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National Novel Writing Month Challenges Writers to Pen 50,000 Words in 30 Days

By Anna Grace Usery

Merriam-Webster defines a “novel” as an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events. But for those who take on the task of writing one, many describe it as an arduous process.

Photo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

During the month of November, the J.D. Williams Library is making it easier for future novelists to make their dreams come true by writing a novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The event is celebrating its 20th year, according to a press release, and expects more than 400,000 people to participate nationwide. 

Alex Watson, research and instruction librarian at the J.D. Williams Library, said he’s hosted informal events since 2010, but this year is the first since then its been an official library-sanctioned event.

Watson said the literary-themed month brings out about 200 participants statewide, but locally he sees anywhere from three to 30 attend NaNoWriMo events. The website defines a novel as more than 50,000 words, which equates to writing nearly 1,700 words per day. 

Dick Denny, a writer from the Delta, is one of NaNoWriMo’s local success stories. His book “Hell for the Company” was drafted during last year’s event and published by Foundations Press this year.

Watson said events like these facilitate the growth of literature in the state for Mississippians to enjoy and pass down to future generations. 

“As the literature librarian, I am doing what I can to make sure that we have a good crop of up-and-coming writers to keep our shelves stocked with great novels by Mississippians,” he said. “Faulkner and Welty aren’t writing anymore, after all, and Jesmyn Ward has shown us that it’s possible to be an exciting new literary talent in our state.”

There will be several “write-ins” for participants to stay focused, check in with their fellow NaNoWriMo writers and engage in chats for support and feedback. 

There mid-month write-in in the J.D. Williams Library, Watson said, as well as some virtual write-ins using the library’s chat room. 

“Even during the in-person events I will have the chat room up on the big screen so people from across the state can participate virtually,” he said. 

Best-selling novels including “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen and “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern both began as NaNoWriMo projects, Barnes and Noble reports. 

NaNoWriMo’s mission is to provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page. For more information about getting involved, follow this link. 

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