Write a novel in 30 days or less with NaNoWriMo
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
It’s that time of year again when writers buckle down to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days as part of November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Created by an American non-profit organization in 1999, NaNoWriMo has become an international event that attracts people of all ages who have stories to tell. Luckily, no writer is alone in their novel journey because NaNoWriMo’s website is set up to allow volunteer municipal liaisons to arrange social events for participating writers in their local region.
Carmen Fowle, a municipal liaison and Douglas College alumna, encourages new and returning NaNoWriMo writers to participate in the weekly Write-ins, where writers gather together to work on their novels and brainstorm ideas, motivating each other to reach their 50,000-word goal.
“Write-ins are great for getting to know your fellow participants, as well as for staying on track. If you get stuck, there’s a bunch of people around to bounce ideas off of,” Fowle wrote to the Other Press. “You’re guaranteed to get an answer—probably more than one!”
Last November, Fowle hosted a Write-in at the Douglas College Coquitlam campus for students and community members to drop by and work on their novels. This year, since Fowle has graduated from Douglas College, the Write-in will take place at the Port Moody Public Library on Tuesday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m.
“Douglas students should attend the events because they serve as an escape from the work and school life,” Fowle wrote. “Going to an event allows for a brief escape from it all, and gives time to focus on the writing for fun instead of the writing for grades.”
While the events are a nice escape, Fowle suggests students put their studies first during NaNoWriMo and perhaps use the events as an incentive.
“When things get busy and all the term papers are due, try to use Write-ins as a reward: get to this point in the essay, attend the event for an hour or two,” Fowle wrote. “I also know that some students find the atmosphere of a Write-in helps them to focus on their school work in addition to their novel writing.”
In New Westminster, local author Perry Wilson will be hosting weekly Monday Motivation Write-ins from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Waves Coffee House on Columbia Street, a five-minute walk from the Douglas College New Westminster campus.
“This is one of our more populated events, so students wishing to attend may want to arrive as early as possible to guarantee prime seating,” Fowle wrote. “We have the small room at the back booked for the event and will very commonly have people sitting on the floor lining the walls!”
Like Fowle, Wilson is looking forward to the popular event and being in a room full of avid writers each trying to reach 50,000 words.
“One of the tools we have at a Write-in is the Word War,” Wilson wrote to the Other Press. “We focus on writing for a 15- to 20-minute time period. With everyone silent—the only sounds being a tapping of keys and a scratching of pens—the words flow.”
Fowle said that the sound can make a difference in the writing process, even if everyone isn’t in the same room.
“I once did a Word War via Skype with some friends and we all turned our microphones on just so we could hear each other type—that’s how motivating it can be!” Fowle wrote.
For dedicated NaNoWriMo participants, there are a variety of writing-themed events happening throughout the Lower Mainland in November. First up is the Opening Day Write-a-thon at 12 p.m. on November 1 at Take 5 Café in Vancouver. Next is the Official Transit Write-in happening on the SkyTrain on November 8, starting at the Waterfront Station at 11 a.m.
To start your NaNoWriMo novel, go to nanowrimo.org, create an account, and enter the information about your novel (title, summary, cover, etc.).
The Other Press will cover NaNoWriMo events and activities throughout November and we want to hear from you. If you’re a Douglas College student and want to show off your work, drop us a line!