Amateur novelists get writing for NaNoWriMo
If you have ever written a paper, you know it takes some time (especially when you are working on it at 2 a.m. the morning before it is due). How long do you think it would take you to write 50,000 words? Could you do it in a month?
That’s what the participants of NaNoWriMo do, and they do it voluntarily. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30 at 11:59:59 p.m.
Anyone is welcome to participate in this international event and all you have to do is start typing. The only real rules are that the writing has to be solely your own, and you can’t count anything written before Nov. 1 in your 50,000 word goal.
Alex Proppe, 21, is a fourth-year English student at Mount Royal University. She has been part of NaNoWriMo for the last six years, and completed the challenge successfully for the first time in 2010 with her piece, “Darling Indeed.”
“The key to NaNo is to plan time to write every day and stick to it,” Proppe said. “Be prepared to drink a lot of coffee. Also you need to avoid thinking too much about the deadline. When you feel stressed about having to write so much, you will create your own writer’s block, and stifle your creativity.”
This month she is once again challenging herself with NaNo to complete the next section of her story. Four is going to be the first novel in a trilogy, and at its completion she suspects it will be between 120,000 and 180,000 words.
On top of that, Proppe goes to school full time and works full time. To reach her goal, she makes sure to write every day. That means a minimum of 1667 words daily, although she tries for 2000 to build up extra in case she has an off day.
“The point is not to have polished work; you just have to keep writing,” Proppe said of her process. “If you have a plan, that’s great, but you have to be flexible, and don’t keep looking back and thinking about what you have done. After November you can go back and edit.”
Proppe’s plan isn’t that far off from many of the ‘WriMos’ (novel writers), most of who work with the goal in mind of having their novels published. Over a hundred novels written during NaNoWriMo have been published.
The official website, NaNoWriMo.org, describes the event as a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing”, which it most definitely is. It is an arduous and daunting task to think about creating a whole novel in just one month, but during NaNoWriMo there is plenty of support, such as a variety of events for WriMos that celebrate what they are doing and let them relax a little.
NaNoWriMo was started in 1999 by freelance writer Chris Baty. That year he was joined by 20 of his friends in the San Francisco Bay area. They were just planning to have some fun and try something new, plus they admit to thinking that being novelists might get them more dates.
At the end of the month, to their surprise, they loved the entire process and found that their novels were actually pretty good. Out of all 21, six actually completed their projects.
The success of the event also led to Chris writing the book No Plot? No Problem! which helps those new to NaNo get some ideas, inspiration, and survival tips.
The event only keeps growing. Just two years after its creation there were 5,000 people participating, and by 2007 there were over 100,000 participants.
Last year, according to NaNoWriMo’s website, 256,618 writers joined the challenge, with 36,843 of them emerging victorious. The combined total of all of the words written last year was 3,074,068,446.
There are over 500 official NaNoWriMo chapters all over the world, and a variety of schools that take part in the challenge. If you want to meet with some fellow novelists in Calgary, you can get information at http://www.calgarynano.ca/