This Month, We Write IN HELL—To NaNo or Not to NaNo

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NaNoWriMo. There are a lot of opinions floating around about NaNo and I can’t tell you guys what to do. Wait, I do that all the time. Hmmm. Okay, I can’t MAKE you try NaNo, but I am the friend who will gently and lovingly shove you off a cliff because it’s good for you.

WHAT!!??? You SAID you wanted to go BASE jumping be a professional author.

In my 20s, I lived life like a Mountain Dew commercial. You name X Dumb Thing? Sign me up! One of my favorite suicidal activities was skydiving. If I was having a really bad time, nothing to perk me up like free falling from 15,000 feet. But I’m a natural idiot adventurer.

My little brother? Was probably the more cautious/sane one, but I could tell from this spark in his eyes that he’d one day like to just go for it and jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

One day, I was headed out to jump and invited my brother. “Hey, you can just watch. Check it out. See if it might be something you’d like to try one day.” He rides out there with me and, to his horror, I’d signed BOTH of us up and paid for his tandem.

He should have known from our history together that Big Sisters are pathological liars. Also, I was the one who convinced him to jump off our roof with an umbrella when he was five, so, in fairness, he should have TOTALLY seen that coming.

Hey, Penguin does it all the time. You’ll just float down.



Little Bro was “fine.” But I didn’t make him do anything I hadn’t already done. Trust me when I say he was a changed person after that experience (and for the better).

Back to NaNo…

To NaNo or Not to NaNo

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Stoere Schrijfster.

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Stoere Schrijfster.

For those who have not tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), at least consider it. Even if you only partially finish (land on your knees and then get dragged through stickers by your chute that caught a sudden updraft) you are now part of a percentage of very few people who TRIED.

And, unlike skydiving, I’ve yet to encounter any NaNo fatalities.

The trick to NaNo is to appreciate it’s PURPOSE. It’s to propel us out of the comfort zone and show us what we are truly capable of if we put our minds to something and refuse to give up. It’s training for the pace of professional author. Pros have a VERY different operational tempo.

We don’t play to win, we play for keeps.

I’ve finished NaNo quite a few times (and fast-draft everything I write), but every day is NaNo for me. I have a thousand words written before most people wake up. Was it ALWAYS that way? Sure!  😀 *thunder rumbles*

OKAY, I totally just lied. I used to be thrilled if I had three sentences by the end of the day. OMG, if I could like, write FIVE HUNDRED words a day, THEN I will be EPIC.

There were a LOT of roadblocks to me being a “real writer,” roadblocks that NaNo can help us face and overcome.

No Such Thing as Schrodinger’s Writer

Original image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of Casey Konstantin

Original image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of Casey Konstantin

Want to be a writer? Write. That simple. Lose the existentialism. People who have time to discuss what makes a “real” writer have too much free time. The rest of us are busy writing. The single greatest thing NaNo makes us do is it propels us to sit our tails down and get to WORK.

Ditch Perfectionism

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Want a surefire way to NEVER finish NaNo, or any book for that matter? Edit Frenzy. NaNo is NOT for the perfect book ready for sale on December 1st. Sure there are some pros out there who can whip out a perfect book in 30 days…I think. I’ve never met one, but like Sasquatch, we like to believe they could exist.

The world does not reward perfection, it rewards finishers.

Learn to SHIP. No unfinished idea ever became a NY Times best-selling book.

Word Count

One of the complaints I hear about NaNo is there is too much focus on word count. Oh-KAY. Get a three-book deal and see how important word count becomes. Word count IS critical, because without words? We don’t have a BOOK.

The Muse

Kill it with FIRE.

Kill it with FIRE.

A lot of new writers wait until inspiration strikes. The rest of us go to work (paraphrased Stephen King). Inspiration is for amateurs and hobbyists. If we look to some of the most successful authors in history, a large percentage shifted over from journalism. Reporters who wish to remain employed can’t wait for the muse to report about the four-alarm fire. Learn from that and SHIP.

NaNo is NOT the Time for REVISION

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NaNo is for getting as many words on the page as possible in 30 days. Revise LATER. It’s NaNoWRIMo, not NaNoWriReviseAngstDrinkMoWineMo.

Humans have two sides to the brain—the creative side and the logical side. The reason NaNo is fabulous is it trains us to remain in the creative hemisphere of the brain. Stay in the fictive dream and play your guts out. Logic brain will have its turn…LATER.

Ignore typos, misspellings, run-on sentences and WRITE.

NaNo Pushes Boundaries

Most of us are capable of a lot more than we believe we are, but we dig the Comfort Zone. It has WiFi and lattes. Excellence is born in a fiery crucible. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

NaNo Strips Excuses

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Life will not change one you are a published or successful author. Today is my Dad’s birthday and the 15th anniversary of his death. Hey, he was Scottish and we are known for efficiency. My SIL went in this morning for serious and painful eye surgery to prevent her from going totally blind. I have Shingles, my house is a WRECK and I have a cat I love who’s teetering on death that I have to syringe feed every other hour. Our family business was half-flattened by squall lines last week and…blech.

But I write. Doesn’t mean I don’t CARE about those other things. But if I were in any other job, I might be able to justify a couple days away, but other than that? I’d have to show UP and do my JOB.

I know Mr. Smith has a tumor I was supposed to remove today, but my cat is sick and I am still tired from Shingles, have storm damage to clear and no clean SOCKS to perform surgery in and….

Uh huh.

Writer UP

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You guys don’t have to do NaNo or like NaNo. It isn’t for everyone, but neither is this profession. I participate in NaNo, support it and recommend it.

Just for the LOVE of all that is chocolate, DO NOT believe you are finished after 50,000 or more words. You WILL need revisions and edits, so hold off on the CreateSpace or the query. You might probably will have a literary train wreck. But you have a FINISHED train wreck. EXPERIENCE will teach you what to do and even what NOT to do.

There are ways to have less of a mess at the end, but we’ll talk about that next time.

NaNo trains speed and discipline. Style comes with preparation, time and practice, not nit-picking.

So *beats shield* come back with your first draft or ON it ;).


Haters: We will darken the skies with our criticism.

Real Writers: Then we will WRITE in the SHADE.

What are your thoughts? Are you afraid of NaNo? Good. Now suck it up. Have you tried before and failed to finish? Why? Have you revisited the “footage” to see what you could change to improve odds of finishing? Do you over-edit? STOP IT. Do you have friends, family or activities that interfere? Hint: They aren’t going away.

Share your successes, monsters, defeats and we will raise our goblets coffee mugs and spears red pens to the Elysian Fields! We will forever be Brothers and Sisters at Arms. Sign up HERE for NaNoWriMo.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Never done this and have huge respect for NaNo. I’m also the last one to get my belly button wait. Guess it’s time to hold my nose and jump. Great blog!

  2. Your images are awesome. 🙂

    • Susan Kaye on October 9, 2014 at 9:59 am
    • Reply

    I have tried NaNo a couple of times and never finished. But, I am a professional and NaNo is a challenge I am accepting this year. God help my family.

  3. I use writing as an escape from stress. I can only concentrate on one thing at a time!
    Shingles???? Oh. Kristen. I’m sorry. Hang in there girl.
    I have never tried nanowrimo. Maybe this year!

  4. Fast drafting. I need to know more about this. Any recommendations?

  5. I tried NaNo a few times. At the beginning, I would fail to reach the goal. Then when I finally reached the goal one year… it was so anti-climatic. I began to wonder what in the world I was doing and thinking about why people put so much stupid emphasis on the event.

    I wrote 50,000. NOW WHAT?

    Then I did it in the years after, cutting yourself off just ruins your creative juices. So I wouldn’t do that. Before I knew it, I would have 50,000 written words already finished with weeks left to go, even after several edits.

    So yeah, I don’t see the flare to it. But kudos to those who do. More power to them!

    1. At least you tried 😉 .

      1. Yep. Can’t accuse Me of NOT.

  6. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    Read this darn you – then get down and dirty with YOUR NaNo WHATEVER the distractions lol 😀

  7. I think NaNo is the perfect crucible for weeding out hobbyists. I wrote 60,000 words in 23 days last year, and that convinced me I could do this writing thing for real. Not that what I turned out was a masterpiece (but it was a pretty decent story – still in need of serious editing). I discovered that if I sat behind the computer for several hours each day, I could crank out an average of 1,000 words per hour. That’s a professional pace.
    I’m not at a place this year where I’m ready to write a new project during November. I have two first drafts in need of rewriting, revision and editing so they can be shipped to my beta readers. I have an outline for a NF project. I do have goals for November – short stories – but I don’t expect to write 50,000 words worth.
    If you want to write professionally, sign up for NaNo and then show up for however many hours it takes. At my writing rate, it’s 1.67 hours per day (because someone will be writing on Thanksgiving?)
    I love NaNo and if this hype continues my other projects may fall beneath my desire to jump on the bandwagon.

  8. I never felt the need. When I’m writing I can crank up the word count. I write in fits and starts, but usually get 3000 or so per day. My year is usually six months writing and six of editing and dreaming stuff up for writing mode.

  9. Reblogged this on Felicia Jane: Writer Extraordinarie and commented:
    And all I have to say to those who are on the fence about doing NaNo is read this.
    Then come back and tell me you don’t know if you want to write.
    I totally need this figurative push out of the plane. Yep. I totally needed this.

  10. I’m a huge supporter of NaNoWriMo. This will be my tenth year doing it. After I was able to hit the 50,000 mark in seven days, I started setting my word count goals to 75,000 and 100,000 to create more of a challenge. I almost get more excited for NaNoWriMo than I do for the gifts at Christmas time mainly because it’s just a month-long excuse to write without boundaries. It takes a lot of self-control not to edit your own work. And NaNoWriMo helps fund the coffee shops in my area due to my increased caffeine intake.

  11. Why did they pick November? There’s just too much going on then. Why not January? That’s a pretty dead month without holidays and stuff to interfere.

    My problem is I’m a slow writer. Did a two week fast draft one time and got a lot done. BUT I only made the daily goal one time. Maybe I’ll try 2 weeks in NaNo (can’t do first and last). I really do need something to kick me in gear again.

    1. I agree!! (Any months but Nov/Dec) With Thanksgiving, it’s not really the best time. To make up for it, I started Nano a week before, which might be cheating but I got to 80k words, so I feel ok about it. 🙂

      1. I agree that it’s one of the WORST months and I think those devious people at NaNoWri did that on PURPOSE! *shakes sword and bangs it on shield* However, IF they did it on purpose I think it was actually BECAUSE it’s the worst month. I’m the author of nine novels and I can tell you that I have written through Thanksgiving, through Christmas holidays, through the grief of losing my father, and the aftermath of breast cancer. Publishers don’t always get the whole “Hey, my life just caved in on me” but usually they cut you a break. You still have to write the book, and not always on the timetable you need emotionally or physically. (which is why a lot of published authors are going the eBook route these days BTW). So I guess if you can write a 50,000 bare bones novel in a month, you might have what it takes to battle the monster that is the Publishing World! Huzzah! At least they didn’t pick December. Personally I’d vote for March. Nothing much happens in March. 😉 But then there would be less glory I guess. FORTUNE AND GLORY! Ok, Kristen you’ve got me all revved up now. ; )

        1. Another vote for March! I was thinking February, but those three extra days could make all the difference 🙂

  12. I LOVE 300! What a way to motivate!

    I’m sitting on my bed right now, (took a break to read your post) surrounded with post-it notes, replotting my timeline. My original subplot had too many holes in it; not only did it not hold water but it threatened to pull the entire main plot down with it. It got tossed overboard, which allowed me to spot the problem with the main plot’ s timeline.

    No big loss (ripping out an entire subplot) without some small gain (spotting trouble with the plot).

    Won’t be able to officially join NaNoWriMo, but if I can gather my post-it’s into a decent outline by 1 Dec, I’ll give it all I’ve got unofficially.

  13. I LOVE NaNo. I’ve participated six times and only failed once, and NaNo is pretty much THE reason that I now (just recently) have a complete, published, Totally-For-Sale book, I’ve always had a hard time pushing myself to take the time to write, and NaNo is what helped rise me up past that bad attitude. TOTALLY worth it. 🙂

    I plan on participating this year as well. I’m going to be writing the first in a fantasy YA series I’m planning to write, and even though I’m also working a full-time job while I’m at it, I hope to finish the first draft during this year’s NaNo. I’ve caught the self-publishing bug and there is no cure! 😀

    1. Way to go! Awesomeness!! 🙂

  14. I did my first NaNo last year and won. Then turned it into something. Something I love. And so far (after lots and lots of revisions) others seem to love it to. But I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo this year because, well, I crashed and burned after last year. For a good six months. But then I realized I had 50,000 plus words to work with. So I started getting excited again. So this year I have not one but TWO ideas that I am flip flopping between. And you know what, I refuse to choose between the two. They are as far apart from each other as anything can be (one fiction, one non-fiction – based on my master’s thesis: serial killers) and I am going to outline both of them in October. Then we’ll see. I’ll probably end up doing some work on both. Or maybe one will win out over the other. That’s the beauty of November – you never know where you’re writing will end up, but you will get there!!! And then after I never want to see either of those two books again, I get to go back and look at my beta readers comments from last year’s NaNo piece. God I love being a writer!

  15. I am going to take the plunge, thanks to your post. There is a book rattling around in me, and it’s time to find out if it is any good or not. As someone above said, God help my family.

  16. Um, I meant get a decent outline by 1 November. 😛

    • DJ on October 9, 2014 at 10:33 am
    • Reply

    This will be my second NaNo. I finished last year even though I lost 4 days with an ear infection that ruptured my ear drum. This year should be easier.

  17. NaNo is so much fun! I like doing my fast drafting in the community of writers. Okay, so I only did it once, and I killed it with 80k words. From my experience of drafting 6 manuscripts, I think that fast-drafting at least one novel in your career will help you be a better writer, no matter what your natural writing style is.

    I’m feeling conflicting emotions this time because while I WANT to do NaNo on this *other* book, I feel like my focus should be on editing my five-book series. So I’ll probably skip it this time and feel super-guilty about it.

  18. I love this article!!!!

  19. I love this post so much! “We will write in the shade.” So true!

    • Kit Dunsmore on October 9, 2014 at 10:43 am
    • Reply

    You are spot on in your advice, Kristen. This will be my 9th NaNoWriMo. When I first started, I was terrified and it was all about hitting the word count. As the years have passed, making the word count has gotten easy, so now I give myself other challenges, like getting a full story written. When that gets easy, I’ll probably think of new ways to challenge myself, because as busy as I am with my other writing projects (currently revising my 2011 NaNo novel), I can’t imagine a November without the insanity of NaNoWriMo.

  20. Been reading a long time, but this is the first time I’ve felt the need to comment! This post rocks beyond measure. You’re so right about what NaNoWriMo does… and because of your unique perspective I’m going to DO it for the first time, instead of just watching intimidatedly. 😀

  21. I am writing a novella. Does that count? I’m doing it for a writing contest.

  22. My first completed novel was because of Nano. It had flaws and I’ve re-written that story three times since. However, it was enough to make me feel like I could do this.
    I try to submit my Nano writing to the Amazon contest in January because it gives me a deadline for editing and teaching myself to follow through. I’m excited for Nano this year.

  23. Thank you for this post! I considered NANO last year, but decided against it. I think I may be ready for it this year… We shall see! The problem is that I am a bit of a perfectionist and I revise stuff until I hate it. I guess I may need to refocus and just try!

    • Cnawan Fahey on October 9, 2014 at 10:54 am
    • Reply

    Better to write in Hell than to review in Heaven

  24. Great inspiring blog! I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, but am now signed up, thanks to your gentle prodding. 🙂

  25. I’m ready! *Beats shield with pen*

  26. Spot on, Kristen. I finished NaNo several times, sometimes with dreck and sometimes with something workable, but I finished and learned about my capabilities every time. I made myself NOT do it while I was in college, but I’ll be back at it again this year.

    And “It’s NaNoWRIMo, not NaNoWriReviseAngstDrinkMoWineMo?” It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking anything right then! *snort*

  27. Every year I want to do this!…but I always have another project going already! And I could up my word count and push to add 50,000 words in November, but when I’m revising and drawing from previous drafts, it doesn’t seem quite fair. 😉

  28. I’m going for it. I can’t wait. I’ve been having a hard time not starting this book that is trying to punch its way out. Only three more weeks! My biggest challenge (other than the daily word count) will be ignoring my perfectionism and not stopping to edit. I’m a very slow writer because, I usually don’t move from one paragraph without the first flowing perfectly.

  29. Participating in NaNoWriMo two years ago was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. I thought that I had a novel in me—turns out I just had a great cast of characters and no plot. Sorta like the Phone book.

    I switched gears the first day, started writing a memoir and feeling guilty about missing the “Novel” in National Novel Writing month. Three days into it I found out that lots of people were writing something other than a novel—emphasis on “Writing”.

    I made it through to the end and learned that my former excuses not to write did not hold up. I could, and did, write when I had to/wanted to write.

    Since 2012 I have been editing and adding to my memoir and last week I joined a local writer’s group for motivation and peer-review. This is a life that I did not see coming and I enjoy it very much.

    Thanks for your helpful tips and insight,

  30. Thank you the last push over the edge. I’m doing it. I am totally psyched…and scared.

  31. So.. I’ve got a newbie question. I have an idea, I’ve scribbled down 1000 words… That’s barely a scratch, right? Can I use it for NaNo? Or would it not count as I had started it before November?
    I’m so tempted to try NaNo, but *insert all kinds of vague excuses*…
    Thanks for the post ?
    – Henrika

    1. Henrika, the intent, for credit, is to only use words actually written between the 1st and the 30th. So start from 1001 and carry on, or use the 1000 you have and make your goal 51000. The main point is to write. Prizes aren’t really big enough to ferret out those who overstate their accomplishments, but still, would you want that over your head?

      1. Thanks! So I could go with what I’ve got +50k, but it looks like I’ll not be doing it, not officially anyway 🙁 There’s always next year, right? Life can’t always be this hectic can it?

  32. To NaNo or not to NaNo – always the October question…I’m still on the fence. Leaning toward yes, because why not? I’m just moving, starting a new job, keeping up on my regular blogging…I can do all of that, right?

  33. Nano Wrimo is a great way to get a draft finished in a month. Or at least something to revise later on. I’ve been a participant for three years (not in a row). Although each manuscript I wrote during the month of November didn’t go beyond the first draft, one did. And I am launching its publication next week after getting decent feedack from Amazon Breakthrough Novel. So Nano Wrimo can definitely be a very good way to get some writing done. It means revision after November but I am considering to participate again this year since it has helped me in the past. I will do it alone and quietly but I need the pressure to get words down.
    To anyone doing it this year: best of luck and don’t forget to enjoy the process. Writing shouldn’t be a chore. Revision is hard work but the first draft should be fun and relaxing. Go!

  34. My resume reads reporter, science writer, director of information, etc. My creative writing work says memoir. I love facts. I love reason and logic. But I recently took a personality test that told me I should be wary of working in places dealing with facts and logic. What?! So I decided to start paying attention to that plotline for a novel that’s been knocking around my noggin for a decade or so. NaNoWriMo, here I come! Thanks for the inspiration, Kristen!

  35. I love it. If I finish my book in time, I will participate in NaNoWriMo this year. My daughter did it a few years ago and finished with a great book. She read over what she had written and decided the entire book was in the wrong Point of View. She is now changing all of that and I think she’s got a great story in the works.

  36. Reblogged this on Swamp Sass and commented:
    I love this woman’s blog. There is a lot of wisdom to be had in here for writers and maybe for others. Good luck!

  37. Welp. I’m convinved! 🙂

  38. Kristin, too busy revising to join the frenzy, but am sharing the snot out of this with friends who try to be ‘fragile’ with their dedication. Way to go!

  39. Oh, I so loved this blog! Your style of writing really made me feel as if we were about to go on an adventure! Love it! But I am a novice and I have no Idea what Nano is, could you write like I’m a beginning version of you? I mean what I received from the piece is that NaNo stands for National Novel” and that there is a National Novel Writing Month? Who sponsors it? How do you get involved? I am a non-fiction writer Life experiences, memoirs. So if you would like to educate someone “throw them out of a perfectly good airplane” for me I need the details like what airport and what plane? And “i must know how to operate a parachute! Want to throw me a lifeline here the rocks are slippery and I have arthritis in my fingers….

    1. We will keep exploring this topic :). Gotcha covered.

  40. OK, you talked (bent my arm) me into it. i signed up. It’s all your fault.

    • L.A. Remenicky on October 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm
    • Reply

    This year well be my third year – year 1 winner, year 2 only 30k words. Here’s to winning in year 3 – and if not, the start of another story…
    3rd book to be released this month and NaNoWrimo was the catalyst!

  41. This year may actually be my first NaNo: Despite swearing off book writing back in January or so, I’ve got an outline and a plan, and kinda like the thought of HAVING to have the first draft done in a month. Plus the kids are finally back in school… That has to help.

  42. As usual, Kristen, a great post. Thanks!
    I’ve done NaNo three times so far, and made my goal twice, which represents a book on sale and a second ready to finalize edits and ship. This time I’m going for book five in my series (book four is too far along to use–God forbid i should add *any* words to it!).

  43. Anything that gets people in the habit of writing is a good thing. I am not myself a big creature of habit, but I have frenzied bursts – like writing the first 90,000 words of my third novel in three months – and taking the rest of the year to write the final 35,000. Well, to be fair the final stages included lots of editing and feedback from beta readers. But writing daily was hugely satisfying and kept me fully in the story. So go for it NanoWriMers, or wannabe Rimos. Oh, and by the way, I do know of one famous writer who turned out terrific novels in a weekend, at least his early works: Michael Moorcock.

  44. This year? First NaNo ever!! I´m excited to the bones and gathering every little piece of motivation and inspiration I can get a grip on. -So thanks, my dear, for your support in this! Your posts are helping. A lot! 😉
    I´ve already done some preparation and just can´t wait to start! (and, after writing for 4 years now, fanfiction in english, this will be my first attempt to write in my native tongue… SOOOOO Excited!!!!)
    Happy NaNo to all of us!!

  45. Hi Kristen – I heard about NaNoWriMo around Christmas and thought it sounded interesting. I found someone’s book where they wrote about their experience. And I thought I wanted to try it.

    Alas, my WIP took longer to draft than I expected, and my brain has been deep fried – I can’t believe it took me 101 days to finish. So, I haven’t had time to work on my new characters, let alone major plot points. I know I’m whining, and felt really bad about it until I looked at what I’d written in the last 30 days to finish my story – it turned out to be 68,251 words.

    So, can I write that many words in 30 days. Yippers. Can I do it without much self-editing? Check. Can I hit that deadline? No idea. Do I miss having suffering souls to commiserate with? Heavy sigh and head nod.

    I wish everyone the very best. I hope I can better schedule my life next year, and join all of you.


    • Kessie on October 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve done Nano a few times, including the summer camps. Won some, lost some. I discovered that the pace is too fast for me–I don’t have time to think through the upcoming scenes. I wind up doing a lot of “marking time” when the characters just sit around and think, to try to pad the word count. I usually take two months to write a draft, which isn’t Nano-fast, but not too slow. I’m deep in revisions of my third book, so I won’t be doing it this year. But I wish everyone the very best! It’s so much fun.

  46. After hearing about it for a while and an author friend telling me she was going to do it and asking me to buddy up with her I’m going to do it. I have written two novels of a trilogy,not published yet, so I’m planning on writing the third one. Looking forward to it!

  47. I concur. NaNoWriMo is an invaluable measure of determination, especially for those of us who are uber-distractable.

  48. I love everything about this. It’s exactly what I feel about NaNo, and follows the experiences I’ve had with it. I’m sharing this everywhere. 😀

  49. Well, you sold me-Again. I’m in. *Teeth chattering* I can do it! Thanks for the inspiration, motivation and tough love. Now I’m excited for November! My husband better be busy this month…

    • Leanne on October 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm
    • Reply

    This NaNo will be my first 🙂

  50. I’m so depressed. I just realized that the book I want to work on in NaNo is the same one I worked on last year. Sigh.

    1. Just think, you have a YEAR of preparation. NEVER be depressed. You are still swinging! And same here. I am using NaNo this year to try rewriting an old story I butchered before I knew WTH I was doing, so you have company 😀 ((HUGS))

  51. I signed up. This is my third NaNo. I finished the other two – one resulted in a completed manuscript. The second still has promise but other work called. It seems you either love NaNo or you hate it but I agree, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  52. I have yet to finish NaNoWriMo, but I certainly keep trying! 😉

  53. I did my NaNoWriMo last year, finishing on time with a completed first draft. I haven’t touched or read it since. I need to grow, learn more about how to craft a novel which interests readers (not only the writer). This November I’ll be spending time reading on how to fix, improve and generally create an exciting read. I’ll return to the manuscript, outlining the story and events. Then with my newly found skill (hope this one pans out), I’ll insert events/twists into the outline which add to the story. And lastly, I’ll return to the manuscript to fix sentences, something they tell me is line editing.

    I started NaNoWriMo to prove something to myself, but found I learned something about the life of a writer and their total focus on characters and the story making it a reality. My husband, I’m sure, thought I was nuts during that month.

    To try it once is a must. Particularly if you have never written a novel in your life. What a great experience!

  54. Husband is dreading Halloween. Not because I’m going to decorate the house in a frenzy….or because I insist on dressing up in costume for Halloween (despite the fact we don’t get many Trick Or Treaters) but because he knows he’ll see even LESS of me than he does now! NaNo I hole up in the writerly lair & bleed….er…um….write like a woman possessed. In our 3 years of being together & 2 years of marriage he’s had one year of being a NaNo Widower. (He even wore black that entire month). I shall do NaNo again..despite the fact that I’m balls deep in edits. NaNo is my time to ANGST….er…um…SHINE! Ok…fine….I’ll just write. 😀

    Thanks for being a hefty supporter of all that is NaNo Kristen! You rock!

  55. I love Nano – it gives so many people around the world their first opportunity and incentive to really try and write. Last year I decided to feel the fear and try and write, edit, do the cover and publish a decent Nano-Novel in the 30 days, the ultimate challenge despite everyone advising against. Ghostly Mauveine emerged on Amazon the last day, with me, blinking from the dungeon – not perfect and it near killed me but the creative experience was amazing, learned a huge amount and understood my capabilities when pressured, and I still love reading it. Not for the faint- hearted but it can be done – this year I’m going to try and write the sequel but will take my time publishing!

  56. “Come back with your first draft or ON it.” I’m putting that on a sticky note on my laptop. 😀

    1. 😀

  57. I love your blog! You always make me smile and at the same time remind me that this is my career, not my hobby! I “tried” Nano last year, but failed utterly. : ) I know, I know, THERE IS NO TRY, THERE IS DO OR DO NOT! (um, not Spartan but very Yodan). You have inspired me today dear Captain!! Thank you!!

  58. I know NaNo is usually for new fresh work, but I have this novel that I’ve been writing forEVER and I think I finally have it by the proverbial throat, and I just might use NaNo to finish the damn thing (the latest draft) and see if it’s worth revising. Thanks for all your kick ass motivation!

  59. I grew and extra set and sign-up NaNo

  60. I go into NaNo as a Rebel. With a full time job, a freelance gig, two kids, PTA duties (yes, I’m insane), church work, and, oh yeah, being a wife, NaNo is a way for me to write as much as I can whenever I can for however long I can without worrying about 50k words. This year I’ve added Les Edgerton’s course to my list of busy, so I’ll be a NaNo Rebel for sure.

    It gives me the excuse to push myself to 25-30k words and consider myself a winner, because those are probably 10-15k words more than I get in a “normal” month and still get at least 5 hours of sleep. 😀

    I will write all the words!

    Big hugs to you, WANA MAMA!

  61. I have worked on my writing for both Camp Nano and for Nanowrimo. I finished up work on my First book (now published, Lilly’s Angel) with Nano November 2012. I worked on book 2 in 2013, then had to stop because of getting sick (I hate chronic illness). I picked it back up at the April 2014 Camp Nano, I was in edits and galleys when the July Camp Nano rolled around and I started Book 3, The Vampire’s Angels. Book 2 published in August 2014 and now I’m about 30k into book 3 and want to rock it in this year’s Nanowrimo to at least 80k. I always count from 1 where I started. I love Nanowrimo, and the people I’ve met through it.

    The hardest challenge for me is keeping out of research while writing. I’ve been doing the research and notes for the November nano while waiting for it to come along.

  62. *beats spear on shield*!!! Yes yes yes, NaNo was one of the best things I did last year – without it I would have the book about to be released before it comes around this time 😀 it was a big hot mess by the end of the month sure, but it was something to work with, n something’s better n nothin… So here we go again 🙂

  63. Nano is pure sweet torture. I don’t understand people who DON’T want to do it. 😀

    I won last year but my novel was the biggest hot mess in the history of hot messes. This year I want to have a better plan going in.

  64. Oh, Kristen, if all of the things you listed are true, I’m so sorry! Shingles hurt, grief sucks, storms wreak havoc – well you know what all you are living through. I love your blog. I look forward to the email alerts. You have such a nice mix of personality and professional advice. You do that so well! I still a new blogger or I’d do that link thingie. I’ll learn that soon, using you book I’m sure.

  65. I don’t think Nano is for everybody, but I think it’s worth trying once. If I hadn’t tried it, at the urging of a friend, I don’t know how many more years it would have taken for me to know I had it in me to write a novel instead of just thinking about it. I had no idea how to get started, so the launching point of nano, and all the community’s wonderful resources, were just enough for this newbie to do SOMETHING.

    Crossing my fingers I can shape up a decent plot in the next few weeks so I can plunge in for my fourth go at Nano!

  66. I would much rather write while looking at a lake, ocean or some body of water than from hell

    • S.D. Kreuz on October 9, 2014 at 8:57 pm
    • Reply

    I think I’ve just been convinced to try this out! Thanks 🙂

  67. I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I was a NaNo winner in 2013 and a Camp NaNo winner in 2014. Geared up and ready for it next month! Bring it on!

  68. My goal at the moment is to finish my WIP by year’s end, but I do like the idea of writing a whole novel in a month. Although with my all-in first draft style, 50,000 words would only get me half way there. Maybe next year, although I don’t know if I’ll wait for November. Can we have a breakaway group NaNoing in March?

    1. Not March, but Camp NaNo comes in April, I think. Follow their website for info. Best wishes!

  69. NaNo always reminded me of Robin Williams. I think this year I might just jump into it in his honor. Love this post– it had the perfect combo of inspiration, enlightenment, and guilt … ;-). Do you know my mother?

  70. As always, love your posts and the fantastic way you break things down and encourage all of us. I’ve tried NaNo twice before, and never won, but this year I’m taking your advice and approaching it like a professional. Thanks for the laughs and inspiration!

  71. I’ve done NaNo every year for five years. I even did it the year I had my children. I didn’t finish it – of course not! Ha! – but I tried. And THAT is what got me back into the writing groove after six months of forgetting that I ever wanted to write again.

    I wish every month could be NaNo month, not only for the output but the camaraderie and sheer joy that comes just from writing like that. But I’m taking a tip from that this year.

    I heartily (and regularly) recommend it to anyone and everyone I can find. It’s an incredible experience. And you’re right; folk are capable of far more than they believe they are. 🙂

  72. I love Nano, but you’re right that it has to be used properly. I also love the excuse I get every November to tell people Tobago away because I’m writing. I find it hard to draw that line the rest of the year.

  73. Thanks so much for this post Kristen! I had a tough day yesterday and didn’t sleep really well, so it’s a balm to wake up to such a fun post about something I love (and the way you write is awesome). I’ve done Nano a few times and never won, but last year I managed to write 15000 words, which is the most I’ve ever written for a single story (sad fact), so I considered it a huge personal success. I’ll be participating this year for sure, and I hope to, if not getting to 50000, than at least break my personal record xD (with the same story, haha). I’m super hyped thanks to you o/

  74. I’ve always been afraid to try NaNoWriMo, but your post may have pushed me to do it this year, much like the way your brother was pushed to jump with an umbrella. All of the “300” references helped too. The internet needs more “300” references. 🙂

  75. Reblogged this on Florida Writers Conference Blog and commented:
    Good morning, guys. 🙂 With October here and November fast approaching, I thought this would be a good post to share today. I’ve always enjoyed NaNoWriMo and this, to me, is a great explanation of why. I love the challenge and the impending deadline breathing down my neck as I try to figure out what on earth is going to happen in my words that day.

    My NaNo books are never perfect, but that’s not the point. The point is, I committed to my book and my writing each day. I am looking forward to once again jumping in and connecting with other local writers at the write-ins, which is a whole other thing that makes this challenge fun.

    What about you? Are you a NaNo participant? Thinking about it? Don’t get it? Comment and let’s chat about it! I’ll see you all again next time!

  76. I’m scared to death of NaNo. You say no excuses with them and I believe you. I do, however, have two excuses that are hard for me to ignore. 1) Because of paralysis, I can only type with one hand. I’d do longhand but that would be slower. The hand that works is my left one, which mean pushing instead of pulling the pen or pencil across the paper. 2) My disability also entails cognitive problems. I may be thinking one word but I end up typing or writing another. (This is why I opt for typing.) If I didn’t edit a little as I go, the story wouldn’t make any sense at all. I’d have ‘than’ where I should have ‘that’, ‘cown’ where I should have ‘down’, and much worse than that.

    Is this really a good idea for every writer?

    1. Well, I’d say it could be for you. You don’t have to set your goal at 50K; choose a number that’s reasonable for you. As I said earlier, the goal is to write. Of course, if you don’t need the motivtion, then write without NaNo. What ever works for you.

    2. Have you thought about voice recognition software? Dragon Naturally Speaking is the first one that comes to mind, probably because it’s what JD uses. It would let you “write” without writing per se. If you decide to go for it good luck! 🙂

  77. This will be NaNo number seven for me. =] I’ve won three times and lost three times. It’s definitely improved my work ethic when it comes to my writing. Without NaNo, I’d never have amped up my word count.

    I won my first NaNo, lost my second. It was a lack of motivation. I’ve kicked it, since. Loss number two was year 3. I had an emergency move on November 17, 2010 (one of those days that will live in infamy, kind of things.) And loss number three was last year. I was trying to balance my first year of college, a full time job, and writing. It didn’t work out. I’ve got my schedule streamlined this year. I’m determined to dominate. >=]

    If anyone wants to add me on the NaNo site for word wars or keeping each other accountable, I’m Kit Fox.

    1. I added you! I’m listed as Addyrae. 🙂 I won NaNo 2010, 2011, and 2012 but did not attempt 2013 due to a sudden injury that left me bed bound and in a drug daze for what seemed like FOREVER, although I had outlined for it. It was very disappointing. I have an outline waiting again for this year, and I’m excited!

  78. I love the idea of NaNo! This is the first of heard of it and I’ll definitely have to give it a try. I’m releasing my first book at the end of this month and it’ll be a great way to get started on something new.
    Thanks for the post

    • katje on October 10, 2014 at 11:38 am
    • Reply

    You’re awesome. I love this post. I owe myself about 30k words, so I’m probably just going to head-down and finish my book(s) rather than NaNoing, but thanks for the fire you lit under me. 😀

  79. I’ve done (and won) NaNoWriMo twice, and was honored to have my comment printed in the current Writer’s Digest. It’s sooooo well worth the effort. Definitely go for it.

  80. I entered and won my first NaNoWriMo last year. It’s a GREAT feeling and great training. I believe everyone should try it once. I liked the online daily counter and support. I loved competing with a friend and watching her word count soar. It kicked me in the butt.

    There are lots of keys, one of them for me was being free from too much thinking and freedom to let punctuation, grammar and spelling go. I finished the word count goal 50K, but that didn’t finish telling the story. I’ve since written 10K more and have about 4-6 chapters left to wrap up the story. But guess what. November is coming and I’m hitting it again. This time with an outline, a lot of brain-storming and some fact-sheets (I write historical fiction)!

    Thanks Kristen for getting us all amped for Nano! Add me on NaNo, I’m Tam Francis 🙂

    ~ Tam Francis ~

  81. I told myself last year that I was going to participate this year. Health issues are limiting my amount of time sitting here in the office at the moment. Maybe next year I say.

    • Cat Lumb on October 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm
    • Reply

    This will be the first time in 3 years I am not participating in NaNo, despite having a clear idea of what I want my next novel to be. 🙁

    I need to concentrate on getting my first NaNo novel to a potentially publishable standard – and despite a rewrite it’s still not there yet (I’ve learnt LOADS since that first year!). I shall be using November to edit, ideally using that 1hr a day I would write those 1667 words to improve what is already written. I learnt how to write via NaNo, now I need to learn how to Edit in a similar way – by doing! So that’s my November.

    Knowing that I wouldn’t be participating early on I took part in Camp NaNo in April and completer the first draft of my THIRD novel! Hell, yes. Without NaNo I would never have got this far. It rocks. Sign me up for next year already!

    • jmbauhaus on October 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm
    • Reply

    I’m so sorry about your kitty. We lost one of ours to cancer last year, and caring for her those last couple of months while she wasted away was harrowing and heartbreaking. *hugs*

    I’ve been doing Nano off and on since 2006. It’s actually gotten more difficult to do since I’ve gone pro. I already started my latest novel earlier this month, but I might as well sign up to be a “rebel” and see if I can finish the first draft by the end of November. These days I don’t worry so much about “winning” or making the word count. I mainly just participate for the camaraderie.

  82. I’ve been participating in Nano since ’06, and I’m proud to say I’ve won every time. And last year, I won while struggling with Tendinosis! I’m going to do it again this year, and I’ll win again–not because I’m superwoman, but because I’m determined. I can’t wait for November 1! 😀

  83. I love NaNo. This will be my 8th year, and I expect it to be my 8th win, attaining that 8-year streak I wanted badly (because I like the number 8). This year will be an exciting new challenge because I’m birthing a human on tuesday and she’ll still be tiny and demanding all November. I’m pretty pumped for the challenge of nursing a tiny human being and a novel simultaneously.
    For me, NaNo (or NaNo-like deadlines) are the only way I can get through a first draft completely. Otherwise I get both too distracted and too stuck in the “I don’t know what should happen here and I can’t continue until I do” and the “This is crap I am a horrible writer I should just not write ever again.” You put me on a time limit and I don’t have any time for that bullcrap. I don’t know what happens next? Guess I”m skipping it and coming in later, or else I’m typing random words until something sticks enough to make a little word bridge to the next part. Is what I’m typing crap? Sure, but that’s because I don’t have time for quality, I’ll fix it later – and I don’t even have time to worry if the characters or plot or general concept is crap.

    1. Oh, how exciting! Congratulations on your bitty baby. 🙂

      1. Thanks!

  84. I did Camp NanoWriMo this year (30K words) and am determined to complete NanoWriMo. Great post, very inspirational! I think you may have known my brothers…they convinced me to wrap myself up in a blanket and roll down 2 flights of stairs. “C’mon, it’ll be fun,” they said.

  85. This will be my 9th year! Skipped last year because I was advised not to do it. Nano is a great way to get a foundation put together for a great story.

  86. A few times I’ve told myself to try NaNoWriMo. I never officially registered, but I secretely planned on completing the challenge. Each time I got a few days into the program and then a family emergency hit. By the time things calmed down, even if it was only a few days, the challenge no longer seemed possibe and I gave up.
    I want to accept the challenge this year, even though I have (1) a short family vacation planned, (2) a workshop ending that will require me to read and critique 16 stories in less than a week on top of my teaching job, and (3) a cousin who will be visiting from out of town who I haven’t seen in a few years.
    I am going into the challenge knowing that my life is going to be crazy for that month. My plan is to look at the challenge in a different way. I get overwhelmed when the looming word count is in my head, so instead, I am telling myself that I need to write for a least 1 hour everyday. I hope that I will be able to write for more like 2-3-4 hours a day, but becasue of all of the commitments I already have for the month, I will be satisfied on the crazy days as long as I write for at least 1 hour. I am also going to be kind to myself about what I write. I have a few projects in mind, so I will have options about what to write each day.
    At the end of the month I don’t expect to have a completed novel, I don’t even know that I will have 50,000 words, but I do expect to have jumpstarted my writing routinee again. That is what I need more than anything.

  87. One day I’ll participate, I made a promise to myself! 🙂

  88. Looking forward to my first attempt at NaNo. I AM one of those that are moving from journalism (corporate communications) to creative writing. And I am so much looking forward to unleashing my creative side for (what I hope is a permanent) change. I have a great deal of notes and have been stocking up on Starbucks coupons. Look out November!

  89. Yes, I signed up this year. I’ve done it in the past and lost but this year I will do it. Yup, it’s the worst month of the year for me (seriously why November?). This month the plotting stuff because I write out of order. I honestly think I have a good chance this year.

    And since I’m a slow typist, I will be dictating it into Dragon. 🙂 Speaking of which I better train more because the other day I dictated “Get me that crutch!” and it wrote “Get me that crotch.” Which, come to think of it…may work even better!



  90. I am in the midst of a serious job hunt, but I did the math and I technically have enough cash on hand to not work through NaNoWriMo. That’s not to say I won’t get a job between now and my 50K words, but it seems a pretty convincing argument from the universe to get off my a** and get writing.

    I feel ready, but I don’t drink coffee. I hope to survive anyway.

  91. What inspirational comments. I’m still trying to decide whether to; NaNo, or not, and these comments are certainly persuading me 🙂

  92. OK, I’m gonna do it. I always say I will, then I get intimidated. It’s the same feeling I had when I was doing timed math tests in elementary school. Beat the clock, race to get it done, hurry, you’re behind! Thanks for this post. I’m fired up and ready to try.

  93. Trying NaNoWriMo for the first time this year – yeah! I’m shaking in my Rocket Dog sneakers because it means a battle to the death with the nagging editorial voice in my head that likes to edit every single sentence as I write it. I am in the second act of my first draft, and it was a feat to get here. That editorial “Oh you can do better than that – go back and fix it” voice makes writing the first draft feel like I am trudging through wet sand. Hoping NaNoWriMo will get me to a completed first draft in a month *fingers crossed* Thanks again for another awesome, butt-kicking blog post!

  94. Reblogged this on Mandy White and commented:
    Getting ready for National Novel Writing Month. November seems to sneak up on me every year. I’m pantsing it, as usual.

  95. Last year was my first time doing NaNo, and I crossed the finish line at 50,425 words — which, by the end of December, became around 80,000 and the REAL completion of the novel. I loved the challenge, only heard about it on October 28th, so didn’t have much time to prepare — so I just sat down and wrote. I let the story flow organically, and I loved what happened with it.

    Now, I’m looking forward to this year — and hopefully “winning” again.

  96. This was a timely post as I’ve been waffling over whether to take the leap this year. I’m excited about the prospect but also a little apprehensive. Can you explain what you mean by SHIP? I probably should know this but sadly I do not. Also, is there some way to TURN OFF your inner editor? That’s always been my downfall. My day job is legal secretary and I automatically edit as I write damn it. I haven’t figured out how to turn that bitch off. Sigh.

    Thanks for this! Off to read your next NaNo post. 🙂

    • margitsage on October 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm
    • Reply

    I agree. NaNoWriMo is definitely worth trying at least once. No other time of year will you find so much community support and encouragement.

  97. So when is NaNoWriReviseAngstDrinkMoWineMo? Because I would totally participate!

    I appreciate your tips and that they come from writing experience. And that you write them in a hilarious manner. Thank you!

  98. I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I have an idea, a working title, a couple of characters and an ending – looking forward to flying along by the seat of my pants as I figure out the rest! I’ve just found your blog and it’s great – love the tips and the way you write them xx

  99. I started my writing career (see how I snuck in that I consider it a career!?) on the 2011 NaNo and I’ve been doing it and the Camp NaNo’s ever since. Love that I can speed my way through 50-60K words of a novel in 30 days. Yeah, it takes longer to edit but I don’t care. I have a work in progress that in 6 months or so will be hitting the self-pub pages. Love it.

    I cannot encourage people enough. Give it a go. If you don’t finish the month with 50K words, you’ve finished the month with more words than you had at the start. It’s all win.

  100. OK, I’m going in. ::holding my breath and jumping into the fray::

    • Patty Reagin on October 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm
    • Reply

    Did my first NaNo last year and it was the best thing I could have doe for my writing career. I was a compulsive and constant editor (which means never getting past the first page). NaNo taught me to WRITE and focus on the most important thing – the STORY. Do it. It’s eye opening.

  101. I’m so pumped for NaNo!
    I did it last year and actually won. I still don’t quite know how I did that, I had no time?

  102. I am NaNoing for the first time, for my first project. I am TERRIFIED.

  103. NaNo thought me to finish a novel for the first time. To take an idea and stick with it to the end. Of my seven attempts so far, there is only one that I felt happy enough with to edit afterwards, but it’s all part of the learning process. This year in the ‘downtime’ between NaNos I wrote another novel, albeit at a slower pace, but I finished it and most of the time it didn’t feel that difficult. It would never have happened without NaNoWriMo.

  104. Hmm. My first novel is being typeset right now. It took around 12 years to write. Maybe I’ll try NaNoWriMo next month and see if I can’t get the second one finished a little quicker!

  105. I completed my first NaNo in 2010. My children were 8 and 5, and my goal was to finish without utterly disrupting our family rhythm.

    I squeaked by, at just over 50K and with my family still intact. Rousing success!

    I had nothin’ in 2011. I can’t remember why.

    In 2012, I had a vague idea to use Hamlet quotes as chapter titles. Yup, that was the extent of my planning – I shudder to think of those 38K of autobiographical angst before a little girl showed up and took over. I dealt with a lot of deep seated personal stuff…and eventually got a story that’s creeping through revision (my first planned revision; I will get faster!).

    Last year, I plotted in an open-ended way – and I completed a 123K word draft. It will need some attention, but it’s far and away the tightest, most cohesive draft I’ve ever written, and it was FUN!

    This year’s NaNo is plotted and waiting for Saturday. I’m going to finish the draft, and it’s going to be awesome raw material – I can already feel it…

    And, after all this time, my kids (now older) and husband know what NaNo means, and are willing to adjust to accommodate my plans. I try to make October and December special, too, so that they’re not losing me…

    May the troubles in your life smooth, and happy NaNoing!

  1. […] So this is what I’m going to do. I’m travelling from November the 13th with family, and I don’t want to subject them to me on NaNoWriMo (don’t say no to this drug, kids). So starting October 12, I’m going to be writing in sprint intervals of 5,000 words every few days and then dropping down 500 words to recuperate in between. It’s going to be horrific, but I’m going to do it. After all, as the indomitable Kristen Lamb recently wrote: […]

  2. […] This Month, We Write IN HELL – To NaNo or Not to NaNo […]

  3. […] « This Month, We Write IN HELL—To NaNo or Not to NaNo […]

  4. […] Kristen Lamb has been churning out a series of blog articles (here, here, and here) lately on the whys and hows of participating in National Novel Writing Month. If […]

  5. […] This Month, We Write IN HELL—To NaNo or Not to NaNo  […]

  6. […] funny and insightful. Her NaNo posts are all about inspiration, and there are several. In This Month, We Write IN HELL—To NaNo or Not to NaNo she tackles whether or not you should participate, to which she gives a resounding yes, citing that […]

  7. […] This Month, We Write IN HELL – To NaNo or Not to NaNo? […]

  8. […] Lamb asks: to NaNo or not to NaNo?, and also tells us how to write a terrific novel and minimize revisions; Cari Noga, and […]

  9. […] Lamb’s Blog, we take a tour of NaNo prep with…To NaNo or Not to NaNo?;The More You Know, The Less I Have To; and Write a Terrific […]

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