Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 12, 2017

Ask Dianne – Keeping the Momentum

Q: I participated in my first-ever NaNoWriMo last month. It was a blast! But how do I keep the momentum going now that it’s over?

A: Great question! First, for those who aren’t familiar with the program, here’s an overview of what it’s all about, from Wikipedia:

“National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of Noveowmber. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Well-known authors write “pep-talks” to keep them motivated throughout the process. The website provides participants with tips for writer’s block, information on where local participants are meeting, and an online community of support. NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. The project started in July 1999 with 21 participants, but by the 2010 event, over 200,000 people took part and wrote a total of over 2.8 billion words.”

Whether you made your word count goal, or not, you HAVE gotten yourself into a creative groove. You have created some sort of first draft blueprint to work from. So why not keep that ‘appointment time’ with your muse (however you’d carved it out from your daily schedule in November) for the task of revision? If you need some no-nonsense guidance on the process, you might consider looking at Fix Your Damn Book!: How to Painlessly Edit Your Novels & Stories by author and editor James Osiris Baldwin.

But what if the novel you created in NaNoWriMo is something you’d prefer to set aside to ‘settle’ but you still want to stay in the novel-writing energy of novel-writing? Perhaps working on an idea in the back of your head, or one found on the seat of your pants is your next step. I can’t think of a better resource for this exercise than No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, founder and guiding light of National Novel-Writing Month.

Did you go to any of the in-person writing sessions offered in your community via NaNoWriMo? Did you meet kindred spirits? You might want to contact each other to meet again weekly, monthly, or quarterly, to help continue that writerly support year-round. Or you might want to offer each other the simple support of a daily, ‘check-in’ email as a way to give accountability reports? Knowing you will be keeping a promise to others as well as yourself helps you find BIC (“butt in chair”) time.

Miss the NaNoWriMo pep talks from well-known authors? You can stay motivated on your own by reading Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights by Jon Winokur, which gathers the counsel of more than four hundred celebrated authors in a treasury on writing well.

Finally, go to the official website of NaNoWriMo ( or a year-round stream of advice and motivation. It’s really much more than a one-month makeover of your creative life. It’s a creative lifestyle change. I wish you good luck in your resolve to keep the momentum going!


Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally recognized author of books for the very young. Her books have appeared on numerous recommended reading lists, classroom desks and library shelves.  Her bedtime book, LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE, was a selected for the Dollywood Foundation’s childhood literacy initiative, Imagination Library in 2007. Her picture book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, received the Florida Book Awards (FBA) Bronze Medal in the Children’s Literature category in 2012 and was chosen for the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist literature for girls. Her picture book, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT, won the FBA Silver Medal in 2013. Her 2015 title, IT’S A SEASHELL DAY, was given the FBA Gold Medal/Gwen Reichert Award as well as the Gold Medal for Florida picture book from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. For more information about Dianne’s books, go to

Dianne, thanks for sharing your expertise with us. Another great answer.

REMEMBER: To send in your questions for Dianne. Use Kathy(dot)Temean(at) Please put ASK DIANNE in the subject box.

Amalia Hoffman sent in this Hanukkah Illustration to inspire everyone to enjoy the Jewish holidays. You can see more of Amalia’s work at

Happy Hanukkah!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Beautiful Hanukkah illustrations, Amalia😊


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