Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

National Novel Writing Month

From the Editor


October 31, 2019

It’s that time of year once again when I send out a group e-mail to my family that basically says, “If I don’t respond to your texts or messages, I’m not dead. I’m just writing. Please leave me alone.”

November’s here and that means it’s time for National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known by writers as NaNoWriMo).

So what is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is an event (run by a nonprofit of the same name) held every November with the goal of writing 50,000 words over the course of 30 days. If we use Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone as a visual guide for how many words that is, the average number of words per page is 250. That means, writing 50,000 words in one month equals roughly 200 pages. That’s a lot!

There’s a growing online community of writers from all locales and genres. There are also Municipal Liaisons that setup writing get-togethers so local writers can meet each other in person and be with like-minded people.

I’ve been participating each year since 2010 and it’s been amazing. I don’t always reach the 50,000 goal, but that’s okay. It helps me get writing even if I don’t end up writing as much as I’d like to. Talking with other writers on the forums and sharing ideas is such an experience. There’s so much energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration to be had.

If you’ve ever dreamt about writing a novel, now’s a great time to give it a go! At events, I get so many comments from people about how they would like to write a book but don’t possess the ability to.

Here’s the thing: No one ever gets anywhere by starting with “I can’t.” If you want to write a book, there’s nothing stopping you. All it takes is starting with the mindset of “I can.”

Look, I never thought I’d write a book when I was younger. Sure, I’d write down ideas and play out scenes like a movie in my head, but I didn’t know how to write it out. Back then, I thought books were written by big, important people who knew what they were doing, not people like me.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. No one knows what they’re doing when they first start. As with everything else, it takes time and dedication.

Thankfully, the NaNoWriMo team also has writing prompts if you get stuck when trying to come up with ideas. If you have questions, you can ask other writers and they are more than happy to help offer suggestions and advice. You don’t even have to do a normal story if you want. Spend those 30 days doing journal entries, writing a screenplay or script, or whatever else your heart desires. I’ve found writing to be very therapeutic.

What you write doesn’t have to be a best seller or the next instant classic in order for it to have value. And who knows? You may surprise yourself with your own genius once you get going.

In high school, I started writing seriously. My first works were absolutely terrible, but I enjoyed writing so I kept at it. A year later I had a book. Another year later, I had a trilogy. My writing was still rubbish, but I discovered I loved doing it. And with each successive book, I got better. I always remember where I started because it still amazes me when someone says “I loved your book!”

If I had never tried, I never would have heard those words. So I invite you to try.

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