I’m sure many of you have heard of NaNoWriMo, but what is it, and how did it even begin? I didn’t know, so I decided to do a little research. What I found is the incredible power of the written word.
First, what exactly is NaNoWriMo? Short for “National Novel Writing Month,” it is exactly what it sounds like. Participants write an entire novel in one month. The event starts at midnight on November 1st and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. That gives you 30 days to write 50,000 words, which is roughly 1,667 words a day. 1,667 words is around seven pages double-spaced. Yeah, that’s a lot. The crazier thing about it though, is that some people manage to do write that much–or more.
The event started in July of 1999 with a group of 21 people who lived around San Francisco Bay. It moved to November the next year (because no one actually does anything in November) and grew to 140 people, some of whom were from other countries. Because of all the new members, some rules needed to be put in place, and many of these rules are still in place today. Media attention caused participation in the third year to explode with a whopping 5,000 participants. This called for a new website and countless other technical things related to the event. Now in year 17, hundreds of thousands of people are furiously writing away this minute from all over the world.
NaNoWriMo also features events throughout the month to help aspiring novelists reach their word count goals. These include “Virtual Write-Ins,” “Word Sprints,” and sessions by authors. The most notable event is The Night of Writing Dangerously, which is a six-hour long event that includes dinner and intense writing, as well as some pretty nifty prizes. You have to earn your right to attend by raising $275 for the nonprofit behind NaNoWriMo, putting it at the top of many NaNo writers’ bucket lists. If you can’t attend any of these events, you can challenge your friends to write-offs and host personal writing parties Too busy in November to participate? No problem! Camp NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to set your own word count goal and try to meet it in April or July.
A few hundred novels written during NaNoWriMo have been published, including Water for Elephants (yes, the movie was based off this) by Sara Gruen and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It’s entirely possible to write 50,000 words in one short month, and it could very well be the push you need to write that novel knocking around in the back of your head. Don’t be afraid to try, and keep trying until you succeed.
For more information, visit their website: nanowrimo.org