National Novel Writing Month

Nov 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month

People who dream of writing the next great novel have gotten a little encouragement in November.  It came in the form of National Novel Writing Month. Throughout November, aspiring writers from around the world have been trying to reach the goal of writing 50,000 words. It's a sprint to the finish for a "NaNoWriMo" group in Traverse City as Arts Reporter Brad Aspey found. 

On a recent Wednesday evening in Traverse City, 6 writers gathered around a table at NMC's Osterlin Library and hunched over laptops or - in one case - a pad of paper. The informal leader of the group is Cari Noga. She's a writer in NMC's Public Relations and Marketing Department. Noga has done NaNoWriMo four times before and she found that creativity comes with getting words on paper. Even if, and maybe because, words are written under some pressure.   

In 2010, Noga came up with the first draft of a novel titled "Sparrow Migrations" which she self-published. Noga says, "The first NaNo just gives you your start but it is so nice to get that first draft out." 

Nogs says this speedy way of writing a novel was conceived by a San Francisco writer, Chris Beatty, and some friends in 1999. And some noted novels have been written using NaNoWriMo. The example NaNoWriMo likes to give is "Water for Elephants." Noga said, "You hear from a lot of people that writing a novel is on their bucket list but most of those people never get around to doing it and Chris Beatty believed that's because most people don't buckle down to a deadline." 

A little friendly competition helps these writers speed toward their goal. Members of NaNoWriMo even have word races. Noga says, "A word race is where everyone starts at a particular time, let's say 8 o'clock, and you go for a half-hour (that's what we typically do) and then you compare your totals - how many words did you write in the 30 minutes - and the winner takes the chocolate or the winner takes the 'goodie' or just the pride and glory." 

The members of NaNoWriMo also share notes and encouragement on their Facebook page. On Sunday night Noga posted, "Aiming for 994 words before bed." Jacqueline Stephens Burke posted, "Yeah, so my husband just pulled my ear-bud out to discover I had fallen asleep writing. On the couch, laptop on my lap. Out cold."