Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, or maybe the idea has never crossed your mind. Whether you’re a novice or an avid writer, November is the perfect time to either pick up your pen and start jotting down your thoughts, or open your computer program and get those computer keys clacking. This month, thousands will sit down with one common goal: Write an entire novel before the month of November is out.
National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo,” is a fun, yearly activity that takes place during the entire month of November. It is an ultra-fast-paced approach to penning your first, or next, piece of long literary text. Forget worrying about mistakes or editing – it’s more about volume. Jumpstart your creativity and get to that last page. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to produce a 50,000-word narrative work from start to finish in exactly one month.
If this sounds like a difficult challenge, it’s not. The point is to approach the task of novel writing in a way that makes it less intimidating by upping the output and focusing on quantity as opposed to quality. Just give it a try.
Celebrating its 12th year, NaNoWriMo began with a small but hearty group of 21 people in 1999. Last year, 167,150 participants gave it their all and more than 30,000 made it to the 50,000th word by the end of November 2009. From Africa to Wyoming, people from all over the world join in. There are forums, regional meet-ups and word counters available on the official NaNoWriMo website for those who sign up to officially participate.
Almost 60 novels created during NaNoWriMo have gone on to become published works. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, even became a New York Times #1 Bestseller.
NaNoWriMo works are created in whichever writing medium the author is most comfortable. When the 30 days are up, individual works are uploaded, word-counts are tallied and the challenge is complete. Though it’s a “contest” of sorts, there are no awards given. The reward is the experience and the finished piece.
NaNoWriMo Program Director Lindsey Grant explains how the experience benefits the participants by saying, “Writing a novel in a month inspires incredible confidence in seasoned and first-time novelists alike. Completing a draft of the novel they’ve been contemplating for ages gives participants a tremendous sense of accomplishment and leaves them wondering what else they’re capable of.”
NaNoWriMo also offers a Young Writer’s Program that issues a similar Novel Writing Challenge to youths under the age of 17. Participants are allowed to set individualized word-count goals for themselves. The Young Writer’s Program can also be used as a classroom project for children and young adults.
Even if you don’t get started right away or finish an entire 50,000-word novel by the 30th, you can still follow NaNoWriMo’s simple principle on your own to get your novel underway. The strategy, according to the website is, “To write without having to obsess over quality,” and then just “write, write, write.” When you give yourself only 30 days to complete such a monumental task, you can throw caution to the wind. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you produce.
Quick—pen some prose and celebrate National Novel Writing Month this November. For more information, visit www.nanowrimo.org.