Write a Novel in One Month? No Problem!

Posted: October 27, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: October 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm

By Tara Laskowski

Do you have a great story that would make a compelling novel, but you never feel like you have the time to do it?

Fear no more — National Novel Writing Month is upon us.

The English Department is sponsoring and encouraging the Mason community to get in the spirit of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an initiative that began in 1999. Last year alone saw more than 165,000 participants nationwide, with more than 30,000 of them completing the 50,000-word challenge.

NaNoWriMo begins Monday, Nov. 1 and runs until Tuesday, Nov. 30. The goal is to write a novel that’s at least 50,000 words long in those 30 days. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but the founders of the idea stress that the goal is quantity, not quality.

“We love this idea,” says Laura Ellen Scott, Mason professor of English. “It provides support for young novelists. The point is not to create masterpieces, but to produce something; to get writers kick-started and motivated to keep working on those long-form projects.”

The English Department will be holding write-ins every week during November on Mondays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Fenwick Library behind the reference desk, and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Robinson A, Room 447.

Snacks will be served at these writing sessions, and a supportive community will help motivate participants. At the end of the month, prizes will be given to the three student writers who have the longest manuscripts.

“We encourage not only English majors to join us, but all those ‘secret novelists’ out there who’ve had a long-nurtured desire to write, but not an opportunity to express it,” says Debra Lattanzi Shutika, Mason associate professor of English.

Both professors say that this initiative can also provide material for existing courses at Mason. Novelists can potentially write a manuscript that can be workshopped in a future ENG 396 Intro to Creative Writing course.

An opening reception for NaNoWriMo participants will be held on Thursday, Oct. 28, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Robinson Hall A, Room 447. Refreshments will be served.

The department asks that all interested participants register with Mason NaNoWriMo by e-mailing Laura Ellen Scott at lscott@gmu.edu. To learn more, visit english.gmu.edu/novel or join the Mason NaNoWriMo page on Facebook.

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