NaNoWriMo + Story Grid

October 26, 2017


National Novel Writing Month--better known as NaNoWriMo--is almost upon us! NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to commit to writing a full novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. It's an invitation to write daily without worrying about "word vomit" or beautiful scenes. 


I made this poster to pump myself up in 2014. It worked! 


It's a great environment to gain the discipline of writing and hone your craft. You can write from your couch, hidden from the world, but I have to recommend to going to a local "Come Write In" or various other writing events.


NaNo is where my dream job started.


In 2014, I committed to writing a full novel during NaNo. I started forming an idea in October, inspired and intrigued by a dilapidated Victorian on one of my walks through my old town of Alameda, California. On my walks, I had started envisioning the person that lived there. 


Through the novel-writing process, she became the antagonist of my novel.


I dutifully went to several Come Write In events at my local library and coffee shops. I finished my novel. Even better, I gained a tribe. A tribe that led me to my proofreading and editing jobs at Booktrope, a tribe that has stuck with me, though I live across the country now.


November 1 is next Wednesday. 6 days away, at the time of this writing. 


You are not too late to commit to writing your novel! How should you get started?


1. Listen to this "Story Grid" podcast episode where Shawn (editor of 25+ years) teaches where to start with planning a story. 


2. Jot down notes on the KIND OF STORY you want to write. You can go as far as making a full outline, or just the rough details (such as exploring the life of a recluse with a shady past, which was my premise in 2014.)


3. Grab a spot on my calendar for a free 30-minute call. We'll talk a lot like Shawn and Tim do on the podcast. Get an editor's take on your story--not to judge it, but to help you form where to go next during NaNo. 


4. Subscribe here to know when we're launching our series to guide NaNo writers keep momentum: "Fundamental Fridays." Inside Scoop: The first article is up on the Story Grid site, for all you eager beavers. The official launch will be next week!


5. Sign up at, and start writing! Optional: Join your local NaNo group, which you can find through the NaNo site. (I cannot recommend this enough!) 


I'm returning to NaNo this year to write my first book to be published. This time, I'm writing nonfiction, an editor's guide to writing a murder mystery. I can't wait to jump into a new tribe of writers in Greenville!


But not only am I excited to get back to writing this year, I'm so excited for what the Story Grid Editors are doing this month. You may not know that a small band of writers and editors from around the country recently met in Nashville to be trained under Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl. Together, we are building an incredible network of editors and writing resources. Many, many cool things are coming in the next year, so stay tuned (and subscribe!!).


The first is a series of articles that will be coming out every Friday, "Fundamental Fridays." We're launching that series the first Friday in November--just in time to navigate the treacherous waters of NaNo together. I'll share the link as soon as it's available. It's going to cover everything from HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL to specific genre questions. Let me know, in comments or through email, if you have questions you'd like the Story Grid editors' board to cover. 


(If you're interested, I'll be posting there November 17. Come find me!)


We are big supporters of NaNo. Many of us are participants! We're cheering you on!


 50,000+ words completed in the month of November 2014. I won! 


P.S. If you're wondering what happened with my first novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2014... I still have it "in a drawer," a.k.a in a Scrivener file. It was an amazing experience of self-revelation. As many first drafts are, my first novel was pretty autobiographical. I recently reread some of it and was fascinated to watch this protagonist I had crafted struggle to make sense of her world, in the same way I was struggling in 2014. 


Your first novel will likely be this same self-revelatory experience. There is nothing wrong with writing a novel, discovering something of yourself and your world, and saying, "This one is for me alone." That's not a failure! That's a success!


So write the book. This is the beauty of writing. Truth can come out when you don't even realize that's what you're on the hunt for.


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