Attention Writers!

Written by Jes Hathaway

Do you aspire to be one of the 100,000+ people to write a fifty-thousand-word novel in 30 days?! If so, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) might be the thing for you! Every year in November enthusiastic and determined writers from around the world participate in this ‘write’ of passage.  When I first heard about NaNoWriMo, I never thought I’d succeed, that I’d actually write 50,000 words in 30 days, but here I am, a NaNoWriMo winner!

What’s it like to write 50,000 words in one month? Remember the commercial for pizza bagels? “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time. When you can have pizza on a bagel, you can have pizza any time!” Now substitute the word pizza with some form of writing and you get the gist of how the month goes.

First, you have to conceive of an idea, no matter how far-fetched it may be. Where might one get an idea for a book? Imagination and creativity are key to becoming a NaNoWriMo winner. My book idea came from a dream of all things and will become part of a young adult science fiction series one day.

Next, you must carve out time to write. Nowadays most of us have our phones on us 24-7. It’s a natural place to jot down ideas. If you want to go the old-fashioned route, get yourself a cute journal. It doesn’t matter what you use, just be prepared to have something to write with or on when inspiration hits!

You’ve set yourself up for success. Now there’s just one last thing to do…write, write, write!! Write immediately upon waking up before your feet even hit the floor, even before that first cup of coffee! Write during breaks at work, during lunch, maybe even write in your head on the ride home from errands. Write before dinner, during dinner, and keep writing until you can’t keep your eyes open a minute longer. Many nights you’re up past 11 pm writing away. Just…one…more…. word.

By the tenth day of November, you’re up to 12,000 words, and you think, “Wow! I’m doing great!”  Morning, noon, and night, writing consumes your world.  Every word, big or small, counts!  Little by little your word count adds up.  It’s day twelve, and once again after 11pm, but you’ve made it to 14,000 words!  Now, you can sleep well.  May inspiration find its way into your dreams.  

It’s day 15, and you’ve officially made it halfway through the month!  You call upon your friends to send you inspiration, quotes, phrases, pictures, anything that you can write from.  You’ve reached nearly 18,000 words and in the back of your mind you can’t help but think, 50,000 words in 30 days, really?  Was I a fool to undertake something so huge?  But then two days later you hit a major goal: 20,000 words!  Well really, you’ve reached 20,135 words!  

Although writing is your world, you take the time to take care of yourself by attending a class at a gym or doing your own workout at home, but once that’s done, you’re back at it, tea in hand and getting those words down.  

As the days wind down, you set daily goals for yourself. Some seem unrealistic, but you are determined to succeed.  Plus, you still have some weekends to get those words in!  So, you set a goal of 5000 words one day, 3000 the next. Sunday Funday-you’ve knocked out 7804 words!  Not too shabby and above your original daily word count goal!  

It’s November 30.  You’ve reached the end of the challenge!  You’ve written as much as you can! It’s just about time for bed, just about time to close the chapter of your book, but before you close those tired eyes of yours, you must do one final word count.  It’s now or never.  

And there it is…50,159 words!  You made it!  You’re a NaNoWriMo winner! 

Young Writers Program logo

For more information about NaNoWriMo and all they have to offer, please visit

So, what is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds — on and off the page.

NaNoWriMo believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.


Thinking about My Writerly Self

Ellen A. Thompson , Ed. D

Ellen reading her book at a Room 6 Author’s Tea…long, long ago!

Am I a writer? 

What is a writer?

noun. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist. a clerk, scribe, or the like. … a person who writes or is able to write: a writer in script.

Well, I can write in cursive – sort of.  I’ve always wanted to write using calligraphy.  I even bought the book and the ink and the nibs.  Still in the box.

I write a lot for others, but not so much for me.  Does that matter?  Should it?  This pandemic has made me more philosophical.  I question things more.  Am I a writer?  Or am I someone who writes?  There’s the question!

In 2nd grade I was a writer!  Really, I was.  My second grade teacher, Miss Connolly told me so and I believed her!  There.  She let me write all day long, anything I wanted to write!  I made up comics and stories.  I wrote informational books.  To this day, I am still not sure why she let me write so much.  My cynical self thinks she was taking a writing course and she needed student examples to get a good grade.  Did teachers take writing courses in 1962?  I don’t have any of the stories, so either Miss Connolly kept them all or my mom got rid of them in one of her annual purges of all things fun.  

I remember that feeling of putting the words down on paper and then reading them aloud to anyone who would listen.  I had one school chum who wrote along with me most of the time, so we were each other’s audience.  The other kids were doing regular second grade stuff, but not me.  I was writing!

It all seems fishy to me now.  I have a feeling I was one of those “smart” kids and not afraid to show it. Writing probably kept me quiet.  Could that be the real story?  My teacher needed a break, so she let me do what I loved best – write.  And read.  I was a voracious reader, too.  So many models for so much more writing to create.

Hmmm.  My destiny as a writer shaped by my vocality as a kid.  Could it be? Perhaps I have always had something I wanted to say.  Makes sense.  Writing does that for us.  It allows us to consider and reconsider our thoughts and ideas.  To make them measure up for others to see.  I know when I write now, I rewrite and start again many times.  This blog post has been in the making for months!  In fact I even missed my own superimposed deadline for getting it on the webpage.  Writing is also frightening at times. Will my words make sense? Do my words matter?  To me?  To anyone else?

So if I think about my journey as a writer, I have to consider all the kids who are just starting their own writerly quest and be sure that I am emparting what I have learned about myself as a writer.

  • Do our words matter?  Yes.
  • Is writing for others part of “writing”?  Yes.
  • Do writers’ need an audience for their writing?  Yes.
  • Do writers; need validation and feedback for their writing?  Yes.
  • Do writers’ need models of really good writing?  Yes.
  • Can we create our very own writerly self?  Yes.

It takes time to be a writer.  Everyone’s journey will be different, yet surprisingly the same.  We need others to support our progress and reflection.  We need to understand the myriad of ways words can be placed on the printed page.  We need time to develop as readers and writers.

Thank you, Linda Rief for inspiring me to get this post on the page!