What’s NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is an initiative where authors all over the world (amateur or not) commit to writing 50,000 words before the clock strikes midnight on November 30th. It is hosted by the nonprofit organization of the same name, and the website allows for the creation of a profile and uploading your works to keep track of your word count: http://nanowrimo.org/.
If you’ve always had the urge to get a story out, this month might be a good opportunity. If 50,000 words seems like a big goal to accomplish this year, try out something smaller: write an essay about your favorite memory or a poem or maybe even a children’s story.
Here are some of my picks for nonfiction that will inspire you to write, write, write!
No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
“Every November, tens of thousands of people sign up for National Novel Writing Month and attempt to write a 50,000-word novel. Baty, the brains behind this competition, has produced an uproariously funny motivational manifesto so readers can get a leg-up in his race or in the larger publishing game. The key is to lower your expectations “from `best-seller’ to `would not make someone vomit,’ ” says Baty, who maintains that stress and a deadline are important parts of writing. Aimed at the nonserious, with an emphasis on summoning creativity and having a life-changing experience, this original approach will appeal to anyone up for a challenge.” – Library Journal Review, 2010
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
” “Long live the King” hailed “Entertainment Weekly” upon publication of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.” – Summary from publisher
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
” “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” – Summary from publisher
*This is one of my favorite books about writing. – Genna
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
“You’ve always dreamed of writing science fiction and fantasy tales that pull readers into extraordinary new worlds and fantastic conflicts. Best-selling author Orson Scott Card shows you how it’s done, distilling years of writing experience and publishing success into concise, no-nonsense advice.” – Summary
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet are arguably the most famous and beloved letters of the twentieth century. Written when the poet was himself still a young man, with most of his greatest work before him, they were addressed to a student who had sent Rilke some of his own writing, asking for advice on becoming a writer. The two never met, but over a period of several years Rilke wrote him these ten letters, which have been cherished by hundreds of thousands of readers for what Stephen Mitchell calls in his Foreword the “vibrant and deeply felt experience of life” that informs them. Eloquent and personal, Rilke’s meditations on the creative process, the nature of love, the wisdom of children, and the importance of solitude offer a wealth of spiritual and practical guidance for anyone. At the same time, this collection, in Stephen Mitchell’s definitive translation, reveals the thoughts and feelings of one of the greatest poets and most distinctive sensibilities of the twentieth century.
“In On Writing Romance, award-winning romance novelist Leigh Michaels talks you through each stage of the writing and publishing process. From the origins and evolution of the romance novel to establishing a vital story framework to writing that last line to seeking out appropriate publishers, everything you ever wanted to know about writing a romance novel is here. . . . Plus, read a sample query letter, cover letter, and synopsis, and learn how to properly prepare you romance novel for submission to agents and editors. On Writing Romance has everything you need to leave readers swooning!” – Summary
“In Writing Magic, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets of great writing. She shows how you, too, can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable characters and much, much more. She advises you about what to do when you feel stuck and how to use helpful criticism. Best of all, she offers writing exercises that will set your imagination on fire.
With humor, honesty, and wisdom, Gail Carson Levine shows you that you, too, can make magic with your writing.” – Summary from publisher
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Non-Fiction From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind
“From rags-to-riches-to-rags tell-alls to personal health sagas to literary journalism everyone seems to want to try their hand at creative nonfiction. Now, Lee Gutkind, the go-to expert for all things creative nonfiction, taps into one of the fastest-growing genres with this new writing guide. Frank and to-the-point, with depth and clarity, Gutkind describes and illustrates each and every aspect of the genre, from defining a concept and establishing a writing process to the final product. Offering new ways of understanding genre and invaluable tools for writers to learn and experiment with, ‘You Can’t Make This Stuff Up’ allows writers of all skill levels to thoroughly expand and stylize their work.” – Summary from Publisher