NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month

Whatever age you are, preteen or pushing 100, if you've ever felt like you have a book in you, NaNoWriMo Camp may be your chance to jumpstart your writing career! (And it's free!)

Traditionally, National Novel Writing Month is November. My first NaNoWriMo was 2006, when I was a creative writing student at Penn State. Between classes and grading and actual writing, I obsessively calculated how many words I would have to write each day to make the goal of 50k words in November. I was worrying about word count and trying to figure out what happens next in my book while eating turkey at a Thanksgiving party at my professor's house. Over various years of NaNoWriMo, I have written literary fiction, a martial arts novel, a chick lit novel (Bridget Zo's Diary!), dystopian fiction, and various mysteries. Some years I just edit a manuscript, including one year it was a story collection called SEX & TAIPEI CITY, now out with Red Hen Press.

NaNoWriMo is always free, and the good news is there are several NaNoWriMo events a year, including July being NaNoWriMo Camp. (Thank you, Sharon, for encouraging me to do the event this year!) It's a great idea for creative-minded young writers (entire high school classes do this together) to have a productive summer vacation. You can set your own goal, which can be writing, editing, and any number of words. The 50k word count is simply the minimum word count for what qualifies as a novel, but any writing is progress, or you can just mostly work on plot/planning (which may be what I do this July).

Where do you begin? You can start with a story idea, main character, then build that into a premise. My premise this time, for a novel-in-progress tentatively titled INTENSIVE, is this: A young ICU nurse with a dark past wants to redeem herself by helping others, but finds herself fighting death daily in an unraveling civilization with drug-resistant superbugs, epidemics, and scarce resources.*

The NaNoWriMo website ( offers a wealth of resources for new or seasoned writers. For instance, it has tools to help you develop your story idea, characters, build a world, construct plot, and more. The plotting part has always been a challenge for me. Thankfully, the NaNoWriMo website has resources such as The Plot Rollercoaster, 9 Step Plot Dot, or the Save the Cat Beatsheet, just to name a few, to help one achieve optimal plot structure. I've learned the hard way by writing several manuscripts the "seat of pants" way and winding up having to completely rewrite/replot--I believe planning plots and even scenes beforehand is the smart thing to do. It doesn't have to be a Hero/Heroine's Journey but the book needs a damn plot.

Once you finish your book, NaNoWriMo shares advice about how to find an agent or publisher, or alternatively, since life is short, it's easy to self publish through Amazon (Print on Demand as well as Kindle) these days as well.

Who wants to join me in writing/plotting this summer? Sign up any time for free at!

*This is pure distopian fiction. Our resources are not scarce, N95 masks are one-time use, and nobody said anything about covid. Also, I'm not young so that ICU nurse ain't me!


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