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Daring writer’s deadline: 50,000 words or more in 30 days

It’s November and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is here again. If you’ve never heard of National Novel Writing Month, the goal of participants in NaNoWriMo is to put out a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages) over the course of the month of November. If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel but have never found the time to do it, this could be the month. The emphasis isn’t on having a completely polished book by the end of the month; it’s simply to have written 50,000 words. This can mean a complete novel that needs editing and revising, or 50,000 words towards the completion of a longer novel. Broken down to a more manageable number, this sets a goal of writing around 1,667 words per day. This obviously isn’t for everyone, but for some people, having an explicit deadline can be very helpful.

NaNoWriMo is great for helping people complete their goal of writing a novel because there are so many participants. There is an online community of writers, active at http://www.nanowrimo.org/ and on Twitter and Facebook, who are going through the same worries, stress, and time crunch and who are ready and willing to offer encouragement, advice, and ideas.  There are so many people participating in NaNoWriMo nationwide that many towns and cities have local participant meet-ups.  Manhattan has a group on the NaNoWriMo website with over 300 registered participants.

The first NaNoWriMo took place in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area with a group of 20 participants. The next year it grew to 140 participants, and when bloggers started spreading the word and local and national news outlets started covering the event, it really took off.  Last year 256,618 people from around the world signed up to participate on the website and 36,843 completed their goals.

There are some hugely successful books that were written during NaNoWriMo. A few examples are Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and Wool by Hugh Howey. In October, Kansas author Gennifer Albin’s first novel, Crewel, written when she participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010, was published by Farrar Strauss Girous and is receiving excellent reviews. Her book is the story of Adelice, a young girl who lives in a world where women known as Spinsters weave the fabric of people’s lives.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, there are a number of ways Manhattan Public Library can help you. If you need a place to work, don’t forget about the library! We’ve got computers for you to work on, and quiet spaces, outlets, and wireless internet for people who bring in their own laptops. Sometimes getting out of your house or apartment and working in a different space can help you be more productive. On second thought perhaps you would get more written if you don’t connect to our wi-fi!

If you’re experiencing a bit of writer’s block, try flipping through some of our creative writing books for exercises to get your creative juices flowing. Check out a movie or a CD to take a break, recharge and relax before you go back to writing. Look through some of our beautiful art, nature, and photography books to spark ideas. And if you need a fact for your book, stop by the reference desk and we’ll help you find information on everything from the cost of twine in 1890 America for your Western adventure to finding the perfect cookie recipe for your culinary mystery.

To learn more about National Novel Writing Month and to sign up to participate, go to http://www.nanowrimo.org

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column

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