Friday, December 18, 2009


Friday Speak Out: "After Nano: Rewrites Can be (Sorta) Fun," Guest Post by Cathy C. Hall

After Nano: Rewrites Can be (Sorta) Fun

by Cathy C. Hall

At my last writer's group meeting, one of my friends was shocked when I related my National Novel Writing Month experience. Not the part about me writing almost 40,000 words. Oh, no. He couldn’t believe I’d actually do a rewrite!

I guess I’m what you’d call the bust-it-out writer in the group. I’m always rushing essays or short stories or queries out into the world. But that doesn’t mean I’m a write-it-once, then send-it gal. I wish I had that kind of talent. But the truth is, whether I’m writing 40,000 words or 400 words, I revise, edit, and rewrite.

I’m not gonna lie. I am not one of those writers who love the rewrite
process. So, I have a few tricks I use to make this part of the writing process
fun. (Not fun as in barrel-of-monkey fun; more like that-wasn’t-so-bad fun.)

1. The first draft is my bust-it-out piece. It’s almost always too long and a bit on the rambling side. That’s okay. The idea is to get ‘er done.

2. The second draft is where I work on the rambling, and get the piece where
I want it to go. I accomplish this by asking a simple question: “What do I
want to say?” Any spot in the piece where I’ve veered off from what I
want to say has to go. No matter how prettily I’ve said it.

3. Next, I let the writing sit awhile. Even if it’s just 20 minutes for a
lunch break, I need time so that I can come back to the piece with fresh

4. I’m always surprised at the little things I’ve missed on the second draft.
Usually, I’ve left out a word or punctuation. It’s much easier to catch
these errors when I read the piece out loud. Then, the third draft is
corrected and ready to make its way out into the world.

My novel is hanging around now, the get ‘er done stage behind me. I’ll tackle the next step come January. Because that’s one heck of an edit, and honestly, I’m in shock, thinking about the rewrite!


Cathy C. Hall is a writer and humor columnist who lives in the metro Atlanta area. When she's not writing about the funny real stuff in her life, she's making up wild stories for adults as well as children. Find out where she's been published lately by visiting her website at Or drop in at her blog at


Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


All the best laid plans...for next year's writing

I am a serial NaNoWriMo wannabe. Each year, I plunk onto the site as a willing and able writer. Blink and I find myself at the end of November. I've lost my train of...well, maybe I've just missed the train.
I spend time preparing for the monthly excursion and decide what I'm going to write. I find that the ideas are easy to come by, especially since, for me, it is an exercise in getting the words down. A cowboy story that morphs into a romantic children's book about frogs? No problem. To me, the beauty of NaNoWriMo is its function of writing that is important. Just like setting aside time for daily writing is important.
So, how many of you do just that? Every day, without fail?
Unfortunately, I find that I might make every other day...sometimes every third day. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm often writing, but I'm writing the stuff that comes in between the fiction. Sometimes I'm writing and I take a sideways glance at a book on the shelf and I'm re-reading a passage to help me through a writing dilemma. I count that towards my writing muscle, but not toward my fiction muscle. And none of it shows on the NaNoWriMo counter.
I like setting a goal and following through with thousands of like-minded strangers. But this November, with all the best intentions, my NaNoWriMo experience quickly derailed when a family member died. The funeral took place the first of November and it took a few more days to get back into regular life afterwards. Writing assignments piled up and, once again, I've spent a days getting ready for NaNoWriMo...2010.
I plan to be on the train with a first-class ticket and no derailments. In fact, I'm going to start practicing today and keep it up as long as I can and training so I can remove the wannabe title from above.
In the meantime, I'll stand here from the sidelines: Go NaNoWriMo writers! Make it to the finish line and I'll see you at the starting line next year.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places. She is also kicking off the New Year's Resolution season early, to shake out all the ones that don't fit for next year.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


NaNoWriMo vs. NaBloPoMo

November is a crazy month where writers across the globe get a stranglehold of their muse and push their writing abilities to the limit!

Which is harder: NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) participants strive to write 50,000 fictional words in one month, and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) participants strive to post on their blog every day for one month. I did some quick math and, considering a blog post is roughly 500 words in length, the word count for NaBloers would be 15,000 words in one month.

50,000 words vs. 15,000 words

A quick look at the word count and you'd assume that NaNoers have a tougher mountain to climb. One thing we need to remember is all the words are hidden from the public. You can write a terrible first draft and still win NaNo.

NaBloers, on the other hand, have less words to pen but their thoughts must be complete. Every day is a new post with a fully fleshed out idea (hopefully) that is visible to the public. You can't hide behind a veil of secrecy. The NaBloPoMo site checks to see if you actually posted every day before they award prizes. Skip a day and you're out of the game.

You can skip a day or two with NaNo, but it's not the days that matter, it's the overall word count at the end of the month. But in order to win, you do have to verify you wrote 50,000 words by uploading your draft to the site between November 25th - 30th. They also have word count widgets and a word-count box on the site to keep track of your progress and hold you accountable. I don't know if they award any prizes or not, but the real reward is knowing you completed a novel in one month.

Quality vs. Quantity

Both sites are all about quantity. There are no editors with red pens looming over your shoulder as you type. You can write a crappy first draft or you can write crappy blog posts. It's up to you.

The NaBloPoMo site even says that they ignore the quality of your posts and reward the quantity. You can enter their blogroll and get assigned a number in order to win a prize, and if you write drivel you can still win. But who wants terrible blog posts that stay online forever?

The same thing goes with the NaNoWriMo site. They say all you have to do is write more than one word repeated 50,000 times. But who wants to cheat themselves out of a real novel writing experience?

My Take

Personally, I'd rather participate in NaNoWriMo. I've done my own NaNo, but not during the month of November, and found it truly rewarding. When writing a novel, it's necessary to shut yourself out from the real world and delve into a fictional one full of your own characters, setting, and plot. Thinking about writing a blog post every day for a month makes my head hurt! It's hard to come up with a new topic daily that you have to edit, polish, and send out to the world. Either way, it's not an easy task for participants in either NaNo or NaBlo. I applaud all of you for taking the challenge this month and stepping up to the blank page. You are all winners for putting yourself out there and trying.

Now, I want to know:

If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, how is your word count coming? Are you happy with the way your novel is turning out?

If you're participating in NaBloPoMo, how are you coming up with new ideas every day? Do you find the quality of your blog posts suffering?

And to those rare birds that are doing or combining both: what are you thinking? LOL.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


NaNoWriMo Stories: Joy V. Smith

I'm past the halfway point (32,000 words) on my novel that I'm writing for NaNoWriMo, but why does the homestretch look even longer?! Anyway, after passing that point, I decided to go back to the beginning. Yes, I know you're advised to keep writing, but I knew I had to do some cleanup and there was more information I needed to put in--that's not an info dump, is it?!--which would add to my word count so I went through my novel and rewrote parts, added stuff (not much description yet), and cleaned up typos, and then printed the new version. Partway through I ran out of paper and upset the printer, and that really slowed me down, and I was tempted not to try to make my quota, but I didn't like not doing that, despite other projects waiting their turn at the computer. Anyway, I made order out of chaos and added another chapter to make my quota. What next?! Now I've got to clean off my other desk, which is covered with paper.

I got to bed at five last night, but could sleep in. Now I've got piles of notes (written on random pieces of paper) to get on top of , research (what are American navy and British navy ranks?). Better check my air force ranks; I don't care so much about the militia ranks, but where the heck did my rank printout go? And then I have to work on the story... Someone suggested flashbacks and then a nostalgic look back. Someone else warned me about flashbacks because you lose immediacy. I know what she means by that! I've seen it in TV shows and movies. So, now I'll work on other chores and forget my novel. Wait, I have to do something with those notes before I'm buried in paper! Actually, I have a notebook I'm adding notes about characters, places, and names, timeline, etc. to. And last night (sigh), I put page numbers on the pages so I can start cross referencing... This is certainly a challenge; and, btw, this is the longest story I've ever written. Previously I wrote sequels and then sometimes stuck the stories together.

I've been writing stories since I was a kid. My stories and articles have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies; and my SF has been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Recent books include Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook; a children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?; and my story collection, Aliens, Animals, and Adventure. I live in Florida on a registered backyard wildlife habitat with Xena the Warrior Puppy and Bryn the Flying Corgi.

Visit Joy's blog for helpful house hints and publication news.

We'll be posting words of encouragement for NaNoers and sharing stories here on The Muffin. If you'd like to share a story about your experience, please e-mail our blog editor Marcia Peterson at marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009


NaNoWriMo a Go Go!

It's official. Today is Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

If you've decided to take the challenge and are "nanoing," I applaud you already for making the commitment! Now, you just have to plant your butt in chair and write. It doesn't matter whether you outlined, are finishing a W.I.P., or are writing by the seat of your pants, the important thing is to just do it. Tell your friends and family about your plans and ask them to respect your writing time.

NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty says, "Taking care of everyone's needs while still finding time to buy groceries and bathe every couple of days can be a feat." LOL. Let's hope you can still find time to bathe! But he's right about cutting back on everyone's needs. This is you time. You deserve it! Chris also adds, "Think of November as an all-expenses-paid, 30-day vacation to novel-land. It's a place where you can whoop and holler and dance the crazy dance. A place where you conjure new worlds, dream oversized dreams, and explore the wilds of your imagination. For one month, you get to orient your life around your creative spark, rather than vice versa." Here, here.

If you are new to NaNoWriMo, WOW! had an issue last November focusing on novel writing, called A Novel Idea. In that issue, Suzanne Pitner, a three time NaNo winner, wrote a great article called NaNoWriMo Applied. It's full of wonderful resources and encouragement for Nanoers.

So celebrate today. Grab your favorite snacks and open up a blank page or your W.I.P., and have fun. You can do it!

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Thursday, October 09, 2008


The Top 2 Secrets for Writing a Book in 30 Days

by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

[Note: National Novel Writing Month is only a few weeks away, and almost 20,000 participants have already signed up. If you're going to take the challenge, here's a great article with two tactics you can use in order to have a successful NaNoWriMo experience. Good luck! --MP]

Is it really feasible to write a book in 30 days? In a word "Yes," but there are some secrets you need to know beforehand to be successful. In my book, Book in a Month: The fool-proof system for writing a book in 30 days (Writers Digest Books, 2008), I discuss all the secrets in detail. Here, I share the top 2 secrets to get you started.

Secret #1: Working "As If"

Working "as if" means that you keep writing, you keep moving forward with your story, and as new ideas or changes come to mind, you jot them down on your notes sheet (in an organized way of course!) and keep writing "as if" you've made those changes already. Because ...
You cannot write and rewrite at the same time if you want to finish a book in 30 days!

Character example
Let us say for some reason you want to change the name of your character from Anne to Barbara and you want her to be a pianist instead of a waitress. Instead of going back and changing every page that contains a reference to Anne or her occupation, you just jot down on the notes sheet:
"Change Anne to Barbara and make sure she's a pianist in all of her scenes, check pages x — xxx."
Then you use the name Barbara from this point forward and write as if she is a pianist.
You can also do this for character background changes. If you would like to change the childhood issues for one character so you can make her "gritty and jaded" when she goes home for Christmas, just jot it down on your note sheet and write her as if she were gritty and jaded from this point on. This type of change may also affect other characters, like her parents, so make sure you make any necessary notes on them as well.

Plot example
You are absorbed in your writing and all of a sudden realize you should have included a fight scene between Chris and Mike two chapters ago. It is the only way this current scene you are writing will make sense. No problem. Jot down on your notes sheet:
"Fight scene between Chris and Mike in chapter x. The outcome is xxxx because xxxxx. The point is xxxxx. See page x."

You can also get out your red pen and write on the page you wish to include this scene:
"Insert fight scene here — see notes sheet."

Subplot/Situation example
You suddenly get an idea for a great subplot. Or, when you have dull moments in the plot because you need to convey information (or you are facing the pains of the second act!), select one of the dramatic situations found in my book Story Structure Architect: A writer's guide to building dramatic situations and compelling characters (Writers Digest Books, 2005) and create a placeholder for it as a subplot to liven things up. Either way, jot it down on your notes sheet so you can add any preliminary pieces needed to set up the subplot in the previous chapters, then go ahead and write it.

Why is this Note Sheet so Valuable?
Now all these changes you came up with while writing are no longer taking up valuable space in your brain and you are free to keep moving forward, free to generate more ideas, free to keep getting those pages done.

Secret # 2: Subplots — Leave 'em?

You may also want to avoid working on the subplots all together. Many writers churn out a quick version of their story with subplots to be added later. It all depends on your writing style and level of mastery. Most of us do better if we can just focus on the main characters and plotline, and race through to the end. There is nothing wrong with that.
As you write, you can type in big letters:
"Subplot — Cari meets with hero about surprise party plans. Alex doesn't know."
And then continue on with the main plot. This way you know where you want the subplots to fit in and how they will progress but you don't waste a lot of time and brainpower working on them just yet. Because...

Subplots are always the first thing to go or change during the rewrite!
Once you get to "The End" you will be able to see:
• Where the story is a little slow
• Where things don't make sense
• What new information needs to be added
• How many characters need to be changed or dropped

Can you see that working too much on subplots can be a waste of time? Even if you keep all the subplots you create during these 30 days they will, nonetheless, change; the main plot will require them to change because it itself will change and grow as you write: new settings, characters, information, transitions, purpose, goals, subtext. The subplots will have to reflect these changes.
I hope you find these secrets helpful. Writing a book in a month is all about getting that first draft down on paper. You cannot expect to churn out something that is all ready to go to print in 30 days, but you will have your book completed, and that is what it is all about.

Copyright 2008 by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. All rights reserved in all media.
Victoria Lynn Schmidt is the author of 45 Master Characters (Writer's Digest, 2007) Book in a Month: The fool-proof system for writing a book in 30 days (Writers Digest Books, 2008) and Story Structure Architect: A writer's guide to building dramatic situations and compelling characters (Writers Digest Books, 2005). Victoria also teachers writers how to hone their craft and become published writers. She can be reached at

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Monday, August 18, 2008


Write Now!

It's not often that inspiration shows up on my mental doorstep, insisting I stop whatever I'm doing and indulge the urge to spill creative juice all over the page.

As a matter of fact, I haven't had a creative writing burst in years. Sure, I've penned articles, interviewed authors, and blathered about one thing or another in blog posts, but I'm talking about the act of storytelling--the writing process that makes my heart sing.

I miss the early mornings when I dove headfirst into the first draft of my memoir, The Break-Up Diet and the next time I looked up from the screen it was dinnertime and my husband was standing over me asking, "Have you eaten or had anything to drink today?" It always felt like waking up from a dream and realizing the world was still functioning outside of my writing bubble. I don't think I've ever been quite so content as when the images were forming in my mind and the words were filling the pages.

A couple days ago, inspiration showed up. The scenes of a new book flowed through my head: the settings, the characters, the dialogue--it all came in a rush like water over a broken levee. I stared at the ceiling of my bedroom and it continued from 1:30am to 3am when I finally willed it to stop, promising I would get up and write it all down in the morning.

But I didn't.

When morning came, there were too many other things that needed my attention. Duties. Responsibilities. The never-ending, daily To Do List. I've always honored my commitments to others before my needs, but I can't help feeling a little slighted--even when it's my own doing.

So, I've decided I'm going to give myself permission to write because it makes me happy. I've promised my muse that I will enter NaNoWriMo this November. And it's a promise I intend to keep.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Breaking All The Rules: Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Cheater

By AnnMarie Kolakowski

Every November thousands of authors, amateurs and wannabes gather together in spirit with a common goal: to produce a novel-length draft of fiction, 50,000 words, in thirty days. There aren’t many rules, but the main thing that governs them is stressed again and again: It’s quantity, not quality. You’re not supposed to edit. You’re just supposed to churn out your daily 1,667 words and never stop. Whether it’s “good” or not is none of your business.

I’ve heard about this program for years, and this year I decided to join. I entered a whole week late. And because I had some catching up to do, I decided to take matters in my own hands and break a few rules. I am here today to declare before all NaNoWriMo writers that I have received due punishment for my sins. I will not be entering the promised land with you. Cheaters never prosper.

First in the enumeration of my various transgressions: I did not start a new novel on my entry date of November 8th. I didn’t even start a new draft of a novel. I took an unfinished novel I had begun a year ago, and spent a week or so pulling parts that still worked and were usable, until I had a good 35 pages to work with. Twenty thousand words, free and clear. Surely I could hammer out another thirty before the month was over.

The first few thousand I wrote seemed a piece of cake, though they did go slowly. I didn’t have to develop new characters or worry too much about the plot. What I was more concerned with was the tone, the voice, and making things run smoothly. And, of course, the fact that I was shooting for something better than just a “rough” draft—I was going for gold, the brilliant and proud first novel I knew it was meant to be.

First I found I couldn’t sustain it. Every day when I sat down to write I’d strip half of what I’d written the day before and refashion it with something wittier or more dramatic. Eventually I got to where I had to read earlier sections over and over until finally sparking a little interest in where I was at that point of the story. Then of course there was the overwhelming desire to go through and hunt down every unglorious sentence, such as “He went into the kitchen” and “I turned around, and there she was.” A temptation I obeyed every time.

As Thanksgiving rolled around, other fears and issues began to surface. As I wasted time on the Internet, purporting to look for “inspiration” from other writers, I came across a lot of articles about the changing publishing scene and the growing distance between amateurs and “real” writers, those who write not only for fun but for pay. I started looking for freelance jobs—jobs I mostly couldn’t get. I pored over the careers of great novelists like Pynchon and Lermontov, who were already established geniuses by the time they were twenty-four…and my twenty-fifth birthday just around the corner… I began to examine my own brief career and play the mental recordings of all my friends and former teachers, who warned me that I was going nowhere.

I had a small nervous breakdown, and decided to take a few days’ rest to recover. A week later, I still had not cleared more than a thousand words of new ground. To those who reached the finish line, my congratulations to you. I truly do not know how you did it.

Perhaps you did it by following the rules, by not being snooty about how good or bad you were allowed to be. It seems that what’s really hardest about NaNoWriMo is the fact that we’re asked to break all the rules we’ve held all our lives regarding the process of creating literature. Instead of the usual exhortations to put out an artistic and valued product we can be proud of, we find ourselves urged by this program to rattle our keyboards and churn out page after page of prose that, well, can hardly be considered “good.” This is the problem. Sure, everybody would love to say on December 1st: “I now have a finished draft of a novel.” Of course nobody wants to say: “I now have a finished draft of a novel that isn’t really any good.”

And there it is: the part where I completely missed the point.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in having generated a hundred pages of rough draft. How many people ever truly get that far?

I have learned my lesson, and when you have your celebrations, NaNoWriMos, I will not be joining except to raise my glass to all your hard work and to the hopes that it paid off in ways my miserly little soul was unable to imagine. Let my failure be a lesson to you humble, resilient writers: it is now December 5th, and I don’t have a finished draft of a novel at all.

But next year, I hope to join again and amass 50,000 words of unrefined, incoherent prose, stinking to high heaven in all its unadulterated glory.

AnnMarie Kolakowski

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Saturday, December 01, 2007


Life After Nano

By Sally Franklin Christie

Hello again, this time I am back in the real world, real time, real emergencies, real distractions, you get the idea.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Some groups have been referring to the event, competition, madness as WriMo or NaNoWriMo, I prefer Nano. In case you want to plan on participating next year, the rules of the game are easy, write 50,000 words during the month of November. Sign up at the official site, in October and begin on the first day of November.

On the 25th of November I wrote my way across the finish line and tied up my plots and subplots. This entitled me to a winner’s logo and a certificate to print and frame.

I’ve gotten off the wild nano ride on Sunday and have had several days to reflect on those word filled sessions. I miss being able to put on the nano hat, my family was so cooperative when I wore the hat. The symbol of immunity doesn’t work anymore.

I have to put away the habit I developed during nano of taking a lot of words to say what can be better done with one or two. Brevity has always been my long suit, it won’t take long to reclaim it. I can combine words and hyphenate again. I can use single names for characters and look for just the right combination of dialogue and direction.

I had my internal editor locked up for a month. I let her out early when I uploaded my nano words to the official word counter on Sunday evening. She seems to be a little stiff, reluctant, and I think she is holding a grudge.

There is a bit of sadness, I think the creators of nano need to offer a post nano support group. It is back to leisurely writing and picking up projects that have been on hold for a month. This is no easy task. The cool file names I gave my revisions so I’d know this was the latest and greatest work are not as cool and self explanatory as I thought. My volunteer duties at WOW! are slowly stacking up again and I need to complete my final assignment for my Novel Course with Long Ridge Writer’s Group.

The biggest surprise was my ability to write every day for twenty five days, sometimes lost in plots and sub plots, resisting the urge to research embezzlement tactics and the workings of a crazy mind, and my willingness to refuse to go back and find out what I really named the guy I came to refer to as Jay Johnson, formerly known as James True who is now someone else. I still don’t know his name. I did not go back to fix run on sentences like the one I just wrote. I tried fixing the spelling, but that loosened the chains and my internal editor almost got loose, so I left the spelling as it was.

After Nano, I printed the certificate, framed it, and my darling husband nailed it to the wall. Then I printed the manuscript, bad spelling and all. I did not know how long it took to print 200 badly written pages. It sits in a stack because I can’t find a box for it.

Will I do this next year? Will I revise and expand the wild story? Will I ever submit it for publication? The answer to all is maybe.

To those of you who missed the mark, who had real life issues so pressing that nano became impossible, try next year. Make a hat, turn your phones off and like the shoe company says, ‘just do it.’ To those of you considering the ride next time it comes to town, don’t plan, and like the shoe company says, ‘just do it.’ Sounds over simplified, but that is exactly what I did.

The last title I chose for my work was IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKE. A young widowed woman came to town six months ago, got her dream job and rented an apartment that included a cat. One morning she awoke with a strange man dying of a gaping chest wound on her kitchen floor. He died, she left the room to call 911 and waited. When the first responders arrived, the body was gone. Does it end well? Wait and see.

I think you should share your wild nano ride story with the WOW! Blog Readers. Reply with tales of the times you got off the ride with a numb butt and queasy stomach. We want to know how you managed to climb back onto the scary ride until the carnival began packing up to wait till next year. Who screamed the loudest? Who threw up? Who passed out and most of all who is willing to do it again?

Thanks for indulging me in my post nano attempt at group therapy. Thanks to WOW! for trimming some of my duties during the Month of November, and thanks to Long Ridge for delaying my lesson eight deadline so I could experience a numb butt and thrill of the ride. Thanks goes to the supportive people at the Storycrafter’s Board and Long Ridge Chat Room for keeping tabs on me. Thanks to everyone who did not catch fire while I wore the hat. Thanks, finally, to Chris Baty at Nano for providing a kennel and occasional update on the health and well being of my internal editor.

Sally Franklin Christie

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Blog Entry for the 21st of Nano

21 November 2007 (Real World Date)

Well, fellow nano-ers, here we are three weeks into that wild, type till you drop, adventure. To those who have been watching, cheering us on, nodding and smiling weakly, we do know you are out there and as soon as it’s over we’ll pay attention to you again. This is a bleary eyed, sore wristed, attempt to cheer everyone on.

Since nano began on the first of nano, so long ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I started with the goal of simply keeping up at 1,667 words a day. This was so doable for me that I challenged myself to 2,000 words just to put some padding on in the event real life intruded. I have my total word count up to 40,000 now. However, let me tell you about life.

My family and I chose a cell company several years ago that was just getting started, a Montana owned company. We stayed with them and I think they have changed hands three times. They renewed our contract every time I went in to ask a question or replace a phone. Each time I was assured I was getting a deal. I added a third phone because a nice lady convinced me it was cheaper. Suddenly, we were paying huge bills and questioning the personnel who got out another contract. We made three payments in September and again paid an October bill. The reminder to pay them text kept coming up anyway. This month I opened the bill to see a whopping bill for $280.00. Enough is enough.

This bit of real life nearly cut my day’s word count down considerably. After standing around in a competitor’s store and filling out paper work, we signed a contract. Okay, now we have two new phones, funny how phones only work with the company you have a contract with. We have two new numbers to memorize, or put on speed dial. I also have to break up with the old cell company.

But, last night, when I should have been reading a book about Halo: The Flood, to my son before bed, I let him sit in front of the desk top while I finished up my daily supply of at least 2,000 words.

The stove that caught fire is gone, the new stove is working well. The new cells are working and I will turn them off when I nano and, as always, forget to turn them back on!

If again, you are a fellow nano-er and think you are too far behind, put the bedtime story off, put the kids in front of a really risqué video, turn off those phones and write!

For our cheer leaders and the people in our lives who are rolling their eyes, go ahead, roll those eyes, by the 30th of Nano life will return to normal and we can boast about that novel we wrote for the rest of the year. Your kindness has not gone unnoticed, when we come up for air, we’ll take you to McDonald’s.

Be well and write what you can! I’ll see you again about the 30th of Nano.

Sally Franklin Christie

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


Subject: Mid NaNo

This is my first year as a participant in what we call NaNo. November is National Novel Writing Month, and people all over the world take up the challenge of NaNo. The challenge is simply to write at least a 50,000 word novel by the 30th of November. It isn’t complicated.

So, in October, I was still arguing with my inner editor about my ability to pull off a project that demanded 1,667 words a day, just to keep up. I think I can, I think I can, was my mantra coming up on the end of October.

My family can be very demanding. I have a brand new baby grandson for distraction. The phone rings too often. To make time for writing I had to draw a line, put up boundaries. Risk people being put out by my need to have time away from them while I wrote my 50K.

I started out by making a cap that has the words “Not Now I Am Nanoing” across the front. I rehearsed it with my family. If I wear the NaNo hat, unless their heads catch fire, I am going to have to get back to them. My frequent phoners were made well aware before the event that I was going to be incredibly busy and would be turning off my phones during the time I needed to devote to the ‘project.’

The first half of NaNo has passed and my family has been pretty good about letting me NaNo. However, when the stove caught fire a few days ago, I abandoned my ‘project’ and opted to help save the house. The fire was put out, but the stove was a total loss.

I have been able to keep my inner editor away. I try to bang out 2,000 words every day. I haven’t skipped any days and, as I write this, I have 33,622 words. When I feel a hard session coming, I simply change characters and pick up the story from another point of view. Three major characters are taking up the slack. I gave up on correcting spelling for fear of giving the inner editor a toe in the door.

During the next two weeks, less than two weeks, now, I plan to continue to set daily word goals. I keep the NaNo hat near and know where the off buttons are on my phones. Yes, I do forget to turn them back on, but the voice mail tells the opening scene, so callers are entertained. I am well into the last days of NaNo and when I reach the 35K mark I’ll start tying up loose ends.

To those who are NaNoing and feel wretchedly behind, you can pump up that word count. It isn’t too late to carve out more time, turn off those phones, stay away from that email and make a NaNo hat.

Be Well and Write Well.

Sally Franklin Christie

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Friday, November 02, 2007


A Change of Perspective

A few weeks ago, I was huffing and puffing my way through a step aerobics class, and I looked at the woman beside me. She was older, yet moving deliberately through the series of steps, methodically, though much slower than the younger girls in class.

I had been attending the same class, without any regularity, for the last four years. Whenever I showed up, she was always there.

When the instructor called for the class to grab floor mats for the abdominal exercises, I leaned against a post to catch my breath and between heaving gulps of air, I grumbled that I felt like I was going to drop dead.

The woman turned to me and said, “Keep at it. It gets easier if you stay with it.” Then she mentioned she had been trying to persuade her daughter to come with her to class. “She’s only 68, but she thinks she’s too old. I keep telling her, it’s never too late.”

That was one of those ah-ha moments for me—when simple wisdom echoes like a thunderclap. I thought about so many things I didn’t stick with because they were difficult, and all of the things I told myself it was too late to begin. Writing poetry. Mastering a foreign language. Learning ballroom dancing. Trying scuba diving and skiing.

I think sometimes that can happen with our writing, unless we remember the two most important things: It gets easier if you stay with it. And it’s never too late.

With that in mind, if you ever thought you might want to try novel writing, this is the month to jump in and do it. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You can sign up at

It began yesterday, but it's never too late to get started!


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Tis' the season...

I love this time of year. The leaves are changing from green to brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. It's a bit cooler, especially at night and the air just seems to have a different feel to it. Plus the holidays are coming soon. The fall festivals and Thanksgiving will be shared with family and friends and Christmas will be here all too soon so we won't think about that yet.

One of my favorite things about this time of year is National Novel Writing Month. That's right...a whole month set aside just for novel writing. How wonderful! If I didn't know better, I'd think this was planned just for me. But before I get too's a bit of info for those of you who haven't heard of NaNo.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short.) was started by a group of aspiring novelists as a fun way to get their novels written. That first year, 21 people started out and 6 actually completed their novels. Eight years later over 79,000 people took part in the literary madness with thousands of novels being finished.

NaNo's focus is on fun with only a few rules. It must be a novel, you must start from scratch on Nov. 1st (you can plan ahead though) and to "win" you must write at least 50,000 words before midnight Nov. 30th. NaNo's theme is "No Plot, No Problem!" and is for anyone who has ever thought they'd like to give novel writing a try.

As a multiple NaNo participate and "winner" I want to encourage everyone who's ever thought about trying to write a novel to check it out. There's no entry fee, it's all done in fun. If you don't make the 50,000 word count by the end of the month, (I actually didn't my first try.) no one will take away your birthday or say you aren't a real writer.

Here's what you get by taking part in NaNo. You learn about the way you write, whether you can take an idea and run with it or whether you need more structure and just what it takes to write a novel. No matter how many words you end up with at the end of the month, you have more than you started with and you'll make friends who have the same interests as yourself. Naturally, any novel written in 30 days is going to be a rough draft but you now have a place to start. After all, you can't revise what you haven't written.
Can't write 50,000 words in 30 days??? Don't think of it that way. Break it down into manageable bites of 1,667 words each day.

While NaNo's theme is "No Plot, No Problem", for many of us no plot is a problem. So, for those of us who need a bit more structure, check out our "Plotting the NaNo Novel" workshop. This workshop takes the month of Oct. to prepare for Nov. You'll work on in-depth character development, settings, plot & story arc along with researching. It includes worksheets and emails to encourage you through the NaNoing process. Plus, it also includes a one on one critique of your first 25 pages to help you get started on the revision process. You can email me for more info on the workshop.

You can sign up for your NaNo experience starting Oct. 1st. The NaNo site is being prepared for this year's event now so the forums aren't available but when they reopen on the first I'll set up a WOW! thread in the "Writing Group" area for all of us to gather and encourage each other so be sure to look for it. Cheerleaders Welcome!

Again, if you've ever thought about writing a novel, check out NaNo. You won't be sorry!