writing

Ready, set, write: Halifax writers race to finish novel in one month

NaNoWriMo keeps novelists busy in November

Sonja Myers, one of winners, likes writing at the Halifax Central Library.   Sixian Zuo

In November, 240 Halifax writers produced 4,486,433 words. That may sound like a lot, but not when you have only a month to finish a 50,000-word novel.

The writers were taking part in NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Whoever writes 50,000 words before Dec. 1 is declared a winner, though there isn’t a prize.

“The object of the event is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, thought by most people to be a borderline impossible feat,” said John Marshall, one of the organizers for the Halifax region.

As a volunteer, Marshall hosted regular writing events in November. He’s been a part of NaNoWriMo for the last nine years and won four times, including this year for his novel Fog and Fire, about young adults.

“It’s meant to encourage writers not to get hung up on second-guessing themselves with every sentence, since there’s no time to doubt themselves in NaNoWriMo,” he said.

NaNoWriMo encourages people to put what they think into practice, and get over their procrastination.

“I tried to keep up with the 1,667-word count per day. If you missed that, you would have a little bit (of) stress,” said Sonja Myers.

Her story idea came from her and her friend’s dreams. This year, she thought that she should weave them together to help inspire her first novel, Memory Game, for NaNoWriMo.

Sarah Linders, another organizer, is planning their celebration event “Thank God It Is Over” next week in Halifax. She didn’t reach her 50,000-word target, but she still felt that she won.

“Writing can feel solitary and lonely, but writing with a group or community can make it different,” said Linders.

When asked about the issue of quality, Linders said the point of NaNoWriMo is to push people to write intensively.

“The focus is to get it out. It’s more than just to stop you from editing,” she said, “because this is not about editing but drafting.”

Sonja Myers hopes to publish her novel.   Sixian Zuo

Writers can exchange their novels through NaNoWriMo or publish it themselves. Myers, another winner this year, said she plans to edit her story before e-publishing it.