routine?
  • Am I putting unrealistic expectations on myself?
  • Am I being influenced by “bullies” who tell me to drop everything and write for hours every day?
  • Have I been I going through physical or mental health challenges?
  • Have I experienced stress or loss lately?
  • Are there life events that just had to take top priority?

All of those things can derail us from sticking to a writing plan. It’s so important for your creative sessions to work for you. It’s best when it is something you can look forward to, gives you a bit of “me” time, or provides a welcomed escape into your own words.

In my case, I have not written any new content for 2019. Part of it was because I have indeed gone through mental health and physical health trials, but another part was because I felt I needed to preserve my energy to be an effective co-editor of an anthology. I knew I couldn’t work on a new novel and be at the editor-in-chief level. My priority was the editing project. Therefore, I refuse to beat myself for not writing. I know I made a wise decision.

But now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m realizing I can begin to write again! So, since it’s been a while, like six months, here’s my plan of attack:

  • Consider writing like exercise: best to start slowly and build it up.
  • Congratulate myself for writing five words as well as 500 or 1000.
  • Keep focused on my own progress and don’t compare myself to anyone else. Not even Past Me.
  • Take a break, go for a walk, air-drum, or maybe eat cake when the words won’t come.
  • If I feel stuck but not totally blocked, ask myself what I’m trying to say. Tell me the scene or chapter I want to write. (This has helped me countless times!)
  • Use “black-boxes” if I don’t feel like expanding on a specific scene right away but still feel like writing to the end of the chapter. Example: [add smoochy part]
  • Try to keep a forward momentum with creating a first draft; don’t hyper-analyze everything. Editing can come later.
  • Find some author buddies working on their WIPs and form a mutual encouragement club.
  • Make sure I’m having fun because writing takes my mind off stresses.

These are the things that work for me. What about you? How can you best craft a method of arranging the alphabet that best suits your uniqueness?

Because there’s never only one way. Please remember that if you feel discouraged.

Here’s to you grouping letters together and adding spaces and punctuation in a most satisfying way! Cheers!

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers (Fall of 2019). When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (Fall of 2019.)

It Began and Ended with a NaNoWriMo

Okay, I have been converted. As one who once staunchly objected to NaNoWriMo, I get it now. It’s a really good motivator. At least for me.

I was in such a rut last year with personal stuff and couldn’t get out of my own head. All I could manage were short stories. The sequel to my first book was left by the wayside. Against all my internal protests, I decided to try NaNoWriMo 2017, my first ever, with the notion of writing a new project—the prequel to Life in the ’Cosm, called The Stealth Lovers. I knew I’d outline it like a series of short stories. I figured, What the heck? Let’s see what I can manage writing every day. I’d never really tried writing every day before because of my disability, so I decided to break the 50,000 word goal into small chunks. Never did I imagine I’d write that much in a month, anyway. This would just be a test.

I ended up with over 50K in the manuscript. What the actual [censored]?!

Huh. Whaddaya know? NaNoWriMo kickstarted me out the funk. And I had a start to a novel that I fell in love with.

Then real life came back and it was time to edit other authors’ books for several months. I found myself with less time to work on The Stealth Lovers, so I scheduled a two-month break for April and May 2018. My goal was to finish the first draft of my novel. I swear to you, I didn’t realize April was Camp NaNoWriMo. Had no clue! But it was, and I liked how I could set my own word count this time. I chose 25,000 words, feeling this is what I needed to complete the draft. And whaddaya know? I went very slightly over and the first draft is done! Will take the month of May to nurse what I’ve written so I can send a better version to beta readers before I go into intense self-editing.

(A banner with a Swiss Army knife made up of writing tools. Text reads: 2018 Winner Camp NaNoWriMo.)

So, yeah. That happened. Now I can’t object to NaNoWriMo anymore!

Why was I so against it for years? I reckon it was because of how I’d seen writers lament that they’d failed when they didn’t achieve the 50,000 words. One person was upset they’d only written 30,000 words. I was like: Um, dude. You wrote 30K. That’s amazing. It just so happened that I’d been exposed to people with really negative views or experiences of the thing. I felt turned right off.

But when I approached it, I did so as a Spoonie. I wanted to see if I could manage a 1670 daily word count last November. I also knew because of my chronic pain, I would treat myself as winning just for the attempt. Whatever amount of words I’d write, I would congratulate myself for it. I also stopped reading everything about NaNoWriMo and went by the beat of my own drum kit. By knowing my own body and not sprinting, I actually did the thing!

Now I have a novel. I’m pretty excited about it and can’t wait to get it polished enough for my beta readers. I’ve chosen a good bunch of people, too. This is where the real fun begins!

It also helps that my publisher is looking forward to publishing it, too!

Anyway, I still stand by what I say about NaNoWriMo—don’t think you’ve ever failed by trying your  best. This event was invented so that people could spark themselves into writing—period. If you use it as a tool and not let it be your oppressor, you might find that it can help you meet writing goals, or make you fall in love with writing again. I’m kind of grateful I tried it.

But if it’s not for you, don’t force it. There are many ways to skin a cat.

You know, I’ve never understood that expression. I’ve also never known anyone who skinned cats. And really, would there be more than one way? Idioms are weird.

I’ll keep you posted here and on social media about the progress of The Stealth Lovers. In the meantime, you can read my proposed back blurb and watch the teaser trailer. If you’d not read Life in the ’Cosm yet, you can buy it here (or on any Amazon)!

Cait GordonCait (pronounced like “cat”) Gordon is originally from Verdun, Québec, and has been living in the suburbs of Ottawa since 1998. Her first novel, Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) was published in 2016. Her short story, A Night at the Rabbit Hole, appears in the Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland anthology (Exile Editions). She’s currently working on The Stealth Lovers, a prequel to the ’Cosm series. For her day job, Cait is a freelance editor. Some of the titles she’s edited include Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks (Robin Elizabeth), Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story (Michele Sabad), Skylark (S.M. Carrière), Little Yellow Magnet (Jamieson Wolf), A Desert Song (Amy M. Young), and Moonshadow’s Guardian (Dianna Gunn). Cait is also the founder and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, whose contributors manage chronic conditions and/or disabilities.


I’m Writing like Lady and The Tramp Eat Spaghetti

Um, okay, this is a bit different for me. Maybe for you it’s perfectly fine, but I’m a bit surprised at myself.

I am currently writing the first draft (or trying to anyway while LIFE keeps smacking me in the face) of the second book in the ’Cosm Series. There are several new characters, but I’m having just as much fun as when I wrote Life in the ’Cosm. The only thing is that I sort of wrote the first book in a straight line. At least I did for about 23 chapters, and then I came up with the ending. But I sort of continued in a straightish line after that.


With Book, Too (not the title, I promise), I wrote three chapters and then the last chapter. Then I wrote some more and went back to beef up the last chapter. Then I wrote yet more and then scenes kept popping into my head, so I jotted them down. Then I wrote the second-to-last chapter. I’m not sure if I’m writing the same way that Lady and the Tramp ate spaghetti, from both ends, hoping to meet in the middle.

And with these extra scenes randomly spewing from my brain, I wonder if this book will be coughed out like hairballs. Oh well, I do like puzzles. Even sopping wet hairball ones.

Perhaps this is why some authors use tools like Scrivener. I hear it’s great for organising scenes and characters and such. However, I am stubbornly sticking with my Google Docs and a table of contents that helps me remember where I’ve put stuff. I’m barely organised as a creative writer and I sort of love that. After forever as a tech writer, it’s nice to be so wheeeeeeeee about writing. Yes, that was the appropriate amount of e’s for that word.

With all my editing assignments in the next few months, I’m not sure when I’ll finish this first draft, but I’ll steal moments the way I did with ’Cosm. I’m in no rush, and I loathe the thought of pushing something out for the sake of an imaginary deadline. I want to create and not fret. When you write as silly content as I do, being stressed is not a good place. Being chill leads to the silly.

So, off I return to the spaghetti eating!

Gosh, I love pasta.

I should make pasta for lunch.

And maybe watch Lady and the Tramp.


CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Networka blog that solely features writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She might make pasta for lunch.

Mastering the Art of Writing Badly

I normally don’t like to toot my own horn, but I can totally own up to one of my talents—I can write really badly.

WHOOT, HOORAY, GO ME! I’ve totally got bragging rights on this one.

Why in all that is iced with frosting would I feel proud that I cannot write positively goodly? Well, quite honestly, it helps me get things done.

Let it go, let it goooo

The truth is I want to be an excellent writer. The truthier thing is that writing well takes a lot of time. My experience in high-tech taught me how important it is to release a perfect product to the world. Technical writing was much easier because I learned how to write with standard phrases, according to a set style guide, and within an template-oriented methodology. Creative writing, however, is not as linear as technical writing. Getting to that same goal of perfection while writing a book can really bog a person down.

The solution? Let go of the desire to produce an immaculate first draft.

Make your first draft abysmal

When I re-read the draft of my first book, which I’ve recently submitted to a publisher, I was working on my second book. I thought, Wow, the second book’s not as polished as book one. Then I smacked myself with my pillow and realized that the second book is such a rough draft, it’s barely a first draft yet. It’s only a baby book just forming. An embryo book? Yeah, maybe!

I’d quickly forgotten that for my first book, I took so much joy in the writing, I simply kept writing. It didn’t matter to me that some of my chapters were thin, I overused words, my dialogue needed to be tighter, and so on. I was mapping out the story. That was what was important. Just get ‘er written.

Make your beta reader draft sorta ok

In tech writing we had peer reviews of our work. Everyone knew the documentation was not customer-ready, but we wanted to make sure it was developing correctly and nothing was missing or confusing. These were normally second drafts. As comments came in, we gathered and incorporated them, and went on to improve the work.

I had my first beta review this past summer. I knew my book was in no shape to be seen by anyone, really, but figured I should get comments before trying to make a submission draft. I’m glad I went with that, because the feedback I received helped me immensely. Letting go of fear and pride and tossing your writing into the ring of beta readers can be nail-bitey but also rewarding, and just like that, you’ve passed another milestone in the writing process.

Then, be as ruthless as someone without ruth

After the beta-reader comments have come back, you can go to town on the editing. Roll up your sleeves, get your coffee or tea (and maybe a couple hundred cupcakes), and prepare to tear your manuscript a new one.

I not only took the advice from beta-readers, but also from other writers and editors. I went through my manuscript (see also 10 things I did to get my manuscript ready for submission) and came out several weeks later, feeling like the Monty Python guy who washes upon the shore to say, “It’s,” before collapsing.

This is the time to be hyper-critical, when you’re done, and not a moment before. If you overthink your writing at the beginning, you might never finish your sentence or paragraph, or even your book. Better to get the story down and then be The Reaper of Useless Words, The Mender of Plot Holes, and the, um, Thingy of Something.

Whatever you do, just wait until this point to be tough on yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

And finally…

Pat yourself on the back after you’ve submitted, because you gave it your level best and reached this point. I felt insecure many times about not being published until an author friend of mine who is published said, “But Cait, you wrote a book!” Oh yeah, that’s an accomplishment in itself, isn’t it?

So, to all of you who have completed writing projects and have gone through this process, I toast you with a cupcake. Cheers! You rock, truly.

Because writing badly got you to where you are today. GO YOU!


CGAuthorCait Gordon has been a senior technical writer for high tech and government organizations. Her first novel is being sent to the universe. She hopes the universe likes it. (The second book has begun and a third will happen, too!)


The First Draft Dance of Joy!

Oh my word, I made it this far. Any seasoned writers reading this will laugh at me, I know. This is a huge milestone, though. My book is now in the ugly, poorly written, filled with useless words, but completely mapped out phase.

I love you ugly manuscript! *hugs tightly*

The book will be 30 chapters long. This was the last chapter I had to draft out, because I wrote the ending months ago.

When I was a tech writer, I always breathed easier after I’d finished the first draft of a several hundred page manual.  I knew it was just a question of revising the thing, but the hardest part was over. When you’re on a high-tech deadline, getting a first draft done makes you want to dance for joy.

My next step is to take a little break–which is hard, because I keep reading the manuscript–and start preparing the draft for my beta readers. My goal is to have the book in as a good shape possible without an editor’s help. I want the beta readers to view the story with a critical eye and tell me what works and what doesn’t. I need solid feedback, and I have my Teflon suit at the ready for the onslaught. (In technical writing, you’d toss a manuscript to the reviewers and it often came back looking like it was shot full of blood. Ah, the red pen of smiting.)

Writing a novel is no sprint run, that’s for sure. It requires endurance, patience, something to punch at times, and an obscene amount of dessert. Yet, hitting any milestone along the way gives you that wonderful feeling of accomplishment, and the desire to faceplant into your pillow and sleep for a week.

For now, I just want to bask in the glory of the moment. And maybe eat more dessert. Gotta keep my strength up you know.


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer in high tech and government organizations. She is currently a Web Developer consultant for Dynamic Canvas Inc., and assistant to the Executive Director at H’Art of Ottawa. She also enjoys her crafting business, Cait Cards.