Library shelves are filled with a seemingly endless number of books, brimming with stories written by talented authors. It’s easy to pick up a novel and start reading, and it might stir the spirit of creativity inside of you. But writing a book can feel like a daunting task for anyone.
Writing requires a lot of planning. From drafting an outline to creating characters and building your world takes up a lot of time, and that doesn’t even include writing. So how do you even begin?
For many writers, November is the ideal month to take on such a big project. November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The non-profit organization that organizes the event encourages writers of all experience levels to commit to one goal – write 50,000 words in 30 days.
That might seem like a lot of words, and maybe you’re not sure if you want to write an entire novel just yet. But if you’ve got an idea in your head that you’re itching to put to paper, November is the perfect time to take advantage of the writing spirit!
Here are a few tips to help you get started on your writing journey:
- Read, and read a lot.
Reading has a lot of benefits to helping you grow as a writer. Reading helps you to expand your vocabulary and can expose you to different styles of writing. It can also help you gain insight into how published books are written, from grammar and punctuation to structure and page design.
If you’re looking to learn more specifically about the writing process, there are plenty of books to check out. Books like “Painless Writing” by Jeffrey Strausser and “No Plot? No Problem!” by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty can be great resources. For younger readers, books like “Write! Write! Write!” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater can be the first step in inspiring a lifetime love of writing.
- Write everyday.
Whether you write a short sentence or 1000 words, writing every day is a great way to keep your mind sharp. There are many reasons why writing everyday is beneficial: it can help you find your style, help you find new sources of inspiration, and it can help you feel more accomplished throughout your writing journey. You can carry a small notebook with you or use a note app on your phone to keep writing even on the go.
- Try writing prompts.
Maybe you’re in a creative rut and you just can’t think of anything interesting to write. That’s where writing prompts come in. There are plenty of books and online resources where you can look up writing prompts. The Writer’s Digest has a great catalog of writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
- Join a writing group.
Community is important, and having a group of writers to turn to when you’re feeling stuck and looking for advice can help you grow as a writer. Joining a writing group can help you learn new techniques as well as learn how to take critiques. You can collaborate and help both yourself and other writers improve their writing. Do some research in your community to find a local writing group, or maybe try and start your own. Starting on November 14, you can also stop by the Crestwood Library for a NaNoWriMo To-Go kit and sit down at a creation station for writing tips and inspiration.
- Take a writing class.
Learning from a professional writer can be a valuable experience. Your Yonkers Public Library card gets you access to over 300 free, instructor-led online courses through Gale Courses. There are courses available in business writing, creative writing, grant writing and publishing. Courses are completed over a period of 6 weeks, and the next session begins on November 16. Registration is free, and all you need to create your account is your library card number.
For younger writers, consider the Expressive Readers and Writers Course for Teens at the Riverfront Library. This program is presented by Tom Ray, local author and community organizer, in the Art Gallery on Wednesdays at 5PM. You must register to be on a waiting list to participate in this program.
Listening to published authors can also be a great source of information and inspiration. The virtual Author Talks program highlights bestselling authors and sparks conversation about their works. On Thursday, November 10 at 2PM, Bonnie Garmus will be discussing her debut novel “Lessons in Chemistry”. On Tuesday November 15 at 12PM, Kwame Christian will discuss his newest book: “How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race: Practical Tools for Necessary Change in the Workplace and Beyond.” Registration is required to receive the Zoom link for these events.
Alison Robles is a part-time clerk at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for fantasy, history and science fiction. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations.