This blog post is not about nanotechnology. And it’s not about that crazy “na-nu, na-nu” phrase Mork from Ork said when calling Orson, his “mostly unseen and long-suffering superior.” For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is officially known as National November Writing Month.
I was amazed to learn this labor of literary love was started way back in 1999 by a freelance writer named Chris Baty (in the San Francisco area). If ever you wanted a good reason to start writing your “Great American Novel” (GAN), NaNoWriMo is it. Here’s everything you need to know in one convenient location…
The Rules of NaNoWriMo Are Clear in 50,000 Ways: NaNoWriMo is an annual online event challenging ANYONE to write a 50,000 word novel from November 1 through November 30. You get one month to pour your heart and brain into a creative-writing masterpiece.
Your book can have any theme and be written in any language, as long as it’s a fiction-based work. But be forewarned: You can’t dump already-written copy into your baby. The 50,000 word count (approximately the length of The Great Gatsby) must occur between 11/1 – 11/30. Them’s the rules… (And no, this isn’t Fight Club – see the first Tyler Durden quote!)
Consider NaNoWriMo the Conduit to Your Writing Aspirations: I think NaNoWriMo is inspiring – every single one of you has a great story brewing within the left cerebral hemisphere of your cerebrum. By taking the challenge, you’ll write a first draft of something akin to a book or novel, no matter how atrocious or rough you think it is…
If You Have the NaNoWriMo Itch, Make It Official: Visit the organization’s sign-up page to create your account. Once you’re a real NaNoWriMo participant, you can use the website to plan your GAN. And you just might discover/join up with local writers in your community.
You can also tap into much-needed encouragement from NaNoWriMo staff (and published authors) and trade writing war stories with other NaNoWriMo writers globally.
Even Your Youngster Can Attempt the (Juvenile) Great American Novel: If your child (grades K-12) wants to write his or her Moby-Dick now, steer that kid toward NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program (started in 2005). The YWP page will redirect your junior Hemingway or Faulkner to NaNoWriMo’s website, where they’ll register as a “Young Writer.”
Kids have the option of setting their own word count for the 30-day period, rather than fulfilling the 50,000 word goal required of adults. Young Writers are permitted to change their word-count goal before midnight on 11/24…
Believe It or Not, NaNoWriMo Books Do Get Published: Like you, I would need a gentle “push” to generate 50,000 words in one month. I also have my doubts regarding publishing possibilities from one month’s worth of writing. But lo and behold, some books you’ve either read or considered reading were spawned during National November Writing Month. Here is proof:
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (It took this author two NaNos to complete her novel, but still…)
- Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Are you noticing a trend here regarding a particular demographic’s annual participation? For a more comprehensive list of NaNoWriMo entries that made it to the published world, please visit my good friends at Mental Floss.
If you’re reading this blog post today, November 4th, you have 27 days left until the end of the month, so fire up your word processor of choice and start writing. I really, truly can’t commit to NaNoWriMo this year (go ahead, criticize me), but I pledge NOW to take the 50,000 word-count plunge next year. I’ll really have something to blog about then…
Even if you think NaNoWriMo too daunting a challenge, give it a try, especially if you’ve been muttering to yourself for the past five years you should write a book of your own. Something worthwhile will result, I’m sure!
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!