NaNoWriMo: Novel writing cram sessions

Thirty days and nights of literary abandon — that’s what I did for fun last month.

Thirty days and nights of literary abandon — that’s what I did for fun last month.

Thirty-six budding authors, members of our writing organization, SnoValleyWrites, took part in an annual competition called National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a., NaNoWriMo.

The goal was to write a 175-page, 50,000-word novel, beginning Nov. 1 and ending at midnight, Nov. 30.

I’m proud to say that our group, all 36 of us, wrote over 1 million words, averaging 29,906 words each. Several of our writers reached the goal amount of 50,000, yours truly included.

I felt a special accomplishment, being a member for only a year and starting out as a poet. And if you have followed some of my columns, maybe you feel that is where I should have stayed, as a poet. Sorry about that — but I do plan on one day publishing a novel, perhaps in 2010.

As a result of NaNo, I now know I can write a novel. I may not want to do it in 30 days, but if I really had to….

Last year, more than 120,000 participants entered NaNo; 20,000 made the goal of writing more than 50,000 words. National figures are not yet available for 2009. Last year, our group had 17 writers take part. This year, more than double that figure wrote for NaNoWriMo.

As for my personal NaNo experience, there were days I didn’t write a word, and there were days I crammed. In one day, I did 4,000 words. But I probably didn’t write as fast as some of my peers.

I found that if I knew where I was going, I could knock out 1,000 words in 35 minutes. I did some Internet research on my subject matter and on some of the places my characters visited.

Our group also had ‘write-ins’ to provide a little mutual “fuel” and exchange ideas. I ran into writers block and got help from my dear wife, ‘sleeping’ on it. Sometimes, the characters took over and told me what to write.

I still have not printed all 185 pages of my novel. I need to replenish my ink cartridges before I do. Once I print it, I will review it and see if I would ever consider trying to get it published.

If you ever see a book on the shelves titled ‘The Snake Charmer,’ by someone with a name closely resembling mine, please buy it. I’ll need the money.

How many readers out there have said, “I have a lot to tell, I should write a novel”? Well, now is the time. Visit our Web site at, or attend one of our Sunday meetings at the North Bend library, 3 p.m. every other Sunday.

Tell ‘em Bob sent you. I promise you will learn something — I have.

• Bob Edwards lives in North Bend and is a member of the Sno Valley Writes! group. E-mail him at The SnoValley Writes Work Group holds its next meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at the North Bend Library, 115 E. 4th St., North Bend. Contact for assignment prior to coming to the workshop.