Do You Believe in Magic?


Back to the coffee shop… more magic!

It’s all coming back to me. Two days into NaNoWriMo and the drama has begun. And it’s not all about the writing. I’m beginning to think NaNo (or birthing a first draft of a novel) is a bit like birthing a baby. You forget all the bad parts—the physical pain, the fears and the feelings it can’t be done, the fear that something will go wrong, the sleepless nights, the anguish of worry—or maybe you’d never be willing to do it again.

Last year I “won” NaNo. That is, I wrote 50,000 words during the month of November: National Novel Writing Month. Actually, to be technically accurate, I wrote more than 50,000 words. And I finished the first draft of a novel.

Last year I also wrote four blogs about my NaNo drama. In one, I detailed how I decided (somewhat spur of the moment) to commit to NaNo. In one I recounted my injury that I was afraid might sideline me from finishing (I shut my hand in the car door)—well actually MEH (My Engineer Husband) typed that one for me. In one I recounted certain NaNo truths (and lies). And in a final one, I talked about how I won.

Today I reread those four blogs. Believe it or not, I’d forgotten all about them—except the one that talked about winning! I forgot I slammed my hand in the car door. I forgot it was a last minute decision. I even forgot how much fun it was. It kind of went by in a whirlwind to be honest.

Yesterday after my first writing session (I wrote only 782 words—and I knew that to finish the 50K I’d need to average about 1600 a day), I was discouraged. I felt pretty sure that my idea wasn’t a very good one. Then this morning I got up early. I made a pot of coffee and started writing. Before I knew it I’d written a thousand words. Then two thousand. The idea still didn’t feel like the best one I’d ever had, but I was inhabiting the world, I was seeing the scenes in my mind. I’d even identified a song that was emblematic of the story. (It wasn’t  one of the ones from my last post. It’s “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay. It’s now on endless loop while I write. Yesterday I heard it on the radio in the car and I had to turn it off—I started to feel my eyes drift closed, started to feel a writing trance coming on…no, really.)

And there’s more. That drama. It’s all falling into place. Like magic.


I forgot when I got up that it was Daylight Savings. In fact, last night I accidentally set my clock ahead instead of back. So did I wake up two hours early?

I made coffee.

I wrote my words (2695 this morning).

I went into the kitchen and a spaghetti squash fell off the counter onto my little toe (as MEH said, “a squash squashed your toe.”

The first snow of the season started to fall.

After I posted a snowy pic on Instagram, I started thinking more about the novel I’m calling TYAAD.

More pieces fell into place, and I fell a little more in love.


What are you doing for the month of November? Do you believe in magic? I do.



p.s. if you’re doing NaNo, too, let’s be buddies! I’m Julia.M.Martin!!


  1. Stacey says:

    So fun Julia! I can’t wait to follow your adventure!

  2. Micky Wolf says:

    Go, Julia, go! 🙂 I a-l-m-o-s-t took the leap into NaNo this year, but not quite. Instead, have committed to an intense writing schedule for my WIP in hopes of coming close to the 50,000. Have an impending (minor) surgery to deal with so will do my best. Snow flakes, hot coffee, a pile of paper waiting to be printed with fresh words–writing companions a ‘click’ away–what could be better. Keep on keepin’ on, and keepin’ us informed as you can. 🙂

    • I’ll be sending good thoughts your way for the surgery and for the intense writing schedule — that’s what it’s all about for me. A boost to the writing! I’ll keep on writing and will look forward to checkins with you! Take care!

  3. Barb Riley says:

    Yes, yes, I do believe in magic.

    I reaaaaally want to do NaNo this year. I know I’m late to the game, but after tomorrow I have three days in a row off from work, and if I can get my act together, I hope to dedicate them (as much as possible) to writing. I will certainly look for you if/when I sign up. The year I won, I finished my 50K in under 30 days, so I’m hoping if I start by the 4th, I can make up for lost time, like you did today. Way to go!!

    Did you do any preliminary planning or outlining this time around?

    Love your instagram fall pics (just looked through a whole bunch)! 🙂

    • Yes!! So glad you might leap in, Barb! I was three days late last year, and I was able to meet the goal. For me it seems I increase daily word counts (and commitment to story) as the days go along (does this happen to you?). I actually do always do preliminary outlining, at least some. I’ve always been a plotter, but over the years I’ve become a hybrid, with pantser elements to my writing, too.

  4. Good for you.
    No. GREAT for you!
    I can hardly wait to read more about your exciting adventure — Whoohoo!

  5. Yes, I am a big believer in the magic of writing. Enjoy it. Breathe it in. Good luck, Julia!

  6. I love your parallel between writing and childbirth, Julia – I agree, it’s the good bits we remember. NaNo isn’t something that’s ever appealed to me, but I think it’s a great way to motivate and focus on new ideas. It’s a great form of discipline, isn’t it? And as you say, once you’ve started, the magic seems to happen. Loads of luck with it – I’m sure you will win again! xo

    • Exactly, Abi >> “a great way to motivate and focus on new ideas. It’s a great form of discipline, isn’t it?” The magic is what it’s all about, though. Thanks for your encouragement and support.

  7. Kristen says:

    I loved the enthusiasm and optimism you give off here in this post–it’s contagious! Go get ’em, Julia! I also love the idea of a soundtrack that you mention here and in that other post. You’ve made me want to make my own (and I will!) for what I’m working on. What a brilliant idea. Enjoy the process!

    • I’m so glad you feel like my enthusiasm is contagious! Right now I feel like I have all the energy in the world for writing, here’s to enjoying every day as much as I am today! Thanks for your support!! Hope you’ll share your playlist too.

  8. Melissa says:

    LOVE this post, Julia. Sorry about your poor toe, but with that gem I think MEH should think about writing too. 🙂

    • Thanks Melissa, so glad you loved it!! As for MEH, he’s got a million of them, let me tell you, and he is definitely a natural writer. But ssshh don’t tell him how many ideas he gives me 😉

  9. Go Julia!

  10. Barry Knister says:

    I am a pragmatist, so if NaNo serves you as a true writer (which you obviously are) by moving you to creative action, that’s great. Having said this, though, I hope you will forgive me for offering a comment I left recently for Anne R. Allen’s blog entry on the same subject:
    “I see how NaNo might be useful as a kind of compositional stool softener, but what then? Are all these novels going to be self-published? Will all the authors now join the feeding frenzy for attention on social media?
    Where’s my Xanax?”

    • Hi Barry, Thanks for your comment. I agree with your definition of NaNoWriMo (serving me as a writer). No, my novel (this novel) will not be self published. (Although I do have one self published novel, a mystery….whether I choose to self publish or not has nothing to do with where it comes from…and I rarely self promote, okay never.) This NaNo-novel will be queried through traditional channels once it is revised about twenty times….I think you and I have very similar views on what NaNo is useful for and what happens after. Thanks so much for your comment…and, btw, no Xanax necessary, not on this blog anyway!! Best, Julia

  11. This post makes me so happy! I *almost* wish I was doing NaNo with you. 😉 I’m so excited for you. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines! Can’t wait to hear all about the impending successes and dramas.

    • Thanks a million, Annie!! I’m so excited you’ll be cheering me on! I’ll keep you posted, not to worry–the good the bad and the ugly of NaNoWriMo…hmmm….that’s going to be a blog post, you know it will 😉

  12. Cynthia Robertson says:

    I absolutely believe in whatever it is our stories stem from, call it magic, or our deeper imagination, or the gods – whatever; it certainly feels like magic. I believe! It’s exhilarating and wonderful. There’s just something about starting a new novel in the fall. It’s my first NaNoWriMo, but I’m very determined to at least crank out a rough first draft. Good luck to you, Julia. =)

    • “Exhilarating and wonderful”!!!! You took the words right out of my mouth, Cynthia!! I’m having a blast and hope you are too. The first day or two (said I on this very distant day three, haha) made me feel like it will be VERY rough, but now I’m seeing things more coming together. Here’s to a wonderful ride 🙂

  13. Way to go, Julia! I’m so impressed by how prolific you are.

    The title of your post made me think of the song by The Lovin Spoonful. Come on, you know it. Sing along. 🙂 Now you can put this song on repeat. This is my contribution to your NaNo experience!

    Keep the words flowing.

    • I love that song, Jackie! Thank you for reminding it — so very emblematic of the WIP I wrote during last year’s NaNo (that takes place during the Vietnam War about a young girl in love….). THANK YOU. I’ll be listening to it, you can bet on it 🙂 Thanks for your kind words (and the music, too… listening to it right now!!)

  14. T.O. Weller says:

    You are so right – I’m totally feeling the magic … and actually getting a little obsessive about my new “baby”. When I woke up this morning, I slipped into the writing state while still lying there in the dark. Twenty minutes went by before I realized I hadn’t gotten up yet. (Not normal behavior when there’s coffee in the air.)

    Generally, I like to work alone. Solitude is a good thing. So I’m not really too sure why this whole community thing even appeals to me, or why it works. Because really, that’s what NaNoWriMo is – an extreme word sport where participants cheer each other on.

    But months ago, my little novel zygote implanted itself and the words are now pouring forth (am I ‘breaking water’?!?). Anyway, if it gets me a full draft that I can raise up through countless drafts, who am I to question? 🙂

    • I really agree that NaNo turns writing into a bit of an obsession (and I tend that way anyway with new projects). And however we do it — agreed, the end result is what we’re after. Nonetheless, having fun and obsessing and socializing a bit in the process makes it all the better! Thanks for your comment and your visit to my blog, T.O.! Nice to meet you!

  15. Nina says:

    This is so exciting! I don’t have it in my right now, but I love watching you go go go. Seeing your progress on instagram, etc, is awesome. Cheering you on, my friend!

  16. Diann says:

    Go, Julia! So impressive, I’m cheering you on.

  17. Lisa Ahn says:

    So impressed! I’ve never done (or tried) NaNo. Can’t wait to hear about your journey.

    • Thanks so much, Lisa, for your kind words — I have to say that NaNoWriMo is one of the most fun writing activities I’ve ever done… ever. I’d put it up there even with one of my favorite experiences in life. Weird, huh? Anyway, will let you know more about the journey as I go!