I love participating in NaNoWriMo! I have been trying to participate in NaNoWriMo (either one of the camps or the main one in November) every year since 2013. Back in 2013 I started the Meruda Series almost by accident when my wife (then partner) Alex suggested I try to write an autobiography in novel form. What resulted was a fantasy retelling of my youth, from birth to age 8 or so. But in writing that story, I became fascinated with the world building aspect and ended up creating the World of Meruda, which has only grown in depth and complexity since those early days. The 25,000 words that I produced that July formed a strong foundation for my first book in the Meruda Series, Skies of Meruda, which I eventually finished the first draft of back in November 2016. Though almost none of the writing I had produced in 2013 actually ended up in Skies of Meruda, the world building and character development that I’d worked through at that time is still paying off creative dividends to this day, now that I’m in the middle of the first draft of my second book in the series, Storms over Meruda. So, I feel like I owe NaNoWriMo and my wife, Alex, a huge debt of gratitude for starting me on my way to being a creative writer.

Even though I love NaNoWriMo, I wanted to try something different this year. Given my teaching load this semester, I have been struggling to find time to write. The ideas are there, but I haven’t been able to put forth the effort to actually write them down. To help spur my creativity and get me back in the habit of writing, I’m going to try producing a Meruda-themed poem every day of this month for NaPoWriMo. Though by no means a skilled poet, I think making the poems (even if they’re not great works of art themselves) will help me think of my work in progress in a new light. I’m hoping it will also help me get over the fear of sharing my work publicly before I’m ready to actually publish. Perhaps it will also prove interesting to other people, too.

I actually find that working in mediums other than novel writing can greatly enhance the creative process. For example, I have made several games about the World of Meruda–and playing out these games with myself, my wife, and my close friends has assisted me when I’ve felt somewhat blocked. Needing to represent my world and my characters in a variety of restricted systems (as you’d find in a game) has also forced me to commit to the abilities and limits of each of my characters and has actually taught me a lot about the world I’m creating. I highly recommend it to any writers who want to take their world building and ability to develop deep and genuine characters to the next level.

Anyway, as I said, I’m hopeful this process will be useful not only for myself but interesting to others as well. So, please don’t judge the quality of the poems (mine, yours, or anyone else’s) and just sit back and enjoy the ride! It’s all about the process and honing the craft, in my opinion, and I’m excited for the prospect. So far, it has proven to be a lot of fun, too!

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