By Helen Davidson
Since 2001 every November is National Novel Writing Month, also shortened to NaNoWriMo.
This free annual internet creative writing project invites participants from around the world to write a new 50,000 word ‘novel’ between 1st and 30th of November.
The project started in San Francisco with just 21 members and since then the number of participant has risen to thousands registered on the official website: http://nanowrimo.org/
Contrary to its title the object of the event is not necessarily to produce a novel but to set yourself a challenge and achieve your goal. Founder of NaNoWriMo Chris Baty wrote in his book,No Plot? No Problem! “Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly yet firm due date and miracles will happen”.
Still, NaNoWriMo has been criticised by writers who say it is not possible to create an actually novel in a month. Typically most novels are between 80-100 words and a lot more work is needed to create something publishable. Because of this, serious writers can always go back and go through the words they have written in November and make improvements.
The event also has more of a sociable side to it. NaNoWriMo groups everywhere organize events and parties for members to attend. Most regions have their own communities with one or more Municipal Liaisons (ML) assigned to them. Brighton has its own online NaNoWriMo club and a Facebook group called Brighton WriMos was created. Brighton NaNoWriMo updates can also be found on Twitter @BrightonWriMos.
In keeping with tradition, Brighton NaNoWriMo participants will be holding a ‘Thank God it’s Over!’ (TGIO) party to celebrate the end of the month on 30th November.
One of the Brighton MLs is Cerys Jones, 25 a student at Brighton City College. She has participated for many years and is currently taking up the challenge this year, determined to finish her novel as well as completing her college assignments.
Despite criticisms of the project, Cerys believes that NaNoWriMo does encourage people to write and said: “Every year I have people coming up to me at the ‘Thank God It’s Over’ party and telling me how they never thought that they would be able to write a novel, and now they have! It’s a great feeling.”
Since NaNoWriMo was launched several novels have been published that originally started out as NaNoWriMo projects, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Cuckoo by Brighton author Julia Crouch.
As NaNoWriMo comes to a close this year I wonder just how many people have stuck to the challenge and achieved their goal of 50,000 words.
NaNoWriMo will not turn you into an author but it could be a start and a lot of fun for someone who enjoys writing.
All participants are invited to the TGIO party regardless of whether they achieved 50,000 words or not (personally I commend anyone for trying).