The Hippo


Apr 19, 2019









Find local NaNoWriMo participants to write your novel with.
Concord Write-in: Tuesdays 5 to 7 p.m., Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord
SNHU Write-in: Thursdays 6 to 7 p.m., ACC, Room 206, SNHU, 2500 N. River Road, Manchester
Exeter Write-in: Wednesdays, 4 to 9:30 p.m., Starbucks, 96 Calef Highway, Epping
Hollis Write-in: Mondays 2 to 4 p.m., Hollis Social Library, 2 Monument Square, Hollis
Hudson Write-in: Saturday, Nov. 28, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Rodgers Memorial Library, 194 Derry Road, Hudson
Portsmouth Write-in: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 3:30 to 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m., Portsmouth Public Library, 175 Parrott Ave., 
Rochester Write-in: Saturdays, 2 to 4 p.m., Rochester Public Library, S. Main St., Rochester
Wakefield Write-in: Thursdays, 7 to 8 p.m., Jim’s Wheelhouse, Province Lake Road, Route 153, Wakefield
TGIO: Thank God It’s Over parties are Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m., at the Merrimack Library, 470 DW Highway, Merrimack, and Monday, Dec. 7, at the Portsmouth Public Library

Write your novel
Locals tackle NaNoWriMo

By Kelly Sennott

 One month, 50,000 words — this is the essence of National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo in the writing community, and people around the world have taken on the challenge, including many New Hampshirites.

Between writing bursts, day jobs and classes, a handful of locals talked with The Hippo about about the endeavor, their progress and how they plan to get through it by Monday, Nov. 30, at 11:59 p.m.
The first NaNoWriMo occurred July 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area with 21 20-something-year-old participants who “wanted to write novels for the same reason 20-somethings start bands.” To make noise. Plus, they had nothing better to do. And they thought being novelists would help them get dates, according to
They had fun. It was a communal, social endeavor, and the next year, founders created a website and a Yahoo! club and made strict guidelines. Yes, the work needs to be brand new. No, you can’t quote other works. No, you can’t co-author a book. And for it to be official, you need to email your 50,000-word piece to headquarters by midnight the last day of November. That year, there were 140 participants.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people participate. They attend local write-ins, make NaNoWriMo accounts and gather support and inspiration from online forums, virtual write-ins, author pep talks, plot doctors and more.
Generating words
Water for Elephants. Fangirl. Cinder. These novels were all created during NaNoWriMo.
While many writers will tell you the hardest part about writing a novel is getting out that first draft, NaNoWriMo forces you to make a deadline and stick to it in order to “win” (complete the challenge). It requires producing an average of 1,667 words a day, which means little time for second-guessing.
“NaNoWriMo helps me be more consistent with my writing in general. I know the only way I’m going to get words down is to have my butt in the chair,” said Traci York, a Durham resident and mom taking on the task.
Erin Robinson — a Derry librarian and children’s author whose pen name is Erin Moulton — is another 2015 participant. She’s yet to make that 50,000-word goal by Nov. 30 but tries every year anyway because NaNoWriMo offers encouragement and accountability. This year’s project is a middle grade book called Return Toady McGrew.
“It does help me get more done,” Robinson said. “The beauty of doing NaNoWriMo is you can get through the draft. It won’t be good, but you will at least have found the end, and for me, if you know the end, then you know where the beginning is.”
Some people use NaNoWriMo to generate words. Others see it as a social or community event, and others still consider it like a bucket list item.
“At the end, you have a story! You wrote a novel! You might not have it published anywhere, but that’s a big thing — you got your story out there,” said New Hampshire Institute of Art student and NaNoWriMo participant Shannon Sawyer.
Hooksett native and NHIA freshman Jared Carlson is taking on a James Bond-esque novel called 21 Cigarettes for this year’s challenge. He’s been carrying his laptop with him everywhere, adding words slowly but surely between classes and commitments. 
“It’s a great way to get yourself out there,” said Carlson, who was also attracted by the NaNoWriMo promise — if you finish all 50,000 words, you can get a free copy of your book with FastPencil and 70 percent off publishing packages. 
Tips of the trade
In Robert Greene’s three successes at NaNoWriMo, he’s learned that a few things work for him. One: stay away from the Internet. 
“Just unplug your Internet. Stay as far away from it as you possibly can,” said Greene, who’s president of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project and teaches writing in Nashua. “It’s a huge timesuck.”
It’s one of the reasons that, in 2014, he wrote his novel on a typewriter. He finds his students respond to this tool, too. If you make an error, you have to keep going anyway. 
Sawyer said one of her biggest mistakes in past NanoWriMo attempts was changing her plot partway through.
“You might get sick of this one novel and try to scrap it and start from scratch, but you’ll spend all of your time trying to catch back up, and you won’t have a finished novel — you’ll have two unfinished novels,” Sawyer said.
York said coffee, chocolate and vodka help her get through the dreaded middle portion. Robinson likes to take walks, which help clear her head, and make storyboards, which help clarify plotlines. Both emphasized the importance of ignoring your internal editor. Done is better than perfect.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” York said. “Get the words on the page, and worry about how pretty they are later.” 

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