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National novel writing month


By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  November is here, and you know what that means! Besides the obvious, autumn and pilgrims and turkeys and being thankful, November is also National Novel Writing Month! OK, maybe you didn’t know that. But now that you know, why not celebrate?

  National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo) is a project of the Bay Area Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit based in Oakland, California. Organizers challenge participants to write a 50,000 word novel, beginning work on November 1 and submitting it by midnight on the 30th. Everyone who meets the deadline is declared a winner!

  There are no judges, no prizes, and no quality controls. The only thing verified is the 50K word count. The entire point is to have fun with writing.

  How many of you have ever thought you had a story to tell, and “one day” you would write a book? By creating a one-month time frame in which to write, NaNoWriMo organizers hope to give aspiring writers that little push they need to get started, and the deadline they need to get finished.

  Literary greatness is not the point. In the words of the organizers, ““It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly….By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

  While the “quantity over quality” principle guarantees than many of the entries are truly awful, most participants aspire to mediocrity. And that’s OK. Part of the appeal is that everyone from published authors to rank amateurs can and do accept the challenge, with no particular advantage to the experienced writer.

  That’s not to say that nothing of quality has resulted from the experience. Award-winning novelists who have submitted finished works to NaNoWriMo include Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Persis-tence of Memory), Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (The Compound), Sarah Gruen (Water for Elephants) and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus).

  In 1999, the first official  NaNoWriMo, there were 21 participants and six winners. In November, 2012, there were 341,375 participants and 38,438 winners. And guess what? Several past winners have been from right here in Henry County! Would you like to be the next Henry Countian to brag that you’ve completed a novel? Go to www.nanowrimo .org, sign up, and start writing! That’s all there is to it!

  This year the McDonough library has a series of free workshops planned to help aspiring writers get started and stay on track throughout the month. Sessions will be held on November 7 and 21 at 6 p.m. Whether you need inspiration, organization, or just moral support, come meet your fellow NaNoWriMo participants and share tips and ideas.

  If you decide to participate, be sure to let us know through the contact form on our website or leave a message on our Facebook page at so we can cheer you on!



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