NaNoWriMo: Can you draft a novel by Nov. 30?

Juliann Guerra, Crier Staff

November is here, and so is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a creative writing challenge in which participants try to complete a full draft of a novel before the month is over.  For a work of writing to count as a novel it must have at least 50,000 words. Each day, participants must write 1,667 words or about five double-spaced pages.

This challenge began with a couple dozen people in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999 and has grown from a national to an international event with about 350,000 participants in 2015. The challenge is about giving individuals the support and structure to write regularly. Some novels that got their start from NaNoWriMo include A Night Circus by Emily Morgenstern, Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

At the informational meeting on Wednesday Oct. 26, Nicholas Efstathiou, horror writer and staff member at the Geisel Library discussed what it was like to be a published writer. He said that a high school teacher once told him to just write, even if it meant writing four pages of garbage, at least it was words on a page.  He still uses this technique by writing his whole piece before going back and editing; even if that means he sometimes needs to scrap 20,000 words at a time.

When it comes to publishing, Nicholas Efstathiou advises that one does not get offended, even if rejected multiple times before finally having a novel accepted.  It’s important to get a literary agent and doing research to find out what books they have represented to make the chances of one choosing your book.

Efstathiou says, “Read what you want to write,” because reading the successful books of a genre is what is going to make a better writer.

This is the second year Saint Anselm College has organized the NaNoWriMo challenge through the library and there has yet to be someone to complete the full 50,000 words. There will be two write in sessions at the library in November.  One on the Nov. 12 to get together with other participants and write and support each other; the other is Nov. 30 to finish the challenge and see how much of the 50,000 words one was able to accomplish.

If you’re interested in trying out your own creative writing skills you can create an account at or contact Hannah Lindquist at the library for more information.