It’s that time of year again. November 1. A day that I both dread and anxiously anticipate.
On November 1, literally thousands of writers tackle the challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel in one month during an event known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.
It’s hard to explain the program – and even harder to describe why anyone would sign up to create 1,667 words a day (that’s the pace you need to maintain to finish on time) – and yet it’s become phenomenally popular, with an estimated 300,000 writers from around the world participating this year.
This is my second year participating. Last year I completed a supernatural mystery entitled “Promises to the Dead”. I’m still editing it. That pesky cookbook “Cooking With Honey” got in my way. 🙂
NaNoWriMo began in 1991, the brainchild of freelance writer Chris Baty, with “20 other overcaffeinated yahoos,” in the San Francisco Bay Area. “We wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands,” Baty writes on the event’s Web site. “Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.”
But a funny thing happened on the way to 50,000 words. They discovered the writing process was fun, something they hadn’t expected. It was like watching TV. “You get a bunch of friends together, load up on caffeine and junk food, and stare at a glowing screen for a couple of hours,” Baty writes. “And a story spins itself out in front of you.”
The next year, a friend created a web site, and 140 people participated, with 29 winners – as those who complete the 50,000 words by the Nov. 30 deadline are called. Since then, Baty’s turned the project over to the nonprofit Oakland-based Office of Letters and Light (supported by donations and corporate sponsors) and NaNoWriMo has grown to more than 500 official chapters around the world. Last year 256,618 people participated, with 36,843 winners.
Kids can get involved, too. More than 100 schools participated in the Young Writers Program in 2005, increasing to 2,000 last year.
Perhaps the most impressive number of all? The number of words officially logged during last year’s event: 3,074,068,446. (If you haven’t guessed yet, the Office of Letters and Light loves statistics and you can find all sorts of numbers on the web site.)
Another impressive number – although it’s listed only as “many” – are the NaNoWriMo winners who go on to publish novels. One of the most successful is Sara Gruen, author of the bestselling “Water for Elephants.”
Once you’ve registered on the Web site, you’re privy to all kinds of encouragement (and distraction, if you’re not disciplined). You can join a local group of writers, attend writing events (known as “write-ins”) and discuss your novel on various forums with writers from around the world.
This year I’m writing a supernatural thriller entitled “The Warlock of Wall Street.” I’ll still be posting on Romancing the Bee, which is my first love. Probably recipes containing lots of chocolate and caffeine…
Wish me luck!
Much of the above is reprinted courtesy of http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2012/11/01/aspiring-novelists-race-to-write-50000-words-during-nanowrimo/
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