“Thirty days and nights of literary abandon! No plot? No problem!”
As we head into November, I thought I’d give anyone who has been noodling around a novel project a heads up: National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us. That’s right: November isn’t all voting, turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. It’s also the month when tens of thousands of both authors and aspiring writers will take on the awesome challenge of writing 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 until the deadline of 11:59 on November 30.
The goal of all this is to get people writing every day for thirty days and to keep them motivated enough to work their way through a rough draft. Now all this might sound a little crazy, but at least eight best sellers were launched as NaNoWriMo projects.
Among them: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which spent a year on best-seller lists and was made into a movie; Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which began in November of 2004 and was published seven years later to wide acclaim; and Wool by Hugh Howey, a dystopian series which made a huge splash in the self-publishing industry and ultimately netted Hugh a contract with a major publisher.
So, if you’ve been longing to strengthen your novel-writing muscles, you might consider jumping on board the NaNoWriMo train before it leaves the station. If you decide to dive in, you can register on the project’s website before November 1st, check out its tools and tips, including “NaNo Prep.” You can also post profiles and information about your novel. Word counts are validated on the site at the end of the 30-day marathon — and if you meet the 50,000 word goal, you’ll receive “official” recognition for it.
The idea isn’t to compete with anyone or write the great American novel in a month: the focus is on completion, not perfection. The goal is to get a rough draft down on paper without self-editing — and then step back and see what you have (see Fast Drafting). NaNoWriMo also provides ongoing support, which we all know is hugely important.
To find tips on getting started, local places where participating writers are meeting, and other support, visit the nonprofit’s official website: nanowrimo.org. Write on!