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THE LAST WORD

You've still got most of November left to write your novel

Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 12:01 am

Well, it’s National Novel Writing Month, so I guess if I’m ever going to write my first “great American novel,” now would be a perfect time to get started, right?

National Novel Writing Month in November is known as NaNoWriMo (or NaNo, for short). NaNoWriMo is simply an abbreviated form of the designation of the month and stands for an Internet-based creative writing project that challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between Nov. 1 and 30. In spite of the word “national,” it welcomes participants from around the world, yet it can be quite local on a personal level.

The goal of NaNo is to get people to write through the end of a first draft of a novel. I found its website, nanowrimo.org, and was intrigued that it actually prods, inspires and provides opportunities for aspiring writers to get busy. And if you are an “aspiring” writer like me, that more or less means you would love to be a successful novelist (or poet or short story writer), but you just can’t seem to get around to it.

The idea behind the project, according to the website, is “that many people are scared to start writing because it won’t be any good, and if there’s a time to celebrate length, rather than quality, more people will write an entire first draft, which they can then proceed to edit if they wish.”

Nanowrimo.org provides support, encouragement and a “good old-fashioned kick in the pants you need to write the rough draft of your novel in November.”

Creating an account onnanowrimo.org is designed to help writers plan their novel, join a local group of writers, attend in-person writing events and receive encouragement from staff, published authors and a worldwide community of writers through online forums.

The website is full of stuff to get you interested and motivated to write, including pep talks from authors of real books, such as the prolific James Patterson, who says, “So, Writer, you’re trying to write a novel in 30 days. Has anyone told you you’re crazy yet?

“You’re not crazy. I promise. I know because I’ve written a novel in a couple of months. And, yes, I’m a human being (just ask my editor, or my wife) and I do sleep. The book even got published. So anyone who tells you it’s impossible is wrong and you should probably stop taking their advice.

“There’s no getting around the fact that it’s hard, though, is there? … But I say, keep at it. Because, like I said, it’s possible. And, as you must suspect, it’s a pretty fantastic feeling to have written a book.”

Corporate sponsors and donors offer opportunities to contribute to the project. Donations, says the website, “bring free creative writing programs to more than 500,000 kids and adults in approximately 100 countries, 2,000 classrooms, 600 libraries, and 500 NaNoWriMo regions every year.”

Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.