No time for writer’s block, National Novel Writing Month pushes writers to creative extremes

NaNoWriMo Calgary is in full swing at this point, but just because the month is winding down, it doesn’t mean you can’t emulate the event in December! 

It’s the month of November, and for a number of writers around the world, it’s time to write an entire book.

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is a month where authors and writers around the globe attempt to write a manuscript of 50,000 words over the span of 30 days.

This can be a completed novel, or the first 50,000 words of a novel the author wants to complete later.

Claire Gjertsen, a four-time participant in NaNoWriMo, says that the month pushes one to write by reminding participants how “simple the act of writing can be once you are pressured to remove your inner critic.”

“It is the greatest exercise for a writer.”

She participated in the challenge in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and is currently participating in it this year as well. She was successful her first two years, but didn’t make it in 2010.

Gjertsen won her first challenge when she was only 13 years old.

“The month pushes one creatively because there’s not a lot of time to plan”, Gjertson says.

With the time constraints in place for participants, she says her novels can get “pushed in a new direction” and she has come up with some strange novels as a result.

“It is a great reset button to venture away from perfectionism.”

She also adds how valuable it is for writers to produce work consistently, and how the month pushes participants to do so, even if they feel it isn’t their best work.

“Honestly, I think Nano [National Novel Writing Month] is one of the best things I have ever done in my life.”

The writing month was started in 1999 by freelance writer Chris Baty. The challenge has grown from 21 participants in its first year to over 400,000 people in 2015.

Prizes are not awarded for quality or speed of the writing, and anyone who reaches the 50,000-word mark is regarded a winner.

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