While the 50,000-word requirement remains the same, each year is different for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) participants. From the subject matter to the scheduling, enthusiasm and determination will only go so far to meeting the Nov. 30 deadline. In 2012, 341,375 participants completed the challenge, and this year, the organization is hoping for more. Charleston novelists are seeking support through local write-ins, online chats, and get-togethers.
"Who cares if it's crap? Worry about the revisions later," says the Charleston region co-municipal liaison and novelist Lindsay Beard. "NaNo helps people get writing. We all have a story inside."
May the force of the pen be with you, WriMos. And may your stories convince City Paper readers to participate in 2014.
Finding the time
Nicole Wells works full time and attends school full time, working toward an undergraduate degree in advertising, public relations, media, and communication. She also performs regularly with the Black Fedora theater company in downtown Charleston, keeps up a strict running regimen, and is a NaNo Charleston municipal liaison.
"This is the first year I'm doing NaNo with a full-time job and going to school, so it will be interesting to see when I have time to write," she says. "Right now I am planning to do quite a bit of writing during my lunch break. I am hoping to use the program Write or Die to get at least 800 words done while I am stuffing my face full of whatever food is nearby. On the weekends, I will most likely be writing nonstop, however, I tend to do my best writing at night. This year, I have to contend with two night classes, and I usually have at least one performance at the Black Fedora each week. I also need to make sure I get my homework done and stay on top of my running miles. Needless to say, my month will be filled with an abundance of tea, coffee, little sleep, and tired fingers."
A recreational writer
Charleston co-municipal liaison Casey Cowden is the festival and event technician at Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. "This is my first year ML-ing and second year participating in NaNo. With my job, I am very lucky that NaNo doesn't happen during the spring or summer months," she says. "I write whenever I can. Evening is generally better, but whenever the inspiration hits, I make myself sit down and knock out the daily word count. Staying hydrated and healthy is extremely important during this month of insanity. It's easy to get caught up in wanting to do nothing but write."
And Cowden is excited to report that she's actually got a plot this year. "My tentative novel title is Dragonfly. The story is set in Charleston and follows two women who start as strangers but are both affected in different ways by a suicide. I don't have names for anyone yet. I'm a terrible example for writing, and nobody should ever take my advice."
Writing her fingers off
Co-municipal liaison Lindsay Beard says, "I try to write all day, but night seems to be my most productive. I write mostly at home, but during NaNo we write all over the place, so coffee shops are other places I write too. Being easily distracted does make it tough to write out in public. My husband does ghost tours at night so I usually have time at home in the evening to write uninterrupted. I do most of my writing after I've eaten."
You wouldn't think making the monthly word count would take a physical toll, but Beard knows from experience that it can. "In years past I would write and write hard, whenever and wherever I could. In 2011, I wrote so much I ended up with 136,331 words and pain and numbness in my wrists that lasted till January. So this year I am taking more frequent breaks, and, while I really want to break my record, I am not pushing myself to write every waking moment. A couple of tips: Don't use contractions, and bounce your ideas off friends."
If you're feeling guilty for not participating, you can still support Charleston's WriMos. The group is hosting a pancake breakfast fundraiser from 8-10 a.m. on Nov. 16 at the Applebee's at 7818 Rivers Ave. in North Charleston. Tickets are $7, and all profits go to the Office of Letters and Light. For more information, visit chaswrimo.com.