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Nanowrimo or a few easy steps towards becoming a writer in 30 days

There is no such thing as a writer: the ability to tell stories is in all of us, but only some have the courage to activate it. This is the idea that the National Novel Writing Month promotes during its 30 days of literary abandon.



Writing is not primarily about a perfectly sophisticated literary style, a phenomenal storyline or a message that will change the world – yes, to a lesser extent that too, but most of all, it’s about two things: an idea and a little push. And if you already have the idea, the one that you have been waiting to share with the world for ages, why not put a pen to paper and let Nanowrimo give you that extra nudge that you have always needed to come up with your first masterpiece? 


Nanowrimo was created back in 1999 by a bunch of ambitious teenagers who decided that writing novels was a good way forward: first of all, to change the world, because what better way is there to spread your ground-breaking ideas and secondly, to get dates, because who wouldn’t want to date a writer? These two noble goals motivated the 21 of them to camp together in the San Francisco Bay Area for 30 days - that was the time frame they gave themselves until they would be holding their books in their hands, just in time before returning to school – and work on their respective novels. When the one month turned out to be characterised more by endless fits of laughter than by the solitary toil that they previously associated with being a writer, they decided to do it again next year... and the year after.


That’s how the Nanowrimo phenomenon started conquering the world and became one of the highlights among the world’s literary events that every aspiring, self-proclaimed or best-selling writer has a special place for in their calendar. In the 15 years that have passed since its creation, the creators, who have since grown up, have developed clearly established rules and regulations: the participants have 30 days between the 1st and 30th November every year to complete a novel that must consist of a minimum of 50.000 words. Not for fame or the hope of financial retribution[F1], but for the sheer fun of it. The novel cannot be the continuation of a story started before and cannot be co-authored, either. However, since the initiative aims to fight against the isolation inherent in the process of writing and to promote the idea of cooperation among like-minded people, it encourages the creation of writing groups where participants can help each other with some good words – or sentences.


In Britain, the University of St Andrews that has recently been ranked as having the 13th best Humanities faculty in the world firmly believes in its students’ potential to be great writers and has therefore taken on the task of bringing Nanowrimo to them. One of the university’s theatre rooms has been transformed into a muse’s den for the duration of the challenge, where the participants are welcome 24 hours a day. Apart from setting up a dining corner where the writers can help themselves to some inspirational hot chocolate and cookies, the workers of the university also created a silent room for quiet work and a community space that is ideal for exchanging ideas, developing plots and proofreading one another’s works. 


In Hungary, the event was organised for the 6th time this year. According to the organisers, the words written in Hungarian during the Nanowrimo month of 2013 amount to 3.914.313, all of which were born thanks to the immense effort of those 80 people who made it to the end. In comparison, 341.375 novels were completed worldwide, 250 of which have already found a publisher in the 1.5 months that have elapsed since the event. Amongst those who submitted their finished novel for evaluation, a winner was chosen to carry the ’Nanowrimo champion’ title until 1st November 2014, when the next edition of the event takes off. Will you be the next one to write your name into Nanowrimo’s history?


Written and translated by Judit Molnár 

Published: Tue, 21/01/2014 - 22:09

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