NaNoWriMo, sounds like a character from a tv show, but it stands for National Novel Writing Month. What started as a project in 1999, now has its own 501C3. You may or may not want to write a novel, but many people want to write something. Whether it’s a short story, memoir, song, or poem, crowds of people want to be able to put their thoughts and feelings on paper.
I’m here to help you with that. I’ve written since before I could write, dictating stories and ideas to Grandparents. Yet I know how daunting it can be to try. The nagging fear of what if it’s not good enough. The not so gentle critiques of those you expected to encourage you. As much as I love to write, I also love to encourage others to write.
Critics are important, and there is a place for it. Too often though, there is a critic, or an encourager in your writing life, and not both. You need both. Critics make your writing sharper. Encouragers encourage you to keep writing, even when you feel like a child practicing the tuba. Let me be the guy smiling, telling you you’re closer to success than you were yesterday.
That’s the truth, as long as you’re trying. To write, you must start writing. You’ve heard different versions of this, from Louis L’Amour to John Maxwell, but let me tell you a slightly different one.
Two Men lived during the same period in history. One was a famous speaker, who’s life still impacts people today. The other, made a difference in their local area, but not anywhere near the public scale of the other. However, he wrote a very detailed book, a Commentary, which has been consulted by Ministers for generations. In the end, his impact mirrored, if not dwarfed that of the other man, because he had written.
What if he had not written? What if he had allowed, all the legitimate questions of life stop him from writing? He was not as well known. How did he know anyone would find value in his work. What if no one buys a copy? What if I’m never able to publish it? Aren’t these the same questions you’ve asked yourself?
Here’s my answers to them. First, the truth is most writers begin in obscurity, but they don’t have to finish that way. Second, there is value in the act of writing, to you. It’s a dream, one that is as easy to fulfill as beginning.
As for the great writing, write as good as you can, but the truth is, the more you write, the better you get. The first step is to write a sentence. Not a novel, a chapter, a page, or a paragraph, but a few words. You can do that, and then do it again, until you have a paragraph, a page, a chapter, and maybe a novel.
Concerning people finding value in your writing, people have been impacted by my writing, who have never read my words. Things that I have learned from writing and painting have made me better, and that helps me to help others. Also professionally, people are drawn to writers, probably because they have a desire to write themselves.
Finally, about the number of books you sell, you may not, but that’s not the primary value. The value is in what writing does, both for you, and the way it connects with people. Whether that connection is by them reading your words, or experiencing the way your words have affected you.
I want to encourage you for the next few days, and the entire month of November. Pick up a pen, an iPad, a keyboard, whichever tool works for you, and start writing. It may or may not end in a novel, but it will most definitely add to the story of your life!