How Recess Rules, Jill Vialet’s first novel for kids, came to be.

My first novel, Recess Rules, was released last week. It’s the story of four friends who save recess at the their school with the help of an “angel-on-probation” named Clarence – both in homage to It’s a Wonderful Life and the parks and recreation coordinator from my Washington, DC childhood playground, the Macomb Street Playground.

Recess Rules is not the book I set out to write. My initial intent had been to write a book for grown-ups about everything I had learned starting Playworks. I was hoping to write a book that was equal parts hands-on guide to making recess – and by extension schools – great and inspiration for the idea that changing systems, like education, was possible.

But it turned out that writing that kind of book made me incredibly uncomfortable – there was way too much about me, and not nearly enough play and inspiration.

And then National Novel Writing Month happened. NaNoWriMo is without a doubt the most inspired collective online activity I have ever been a part of. The idea is simple though insane: write a novel in one month (the month of November, specifically, because, really, what else is going on?) by writing 1667 words each day.

NaNoWriMo is whimsical and playful and irreverent and supportive. Adages such as “No word is a bad word,” provided the playfulness and inspiration I had been hoping for and Recess Rules was born.

As we near the release of Recess Rules, I am struck by how much telling this story is akin to growing Playworks. In a lot of ways, being a social entrepreneur is just telling a story and convincing other people to act it out with you. And while the initial idea may come quite easily, the devil is in the details and success is only possible with an unimaginable amount of hard work.

If you have ever considered writing a novel and are looking for a little inspiration, NanoWriMo is upon us. And Recess Rules becomes available on Amazon November 7!


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