NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month kicks off in Flagstaff
By Miranda Scott
Have your pens and paper at the ready, because November is National Novel Writing Month, and burgeoning writers are setting aside formal responsibilities to make time to write. Thousands of participants from across the country will write thousands of words per day for the entire month as part of the competition known as NaNoWriMo.
Organized by the non-profit Office of Letters and Lights, NaNoWriMo is open to anyone up to the challenge of writing a novel by the end of November. What started in 1999 as a small get together of frustrated writers has now been turned into a nationwide event, with participants as young as 14 joining in the mayhem. The goal is to write 50,000 words — which is by no means a novel, but is definitely a good start. While a writer is certainly welcome to try and go further than the 50,000 word goal, the point of NaNoWriMo is to reach that goal and win. This means, for the whole month of November, anyone participating in the event will be writing until their hands fall off.
While this is an exciting month for aspiring writers, with excitement comes challenge and many writers might feel afraid to face NaNoWriMo alone. Fortunately, for the Northern Arizona University (NAU) students and Flagstaff citizens partaking in NaNoWriMo, the local Bookmans store has fears covered: they offer public write-ins every Friday at 6 p.m. during the month.
The write-ins provide a place where people can get in their writing zone and punch out large amounts of novel while in the company of fellow writing buddies. Writers can bring their laptops, snacks and comfortable writing clothes to the bookstore and settle in for a night of flowing creative juices and blasting out hard work.
Senior anthropology major Sal Webber appreciates the Bookmans write-ins. Webber likes having a place that is just for writing, away from any real-world distractions.
“They are really good for motivation . . . if you are alone in your dorm or apartment you can do laundry, do your homework, or other, you know, responsible things,” Webber explains.
NaNoWrMo’s official website offers procrastination help as well, including pep talks from famous authors and tons of positive messages posted on the site to encourage users to get their fingers typing away.
“I actually daydream a lot, so it’s nice to actually be able to put stuff down on paper,” says senior anthropology major Samantha Christensen, who is also taking part in NaNoWriMo. “Especially since I love reading and I read so many good stories; sometimes you are just looking for more [stories], like that quote ‘If there’s not a book you like to be found, write that book yourself.’”
The air of camaraderie helps those who are attempting the 50,000 word feat find a sense of motivation. For competitors, Bookmans is the go-to place every Friday of this month, with the exception of the day after Thanksgiving. With a schedule so accommodating, it is hard to find an excuse not to join the novel writing fun.
“I’ve done it two years before this,” says Amber King, a sophomore anthropology major. Her main motivation for finishing the competition is her characters. “I spend so much time before starting it, working on them [my characters] and trying to get them as real to me as possible,” she says.
In any case, enjoyment from NaNoWriMo and from the write-ins hosted by Bookmans can be funneled into pure fuel for novel writing. Sometimes writers just need to be kicked into gear, and events like these can certainly do just that.