To longtime locals with a penchant for reading, there’s nothing quite like 50-degree weather, a soft blanket, and a good book. With each cool front that crosses into the humidity-drenched concrete jungle that is Houston, there’s a collective rustling across the city as people search through closets, pantries, and restaurant menus to take advantage of the comfy climate traditions they’ve had to set aside.
Bundling up with a cozy mystery, romance, or adventure sounds increasingly enticing with every modest taste of fall, but what if this year you put pen to paper (or, fingertips to keyboard) and wrote the next celebrated bestseller yourself?
Since 1999, writers across the globe send November tackling the 50,000-word challenge set forth by the team behind National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as participants prefer to call it, invites writers of all genres and experience levels to spend an entire month pushing themselves to the literary brink by starting and completing an entire writing project. Or, at least the first 50,000 words of it.
It’s a steep hill to climb, but for those interested in giving NaNoWriMo a shot this year, help will always be given to those who ask for it. “Absolutely and without question, create an account on NaNoWriMo.org and join the Houston region,” urges Shannon Winton, local writer and municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. “You'll be able to find so many resources in the forums and other people willing to collaborate and help you find solutions for any writing problems you might run into.”
In years past, libraries, bookshops, and cafés would host write-ins and workshops at their locations, offering tips, tricks, and camaraderie to novelists looking to network or for a little empathy from fellow participants. “About three months ago, NaNoWriMo determined there could be no safe way to hold in-person events without risking the health of participants,” Winton explains. “Because of that, all officially sanctioned NaNo events will be held online.”
While it might seem like this change of venue would cut down on participation, Winton actually expects the opposite. “Based on my experiences with online literary conventions, I think we're going to see an explosion of participation across the country.”
Outside of the official NaNoWriMo organization, neighborhood writer’s haven Writespace also expects a boom in writers willing to forgo their Novembers and get to work. Cassandra Rose Clarke is the executive director of Writespace, and forecasts a return to NaNoWriMo’s original standing as an online phenomenon. “To me, NaNoWriMo represents that feeling you get right before you start a new novel,” Clarke says. “The unlimited potential. The boundless creativity. I love that feeling as a writer, and NaNo magnifies it for an entire month.”
Writespace will host several online write-ins throughout the month in support of these brave wordsmiths, as well as a day-long, drop-in event on November 21.
For first timers, Clarke recommends going into the process with some sort of plan in mind—no matter if you’re the kind of writer who plans, flies by the seat of their pants, or falls somewhere in between. “Have a sense of what you're going to write before you start,” she says. “Most importantly, remember that even if you don't hit 50,000 words, you've still accomplished something huge, and you can always finish the book in December.”
Check out some Houston National Novel Writing Month kickoff events and find more NaNoWriMo events at nanowrimo.org.
2020 Houston NaNoWriMo Kickoff
Join the official NaNoWriMo group on Halloween night at 10:30 p.m. to start off with camaraderie and good times. Then, when the clock strikes midnight, the real fun begins.
Saturday, Oct 31. Free. Register here.
HCPL Writes! NaNoWriMo 2020 Opening Day!
Join the Harris County Public Library system as they kick off NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2020 with Summer Kiska, author of the Shane Ashby Trilogy, and Ellias Quinn, author of Eventyr and Elders of Eventyr. Viewers will hear about their writing processes and have a chance to participate in a Q&A.
Monday, Nov 2. Free. Harris County Public Library’s Facebook page.
Story Spinners Writing Club @ Your Library NaNo 2020 Version, pt 1
Join fellow authors for creative thinking and discussions of the writing process. This week's theme is "Tension & Plot." Following the discussion, participants will have an opportunity to share aloud up to two pages of their writing. Ages 14+.
Thursday, Nov 5. Free. Register here.
Writespace NaNoWriMo Write-Ins
Writespace is bringing back its Friday afternoon Nano write-ins, only this time, they're happening entirely on Zoom. Join the organization every Friday in November from 2-4 p.m. as writers work together to get to 50,000 words. Register to receive the Zoom link.
Friday, Nov 6. Free. Register here.