Logo courtesy of NaNoWriMo for National Novel Writing Month / Fair use

“First steps are always the hardest but until they are taken the notion of progress remains only a notion and not an achievement.” Aberjhani, Illuminated Corners: Collected Essays and Articles Volume

In 1999, Chris Baty founded [inter]National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), write 50,000 words or 1,667 words per day between November 1 and November 30. That first year NaNoWriMo started with twenty-one of Chris Baty’s friends and 149 participants. Now there are more than 300,000 writers (individually, in classrooms, and in families) in ninety countries participating. Chris teaches at Standford University, wrote No Plot? No Problem! and co-wrote Ready, Set, Novel.



The idea is to write, write, write … no editing until you’ve completed your 50,000. It’s a way to keep writers on a roll. The effort to simultaneously edit and write is often the cause of writer’s block. Rewrites, editing and proofing are on hold until you’ve completed the project.

“Since NaNoWriMo is organized to get people writing, the rules are kept broad and straightforward:

  1. Writing starts at 12:00: a.m. on November 1 and ends 11:59:59 p.m. on November 30, local time.
  2. No one is allowed to start early and finish 30 days from that start point
  3. Novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before the end of November. These words can either be a complete novel of 50,000 words or the first 50,000 words of a novel to be completed later.
  4. Planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no material written before the November 1 start date can go into the body of the novel.
  5. Participants’ novels can be on any theme, genre of fiction, and language. Everything from fanfiction, which uses trademarked characters, to novels in poem format, and metafiction is allowed; according to the website’s FAQ, ‘If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel too.'” Wikipedia

When you sign-up for NaNoWriMo, you (among other things) create a profile, name your novel (a working title), get encouragement from pros, connect with social networking friends (find me under G Jamie Dedes), and meet with others in your area to work together at cafés and bookstores.  Whole classes and families sign-up. Years ago, my daughter-in-law and I did it together for at least two years.

As it happens, NaNoWriMo taught me about what I don’t want to do and I had fun in the process. One problem for the poet when it comes to longer works is that poetry allows us to say what we want to say with the great power of economy, not something to be underestimated.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year because I’ve been playing with an idea for a novella after someone characterized my writing as “alien” and someone else said “other worldly.” We do learn from and are inspired by readers and critics. Those characterizations made me think of magical realism, a thought that captured me attention and fired my passion. Magical realism will be my experiment this year.

“Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is a genre of narrative fiction and, more broadly, art (literature, painting, film, theatre, etc.) that, while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, expresses a primarily realistic view of the real world while also adding or revealing magical elements. It is sometimes called fabulism, in reference to the conventions of fables, myths, and allegory. “Magical realism”, perhaps the most common term, often refers to fiction and literature in particular, with magic or the supernatural presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.

“The terms are broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe”. Many writers are categorized as “magical realists”, which confuses the term and its wide definition. Irene Guenther tackles the German roots of the term, and how art is related to literature. Magical realism is often associated with Latin American literature, particularly authors including genre founders Gabriel García Márquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, Jorge Luis Borges, Elena Garro, Juan Rulfo, Rómulo Gallegos, and Isabel Allende. In English literature, its chief exponents include Salman Rushdie, Alice Hoffman, and Nick Joaquin.” Wikipedia

I know many reading here have participated over the years but this will be news to some.  I encourage you to join in. If nothing else, you will exercise your imagination and writing muscle, learn somethings about yourself, and end the year on a productive note.

“Since 2006, hundreds of novels first drafted during NaNoWriMo have been published.” HERE is a list of NaNoWriMo books that are published. There are quite a few names you will recognize.

“The world needs your novel.” Chris Baty

To sign-up and learn more link HERE.


Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woma

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