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National Novel Writing Month

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by John Burns (subscribe)
I am a writer and teacher, out and about in the world but with Nottingham never far from my heart.
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From an idea to the page in 30 short days
writing events, how to write a novel, national novel writing week
Many of our most cherished writers needed a jump-start to get them going. Margaret Mitchell bored and depressed after an injury was told by her husband; "for god's sake, can't you write a book rather than reading thousands of them". What followed was her enduring masterpiece, 'Gone with the Wind'.

And what would the landscape of American literature look like now, had a young Ernest Hemingway not turned to The Kansas City Star's style guide for advice? "Use short sentences," it told him. "Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative." And the rest is history.

For many struggling writers, the National Novel Writing Month project could provide the same sort of impetus. Known as NaNoWriMo for short, the project aims to give budding writers the kick-start required to produce a 50,000 word draft of a novel by the end of November.

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Participants are asked to write something - anything! - to get the ball rolling on that magic first draft

While this might seem like too many words in too little time, anyone who has ever tried to tackle a major writing project will know how intimidating it can be to stare at a clean, white page. The key is to get it written; to realise something and then tinker with it later. This is the first step on the journey from clever idea to magnum opus.

The NaNoWriMo website works as a sort of social network which uses rewards and encouragement to spur its writers on. Participants can earn badges for interacting with and supporting other members, and for reaching milestones in their bid to write that 50,000 word draft.

But NaNoWriMo is more than just a website; it is an international community. This November marks the 16th year of the project, and there are now 616 regional chapters of the NaNoWriMo community, each offering support and guidance to novelists of the future. They also boast a wide range of online resources to help you on your journey.

writing events, how to write a novel, national novel writing week
They can then earn community badges and writing badges as they get closer to their goal

The project's executive director Grant Faulkner explains more:

"Every year, we're reminded that there are still stories that have yet to be told, still voices yet to be heard from all corners of the world," he says.

"NaNoWriMo helps people make creativity a priority in life and realise the vital ways our stories connect us. We are our stories."

Make this November the month in which your dreams come true. Open that Word document, pick up a pen, fire up the typewriter do what ever you have to do to tell your story but above all, enjoy the experience. Happy writing!

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Why? Make that idea in your head a reality on the page
When: Every November
Cost: Free
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