I’m off to Camp #NaNoWriMo

If you are wondering why it is so quiet around here, I have gone off to camp. Camp NaNoWriMo, that is. It’s a great way to challenge yourself to add words to your writing project over the month of April.

Let me know if you are going and maybe we can share a cabin.


Good Luck to NaNoWriMo Participants!

Today marks the official starting day for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I want to wish everyone who is giving it a try an awesome first day of writing. May your word count grow steadily.

I also have some fantastic news for those of you that are always impossibly busy in November:  Camp NaNoWriMo! A NaNoWriMo that starts in June or in August. June! I might be able to do that. What about you?




Writing Books for NaNoWriMo

Are you going to participate in National Novel Writing Month? Now is a good time to pick up some new writing books or dust off some old favorites to have on hand.

Over the years I have found a few writing books that I find I go back to again and again, like old friends. I’d like to share them here. Although I recommend some that are for writing for or by children, all of these books contain information helpful for the craft of writing in general.

Any of Natalie Goldberg’s books for writers are wise and wonderful. Her highly personal style is particularly good for people interested in creating a memoir. She’s also an excellent resource if you have writer’s block and/or need encouragement or inspiration. Two examples are: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within and Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft.

Stephen King’s On Writing is a real bargain. Even if you don’t enjoy his genre or condone his lifestyle, the meat of his advice about writing is definitely worth much more than you’ll pay for his book.

You might wonder why I have included The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, since it is about how the English language came about. I think that if you understand the language and how it works, you can use it more effectively. Plus Bryson is a compelling writer himself and it is worth studying his style.

Anastasia Suen is a prolific author who also teaches online courses on writing for children. Her book, Picture Writing, is based on a lot of experience and knowledge. Writers of all levels and genres can benefit from her insights. (Now, if she would just write a book on how she manages her time and her organizational system, because she manages to accomplish a superhuman amount!)

Instead of teaching adults how to write for children, Ralph Fletcher writes books to help children and young adult’s learn the craft. Two examples of his many titles are How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You and Poetry Matters. I like his books because his passion shows through. They are good because they are quick to read and to the point.

Finally, I found The Novel by James A. Michener a fascinating glimpse of his writing world. Although from another time, and overlaid with a thin layer of fiction, it still speaks to a number of issues a writer faces.

Hope you find something useful in this list. I would love to hear what books you turn to when writing.

And now, check out this cool widget from Amazon. Isn’t it fun?

NaNoWriMo or Not?

As many of you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month. (Note:  the link may not work for a few days as the website is being prepared.) Thousands of people from over the globe lock themselves to their computers and write at least 50,000 words towards a novel. The excitement towards the end of October is palpable. It is like being at the start of a horse race, ready for the bell to go off. The horses are dancing and pawing, the riders are tense. Everyone is talking in excited whispers. It is a thrill!

If you are thinking about joining in, but aren’t sure, I’ll share some of my own NaNoWriMo musings.

5 great reasons to participate:

1. The feeling of being part of a huge community of writers all trying to accomplish the same goal in their own way is exhilarating. Trying to do the seemingly impossible adds to the adrenaline rush.

2. If you are lucky, you will find writing time in nooks and crannies of your day where you hadn’t considered to look. You may push yourself to new word counts at rates you never thought possible. The cool badges put your word counts out there for everyone to see.

3. You may learn more about your craft. If you have never written a novel before, you will definitely learn more about crafting a plot, developing characters, dialogue and hundreds of other writing intangibles, such as the fact your characters will develop minds of their own and fly off in unexpected ways.

4. You create your very own novel!

5. NaNoWriMo may lead to many positive outcomes, regardless of what happens with your novel. In my case, I started a personal blog to record my thoughts on the writing process as I went along (you can find a link to it on the about page of this blog). That personal blog developed into Wrapped In Foil, through which I have “met” many fine people in the kidlitosphere. It would not have happened if I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo.

You never know where it will take you.

Although participating in NaNoWriMo may be glamorous and fun, there are many solid reasons not to participate:

1. You might want to give it a miss if adult fiction is not your genre. There are a few attempts to create children’s literature-friendly versions of NaNoWriMo, but let’s face it, different genre’s require varied writing skills. The ability to write children’s picture books is more the ability to distill and weed out words rather than write prolifically. In my case, I am committed to children’s nonfiction, rather than adult fiction.

2. Your family members need those essentials, such as a roof over their head, nutrition and hygiene. If participating in NaNoWriMo is going to compromise your ability to provide those, well, enough said.

3. You have other projects that will take you further if you were to complete them. Go for those instead. Finishing that PhD thesis? Yes, that might be more important.

4. Your novel requires a lot of research to provide historical or scientific accuracy. One month is not enough time to do hordes of research and write too, even with Google. Go for the quality, not the quantity.

5. This isn’t the “write” year. Give yourself a break. or find challenges that are more in step with what is going on in your life. Another writing activity to consider is National Blog Posting Month, or maybe you want to do a reading challenge instead. Sometimes knowing your limits is more important than testing them.

NaNoWriMo or not? What do you think?