Calling all budding Indonesian novelists

Sara Veal

Have you ever planned on writing a novel? Or are you already a seasoned novelist looking for your next challenge? Well, there could be no better time to put pen to paper. November is the 11th annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a free worldwide challenge in which both professional and amateur writers attempt to complete a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on Nov. 30.

Sound impossible? It really isn’t, as the hundreds of thousands of previous NaNoWriMo winners, i.e. all those who achieved 50,000 words of fiction within the month, can testify.

Because it’s not about quality, its all about quantity. So perfectionist writers out there can just this once forget about obsessively re-editing every single word. Just charge on and tell your story, in any language you like, with “literary abandon”, as NaNoWriMo’s tagline encourages. There are no judges and no prizes, just the magical motivation of a demanding yet achievable deadline.

“The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creative potential like nothing else,” NaNoWriMo’s founder and program director, Chris Baty, said.

“When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”

NaNoWriMo, the largest writing contest in the world, was founded in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area, with 21 participants. The rate of participation has dramatically increased every year and spread around the world.

In 2008, more than 120,000 people competed, with more than 30 NaNoWriMo novelists getting their novels published, including Sarah Gruen, whose New York Times #1 Best Seller, Water for Elephants began as a NaNoWriMo novel.

This year there are 213 Nano-novelists representing Indonesia, both locally and overseas, who have so far collectively written 281,921 words.

This Saturday, Nov. 14, Jakarta-based NaNoWriMos are invited to join a write-in at Cafe Gramedia, Grand Indonesia, Jl. MH Thamrin, from 1 p.m. onwards.

“It’s exciting this year because we have lots of new young members,” said the write-in’s organizer Dini, 40, a secretary who has participated in NaNoWriMo since 2004.

To be an official NaNoWriMo winner, the rules are: write a 50,000-word (or longer) novel, between November 1 and Nov. 30; start from scratch (although outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works); be the sole author of your novel; and finally, upload your novel for word-count validation to the Nanowrimo site between Nov. 25 and Nov. 30.

If you haven’t joined in yet, fear not, because it’s still not too late to be in with a winning chance. If you start today, you have 20 days, and should aim for 2,500 words a day – a piece of cake for wordaholics!


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