On the first day of November, I started my novel. Why? Because November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, or NaNoWriMo, for short, or just NaNo for even shorter. There is a website with a gazillion help threads on their forum, and several times a week, everyone gets sent an encouraging email. Most of each email was all about the person writing it, but usually at the end I would find a gold nugget. I would like to share those nuggets with you.
Write something true. Write something frightening. Write something close to the bone. You are on this planet to tell the story of what you saw here. What you heard. What you felt. What you learned. Any effort spent in that pursuit cannot be wasted. Any way that you can tell that story more truly, more vividly, more you-ly, is the right way.
So holler. Tell it loud and tell it bright and tell it slant and tell it bold. Tell it with space whales and silent films or tell it with quiet desperation or tell it with war or tell it with dragons or tell it with tall ships or tell it with divorce in the suburbs or tell it with dancing skeletons and a kraken in the wings.
Tell it fast before you get scared and silence yourself. You’ll never wish you’d held back a little more.
This one came over half way through the month, but it touched my writer's heart and gave me the courage I needed to keep going.
The fact is that some people have nothing to say and will never be writers. But if you need inspiration, try perspiration. If you’re meant to write, you’ll write. Sure, we’re all stymied from time to time, struggling over how best to shape a character or how to bring a crucial scene to life. But the best way to confront such problems is to sit down and start typing. Things happen when you make them happen.
Writing is wretched, discouraging, physically unhealthy, infinitely frustrating work. And when it all comes together it’s utterly glorious.
This one is from a pre-teen. There is a division of NaNoWriMo dedicated to kids, and one day the adults had an encouraging email from one of the kids. (I really enjoyed his because it was the only email without a swear word in it.)
If at the end of this month, you find you haven't written a novel (as I will probably find), and have that "Shucks, I didn't write a novel" feeling: laugh at yourself.
Seriously, think about it: you just got a little angry at yourself because you didn't write a novel. In a month. Ha! I would have never guessed I'd ever think that. Let alone complain about it. So instead think this: "Shucks. I didn't write a novel. Neither did about seven billion other people. But I tried. So there."
--Tai (middle schooler)
I actually didn't "write a novel in a month", partly because the website defines a novel as having 50,000 words and my novel isn't anywhere close to that. And anyways, even if they let us decide how long a novel was, I didn't finish MY novel. I actually got to chapter 20, and there are 23 chapters in my story. So, there's that. But like Tai the middle schooler said, I tried, and surely that counts for something.
You can read all about my story, including the first chapter, here.