November is National Novel Writing Month (also called NaNoWriMo) where people from across the world sign up in an attempt to produce a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.

Writers need to average about 1,667 words a day, which seems like a daunting task but help is available through the online community.

Forums are available based on region and currently there are 73 people registered to participate in the Brantford-Norfolk area. The forums also allow for people in the same region to schedule “write-ins”, where they meet up for scheduled writing times and face-to-face support.

Shawna Howson, a writer from Cambridge who competed in NaNoWriMo in the past, sees these online forums as a huge help in the writing process.

“The environment was incredibly supportive,” she says. “It’s absolutely crucial to feel like you’re really a part of something bigger than yourself when you’re doing something insane like trying to write 50,000 words in a month.”

In 2009, NaNoWriMo boasted just under 170,000 writers participating in the event throughout the world. These are impressive statistics when you consider it only started in 1999 with 21 original participants, all from the San Francisco area.

The success of the month long challenge shows it is not only about learning to have the discipline to write a novel, but also learning about oneself.

“It was one of the best experiences I’d had that year,” Howson says.

“It left me with a feeling of accomplishment—like I could really write something at length. I definitely fought through major self doubt and writer’s block to get to that point but that made it all the more amazing to make it to the end.”

For more information on how you can participate in National Novel Writing Month, visit the website http://www.nanowrimo.org/.

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