A writer writes, or so the popular dictum has it. In reality, a writer is far more likely to procrastinate – to watch TV, go for a walk, take up macramé – than they are to actually knuckle down to it. This is why an initiative called National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo for acronym enthusiasts – exists: an online support group that encourages wannabe novelists, over the course of one frantic month, to actually put pen to paper, finger to keyboard.
Founded in San Francisco by Chris Baty, once an aspiring novelist himself, NaNoWriMo is "a program for everyone who has thought about writing a novel but been scared by the time and effort involved." It had 21 participants when it launched in 1999, while last year over 200,000 people worldwide spent November completing the recommended 1,700 words a day (50,000 by the month's end). Eighty-nine of its graduates have had their work published, most notably Sarah Gruen's Water for Elephants.
Julia Crouch, a fortysomething mother of three from Brighton, was once a wannabe novelist herself, "but I resisted the idea of spending a year trying to write one only to find out I was rubbish. Then she heard about NaNoWriMo. She signed up in 2007, completed the 50,000 words, and signed up again a year later, when she produced the bones of a psychological thriller called Cuckoo. She spent the next three years honing the book, before eventually bagging a publishing deal with Headline.
NaNoWriMo ( www.nanowrimo.org) commences on 1 November