Are you writing yet? National Novel Writing Month is underway.

Search the archive here for the NANOWRIMO category, down the left side of this blog, to read a bit of history and the fun of NANOWRIMO from 2009. I don’t have much time this year, but I’m already dipping into the e-inkwell to get some pages done every day.

Don’t feel that you don’t have time, just jump in this year and meet your minimum goal:

Make yourself write every day.


That’s really the appeal of National Novel Writing Month. You needn’t turn out a novel but its fun to have goals.

Please comment here to let us all know if you’re participating this year, and how you’re doing.


NANOWRIMO Week 4 nears…

Take inspiration from this image, from a fellow NANOWRIMO writer who wrestled with plot, once a character took a wrong turn:

“I lay awake at night, puzzling over how my good guy went so bad. I couldn’t get to work in the morning for all my distracted agonizing over what to do. I was getting out of the shower with shampoo in my hair, leaving the house in my slippers, and dazedly driving to the grocery store instead of to the office. My character was everywhere, begging to be heard, asking to be redeemed. My word count was getting further behind with each passing day, and I was well on my way to being haunted by an imaginary being. But he didn’t feel so imaginary; I’d brought the story to life, and those characters, and that world. It was just dangling there in limbo, derailing my focus and turning me into a bit of a loony.”

… Think of the adventures your mind is creating by banging out this first draft of your work in November. And only ten days left to go! You deserve a lot of credit for hanging in there with your words.

Helen Gallagher

NANOWRIMO Week 3 + Manzanita, Oregon

books2If you’re rolling along with NANOWRIMO, you still have half the month to get to your goal. I know it seems hopeless at times to keep writing, but whatever word count you’ve built in 15 days is more than you would have done without National Novel Writers Month. Maybe what you’re really racking up is confidence that you are a good writer, that you can find time to write when the motivating is there, and that this is a habit you just won’t quit.

At a workshop in Manzanita, Oregon last weekend, I was reminded of motivation when a group of dedicated writers made it to the workshop despite strong winds, rain and hail. Each person showed up because they had a goal: a project in mind that they wanted to get published. With our time together, they found an avenue to consider for releasing their writing. Whether seeking an agent/publisher, choosing to self-publish, or diving in to the lucrative world of ebook publishing, they were eager to move their writing out into the world. Genres included memoir, historical fiction, poetry, family history, medical issues, and Oregon history. A diverse group of dedicated people, and a pleasure to work with.

Whether you’re workig your way through NANOWRIMO or are ready to publish, here’s another resource to consider when you want to see how your work is shaping up:

Writers participating in NANOWRIMO can get a free copy of their book printed by Fast Pencil. (A Lulu like firm, which all writers can use to get a copy of their book in draft form and see how it looks before final edits. If you plan to use POD, it’s a great way to see what your final product will look like:

Helen Gallagher

NANOWRIMO … it’s the middle of Week 2

compcoffeeI was out of town this weekend and didn’t get much writing done. Here’s a bit of motivation to keep you writing during November: National Writing Month. These tips are from the NANOWRIMO site:

1)It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do so. But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

Their site, at has lots of other motivation, procrastination and fun. When you log in to track your first hundred words, or first 10,000 words, take a look around. You’re in good company.

Be sure to sign up for the your home town region, so you’ll be aware of NANOWRIMO parties in your area, and your words are added to the total for your city. I’m in the Chicago region, which barely made the top ten list last year. I won’t be the one to let it fall lower.

No matter what you choose to write, you will write more in November by doing this, and you will end the month with a significant accomplishment.

Write away!!

Helen Gallagher

November is NANOWRIMO

Happy Halloween. I’m speaking today at the Chicago-area Mensa Society. Spooky!

Tomorrow is November 1st and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month.

What better time to get started to release your writing.


Visit and you’ll see this is for real. A month dedicated to starting or working on an existing writing project. It doesn’t have to be a novel, but a commitment to write every day for the month of November.

By signing up (free) at NANOWRIMO, you’ll be able to log in daily and track the words you’ve written. The goal, of course, is to write a draft of a novel in 30 days, approximately 50,000 words. Think its impossible? You’re wrong. And the motivation is nearly irresistible. You’re accountable only to yourself, and by logging in to track your words, you are setting a goal for yourself to at least try to write every day for the whole month.  You write on your own computer, not online, so your work stays private.

Thousands of participants have enjoyed this worldwide event, making it great fun. Sign up, log in when you write, and the system tracks your word count toward your goal.

Is your city among the top ten participating?

London 31,407
New York 18,168
Sydney 12,373
Los Angeles 10,466
Seattle 10,054
Melbourne 10,032
Portland 9431
(not set) 9171
San Francisco 8378
Chicago 8213
Denver 7358

If you sign up, leave a comment here and we’ll provide you encouragement all month long.

Helen Gallagher