Qatar National Library encourages creativity with Novel Writing Month

Qatar National Library Creative Writing Group.

Doha: Thousands of novelists inhabit the shelves of the Qatar National Library (QNL), but a few more type away every week in an attempt to write a 50,000-word book in just one month.

All of the authors are members of the Library’s Creative Writing Group — a group of individuals who have taken on the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the fourth year in a row. The goal is simple but challenging – to write 50,000 words in just 30 days, which is the length of an average novel, an average of about 1,700 words a day.

The rules of the challenge are quite loose, with the novel not necessarily being completed, and the 50,000 words being able to consist of plotting and character development. The main goal is to encourage people to learn to love creative writing and to write every day.

Lynne Fraser, senior writing specialist at QNL, said the event was a great opportunity for new writers to build their confidence and a chance for experienced authors to focus and get support and input from others.

She said: “It’s a chance to write without editing and a chance to write without worrying about spelling, language skills or grammar. There are no winners and you are not competing against anyone else; everyone wins, and even if they don’t reach their daily goal, the goal is just to write for fun.

“What’s so good is that you have the support of your peers. You can bounce ideas off them, ask for suggestions and just get moral support.”

Last year, nine people participated in the challenge. Among them was the Qatari Reem Al Saad, who tried his hand at creative writing for the first time.

Reem said, “I want to publish a book. I just have that desire and have since childhood, so this has helped me fulfill a lifelong dream, plus I believe I have talent and this group has kept me focused.

I’m about 27,000 words so far, but I’ll keep writing.”

Reem said she is still in the inventing and planning stages of her novel — set in a dystopian science fiction world — so she uses her writing to develop the plot and characters.

Greig Parker, a seasoned entrant, reached 74,000 words in this year’s NaNoWriMo and is currently seeking a publisher for his second novel. He found that he was best at mapping out a novel in advance and enjoyed the thrill of putting words to paper.

“I like historical novels that have a contemporary timeline that connects with the past. One idea came to me from a memory I had as a child where I thought I witnessed a murder as a five-year-old. I didn’t, but the idea was ‘what if I did?’. I started writing when I first came to Qatar. I was writing a book about archaeology, but I didn’t finish it because I fell in love with creative writing. In 2019, the idea for NaNoWriMo came up and they persuaded me to give it a try.”

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