NaNoWriMo #4: Inspiration from Judy Clemens

There are many wonderful people in the many different writing communities. No matter your genre or tribe–mystery, romance, YA, fantasy, creative nonfiction, children’s, women’s fiction–in each, there are special people who bring a particular kind of brightness to the group. My guest today, Judy Clemens, is one of those bright light types of people. She was my NaNoWriMo writing buddy last year, and while I didn’t make the 50K goal, she did. She cheered me along the way. Being Judy’s buddy feels like winning.

Judy Clemens-7-croppedI have asked Judy to pop in today and spread some of her encouragement. She’s a NaNoWriMo veteran, a respected and well-published writer, a much beloved Sisters in Crime sister, and she can bake! Here’s what Judy has to say about National Novel Writing Month:


50,000 words

30 days

1667 words each of those days

Countless hours of writing

Fewer hours of sleep

Looking ahead to this crazy month puts me in mind of the old adage: You can do anything for a month. (Or a week, or a day, or an hour…)

It also makes me think of a NaNo version of Green Eggs and Ham:

I can write on a couch.

I can write at my desk.

I can write on a laptop.

I can write on my bed.

I can write late at night,

Or early in the morn.

With the house all still,

Or the television on.

I can write by myself

Or in the midst of a crowd.

With my surroundings quiet,

Or even very loud (well, up to a point).

I can write in a house,

I can write in a shop.

I can write with energy,

I can write till I drop.

I can do it, you see,

Because NaNo’s for me.

And at the end of the days

I’ll have the words,

I’ll be free!

NaNoWriMo is a glorious, exhausting, fun, dreadful, inspirational, harrowing, and ultimately satisfying experience.

There will be days that will feel like flying, and you write over and beyond the 1667.

There will be days when you can’t write a word (from exhaustion or simply for life reasons – they happen to everyone!).

There will be days you have to write more than your allotted 1667 in order to catch up.

There will be days you push and groan and scrabble your way to exactly 1667, checking your word count after each sentence.

And there will be days when you surprise yourself by how swiftly to reach your goal.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. But do not despair! You will find reserves within you that you didn’t know you had. And in the meantime, remember these NaNoWriMo hacks to help you through your day:

  • You don’t have to write the 1667 words all at once. Write 200 here, 300 there, and you will get to your goal before you know it.
  • Sequestering yourself is only one option – you can also hang out in the living room with your family if they want to watch TV or play video games or whatever. If they are doing that and you are writing, you are still together!
  • There are twenty-four hours in a day. You can write during any of them.
  • If you get stuck with your story, think outside the box. Write a character description, a dialogue between a couple of characters that (you think!) has nothing to do with your plot, or describe the setting of your story. Those words all count, and you may learn something important!
  • Suppress your inner editor. This is not going to be a perfect draft. Accept that and move on.
  • Find a writing buddy on the NaNo web site or on Twitter or a writer you already know, and help each other through. It really does wonders to have a cheerleader and someone to whom you are accountable!

Finally, remember…THIS IS NOT LIFE OR DEATH. This is for fun. This is to further your career. This is to do something you may have only dreamed of. Don’t let it become a burden. Let it fill you with joy.

Happy writing!

tag you're deadJudy Clemens is the author of the Anthony- and Agatha-nominated Stella Crown series, the Grim Reaper mysteries, and the stand-alone LOST SONS. She also writes YA fiction as J.C. Lane, and was a 2017 Agatha- and Anthony nominee for TAG, YOU’RE DEAD, a YA thriller. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime and an Equity stage manager, besides being a soccer mom and wife and the baker of most things chocolate. You can learn more about Judy at

Twitter: @judyclemens1

Facebook: judyclemensauthor