Beginning today, people around the world will attempt to write an entire 50,000-word book in one month as a part of National Writing Month.
NaNoWriMo started in 1999, when a group from the San Francisco Bay area decided to write a novel during the month of September. They agreed that the word count would be no fewer than 50,000 words.
The program was later moved to November and has since evolved from a small group to an international nonprofit organization.
Ole Miss librarian and municipal liaison Alex Watson said it is easy to participate.
“You can participate in any country in the world,” Watson said. “We have little subdivisions called legions everywhere. There’s two for Mississippi, and each of those regions have a municipal liaison attached to it.”
Watson is the municipal liaison for the northern region of Mississippi and has participated in the program for almost a decade.
“I have participated every year since 2007,” Watson said. “I’ve done a book every year since then, so about nine years, and then these last two years I’ve participated in the summer as well, so that would be 11,” Watson said.
Watson said although the program is not officially affiliated with Ole Miss, it has held events at the J.D. Williams Library for the past six years. During that time, about a dozen people have successfully completed the program.
In the past, the program only allowed novels to be written; however, now individuals are able to write scripts, poetry and even fan-fiction. A new component to the program is “Nanorebels,” which enable people to monitor their progress online.
“We’ve had people writing memoirs, poetry, roleplaying game campaigns and fantasy stories,” Watson said.
People gain many benefits from participating in this program, according to Watson.
“They gain a deadline, which is extremely important,” Watson said. “You always hear people say ‘I wish I could write a novel,’ ‘I wish I could write something.’ Giving them a deadline really helps them move toward it.”
Some have participated in NaNoWriMo for four to five years, and although no one from Mississippi has published a novel yet, the most famous book that has been published from NaNoWriMo is “Water for Elephants.”
The book was later turned into a movie.
Watson said he hopes people will write something themselves and others will enjoy reading it. He said that is more important than writing a novel strictly for profit.
“You see again and again people saying, ‘I would like to see a book about x, y or z,’ or ‘why aren’t there books for people like me,’ and the answer to that is, well, you could wait for them, or you could write one yourself,” Watson said. “The worst thing that could happen is you put it away and never show it to anybody.”