These are the last words that I will write this month.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the magical journey that is Nano this year.  We had a lot of wonderful moments.

Our first ever Team Championship has been such a success, and I’m so happy about it.  We have had so many people get so excited and so into it, and that’s so great.  There’s less than six hours of nano left and I have no idea who is going to come out on top in the end.  Minion Laura and I worked REALLY hard on the poster, and a bunch of people  bought them!  So validating!  Speaking of validating…

I personally had a great nano and set all kinds of new records for myself.  I beat my previous highest word count by a LOT.  I finished faster than I ever have before.  I crushed my previous record for words in one day.  And the really exciting thing is that a lot of the people I have talked to have also blown their goals away.

We won’t have the final numbers until sometime this weekend, but let us consider this:  Nano as a whole has a finish rate somewhere in the high teens.  The Detroit region finishes somewhere in the low twenties.  This is all in percents, by the way.  Now, that’s already an awesome thing, that proves that Detroit is way cooler than everyone in general.  But the teams, as of this moment FORTY PERCENT.  Do you realize how awesome that is?  It’s awesome.

This year was also the Year of Swag.  You guys asked for more swag in the last yearly survey, and boy howdy, did we deliver.  There was something in the neighborhood of twenty brand new pieces of swag.  So much swag that it’ll take at least another year for a lot of folks to collect it all.

We had some truly grand events.  Hugely productive Midway.  Boot Camp came back for its second year and we all had a glorious time that was EXACTLY as productive as Midway, but with about half the people.  First hopefully of many, Night Owl events at Joe and Dev’s house, that was so fun, and now here we are, sitting at the One Last Push, just having a nice quiet time chatting and getting a few last words in.  Of course the Productivity Gulag is fully operational in the basement, where there are sure to be cheers erupting any minute as those desperate souls churn out the last of their words.

We had some great potlucks!  I’m here for the food, really.  Both to eat it and to make it.  The Midway church made us breakfast.  Super cool.  We had pizza at Boot Camp that was possible because of our fundraising.

Fundraising might just turn out to be a record year as well, and for that, we are so grateful to everyone.  People dug deep into their pockets in so many different ways, and without those contributions, we would not be able to do all of the things we do.  So thank you.

We had a lot of fun times with friends.  Some of whom we do nano with because they are our friends, and some of whom we are friends with because we do nano with them.  Both of those friendships are good.  The community that makes up nano is it’s defining feature.  Victory is sweeter when your people are there to cheer for you.  Failure doesn’t sting as much.  The clack of the keyboard is better in unison with twenty other keyboards, and the coffee tastes better at your favorite writein.

People have made some amazing stories, and some terrible stories, and some terribly amazing stories.  But they are our stories, and they are all good.  Because they didn’t exist before this month, and now they do.

Things exist now, because of this thing we have done, that did not exist before.  And no matter whether you are excited about revising what you wrote, or plan to burn it so that it never sees the light of day, it is still a thing you did, and you should be proud of it.

It’s the end of the year.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

How can there only be two days left?  It seems like the month has both lasted forever and also only started a minute ago.  It’s all coming to an end.  The grand finale is a mere 51 and a half hours to go.

Most of you probably know how the month is going to end for you.  Either you’re finished, ahead, on track, behind, or so behind that you know that it’s not in the cards this year.  There are a few of you, though, who are in an interesting spot.  That special place where you’re behind, but if you pull off a miracle, you just might make it.

You got this!  The final push is ahead of you, and beyond it, Victory!  (The One Last Push is Friday, and beyond that, Redford.)  Take a deep breath, turn up the music, and get to work!  Don’t fret yourself worrying about if you’re going fast enough to make it.  You just gotta run your race and don’t look at the clock until you hit that 50k!

It’s The Final Countdown!

One week to go!  How the month flies by!  Doesn’t it seem like both it’s been November forever, and yet it just started a minute ago?  Such is life.  Such is Nano.

How’s it going?  Ya doing good?  Staying strong?  Fighting the good fight for your team?  (as I write this, Team Golden Phoenix is ahead by a beak!  SCREEE!)  Fighting the good fight for the region vs Seattle?  At the moment, they’re ahead of us by a measly 261 words.  If that seems like a lot,  know that at this time last year, they were ahead by probably three or four TIMES that.  I don’t remember what the final was, but I’m pretty sure it was well over a thousand words.  So even if we don’t come out on top this year, we are having a MUCH stronger year, and I’m perfectly satisfied with that.

How are your punchcards coming?  We’re at that time when people are starting to get them filled.  You’ve got a week left to go, so if you don’t have a lot of punches, how can you get caught up?  The FIRST thing you should do is make sure that you have all the stamps you have earned.  Count up all the writeins that you’ve been to.  How many major events?  Those get two!  Did you attend Kickoff week events?  We’ll give you stamps for those.  Did you get all the stamps you should have for writing seven days in a row, and for each 10k you’ve written?  Does it sound like I’m just reading off the back of the card?  Read that card!

Okay, now that you’re sure you’re where you should be, as you can see, there are two main ways to get a punch:  go to stuff, and write words.  Write those words!  Reach that next 10k!  Now find some writeins to go to and get there!  THEN, if you drop a little something in the donation jar, or hand it right to the resident ML or Minion, you get ANOTHER stamp!  Got a dollar?  Great!  Just a handful of pocket change?  That’s fine, too!  We appreciate every penny, and you get that sweet, sweet stamp.

And come to BOOT CAMP this weekend!  Two punches, three if you chip in for the pizza.  And if you can’t hit your next 10k with the intensity of the word wars we’ll be running, well, there’s not much else I can do for you.

When you DO fill your card, make sure that Minion Erika knows about it.  Send her a nanomail, comment on the forum thread, or tag her on the nanowrimotown facebook.  Or pester another leadership person to message her.  She’ll make sure that your name goes on our 2018 Hall of Fame.

Good luck!  The holiday is over, time to get back to writing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a great day!  What an awesome holiday.  All food all the time, how bad can that be?

For some of us, a day off work.  For others, the biggest day of work in the whole wide world.  (I feel you there, friends, although my big work days are actually BEFORE the holiday.)

Don’t feel bad if you only have time for a few words today.  Between work and family and cooking and eating, it might not be in the cards.

Your characters having a feast of some kind isn’t too bad an idea, either.

Strategies for Survival AND Success: Take a Break

This message inspired by Owen’s thread in the forum about taking a break.

See what I did there?  Tying my own break into his thing he already wrote?  Good times.

Sometimes, you gotta take a break.  Especially now, around the middle of the month.  I skipped over all the days I was going to write about the midway thrill, and also the midway doldrums.  We’re past week two, but for some people, it’s week three that’s the real week two, if you know what I mean.

Some people can pick up a lot of steam by just KEEPING GOING the whole time.  Some people can use a big showing at Midway to springboard into a win!  Yeeeah, not me.  A day after I write a ton of words at an event, I can barely turn on my computer.  I still update at least a little bit each day, but anything beyond that is a no go.

(Now I am in a word war, so you all may forgive the sudden drop in quality.)

That’s okay.  Burnout is a very real thing.  Sometimes the only difference in people with burnout is WHEN does it hit?  Week two?  When you’re super ahead and you don’t feel the pressure to keep going?  Or can you hold it off until the end?  There was one year where I was so DONE by the end of the year, I couldn’t make it to TGIO because I was just.  So.  Tired. Of.  Nano.  Everything.  Another year, I was just fine and had a great time.  So it can vary even person to person.

If you’re feeling burnt out, or sick (did you follow the Strategy for Survivial: eat a Vegetable?  No?  Well that’s what you get.  Oh, you did?  Got sick anyway?  Bad luck, my dude.) now might be the time to take a break.

If you’re ahead, or on par, it won’t hurt you to phone it in a day or two.  Even miss an event, if you need to.  That’s right, I’m telling you that you can skip your weekly writein if that is what you need to get back on track in your brain space.  It is seriously okay.

And do what?  Hang out with your not nano friends.  Say hi to your family.  Talk to your mom.  (Conor.)  Catch that movie you’ve been putting off until December, or crash out on the couch with some cocoa and Netflix.  Read a little.  Whatever.  Do all those little self care things that you should be doing throughout the month anyway, and focus your energy on that ALL day.

For a lot of people, the Thanksgiving weekend is a time when they need to take a break anyway, because Turkey Day demands their attention.  Go ahead and use it.  Gobble Gobble.

Now, I’m not saying that you should skip updating entirely for the day.  No no, if you’re going for that 30 day badge, still update.  But ten words is still an update.

Take a break.  You deserve it.




Strategies for Success: Your Characters are not Real

Wait, what?  How could you say such a thing!  I imagine my characters as real all the time!  They speak to me!  They know me better than I know myself!  They know themselves better than I know them!  And besides, how am I supposed to write my characters realistically if I don’t imagine them as fully fleshed out real people?

Well, that’s kind of the point.  You IMAGINE them as real people.  Look, we all try to picture our characters as real.  We imagine how they look and sound, how they feel and act.  You have to try to make them consistent, and act according to their character most of the time.  You have to weigh how to make them act against character sometimes in a way that is compelling and impactful, not unbelievable.  You have to imagine them as real in order to portray them in a realistic way.

But they are not real.  All that imagining you are doing is imagining.  You are their maker.  You decide everything about them.  If you don’t like something, you get to change it with impunity.  You are the Decider of Things.

This is a good thing.

Not just because the idea of fictional characters being real people with their own agency and agenda is terrifying (or a sign of a serious illness).

Because it means that you’re in charge!  You are not a helpless vessel bending to the whims of some recalcitrant entity.  You are the master of this whole shebang.

So when you’re tempted to say “The character is being stubborn!  They don’t want to be written about right now!” remember that that’s not true.  It’s just that you’re having a hard time figuring out how you want the story to go.  You can just give it some thought and push through.  Side characters never “speak up and demand that their story be told!” it’s that you had a different idea that you wanted to explore for a bit.  You can either decide to go with it for awhile, or table it and go back to your story.  And your characters certainly aren’t going to gang up on you and forcibly take the story in a completely different direction than you intended, with you along for the ride.  You just wrote it differently than you had planned, and that’s okay!  You can keep with it, or make yourself go back to your outline.  The former is spontaneous, which can be fun, and the latter requires discipline. Sometimes it seems like stories do take on a life of their own, what with the ways they can go that you didn’t plan.  That’s cool, but it’s still what came out of your own head.

The important thing is that YOU are in control of your story.  Which means that you are not helpless to change it.  Keep those unexpected words!  Maybe you’ll decide that your new idea is way cooler than the old one.  Maybe you’ll decide that you’re going to write a whole other story about this other side character.  Maybe you’ll just keep that cool idea on the back burner and turn it into your outline for next year, when you’ll wind up having ANOTHER DIFFERENT cool idea, and the whole thing repeats every year until there’s a pile of books by you on the desk!

You’re the author.  You get to decide.

Strategies for Success: Changing Projects

No matter whether you are a planner, pantser, plantser, no matter how much prep work you do or don’t do, there will come a time someday that you will discover that you hate your novel with the passion of a thousand firey suns.  Maybe not this year.  Maybe not for many, many years.  But it happens to everyone at some point, so it will happen to you someday.  Every word is painful.  Every line of dialogue is infuriating.  Maybe your characters are flat.  Maybe your plot just doesn’t work.  Maybe you took on something too big and now it seems overwhelming. Maybe you’re just bored with it.  Or maybe you just had a crummy idea and now are realizing it.  It’s all right.  It happens.

When it does, what do you do?  You could just keep writing, and hope that you get over the hump.  Sometimes all you have to do is power through.  Keep writing until you get an idea of how to salvage the mess.  People that are heavy duty planners might be well suited to this approach, especially if you just don’t feel comfortable trying to start from scratch on the fly.

But there is an other option for you.  You can scrap it all and start over.  I don’t mean throw your words away!  No no no!  Keep those words.  You wrote every one of them and you deserve every one of them in your count.  But you can put a nice lil page break in your file and start a new story.  If you get a sudden burst of inspiration for a story that is now bugging you in your head, and you want to write that instead, who’s to say you shouldn’t?  Nobody!  What’s wrong with doing some of your nano words on one story, and some on another?  Nothing!  I wouldn’t even call that rebelling, quite frankly.

So if you need a fresh idea to brighten up your enthusiasm and get those words flowing, go ahead and do it.  You might wind up with two stories that are worth telling.

Strategies for Success: Join the Wars

Of course we’ve been bugging everyone to join the Team Championship (and will continue to do at every opportunity) for the fun of it all, but there’s actually more to it than that.  A lot of people find getting into the little competitions a thing that helps them drive their word counts up.

There are three main sorts of word wars: the Team Championship, the War with Seattle, and the individual nemeses from either of those two challenges.

Have you got your team assignment yet?  If not, you can talk to any leadership and they can help you out.  Once you know what marvelous mythical beast is yours, you can get in on the fun!  We’ve got people smack talking all over the facebook page and a little bit in the forums.

We’re also running team games during word wars at write ins, and that means more word wars, more chances to win swag, more chances to get a ton of words.  And you’ll have your teammates to cheer you on and your opponents to razz you on to victory.

Next is the word war with Seattle.  You don’t have to DO anything extra.  Everybody in the region is already taking part.  To check how we’re doing, there is a thread in the forum with a widget that shows who’s ahead.  You can razz Seattlites in that thread, or in the companion thread over in their forum.

Now, we’re fairly behind right now, but that’s all right.  Last year they were WAY further ahead!  And it’s all in good fun.  You can look at that widget and think, how many words would I have to write to raise that average?  Am I pulling us up or down?  Use that energy!

Finally, nemeses.  Having a nemesis is a direct way to compete with one or more individual people, and that can be a major motivator.  If you signed up for the Team Championship during the first few days, you were paired up with someone from each other team to fight.  If you signed up after that, you weren’t assigned a nemesis, but there’s no reason that you can’t find your own!  There should be a thread up in the forum in the next day or two to let people match themselves.

About twice as many people signed up from Seattle as Detroit to have a nemesis (no surprise, seeing as they have so many more people than we do) so there are some unmatched Seattlites looking for people to fight.  There’s a thread up in the forum by the Seattle ML who you can message to get yourself a nemesis.  I’m sure they would be very appreciative to have some more people to participate.  I messaged them yesterday to ask for FOUR additional nemeses, but I think they’re scared of my crazy self because I haven’t heard back yet.

All of these things are ways to add a little external competition into what is primarily a personal challenge.  If you’re the sort of person motivated by competition, this is a great way to get your word count up.  If it’s not, it can still just be good fun, especially if you naturally contain high levels of sass.


That’s the only thing you can try to do after a day like yesterday, right?  Three events, from one in the afternoon to one in the morning.  I wrote a little over seven thousand words and hit a wall just before the night owl ended.

A big huge thanks to Joe and Dev for hosting us.  This was all Joe’s idea at the end of last year, and the event was brilliant.  Good snacks, nice quiet atmosphere, it was very good.

Then I got home at two in the morning and slept until eleven o’clock.  and today has been a blissfully slow day of errands and chores.

So you’re not getting much today, sorry!  See you tomorrow.

Saturday (Night!) Update

Can you believe it’s already the tenth?  It seems both like Nano just started, and like it’s been going on forever.  Crazy, right?

First of all, we are only two hours away from our first ever Night Owl event, a late night write in hosted by the illustrious newlyweds Joe and Dev.  All hail and many thanks to Joe and Dev for being the kind of crazy people that are willing to open their home to a bunch of weirdos from the internet.  You make the world a better place.  If you’re in the super special time window of reading this post before the event begins, you can get all of the information on the forum, where there is a thread of details, and also the address.

So it’s Saturday night.  It’s a beautiful wordy weekend.  I (Erika) just finished a very successful write in in the Detroit/Grosse Pointe area, where it took a five minute sprint to break the tie in points between the Emerald Dragons and Golden Phoenixes.  Owen and I are now at the Saturday night biggby (beause we are crazy people doing three events in a row today) both with our magical team headbands which are clearly the difference maker in words.

How about that team Championship?!  It’s going GREAT and you guys are all great.  The words are coming fast!  Participation is high!  Smack talk is smacking on facebook.  If you haven’t joined the fun yet, there is still time!  See any of the million things we have in a million places for info on taking the quiz and joining a team, or just message anyone in leadership.  Seriously, we’re having a great time and you should play.  If you have facebook and are not a member, you should join Nanowrimotown.  Although everything we post tends to get posted in many places, there are a lot of reminders, a lot of fun banter, and people post all kinds of interesting stuff, not just in November, but throughout the year.

It’s true that we are currently way behind in our war with Seattle, but that’s okay.  You know why?  Cuz it’s all in good fun, and we all want each other to succeed.  So there’s no consequence to losing!  Isn’t that great?  There are threads in both our forum and theirs for banter.  If you would like a nemesis, they still have a whole lot of people that signed up on their end that weren’t matched with any of us, and they need partners.  Not surprising, considering how many bazillions of people they have over there.  If you have a nemesis, go ahead and ask for another one!  Go nuts!  Sometimes you can make a good friend from a nemesis.

Fundraising update:  Our current fundraising efforts sit at about $60 cash, 6 posters and 3 shirts.  We need a miniumum order of 12 shirts to place the order, so if you’re on the fence, now is the time!  Cutoff for shirts and posters orders is midway, so you have one week to go.

Please especially consider a poster.  This design is year specific, and will not be available after this year.  It’s our first one, so we feel warm and fuzzy about it.  Minion Laura and I made it and we’re really proud of it.

That’s it for now!  See you tomorrow, when the second third of the month.