I blame Julie Bogart for this.For thirty years, I was a fiction writer who avoided writing. Two years ago, I read The WriterÂ’’s Jungle and my life changed; itÂ’’s too late to go back.

Inside Julie’Â’s seemingly innocent manual about teaching your children how to write, she refers to a little book by Chris Baty entitled No Plot, No Problem. Mr. BatyÂ’’s idea (and the impetus behind what has affectionately come to be known as National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo), is that all it takes to write a novel is to write it. The catch is that you write 50,000 words in 30 days.

His reasoning is that if you write a novel that quickly, you don’t have time to correct your mistakes. Rather than setting your sights on writing something wonderful, you lower your expectations to write something that “won’t make someone throw up.” On the other hand, if you don’t write, you have nothing.

In October, I told my family that I was thinking about joining thousands of other writers for NaNoWriMo, secretly hoping that they would talk me out of it. They were more excited about it than I was. (If they had known how much time it was going to take, they might not have been so enthusiastic.) On November 1st, I began my story with, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

As I subjected my hands and neck to daily cramping spells, I discovered that the story inside my head was frantic to get out. By day three, I had 9000 words. By day 17, I had passed the 50,000 word mark and the story wasnÂ’t close to being finished.

In order to be a brave writer mom, I gave up time with my children, time with my husband, and time with friends. I put aside nagging household projects. And I let go of the notion that my first draft had to be stellar.

That was just the beginning. What started as a one month commitment turned into a two-year journey of writing, rewriting, and revising a novel that I have finally published. Along the way, I have learned that I am a writer. The girl who once wrote mystery romances in junior high is writing again.

If you think you have a story in you, IÂ’’d encourage you to try NaNoWriMo. If you’Â’re a home school mom and you think you have no time, I think you should look for the time. If you don’Â’t try, youÂ’’ll never know if there is a writer inside of you. And your children will not have a chance to watch their mother being a brave writer.

If you think that wonÂ’’t make any difference, I disagree. My children watched me being brave, and now all three of them are writing stories. WeÂ’’ve become a family of brave writers. I owe Julie Bogart many thanks.

Michelle Gregory and her husband of twenty-one years reside in Mesa, Arizona. Amidst the craziness of homeschooling three children and taking care of four dogs and fluctuating numbers of fish, she discovered that she wanted to write. Now her first novel – Eldala – is available at When she isn’Â’t writing, she also enjoys blogging, playing with her kids, watching chick movies, working on her scrapbooks, and reading a good book. You can visit her blog at Life in the Midst of Writing.

7 Responses to “NaNoWriMo”

  1. Julie,
    Thanks for letting me visit.


  2. Renee Desai says:

    Congratulations, Michelle! I agree, Julie has a lot to answer for. My own writing has been greatly improved by using the WJ to teach my son. Thanks, Julie!


  3. Veronica says:

    Thanks so much for writing this in your blog. I visited the website, and my teenage daughter and I both decided to try to write a novel for November. We are both excited!

  4. Cindy Kelly says:

    Hey, Michelle! My old Nano buddy who went all the way! So great to see you here and congrats again on your book.

    With love,

  5. Aneta says:

    I, too, sing the praises of NaNoWriMo. I have taken and completed the challenge two years in a row; this year I’m doing NaBloPoMo instead.. to maintain my sanity. 🙂 NaNoWriMo was a wonderful experience. The book I wanted to start but never did, was written in 30 days. What a feeling– to let yourself write without worrying about how good it was.. just going with the flow.. I think everyone should experience it at least once. I hope to return to NaNoWriMo again..

  6. Kristen says:

    So encouraging to read this! I just signed myself and 2 of my kids up for Nanowrimo next month! I am so very excited.

  7. Jenn says:

    My kids and I are all signed up for NaNoWriMo next month. It’s been incredible watching the kids plan for this activity, all of their own volition. We’ve come up with ideas to keep it fun, brainstormed places to go to write, and talked a lot about the elements of a good story. It’s good to know we’ll be joined by other Brave Writers come Nov. 1!