By Grant Faulkner, for Writer’s Digest
I have to admit that I’ve had moments over the years when I’ve questioned writing—or, rather, the level of dedication and determination I’ve put into it. Writing stories doesn’t take care of homeless people. It doesn’t cure cancer (or COVID). And sometimes, when I’ve foregone going on a hike with a friend on a beautiful sunny day in order to tighten the screws of my novel’s plot line (or overhaul the plot altogether), it can seem as if writing is taking more from my life than it’s giving me.
In times like this, though, when we’re in a true global crisis, writing’s value illuminates the world in a million ways for me.
I realize how writing can help me probe my worst fears to find clarity just as it helps me escape those fears by traveling to other lands. I realize how writing can help me lose myself in my stories just as it can help me find myself. I realize how writing can be a type of ventilator, giving the lungs of my creative spirit much needed oxygen—and how it can also be a mask, helping to block the “bacteria” from my anxiety. In fact, writing is a stockpile of nourishment that feeds me in the most fallow of times.
Writing also connects me with other people, and in that joy of creative connection, the solace of a story is more important than ever. That’s why NaNoWriMo launched #StayHomeWriMo—a special initiative designed to bring writers together to go beyond our physical confines in daily acts of the imagination.
We surveyed our community of writers, and literally thousands of people asked us to provide writing prompts, tips on how to stay positive, online writing groups, creative encouragement, virtual discussions, writing challenges—all with dashes of whimsy and mirth.
Each day, we provide a checklist to help with four key areas of writing and life wellness:
- Mental Well-Being
- Creative Well-Being
- Social Well-Being
- Physical Well-Being
“With so many people home, humanity has an opportunity to work on our creative visions like never before,” one writer wrote to us.
We agree, and we want to find ways to nourish everyone’s creative spirit, but at the same time, we also know that many people have lost their jobs, are busy at home juggling childcare and work, are paralyzed with anxiety, or suffering from illness. The aim of this initiative is not to pressure people into thinking they “should” write. Rather, we want everyone to know that it’s enough to do what they can with what they have, wherever they are, and to know that the warm and encouraging NaNoWriMo community is there for them if needed.
May we write our way through these tough times and come out the other end with stories in our hands.
Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story. He has published two books on writing, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo, and Brave the Page, a teen writing guide. He’s also the co-host of the podcast Write-minded.