The writer who elevated the idea that “every person has at least one novel in them” into an international event will visit campus to talk about the creative process.
Author Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), will deliver a lecture entitled, “How To Start Your Own Creative Revolution (In Ten Easy Steps),” on Thursday, September 18 in Hindle Auditorium at the Science Center.
Baty will share some of his favorite memories from 15 years of NaNoWriMo, and he will offer tips and advice on launching a creative movement. The lecture, which will be free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m.
The idea of a month-long novel writing effort began in San Francisco in 1999 with Baty, who recruited 21 friends, including Wheaton College Professor of Psychology Rolf Nelson, to join him in the experiment.
“Going into that first NaNoWriMo in 1999, I wasn’t sure most of us were going to make it through the first week,” Baty told Small Print Magazine in 2013. “I thought we would start writing, get overwhelmed by our own ineptitude, drop out and never talk about it again. But it turned out to be more fun than we ever dreamed.”
Now a nonprofit organization, NaNoWriMo counted 310,000 adult novelists participating in the event in 2013, as well as an additional 89,500 young writers. The initiative has given rise to related programs, such as local liaisons in 595 regions, 650 participating libraries and bookstores and 2,000 participating classrooms.
The organization describes its mission as empowering and encouraging creativity worldwide through writing. “Valuing enthusiasm, determination and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel,” its website announces.
For his part, Professor Nelson said, “I think I realized it was big when ‘November’ was the answer to a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. [The clue was “National Novel Writing Month.”] The entire concept of just writing something fast and not worrying about editing has big appeal to those of us who have to be perfectionists in crafting other kinds of writing.”
The event’s impact has even been felt on traditional publishing; more than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been printed by traditional publishing houses. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.
In addition to his role as founder of NaNoWriMo, Baty is the author of two books, No Plot? No Problem and Ready, Set, Novel, both of which offer advice and tips on writing a novel. He also is the founder of Chris Baty Studios, an Oakland, Calif.-based company that produces poster designs to promote new books.