Do You NaNoWriMo?

With guest host Jane Clayson.

One month to write an entire novel. We look at the craze of National Novel Writing Month.

During National Novel Writing Month participants write an average of 1,667 words a day to complete a novel by the end of the month. (Oliver Hammond / Flickr)

During National Novel Writing Month participants write an average of 1,667 words a day to complete a novel by the end of the month. (Oliver Hammond / Flickr)

“Writing is easy,” American sportswriter Red Smith once said. “All you have to do is sit down and open a vein.”  This month, across the country – and across the world – many people are doing just that. Sitting down, opening a vein, and trying to write their own 50,000 word novel. It is all for November’s “National Novel Writing Month. “ And hundreds of thousands of established and aspiring scribes have taken up the challenge. No more writers block to hide behind. No more deadline extensions. Just do it! This hour On Point: Ready, set, write.

— Jane Clayson


Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month. Instructor at Stanford University’s Writer’s Studio. Author of “No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.” (@chrisbaty)

Lev Grossman, senior writer and book critic for TIME. Author of “The Magician’s Land” and “Codex“. (@leverus)

Lani Diane Rich, co-host  of “Story Wonk.” Author of  the novels “Time off for Good Behavior,” “Wish You Were Here” and many others. (@LaniDianeRich)

Patrice Sarath, author of “Gordath Wood“, “The Unexpected Miss Bennett” and many others. (@PatriceSarath)

From The Reading List

TIME: NaNoWriMo: Is National Novel Writing Month a Literary Threat or Menace? — “For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, the thinking behind it is actually fairly simple: Participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch between 12:00am November 1 and 11:59pm November 30. Sounds simple, right? Well, aside from that ‘writing a novel’ part, of course. It’s not a contest — the only things you ‘win’ upon completion are a sense of satisfaction at having met the goal and a certificate from The Office of Letters and Light, the organization behind the month-long event.”

The Washington Post: Aspiring novelists race to write 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo — “NaNoWriMo began in 1991, the brainchild of freelance writer Chris Baty, with ’20 other overcaffeinated yahoos,’ in the San Francisco Bay Area. ‘We wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands,’ Baty writes on the event’s Web site. ‘Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.’ But a funny thing happened on the way to 50,000 words. They discovered the writing process was fun, something they hadn’t expected. It was like watching TV. ‘You get a bunch of friends together, load up on caffeine and junk food, and stare at a glowing screen for a couple of hours,’ Baty writes. “And a story spins itself out in front of you.”

Los Angeles Times:  11 spoilers from the NaNoWriMo guide ‘No Plot? No Problem!’ — “It mandates starting from zero and writing an average of 1,667 cogent words a day — that’s counting every day, all month long, no days off, not even on Thanksgiving. That sounds both doable and brutal, and it’s part of the point. Writing a novel is hard. NaNoWriMo tries to make it possible. NaNoWriMo provides collective support (and procrastination) via its website, emails and offline gatherings around the world. And in 2004, founder Chris Baty published ‘No Plot? No Problem!’ subtitled, ‘A low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days.’ The book has just been reissued in an updated, expanded edition by Chronicle Books.”

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