Always wanted to write a novel?
With the cold weather providing some incentive to stay inside, the month of November, which is National Novel Writing Month, might be as good a time as any to start working on that potential Pulitzer Prize winner.
Every year, National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo — challenges writers to pen a 50,000-word novel, all in 30 days.
This year, the Journal-World is sponsoring a contest for local writers who take the challenge to participate in NaNoWriMo. (See further details on page 6D.)
Locally, dozens of writers compete in the contest and receive support from the Lawrence Writer’s Group. Below is a Question and Answer with group coordinator Ted Boone, a Lawrence resident and Kansas University business professor, who is gearing up for his fifth year in the contest.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I’ve always wanted to write fiction. I heard about it years ago, and actually did my own private NaNo during the summer. It was fun, but nothing like the actual NaNoWriMo experience, where thousands of writers around the world are all participating in the same crazy experiment: churning out a novel in 30 days.
Q: Why do you do it?
A: It forces me to do something big, something that a lot of people would consider impossible, or at least impractical. It makes me reconsider my own limitations and self-imposed boundaries. Working as a group provides that extra bit of pressure to complete your story, even when the going gets tough.
Q: What’s your favorite part of it?
A: The camaraderie you experiences with fellow NaNoers, both nationally and locally. It’s a really great group of people that participate every year. We get writers of all ages, income levels, educational backgrounds and writing genres.
Q: What’s the most difficult part?
A: Staying motivated can be hard. Avoiding distractions. Altering your normal routine. Forcing yourself to write even during days where you really don’t want to. Explaining to your friends and family that you’ve got something important going on for November that will use up all your spare time, and ignoring the strange looks they give you.
Q: For some, 50,000 words sounds like a lot. How hard is it? How much time does it take?
A: The first time, 50k is very daunting. But it gets easier with practice! Most people can write the minimum daily word count (1,667 words a day) in a few hours of writing, depending on how much pre-planning they’ve done.
Q: What would you say to people to encourage them to give it a try?
A: I can’t think of a good reason not to try it. There’s no judgment if you don’t succeed. No one looking over your shoulder, forcing you to complete the task. They only person that you’re accountable to is yourself.
Q: What does it feel like when it’s done?
A: I’ve never run a marathon, but I’m guessing the emotions are probably similar. You feel like you’ve pushed yourself past a challenging self-prescribed goal. No one else can write the words for you. No one else can tell your story the way you do.
Q: For those locally, what type of supports are available (your group, etc.)?
A: We have a local writer’s group in Lawrence that meets monthly to discuss our writing efforts, both NaNo and otherwise. During November, we meet multiple times a week to talk, to write, to commiserate. The online forums are great for genre-specific help and just general banter.
To connect with the local group, contact Boone at firstname.lastname@example.org