Nanowrimo Love Letters: Reconciliation

Abigail has seen the error of her ways! Will NaNo take her back? Read part one, part two, and part three!


NaNo, my old flame,


What I’m about to say may sound crazy. But in memory of the love we once shared, please hear me out.

Forgive me. I’ve been such a fool.

I was scared. Fifty thousand words seemed a herculean task, and I felt so small, so wholly unprepared and inadequate. And yes, there were some dark days when I couldn’t call myself a writer.

But now I realize that I was never alone in my struggle. You and a community of 500,000 wrimos were there by my side showing me that I’ve been a writer all along.

Even though our story is imperfect—even though our characters stumbled, even though the world we put them in was hollow, even though our plot was misguided—it was better to have written and lost than to never have written at all.

If all I have to show for my hours spent with you is a broken-hearted story, I’ll take it. I will gladly sign my name to it.

But I have a feeling that this is not the end. November still draws breath, and there’s still life left in our story.

I’m asking for a second draft, a second chance.

I know we haven’t seen each other in a week. I know that we only have 33,340 between us, but who needs a fat wordcount when we have each other?

Let’s run away together. Let’s make this a shotgun love story.

We’ll escape all the distractions of day-to-day life. We’ll hole ourselves up in a cheap motel or an isolated cabin deep in some forgotten woods. Just you, me, and an old trusty typewriter.

We’ll abandon food, sleep, and an internet connection. Writing will be the only sustenance we’ll require.

Let’s pledge our undying devotion to one another. Let’s word sprint headlong into the dwindling hours until, at long last, we reach our story’s happily-ever-after.

Nano, if you feel the same way, put on a clean shirt and your best pair of jeans and meet me on November 30th at the courthouse. I’ll be waiting for you.

Forever yours, forever a writer,


P.S. Um, about that internet connection, we’ll probably need it on November 30th to upload the word count. Bring your hotspot.

P.P.S. A bottle of bubbly would be nice too. And don’t forget the ice! (Partly because I’ll need something to cool down the carpal tunnel.)

P.P.P.S. I have a sudden craving for Funyuns. Bring a couple bags. On second thought, make that a couple dozen bags. Writing makes me peckish.

P.P.P.P.S Slight change of plans. Instead of the whole courthouse-isolated-cabin-thing, let’s meet at the local library. Much less likely to run into hungry, Funyun loving bears.

P.P.P.P.P.S Drats! The local library is closed for renovations. Don’t they know what month it is? Let’s just meet at my place. After all, we write best in house slippers and pajamas.



<< Part 3







Nanowrimo Love Letters: Estrangement

It seems the excitement of the new relationship has worn out.  Abigail and Nano’s future together seems bleak. Read part one and part two!



NaNo, you rat bastard,


What happened to our fifty-thousand-word commitment?

I sit at my computer waiting for you to show up. You’re never there for me when I need you.

The blinking cursor and worn backspace key is a constant reminder of your cruel indifference.

But you seem to have all the time in the world for your other admirers. How do you think it makes me feel when I see other wrimos’ word counts soar and mine stagnate?

And don’t tell me that I’m just being paranoid, or that I have a bad case of word count envy. It’s more than that.

The thrill is gone.

I used to look forward to our little trysts at the word processor, but lately I’ve come to dread them.

There was a time we couldn’t keep our hands off the keyboard. I used to daydream about you, but now thoughts of you are only passing frustrations.

The truth is, you’ve changed. You’re not the same Nano I fell in love with. Over the course of these last few weeks, you’ve turned into an egomaniac, a needy, nagging glutton for attention.

Your single-minded pursuit of more words borders on hysteria.

I have no more words to give. I’m a busy woman with a pile of real work to finish, a dog to walk, dishes to clean, leaves to rake, closets to color-coordinate, and friends who miss me.

In fact, I’ve been having some heart-to-hearts with my old pal, Inner Critic. I’ve been rehashing our story through fresh eyes, and I’m embarrassed to realize how foolish I’ve been.

Our story had once seemed so important, so meaningful. But now I see the wild-plot-bunny chases as they really were: a waste of time.

The characters we developed are shallow, flimsy things who strut about and run their mouths without purpose, commonsense, or a firm grasp of the English language.

The world we created for ourselves is just as nonsensical; its rules and rituals wouldn’t hold up if they were tapped with a feather.

The truth is, our story was doomed from the start. We built it on a misshapen plot structure that’s crumbling underfoot.

I can’t believe we ever thought we could make it to “The End.” I can’t believe I wasted hours of my time and 33,340 words on you.

It’s over, Nano. Don’t bother looking for me on the forums, I won’t be there.

No Longer Yours,


P.S. I used to think your head ware was cute and quirky. But now? It’s just pathetic. I mean, who wears a Viking helmet every day?


Is it truly over between Abigail and Nano? Or will love triumph in the end? Tune in next time for the final letter.

<< Part 2Part 4 >>





50k Isn’t Any Sweat At All

nanosuccess-017 Strategies for a Successful Nanowrimo

1. Use the hashtags to facilitate later name changes.

Someone really clever already explained how to implement this. This is an excellent way to make sure that edits are easier later as well as giving you the opportunity to Just Keep Going instead of stopping to work out a character sheet any time you need a new person to add. #Thatonefriend

2. Let wanderings, ramblings, and tangents abound. (oh my)

Nano is about shutting out everything else to do what you love. It’s about experimenting with a new style, or a new genre. It’s also about letting the plot wander where it needs to go. No matter how well you planned, characters tend to have a mind of their own. A plot point you thought needed one  quick scene may turn onto a wandering path that sort of hits your point.

FEAR NOT. Do not start using the backspace. Do not select any portion and write over it. You can fix the sentence you are working on for spelling or for “oops, no, let’s change those two words” but let the novel go where it might and you can work on sitting it down for a long talk in December or January.

Use the generally neglected strikethrough option in your font formatting options if you know a section is not to be used later. It is ultimately as important to allow your creativity to wander off the path sometimes so that it can return to the plot as outlined. Continue reading

Nanowrimo Love Letters: Commitment

Love and Nano are both complicated. Abigail navigates the tumultuous seas of commitment. Read part one here!




Where is this going? While I am enjoying our meandering treks, I need to know where our storyline leads.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun. It really has. Just yesterday, we had a grand time chasing plot bunnies down a tangential rabbit hole.

You’ve taken our story to places I’d never imagined it could go. We’ve met new characters, stumbled on unexpected plot twists, and stayed up with forum friends until the wee hours of the morning debating the finer points of killing off characters with shovels.

And when we’re synched up, it’s magic. Just you, me, and the word processor. There’s no one I’d rather be with, nowhere I’d rather be than there with you in The Zone: that illusive spacetime dimension where hours fly by like moments and chapters materialize from the correct configuration of butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

But lately, I’m starting to have my doubts. I feel like I give and give and give, but you relinquish so few words in return.

I’ve sacrificed a lot for this relationship: I’ve cut back on sleep, I’ve handed out rainchecks like candy, I’ve abandoned real food for Ramen Noodles and Funyuns, I’m in a perpetual state of caffeination. But it’ll all be worth it if we can somehow make this thing work.

I know you want to take it slow, to let our story develop naturally, but December is looking a lot closer from this side of week one.

I’m starting to wonder if you and I were prepared for this level of commitment. I think back to how naïve I was when we met on the first of November: back before our characters rebelled, before the bottom dropped out of our conflict arc, and before gaping plot holes swallowed up afternoons of our life.

Back then, I thought I knew you. I thought I could type up a tidy outline and we’d breeze through this month, everything going according to plan. But the truth is, I’m still discovering new things every day.

And it’s a little scary, but also electrifying. All I know is, I want to know more. I want us to get serious. I want a fifty-thousand-word level of commitment.

Nano, say that you want it too.

I won’t sugar coat it. This relationship is going to take hard work. We’ve got to show up each day and put in the time and effort. We’ll need to cut out distractions. We’ll need to be honest with each other. We’ll need to forgive our shortcomings. We’ll need to spend more time listening to our inner muse and less time catering to the whims of our inner critic.

If we can commit to that, then I know, together, we will make it to “The End.”

Yours truly,



 << Part 1Part 3 >>




Nanowrimo Love Letters: Infatuation

Love and Nano are both complicated, but Abigail is sure this infatuation is the real deal.



Dearest NaNoWriMo,


Words cannot describe the way I feel about you. I pray that you will bear with me as I give it my best effort.

We’ve known each other for little over a week, but already I feel a special connection. Each day my fondness grows stronger, with every passing moment, with every added word.

My family and friends say I’ve lost my marbles. But I can’t help myself. From the moment I wake in the morning to the moment I close my eyes at night, our story is on my mind.

I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I scribble little love notes on napkins and gum wrappers. I stare out the window deep in thought when I should be scrubbing the dishes. I find myself talking out loud in public places, conversing with imaginary voices in my head.

Because of you, the world is a brighter place. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded of you. From the coffee shop to the library, I see you reflected in the faces of writers typing away at their keyboards.

I cannot sing your praises enough. You’re well read, devouring tens of thousands of novels each year. You’re generous, donating millions to a great cause. You’re well-traveled, with homes on six continents. You’re a fashion icon, the only one I know who can pull off a Viking helmet.

Your friends are so cool. I can’t believe you actually know authors Daniel José Older, Alexander Chee, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maggie Stiefvater, and Jenny Han!

But most of all, you’re such a good listener, someone who’s there for me any time of the day or night. I don’t know how you do it. It’s as if you had 500,000 voices ready to cheer me on with words of advice and encouragement.

Nano, I apologize if this comes out as a bunch of rambling, word-count-cramming, nonsense. But I couldn’t hold this back any longer: Nano, I love you! Say you love me too. I know we can build a beautiful story together.

Forever yours,

Abigail Dunard


Part Two >>