NaNoWriMo #3 - 2016 by daintydora

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has not been on my to-do list for the last 4 years. I first tried it in 2011 and 'won' (meaning I completed the target of 50,000 words written in the month of November), and then did the same in 2012. It was fun and exhilarating, but it's also a bit of a pressure, especially when you have other things on, Christmas on the way, a day-job...

In 2013 I wrote down all the reasons I wouldn't be taking part in NaNoWriMo - but now I can't find them. What I did find is this:

Words are my friends, they are my enemy. I need to write more, more, more and the backspace button is not my friend. Pruning is not allowed. Quantity over quality is my aim - I think.

It's not that I want to write crap and congratulate myself at the end when I (hopefully) have 50,000 words in a document. The idea is to break down the barriers to writing, to get SOMETHING down on the page that can be edited and re-drafted later.

Analysis is the enemy of the novelist; too much agonising over the correct word, crafting the most perfect sentence, or browsing the net in the name of crucial research. GET IT WRITTEN NOW and then you have a framework to play with.

This year NaNoWriMo feels right. It called to me back in September; a gentle whisper that gradually became an urgent: do it do it do it. Write. New. Things.

NaNoWriMo Tips - Rebecca Johnstone

I think it's because I've not been writing new work since the edits on my debut novel stalled over the summer (June to be exact), and ever since I've experienced the slow creep of crippling #writer-guilt manifesting in the following thoughts:

How can I call myself a writer when I'm not working on my book; not actually writing?

How can I ever hope to get published when I'm not doing anything to progress my work, my practice, my writing endeavours?

NaNoWriMo has become the perfect antidote to my #writer-guilt.

I'm a little over a day behind now - I was inspired back to my book edits (oh the irony!) - but I've started so I'll finish. I'm a 'pantser', what can I say?

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How are you getting on? Have you done it before? 

Meanwhile, keep up to date with me, my writing - NaNo-related and otherwise - and learn a few new words along the way with THE WORD, my newsletter for writers and word-lovers.

100 days of my favourite words by daintydora

“Words, like glass, darken whatever they do not help us to see.”

– Joubert, Pensees

Thank you to Gretchen Rubin's daily happiness email for that thoughtful quote. But it's true isn't it?

When I decided to use words as the focus of my 100-day project for 2016, I understood the inherent power they yield.

Today is 100/100 and the word I've chosen to celebrate my achievement is 'Firework', because it connotes celebration, success, happiness - and on this occasion perhaps even a whiff of relief. This day has (finally) arrived.

It also conjures the joy of bright colour on a dark night, childish excitement, danger, power, spontaneity, laughter and that smell of sulphur in the air. I think words can do all those things too.

Some days I've been playful, optimistic and creative with my word choice; other days I've been a bit darker in tone, bringing the etymological force of the English language to bear. Hopefully in both cases I've inspired others with my 'daily habit' linked so intrinsically to my life as a writer. (Hello 'Alphabet' - I couldn't have done it without you.)

In some cases, perhaps I've even introduced a new word to someone, taking them on a brief journey of exploration or an unexpected linguistic tangent? I'd like to think so. (I'm looking at you, 'Petrichor'.)

And isn't it funny how when you focus on a word - perhaps a word that doesn't crop up in every-day language, like 'ekphrastic' or 'chiaroscuro' or even 'synchronicity' itself - it suddenly appears everywhere as if to say 'here I am, look at me' (use me! play with me!)?

I do have a predilection for personification. I try to resist, but find the new depth - often world - of meaning a personifying verb or adjective brings to the intangible 'inanimates' of life...irresistible:

Thoughts that leap. Memories that stir. Happiness that soars. The 'demonic' inner critic. Grrr.

So here we are. 100 days deep in words. See the rest of the pack via my Instagram profile, or search under #100daysofmyfavouritewords (there's definitely 100 - I checked!)

A big shout-out to Elle Luna who started the 100-day project, and all the creative friends who shared the journey with me.

Finally, check out last year's '100 days of Haiku'. What will next year bring?

100 days of words by daintydora

Words. Words. Words. Words. We use them everyday, all the time.

In speech, in private, in public, in text messages, emails, stories, poems, chats, transactions, when talking with strangers and with loved ones. Sometimes we write them in the air with sparklers, or arrange to have them written in the sky.

I write every day (one of my 'mantras' I set for myself at the beginning of 2015); words are my currency, my love, my passion, the essential hard-working tools of my chosen career as a writer.

Last year I took part in the 100 day project pioneered by Elle Luna and publicised by The Great DiscontentInstagram the mechanism for accountability.

I chose to write 100 Haiku poems (#100daysofhaiku), although it wasn't a unique project to me or a unique hashtag. I didn't mind sharing.

Some days it was hard, some days it was easy. Some days I left it far too late to get a proper shot that looked 'nice', but the point was the act of creating each day in a big, unbroken, chronological chain of accomplishment.

I spent time breaking my words down into syllables, the root of their sounds and meanings, moulding them into 3 lines about what I was feeling that day or what was happening in my life.

Then I promised to make an eBook out of them.

No-one asked me to, it was just my own idea to 'complete' the project, come away with a tangible body of work comprising 100 days of creative output and effort. But I haven't done it yet. The guilt ebbs and flows. It will get done (I know it will - it's on my to-do list. Right after 'complete my novel'.)

I'm single-focusing you see. I have to get my novel completed. I'm three-quarters through the first re-write.

So this year when the murmurings about the 100 day project popped up, I decided I wasn't going to play along. I would eschew the tyranny of daily creativity (oh the misery of it!), for slow, steady, regular progress on my book. Nearly there, nearly there, I whisper to myself at night. Just another week, fortnight, month. Maybe.

But then on 100day eve, I was sitting in bed and I had the urge to write down a list of my favourite words. It was an act inspired by an art journal prompt, part of the Get Messy Art Journal 'Season of Lists'.

"Write a list, you could make it a hundred items long."

So I got to about 25 and realised it was a quarter of 100 (yeah, I'm simple like that). I carried on writing, squeezing words all over an A5 page instead of taking a new sheet, until I got to 100 and beyond.

100 days of my favourite words, The 100 day project 2016

All those lovely words crammed between lines and over lines; diagonal, horizontal, bleeding into each other.

I put my list away. I wrote in my journal. I read my book. It was just a list. 

Then the next day I saw everyone posting on social media about their 100 day project, about all the cool things that people were going to document and achieve between 19th April and 27th July. I felt like I would be missing out (the worst kind of creative FOMO?) and then I remembered my list. 100 of my favourite words, in complement to this starter for 10. It was a creative 'do or die' moment.

As the night ticked on I wrote down my first word, dated it, and uploaded it to Instagram under #100daysofmyfavouritewords. It's a bit unwieldy but it's unique to me. My words. My favourite words.

I'm doing it. I'm in.

Some people might think it's cheating to already have my list, but I think the creative commitment is choosing and focusing on a specific word each day, and part of the challenge is being experimental with capture, presentation and display. I want my words to shine.

Day 1: Oxymoron. White on black.

And so it begins...! Day 1: 'Oxymoron' @elleluna #100days #the100dayproject #100daysofmyfavouritewords #words #oxymoron

A photo posted by Rebecca Johnstone (@daintydora) on

Day 2: Gypsy. A fragrant herb-word.

Day 3: Yoyo. Coloured pins on a corkboard.

Day 3: 'Yoyo' #100daysofmyfavouritewords #the100dayproject #100days #100 #words #pins #pinboard #corkboard #yoyo #yoyos

A photo posted by Rebecca Johnstone (@daintydora) on

I'm giving myself these 100 days to get my Haiku eBook completed too, because sometimes you need a new challenge, a different deadline, the creative pressure to just get shit done.


There's over 800 here already...

Midweek (Blackout) Poetry: Perfectly Spent by daintydora

It's the 'Season of Words' with Get Messy Art Journal, and I usually post my journal pages here. WORDS are my passion of course, especially on this blog, so I'm posting my latest attempt at blackout poetry, inspired by the work of Austin Kleon.

I 'found' it on a random page of an altered book.

Blackout Poetry - Perfectly Spent

The book is a hardback edition of 'Elegance' by Kathleen Tessaro, which I've reworked into 'The Elegance of Words' for my own #getmessy purposes.

I turned the first few pages, scouring for attractive adjectives, nouns, adverbs.

And then I tapped the page with a retractable pencil, eyeing up the inspiration until I was ready to scratch out superfluous words with a gold Sharpie.

Last night. In the living room. By the glow of a paper IKEA lamp.

Perfectly Spent: A blackout poem


Sophisticated rows
of photographs,
aloof gazes
animated, silent, dazzling.
waves turning
cigarettes pass
abundant in a chignon -
eyes feline;
perfectly spent.

Blackout poetry is SO much fun - it's amazing what you can find inside the words of others, the hidden poems waiting to be discovered, especially from the kind of text you might not usually read.

Check out my other experiments with found/blackout poetry using an article from a fashion glossy,  Linux magazineTolstoy's Anna Karenina, Tarot-etry and the amazing fun of Paint Chip Poetry.


A hand-lettered reminder of my mantras & sayings for 2015 by daintydora

When I posted my 12 'fortune cookie' mantras & sayings for 2015 on New Year's Day, I believed in them and they all meant something special to me.

But to receive a hand-lettered version through the post, made especially for me by my beautiful, thoughtful, like-minded spiritual sister Tracey, all the way from Australia, was so much more than special.

Hand-lettered mantras for life

I wanted to feature my 'mantras manifesto' here on my blog to marry up with the post I published at the start of the year, but mainly to say a huge THANK YOU to Tracey:

you made my day, my year, and I will treasure this beautifully hand-lettered piece of art forever.

Number 7 is speaking to me the most just now:

You can do anything but not everything.

And that's a wonderful lesson I've learnt from Tracey too.

Check out her blog One Thing at a Time and you'll see what I mean.


Midweek 'Found' Poetry: keep_running by daintydora

I love playing with words, and poetry is my place of escape and joy right now. In another exploration of found poetry, I'm linking up with my equally creative and lexical friend, Karen, over at Leaf and Petal.

To shake things up and introduce new and interesting terminology to the mix, we've used a page from a copy of Linux User & Developer magazine (Issue 142), where I was particularly drawn to the 'Python column', which waxes lyrical about adding 'vision' to your Raspberry Pi (not a euphemism!)

Raspberry Pi Article in Linux Magazine (Issue 142)




Establish connected

parameters combine;

probably powerful

while keep_running=


Signals are messages

(the kill signal)

Listen, asynchronous,

do something!

Skip, callback, interrupt -

set the program kernel to

green, red, yellow...

But why Python?

In base libraries

the simplest things combine;

an infinite loop, (the

tilt signal)

where two devices break out.

USB ports

install control

and animated=true.

The last step?


SO much inspiration in words!

Read more of my poetry, 'found' and otherwise, here.


10 favourite words by daintydora

I really love words. They are my currency, my stock-in-trade. And nobody owns them. They're free for everyone to manipulate and juggle and borrow and blend into structures and sentences. Words are the magic of communication and the literacy of dreams (in my opinion!)

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
Rudyard Kipling

Here's 10 words, some old favs and others very new to me, that I love:

1. Troubadour - I think I first saw this word in an Erica Jong novel. I seem to remember something about a 'naif troubadour'. Brilliant!

2. Fabulism - new to me this week, 'fabulism' is a form of magic realism and although I at first thought it was related to the word 'fabulous', it is in fact from the word 'fable'; 'fabular'. It all makes sense now. So what's magic realism again???

3. Ennui - but I'm always forgetting what it means! Is that symptomatic of embracing the word itself? (ON-wee. ON-wee. ON-wee.)

4. Pom-pom - isn't this such a wonderful word? According to wikipedia it is "a loose, fluffy, decorative ball or tuft of fibrous material. Pom-poms may come in many colors, sizes, and varieties and are made from a wide array of materials, including wool, cotton, paper, plastic, and occasionally feathers. Pom-poms are shaken by cheerleaders."

5. Halycon - oh how I long for those halycon days...

6. Cornucopia - makes me think of nests filled with Faberge eggs or treasures in a charity shop or a gathering of haberdashery delights in a shop like Liberty. It makes me feel creative just by saying it: CORNU-COPIA.

7. Twig - like twigs that form on branches and branches that grow on trees and trees that are of the oldest plants of the earth; so beautiful and so enduring. 'Twigs' was also the name of the owl that delivered our wedding rings when my husband and I got married. And I like this song by FKA Twigs.

8. Myriad - I use it all the time. I love it. It has myriad uses (haha).

9. Virago - "A virago is a woman who demonstrates exemplary and heroic qualities." Yes. Exactly.

10. Triptych - I'm drawn to this word and it pops up all the time in art and in exhibitions. But I can't say it. It's a tongue-twister. It mocks me. But it makes it even more appealing to me. I want to create a 'triptych' of something, someday. That'll show it!

Other words I struggle to say are obfuscate and archipelago. I'm sure there are plenty more.

What are your favourite words? Is it just me who struggles with triptych, obfuscate and archipelago?


FOUND poetry (from a Balenciaga perfume advert) by daintydora

I love playing with words and I've featured FOUND poetry here before. Whilst flicking through the latest (free) Boots Health & Beauty magazine, I was inspired to construct a quick poem from the words used to advertise the new Balenciaga perfume.

Found Poem: 'Quite Simply'

Advert used for Found Poetry: 'Quite Simply'

It's a bit silly, but it's quick and it's *FUN*. It taps into something immediate and childlike and gets your mind thinking creatively about words and how they fit together.

And I think I'm sold on the perfume now too: "a dream of never-forgotten woody blend floral..." - yes! And the bottle is rather appealing...

I do love it when I can upcycle things, rework things, and use something that would ordinarily be discarded and forgotten, for artistic purpose.

Have you 'found' any poetry of late?


International Day of the Word by daintydora

I'm reading a book about shark attacks and it's the International Day of the Word as Bond of Humankind, created by the Museo de le Palabra. Words hold so much inside them; all the emotion of their syllables and the weight of their definition and their infinite use in language and print, their ability to elevate, inspire, suppress or destroy.

We wouldn't be able to communicate without words. I wouldn't be able to write without words. Writing wouldn't be a 'thing' without words. What about that?  Even the word 'shark' is jagged and sharp in itself. Sharp Shark. SHARP SHARK.

Big thoughts to ponder on the International Day of the Word as Bond of Humankind. You can read more about it on this site, though it is a little old.

Here's to another week of strange associations, ideas, deep and dangerous dreams and the light between the cracks. And words.