NaNoWriMo | 5 Things Not to Do Until You Write “The End”


Oh no…It’s that time of year again: National Novel Writing Month a.k.a. NaNoWriMo.  Like splashing cold water on your face, the start of November wakes you up to the realization that only by writing can you complete a novel. After all, writers write, right?

To help you on your NaNoWriMo journey, here are 5 rules to avoid failure:

  • Write.  You must write.  After all, NaNoWriMo is not about quality, it is about quantity.  60,000 words must be written by the end of November. You have 30 29 days, start calculating


  • Reread. Grab your favourite novel and begin dissecting it. Ask yourself (repeatedly): Why do I love this novel? Aim to find 10 reasons. Take those reasons and apply them to your own work.  Try to get your hands on a copy of Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose (it’s, also, available for Kindle). 


  • Silence. Shut up your inner blabbermouth.  Do not speak about NaNoWriMo, writing and, most definitely, what you are writing to anyone unless you have a very good reason. Why? I’ve learned from personal experience, that speaking about your story only serves to take the energy away from writing it. I think most people like having something that is uniquely theirs.  When you share your story with many others, the story stops being wholly yours because you have opened it up to the input/influence of others.  Treat your story like a rare gem, even if you know that it isn’t and it’s just a rip-off of your favourite novel–still, it’s yours. 


  • Fast-Foward.  Never reread or edit what you’ve written. Once you’ve hit 60,000 words, or better yet, once you’ve written The End, you can reread and edit to your heart’s content.  For this month, simply write.  I recommend not to use programs like MS Word, which act like the grammar and spell-check police. Instead try a program like ZenWriter (free trial download).


  • Enjoy. Hey, it’s only writing.  You chose to participate in NaNoWriMo. You chose to write a novel. No one is forcing you to do it.  Every time you pick up that pen or pencil, type on your computer or typewriter, it is an act of choice and self-empowerment. Enjoy it, revel in the fact that the world that you create when you write is completely under your control. Reality can be harsh, let fiction be your healing.

So, Happy  NaNoWriMo & Happy Writing, Everyone!

NaNoWriMo Mo’ Mo’!

Click to Sign Up for NaNoWriMo 2014

In case you were wondering…yes, I am doing NaNoWriMo this year. I won’t be sharing my progress often as I am quite miserable at being regular in taking such tasks.  Also, I shan’t share my goal at this time.  Once I’ve achieved it, then I will share it. 😉  No jinxing the flow!  About midway through and at the end, I will give updates.

I will also say that I am working on a rewrite of the work I started…two years ago. If you are curious, you can check my #NaNoWriMo tag. 😀  Wish me luck & Happy Writing!

Want to connect on NaNoWriMo? Username: diemblake

Until Next Time,


It’s official…NaNoWriMo-Panic!


“Her Name is Melancholy” by FlyPi (Found:

Okay, I am not certain whether I should be elated or crushed that I have completed approximately 40,000 words.

You see, National Novel Writing Month is really about to end come Friday, November 30th and I am supposed to write the remaining 10,000+ words by then–no, no, no, it’s impossible–while managing my regular life.

I am panicking–and who wouldn’t? It’s a competition between myself and my brain and I am losing–because I tend to be a bit of an over-achiever… and I am nowhere near where I “ought” to be.

However I am also relieved because I have come 4/5ths of the way, even if I do not arrive at my destination (50,000 words) by midnight Friday. (Let this serve as an example of a positive reframe of my initial thoughts).

So, what comes next?  Well, I am going to sit with the panicked feeling for a while longer before getting dinner.  Then I will plop myself back down in front of my laptop and begin hammering away at those last 10,000 words.  I can do it, right?  🙂

In the midst of all of this (well, really early this morning to be exact),  apparently I had time to write a poem. Thinking about it now, I would like it to be a part of a series revolving around the theme of winter.  I’m not panicking, right? It’s just 10,000 more words…I am beginning to wonder if blog entries count…


Insomnia, along with the howl
of the wind.
Night is no longer night, but
fragments of moments,
through which sometimes
there is sleep.

Tonight, Rome is beautiful chaos
wrapped up in serenity.
-Diedré M. Blake

NaNoWriMo and the 10,000 Words…

NaNoWriMo, Day 19.  I am in bed today.  I am in bed today, because my fibromyalgia symptoms are significant enough to keep me in bed today.

I am in bed today although I ought to be doing so much else.  Perhaps I am in bed today because I ought not to have been doing as much as I have been.

Regardless of which it is, there is only one thing that I can do today:  write.

I will be writing many things today, including approximately 5,000 to 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo.  Writing so many words will, apparently, bring me back on track to complete the required 50,000 words by November 30th.

The idea of writing so very many words does not seem daunting at all, but rather enjoyable.  This is what I have discovered as I have been doing NaNoWriMo.  I truly enjoy writing stories.  I enjoy the process of discover that happens with every written word.  What I mean is that even though I have an outline (and thank the universe that I do), I am still discovering new aspects of my characters and of the stories.  I am learning that a story is not a linear experience and involves more trekking off the main road than I had previously thought. In other words, I am recognizing that writing a story is akin to writing a poem, where each word hold innumerable meaning.

Of course, it helps to have a deadline, which one may choose to meet or not.  For me, I am certain that I will meet it.  I understand, however, as I have been writing that getting to 50,000 words is not the end.  Truly, getting to 50,000 means only that I have formed the skeleton upon which the body of my story is to be carried.

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to ...

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to be portable. Long exposure lit by sweeping an LED flashlight over the scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Really, I suppose I want to reiterate the point made by other NaNoWriMo writers and bloggers.  That is, the point of NaNoWriMo, I believe, is not to force one into writing a novel in one month.  Rather, it is to inspire one to draft a story, on which one will continue to work until its completion.

Truly, writing an entire novel is a daunting enterprise as many, who have tried to so do, can attest.  The standard novel is approximately 100,000 words.  NaNoWriMo’s challenge allows one to get to the half-way mark, i.e. 50,000 words.  Moreover, having to meet the deadline of November 30th aids in pushing one pass the block of procrastination.  I believe that the focus on quantity rather than quality forces one to dismiss the voices of self-criticism and self-doubt, in order to put down on paper the ideas that have been floating in our creative minds.

NaNoWriMo is not about writing a bestseller off the bat, but perhaps getting our thoughts organized enough to write something of interest to ourselves and hopefully others (if we choose to share it).  I am glad that I read Harley Jane Kozak‘s “NaNoNoNoNoNoNoMo” in Write Good or Die that deals with the challenges and humour of doing NaNoWriMo.

English: An Italian shopping list for groceries.

English: An Italian shopping list for groceries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Kozak, some of us may find ourselves thinking that the “only way to pull it off is to throw grocery lists into my novel, along with my Thanksgiving Squash Souffle Recipe, William’s home phone number, notes to my kids’ teachers, and drafts of the text for my Christmas cards, which need to get to the printer.”

Perhaps, as Kozak ended, we may even choose to cut and past our blogs to make our word count. 😉  Either way, we should try to have fun with it, no matter how it turns out in the end.  After all, as one of my professors recently said to me, “Every month is National Novel Writing Month.”

I hope all NaNoWriMo-ers are also making their way towards the deadline in good spirits.  Eleven more days to go! 🙂

Until Next Time!



Writers write…

NaNoWriMo, Day 3.  It is as difficult as I imagined, but surprisingly simple.  The difficulty?  Moving pass my desire to edit as I write.  The simplicity?  The action of writing.  I am logging my word count like a good NaNoWriMo participant.  I am somewhere in the range of 2500 words, but I have done my writing for today.  There are several things I have come to realize about my writing behaviour by engaging this process:

  1. Writing at home before 2:00am in the morning is impossible.
  2. Writing in the library at any point in the day works.
  3. Writing to the sound of wordless music is better.
  4. Writing when distressed is challenging.
  5. Writing when excited is challenging.
  6. Writing when in a calm, neutral state allows my imagination to flow freely.
  7. Writing with access to the internet is helpful–I say a thankful “YES” to
  8. Writing with an outline is useful, but I am enjoying discovering random side roads as I go along.
  9. Writing means that I am writer.  Thinking about writing means that I engage in creative thought.
  10. Writing does not necessarily mean sharing with others.

As the writer of this blog, the final point regarding not sharing might seem a bit odd, and perhaps I find it a bit odd too.  The thing is this…I have no desire to share the story as I am writing it.  I have desire to describe exactly what it is about, not because I do not know, but because I do know but also desire the ability to have flexibility in my knowing.  That is, I want the freedom to expand my knowledge or concept of the story.  Having to tell or retell the story concept appears to me to be a process of cementing the story, of forcing myself to remain on an obligatory path…I do not know how others feel as they are doing NaNoWriMo, but this is how I feel.

I have not written a synopsis, or even written the title of the story.  I do not see the point of so doing until I am at the end.  I do think that sharing my experience of my NaNoWriMo may be helpful to others, and I will do so intermittently on this blog.  Other than that, I find that I need to keep my thoughts to myself.

The title for this post, “Writers write…,” is taken from William Miekle’s superb writing guide of the same title (currently free for Kindle).  More importantly, it is only half of the mantra to which he asks aspiring writers.  The full mantra is,

Writers write!  Wannabe Writers Wanna Write.”

Perhaps it is a bit strong.  It has, however, served to kick my butt into gear.  I have been repeating this mantra to myself from the time I started my outline.  Yesterday as I struggled over words and my temptation to edit, I kept as a constant in the background my mind.  Writers write.  Writers make time to write no matter how busy their day.  Writers put aside external issues and circumstances in order to put forth their imagination onto paper.  Writers write because they write.

A long enough time ago, I wrote the poem below.


because nothing else soothes

because nothing else makes sense–


what is lacking in spoken words

what is lacking in expressed emotions–


Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

So, I am off to the library to write for a few hours.  The goal: 3000 words.  Do I think I will make it?  I do not know.  It is, however, the goal for today.  Tomorrow, I will set another, and then the day after that too…until I get to the end of the story.

To fellow NaNoWriMo participants–Write on!



When we are unsure,

…we are alive. – Graham Greene

Tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo, and today I learnt an important lesson:  it is okay not to know.  I do not know what will happen as I begin to write my story.  Yes, I have outline.  Yes, I have been reading various books on novel writing.  Yes, I feel passionately about my ideas thus far.  The fact, however, still remains that the moment my fingers strike the keyboard; tapping out words to form images, tapping out words to create feeling, tapping, tapping; it means I let go of my control.  I let go of the safe thoughts that have been circulating in my mind about what my story is or what it ought to be.  I place myself at the mercy of my imagination and my subconscious.  Is this scary?   Heck, yes!  It conjures images of failure of all types, and failing is something I fear greatly.  This is what I realized also today.  I fear failure, which goes hand-in-hand with my fear of not knowing.

It is okay not to know.  I write those words to remind myself that I am capable of being a good parent to myself, capable enough to allow myself humanity.  There are often times when I surrender to not knowing the future, not remembering the past, not being in the present.  Now, I surrender to not knowing myself in my entirety.  It is okay not to know.

This is my mantra starting tonight.  The last three weeks have been something akin to internal hell with a body that was failing me, a mind that was frustrating me with old expectations that echo from words spoken by people in the past:  there is no room for failure, 99% is not enough.   Still, even after thirty-four years, the drive for perfection in so very many things continues to present in my waking steps, perhaps too in my dreams .  It is okay not know, perhaps never to know.  I am a living being.  I am not static.  I am dynamic, ever-changing, ever embracing the process of life.

I remind myself now that there is nothing for which to ask forgiveness, and perhaps there never will be as long as I am trying my very best.  Some days I will achieve 100%.  Some days I will achieve 50%.  There are only two points: to live and to write.  Perhaps it is to live through writing.

It’s time to begin NaNoWriMo! 😉  Good luck, everyone!



What I write…

Found on Tumblr (File name: tumblr_lxk4ytehyo1qzuyz3o1_500.png)

A relatively quiet Sunday.  All the shops are closed, except the fruit stand and the pizzeria around the corner.  I took a break from writing, and actually took the time to sort through some writing.  I decided to post some work that I had done over the course of the past academic year.

I decided to do this partly because a friend asked me to email her a copy of a short story that I had written, and partly because of something my mother said to me a few days ago, i.e. “It doesn’t make sense to keep all of this to yourself.  You have to share it.”  She was, at the time, referring to my poetry.  I think, however, that the same goes for my other writing.As I prepare for NaNoWriMo, I have come to recognise that although I have always written, I never really considered myself capable of writing stories.

Yes, some years ago, I sat down at began writing a novel, to which I hope to return once I have some more distance from it and have become a better writer.  Even as a child, I started stories, but rarely did I find their endings.  Perhaps it was simply that I did not want to imagine an end to my stories then, or perhaps I did not know how to end them.

It was different with poetry.  I would write, then rewrite, then rewrite.  All of that with the effort of finding the end, finding the meaning of all that wanted to say.  In poetry I sought answers to the questions that plagued me.

It is with tremendous thanks to my professors, authors Carlos Dews and Elizabeth Geoghegan, in creative writing that I have gained the confidence that I can find my endings to my stories.  I hope as I go along that I will make them proud of the foundation that they helped me to build.

So, please, review my stories and personal essays to be found under the Writing section of this blog.

Short Stories

Personal Essays

Facing your character(s)…

No, this is not a post about confronting yourself, owning up to your issues, etc…although this is a topic that I have been known to address.  And it is one to which I shall undoubtedly return.  Today’s post, however, is about an interesting site called Need a Face for that Character?

I tend towards being a very visual person.  Thus, even when I am writing, my mind sees first images that capture the essence of my mental and emotional states or thoughts.  As such, I find it easier to have a visual of a face or place to help prompt me in my writing.  I am an avid user of Google Images, and I must say that it has proved helpful.  The Tumblr site Need a Face for that Character?, however, is a wonderful tool when searching for interesting/unique faces to represent characters.

The site is fairly straight-forward to use, allowing for users to search the database using keywords.  I am a fan of simply heading straight to the Archives page as it gives an overall visual of all the available faces.

Well, it’s a rather short post today.  I hope, however, that you will find it useful for those of you who are either preparing for NaNoWriMo, or already writing stories, or even roleplaying (I think this was the initial intention for the site ;)).

Until Next Time!



Packing the playlist…

“Fragments of Freedom,” photography by Dolores Juhas (

As I prepare for NaNoWriMo and am engaging in studying for exams, listening to music is becoming a more prominent feature of my daily experience.  Whether it is listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Gotye‘s Heart’s A Mess, I find that music helps me to focus my mind, and streamline my thoughts and emotions.

And so….I’ve been trying to put together  a playlist specifically for NaNoWriMo.

Selecting music for a playlist is a bit like packing a suitcase for a long trip.  You need to make sure that every item there serves a purpose.  I am still not certain of my list as it stands.  Thus,  I am looking for suggests for instrumental as well as vocal music.  Ethereal and dark sounds are welcomed.

I have about fifty selections at the moment (even though there are only forty listed below).  I would like to make it an even hundred (100).  So, make some suggestions!  At the moment, my playlist is as follows:

  1. 3 LibrasA Perfect Circle
  2. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
  3. Con Te PartiroAndrea Bocelli
  4. Moonlight Sonata – L.V. Beethoven
  5. Invasion – Bleach Soundtrack
  6. Morning Remembrance – Bleach Soundtrack
  7. Short Skirt, Long Jacket – Cake
  8. Hello AloneCharlie Winston
  9. In Your Hands – Charlie Winston
  10. Viva la Vida – Coldplay

  1. Lovesong – The Cure
  2. Makedo – Darko Rundek
  3. Titanium – David Guetta
  4. Didn’t Cha Know – Erykah Badu
  5. Here Comes The Rain – Eurythmics
  6. Cosmic Love – Florence and The Machine
  7. Trista Pena – Gipsy Kings
  8. Un Amor – Gipsy Kings
  9. Eyes Wide Open – Gotye
  10. Heart’s A Mess – Gotye
  1. Somebody I Used to Know – Gotye
  2. What Do You Want? – Gotye
  3. Now We Are Free – Lisa Gerrard
  4. Anna Molly – Incubus
  5. A Long Walk – Jill Scott
  6. Really Believe – Theo Eastwind
  7. Still Doll – Kanon Wakeshima
  8. Michiyuki – Kaori Hikita
  9. Got the Life – Korn
  10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Soundtrack
  1. The Piano Soundtrack – Michael Nyman
  2. Little Earthquakes Album – Tori Amos
  3. Desert Rose – Sting
  4. What You KnowTwo Door Cinema Club
  5. MapsYeah Yeah Yeahs
  6. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  7. Not in Love – Crystal Castle feat. Robert Smith
  8. November RainGuns ‘N’ Roses
  9. Live at the Acropolis Album – Yanni
  10. Lord of the Rings Trilogy Soundtrack

Vrijeme po mom satu, (Photo of the year: Cahayabox –, photography by Dolores Juhas ( )

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at

YWriter5 & NaNoWriMo

Sono distrutta.  There is no other way to state it.  After studying for some hours at the library, then returning home with the goal of organizing my outline for NaNoWriMo on YWriter5, I honestly feel like my brain is melting.

For those of you who either do not know, or have forgotten–November is National Novel Writing Month.  What, do you ask, is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)?  Well, it is a simple test of will and stamina.  At least, that’s how I see it.  I am certain that other people have more that they could say on the subject.  This is, however, my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and so…I will leave any further comments about it until after the fact.

According to the official website, “National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.”

Yes, that’s right… Fifty thousand words…One hundred and seventy-five pages…In one month…Um, should I say “Uncle” now?

No, no, I am actually looking forward to it.  Moreover, I have been diligently preparing.  Hence, YWriter5.  What is YWriter5?  It is a word processor created by Simon Haynes (author and programmer), and is specifically designed to meet the needs of authors as they create their novels.   I first learnt about YWriter a couple of months ago while reading/listening to K. M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel:  Map Your Way To Success.  By the way, K. M. Weiland‘s book is truly amazing.  It really helped me to translate my thoughts (I think in images) into words on paper.  It is a book that I have read many time since purchasing it.

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to ...

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to be portable. Long exposure lit by sweeping an LED flashlight over the scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I am still fairly new to YWriter (as in today-new).  My experience with it thus far, however, has been truly great!  The structure of the program really suits my way of thinking.  There are sections for characters, scenes, chapters, locations, etc.  And also, the sections are further broken down.

For example, the Character section includes biography, goals, notes, image, etc.  And even within those sections, there is still some break down.  Thus, the program really pushes you to think about the various aspects of how you are designing characters, settings, or outlining your chapters and explaining your scenes.  If you like to write, then it seems like a great tool try…Plus, it’s free.

Anyway, the point of my ramble today was not to act as a promoter, but to share my success in actually using YWriter to begin organizing my project (I hate to say the word “novel.”  It feels a bit too scary at this time).  Now, what I have come to realize by engaging in this process is that when I write long-hand, I lack organization like nobody’s business.

Seriously, I have notes scratched here and there.  Somethings that were started at the beginning of one notebook  were continued at the end of the notebook, or on a piece of scratch paper.  I am learning to smile at myself…and I am wicked glad (yes, I wrote “wicked”) that I found YWriter in time to organize myself for NaNoWriMo.


November (Photo credit: kurafire)

Well, I am off to search for more loose pieces of paper before heading off to bed.  Also, if you have ever thought to yourself, Man, I think I could write a book/novel/short story/whatever, then consider joining me on my NaNoWriMo journey…we can cry and laugh together.  Twelve days and counting…Until Next Time!