Citizen staffers set out to write novels in 30 days

Thu, 11/01/2007 - 3:42pm
By: Emily Baldwin
National Novel Writing Month is world’s largest writing contest

There are some who say writing a novel takes awesome talent, strong language skills, academic training and years of dedication.

Not true. All it really takes is a deadline – a very, very tight deadline – and a whole lot of coffee.

Welcome to National Novel Writing Month: a nonprofit literary crusade that encourages aspiring novelists all over the world to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. At midnight on Nov. 1, more than 100,000 writers from over 70 countries – poised over laptops and pads of paper, fingers itching and minds racing with plots and characters – will begin a furious adventure in fiction. By 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30, thousands of them will be novelists. A few of those hopefuls just happen to work here at The Citizen.

NaNoWriMo is the largest writing contest in the world. In 2006, over 79,000 people took part in the free challenge. While the event stresses fun and creative exploration over publication, 16 NaNoWriMo novelists have had their NaNo-novels published, including Sarah Gruen, author of New York Times number one Best Seller, “Water for Elephants.”

Around 18 percent of NaNoWriMo participants "win" every year by writing 50,000 words and validating their novels on the organization's website before midnight on Nov. 30. Winners receive no prizes, and no one at NaNoWriMo ever sees the manuscripts submitted.

So if not for fame or fortune, why do people do it?

“The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creative potential like nothing else,” says NaNoWriMo Director (and eight-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it's a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”

For the past eight years, Baty has sent out weekly pep talks to participants in November. This year, he's passing the pep talking torch to established authors, including mystery writer Sue Grafton, master storyteller Tom Robbins and renowned fantasy writer Neil Gaiman.

If you would like more information about National Novel Writing Month, or would like to talk to participants from NaNoWriMo chapters in your area, please visit the website at As for those of us here at The Citizen, we’ll be updating readers on our progress regularly through video-blogs (vlogs). These short video diaries will take viewers along our journey to becoming novelists (some of us for the second time!).

We invite you to participate this year, either by signing up for NaNoWriMo and becoming a novelist yourself or by experiencing our journeys as we attempt to write a novel while navigating our busy lives.

Either way, it should be an interesting month. Feel free to comment on our vlogs, or send us words of encouragement, tips or ideas at Names&, or at our individual email addresses which can be found on this site.

Happy novel writing!

login to post comments