writing toolbox
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In 1999 writer Chris Baty set an ambitious goal: Write 50,000 words in 30 days. When 20 of his friends also took the challenge that year, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was born—and as many as 200,500 participants now join in each November. Registration at nonowrimo.org offers access to writing sessions at local libraries and pep talks from famous authors (like Sara Gruen, whose Water for Elephants grew out of the project.) Here, Baty lists his favorite ways to bust through writer's block—whatever the project may be.

Inspired by Julia Cameron's suggestion, in The Artist's Way, that creative types produce three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing upon waking, the site awards points for hitting its titular target (redeemable for cute merit badges).

Constance Hale's Sin and Syntax:
In this book, a feisty grammarian shares the keys to clear, engaging prose—as vital to thank-you notes and term papers as it is to fiction—which she divides into Cardinal Sins (the rules) and Carnal Pleasures (delicious ways to break them).

The site metes out punishments ranging from "gentle" (a pop-up window urging you on) to "kamikaze" (your work un-writes itself) if you don't keep the pace—which might be just the push you need to get that report done by Monday.

Embrace Your Inner Writer


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