National Novel Writing Month (abbreviated NaNoWriMo and pronounced Nan-oh-REE-moh) is an annual internet-based creative writing project started in 1999 by creator Chris Baty.
NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words (about 175 pages) in novel form between Nov. 1 and 30.
Despite its basis in the United States, www.nanowrimo.org accepts novel entries from international sources.
In 2011 NaNoWriMo had 256,618 participants registered on its website and 36,843 (less than 14%) met the 50,000 word goal the midnight deadline on November 30.
The entire event is based around NaNoWriMo’s website forums, but heavily emphasizes participation on the local level. Dedicated writers (Wrimos as they call themselves) may apply to be municipal liaisons for their region.
Danielle Thuen is a municipal liaison for Macon. Their local group is called the Macon Mooslings. The Mooslings are a NaNoWriMo sactioned writng support group.
“I set up the Kick-Off and TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) parties, and run at least one Write-In each week,” Thuen said.
The group met every Saturday in downtown Macon in the Golden Bough bookstore for a write-in for a couple of hours.
The creators of NaNoWriMo suggest writing 1,667 words per day, which translates to about and hour and a half of typing for the enthusiast.
“Our Write-Ins are fairly relaxed events. We start off just chatting, usually about our stories, but sometimes about life in general. We have several “word wars” – everyone writes as fast as they can for a short period of time, and the person who has the most words wins,” Thuen said. The prize is usualy a piece of chocolate, a Squinkie toy, or a prize from a “box o’ prizes.”
Mercer’s Dulcimer went to the Crossroads Literary Conference this past October and heard Chris Baty give a speech about National Novel Writing Month.
“He was super encouraging,” Michelle Meredith, president of the Dulcimer said, “He took it on as his personal mission to remove the fear from writing a novel.”
After the chance encounter, Dulcimer staff writers expressed an interest in getting the Dulcimer involved in NaNoWriMo.
Following prompting by her staff, Meredith decided to use The Dulcimer’s website, www.mercerdulcimer.com, to blog about National Novel Writing Month. The blog posts offer support and encouragement for Mercer Wrimos.
“I think it’s cool for the Dulcimer to be involved in it [NaNoWriMo],” Meredith said. “I hope it encouraged people to see that other people were doing it [NaNoWriMo].”
Writing a novel while taking a full course load is a challenge, but definitely not impossible Meredith stressed. She recommends that anyone wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo next year should prepare mentally for the time commitment.
Meredith also recommended that Wrimos-to-be locate their local areas Municipal liason.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Mercer student Britney DeRosa is studying abroad at Oxford University and participating in National Novel Writing Month.
“I don’t think I would have been able to write it if I was back at Mercer with a 16 hour semester,” DeRosa said. At Oxford, DeRosa has much fewer time commitments than traditional students back in the states. “I could definitely spare the time. I made myself write when I didn’t want to read, and amazingly enough I stayed off Netflix and wrote instead.”
DeRosa’s novel is a fantasy set in the fictional town of Blackwater. Her novel integrates aspects of ancient mythology into its story.
Three girls, Ophelia, Elizabeth and Miranda have separate storylines, but find each other through the meddling of a talking cat.
Upon crossing the 50,000 word threshold DeRosa submitted her novel, titled “On Opposite Sides of Town,” to be verified on NaNoWriMo. She received a certificate as an acknowledgment of her accomplishment.
“Oxford has been my inspiration, and I’m glad that I was here when I set down to write. Being far away from home. It gave me so many images that I worked in to the scenery and characters and back story of the novel.” DeRosa said.