We’re honored to have Dr. Donna Gessell as a guest author today. Dr. Gessell has participated in NaNoWriMo for the last decade and helped organize local NaNoWriMo events on the UNG Dahlonega campus. This is the first in a four-part NaNoWriMo blog series.
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), that time of year when hundreds of thousands of people around the globe furiously attempt to write 50,000 words of their novels.
If that sounds crazy, well, it is. However, the experience is one I’ve repeated at least eleven times since I was introduced to the phenomenon thirteen years ago. Of those eleven times, I’m glad to report that I have “won” seven times. “Winning” means reaching the 50,000-word goal. The only prizes for winning are the satisfaction of having achieved the goal and “a crappy first draft” of a novel. That verbiage is from Chris Baty who started NaNoWriMo in 1999 with a group of friends. He chose 50,000 words because it is about the length of The Great Gatsby.
So why participate in NaNoWriMo?
Beyond the satisfaction and the draft, it’s a great exercise in writing discipline. It’s not difficult to figure out that an average of 1,667 words are needed each day for the thirty days of November. Finding the drive to write that much every day is good self-discipline for any writer. Also, dealing with the ups and downs that each week presents adds to the experience. When the euphoria of Week One expires, learning techniques to keep going during Weeks Two and Three builds writing stamina. And the final whirlwind of Week Four writing keeps authors coming back yearly.
The camaraderie of NaNoWriMo is also inspiring. Knowing that hundreds of thousands of other people are also writing makes for good company, and the NaNoWriMo website provides opportunities to converse with other authors in chat rooms on everything from character development to how to procrastinate with a variety of useless activities, including making up lists of poisons to do-in a villain and how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.
At the local level, writers can join regional groups and participate in Come Write Ins. In fact, the Chestatee Review is going to host Come Write Ins upstairs at the Starbucks in Dahlonega, 110 East Chestatee Street, every Monday in November from 10 am to 12 noon and from 7 pm to 9 pm.
Bring your laptop, your ideas, and your grit. You’ll see me adding words to my latest attempt at a novel, this one based in the small town in Virginia where I learned the power of words while writing manuscripts of all genres with my childhood friend.
More than a dozen novels that started out as NaNoWriMo projects have been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Perhaps yours will join the list.