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Not Enough to Do? Write a Novel

In writer jargon, November is NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month to the rest of us. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of aspiring and even published writers agree that if you want to write that novel – the one you could do better than J.K. Rowling – this is the magical month to get it out of your mind and onto the screen/page.

Sounds … interesting. When I think of November, the month is full. In Hawai`i, we haven’t had a holiday since Labor Day. Children are high on Halloween candy. The Handsome Bloke wants the world’s biggest turkey for Thanksgiving before the store runs out. Retailers warn my shopping days are dwindling. The dishwasher is broken. So, yes, of course, I have time to write a novel. Not.

But perhaps I’m giving up too soon. It’s only 50,000 words. At 250 words per double spaced Times New Roman 12-pt 8-1/2 by 11-inch page, that’s a mere 200 pages. Shucks – not as long as my dissertation.

Linda Collison participated in 2007, and the result is Looking for Redfeather, a YA novel about three runaway teens looking for an Apache named Redfeather. For more info, I refer you to Linda’s website

But to get back to the assignment, is it as hard as it looks? Possibly not, because NaNoWriMo only requires that the work be new, and does not require (and seems to discourage) editing, revising, or any other activities except putting words onto paper or screen. It’s the ultimate in free writing. Notice Linda first wrote about Redfeather in 2007. Now, six year later, the book is ready for prime time.

Everyone has a different way of writing a book. Some might love the exterior deadline and community that now surrounds NaNoWriMo – just the thing to get them going. Some writers are called “pantsters” – as in “flying by the seat of their pants.” I’m told these individuals sit down and let the words roll out. Others among us need to plot, plan, listen to the 24/7 editor in our ear, and otherwise take so long our friends and family give up on us.

My workspace

There is no correct or perfect method of writing. There is only the commitment and joy of whatever process works. I confess, I am not a “pantster” – and since I write historical fiction, that’s probably a good thing. And, I’m busy checking out dishwasher sales, figuring out the maximum capacity of my oven, and being grateful that I don’t have children in the Halloween candy stage.

But, YOU could do it. Just write two hours a day for 30 days – and you can tell everyone you meet at Holiday Parties, “I just finished my novel.”

Sign up at the National Novel Writing Month website

Featured Photo by Victor1558, licensed by Creative Commons,

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.


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