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October 17, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

This Extra Ink was written by our intern, Betsy C.

Its National Novel Writing Month!

Have you ever imagined writing a novel? Maybe some of you have actually finished one, but if you're like me, the tremendous effort and painstaking craft involved are incredibly intimidating, however passionate you might be about writing. That's why I've been more of a short story person in the past- the length is a little more conducive to my obsessive self-editing.

However, that's all going to change next month. November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) and starting at 12:01 on November 1st, thousands of would-be novelists across the country will be booting up their computers, sharpening their pencils, cracking their knuckles and beginning a Herculean task. They (or, I should say, we) will all be attempting to write a 175-page/50,000-word novel in just 30 days. For those of you who are wondering, that works out to 1,667 words, or just under six pages, every single day.

NaNoWriMo is in its tenth year, and in 2007 counted over 100,000 officially registered participants, 15,000 of whom actually wrote at least 50,000 words by the end of the month. Their WEBSITE, NANOWRIMO.ORG, offers more than just facts and figures, however. I've never come across a website that feels so encouraging and appreciative while simultaneously making me want to get my writing rear in gear (so to speak.) You can join groups, add novel-writing buddies, and list your interests like you can at online social networks. You'll also receive e-mail encouragement from the organization throughout the month.

Perhaps best of all, you can get friends and relatives to sponsor your writing. Just as if you were running in a charity marathon, your loved ones can support you and the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light. So if personal satisfaction isn't enough motivation to get you writing, maybe helping a charity (and risking humiliation if you have to tell all our paying relatives you didn't finish) might just be the push you need.

So sign up for NaNoWriMo, whether you're an experienced writer or not. You might get a bit less sleep next month, but remember: there will be 100,000 other people suffering with you (myself included!) and you might just walk away a novelist in December.

P.S. Betsy's NaNoWriMo screen name is madberry, and she's more than happy to make novel-writing friends with you. Find her on the site!

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