Today marks many things: the first day of the month, the penultimate binary day of this century, Halloween-candy-hangover-recovery-day, some number of days until Thanksgiving or the many winter holidays… but most importantly, today marks the first day of one of the most awesome months of the year.
Most awesome months, you ask? How can that be?
Well, here’s how. November 1st marks the first day of 30 days of novel-writing madness known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. NaNoWriMo has been around for thirteen (that’s 13!) years, and this will be my 5th year as a participant.
Directly from their “About” page:
“National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.
In 2010, we had over 200,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.”
So, year five for me, and hopefully win number 4. Yes, during my second year I got a whole 500 words written, but not this year! I’m going to grab hold of November and shake lose the novel that’s hiding somewhere in my head.
If you’ve never undertaken anything like this before, no worries. You’re joining a whole bunch of other people who are in the same boat. Those of us who have walked this road before you are cheering for you every crazy step of the way. And, you may even learn a little bit about yourself in the process.
(If there’s anyone in the Charlottesville area who wants in on the fun, don’t hesitate to get in touch. There’s a whole community of writers in the area who bond together during this month and have a heck of a lot of fun in the process!)