Oct 30, 2015 - News

How these Charlotte writers plan to pen an entire novel in a month

Charlotte writers have their own traditions when it comes to National Novel Writing Month — also known as NaNoWriMo.

One woman plans to start writing as soon as the clock strikes midnight, her prose fueled by a Halloween sugar rush. Another pair plans to meet up for word wars, challenging each other to see who can produce the most copy in a short amount of time. A fourth plans to link up with a writer somewhere else in the country and exchange a care package to help them find inspiration.

The goal: Write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Nearly 1,000 people in the Charlotte region undertook the task last year and about 2,700 are registered members today.

To put the length in perspective: “Of Mice and Men” is about 50,000 words. So is “The Great Gatsby” and “The Notebook.”

To spread the load equally would require you to write 1,667 words each day — a decent sized chapter or what would roughly take you eight and a half minutes to read.

“It doesn’t matter how many words you actually do. It’s that you’ve learned to write every day, that you discover that can write every day and found a way to tap into that muse,” said Sherry Rentschler, who leads Charlotte’s NaNoWriMo group. “A muse is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.”

Sherry is the author of three novels, one of which is the product of a previous novel writing month. This year is her second as Charlotte’s “municipal liason” for NaNoWriMo, which means she serves as the mentor, coach, cheerleader and sometimes spiritual advisor, as she puts it, for the brave-hearted writers.

“You just want to have a place where you can meet some of the folks,” she said. “It’s just nice to have somebody there when you’re tap, tap, tapping away.”

How to get involved

The first step is to register on the NaNoWriMo.org site. Be sure to go back in and select Charlotte as your region. This will get you on the list to get weekly updates from Sherry throughout the month of November.

Charlotte writers will be gathering for “write-in” meetings throughout the month at The Last Word (University City area) and the Matthews and Mint Hill library locations. See a full calendar here.

The Charlotte region also has its own forum filled with people looking to get together in the SouthPark or Plaza Midwood area to write.


I’m putting this at the bottom because I don’t necessarily want people to hold me to it, but I’m going to give NaNoWriMo a try this year. I’ve spent the last decade writing short nonfiction (read: news articles). I want to see if I know how to actually write creatively. Wish us luck.


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