Wresources For Wrimos

NaNo HQ – The Main Event

When All Else Fails, Read the Manual –

The best, and biggest, resource for National Novel Writing Month is the main website,  There is a wealth of information on the site: how to get started, how to keep going, how to meet other Wrimos – online, in the forums; and in person, at a Write-In.  If you haven’t done so yet, by all means go onto the site and create an account for yourself.  Pro-tip, use your desired pen name, since this is how other Wrimos will identify you on the site and at events.

Never Go Into Battle Alone – The Forums

The forums on NaNo are the place to meet other Wrimos like you.  You’ll find introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between.  The forums are international, and you can find – and set – your home region.  In fact, that’s next – ET, phone home!

E.T., Phone Home! – Your Home Region

Your home region is where you will connect with nearby Wrimos, find out about local events, and participate in word wars.  If you’re part of ChiWriMo, then your home region is Chicago – hence the name.  Pro-tip, you can follow as many other regions as you like.  If you have friends in other places, or make friends in other places during NaNo, why not follow their region too?  Just set your home region as Chicago and go forth and meet.  The more you network, the more likely you are to finish your novel.  We’re all in this together, after all.

Socialize – Social Media!

There’s Chicago-specific social media in the next section, below.  But NaNo HQ has some awesome stuff for you too!

ChiWriMo – Write Early, Write Often!

We are ChiWriMo, the Chicago Region of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  Together, we encompass the city of Chicago and many of the surrounding suburbs.  We aren’t the only region in the area, though.  You can find other Illinois regions on the main site, here, search for “USA,” then “Illinois.”

Come Write With Us – Or Post Your Event!

Looking for an event?  Look on our calendar!  Hosting an event?  Post in the calendar thread – but please, follow the directions.  Want to know where all this good stuff is located?  Here!  If you only have time for one social medium, then the forum is where you need to be.  It is where we have the official calendar, pep talks, general chit-chat, and the famous Calendar Request Thread.  This is the place to be, Wrimos.

We Want Your Words – The ChiWriMo Blog!

We have an active website, which you already know about since you’re reading this.  The front page has our calendar, and the ChiWriMo Blog is written by Wrimos just like you.  If you’d like to write for us, please let us know.  Guest posts are accepted from around the NaNoWorld, not just here in Chicago.  If you’ve got something to share that you think Wrimos would enjoy, by all means, let us know.  If you’ve published your NaNoNovel, we’d love to interview you!

Face It: You Need To Join This Group – Our Facebook Group!

Our active ChiWriMo Facebook Group is place to come for inspiration, support, and to talk more about ML-held events.  All events are on our main calendar, but we highlight “official” events, meaning ones hosted by your MLs, on our group.  Have a funny picture to share? Post it! Discouraged, and need a pep talk or a drill instructor? Talk about it!

Tweet, Tweet – ChiWriMo In 140 Characters or Less!

Like to write short?  Super, duper short?  Then join @ChiWriMo!  Popular hashtags: #chiwrimo, #nanowrimo, #nanowordsprints, #amwriting.

The Pen Is Mightier – Or, Software for Writers

Scrivener (Windows, OSX, Linux)

Storyist (OSX, iOS)

YWriter (Windows)

Liquid Story Binder (Windows)

Books On Writing – Or, What To Do In the Off-Season, Part I

This section prepared by A. Catherine Noon, Co-ML for ChiWriMo.  This section is highly personal, but I share it with you in the spirit of exploration. Any list of recommended books is, by necessity, highly personal, and reveals the shape of the mind behind it.  This is not a complete list of all books related to writing, but is my personal recommendation for books I have found helpful and keep on my shelf. I hope you find something useful to you in your own process.

The Book That Started It All:  No Plot? No Problem, by Chris Baty

Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.  Baty talks about how NaNo started and how to succeed with it, year after year.  An excellent primer for Wrimos.

Want more books by and for Wrimos?  There’s more good stuff on the NaNo site, here.


By Debra Dixon: GMC:  Goal, Motivation, Conflict

This is a popular book among romance writers, particularly those affiliated with RWA [Romance Writers of America].  Well worth checking out.

By Stephen King:  On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft

By one of the masters of modern fiction, this book is half memoir and half how-to book.  He discusses his own start in the business and gives advice for nascent writers on how to become novelists.

By Ursula K. LeGuinSteering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew

She is one of my favorite authors, period.  One of the best in the business.  This book is short, but packed with punch.  Recommend it highly.  It’s a great tool for groups.  Bonus – her website has a number of how-to’s for new writers as well.

By Josip Novakovich:  Fiction Writer’s Workshop

I use this one in my teaching frequently.  He has broken down the process of storytelling into chapters such as Sources of Fiction, Setting, and Character.  Each chapter is accompanied by over ten prompts so you can practice what you’re learning.  This is an excellent book to use in a group.

The Creative Process

By Lynda Barry: What It Is

This is an unusual book, covered with drawings, collage, and her writing.  I recommend it because her approach teaches you about where creativity comes from and how to access it.  There are many prompts and exercises as well as endless inspiration from her pages – and the Magic Cephalopod.

By Julia Cameron:

The Artist’s Way:  A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Note:  you can find all three of her popular creativity books in an omnibus edition, which I recommend.  I think this is one of the best books on creativity available.  It teaches simple but effective tools that one can use to unleash oneself.  Applies to all areas of life, not just ‘artistic’ areas.

Walking In This World:  The Practical Art of Creativity

The sequel to the Artist’s Way, this book extends the principles she discusses and goes through a number of exercises that build on the foundation of AW.  What I found fascinating, in particular, is that I misread the title for several weeks of working with the book; I thought it was Walking In The World.  The fact that I missed it was this world taught me a lot about myself.  The rest of the book provided a number of similar simple, but profound, a-ha moments.

Finding Water:  The Art of Perseverance

The third book in her popular creativity series, Finding Water is about how to recover from a prolonged dry spell.  It helps you develop your own toolkit so that you can sustain creative output.

The Vein of Gold:  A Journey to Your Creative Heart

An excellent synthesis of a number of creative unblocking tools.  Definitely Julia Cameron’s Master Class.  Highly recommended.

By Bonnie Friedman: Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life

Honestly, this is one of my favorite writing books ever written.  Short, sweet, and to the point, she manages to hit all the biggies in one book.  Highly recommended.

By Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones:  Freeing the Writer Within

One of the original “creativity-focus” writing instruction books, it’s still one of the best.  A series of essays and exercises on the craft of writing, it helps to unlock one’s inner writer.

Wild Mind:  Living the Writer’s Life

Essays and discussions on how to live as a writer, find time to write, find your voice, etc.  Useful to anyone looking to work on their craft.  The reason I usually suggest the Artist’s Way or Writing Down the Bones first, though, is that I have found that usually people can write just fine; the issue is usually with the inner Critic.  Accordingly, I recommend that a basic practice of gentle creativity be developed first, so that one has a foundation from which to write.  Otherwise, the risk is that a person will be too hard on themselves in trying to ‘improve’ and rather than doing so, will stifle themselves from the mistaken  belief that their work is inadequate.

Long Quiet Highway

I found this an interesting insight into one writer’s approach.  Goldberg’s approach is very Zen-like, and hearing her discuss how she developed as a writer is fascinating.

By Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life

A national bestseller in the U.S., this book is recommended a lot to budding writers.  While I do think it’s useful, I would recommend the Artist’s Way or Writing Down the Bones first; however, if you like to write (or, more, are obsessed with it), then I recommend adding it to your collection.

By Brenda Ueland:  If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

A lovely book.  She is cranky, irascible, and right.  Highly recommended.

Journaling, Diary Writing, and Memoir

By Christina BaldwinLife’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest

I learned a lot from this book.  The idea that I could learn things about myself using writing seemed, frankly, odd.  I mean, wouldn’t I know what I wanted to know?  What do I want for dinner?  Steak.  Voila.  Not hard.  But I really did find out some interesting and unexpected things.  Includes two tools I use to this day:  writing with the non-handed hand (i.e. if you’re right handed, write with your left).  As questions with your right, answer them with your left (opposite if you’re left-handed).  The other is assigning letters to the author voice in your journal.  For example:  A:  Today I went to work and I had a productive day.  B:  Yeah, right!  It wasn’t productive!  Donna was interrupting me all day and I hardly got anything done!  C:  Donna’s had a divorce and is lonely, that’s why she talks so much.  B:  Why do I have to be her counselor then?  A:  Can’t any of you be positive?  I had a good day, dammit!  E.  You seem to always want to have a good day, even if you don’t.  Are you maybe ignoring something important here?  Etc. etc.  I’ve had some startling discussions develop using this tool.

By Hannah Hinchman:  A Life In Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal

I actually started drawing in my journals and – surprise! – didn’t totally suck!  She gives you some good instruction on how to draw the things you see, so don’t feel like you can’t do it if you can’t draw (which is what I thought, and was why I waited so long to start it).

By Deena Metzger: Writing for Your Life:  A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds

This is an intense exploration of our own minds, how we see the world, memory, and story.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

By Tristine Rainer

The New Diary

She gives an interesting overview of journals that have been published and on books about journaling.  Gives a number of interesting tools for use in a diary that help to unlock our inner voice.

Your Life as Story:  Discovering the “New Autobiography” and Writing Memoir as Literature

If you are interested in writing a memoir, whether it’s for a family member or with an eye to publishing it, this is an excellent book.  She discusses what makes a good story and how to discover the story within our own life.

Business and Publishing

There’s a lot of stuff available about this topic, most of which I’d suggest you save your money and avoid.  That said, The Writer’s Market has been in use continuously for around 100 years, possibly longer (I own a copy from 1935).  A list of magazine and book publishers and recommendations on how to place your work for payment.  They have developed several offshoot books, such as Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market, Poets Writer’s Market, etc.  Available at any major chain bookseller or through their website; the main publication (Writer’s Market) is available online by annual subscription.  See for more information.

By Lisa Sonora Beam: The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real

As more and more writers are entering self-publishing, it’s imperative that we think like business professionals.  Publishing is a business, not an art, and it’s important to remember that distinction.  Many of us are right-brained artists, though, and have strongly-developed artistic skills.  This book uses those skills, as well as traditional business tools, to help you develop a solid – and executable – business plan.

Writing Grammar (English)

Only one recommendation:  The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.  You don’t need to buy it, it’s uploaded for free on Bartleby.


Writer’s Digest University

I’ve taken two of their classes and liked them.  They teach anything from absolute basics all the way through taking a book from concept to publishable state.  Available online.  I don’t see anything that requires U.S. residency; however, it does state USD is required:  “Tuition prices are listed and payable in U.S. funds. Outlines, required texts, instructor availability and schedules are subject to change; enrolled students will be notified of any changes that affect the operation of their classes.”  (from the website)


The Writer Magazine:  The longest continuously published writing magazine in existence.  I have been a subscriber since mumble long time ago mumble.  I recommend it highly, it is my personal favorite of all the ones available on the market.  I believe they’ve been publishing since 1905 or something (I honestly can’t remember what I read, but it’s a looong time).

Writer’s Digest: One of the major publications available.  Published by the same company that brings us Writers Market.

Publisher’s Weekly:  What’s known as an “industry rag.”  Subscriptions are very pricey ($150 a year USD, more overseas), so get at your library.  Covers news and events of interest to those in the book and magazine trade.  If you are serious about becoming a published author, this is a necessary homework assignment.


Writing World:  One of the best writing websites on the web.  There’s a LOT of material here.  Moira Allen, the founder and Editor In Chief, published an e-book that gets periodically updated, on websites for authors.  It’s very useful, and rather than recreate it here, I’ll just refer you to her.

Writer’s Digest magazine prepares a list every year of the 101 best websites for writers.  You can access old lists, though you need to have a free site registration to get there.  You can also download a copy for free when you register, if you’re a first-time user.  They have some great suggestions in their list.

Keep On Writing – Or, What To Do In the Off-Season, Part II

NaNo Events – Camp NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program

Camp NaNoWriMo happens in April and July.  It’s less intensive than NaNoWriMo, and you can set your own word count goal – it doesn’t have to be 50,000. Writers are organized into smaller teams, either randomly or by choice. Sometimes events are planned by regional volunteers in the region; keep an eye on the regional forum or your region’s Facebook group.

The Young Writers Program targets writers under the age of eighteen.  There are resources for educators, too.

Local Writing Groups in the Chicagoland

General Interest

Just Write Chicago:  One of the largest Meetup groups in the Chicagoland area, Just Write Chicago has events all over the city, throughout the week.  Joining Meetup is free and there are groups with all sorts of interests.

Story Studio Chicago:  There are many ways to get involved, from classes to community.  Check them out!

Writer Zen Garden:  Founded by ML A. Catherine Noon, the Writer Zen Garden is a place to explore your creativity and to get onto the page. Through prompts, tools from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” Cherry Adair’s Plotting Board, and a host of other ways, we focus on keeping the drama on the page. If you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t done it, or if you’re a seasoned writer looking for inspiration and community, then this is the place for you.


Romance Writers of America (RWA), Chicago North Chapter:  The largest professional organization for romance writers, RWA focuses on helping develop and promote the careers of romance writers.  The Chicago North Chapter holds regular meetings, a writers conference every two years, and has one of the highest percentage of published authors among its members in all of RWA.

Sisters In Crime Chicago:  From their website:  “Sisters in Crime is a world-wide organization of authors, readers, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and librarians dedicated to supporting women who write, read, sell or review crime fiction. Membership is open to men and women with an interest in mystery and suspense. We welcome readers, writers and everyone in-between.”


Not finding your group?  Know of something that should be here?  Contact us and let us know!