Thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon began today for aspiring novelists participating in National Novel Writing Month. Launched in 1999, NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year, over 200,000 people signed up, writing 2,872,682,109 words.
Of course, you can write a novel whenever you want to, and you can also write 1,667 words a day whenever you want to. But the power of November is twofold: first, it’s a community of people, all doing the same thing at the same time, encouraging each other; and second, it’s a way to force you to get over the very first hurdle toward being a writer – writing. No, what you write in 30 days will probably not be very good. No, you’re not going to go off on December 1 and query an agent (and if you do, then you’re one of the ones giving NaNo-ers a bad rep). But at the very least you’ll have practice writing, and at best you might have the start of something great.
Though if you want a success story, look no farther than Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus, the best new book I’ve read this year. The debut novel (which garnered a six-figure deal) started life during NaNoWriMo five years ago. Morgenstern is the first to point out that the book was nowhere near finished after 30 days, but it was at least a start, and sometimes that’s what you really need.
Also, for novelists in the crowd whether you’re participating or not – good news for your technology needs! Writing software Scrivener is about to be available for Windows. You can pre-order it now for 10% off and an additional discount with code NANOWRIMO. I’m a huge fan of this software and have used it on Mac for years – I also know some people who have had good success using it to organize their dissertations.
Any readers participating in the challenge this year? If so, let us know what your novel’s about!