Ready, set, write!

Local writer encourages participation in National Novel Writing Month

The author, a student at Butte College, is in her third year as a NaNoWriMo municipal liaison for the Chico area.

Books are proof that humans can perform magic. Every November, hundreds of thousands of people all across the globe try to perform the seemingly impossible—writing a novel. Those who participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) strive to write at least 50,000 words during the 30 days of November.

NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit event that was founded in 1999 by Chris Baty in San Francisco and has since taken the world by storm. Last year, 341,375 people participated worldwide. In the Chico area, NaNoWriMo had 121 participants, with roughly 30 completing the challenge and who now get to call themselves winners—and authors.

This event is completely free for all participants interested in taking on the task. While 50,000 words may seem daunting, it breaks down to just 1,667 words a day. Most people probably type that many words through social media every day.

My first year of NaNoWriMo, I thought it was an impossible task, and ended up not completing the challenge. In 2010, I decided to try again, and while it was hard at times, I found myself getting lost in my story. The best part about NaNoWriMo is that your novel can take on a life of its own. Despite my idea for that year, my main character did something unplanned and took my novel in a new direction. The story ended up better than I could have imagined. When I crossed the 50,000 word mark and the site declared me a winner, I cannot even express the joy I felt. I had, in 30 short days, become an author.

This will be my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and I can now say I have written three novels. I encourage everybody to give it a try—the pride you will feel in yourself is unimaginable.

While I have not yet pursued publishing, other participants have. National best-selling authors Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) and Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) both started out those novels as NaNoWriMo projects.

In the local area, we have writing events at least twice a week where we invite those participating to join us and feed off each other’s energy to get inspired and to get writing. More information on NaNoWriMo can be found at Information about local events can be found in the Chico regional forum at that website.