Monthly Archives: November 2011

On This Last Day

Today, my friends, is November thirtieth. It is the last day of the great National Novel Writing Month challenge. There are less than twenty-four hours in which to hit your word count goal and pop it in the validator. Some of you already have, some of you are almost there, a couple of you might have given up, and the rest of you are probably biting your nails nervously checking the clock every other sentence.

Today I’m not going to tell you to slow down or relax. Today it’s time to finish your novel or at least hit your word count goal, or at least get as close as you can to your goal. Today it’s time to write five or ten thousand words. Today it’s time to write until your fingers bleed, wipe them off on some kleenex and keep going anyway. Today is the day to prove to everyone that you really are just as crazy as you think you are by kicking some literary butt.

So don’t pick up the phone today. Unplug your modem after you read this post. Don’t leave your house. Turn on the coffee maker, get comfortable and get to work. It’s time to fill page after page with your brilliance until your fingers are crying for you to stop. When they start crying for you to stop, it’s time to take a moment’s break, tell them they won’t have to hurt again after this, it’s the last day of November, and get back to work. Even if you’ve hit your word count goal, if you haven’t finished your novel, you still have work to do. Get to it, and don’t forget to update your word count–let’s see how many words the entire Nanowrimo community can write in a month.

And if you don’t hit 50, 000 words tonight or finish your novel, that’s cool too. We all do Nanowrimo for different reasons and with different goals in mind, and there are a lot more things to be gained than the first draft of a novel.

For example, I’m going to tell you a story about my grandmother. My grandmother, as those of you who know me personally are aware, is simply the most fantastic woman I’ve ever met. She’s also crazy and, at the age of 65, still works harder than pretty much anyone I know. She works full time at a shelter for abused women and when she’s not working, she’s almost always babysitting my aunt and uncle’s two beautiful children. She sleeps less than I do and works more than I do. I think she might actually be insane.

This November, on either the second or the third, my wonderful but very insane grandmother decided that she would start working on a novel too. Thanks to her busy schedule, she probably won’t finish, but she did write 20, 000 words or so. For a while she was upset that she had fallen behind, but I think I convinced her that it’s okay for someone who works as much as she does not to hit 50, 000 words, and that I only expected her to try. I think, being a Nanowrimo star of sorts and having written lots and lots of words during the month, that it meant a lot to her to hear me say that–though she still pointed out that SHE expects herself to win. I think she dropped that, though.

While she didn’t finish her novel, and she probably won’t, the experience has been invaluable to her. She’s had to really look at her time and she’s realized something I’ve known for years–she doesn’t take any time for herself unless it’s sleeping time. Trying to find time to write has made her look seriously at what she’s doing with her time, and while she only has so much control over her schedule, she is going to be making changes based on what she’s noticed during Nanowrimo.

So while I hope you will all be pounding the keyboard with me tonight, if you don’t win, you’re still walking away with something. Maybe if you realized you really don’t have time to write a 50, 000 word novel in a month it’s time that you change your life and give yourself more time to focus on the things you love doing. Maybe you’ve realized that you’re just not a fast writer. Maybe you’ve realized you’re a better writer than you thought you were, or that you’re really not that great. Whatever your word count, there is always something to be learned from Nanowrimo.

What do you think you’re going to walk away with this November other than a draft of your novel?

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Home Run!

Well guys, this month has disappeared into the abyss and we’re now sitting on the twenty-eighth of November and hopefully almost 50, 000 words. Some people are terribly behind and confident they won’t catch up. Others have already won. Still others caught up this weekend and are now in the final few thousand words of their novels. A few–those lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) enough to not have obligations on Tuesday mornings–are going to be staying up all night tonight to catch up.

Personally, I’ve already won. But that’s just a technicality. To me, my 87, 000 words doesn’t mean I’ve won yet. My goal is 100, 000, and even more than that, my novel is nowhere near finished. My main characters haven’t been reunited yet and they definitely aren’t storming the castle. So I’m going to keep writing right along with you.

These final days are the home stretch, the last part of our great race to 50, 000 words. For some people they are the hardest days, for other people they are the easiest days. For me, they’re rather complicated since one of my best friends had his son’s first birthday party on Saturday, the anniversary of my dad’s death just happens to be today, and my boyfriend’s birthday is tomorrow.

Not all of us will hit our word count goals. That’s okay. As I pointed out on Friday, nobody expects you to win except yourself. We’ll all be cheering for you anyway just because you joined us in this great pursuit of literary abandon. Trying, and to keep trying right up until the end, that’s the point of Nanowrimo. You don’t have to finish your book, you don’t have to win. Nobody’s going to judge you. You just have to try.

And on the subject of finishing your book, if you’re at 10, 000, 25, 000, or even 50, 000 and you haven’t finished your book yet, that’s perfectly fine. I don’t expect to finish my book by November 30th either. That’s why they created something called NanoFiMo, which is the challenge to finish your novel in December. The official word goal is 30, 000 words, but the most important thing is to finish your novel. It looks like the site is a bit of a dud now, but that’s okay.

After all, you can join me in the epic quest of novel finishing. While I do expect to hit my goal this year and maybe even to surpass it a little bit, I don’t expect to finish my novel in the next three days. So, while I’ll be taking the first few days of December off to visit all the friends and family I’ve been so desperately ignoring all December, I will shortly be getting back to work on my novel.

30, 000 words sounds like a good goal to me for the month of December, and a good amount to help me finish my novel. To write 30, 000 words in the month of December, you don’t even need to write a full thousand words every day: December has thirty-one of those. You’ll probably want to write more so that you can take Christmas off and maybe a couple other days, but you don’t have to.

So next month, join me in the race to finish a novel, and if I manage to get geeky enough by the end of December, I might even make some pretty graphics for those of you who finish your book next month. If not, I’ll figure out some other way to recognize your awesomeness. Suggestions are always welcome.

But before I go, there’s one last very important thing I have to mention. I received in my inbox last night a message from the wonderful Chris Baty, founder of Nanowrimo and my personal idol. This message explained that the Office of Letters and Light is a wonderful organization supporting literary abandon, and that it costs a lot of money to run Nanowrimo every year and the Young Writer’s Program.

He then went on to say that right now, the Office of Letters and Light is facing the BIGGEST FUNDING GAP they’ve ever had at this point in November. Now, if I had some form of income other than the pittance I get for my Now Hear This Blog Posts, I would donate a lot of my money to Nanowrimo. These people are amazing and this community has changed my life in a lot of ways. The huge funding gap visible on the home page scares me. I know these are hard economic times and that most of us can’t afford to give much.

If you’ve been enjoying these posts about Nanowrimo, if I’ve helped you to complete your novel, or if you’ve ever enjoyed my blog outside of Nanowrimo, or checked out one of my other web pages, PLEASE sponsor me today by following the link below and donating. Your donation will provide me with smiles and a pretty halo, and it will hopefully give you the warm fuzzies because you just did something great for someone else. I’ve also decided to create a wall of fame. My wall of fame will include the preferred names of all those who donate in mine, and links to whatever websites they would like to pimp out.

So, if you would like me to post your name on a pretty sparkly page I’m going to make as soon as November’s over and I’ve gone to visit the relatives I’ve been ignoring all month, please sponsor me:

Dianna L. Gunn’s Sponsorship Page

Nobody Expects you to Win

Apparently, I suck at technology. I spent most of this week at my boyfriend’s house, where the internet decided that the second last week of November is a GREAT time to stop working. When I sucked it up and went to a cafe with wireless–where there also happened to be a Nanowrimo event–and attempted to create a post on Wednesday, it didn’t go through and ended up in drafts.

So, this will hopefully be my last attempt(read: I hope this works) at posting this wonderful little thing I wrote up. Here goes nothing.

November has gone past in a blur of too much caffeine, too little sleep and a race of words. It’s the twenty-fifth now and many of us Nano novelists are feeling burnt out, uninspired or behind. People are giving up. They say they’ve only written ten thousand words or maybe only two thousand words, there’s no way they’re going to make it, and they put down their pens. They put themselves down for falling behind and choose to walk away. Their novels never get out.

But do you know what the great thing about Nanowrimo is? Well, the great thing about Nanowrimo is that nobody expects you to win. Nobody, not even me with my insanely high word count, is going to shun you for falling short of 50, 000 words. Everyone knows that it’s hard to write a book in a month. Even most Nanowrimo veterans have missed a year or two. You are a winner just for trying to write a book in a month.

The important part is really that you keep trying. That no matter how far behind you fall, you keep writing, keep working on your novel. Even if you can’t write a book in a month, you can write a book in a few months or maybe a couple years. Don’t put down your pen, don’t tell yourself you can’t write a novel: accept that for you, novel writing might be a slower process. We all approach the writing process differently.

So if you’re ahead, congratulations. If you’re right on track, congratulations. And if you’re behind, congratulations for sticking with it and trying so hard. Now, get back to writing!

Around the Corner

Well folks, we’re about to enter week four of Nanowrimo. This year we’re all pretty lucky, because week four isn’t the last one: when week four starts, we’ll still have a whole weekend ahead of us to spend ignoring our loved ones and writing our novel, and even a few days after that. Hopefully you’re sitting near 30, 000 and winning is around the corner that’s just up ahead. If you’re not, don’t be afraid. Today is Friday and there are two weekends left, and if you work an ordinary Monday-Friday, 9-5 job, those days are going to be the days you really push yourself and write a lot, hopefully enough to catch up.

Where am I in my noveling efforts? Well, I’ve got 60, 000 words give or take, and I haven’t started writing for the day. I’m not where I wanted to be by this time of the month, but I know that I can catch up–thanks to those two weekends I’ve got. Oh, and the fact that today is my day off.

And for those of you who are really crazy, Scribophile is holding a contest where they want to see the first chapter of your Nanowrimo novel. All you have to do is sign up for the site, give out a couple of critiques (it’s ordinarily a critique site) and then you can enter for free. The prizes are $50 and $25 from Paypal, and having your work up on this site means that you’ll probably get some critiques too. Check out the contest here: .

Thanks for dropping by!

How is your novel doing?

Welcome to Week Three!

Week one is–usually–the easiest part of the quest to write a novel in a month. It’s when your idea is fresh and new and exciting, it’s when you’re pumped up and ready to go. Week two is often the hardest part of this noble quest, the week when you look at your novel every day and go ‘wow, this is crap’, the week where you feel uninspired and slow.

Week three is when things get a bit smoother. The finish line, really, is just around a bend and down a hill, relatively easy to get to except they forgot to pave the road so you’ll have to worry about plot holes tripping you up. Some of us have gotten ahead of the race and are walking to the finish line. Some of us are jogging towards the finish line, trying desperately to keep up and somehow barely managing. And some of us are way behind and running at top speed to catch up and make the finish line.

It doesn’t matter what group you are in right now. We’re just about halfway through the month, but there are still 16 days. You can do almost anything (except get a university degree) in sixteen days. All of us are capable of rising to the challenge of writing a 50, 000 word novel in a month. Chris Baty has always believed in the untapped novelling power of all human beings, and I personally think he’s right: we can all write a novel, if we really put our minds to it.

If you are ahead, well done. Don’t forget to cheer on your fellow writers. You have room to relax, but be careful, you don’t want to relax too much or you’ll never make it to the finish line. If you’re a superstar and you’ve already finished your 50, 000 words–which, by the way, I did last night–then dance around your room a few times, relax for a couple days, and if you still have any story left, keep writing.

For those of you who are right on track, congratulations. Slow and steady does win the race, but really, there’s nothing slow about writing 1, 667 words a day. You are a superstar too, and I have full faith that you can reach the finish line. Just keep up the good work. Remember that you’re awesome and that you deserve chocolate for meeting all of your word goals.

And for those of you that are behind, never fear. You can still catch up. Remember that anyone can do anything for fifteen minutes, and that if you can manage to squeeze in an extra fifteen minutes of writing time, that’s an extra few hundred words you’re adding daily, a few hundred extra words which will carry you over the finish line. And remember that there are two weekends left in the month, weekends which can be spent ignoring boyfriends, friends and family members and writing until your fingers hurt.

For all of you, keep writing. Congratulations on making it this far; you really are awesome. And this novel inside of you that you are working so hard to get down on the page? I can’t promise that it will be the next bestseller, or even that it will get published, but I can promise that you will be proud that you finished it and that Createspace will send you a free copy of your novel.

Come on, Wrimos. Show the world what you’ve got by writing a novel in a month. You can do it.

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Three Dares

Today I’m sitting at 35, 000 words with a lofty goal of 50, 000 by midnight (although I won’t put myself down if I don’t make it tonight) and I’m rather tired, so my post is just a couple of dares, one of which I’ve already posted on the Toronto regional forum.

Dare Number One:
I dare you to include a squirrel eating a packet of ketchup in your novel.
*Bonus points if the squirrel finishes the ketchup, disappears, and returns at some point with yet another packet of ketchup.
**Double bonus points if this happens at a very crucial moment in your novel.

Dare Number Two:
Have all the plants in your world suddenly turn purple.
*Bonus points if everyone except the main character thinks this is absolutely normal.
**Double bonus points if this ends up driving your character insane.

Dare Number Three:
Have a group of ninjas who are actually aliens invade your novel.
*Bonus points if they’re actually a specific kind of alien from your favourite science fiction TV show or book.
**Double bonus points if they become the most important villains in your novel.

And please folks, if you do use any of these dares, let me know. I’d love to see how you use them and even if you never show me that part of your Nanovel, I’ll be happier just knowing that I inspired you.

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Excerpt Some Secrets Should Never be Known

Hello guys. Today’s excerpt is actually from my first chapter, and was written on the first. It’s fairly wordy and it is definitely from a Nanowrimo project. This, my friends, is what a first draft looks like.

The Dockmaster

“Hey! Hey, wait up.” Logan’s voice.

She huffed and walked faster. They were going to the same place. She could talk to him whenever she liked.


She could hear him coming now, his feet pounding against the wood. Thump thump thump thump. Thump thump thump thump. Her heart sped up a little bit as she broke into a run herself. She would let him catch her. They were going to the same place, after all. She didn’t really want to go through that disgusting tunnel again.

“Hey wait up,” Logan called again. It was fainter this time, as if he was running out of breath—or maybe it was the sound of the breeze rushing through her ears drowning him out. She smiled and kept running, faster, faster, feeling the power run through her muscles, feeling the power of foot connecting to wood.

She ran into something big and hard, but not as hard as a wall. She fell backwards and her hood fell away from her face. She held the hat tightly on her head and looked up. She hadn’t, as she’d first feared, run into a wall. Instead she’d run into the dockmaster, an old man with spotted skin and a hook for a left hand. The grin he offered her was equally spotty.

“What are you doing out so late my dear?”

“I-I’m on my way home.”

“You’re dressed up as a boy. Why did you dress up as a boy?” He leaned down towards her. “Do you have something to hide?”

She pulled herself away from his rank breath. “No sir. The clothes are just more comfortable is all.”

Logan ran up behind her, his hood still tightly around his head. “I’m sorry sir, it’s my little sister. She wanted to see what a bar was like, sir, so I thought I would dress her up like a boy and show her. After all, it’s not proper for a girl to be in a bar, right sir? But she had to see one at least once, or she’d be missing out.”

“You’re a lucky girl,” the dockmaster said, bending even further towards Marla. “To have such a considerate brother.” He grinned again and straightened up. He turned to Logan. “And you’re a lucky boy, because I’m not going to turn you in to the guards tonight.”

“Why… why would you turn me in to the guards? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“False identity. If I got confused, or if you lied to me about who you were. I’m dockmaster, I get to know all about everybody what comes through here.”

“Of course. I didn’t realize we could get in trouble for it. I’m sorry sir.” Logan grabbed Marla by the left elbow and pulled her upright.

“I certainly hope so. Don’t let it happen again.”

“We won’t, sir.”

“Of course not, sir,” Marla threw in.

“Good. Now get out of my sight.”

“Yes sir,” Marla and Logan said together. They walked away, arm in arm, as quickly as they could without seeming too afraid.

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Week Two

Today is the beginning of the second week of National Novel Writing Month. This is usually the part of the month when you start to question your sanity and hate your novel. For many people the second week of Nanowrimo is when they begin to question the quality of their writing and the point of their book. Some years I myself run into this brick wall of self-doubt. Other years, I don’t.

There are a few ways you can handle these feelings of being stuck. If you’ve got a lead already, you can stop for a day and think about what you’re going to do next more carefully. You can try doing something completely different to get you inspired. There is a story in you that needs to come out, and that story deserves to come out. Like any creation process it isn’t easy and it isn’t clean. It is, however, entirely worth it, if only for the sheer enjoyment of holding the final product in your hand.

When you hit that brick wall, stop and ask yourself why. Ask yourself how you can make writing this novel again, or how you can make it make sense again. Ask yourself what you can do to mix up your routine and get inspired. Remind yourself that you have a story worth telling, if only to your computer. That story needs to get out of you. It needs to exist, somewhere. In order for that to happen, you need to write your novel.

Remember that you can write a book in a month, or at least most of a book, and that something is better than nothing. Don’t give up your race to 50, 000. Even if you can only write a couple of paragraphs today, don’t stop working on your novel. Keep trying to write in the small spaces in your day, keep trekking towards the 50, 000 word finish line. It’s not impossible. We all underestimate ourselves sometimes. And it’s not unrealistic to think that the words you are writing aren’t that great. But the essence of the thing, the act of creating a novel, is a beautiful thing. It’s hard and tiring and sometimes bloody, but every novel is a work of art.

And you know what the great thing about a messy first draft is? You have all the time in the world to turn it into a beautiful masterpiece.

So this week, try to dodge the brick wall by reminding yourself that you are awesome. And if you hit the brick wall, remind yourself that you’re awesome again and that nobody said writing a novel wouldn’t hurt, pick yourself back up off the ground, walk around the brick wall, and keep moving towards the finish line. We’re all cheering for you, especially those of us huffing along the path with you.

Now get writing!

The First Day

Hello everyone and welcome to November first! Today marks the beginning of Nanowrimo, the epic novel writing challenge that goes on all over the world, thanks in large part to a wonderful thing called the internet. Many of you readers, much like me, will be going on a crazy novel writing adventure this month. Some of you are aiming for 50, 000. Some of you (and me) are aiming for 100, 000. One or two of you might be aiming for 200, 000 or more. A lot of you are probably aiming for somewhere in between those numbers.

Whatever your goal for this month is, today is a good chance to get a head start. With all the novel-writing momentum of thousands of writers all over the world, you’re sure to be inspired. Go into the forums or into a chat room and find yourself some word wars. Try to write a few hundred words more than you have to today–you’ll be thankful for it later when you get stuck.

If you haven’t already, today is a good day to stock up on chocolate and coffee or tea or whatever your preferred noveling beverage is. Do it on your way home from work or school so that you’re ready to start writing almost the moment you get in the door. Believe in quick meals and quick kisses for the loved ones. Read your outline one last time, flip through your notes–pages and pages of world-building notes if you’re me–to make sure you’re familiar with it, and then get on your computer and write like the wind.

You can hit your word goal, no matter what that word goal is. You will have to make some sacrifices, especially if you’re aiming for more than 50, 000 words. But you can accomplish it–and even if you don’t, you’ll accomplish more than you would if you weren’t attempting this crazy adventure with me and thousands of other writers. No matter how many words you write this month, you will walk away from Nanowrimo with something valuable, whether it be a finished first draft, the first half of a first draft, or just a few good friends.

There is a novel inside you just waiting to get out, so put your butt in a chair and write. We’re all cheering for you.

Happy Nanowrimo everyone!

What is your official word goal for the month?

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