Most people who follow our website know that this week we released Dragon’s Teeth, a futuristic detective novel by Suzanne van Rooyen. What most people don’t know is that Dragon’s Teeth was the novel Suzanne wrote in 2010 for National Novel Writing Month.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is a pretty simple concept—write a 50,000 word novel in a month. There is a website where you can report your progress and add “writing buddies”, and most of the regions hold “write-ins” where authors can get together and work on their manuscripts. I attended my second write-in last night, and I have to admit it was really good time (I’ve also decided I really like the Salt Caramel Mocha at Barnes and Noble, but that’s a topic for another day). While everyone did spend time working on their novels, quite a bit of time was also spent talking about our writing. It is here that I think the hidden value of NaNoWriMo lies.
I’ve commented before that I think writing groups can be really useful for authors. Writing groups provide authors with a network of peers that can assist an author in all aspects of their writing, from discussing ideas for plot twists to critiquing each others work. In addition to providing the “kick” some authors (like myself) need to work on their writing, NaNoWriMo offers writers the same opportunity to form peer groups. As I looked around the room last night, I couldn’t help but draw the conclusion that many of the people there would continue to meet and possibly collaborate long after November 2011 and NaNoWriMo entered the history books.
It is said that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis belonged to an informal writing group called “the Inklings” while they were both professors at Oxford. The group supposedly met at The Eagle and Child pub and discussed their writing over a few pints. While in our case the pints were replaced by coffee, the write-in certainly created an atmosphere where writers felt welcomed and supported. This is the purpose of peer groups, and I encourage writers to become more involved with local writing groups. And while writing 50,000 words in 30 days will probably only be beginning of your journey towards becoming a published author, it seems like a fun way to start. I would recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone looking to meet other authors or who need that “kick” to get started.
If your participating in NaNoWriMo and interested in following my progress this month, feel free to add me to your buddy list: