November Is NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day period beginning on Nov. 1. Hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world will attempt to write 50,000 words toward a novel; hitting the 50K word count goal is considered “winning” NaNoWriMo.

Participants, known as wrimos, will come together virtually and in-person to encourage one another to meet their goals.

They’ll track their word counts at nanowrimo.org and join in on timed word sprints on Twitter.

On Nov. 16, noon to 3 p.m., the Frederick Chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) will be hosting a community write-in through the NaNoWriMo “Come Write In” host program. Writers of all ages, in all stages of their works in all genres, are invited to bring their laptops, their notebooks or the napkins they’ve been scribbling on to join other writers in the community.

Last year, more than 1,800 Maryland wrimos announced the novel they would be working on. A total of nearly 42 million combined words were written.

Gaithersburg resident Vickie DiSanto has been a municipal liaison for 17 years. She is currently busy coordinating kickoffs, write-ins and other activities for the region. “What I enjoy about this position is being able to encourage people to write and to improve their writing,” said DiSanto. “I’ve had three short stories published. It took me quite a while to work up the courage to start submitting my work, and I still don’t feel that any of my novels are in a suitable state to start pitching them. However, I have had several authors who have attended my write-ins and then went on to publish.”

During a lively presentation at the October meeting of the MWA Frederick Chapter, members discussed fast-drafting techniques and the writing processes that work for them. Participants agreed that one of the greatest benefits to the program is accountability. “You’ve committed to it and you’ve told your friends you’re going to do it,” said Erin Teagan, author of five middle-grade novels. “When they ask how it’s going, you have to answer for it.”

“(NaNoWriMo) is another way of holding myself accountable to the writing goals I’ve set for myself,” said Jeff Reynolds, who has participated three times, once surpassing the 50,000-word count goal.

Those who have difficulty staying motivated discussed how they will push through the month. Teagan suggested the time management Pomodoro Technique: Choose a task, set the timer for 25 minutes, work on the task for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break; then, after four 25-minute rounds, take a longer break.

Some Frederick wrimos will be using Scrivener, an app that helps writers organize their drafts regardless of whether they’re a plotter (plotting the story before writing it) or a “pantser” (writing whatever comes out “by the seat of their pants”).

They’ll be writing from their home offices and their laundry rooms and the middle of their kitchens; in Frederick County Public Libraries and at work and in the car. Some will use Scrivener while others will simply use Word documents. Some will write to music, some to silence. Some will work alone, others with their writing groups. But all will share a common goal: 50,000 words by the end of November.

MWA members agreed that it is important to try to turn off your internal editor—to just write now and worry about fixing it later. Teagan said she reminds herself, “I’m just creating a skeleton project. … This draft is only for me.”

Reynolds advised, “Don’t worry if you don’t win (by completing 50,000 words)! Think of it as a chance to build new writing habits, try new techniques to be more productive, and find what works for you.”

There will be a kickoff meeting at the Gaithersburg Community Museum on Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Those interested should visit the Maryland region page on nanowrimo.org and RSVP. C. Burr Artz Public Library will host write-ins on Nov. 16 and 30, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Keep writing,” DiSanto said. “Whether you reach the 50,000-word goal or not, each word written is one that you didn’t have before you started.”

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