For those of you who are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is an amazing phenomena that occurs once and year and, for me at least, cannot be replicated at any other time.
The goal of NaNo is to write a 50,000 word novel (approximately 175 pages) during the 30 days of November. Anyone can sign up and it’s absolutely free. You start writing on November 1st and must upload your finished product to the verification page by midnight, November 30th. You can read all about it in depth HERE.
The first NaNoWriMo took place in San Francisco, in July, 1999. There were 21 participants. The next year it was moved to November, given a website, and the participants swelled to 140. The third year the participant numbers topped 3,000 and the organizers were forced to start asking for donations to help offset the costs of keeping it going. By 2010 there were over 200,000 writers participating.
To succeed at NaNo you have to be able to write a minimum of 1,667 words a day. The pressure is intense. You have to push forward without looking back. The only thing that matters in NaNo is the quantity of words, not the quality.
I have a friend who doesn’t understand why anyone would participate. What do you get for your trouble? Well, my friend, you get a finished draft, a downloadable certificate, and best of all, a feeling of accomplishment. You get to call yourself a novelist, because you just finished your novel.
I first tried NaNo in 2006. My story topped out at 34,000 words and I didn’t win the challenge but I did end up with a complete draft. I’ve participated seven more times since then and have seven more drafts to show for it, all more than 50,000 words. I also have a partial draft from the year I started with one idea then switched to a new one after the first week (and 10,000 words), winning the challenge with over 60,000 words total. And despite my whining and complaining and lack of social life, I’ve loved every minute of it.
There’s a sense of community about NaNo that’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t given it a try. Thousands of writers, all over the world, churning out words as fast as they can: there are write-ins and forums and your own page on the NaNoWriMo site.
Due to an unfortunate series of circumstances, I was unable to participate in NaNo last year, and honestly, I really missed it. So I have every expectation that I'll be back at it this year.
If you’ve never participated in NaNo, I strongly urge you to mark your calendar and sign up. I’m always looking for writing buddies and you can find me on the NaNo site as Lady Cat. See you in November.