50,000 Words in 30 Days: National Novel Writing Month

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By Caleb Vierkant

nano-2015-write-in-on-sunday-november-15th-17An interesting crowd has gathered at the International House Of Pancakes in Bryan. It’s Halloween night 2015. Many are in costume, but that is not the reason they gather. Snippets of interesting conversations include a girl discussing the finer points of how her elder god eats its victims. Another excitedly calls out the time every few minutes. A third explains why his laptop is named “Skynet.”

As the time draws closer to midnight, laptops are hastily pulled out of bags and fired up, and gift bags containing small tubs of playdoh, a pamphlet of writing advice and future meeting times are handed out. Summer Wilson, one of the leaders of the group, counts down:

“Five, four, three, two, one!”

Midnight. With a cheer, the room suddenly becomes silent, save for frantic typing at dozens of keyboards. These are writers from the Bryan/College Station area, and the month of November had officially begun. So had NaNoWriMo 2015.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a writing event that takes place during the entire month of November. Creative writers with an idea, or sometimes no idea at all, gather on Oct. 31, and starting at midnight, they begin the process of attempting to write 50,000 words by midnight on Nov. 30. This averages 1,667 words per day. According to the NaNoWriMo website, 50,000 words is about the length of The Great Gatsby.

nano-2015-write-in-on-sunday-november-15th-20Freelance writer Chris Baty founded NaNoWriMo back in the ‘90s. From just a few Bay Area writers in the early years, NaNoWriMo has spread across the globe, with regions on six of the seven continents.

The B/CS region had 995 members in 2015, though only 158 were active participants in NaNoWriMo 2015.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the B/CS region NaNoWriMo has two municipal liasons, Summer Wilson and Ted Boone. Wilson has been participating in Nano since 2006, and has been the ML since 2010. Boone has participated in Nano for 11 years, the last five in the B/CS region.

“The region’s grown bigger every year,” Boone says. “The makeup of the organization has changed a little, too. I think that overall the balance has shifted towards college students, and away from our older students.”

One of the older participants of Nano is Robert Bruce, who often goes by his pen name, Arthur Rider. Bruce has participated in Nano for a decade, and has been in the B/CS area since 2000. He has seen the group change. “I remember when we only had about 10, and now we’re like 39,” Bruce says. “This year, as opposed to past years, there’s a lot more enthusiasm. They’re talking about their ideas; there’s a wider variety of ideas than past groups.”

At 7pm on Nov. 30, 2015, the NaNoWriMo writers gathered again, this time at the Larry J. Ringer library in College Station to mark the close of a month of writing.

Boone had plans for his Nano project. “I will write until this story has an ending, which will probably be another week or two,” he says. “Then I’ll table this for a couple months, then I’ll come back and revise this with some fresh eyes.”

Finally, the clock strikes midnight. It’s December and NaNoWriMo 2015 has ended with more than 3 million words written in the B/CS region, according to the website.

NaNoWriMo 2016 is just around the corner.

NaNoWriMo 2016
Visit www.nanowrimo.org for step-by-step instructions to create a profile, list your book, and keep track of word count. Check the website’s forums for nearby communities and writing tips. Find BCS Wrimos on Facebook and @NaNoWriMo on Twitter for announcements and meetings.

This year, Madeline Turnipseed will be joining Summer Wilson and Ted Boone as the
B/CS region’s third Municipal Liason. The Nano 2016 theme is “space,” though writers do not have to write science fiction. NaNoWriMo 2016 begins Nov. 1. Anyone interested is invited to a “Get to Know Us” meeting at Larry J. Ringer Library Oct. 15 from 1pm to 2pm.