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November 2023 is National Novel Writing Month

Fall is a great time to cuddle up in your coziest sweater, with a hot drink, and a good book. You can sit in your favorite chair, under a warm blanket, and soak up the autumn sun coming in through your window. This is a great time of year for nesting, and reading a good book is a great way to get cozy.

But, have you ever considered writing your own book? If so, you are in good company. According to a recent survey, 81% of Americans want to write a book someday. If you want to become a published author, there is no time like the present to get started!

Although many people want to write a book, according to Marie Forleo,

Out of those who actually start, only 3% ever finish their manuscript — and less than 1% of those who finish ever get published.

These numbers may make you want to stop in your tracks before you even write the first word, but don't let them get you discouraged! Honestly, the fears of starting can hold you back more than anything you are going to encounter on your writing journey.

According to The Synergy Whisperer, one writer tried to get to the bottom of why some people start writing a book but never finish. Here is what he found:

I sought out the top reason why this was the case and found the barriers to be things like “procrastination,” “trying to be too perfect,” “waiting for the optimal time to write,” “no target market” and “writer’s block.”

As someone who has now published 9 books, I can tell you, getting started is the hardest part. There is always something in your personal life that seems more important than writing. Or you have imposter syndrome, and wonder if you can really do this. You think that all those other writers out there have already said the things that you want to say.

Here's the thing though: You are unique. Your voice is unique. Your experiences are unique. All that makes your story unique too. There is no one out there just like you, and odds are, you will find others who resonate with what you have to say.

My writing journey

Ever since I first became a poet in middle school, I had dreamed of becoming a famous author one day. I wanted to write a book that resonated with people, and to put my words into their hearts. Right after high school graduation, I started writing my first book. I never finished.

Then again, while I was in my last year of college, I tried again. I wrote about 150 pages - by hand - before getting so upset with the whole concept of the book that I actually threw the whole manuscript into a metal bucket and burned it page by page. Not my finest moment.

Finally, in 2021 in the midst of the COVID lockdown, I was scrolling through Pinterest to kill some time and I found a recommendation to start blogging. It was said to be one of the fastest growing online careers, and a good way to practice writing if you wanted to write a book.

After doing some more research and finding out what it takes to start a blog, I started writing on in April 2021. Then, in September of that same year, I took on my first book project and the Trauma Survivor's Guide to Coping With Panic Attacks was born. I published on October 1, 2021.

Now, I have written and self-published 9 books on self help, spirituality and poetry. In only two years, I have gotten into the swing of writing and publishing my own books. If you want some tips on publishing once you have finished writing your own book, you can check out my short guide How to Self Publish Your Ebook.

Although it does take quite a bit of work with writing, editing, publishing, deciding on your cover art and then marketing, it is quite a worthwhile endeavor in the end. When I wrote my first book, I told myself that if it helped even one person, it would be worth it. I hope you feel the same about your own writing, and enjoy your journey!

Getting started

November is the perfect time to start writing your first book, because it is National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo). During this time of the year, many writers are trying their hand at getting a 50,000 word novel written. Since a month just gives you a short time to write, this can keep you from overthinking too much, and just get the words out on the page.

Never underestimate the power of the shitty first draft. As writers, many of us have the tendency to want perfection right out of the gate. However, this is an unrealistic expectation, and can lead to endless editing while writing, which stops you from ever getting finished.

When you are writing, just write. Unless your editing program is telling you that you misspelled a word (which you can easily right-click to fix), just keep writing. Don't stop. Don't overthink. Don't go back and obsess over it tomorrow. Just keep writing until you have a completed draft.

According to New York Times best selling author, Jerry Jenkins, here are 12 simple steps to get started writing your novel:

Odds are, if you have been considering writing a book for a while, you probably already have an idea of what you want to write about. That takes care of step one. I suppose you can worry about whether it is a 'winning' idea or not, but personally I tend to go with my gut and just write, then worry about the rest once it is finished and I go to market it.

NaNoWriMo Rules

  1. Writing begins at 12:00 AM on November 1st and ends at 11:59:59 on November 30th.

  2. Participants may not start early.

  3. Novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before the end of November in order to win. These words can either be a complete novel of 50,000 words or the first 50,000 words of a novel to be completed later.

  4. Planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no material written before the November 1st start date can go into the body of the novel.

  5. Novels can be on any theme, belong to any genre and be written in any language.

NaNoWriMo Support

Once you have decided to start writing your novel during NaNoWriMo, you can seek out support from the community of thousands of other writers working on their own writing projects this month.

There is even a non-profit charity that supports NaNoWriMo that provides loads of activities and support for writers. You can also connect with the writing community on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #NaNoWriMo. Having support from other writers can make a big difference, especially if you are having difficulties during the writing process.

Some writers like to set a goal of how many words to write per day, or how much time they want to allot per day to writing. Or you can be one of the crazy ones like me, and just immerse yourself constantly in your writing until you finish. A word of caution though - don't burn yourself out.

Taking mental breaks and occasionally getting up from your computer and talking to your family is helpful. Otherwise, they aren't too likely to want to support your writing career going forward!

I highly encourage you to check out the many writing forums available online, and especially to join the writing community on Twitter, which is super supportive. I wish you all the best in your writing journey! Feel free to reach out in the comments with any questions!


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