Happy (late) November, Readers! There’s so much going on this month, where do we even begin? Doesn’t it feel like we blinked and Halloween passed us right by, and we’re just a breath away from having Thanksgiving in our rearview? I’m looking forward to a few holiday-related posts that we have coming up on Checking the Shelf. But, let’s first take a step back and a nice deep breath before diving head first into the holidays.
Last year around this time, I was talking with you about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it’s known. I told you about my big plans to get writing. Those plans didn’t go so well; my attempt at writing a novel was pathetic. Honestly, I think I wrote maybe a paragraph–and it was a short paragraph. As of now, the only writing that I’ll be doing will be for you lovely readers.
Instead of feeling the pressure to write a novel, let’s make November the starting point of…well, let’s call it Writing Appreciation. Writing doesn’t have to mean that you sit at a desk, alone, churning out the Great American Novel. Think of writing as an adventure! When you pick up a pen or strike the keys of a keyboard, you are in complete control of this separate entity that you are creating. Should you write something fictional, you are the architect of characters, you are the master of their fates. In your world, you can err on the side of reality, or you can throw “reality” out the window and turn the sky green and invent an entirely new language. You can write a novel, sure, or you can write short stories, flash fiction (super short stories), comedy sketches, movie or television scripts, plays, children’s books…and so on. The forms are endless, and if you feel the need to be creative and know that words are your favorite playground, then you just need to find the format that best matches your vision. You can even grab a buddy and collaborate!
Writing fiction is only one small way to write. There’s nonfiction; you can write about a real topic that interests you. There’s also memoir, and of course the building blocks of memoir often come from journaling. I’ve never had the discipline to maintain a journal. I must have at least a dozen cutesy diaries that I started as an adolescent and soon gave up on. However, research supports that journaling is a great stress reliever, and that the process of getting our thoughts down on paper can lead to personal breakthroughs. Gratitude journals, which can be as quick and informal as jotting down three or four things that you’re grateful for on a given day, have a huge following. In fact, LPL teens are invited to stop by our Teen Lounge throughout November to express what they are grateful for by adding a post-it to our Gratitude Board.
If you’re struggling with inspiration, take some cues from the words of J.K. Rowling, who just recently shared three of her biggest writing lessons, or Stephen King, whose seminal book On Writing, has been celebrated for fifteen years. Just stepping into the library and being surrounded by the millions of pages of print can help you to find your footing. For an extra push, pick up copies of the magazines The Writer and Writer’s Digest, which we have on hand.
Writing is a great way to set aside the noise that surrounds us. With the holidays approaching, we will all need a healthy dose of “me” time. Sometimes, the best way to escape from the world is to build a world of our own words.