Write what you know. You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. I followed that advice. I wrote what I knew and published a book of my paranormal experiences. The next year, I published a book of devotionals—another familiar theme. I sold books at local events and a couple of spiritual conferences. Then I stopped writing. Just like that.
Well, maybe not totally stopped. I dabbled in Haiku and a few made it to newspaper contest winners circle. My short stories appeared in local and mainstream New York anthologies. I continued to be a featured devotional contributor to a women’s ministry blog. Later, I co-authored a book of childhood memoirs with my twin. But something was missing. I no longer had a desire to write.
I didn’t go through a long period of mourning. I took writing classes. I filled my time with volunteer projects, from president of a writing group to teaching adult Bible classes. I knitted simple projects. I read. Then National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) popped up in my computer email inbox. Whammo! A challenge to individual writers to complete a 50,000-word first draft of a novel in thirty days.
At ten minutes before midnight on Halloween, I settled at my laptop computer armed with black coffee and chocolate candy and logged into the NaNoWriMo website. Fingers poised above my laptop keyboard seconds before countdown, I had no outline. No character descriptions. Nothing but a fictional setting in Arizona and an inner urge to create something different—something new—in November.
That first NaNo channeled my inner creativity. I parachuted from the safety of nonfiction into an unknown world of crime fiction. Words flew from my fingertips to the screen and formed sentences when the clock on my computer showed midnight as though watching a detective stretch the yellow tape to mark a crime scene.
For me, NaNoWriMo opened a new world of creativity—forgetting what I knew and stepping into the unknown, darker than the Halloween night.