It’s that time again! November is almost here, and the loss of your sanity arrives yet again. Whether you create an outline, plot and character structure beforehand or you start on November 1st with no clue as to what you will be writing about, your only goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.
Some finish, some don’t. Your novel doesn’t have to be complete, but you have to submit your 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th. Are you up for it?
History of NaNoWriMo
The very first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) kicked off in 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area with only 21 participants and not much structure. Their collection of novels may not all have been bestseller-worthy but the important thing is they finished and they had fun! Imagine a group of writers sitting in a room with a lot of coffee, a lot of food and a lot of laughter. Each staring at their computer screen or paper and pen in hopes the words will magically appear. One person shouts out a possible character or location, and the rest laugh at the ridiculousness of their imagination. This is how NaNoWriMo began.
The second year was the pivotal year for NaNoWriMo where word got out through their own website, a Yahoo group and word of mouth. It wasn’t long before they realized that year they should have some rules and guidelines about what was or wasn’t accepted. In short, any type or genre of a 50,000 novel you have written yourself starting on November 1st is allowed. No co-written novels, and No… you cannot write the same word 50,000 times. Don’t be silly!
140 participants for this crazy venture is great, but doesn’t even compare to the 5,000 people who signed up on year three! In 2001, blogs became more widely known on the internet and bloggers everywhere announced the arrival of National Novel Writers Month in November. Before he realized it, Chris Baty the the creator of NaNoWriMo had over 5,000 participants that year.
Over the following seven years, NaNoWriMo went through dozens of changes. With the internet always expanding (not to mention the participants) new websites were created, new guidelines were enforced, word continued to spread and donations were received. By the 10th year, there were 119,301 adult participants and 21,683 of those won (finished their 50,000 words).
How does it Work?
1. Sign up at NaNoWriMo.org
2. Before the event starts, go to the forums for laughter, inspiration and fear about what you just got yourself into.
3. On November 1st, begin writing! What you write doesn’t matter, the quality doesn’t even matter much. Write, Write, Write until you reach 50,000 words then upload your novel to the NaNoWriMo website to verify your word count.
You will be amazed by how much you can accomplish if you have a set goal. Everyone loves a challenge, but doing a challenge with thousands of other people is what makes NaNoWriMo fun! As you will see from the website and forums, most regions have participants meeting at local coffee shops to write with others, also called Write-Ins. You meet your fellow writers, eat and drink, and WRITE.
As Chris Baty has said in interviews, it’s not so much about writing a GOOD article, but completing one. For one month every year, writers everywhere don’t care as much about the writing the most perfect piece of literature, but joining their friends in this insane challenge. It gives them the chance to laugh at what they come up with, and sometimes, even get their novels published.
So Join the rest of us who are giving up on our life for 30 days to come up with whatever 50,000 word catastrophe we can, and get in on this insanity.