Tags: Erin Morgenstern

NaNo: Will You Take Up the Challenge?

by Sabina I. Rascol
Published on: October 30, 2012
Comments: 1 Comment


A couple of weekends ago I attended Wordstock, Portland’s annual literary festival. Catch it next year, if you’re in the area. It was good, Saturday especially. I reported to ScrivaNicole that it felt like a writing conference but without the hefty price tag ($10 for two days’ admission, plus $35 or so per writing workshop).

One of the fun Wordstock writers was Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. What is your writing process like, she was asked. Messy, she answered. She writes a lot more than she uses while figuring out the story. And she mentioned how NaNo helped her years ago to just write.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) takes place every November and is open to anyone. It’s a simple challenge: write a 50,000 word novel during those 30 days and you’re a winner. It doesn’t have to be a good 50,000 words. The novel doesn’t need to be completed. It just needs to be 50,000 new words you write between November 1 and midnight on November 30. The idea is to make an awesome start on a novel that you can later finish and polish. Some writers, Erin Morgenstern among them, have gone on to publish novels started during NaNo.



At Wordstock I ran into a new friend from Oregon’s Literary Arts. She is a poet who’d once mentioned writing for young readers. How is that going? I asked her. She e-mailed me a couple of days later. Thank you for your question, she said. It had prompted her to revisit work done in the spring and discover she in fact had written an entire outline for a novel. She decided to write that book during this November’s NaNo.



Inspired now by her as well as Erin, I looked at my own work-in-progress, a novel in three parts. Could I get myself in gear to press on and WRITE OUT a good chunk of it during NaNo? I’ve done NaNo once, so I know I have it in me. But I’m weighing priorities.

This is where I stand. For Part I of my novel, I have 16 polished chapters and 8 bad ones. These are chopped out of previous drafts, spit out and slapped together so I have a place from which to keep going. Ideally, I’d first revise these chapters and then kick out Parts II and III.

How will I use the writing month of November, when words waft on the air as writers galore type away? Revise those eight chapters? Or officially participate in NaNo–for which new words must be written–by moving on to a rough draft of Parts II and III? Either will mean significant progress.

What about you? What will you write this November? If you decide to take up the NaNo challenge, here is a pep talk Erin Morgenstern herself wrote for NaNo 2011 participants to get you started. Find more pep talks and nearby NaNo events, plan your novel and track your progress, via the NaNoWriMo website.

-Sabina I. Rascol



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