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The write stuff

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 9:17 p.m. CDT; updated 3:59 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Elizabeth Bishop, who has enjoyed writing since she was a young girl, will be taking part in her fourth year of National Novel Writing Month.

COLUMBIA — As November arrives, so does National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo — that’s “NANO-RHYMO,” and people really do use the short-hand — is an exercise in perseverance, challenging participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November. If the goal is reached, the writer “wins” NaNoWriMo.

The contest was started in July 1999 by Chris Baty and a group of his friends. In 2006, it attracted nearly 80,000 writers worldwide.

More on writing

• Ready, set, write: Columbia-area writers planned to kick off National Novel Writing Month in a group writing session starting at midnight. on Thursday, Nov. 1. An account will be posted at columbiamissourian.com. • Reporters on the Missourian’s Muse beat will take on the challenge unofficially and start writing at midnight. Visit missouriannovelmonth.wordpress.com. Want to write your way through the month? Find out more at nanowrimo.org.


MU senior Elizabeth Bishop is undertaking the challenge for the fourth time. A student of early European history, she is one of 40 to 50 participants expected so far in the Columbia area. The only time she successfully completed NaNoWriMo was in 2004.

Here is a snapshot of Bishop:

Favorite authors: J.R.R. Tolkien (a favorite since she was 12), Catherine Kerr and Mercedes Lackey.

Hobbies/activities: Historical costuming, spinning and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Literary themes: “I used to write a lot of urban fantasy, but I’m starting to move away from that. I’ve tried cyber punk." She says she's now doing steampunk, a genre that is in a setting in which steam-powered technology in Victorian aesthetics is taken to an extreme but not a modern one.

What makes NaNoWriMo fun: “The people. I really like the social aspect of it, and the people keep you motivated. If I was doing this by myself, I’d probably quit.”

Hardest thing about NaNoWriMo: “If you have solid characters, the writing comes easily, but it’s a matter of finding the time.”

Ideal writing environment: “If it’s quiet, I get distracted. I need noise — music, people or a movie playing in the background.”

Advice for newbies: “I don’t plan anything. It’s never worked for me. The last time I tried, it just didn’t work. Just dive into it.”


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