National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month is almost here! The group discussed tips on how to get started in NaNoWriMo, the difference between being a "pantser" or a planner writer, and information on the accessibility of the contest's website.

October 10, 2019

Don't miss the next episode

Audio Transcript


Writer’s Circle – National Novel Writing Month

Presented by Debbie Worman and Diane O’Neill

October 10, 2019

Debbie W: Okay, welcome everybody. This is Debbie Worman. I'm a Learning Expert at Hadley Institute. And we're happy that you're joining us today for our Writers’ Circle discussion group. And I want to welcome everybody back who's been here before. And if we have newcomers, welcome as well. We're glad to have you aboard. So, today's topic... Several months ago, Diane, my cohost. Well, before we get going, Diane say hey.

Diane O: Hello, everyone.

Debbie W: Okay. Diane O'Neill, what exactly is your title of Hadley these days?

Diane O: Senior Learning Designer, I believe.

Debbie W: Okay. Okay. You know, things are changing a lot at Hadley, so our titles have changed. So Diane does a lot with writing the new workshops and things like that. When we started the Writers’ Circle, I thought she'd be a perfect person to join me as cohost. So when Diane and I were planning topics months ago, she said to me, "We have to do." I mean she was adamant about this. She said, "We have to in October, do NaNoWriMo." And I'm like, "Are you okay? What is going on with you?"

What is NaNoWriMo? I thought she was having some speech problems there. Since then, I've educated myself, and I'm very excited today. We're going to talk about National Novel Writing Month. National Novel Writing Month. And so, the acronym for that is, NaNoWriMo. So, it makes sense to me now. I hope it makes sense to all of you as well. For more information about NaNoWriMo you can go to their website, which is We'll have that on our show notes. And basically, I guess it's, for people who've done it before…it's very exciting. So I'm going to try it myself. I'm going to jump on the bandwagon. I hope some of you who are listening today will be encouraged to join as well. Basically, this was started in July of 1999. And the idea is to actually encourage people to start getting that ... Their novel going. So you're encouraged to write 50,000 words. Is it 50,000 words?

Diane O: 50,000 words.

Debbie W: 50,000 words in one month. So all of this craziness starts at 12 AM on November 1, and it ends exactly at 11:59:59 PM on November 30. So the goal is, to write your first draft novel. And you register on their website. There's a lot of benefits to registering. There's a whole community. A crazy community that spurs you on. I also found out that local libraries sponsor community writing events where you can come to the library and they have NaNoWriMo writing parties. So it's really a way for participants to sign up, to start getting that first draft of their novel. And, I will let Diane start talking about her experience with NaNoWriMo, and then other people who have done it if they want to chime in, other people who have questions. And, Ann already has her hand up. So, I know Ann is one of those WriMos. So I'll let her talk and then we'll go to you, Diane.

Diane O: Okay.

Debbie W: Okay, so and I'm unmuting you. Go ahead.

Ann: Okay. One quick tip, if you don't reach 50,000 words, don't worry about it, you're still a winner. Because, you've got more words down than you had when you started.

Debbie W: Okay, that's good. That's good. So I appreciate that. I'm going to go ahead Ann and mute you again, and Diane's going to start sharing, how the experience has been for her over the years, and recommendations and then we'll get into more comments from people. So go ahead, Diane.

Diane O: Hi, everybody. I have done NaNo off and on since 2005. And it's funny because I read about it in a book and it just sounded really exciting. And I went to that year, they had a “Thank God It's Over Party.” And back then ... Some people did NaNoWriMo. It wasn't a big thing. I think that party was held in a little restaurant. Okay. There were maybe 25 of us if that. A cue in like 2009 when I went to the “Thank God It's Over Party” in Chicago. They had like a hotel booked. Okay? Where they use the whole first floor, it was huge. So, people have really come onto it, they really like it. I have, and I agree with the idea, even if you write whatever, hundred words, thousand words, whatever, setting a goal like that and doing your best and see how much you can read ... You won. But if you’re talking about officially winning, I officially won four times. I almost won one time. I tried it nine times. And I cheated one time, or maybe it was two times.

I go to this place called StoryStudio in Chicago. And I don't know if they made this up, but there is what they call CheatoWriMo, where you set a different goal. Maybe you don't want to write an article, maybe you'd want a collection of memoir essays. Maybe you want to do a collection of poetry. Maybe you have, whatever your goal is, writing goal is. You set a different goal and you try to do it in November just because that way you can still catch on the excitement of everybody writing the novel. But what I found for me is that I like to do it because even if I don't, quote unquote, win, okay, I feel like my writing is better afterwards. Because, the whole thing of quantity leads to quality with writing usually. The more you write, the better your writing is going to be.

And it really does a good job of shutting down your internal editor. Which I think we all know, if you have that internal editor go on and, telling you, Oh, you shouldn't write that. Oh, that's lousy. You're not going to write anything. You really need to shut that. When you're writing your first draft, you really need to shut the internal editor up and that does a good job of it. Let me say anything else exciting I can tell that makes sense. I wrote some notes down.

Debbie W: Diane, when you're talking about winning, what do you mean by winning? What do you win? You win like the lotto? Or what do-

Diane O: [inaudible] You get this cool certificate that you can ... If you have a printer, you can print it. Okay. Or if you're on Facebook, you can share it. Would you like me to read you this... What he wrote on the certificate of 2005? It is really funny.

Debbie W: Yeah, go ahead.

Diane O: Okay. It's in big capital letters, “winner. As the bearer of this title, the authors shall be entitled to an array of adoration and praise from fans and envious glares from less prolific novelists. You also shall also be officially logged in the National Novel Writing Month gallery of heroes, where his or her name shall stand as an inspiring testament to the unforgettable month when one lone fighter battled in a ferocious deadline and emerged victorious.” And so, it's kind of silly. All you win is something you can photocopy and print. But all these writers all over the world, we're all trying to see if we can get to that 50,000 mark by, like I said and like Debbie said, November 30, at 11:59 PM. And people are doing all-nighters and all sorts of things trying to get that. It's just a fun goal.

I think his main thing of starting it was like, so many people's like, well, I'm going to write on novels someday. When I retire, when I do this, after this. And he's like, forget the someday, let's make it today, let's make it now. And having a goal like that makes you write a draft. And some people have ended up publishing their NaNoWriMo novels. Yeah, so, it is a thing.

Debbie W: Yeah. I was interested, when I was reading some of the people who have been published. One of my favorite books, Water for Elephants. She did the draft of that during NaNoWriMo. And so, I thought that was interesting. The Night Circus was a NaNoWriMo. Anna and the French Kiss. Wool. I mean that people do get published after this. It's not that you have your novel in perfect shape. It's a draft and you still have revisions. I also heard that publishing companies hate the end of the month because they get bombarded with things. But, what I understand is, this is just doing a draft. Right?

Diane O: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Debbie W: You don't answer it thinking you're going to get published. Right?

Diane O: No, no. I think every writer wants to get published. I'll say many writers. I'll say, a whole bunch of us do want to get published. But, you kind of know. You're not going to produce something that's ready to be published in one month, no. Everybody kind of knows writing, the first drafts are lousy. One tip that I follow, I don't know, I let myself skip around a bit too. Like when I was writing [inaudible]. Sometimes if I have an idea for a theme that's halfway in the book, I go ahead and write it. I don't know if other writers do that. But just again, because you're trying to get the word count in. And sometimes you might be inspired to write up about a theme that has ... it isn't gonna come up for a while. So I do that. That's one trick I use. Also, there's pantsers vs plotters. So I discuss that Debbie or does somebody else want to discuss it?

Debbie W: I thought that term pantser, P-A-N-T-S-E-R, pantser was an interesting word to me. And I was curious what you meant by that. What's a pantser?

Diane O: Well, you know the saying flying by the seat of your pants, I think that's an aviation term that, you know, where you're just kind of ... You're not really planning ahead of time you’re just winging it.

Debbie W: Right.

Diane O: Basically, if you're a pantser, you don't outline too much. You might not outline at all. Whereas if you're a planner, you're off to a new plan. You've probably already worked your outline. Okay?

Debbie W: I think I live my whole life as a pantser then.

Diane O: Okay. I am definitely a pantser. That doesn't mean I never outline, but I'm do more of ... I have actually sat down and started right away in November 1st and wrote something with just a little bit of an idea, and had just had fun winging it from there. But there's the one time I know one year I tried it, and my brain was like blocked. I couldn't go with it. I think there's value in both approaches. Chris Baty wrote a wonderful book, if you can get your hands on it. It's called No Plot? No Problem! And he says, basically it is, he learned from his first NaNoWriMo that it's perfectly fine to sit at your keyboard or whatever, at midnight and just start writing and going from there. Although, again, some people feel more comfortable plotting, and that's the problem with them. Whatever works best for you.

Debbie W: Yeah, and that's Chris Baty, B-A-T-Y The book is No Plot? No Problem! And we'll put that in the show notes. There also is on the website, if you want to do some preplanning, there's a lot of good ideas for doing an outline if you want to start doing that, how to do that. So you're going to be all ready to go at 12 AM on November 1st. If you're that type of planner, I was amazed at all the tools that were on the website and Paul has his hand up, Paul. I'll unmute you. Go ahead, please. Okay.

Paul: So I just set up a NaNoWriMo account for the first time about a week ago and, I've been playing with the webpage and I find it pretty inaccessible for blind people. There are a lot of buttons that aren't labeled. The discussion forums are really tough to navigate. And I spent about a hour before this call, just trying to figure out how to report my words written per day and couldn't figure out where to write that. Are there some blind people on the call that can help address some of these issues? Thanks.

Debbie W: Good question, Paul. And I have Ann's hand up. Ann is a WriMo, so she might have some good tips.

Ann: Okay. What I was going to say, they just redid the website. It's just been updated. The last few years that I've done it the website’s been a bit tricky, and they just, a few days ago from what I read on Facebook group that I'm on, they just added the forums. So there are going to be some bugs in it right now. So just be patient with them. They're still working to get that accessible. They've got a lot of kinks to work out before NaNoWriMo actually starts. That's why I'm hesitant to actually put together my NaNo project right now. Because of the website stuff. I use Google Chrome for that instead of Internet Explorer. If you're a JAWS 2018 or higher user, you may want to try Google Chrome with the site. If not, or if you're an NVDA user, you may want to try Google Chrome and see if you get any better luck with it than you do with Internet Explorer. Because there are a lot of kinks in it.

Debbie W: Ann is there a help desk on that site? Do you know?

Ann: I'm not looking at it right now. I don't know. You'll have to find, look for our contact us.

Debbie W: Yeah. Because I wonder if we had several people from this discussion group call in and say that they wanted to try it and they're not finding that this website very accessible. I think they would be willing to hear those comments.

Ann: I don't know that there's a phone number. I know that if you get the NaNoWriMo emails ... I would suggest if you get a NaNoWriMo email, reply to that email, because Tim Kim, who is now, I think he's like the president. I know Grant Faulkner is involved in it, but Tim Kim who sends out all these emails, he will respond.

Debbie W: Okay. So Paul you might want to try that. Just do a quick email and see if you can, you know, tell them you're having those problems. Ann I'm going to mute you and call on 807 ending in 550.

Tessa: Hi.

Debbie W: Hi, who is this?

Tessa: My name is Tessa and I've done NaNoWriMo 10 times.

Debbie W: Oh, great. You have lots to share then.

Tessa: Uh, a little bit. But I did want to say that the No Plot? No Problem! books are on Bookshare, and they are a riot to read. There are three of them. There's a first, you know, the first one and then there's an updated edition that covers a lot more of what it's all about. But if people want to access those, they are very, very informative.

Debbie W: When you say they were a riot, why are they a riot?

Tessa: They are very funny.

Debbie W: Okay. I'm curious, yeah.

Tessa: Yeah. Chris Baty talks about locking up your inner editor in the special editor's kennel.

Debbie W: Okay.

Tessa: Just bizarre things like that. Just so that, when you start NaNoWriMo you basically just, you just go. And, even if you sit there and write “the” 43 times you just keep writing and writing and writing until you accomplish your 50,000 words, and or as many as you can squeeze in there.

Debbie W: What’s the benefit? For you, what's the goal ... The takeaway for you? You've done it so many years. Why do you keep coming back? I mean, I'm curious.

Tessa: For me, I really enjoy the anticipation. I'm a pantser. But I spend September and October thinking about what I'm going to write, and sort of playing it out in my head. But then when I sit down it always go somewhere else and does its own thing. But I have two pieces that are edited and potentially I'm working toward publication.

Debbie W: Great. That's wonderful. Are those from NaNoWriMo drafts?

Tessa: Yes.

Debbie W: Okay.

Tessa: Yeah, I did one in 2010 that I'm still sort of editing and then one in 2015 that I'm also editing. Actually, both…We had a local writing contest for first chapters, and they won first and third. So I was really impressed.

Debbie W: Wonderful. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing that. That's wonderful.

Tessa: Thank you.

Debbie W: Okay. So we'll move to, Tessa we may come back to you. So hang on, I'll mute you for now, but it's you know, if you want to come back, it's star 9. I think you're on the phone. Cheryl, I'm going to unmute you. Go ahead, Cheryl.

Cheryl: Okay, thanks. I just wanted to add in also, that with this latest Apple update, I don't know what program the gentleman was using, but I know myself. It's just I'm sure that iOS, whatever has bugs, but this new update recently has just been a problem for a lot of things. Also, I mean, just using the right arrow key, is not working on any external keyboards and I've lost accessibility now. So I'm all for letting the website also know. I'll check that out and let them know once I'm on there, because I haven't been on there yet. But, part of its probably if it's Apple, part of it's to that too because I’m having problems with everything. So okay, I'm going to mute and let the conversation keep going. Thank you.

Debbie W: Thank you. Thanks for that. And your point is really well-made, Cheryl, that sometimes when we're having those accessibility issues, it is important to reach out. And whether something's done about it or not, we can feel comfortable that we were self-advocates, and reached out. So I'm glad that you're doing that. It's good to hear. I have iPhone Kim, I'm unmuting you.

iPhone Kim: About how many pages do you think 50,000 words is?

Debbie W: Do you know, Diane? I thought I read 200. You think that's right?

Diane O: That sounds about right. It's sort of like a short ... It's more the size of a novella. Actually, I think he found it by finding one of the shortest novel he had on the shelves and counted and guessing the number of words and that's how he came to 50,000.

Debbie W: Well we would have to keep in mind though, iPhone Kim right, is how big your page is. Right? If you-

iPhone Kim: That too.

Debbie W: Yeah. I was laughing because somebody said if you were crazy enough to handwrite your novel, which I probably would be, I tend to write with pen and paper. That maybe if I had a little notebook, I'd have lots and lots of pages, right?

iPhone Kim: The only real thing I really have to write with right now on my iPhone, I have that Voice Dream Writer. And I know it does count words.

Debbie W: Okay.

iPhone Kim: But right now, I don't know if I have enough room left on my iPhone.

Debbie W: Okay.

iPhone Kim: To try a novel. But I do like to try, I like to write poetry. So, that's my thing.

Debbie W: Okay, so maybe you would want to do your own kind of mini challenge. You know, how much poetry could you write during this month?

iPhone Kim: Yeah.

Debbie W: Yeah. So I think the 50,000 words breaks down into 1,667 words per day. I'm a classic procrastinator. I always wrote my term papers the night before they were due. So I probably would be writing all 1,667 words at 10 o'clock at night, which doesn't sound very smart. So the suggestions I've read on the website were maybe you want to do 500 in the morning, maybe you wanted to do 500 in the afternoon. But if you have a full-time job, or you're taking care of kids or a caregiver for somebody, maybe that's not going to work. So you're going to have to really build it into your schedule for the month. And I think this goes back to some of our previous conversations. When we were talking about, how do you make time to write? How are you scheduling routine times to write? That was kind of what I was thinking of, as I read some of the information on the website. Nicole, I'm going to unmute you. Go ahead please.

Nicole: Yeah, okay so, like I say, I've won nine times nine and I've cheated all those nine times. I was working on the same novel that I started with. But I was going to say that each April and July they have Camp NaNoWriMo, which is like a smaller version of NaNoWriMo. I think now they have both sites where you can choose your writing goals, but the camp one you can select if you want to do a poetry collection, or I think that you will have nonfiction too.

Debbie W: Okay. Well, great. Thanks for mentioning Camp NaNoWriMo. That's a really good point. I want to come back to that. But I want to go back to your confession of being a cheater. Could you talk more about that? I'm fascinated that someone would just admit on a public discussion group that they're a cheater. What kind of things did you do?

Nicole: Well, I just mean that I've been working on the same novel, so I've never worked on anything different.

Debbie W: Okay, okay. Okay.

Diane O: Diane speaking, oops.

Debbie W: Go ahead.

Diane O: I was just going to say-

Nicole: They recommend that you do a different novel, but since the novel that I've been working on, it's not done yet, I've just basically added it, tried to rework it.

Diane O: Diane speaking. I did that once too when I also considered myself cheating. And I think in one time I did like a memoir thing. So that was cheating. But like I say, I go to this writing organization, and they actually had a little article where they call the CheatoWriMo, you know, Cheat-o-WriMo. You know. Hey.

Nicole: Yeah. And I mean, you know, I have a writing coach also and actually, this month and next month she's doing a combined... Two of her courses combined. Plan your novel and write your novel. Because, she says that we are just a bunch of NaNo rebels. So she's a rebel too.

Debbie W: I love that. I think all these terms are just so funny. That cheaters and WriMos and, what is the other one I picked up? What's a word sprint?

Nicole: I love word sprints. I love them. They're fun. You set up a timer and you say, okay, the prompt is Hadley, right as much as you can in 15 minutes. And then everybody has to, you know, whatever they come up with. And then when the timer goes up, they have to stop, and report their word count and it's loads of fun.

Debbie W: Oh, it's sounds like fun.

Diane O: Diane speaking. I have been a [inaudible] of a sudden they would have you know, people are sitting around doing the write-in, and all of a sudden somebody goes, okay word sprint. And everybody, real all of a sudden, starts typing about [inaudible] which is kind of funny.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. It's loads of fun. That's kind of how, I mean I know I cheated, but that's how I know like I've connected with NaNoWriMo on Twitter and a lot of the members that's how they won. They would sit there and do all the word sprints, and they just word sprinted their way right on through.

Debbie W: Yeah. So I hope people are hearing that this is really a challenge that's meant to be fun, right? To keep it like, yes, I want to do this. I want to be serious about my writing, right, Nicole?

Nicole: Yeah.

Debbie W: But keep it fun. And if you cheat, no one's going to smack your hand. If you want to be a pantser, be a pantser. If you want to be a planner, be a planner. So I think to keep in mind that, this is a way to keep your writing fun and not take yourself so serious, right?

Nicole: Yeah. And I mean, that's why a lot of the writers do it, because as you know we are procrastinators. I admit it too, I'm terrible. That's why they do it because they feel like okay, pressure is on and I know nobody. You get the accountability and you have to kind of log in on the website and then they do have this buddy system, where you know you can link up with buddies and stuff like that.

Debbie W: Right. Well, great. Thanks for sharing your experience Nicole. It sounds like you really have fun with it.

Nicole: Already.

Debbie W: Okay, thank you. Ann, you have something else you would like to share? Go ahead.

Ann: Okay. I was going to explain my experience. I have actually done NaNo, this will be my fifth year. And I won once. Ever since then I have not won, but I've come close. Now, last year I started a new novel called Hidden Gems. And I actually I am a rebel, Diane, I am totally a rebel. I started as a [inaudible] and counted my words.

Diane O: I'll never tell. I'll never tell Chris Baty.

Ann: And you know what, it doesn't matter because nobody keeps track of that.

Diane O: No. What’s funny in the book though, he'll even say ways you can kind of cheat. Like instead of someone calling a character Jane, he'll say why not call her Mary Jane. [crosstalk] a hyphen grammatically, leave off the hyphens.

Ann: And if you can't get to write-ins, there are virtual write-ins that are streamed on YouTube. But also there is a podcast that Grant Faulkner and Rick Warren do called Write-minded. Every week they talk to writing experts. Sometimes it's fiction, sometimes it's memoir, different ones. And they were actually talking to Chris Baty a few weeks ago, because they actually reprised an interview with him, since he's the founder of NaNoWriMo.

Debbie W: Okay, great. And on their website, Ann have you ever gone to where the published authors have their pep talks? I thought that was interesting too.

Ann: Yes. Now the one by Jim Butcher when I first ... When I did it in 2014, right at the end of the month, the one that Jim Butcher did, I'm like, why would you tell people not to write? This is the whole point of writing. And then I went back, and I thought about it. And I actually talked about this a few episodes back. I actually did an episode last week, getting ready for NaNoWriMo. And I actually talked about this. And when I looked at it, it was a metaphor. It was basically reverse psychology. He's telling people not to do it, because they’ve already started doing it. Did you read that one Diane?

Diane O: I don't think so. I'm just laughing at the idea. Today I was reading the pep talk by Chris Baty, which is really kind of cool.

Ann: I haven't seen that one. But you get one every week in your inbox.

Diane O: Yeah.

Ann: But you want to go back and read that one by Jim Butcher.

Diane O: I will. I'm looking right now ... I'm actually on the site right now. By the way I was looking for where you can make a comment. I haven't found that. So, I think whoever suggested didn't respond to the email. I'm sure they'd be really happy to know about any accessibility issues. We did have somebody look at it, and they didn't see any problems. But if there's problems there, I'm sure the NaNoWriMo people will want to know. They’ll want to know.

Ann: Right. When they emailed us last year about the website preview, I emailed I said, "Is it going to be accessible?" And he said, accessibility was one of their top, their number one things that they really, really... What did I say? What did he say? That's one of their biggest pet peeves, is just making sure that the website is going to be accessible, because they have so many people.

Debbie W: So they're open to it. That's good to hear.

Ann: Yes.

Debbie W: It really is good to hear.

Ann: They are. And Tim Kim got back to me right away. And he gave me the link to the preview. When they did the preview, it was pretty accessible. And I was actually able to add my website and my podcast link and my social media into the site. I haven't looked at the forums because they just launched them the other day.

Debbie W: Okay.

Ann: I think earlier this week. So I haven't looked at those. And you're not going to be able to update your word count right now because that's not- NaNoWriMo hasn’t started. So that's why you can't find that yet, Paul. If you're still here, that's why you can't find it because it's not [inaudible]. But anyway, I've got to start my own project and I'm going to do my book edit. Yeah, I'm going to be a rebel.

Debbie W: Okay, great. Okay, thanks, Ann, for your personal sharing on that. Great to hear how you're using it. Do other people have any comments about this challenge? Are you inspired to try it? Is it something that turns you off? I want to go back to Paul to see if any of the comments the participants shared were helpful for you.

iPhone Kim: Hi, could you spell out the name of that website that you're talking about, NaNo what?

Debbie W: It's And again, we'll have that on our show notes on the website. So it's an acronym, NA stands for national, NO stands for novel, WRI stands for writing. And MO stands for month. And it's NaNoWriMo.

iPhone Kim: Okay.

Debbie W: I talked to people that do NaNoWriMo, they're so excited about it. They run all that together. As I said, when Diane suggested it to me, I'm like, "Have you been sipping too much wine?" What do you want to talk about?

iPhone Kim: Are you crazy?

Debbie W: Yeah, so I'm glad she turned me on to it. I think I'm excited enough to try it.

iPhone Kim: [inaudible] I want to go and read it.

Debbie W: Okay.

iPhone Kim: I wish people would put their novels on there, their entries on there.

Debbie W: When you submit your words, Diane, aren't they encrypted, nobody can read them?

Diane O: Nobody can read them.

Debbie W: Yeah.

Diane O: All their system is do is counting the words. Because that's your pride. That's your baby, you have copyright over it. You know how copyright works, once you write something, it's yours. You don't need anything else. So, no, it's definitely yours. Nobody will ever see it.

iPhone Kim: Okay. Okay.

Diane O: One hint to be aware of the fact that every word processing system counts words a little bit differently. So when you put it into the system, you may think you have exactly 50,000 words. When you put it into NaNoWriMo they may find you have 49,000, so just be aware.

Debbie W: Okay.

Diane O: Some words of the wise.

Debbie W: Wouldn’t that make you cry? If you were turning it in and 11:59:58 and you were like three words short.

Diane O: I'm sure that's happened.

Debbie W: I'm sure it has. Okay, thank you, iPhone Kim. I'm going to Sue. Sue, I'm unmuting you, go ahead.

Sue: Hi. What is this about the word count? Does it get saved to my computer? Is it going to be something that I have go in and save just like any other document? Or how is it saved?

Diane O: You would save it the way you save anything. I'm not sure what program you would use to ... I think different word processing is different. I'm not sure about the accessibility features about the word count. Maybe somebody else could give some advice on that but, you would save your work the same way you save it on any other computer. You don't do anything different, just being aware of how many words it is.

Sue: So what I do is, when I write every day, I have to go ahead and save it to my documents file, right?

Diane O: Yeah, same as you save anything else. One good warning they always say is make sure you backup your work. Because especially if you're going to be writing a lot of words, you could write a 50,000-word novel, but you don't want to save it on just one thing. You might save it on a flash drive or whatever, as well as on your computer for example, just because again, you don't want to lose it.

Sue: Okay.

Debbie W: Okay, is that helpful, Sue?

Sue: I hope so.

Debbie W: Okay.

Sue: I have to give it a try.

Debbie W: Give it a try. And if you run into any problems, Diane, I'm volunteering you.

Diane O: Please do. Please do.

Debbie W: Share your email address for people, Diane. So if people have questions, I think you're more adverse at this than I am. I'm new to it. I'm willing to help, but maybe questions about this should come to you. I don't want to put-

Diane O: It is totally fine.

Debbie W: I don't want to put you on the spot, but I am.

Diane O: But it's totally fine. I'm a longtime WriMo. And if you can tell, I'm excited about WriMo.

Debbie W: Okay, so give people your email address.

Diane O: Okay, it's my first name, Diane So it's Diane, And yeah, feel free to email me any questions and if I don't have the answers, I'll find somebody else who does, and I'll pitch the answer to you.

Debbie W: Okay, thank you for that. I'm sorry to put you on the spot. You can yell at me later. That's fine.

Diane O: This is fun. NaNoWriMo is all about fun. And as Debbie said in the beginning, if you don't make the 50,000 words, you didn't lose. You still gained.

Debbie W: Yeah. Okay, I have six hands up. So we want to get through them a little bit here. Cleora, I'm unmuting you. Go ahead please.

Cleora: Okay, well, she's talking about winning and won four times, but submitting the same thing each time. I mean, are there multiple winners? If you get 50,000, do you win? Or if you get 50,200 and that's the best that everybody else did ... How many winners are there? Is it just one winner? Who qualifies as the winner?

Diane O: Diane speaking. Anybody who writes 50,000 words is considered in the NaNoWriMo universe, a winner. However, you won NaNoWriMo, you're still a winner for having tried it. Okay? I think that's the philosophy of NaNoWriMo. If you've tried it, you're a winner. But to officially win, you write 50,000 words. I think I read somewhere that like, 17% of people who try it actually get to that, actually to the winning part. There's no set thing. And if you write 100,000 words, cool. It doesn't matter. Again, it's just a fun goal to get yourself writing and to finish a novel. And one important thing too, is that you always stress trying to actually finish it. You really want to see if you can tie your plot up. I think that's kind of important because when you go back to rewrite it, if you haven't got to the end and really tied the plot up, it's going be a lot harder for you to edit it. Other people can probably speak on that too.

Debbie W: Okay, does that help, Cleora? The idea is if you write the 50,000 words, you are a winner. So there can be thousands and hundreds of thousands of winners.

Cleora: Well, now also, it was mentioned that it's encrypted, all they count is the words. So I guess they don't actually read this novel?

Diane O'Neill: No, no.

Cleora: So, that's how you can submit the same one.

Debbie W: What she's doing is she's probably submitting the same general idea, but she's improving on it each time. So she's using NaNoWriMo just as a way to revise her novel, which I think is you know, this is a challenge that you can gear to your own needs. If someone is so called cheating and using the same novel each time, I'm sure she's revising. Right?

Cleora: She said she was revising. I was thinking when she said she had won four times, I thought, Oh really. So, they didn't read this and realize it was, you know, same novel over and over again.

Debbie W: No. That's why I was teasing her about cheating. I mean, there's nobody that kind of polices this. It’s really, just think of it just as a way that this is just a huge way to encourage writers that may have writer's block, that just have always wanted to get started but just can't get started. It's a fun way. It's supported by a community of other writers. So it really is not anything that's official. I'm going to, read your novel and correct all your grammar mistakes or anything like that. It's just to get that first draft.

Diane O: And all you win is a little sheet that you photocopy, that says you're a winner. And you write your own name on it. It's just kind of funny in a way.

Debbie W: Okay, it's about 4:15, I want to get to a few more hands. So I'm going to go to Helen. Helen I'm unmuting you. Go ahead, please.

Helen: Hi. Yeah, for those of us that tried and failed because the word count was wrong, it could be the NaNoWriMo primo. Because I know I had to do word count before. And I never realized you know, that my font then that I used, it's weird. Like you said, I didn't know that could be possible, but I found out the hard way, which wasn't nice. But now I'm aware of it. Now, I've never heard of this before. And just a quick question, how many people actually, how would you say enlisted or signed up? How many actually finished from the last year? That'd be interesting to find out. And to the lady that said that she kept doing the same one and revising it every year. I honestly think it's a shame that we have to have excuses to write and not knock everything out of the way and give us a chance sometimes. So more power to her, because she's going to finish that damn thing and more power to her

Debbie W: Great.

Diane O: Definitely.

Debbie W: One of the things that pops up on the website and it says 798,162 active novelists and 367,913 novels completed.

Helen: That's awesome.

Debbie W: Isn't that awesome? I love that. Yeah, that's awesome. Thank you, Helen, for your comments. I'm going to move to ... Trying to get to somebody who didn't talk. Let's go back to Tessa. Okay, thank you, Helen. Tessa you are up.

Tessa: Hi, I just wanted to say that, you don't upload your words until the very end of the process. And, it's just a robot that sees your documents, because I tend to be a little paranoid so what I do is I go and I totally scramble my novel, and when it gets uploaded all it does is just count the words. But generally what you do is you write your document, let's say you doing it daily. I find Word to be the most accurate word count when you are comparing word counted on your machine compared with NaNoWriMo. When you go on the website, there is a place where you fill in your profile and you can pick your region and say a little bit about yourself and the title of your novel and what genre your novel is and so on and so forth.

There is an area there where you can enter your daily word count and I find it easier to do it from your personal profile, rather than when you first open the website. There is a word count box right at the top of the page, but I find that one tends to be very difficult access using JAWS. So, that might be something for people to consider. If you can go in and create your profile and then enter word count that way. And, basically all you’re doing is, when you save your document every day, you just get your word processor to tell you how many words are in your novel. And then you go to NaNoWriMo and put it in to that box. Then, every day you can see it. It just keeps track of how many words you've written. And then you can go into your stats and it will tell you how many words you have to go, and how many words you need to write over the next 29 or 16 days in order to achieve your goals, and so and so forth. I find it very motivating because it keeps you on track and says you've got to write 2,000 words for the next 10 days in order to make your 50,000.

Debbie W: Okay. Well, thanks, Tessa. I mean that's really good practical hands on how to do it. And that works for you and other people may want to try that as well. So, thanks for sharing that. Appreciate it.

Tessa: Okay.

Debbie W: Okay. Cheryl, you're up. Cheryl, I'm going to unmute you.

Cheryl: Okay. Real quick, I wanted to say this before the group, before we ended today. That, and I'll email you, and then you can coordinate if people want a writing buddy. I have finally got one on Friday mornings. We meet at 9 and spend about an hour and a half, to hours together. We are on the phone and we set a timer and write for an hour. So having a writing buddy is a good incentive also, and so, I'd be open to having somebody whether I'm open to whatever day or time, we could figure that out. And it could be a writing group. So I just wanted to put that out there.

Debbie W: Thanks for putting that out there and that really raises a really good point. At this time Hadley policy isn't ... We are not connecting people via this discussion group. We are working on ways that we are going to do that, so stay tuned for that. So, the best way to contact is through Diane or myself and then we contact the other person, so we’re working on that. We hear that people want that so I'm trying to figure out how we can best do that. And I appreciate you for offering that. I think a writing buddy is a great idea. Paul, you had a question or a comment? Go ahead.

Paul: Yeah, thanks Debbie. I wanted to thank Tessa for the very concrete tips there. I also wanted to mention that on the web page, search for a link called help desk. I just found out while we are on this call and it looks like there's a lot of very valuable information there.

Debbie W: I like your go get-it-ness. Right in the middle of our discussion, you searched that out and then came back with the information. So you get the prize for today. I don't know what that is, but you get the prize for today. I appreciate that, Paul.

Diane O: Diane speaking. I just got there. I don't know why I did not see it before, I do not know. But I went on the help say page and there actually is a place where you can say contact support. So you can actually send a message there.

Debbie W: Good. I think we had a great discussion today and we've learned all kinds of things about NaNoWriMo. I mean, we didn't cover the topic completely. I hope what we've done is encouraged everybody to check it out, to see if it would be for them. If you really wanted to sit down and get going with a novel or any kind of writing check out that. Just jump in, get those words on paper. Don't overthink your plot, just do it. Just do it. I think that's Nike’s saying, but we'll make it our saying to. Okay, so I want to thank everybody that participated today- Paul, Ann, Tessa, Cheryl, iPhone Kim, Nicole, Cleora, Sue, Helen, everybody that had comments about things and everybody's helpful suggestions. And all you listeners that took it all in and soaked it up. You participate by listening and we appreciate that. So next month ... Diane, do you have any final comments before I go into a final spiel here?

Diane O: Diane speaking. One final comment is, if by some chance though you feel like NaNoWriMo isn't for you, you really don't want to write that down quickly. You know what, there are some very successful writers who love NaNoWriMo. There are some very successful writers I know who would not touch NaNoWriMo with a 10-foot pitchfork. So, you know, do what's good for you. I personally love NaNoWriMo and find it valuable. But maybe you prefer to write more slowly, and that's totally okay. Whatever works for you is totally cool. Happy writing.

Debbie W: Thank you. And one of the things I like about this whole thing is the challenge. I love challenges. And so, maybe you want to create your own challenge. And I was thinking about this last night as I was lying awake in bed. We're always encouraging writers to read. I mean, a good writer has to be a reader. We've said that before in our discussion group. So I was thinking of ways I could challenge myself to read more, to make time to read. There was on PBS a series called The Great American Read. I don't know if anybody saw that but where they picked the one hundred best loved novels. And so I have come up, my challenge is to read those novels in a year. Some of them I've read before, but there's a lot on that list I haven't. So I kind of made that my personal challenge.

So, think about ways you can invent these little challenges for yourself. I found a website, it was called 10-10-10. In 2010, these two women challenged themselves to read 10 books, in 10 genres. So they invented their own genres. And they read 10 books in genres that usually they didn't read in. And so they had to start on January 1, and on 10/10/10, they had to have them all done. So I thought that was an interesting challenge. And so maybe you want to challenge yourself to read a book in a different genre. So I thought that was fun. So just think about the part of this is the challenge, is just a way to motivate yourself to read or to write.

So thank you, everybody for joining us today. Really liked that you come each month. Everybody that comes back and welcome to our newcomers as I said before. Next month Writers’ Circle will be on November 14th, same time. And our topic is going to be, we're going to see how many people have tried NaNoWriMo at that time, we'll check in. And then we're just going to have an open session, where people can share questions for each other. We can just talk about topics for the future, just an open-ended session, which we try to do every once in a while just to help each other out a little bit, ask each other's questions about things they're working on, etc. Tips and things like that. So that will be next month. So thank you everybody. Really appreciate again your participation. Diane take us out with our prompts.

Diane O: Thanks, Debbie. The two prompts for today are one, write a post story about a train ride or write a story about a celebration. And again, these are from the book Fast Fiction Creating Fiction in Five Minutes by Allen.

Debbie W: Okay.

Diane O: Happy writing.

Debbie W: Thank you. Thanks, Diane. Goodbye, everybody.