Craft Talk Rewind: Aimee Johnson's "Your Novel Starts Now"

by Karissa Zastrow

The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild’s second craft talk of the season featured Aimee Johnson, the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Municipal Liaison for Eau Claire.  Aimee spoke to Guild members to help motivate them for one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences writers put themselves through: National Novel Writing Month.

During the month of November, writers across the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days. To reach this goal, they have to write approximately 1,667 words a day, which is about three-to-four pages. Some people might wonder why writers do this to themselves. To some, it may not sound like fun, but to others, it is thrilling. It’s that feeling of the urgent deadline getting closer and closer that make your fingers fly across the keyboard in a mad rush to get everything from your brain out on paper before it’s lost. It’s turning off that voice in your head that makes you doubt every word you write. It’s about pushing yourself to finally set aside time to write instead of putting it off until later. It’s about living your dream of being able to say, “I am a writer.”

Getting started is the easy part. Sign up at and create a profile. Then choose Eau Claire as your home region to get updates and information from Aimee Johnson. Next, add your friends who are also participating in NaNoWriMo. Through this website, you can keep track of your word count using the graph, see where your friends are at, win badges and other prizes, and be a part of the NaNoWriMo community.

During her craft talk, Aimee Johnson offered a list of helpful hints, tips and tools for those wanting to join in on the fun:

  • Do not try to take on anything else during November—just writing.
  • Let everyone know, especially those you live with, because you’re going to be missing in action. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family, roommates, and friends.
  • Avoid time wasters like social media, your phone, and Netflix. Aimee suggests getting a social media blocker if it is hard for you to be away from your social media accounts.
  • Attend write-ins. On average, writers who attend the write-ins write more words than those who do not. Write-ins tend to help writers stay focused on their work instead of getting distracted, but they also get their social fix at the same time.
  • Write everywhere. You’ll be surprised where you can write!
  • Keep a notebook and something to write with on you at all times—you never know when creativity will strike.
  • Write now, edit later and don’t delete anything.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Find things that motivate you: Create a playlist or read your favorite short story or whatever makes you want to write.
  • Don’t let people read your work.
  • Reach out to others. People can help motivate you more than you think.
  • Most importantly: Don’t give up. No matter how far behind you get or how bad you think your writing is, keep going.

Now that you have all these fantastic tips, find your nearest computer and sign-up to participate in NaNoWriMo! We’ll be there, cheering you on through every cup of coffee, every late night, and every word. So ready, set, write!