It's November, which means one thing for many writers...time for NaNoWrimo!
NaNoWrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual event where thousands of writers attempt the heroic feat of writing a novel of at least 50,000 words in just 30 days. This is my ninth year participating in NaNoWriMo and over the years I have "won" twice.
The following is a motivational letter I wrote for the NaNoWriMo Metrowest region (for writers living between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts). I hope it encourages others to tackle the page with enthusiasm this month! Good luck, Wrimos!
Seven years ago, I sat down to write a novel about a girl who found a mysterious box that belonged to a mermaid. It was my second attempt at NaNoWriMo. As a fifth grade teacher, I brought my students along as part of the Young Writers Program. It didn’t matter what our stories were about. Aliens, fantastic portals, or in my case, Black mermaids. We were a community of writers tackling this literary challenge together.
And now you are on this journey! Writing a novel in thirty days is no easy task, but these tips have served me well and I hope they will help you too.
Fill your creative well
Whether you are a plotter or pantster, you need creative fuel for the writing task at hand. Be sure to fill your head and heart with ideas and inspiration. You may find that through reading books you love, watching your favorite television or movie series, going for a walk, talking with a friend, or engaging in other artistic passions. Whatever brings you joy will find its way into your writing. Maybe not in the plot or characters, but it definitely will show up in the energy and joy you bring to your novel.
Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary act. One of the wonderful parts of NaNoWriMo is the shared experience of noveling. Seek out a community! Whether you add writing buddies on NaNoWriMo.org, join in a local write-in (virtual ones mean you don’t even need to leave home!), participate in Twitter writing sprints, or encourage fellow writers within your own small group of friends, find a way to connect with others this month. No one else understands the pain of the murky middle like other Wrimos!
Give yourself grace
Finally, be kind to yourself. You are attempting something amazing! Whether you find yourself in the Winner’s Circle on November 30th or you’re still chugging towards your goal, you’ve accomplished something. You’ll have more words written than you did on November 1st and a novel will have been born. There will be time to polish and perfect. For now, let yourself bask in the glow of that effort.
Good luck, fellow Writers! I have been in your shoes. That novel I wrote seven years ago? It was terrible! Bloated and messy. But there was a glint of gold within that pile of words. After several years of work, I’m happy to say that DARK TIDE will be published in 2022 by HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books. Those fifth graders I wrote with are seniors this year.
Writing isn’t easy, but nothing that is worth the effort ever is. Happy noveling!