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Sarah Baram Posts

Five Days Down

November 5th. If you haven’t checked the calendar, that is indeed today’s date. It’s a Saturday, it’s the afternoon and I’m nearly 10,000 words in to National Novel Writing Month. I hadn’t anticipated doing a month long sprint of writing, but November felt as good a time as any to churn out a novel.

Five days in and I can’t help but to think about what kinds of problems I’ve run in to so far. Right now, my biggest issue is scheduling in time to actually write. My day job is as a writer, so coming home to write even more often seems like an exhausting prospect. But, then again, waking up at dawn to write before work seems equally exhausting.

Fortunately, I have today. Saturday. I day to catch up on the last few. It’s not that I have written, it’s just that I’ve averaged about 500 words a day since Wednesday which is just about nothing. With the goal of writing 50,000 words by the last day of the month, writing a mere 500 a day isn’t going to cut it.

There is motivation to fit it in though. While I don’t expect that I’ll be a published author by month’s end, there are plenty of authors who have found success due to NaNoWriMo. I haven’t read it, but The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was written during NaNoWriMo and subsequently found itself on the New York Times Bestseller List for just about seven weeks.

If you’re one of the many writers begrugingly participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d love to hear from you. How are you motivating yourself? What sorts of problems have you faced in these first five days? As a writer, I find I work best when sharing advice, tips and thoughts so… I would appreciate, very much so, if my fellow writers decided to do the same.


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What it Takes to Write a Novel

Some writers long to write poetry, others crave the challenge of producing a short story. I, on the other hand, dream of writing a novel. Not the next Great American Novel, of course. Though, wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, I dream of writing the kind of novel that finds acclaim among its readers and critics alike. One that has something to say, and does so well.

For the last year, I’ve been researching an idea. I don’t quite remember where it came from, but it’s related to a case that I’ve had this odd fascination with since hearing about it a few years ago. If haven’t ever heard of a woman named Katherine Genovese, I suggest paying her a quick search on Google. It’s well worth your time, I can promise you that.


Katherine, or Kitty as many called her, was murdered in Queens way back when in 1964. Her murder wasn’t your typical murder. Though, can any murder be considered typical? She was killed on her way home from work, in the courtyard of the apartment building where she lived. She was murdered before the creation of 911, and it was rumored that up to 38 witnesses had seen but done nothing to stop her murder.

Though my novel is only loosely based on the life of Katherine Genovese, I spent a great amount of time researching her, and her murder. In that time, her short life has helped me to build an entire world where my own characters can exist. A world where they can flourish, until that’s no longer possible. One where what Katherine went through, can be appreciated and understood in an even greater way.

For me, this is what it takes to write a novel. To research, to enlighten yourself. I’ve read that not all writers write this way. That rather than researching their topic of interest, they just sit down and write about it. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, this isn’t a tactic that has ever worked for me. I need to immerse myself in what I’m writing about, get as close to it as I possibly can.

Now, on November 1, I’ve decided that I’ve researched enough. That is, for now, of course. So, where am I at? Hopefully, I’m at my desk. Sitting down with my very own Katherine Genovese. Preparing to share her story, the story of her family, and the story of her murder with those willing to read it. I can only hope that in my own fictional work, I can serve the real Katherine Genovese with some sort of novel justice.

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How to be a Writer

When I was young, I was asked by a teacher what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s not an unusual question to ask a child, though most children do come up with wild answers. Astronauts, zoo keepers, world explorers. I imagine that those are some of the professions my classmates may have named. I, of course, named something else. A writer, I said.

I wanted to be a writer. Saying such a thing lead me down a path that involved many books, many English classes and a wealth of nurturing teachers. Of course, there were those here and there and encouraged me to find a more realistic profession. But, my favorite, was the teacher who told me to tune them out. Drop out instead, he said, don’t listen to their nonsense.

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus. Enid Bagnold.

Of course, I didn’t drop out. Out of high school, nor out of college. Instead, I graduated university with a degree in professional writing. Though, that’s not how you become a writer. Instead, you become a writer by actually writing. Fortunately, my will to become a writer has never faded nor ceased. I’ve been steadfast in my second grade dreams and intend on fulfilling them whole heartedly.

Now, or maybe at this time I should say, I’m working on a novel. The work has been rough and rather slow going, but yet satisfying all at the same time. I spent a year researching, another three months planning and began actually writing it just a few short weeks ago. But, what’s next? More to write, I hope. Every novel must have a beginning and an ending, and I’ve yet to find the ending to mine.

People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it. R.L. Stine.

Fortunately, National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner and I plan on using that to my advantage. With just 30 days in November, I have made it my own personal mission to churn out a first draft. It will likely be a rough one, one that needs copious amounts of work. But, if I’m being honest, I look forward to it. There’s nothing more satisfying than accomplishing a goal, and I look forward to the day that I can say I’ve accomplished this.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned how to be a writer. I’ve learned what it takes, the goals I must set for myself and just how much I have to believe in it all to get there. With November just a short forty-eight hours away, I crave even more time at my desk, my fingers banging away at the keys on my MacBook Pro, creating something, anything, that makes me more of a writer than I already am.


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