At midnight on November 1, armed only with their wits, the vague outline of a story, and a ridiculous deadline, more than 250,000 people around the world will set out to become novelists.
Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing challenge and nonprofit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30. There are no judges, no prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone even reads them.
So what’s the point? “The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creativity,” says NaNoWriMo Founder and Executive Director Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”
More than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, hosting writers in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries. Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience.
Although the event emphasizes creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, both #1 New York Times Best Sellers.
“Writing a novel in a month inspires incredible confidence in seasoned and first-time novelists alike,” says NaNoWriMo Program Director Lindsey Grant. “Completing a draft of the novel they’ve been contemplating for ages gives participants a tremendous sense of accomplishment and leaves them wondering what else they’re capable of.”
For more information on National Novel Writing Month, or to speak to NaNoWriMo participants in your area, visit www.nanowrimo.org.