Saturday, October 1, 2005

Faster than a speeding pen

"There is a novel inside everyone..." or so the saying goes. And one local group will be spending the month of November testing the theory.

November is National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo for short - and organizers encourage people of all ages, from the aspiring writers and the experienced, to write a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages) in just one month.

That's an average of 1,667 words per day for 30 days, though most will probably find their novel doesn't fit quite so perfectly into that plan. However you get there, the goal is to do it in a month.

For anyone who has ever dreamed of penning the great American novel, but thought the goal was out of reach, the month of November is for you.

NaNoWriMo is the crash diet approach to writing. Get the words out on paper, and worry later about editing. The best advice anyone ever gave a writer is simple - "write." No revising, no stopping to agonize over every word. Just write. The program is the brain child of Bay area writer Chris Baty. He calls the event "an unforgettable month of playing in one's imagination," something he says few adults really do.

"So it's kind of nice to make it a priority for a month," he says, "to turn off that editor and just go."

Across the country, writers will be burning the midnight oil as they work to log their words. They'll stay up late and get up early, grabbing an hour at the keys before going to work or school.

Last year, 40,000 people took up the challenge, a number which has grown each year since the project got its start in 1999 with 21 writers. Participation is free. Anyone can register at the website,, whether you participate in local activities or not. There are message boards, inspiration and ideas, and even NaNo swag.

Throughout the month, writers can keep a running tally of their word counts, and submit a draft at the end for computerized counting.

The program provides inspiration, motivation, and something many need to get to the finish - a firm deadline. In addition, a young writers program encourages teachers to use NaNoWriMo as a classroom tool.

Teenagers and senior citizens, mothers and daughters, fathers and brothers, husbands and wives - NaNo attracts all kinds. And all are welcome. You don't need any special qualifications to participate. Just a desire to push yourself, though a touch of insanity does help.

Here in Williston, a writing group will meet weekly, with a late night write-in to the last minute on Oct. 30 and a wrap-up party in early December.

Mark your calendar for the meet and greet session planned for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, in the conference room at the Williston Community Library. Future meeting dates will be set at that session.

[Crysta Parkinson / Williston Herals]

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