Do you always say that you’ll write a novel someday? Are you lacking the self-motivation to get started? Have you never finished because you’re missing the much-needed deadline pressure?
Well, roll up your sleeves and start typing. Nov. 1 marks the beginning of the 10-year anniversary of National Novel Writing Month, also known (confusingly) as NaNoWriMo.
Sign up now for free at www.nanowrimo.org to begin reading forums packed with great advice and funny stories. Then, begin a novel by scratch on Nov. 1. Write to your heart’s content until midnight Nov. 30. The goal is a quantity of at least 50,000 words rather than quality writing. Don’t get snagged by editing, just keep typing until you have a completed first draft.
With class, homework and a part-time job, 50,000 words can seem nearly impossible. Breaking it down, it’s only 1,666 words a day, which can still seem daunting. Reevaluate your priorities and see if you can forgo barhopping or watching TV shows for a month in order to whip out the novel that you’re always telling friends and family that you’ll eventually write.
Or, see if you can take a month-long hiatus from work. This year novelists can go through Firstgiving.com to be sponsored by family and friends in their literary adventures.
If you’re able to earn at least $200 of sponsorships through Firstgiving.com, you can RSVP to attend NaNoWriMo’s Night of Writing Dangerously Write-A-Thon that takes place Saturday, Nov. 15 in San Francisco.
There, a slew of prizes will be given away to the top four fundraisers, as well as anyone else accompanied by Lady Luck. Everyone who goes to the event will receive a bunch of goodies, including books on writing, “storyist” writing software, food and drinks.
Anyone who successfully meets the word count goal earns a downloadable “winner” certificate PDF. In 2007, there were 101,510 participants and 15,333 wrote at least 50,000 words. It is a feasible goal if you’re dedicated to completing what at first seems like an intimidating prospect.
Even if you don’t meet the 50,000-word mark, you’ll still have a bulk of writing at the end of the month. You will have hopefully been challenged, inspired and exhilarated. Plus, winter vacation is a perfect time to complete and edit a novel between festivities.
There are a few dozen NaNoWriMo novelists listed on their Web site that have been successfully published, including at least one New York Times #1 Bestseller. Although the goal is always to add your name to that ever-growing list, writing is therapeutic and everyone can reap the benefits of participating.
NaNoWriMo offers their Web site in Dutch, French, German and Spanish, in addition to English. They also boast that you can write the novel in any language that you want. Ultimately, the novel is just for your benefit and NanoWriMo’s chief addition to the entries is their willingness to supply deadlines for writers who work best under pressure.
Another deterrence that people have is that writing novels seems very lonely and solitary. NaNoWriMo fixes that by allowing you to join a Regional Lounge where you can connect with other Portland “Wrimos.” Events are held throughout the month so that novelists can meet at cafes with their laptops.
Peer support can also be found with NaNoWriMo at Portland State University. Visit their Web site, where they stress that the point of their group is not to edit, but to talk in forums and blogs about their writing process and share their experiences of participating in NaNoWriMo.
Party hard Halloween night, but just make sure that you get up Saturday morning for a good head start, because this November will be the year’s best opportunity to start on the path to literary stardom.