30 Days of Writing

Originally Written for Niagara News
By MAZIE BISHOP
Staff Writer
Abu-Isa Webb, Karyssa Thomas and Christopher Smith are writing together at the NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party, on Nov. 1 at Fine Grind Café in St. Catharines. PHOTO BY MAZIE BISHOPThere may be a higher number of stressed writers in the Niagara region, as National Novel Writing Month has begun.
National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, runs until Nov. 30 worldwide. The goal is for you to write 50,000 words within 30 days and to come out of the month with the first draft of a novel.
Since its launch 15 years ago, the prizes have improved. If a participant completes the goal of writing 50,000 words they will receive a bound manuscript of their novel, among many other perks such as discounts on writing seminars and programs.
Originally founded by Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization. All money raised goes towards grants for writers, and bringing creative writing programs to classrooms.
The Niagara region has always had participants in NaNoWriMo, but this year things are a little different. Official Municipal Liaisons (ML) have been chosen to host events.
Christine Banman, a writer from Thorold, is one of the MLs and is excited to get to know some fellow Niagara writers.
“Our region has been without an ML for a few years, so this year my main goal is to get our local participants making connections again. To this end, we’ll be holding write-ins several times weekly. The forums are great for interaction with other participants, but there’s nothing that quite matches the feeling of sitting in a coffee shop with a handful of other writers, letting the words flow [or forcing them out!],” said Banman.
She has participated for five years and has won twice. This is Elizabeth Audet’s first year participating in NaNoWriMo and she is excited and intimidated.
“This is my first novel ever, and I have a very rough outline drafted out,” Audet said. As advertised events are announced in the region, Audet said she plans to go to some of the sessions.
Among them are weekly write-ins around downtown St. Catharines and three larger gatherings, the most anticipated being The Night of Writing Dangerously. This will be held at Fine Grind Café in downtown St. Catharines on Nov. 16 from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. Games, discussion, treats and certainly some heavy writing will occur.
Abu-Isa Webb, a writer from Niagara, has participated in NaNoWriMo for three years and is continuing his novel A Maple Tree in Dagestan. He said, “I like when the writing community, a generally introverted bunch, is encouraged to socialize together, so now that there are going to be events in Niagara, I can definitely see myself getting involved.”
Alex Sobschak, an artist and writer from St. Catharines, tried NaNoWriMo last year.
“What I loved about participating in NaNoWriMo was that it actually gave me a reason to sit down, relax with a coffee or tea, and just write. It was kind of like a form of therapy. It cleared my brain, and I wrote about things that interested me.
“With Niagara having an official community event schedule, I think this will give everyone participating the chance to meet up and talk about writing.
“Writing alone can get it done but to meet up with others can help produce new ideas, give you other perspectives, and make it more fun I would think.”
Banman describes her NaNoWriMo experiences as positive.
“It’s the sense of community, both local and online, that makes it so amazing.
“Writing is usually a solitary pursuit, and it’s very easy to get discouraged by lack of progress or perceived lack of quality, but during NaNoWriMo, no matter how low you feel there’s always someone to talk to on the forums for sympathy, encouragement, or to challenge you to keep going.”
For an updated list of events and dates, see the NaNoWriMo Niagara Calendar at http://nanowrimo.org/regions/canada-ontario-niagara.

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