By Karina Sprague, Staff Writer

UMF Professor Paul Gies (photo courtesy of Paul Gies)

UMF Professor Paul Gies (photo courtesy of Paul Gies)

Paul Gies, a professor at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) announced an individual creative writing challenge for students, set to start the first of November, that encourages students to write 500 words a day for a few months until they have written a novel. Gies has named the challenge “SloNoWriMos”, meaning slow novel writing months, based off the National Novel Writing Month, “NaNoWriMo”.

   The challenge will begin November first. Each participant will pledge to write 500 words a day until they finish a novel. Participants will progress at the same pace, but since the stories will be different lengths, there is no set ending date. There are no tangible prizes for the challenge, “it’s just for the pride of finishing” said Gies. He suggests participants post their writing using Facebook notes or by creating a blog so everyone can see each other’s progress.

   Gies originally posted the challenge on his Facebook page and he claimed “it got picked up by a number of students. Some may drop out: the idea has some similarities to a marathon. But not many similarities. Kingsley Amis said, ‘The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.’ I think it just takes a little commitment.” Sean Rowe, a junior at UMF has accepted the challenge and he is looking forward to completing a novel. “I never really write anything sizeable, but I’ve always wanted to. I personally write a lot of essays and short reflections, writing a full length novel should be an incredible experience” said Rowe.

       Gies has been writing using a similar method for a while. He has written multiple novels and wants to get them published. For now, they can be found on his blog. Gies likes the idea of creating alternate world and new people through writing “I love my characters. They only get to live, and see the wild and weird places I can imagine, if I write it. No one else is going to make Jacky Clothilde travel time and space, or the elf Ryel and her dwarf pal Arkmar fight their way through hordes of abyss denizens. It has to be me. And no one can make your character live except for you,” said Gies.

   Gies hopes to see “a lot of good writing” come out of this challenge. Rowe thinks the most difficult part of the challenge will be forcing himself to write “even when inspiration isn’t coming. I think that’s a challenge that all writers face.” When these writer’s blocks occur, Gies suggested that participant “read, so you have something to write about.” Some other helpful hints from Gies: “Back up your work! My best stuff has gone into the cyber void. Sometimes having ten pages disappear is a great way to write a really good replacement ten pages, but you don’t want to have to do that” and “Don’t stare off into space for more than ten seconds at a time.”

   For more information about the challenge, you can contact Paul Gies at paulgies@maine.edu or find him on Facebook. You can find Gies’ writings, posted on his WordPress blog, by searching “Jacky Clothilde” on Google.