Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

November 25, 2012

Write 50,000 words in 30 days

National Novel Writing Month challenges authors

ASHLAND — Many see November as a time for turkey dinners and retail deals, but others see it as a time for writing — and lots of it.

Sarah Sweeney, 26, of Ashland, is participating in National Novel Writing Month, an event that began with a group of 21 writers in  the San Francisco Bay area in 1999 that has grown considerably since then, with 256,618 participants across the globe in 2011. Participants begin Nov. 1 with the goal to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight on Nov. 30.

The goal, Sweeney said, is for anyone who’s ever thought of writing novel to use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to finally get their ideas down on paper.

“You can edit it later,” she said. “You just want to write. You want to get something down, and you can use all the time you need to edit and make changes and re-write later.”

She first learned about the writing challenge a few years ago while studying at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

“A guy I worked with was always writing, so I finally asked him why and he told me about it (NaNoWriMo),” she said.

The idea of writing an entire novel in a month’s time was interesting to Sweeney, who has been a writer for as long as she can remember. As a child, her grandmother encouraged her to tap into her imagination and write, she said. So after learning about NaNoWriMo, she decided to give it a shot.

This is the third year Sweeney has participated in NaNoWriMo and has found it to be a difficult challenge, she said.

“Well, it’s been a rough weekend, and the second week is always the hardest. The first week is always the most exciting. ... I’m thinking this is the year I’ll finish,” Sweeney said.

With a goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, to cross the finish line one would have to write 1,667 words a day, she said, a feat that is difficult to accomplish without support from others. The website nanowrimo.org is helpful to anyone who wants to take on the challenge, Sweeney said. Participants can register online, keep track of their progress and communicate with other participants in their region. Some even use the website’s message boards to plan meetings and do writing exercises to prepare before Nov. 1.

“Some groups get together and have word wars. They have 10 minutes to write as many words as possible,” she said.

Sweeney said her own personal strategy for reaching the 50,000-word goal is to write quickly and in spurts.

“For some people it’s getting a pace and keeping it going. I’m a sprinter, but some people are cross country, Sweeney said.

She said friends from college and her book club are also working on a novel this month, and they are helping each other through the long, tiring process.

“You can help each other out. It’s like a family. You give each other daily encouragement,” she said.

Sweeney recommends participating in NaNoWriMo to anyone who has ever wanted to write a novel.

“It’s the most stressful and most rewarding experience I have all year,” she said. “There are days when I say ‘I can’t do it,’ but I do it anyway. Who knows, maybe I’ll publish it some day.”

Writing an entire novel would be a great accomplishment, but the most important aspect of NaNoWriMo is that it encourages people to use their imaginations.

“I believe we should encourage people to access their imaginations,” she said. “The world is bad enough. Why don’t we create a world where everything is all right in the end. ... We wouldn’t have the things we have now if people didn’t use their imagination. It all had to start with a thought.”

SHANNON MILLER can be reached at smiller@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2657.

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