10 Books to Read to Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

All over the internet, PSLs, scarves, and spoopy decorations are waking up from their long, hot slumber. It’s finally Fall! Of course, in Atlanta that just means it’s eighty degrees and rainy instead of ninety degrees and sunny, but I refuse to let that dampen the spirit of my favorite season. And my favorite part of my favorite season is the writing bonanza known as NaNoWriMo.

As soon as September began, I started counting down the days until November first. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2011, back when I was just beginning to nervously call myself a writer. And though I’ve only officially won twice, I can’t imagine a November without writing like a crazy person while drinking far too much coffee and wine (cough, or whiskey). In fact, I didn’t think I was going to be able to participate this year because of a weeklong trip to Europe with my mom but the idea of missing out felt like missing Christmas. Not gonna happen.

With October approaching, Wrimos the world over are getting geared up and diving into Preptober season. And for me, that means surrounding myself with inspiration and wise words from experts. I love reading books about writing. They remind me that writers are in fact human beings, not mystical creatures that bring their stories into the world fully formed. Whether their craft books or essays about the writing life, they keep me in the creative mindset even when I’m not actively working on a story. Here are a few that I’m keeping next to my desk during Preptober and NaNoWrimo.

First up, books I’m re-reading:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: A classic in the books-on-writing genre, Goldberg’s system of writing practice is a great way to get used to ignoring your inner editor and just get words down on the page.

Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg: I’ve read pretty much all of Goldberg’s books about writing so I could include any of them here besides Writing Down the Bones, but I particularly love Wild Mind for its structure of short essays about the writing life interspersed with jumpstarting exercises.

Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig: I’ve already written a whole review about this book so I won’t repeat myself except to say this is a great reference for planning and writing character-driven stories.

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron: I’m not a fan of Cameron’s more well-known The Artist’s Way because I can never stick with morning pages, but this book, like NaNo itself is a big ole permission slip to just write the damn thing.

Finishing School by Cary Tennis and Danelle Morton: Beginnings might be difficult, but they’re also exciting. The hardest part for most writers is sticking with it and actually finishing the story even when you’re pretty sure it’s awful. This book has a great structure and tips for powering through to the end that are helpful at any time, but especially during NaNoWriMo.

Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner: Written by the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo himself, this book does exactly what it says on the cover. Short bursts of inspiration, motivation, and jumpstarting challenges to help you power through this crazy challenge.

Books I’ll be reading for the first time:

Light in the Dark by Various Authors: A collection of essays by writers about “creativity, inspiration, and the artistic process”. I plan on using this book as break and reward system during writing. Write a few thousand words, read an essay to keep the creativity flowing.

The Hero is You by Kendra Levin: I picked this up on the recommendation of one of my favorite YouTube channels: the Word Nerds. It applies the classic Hero’s Journey to your writing life. Not only are you the creator of the hero in your story, but you are the hero of your own writing life.

On Being Stuck by Laraine Herring: Getting stuck is almost guaranteed to happen at some point during NaNoWriMo. This book promises to help writers tap into their blocks and work with them instead of against them.

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick: This one’s a little different because it’s about writing personal narratives instead of fiction. As a blogger, that’s something that I want to learn and get better at since a lot of what I share here is basically a collection of personal essays.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What do you read to get ready for to write?

P.S. You can add me as a NaNo writing buddy by clicking the participant badge in the sidebar thataways =>

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