“Your story matters”

Story by Anna Browne

Photo illustration by Andrew Edwards
Photo illustration by Andrew Edwards

Every year, hundreds of thousands of writers across the world celebrate their love of writing by committing to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. By writing at least a chapter every day, many people have completed this challenge known as NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month.

“It is a popular organization for people to volunteer for,” said Paige Knorr, a community representative for NaNoWriMo “We get a lot of people working on the project and helping people who are doing it for the first time.”

NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization with the motto that “your story matters,” according to its website.

“We have a thriving writing community in Whatcom County,” said Cory Skerry, the volunteer representative for NaNoWriMo in Whatcom County, adding that the number of writers grows each year as a result of the organization.

There were more than 300,000 participants in 2012, Skerry said.

One of these participants was Linda Lambert, the library director at Whatcom Community College.

NaNoWriMo has been actively supported and encouraged globally by a variety of different businesses and organizations, Skerry said.

Published authors offer “pep talks” and advice throughout the writing process during the event, and participants can collaborate and seek help on NaNoWriMo’s website, Knorr said. Many writing websites, such as Figment.com and Wattpad.com, support NaNoWriMo by hosting mini-contests and providing a forum for participants to give editorial support.

“I follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote when I do NaNoWriMo each year,” Lambert said. “‘Do something every day that scares you’ — and this definitely scares me.”

As NaNoWriMo has grown, over the past year many libraries, schools and bookstores have also supported the organization by inviting writers to participate at their institutions and providing them with resources.

Hannah Rubin, the Editorial Associate for NaNoWriMo, said programs such as Come Write In, which faciliates group writing during NaNoWriMo, were created as a result of the organization, and help people all over the world achieve their dream of becoming a writer.

“Our volunteers are fantastic,” Knorr said. “They organize and run writing events throughout November in their local communities. They are the best ones to contact in your local region, and are veritable gurus on everything NaNo-related.”

Skerry has done NaNoWriMo for the past eleven years, and said he is very passionate about it. “I’ve finished my novel every year that I have participated,” he said. “If you’ve never written a novel, it’s time to try, and NaNoWriMo is here to help you.”

“You just have to do it, whether you’re scared [or not]; there’s nothing to lose,” Linda Lambert said.

Grant Faulkner, the executive director of NaNoWriMo, described the program as a “rollicking conversation about all the aspects of writing, and an invitation to dare to do what seems impossible,” according to NaNoWriMo’s press release.

This year, NaNoWriMo offers a new layout for their website as well.

“We’ve redesigned our site to be more intuitive for both new and experienced users; it will guide them through the entire NaNoWriMo journey from start to finish,” said Chris Angotti, the director of programs at an organization affiliated with NaNoWriMo, in the press release.

NaNoWriMo has also provided a helpful layout for mobile and tablet devices to more easily spread a message that can inspire anyone, anywhere, Angotti said.

Many novels have been written as a result of NaNoWriMo, such as bestsellers “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, and “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, according to the organization’s website.

People who want to participate can get involved through the organization’s website.

“NaNoWriMo gives me permission to write something zany that I might normally skip,” said Skerry. “I get to hear about all the other strange and brilliant novels people want to write, and I get to be a part of a global community. Hundreds of thousands of people do this together, every year.”

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