Each member of the Lund family loves to write, and they all participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), held annually in November. The family includes, from left, father Joel, daughter Jessica, and mother Janet. (Courtesy photo)
By Jessica Lund
We Are Story People
Eighty percent of people on the planet have a story they want to tell; less than 1 percent actually tell it. That is a statistic I don’t like. In fact, that is a statistic that nobody in my family likes.
So, we decided to change it. In my household, 100 percent of the people are writers. That’s right – my dad is a writer, my mom is a writer, and I am a writer. That is a statistic we all like – a lot!
My dad began his journey as Brandon King, author of the Gargoyle Chronicles, when I was 14. Frustrated with work and wanting his junior-high-age daughter to read something more inspiring than twinkly vampires, he crafted new chapters every evening, which I read as his eager audience of one. He published his first novel, The Quest for the Temple Key, a year later – and it won awards.
Inspired by my dad’s writing, I returned to a spark of an idea I’d gotten in 6th grade. Between homework sessions and during the hours I could spare over the weekend, I dove into that idea and ran with it, shaping it into the story I always knew it had potential to be. At age 17, I published my first novel, NeverSeen – and it won awards.
My mom has always been a songwriter, and a brilliant one at that, with two albums on iTunes and more to come. A huge fan of both our series, she’d always supported my dad, and then me, with our writing processes…though never seemed to consider novel-writing herself.
Until NaNoWriMo 2019 came along.
What on Earth is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. It takes place every November, and tons of aspiring and experienced writers flock to it as a personal challenge. The goal? Write 50,000 words in 30 days.
If that sounds like a lot, it is; 50,000 words is about two-thirds of an average novel.
Writing that much in the span of a month is difficult, but also extremely rewarding. I knew this second-hand from watching my dad commit to – and finish – three consecutive NaNoWriMo events. During these Novembers, my dad would disappear for hours in his study, slogging through the creative wilderness of world-building, character development, and series expansion. One year, my dad didn’t have a chance to get started for almost a week – but as he dove back into his story day after day, the path became clear. As the word count grew, so did his excitement and confidence. He finished 50,000 words with days to spare…then, understandably, enjoyed a good deal of Thanksgiving turkey. This was the journey I saw him repeat; this was the journey I wanted to take.
After graduating from college in May 2019, I knew I could finally engage in NaNoWriMo. Dad had already been planning on participating and was excited for me to join the party. The biggest surprise of our lives, however, was when Mom walked into the room and said she wanted to give it a try, too – after all, what was there to lose? With only an inkling of an idea of what she might write, my mom stepped up to the starting line alongside us. And on November 1st, we all took off!
To make time to write, we crafted a strategy: we limited our TV time, planned out simple meals, and blocked out an hour every weekday for writing – and many more hours every weekend. As happens with all writing endeavors, we had highs and lows, big days and small days. Some days, words poured like rivers. Other days, it took every brain cell to string together a coherent sentence. But no matter what kind of day we were having, we all supported each other. We gave each other space, encouragement, and tips (when requested). Other than that, most of our words went straight to the page. By the end of the month, we had all grown as writers. And my mom? She finished first.
Write Your Story
This year has been one of utter insanity. Nobody saw it coming, and we’re all doing our best to adapt to this strange new world. If you’re looking for a predictable routine – no matter how small – consider engaging in NaNoWriMo 2020. Not sure how to prepare? Get some guidance and direction from my Fantasy Writing Bootcamp at https://www.taylorhunterauthor.com/fantasy-writing-publishing-boot-camp-courses/.
We are all storytellers. Take the opportunity to tell yours.
Jessica Lund is a creative writing coach who specializes in supporting teen and young adult writers. Her Fantasy Writing Bootcamp for Teens is specifically designed to help young and beginning writers craft their ideas into great stories. Follow her on facebook.com/taylorhunterauthor and visit her website at taylorhunterauthor.com for writing updates and advice from her author persona, Taylor Hunter.