Category: amwriting

6 Reasons You Should Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo (Even If You’re Not a Writer)

Camp NaNoWriMo is happening soon! Today, we have the pleasure of reposting this article from blogger Rebekah Joan about reasons to participate in Camp, even if writing isn’t your jam:

Every April and July, writers from across the globe participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. They pick up their pens (or open up their laptops) and go on an adventure-filled journey.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing competition (against yourself + time). No one gets first place, but if you hit your word count, you “win.” You have an entire month (either April or July) to write your way to the end of your story.

With Camp NaNoWriMo right around the corner, writers are gearing up with plots, outlines, character sheets, and all the motivation they can find.

But what’s the point? And why should you participate in Camp NaNoWriMo—even if you aren’t a writer?

1. You get prizes.

That’s right. Even if you don’t win, you can get some sweet deals on writing software, etc. from the Camp NaNoWriMo sponsors. While Camp NaNoWriMo doesn’t have quite so many offers as the November event, there’s still plenty to keep you motivated.

2. You get to join a community.

When you participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, you’re put into a cabin with a handful of other writers. It makes for a great support group. You can share writing prompts, encourage each other, and make some new friends along the way.

If you’re looking for a cabin full of enthusiastic writers, you can search on the “Finding Cabin Mates” forum. Cabins can hold up to 20 people!

This article here explains the details of joining a Camp NaNoWriMo cabin.

3. Camp NaNoWriMo forces you to set a routine.

If there’s one thing writers have learned from NaNoWriMo, it’s that you can’t win unless you set aside time to write. There are plenty of ways to make time to write, like getting up early in the morning, writing in the in-between times of your day, or actually scheduling time for it.

You have to find what works for you.

Setting a routine in your day will help you to boost your productivity. Everyone needs a bit of structure in their life, and Camp NaNoWriMo is a great place to get it from. Whenever I give myself structure in my day, I get way more done, I’m happier with myself, and I feel way more satisfied about how my day went.

4. You can boost your creativity.

Some people hate writing. Absolutely, totally despise it. And you know what? I used to be the same way too—until I tried my hand at creative writing. Now I love it in every form! You just have to get past what school taught you to hate. Writing (or any creative process, really) is a great way to explore your imagination, de-stress, and learn things about yourself that you didn’t know.

And for those afraid of Writer’s Block, there are plenty of ways to get rid of it:

  • Having an outline will give you a clear path on what to write.
  • The Amazing Story Generator will give you endless (and fun) prompts + ideas.
  • Skipping to a different scene can get your brain moving.
  • A change of scenery can help boost productivity + clear your mind of cobwebs.

5. You can get excited about something.

When was the last time you got excited about something? Like, REALLY excited? Starting your own writing project will give you bursts of inspiration, giddy thoughts about creating backstories, and tons of excitement. Plus, you get to be a part of a community of thriving writers.

Now that’s something to get excited about.

6. You get to set your own goal.

Here’s the thing:

NaNoWriMo has very few rules, but the most important one is that you write 50K words in 30 days.

Camp NaNoWriMo is different.

Instead of having a terrifyingly high target word count assigned to you, you get to choose your own. As I’m working on this blog + freelance writing + starting married life, I set mine at 20,000 words. That’s less than 1,000 a day. Anyone can do that. You can do that.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to jump on in and join Camp NaNoWriMo this time around?


Rebekah Joan is a lifestyle and travel blogger. She’s also a fiction writer, a photographer, a NaNoWriMo fanatic, a pizza lover, and a freelance writer. You can follow her blog at www.rebekah-joan.com.

Camp 101: The Basics for First-Time Campers

What in the world is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo is a bi-annual online writers’ retreat that takes place in April and July. Camp gives you the opportunity to set your own goals and work on any writing project in a supportive environment with lots of writers’ resources. Camp is a great time to test run any writing project, whether it be a novel, comic book, graphic novel, memoir, screenplay, travel guide, cookbook, thesis, epic poem, one-act play, or anything else you can dream up! 

Campers from all around the world come together online (and often in person) to share their daily progress, and cheer each other on! No matter what project you choose to work on, no matter what stage of progress you’re in, your fellow campers will be able offer some useful advice and encouragement along the way! The best part is that Camp is fun and free to all! And you never know who you will meet—maybe even the protagonist of your new novel.

How do I do Camp?

It’s OK to feel nervous and excited. Everyone feels that way on their first day of Camp. But, don’t worry. It’s super simple to get started. All you have to do is sign up, pick a cabin, and create your project! Piece of cake. You can do it! Don’t be shy. We are all in this together. And just in case you get lost out on the trail, here is a step by step guide to help you arrive at Camp safe and sound.

  1. Create your profile so your fellow Campers can connect and cheer you on! (If you already have a NaNoWriMo profile, you can just sign in to the Camp NaNoWriMo website with your regular username and password.)
  2. Create your project as early as March (you can change it later). Give it a title and you’re good to go!
  3. Join a cabin with up to 20 fellow Campers

    to communicate and share encouragement during a Camp NaNoWriMo session. You are assigned to a cabin based on the preferences you select in “Cabin Settings.” Or create a private cabin and invite Campers with similar projects or interests.

  4. Snag some flair to show your Camp NaNo pride on your social media profiles and let others know that you’ll be participating.
  5. Get inspired with pep talks, blog posts, and events—plus, some sage advice from your Camp Counselors, published authors who volunteer to share their experience and offer support.
  6. Update your word count, or whichever method you choose to mark your daily progress on the Camp website and watch your project climb to the finish line!
  7. Claim your win by validating your project starting on April 20th and through the end of the month. There’s no cash prize, but you get bragging rights, special sponsor goody rewards, and your very own novel!)

What are some tips?

If this all sounds pretty daunting, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Luckily, the NaNoWriMo community is full of writers happy to share their wisdom and tips for tackling Camp in style. Here’s a few tidbits of advice from last year’s #CampNaNoAdvice tweet chat:





Read, Write, and Know the Character

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Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! Now that March is here, we’re starting to think about gearing up for our next writing adventure. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Vrushali Khadilkar shares a few tips on creating strong characters, as well as a book recommendation:

When someone asks me about how a writer finds their own voice, I always say that you have to read books in order to understand the tone of the characters and voice. You have to understand the scenes and you have to get totally into it. 

When you are not a traveler and can’t visit different places now and then, but you still want to explore new cultures, then you must get your hands on books. When you read books, you go miles away from the place you are. Once you understand this, you know how and what needs to be written down in order to create impact!

For a writer, it’s very important to understand the psychology of the characters you’re creating and how they will behave. Before getting on the journey to write, you should consider what genres you love to read and write about.

Challenge yourself to explore different genres. Get a hold of books from many genres and start reading! Notice which books you engage with and which books you never finish reading. Your habits and likes will change and make your writing style unique. 

What’s important is that you have started reading. It doesn’t matter how early or how late.

One of the books I’ve read that has helped me deeply engage with and understand the character’s motivation is John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down. It’s a young adult novel and I strongly encourage you to read it!

Just experience how well the author portrays the unique experience of being in this young girl’s mind:

“You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you become a person and why.”

Even if you’re not a teenage girl in love, you can relate to the experience that she’s having in this book.

Why wait? Pick up a novel today to see what kind of character voices speak to you!


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Vrushali Khadilkar is a commerce graduate and currently a freelancer. She writes on range of topics on her blog, which is turning20web.wordpress.com. Visit Instagram @april_autumn12 to find links to her podcasts and lots more.
Vrushali has been participating in NaNoWriMo since last year and it’s been an amazing experience. Thank you NaNoWriMo for providing this amazing platform!

Top photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash.

To Write or Not to Write: Is That the Question?

Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! Now that March is here, we’re starting to think about gearing up for our next writing adventure. Today, NaNoWriMo participant K.A. Magrowski shares a few tips on determining whether you need to take a break from your manuscript, or if you should keep keep pushing through:

To be a successful writer (in whatever way you choose to define that) means writing even if you don’t want to. But is it okay sometimes not to write? Of course it is! Sometimes the answer is to do something else, like go for a run, or read, or even play a video game.

However, before you skip that writing session, you need to determine why you don’t feel like writing. Are you unsure of how to advance the plot? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Feeling like the story is not how you imagined it and you’re disappointed? Or is your head still filled with non-writing worries and anxieties from a bad day at work or other non-writing problems?  

For me, it’s so easy to look at the amount of work needed and say, Oh I don’t feel passionate about this or I think this sucks, so I’m going to play World of Warcraft (yes, still playing). The road to procrastination is paved with side quests. The trick is being honest and saying either:

“I just can’t dredge up the words because my mind or body is overwhelmed. I need a break to do something else today.”

or…

“I’m at a tough spot and it’s going to be rough, but I’m going to focus on this story for one hour and see what happens.”

For the first option, getting out of your head for an hour or an evening may be the answer. Let your mind rest and do something physical or social. But for the second, the best thing to do is buckle down. Sometimes the hardest work, where I’m thinking deeply about my writing because I’m having trouble with the scene or the character, is the most fruitful. It’s also the toughest point to start writing because there’s that fear that I won’t be able to produce anything worthwhile and that I’m a fraud and a hack.

“The road to procrastination is paved with side quests.”

This is when I have to dig deep. Can I do 30 minutes? 15 minutes? Can I write just one paragraph? I tell myself I can delete it when I’m done. These tricks (yes, somehow I can trick myself, which is pretty darn amazing. Brains are weird) of time and short bursts of writing lend a sense of impermanence to the writing, which may be what I need at the moment. After all, if I pretend it’s not “serious writing,” then there’s no pressure. I can delete it and move on. I’m often pleasantly surprised by what comes of letting go of the pressure to perform.

If all else fails, I switch tracks completely. Last week, feeling conflicted and overwhelmed about working on my projects, I let myself write a few poems. No one has to see them, I flexed some creative muscle, and also worked on brevity and imagery. A win all around.

At the end of the day, it helps to remember that 10 minutes of writing is better than nothing. You don’t have to create a masterpiece each session. Just write and let go for a few precious moments.  You will be amazed at what will flow once you open the faucet just a bit with no expectations.


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Gamer / Geek / Triathlete / Bibliophile / Cat Lady Extraordinaire, K.A. Magrowski hails from the haunted wilds of South Jersey, home of the Jersey Devil. Fueled by coffee and wine, she writes speculative fiction for children and adults and is the former president of the South Jersey Writers’ Group. Her short work has appeared in magazines, and various anthologies including Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey, Reading Glasses, We Walk Invisible, She Blended Me With Science, as well as online.

Top photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It: Finding the Time to Write (Even When You Don’t Have Any to Spare)

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Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! Now that March is here, we’re starting to think about gearing up for our next writing adventure. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Juliana Xavier shares a few tips on setting realistic goals and making time even if you don’t have any to spare:

Dear Wrimos,

Let’s start this post with a silly game, shall we? I’ll tell you a truth and a lie, all you have to do is tell me which is which! Ready? Here goes:

I have time to write this article.

I don’t have time to write this article.

Time’s up!

For those of you who guessed it was a trick question, you get a gold star! Here’s the thing: I both do AND don’t have time to write this article. And if you happen to be a creative person—as I’m sure you are—you know exactly why that is.

Camp NaNo is no different. Like many of you, I both DO and DON’T have time to participate in writing events. Not all of us are in a fortunate enough position to be freely creative whenever we want. We have bills to pay, we have mouths to feed. There ain’t nothing in this world for free. And NaNo participation doesn’t pay bills (yet!).

So how DOES one beat the odds stacked against them?

Well, if you haven’t guessed my theme yet, here it is: Fake it until you make it.

There will be days so wonderful, that you’ll find yourself writing well beyond your daily goal. In the same way that there will be days when the world seems to be falling apart, and writing will be the very last thing on your mind.

That doesn’t make you any less of a writer.

Writing makes you a real writer, even if you don’t do it all the time. The steps are simple: create that novel, join a cabin, show up even if it’s from time to time—and write!

Feed your muse some s’mores, tell your inner demons to take a hike (and hopefully get lost while they’re at it). If Camp ends up being too stressful, that’s ok! The important thing is that you tried.

Striking true balance means that you learn to take the good with the bad. Take care of yourself, don’t take too much on. Don’t make it a fight between unrealistic expectations vs reality. Learn to forgive yourself for the horrible first draft, and to cheerlead yourself into growing past it.

The best thing about Camp is that so much help is provided for you right off the bat. If 50K is too much for you, you can break down your goal into something smaller. Don’t feel that your goal has to be tied to a word count either. Plus you get a cabin full of participants just like you (I foresee some incredible friendship bracelets)!

Writing makes you a real writer, even if you don’t do it all the time. 

Before I end this, let me read you your horoscope: You are a storyteller. You know first-hand what it’s like to fight for the things that are important to you, but that aren’t necessarily needed for your survival. That’s why you’re a Camp NaNo hopeful! Whether this is your first time participating (welcome!) or your 50th (go you!), you understand that even if you don’t have time, that it’s important that you make time. You work hard to try and achieve your dreams, because deep down inside you know that only you can do what you do.

(If that wasn’t spot on, then it’s probably because you’re an ophiuchus sign, the mythical 13th sign of the zodiac.)

What I know for sure is that, no matter what your astrological sign is, you’re doing this for a reason. Life will go on getting fuller, busier and more chaotic… but at the same time you will go on getting harder, better, faster, stronger (someone please ban me from quoting music).

Did I have time to write this article? Nope. But I did it anyway. So write your novel come April, because you sure as heck got this!

Signed,

Your friendly neighborhood Wrimo participant.


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Juliana Xavier is a writer, illustrator and sequential artist. SCAD alumna, all about that kid lit. Brazilian born but partially American grown. Works as a freelance artist and would love to draw your fantasy maps and book covers. Coffee is ok, but Thai bubble tea is the real MVP. Inkstress witch of the Writer Coven. Find her at: website, twitter, patreon. Like my writing? Buy me a ko-fi!  For inquiries, feel free to e-mail at hey@juliejubz.com

Top photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Figuring Out the Writing Goals That Work for You

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Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! Now that March is here, we’re starting to think about gearing up for our next writing adventure. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Camille Myrick shares a few tips on setting goals and maintaining a daily writing habit before it starts:

What is it about April, July, and November that energizes writers from every corner of the globe to buckle down and write that novel? Is it something in the air… magic sauce in the coffee? Have you ever wished NaNoWriMo would keep going all year long?

The truth is, there is something different about the cherished NaNo months that set them apart from every other month of the year. It is the firm foundation behind a daily writing habit, the undercurrent of excitement when you update your word count, and a clear path that leads to the future. Put simply: goals.

Living the dream as a writer doesn’t start until that dream becomes a clearly defined goal. That goal is not reachable without a detailed plan of how to get there. Every writer has a different vision in their minds when they think of “success”. Therefore no writing process will look the same as another.

My dream to become a published author started 20 years ago in my elementary school classroom. At that time, I couldn’t figure out how to finish a manuscript.  I didn’t know how to reach my goal because I did not have a daily writing habit. Then I found the NaNoWriMo organization in 2015 by complete accident. When I heard about the daily word counts and community support, I felt like writing my novel was possible for the first time in my life.

Living the dream as a writer doesn’t start until that dream becomes a clearly defined goal.

I wasn’t successful right away. It took a few tries to find the writing rhythm in sync with my schedule and responsibilities. I discovered the NaNoWriMo formula (50k/30 days=YAY!) I began plugging in the different facets of my life until I found exactly where writing ranked on my priority list and how much I could manage per day. From these little discoveries, I created both a daily writing habit and my own formula for reaching goals (To-Do-List/Deadline=THE PLAN).

Camp NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, and with it, a brand new opportunity to become the writer you were meant to be. In April and July, you will be able to set your own goals, define your unique plan, change EVERYTHING a few times (or many times) and get one step closer to living your writer dream. What will your goal be?


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Camille Myrick is a published author and full-time mom from deep-south Mississippi. In between writing sessions, she can be found tending to red beans and rice and sharing her life on YouTube. Learn more: Camillemyrickbooks.com Twitter: @camille_myrick Instagram: @authorcamillemyrick.

Join Camp NaNoWriMo This April!

Camp NaNoWriMo is your online writers’ retreat, designed to help you set and reach your own writing goals. Join us this April for your next writing adventure!

Maybe you’ll try for the classic 50,000 words. Or maybe you want to set an hourly writing goal as you train for November. Or maybe you want to be wildly ambitious and write 80K words in the next 30 days. Whatever you’re writing, Camp is for you! You can…

  • Take on any writing project of your choice, from a novel to your thesis. Whether you’re on your first draft or your fourth, Camp NaNoWriMo is for you.
  • Track a personalized goal that works for you. Set a word-count goal of up to a million words! Or keep track of hours, lines, or pages…
  • Write with up to 19 fellow writers in a virtual cabin. Starting on March 25, you can make a private cabin with your friends, or be sorted into a public cabin to meet other writers.

Declare your Camp Project for April today!

6 Tips to Help You Prep for Your Writing Project

Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! Now that March is here, we’re starting to think about gearing up for our next writing adventure. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Marlena Storm shares a few tips to help you get in the writing zone before it starts:

There isn’t a much bigger or more daunting task than approaching a new project.

You stare at the blinking cursor that haunts your waking hours, sometimes even your dreams, and you wonder to yourself…“Where do I even begin?”

The biggest thing to remember is that making the decision TO begin is an accomplishment in and of itself. Celebrate your small victories and then work toward your bigger victories. Respect and appreciate your commitment and everything else will come a bit easier.

In the almost five years that I have participated in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve learned that micro goals (mini goals) and benchmark goals are a strong key to success. Pacing is a critical point to success that I think we, as writers, tend to overlook. It seems so simple but in the bigger picture, those small details are a great foundation for the world you will create through your writing.

1. Above all else: Be realistic. 

Be realistic in your goals AND in your expectations. We all want to strive for greatness but greatness is achieved through baby steps. Keep that focus.

2. Along with pacing comes self-care. 

Self-care seems simple but when you are focused on hitting your word count every day, we can forget simple things. Prepare before the event starts! Make sure you have your preferred coffee or tea, your snack haul and those simple comforts covered before you start plugging away at your goals.

3. Keep your goals in mind.

Remember the micro goals thing? Keep that in mind not to overwhelm yourself. If you look at your daily goals and have a day where you fall behind, pace your catch-up. You don’t have to write twenty-thousand words a day to succeed. If you get behind, mini goal your catch-up goals. It all starts with smaller building blocks. I’ve learned through execution that sometimes being so hyper focused on that end goal and the overview can be murder for your inspiration. Don’t let your mind get the best of you. Take care of yourself and everything else will start to feel exponentially easier.

4. Don’t run on empty.

You can’t expect a vehicle to run without an energy source, right? You can’t work toward your goals on empty, either. I can’t emphasize the importance of self-care enough.

5. Why do you write?

Another thing to keep in the front of your mind is why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why do you write? Why did you want to participate in NaNoWriMo to begin with? What inspires you to create? These questions and answers can really be an additional fuel source needed to push you to greater heights.

6. Make your writing space work for you.

Finally, one more thing I have learned throughout doing this event is VIBE MATTERS. What kind of space do you require to write and be in the mental space to create? Personally, I enjoy lighting incense, putting on music, lighting a couple of candles, and getting nice and zen in my creative space. Add in a hot cup of tea and I’m good to go. Every writer is different. Every artist is different.

At the end of the day, writing is hard. To create something from nothing takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of focus, and sometimes a lot of tears. Utilize your resources (ex: word sprints, group support, etc.) Find your groove, set your goals, and keep it pushing.

I believe in you, but moreover, I hope YOU believe in you, too.

I’d say “good luck”, but a writer makes their own luck. Remember that.

Now, let’s get to work. Novels don’t write themselves.


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Marlena Storm is an amateur writer who has spent her life telling stories. She lives in Tampa, Florida with her partner and her cat. She is an LGBTQIA+ advocate, an animal lover and a nature obsessed tea enthusiast with a deep love of horror culture and rock music. She is currently working on a number of projects, including the Mirrors Series & The Daylight Dies Series. You can visit her on Instagram @MarlenaStorm and her website.

Top photo by ian dooley on Unsplash.

Join Our #InstaWrimo Instagram Challenge This March!

The month of March is almost upon us, which means that Camp NaNoWriMo will be here soon!

If you’ve never participated in Camp before, it’s an online writing retreat that we run every April and July. It’s kind of like November’s rebellious little sister: you can set your own goal, work on any kind of writing project (it doesn’t have to be a novel), and join a cabin to chat and write with other Wrimos.

This March, we’d like to get the awesome NaNoWriMo community excited about Camp by taking part in a month-long Instagram challenge hosted by us. All you need to join in is an Instagram account.

  • Follow @NaNoWriMo on Instagram.
  • They say a picture is worth a thousand words (and you know we’re always keeping an eye on that word count), so we’ve come up with 31 photo prompts listed in the graphic above to get you thinking about your writing habits and the tools in your creative backpack for the month of March. We’ll post the full challenge prompt on Instagram, but it will also be available in this post if you need to refer back to it.
  • Much like Camp NaNoWriMo itself, there aren’t any strict rules. These prompts are just suggestions—you don’t have to be literal, though if you want to take these prompts very literally, that can result in some fun pictures, too. You can post a photo for each of the prompts, or choose just a few. You can post one every day, or all at once. Again, much like Camp, the most important part is having fun.
  • Make sure to tag any posts with the #InstaWrimo hashtag so we can find them! We’ll pick photos from the challenge to feature on our own Instagram account throughout the month. This will be a fun way to think about your writing projects and get back into the swing of things: Where do you like to write? Who do you like to write with? What makes you happy about your writing?
  • Use your imagination, get creative, and get ready to write! (Image text detailed below)

IMG: A graphic labeled “Trail Map to Camp NaNoWriMo: an #InstaWrimo challenge from @nanowrimo”, and featuring the following prompts:

  1. Your Writing Inspiration
  2. Shelfie
  3. Writing Tools
  4. Current Book
  5. Where in the World?
  6. Thinking Cap (or Outfit)
  7. Writing Buddy
  8. Favorite Fictional Heroine
  9. Character Quote
  10. Writing Music
  11. Marginalia
  12. Vision Board
  13. Writing Beverage
  14. Writing Snack
  15. Author Photo
  16. Notes and Research
  17. At the End of the Rainbow
  18. Cover Art
  19. Story Map or Outline
  20. Your Writing Desk
  21. Current Mood
  22. Come as Your Character
  23. Writer’s Block Un-blocker
  24. Your Writing Heroes
  25. Sneaky Writing
  26. Your First Story
  27. Plot Bunny
  28. Something to Celebrate!
  29. Writer in the Wild
  30. Poem
  31. The Beginning of a Writing Adventure

6 Writing Insights I Learned From My 9-Year-Old Writing Partner

Many authors think of writing as a solitary activity. But sometimes, it can be fun to collaborate with a partner! Today, author and editor Jarie Bolander shares how he dove into children’s fiction by collaborating with Reeva, his young co-writer (pictured above):

I was never an avid reader as a kid. My usual reading material consisted of Popular Science, old textbooks, and the occasional Mack Bolan series. Even to this day, I mostly read and write nonfiction.

My interest in fiction grew out of NaNoWriMo and StoryGrid. It’s been a fantastic adventure to do a deep dive into the fiction pool to see how story shapes our lives. The motivation to actually write a chapter book came from my girlfriend’s daughter, Reeva, who one day said “You write. Why not write a book for kids like me?” Thus started our adventure into writing The Magical Mystical Mirror.

For most of us, writing is a solo activity. We labor away at our keyboards spinning worlds and crafting tales that are interesting to us. It’s only when we’re done with the first draft that we might hand it off to an editor.

The process of writing with Reeva has given me some valuable insights that have made me a better writer. I would have never learned them if I had not opened my mind to different perspectives. 

1. Agree on the genre.

Genre can be tricky for a chapter book. Most of the ones Reeva reads are mysteries so we decided to go that route.

2. Decide on the theme.

Once we figured out we wanted to write a mystery, we had to figure out the theme. Reeva likes visiting aquariums because she loves animals. We wanted her love of animals to be part of the theme, which is:

The repercussions of the past come to life as a single mother of two seeks to save an endangered species by traveling back in time—The Magical Mystical Mirror.

3. Use a common language.

One of the challenges we faced was how to communicate about what we wanted to write. We needed to come up with a common language—which for us, was via examples of stories she was reading.

4. Get agreement, then stay focused.

Several times through our writing process, we would get distracted. This usually manifested itself in creating more characters or completely different plot lines. Thankfully, we would resolve this by simply committing to focusing on writing the idea we had. We could always change it later.

5. Write for your target audience.

I normally don’t write fiction, and the nonfiction I do write is usually targeted to the entrepreneur crowd. The Magical Mystical Mirror is a different audience that’s not going to understand subtly or nuance. What might seem obvious to me won’t for a 9-year-old. This was important since my job was to do most of the writing, and without Reeva telling me what she thought, the book would not hit the mark.

6. Bring the story to life.

As writers, it’s sometimes hard to picture a place or a scene in our heads, especially if you’re writing outside your comfort zone. That’s why we took two field trips to Monterey (where our story is set) to feel what it likes to walk the streets. This was not only inspiring but also made the experience fun for all of us.

Outside My Comfort Zone

Part of the reason that NaNoWriMo is such an enjoyable experience for me is the community that it creates. I would never have thought to write a chapter book, let alone with a writing partner. This experience has made me a better writer and made me want to write more stories outside my comfort zone—something we should all try and do.


Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He has over 20 years of experience bring innovative products to market. He is a Certified Story Grid Editor who uses his training to help his companies tell better stories. He has published six books—8 Startup Dilemmas All Founders Will Face, The Entrepreneur Ethos, 7 PR Secrets All Founders Should Know, #Endurance Tweet, Frustration Free Technical Management, and Business Basics for Entrepreneurs. He’s on Twitter @TheDailyMBA.