Planning, perspiration, and pep talks
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
November is the month when scarves become a fashionable necessity, facial hair crops up all over campus, and everyone gets sick of Christmas music before the season even begins. It’s also the time of year when frustrated writers all around the world collectively work on National Novel Writing Month, usually shortened to NaNoWriMo.
Now in its 13th year, the event has advanced through word of mouth and the Internet to grow from a couple dozen participants to hundreds of thousands across the globe. The rules are simple, yet daunting: create a novel of at least 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Extensive planning can be done in advance—in fact, it’s highly recommended—but no actual writing can commence until November 1. The writing process works out to at least 1,667 words a day. It’s a challenge, a creative burden, and if many participants are to be believed, an incredibly rewarding and satisfying experience upon completion.
Otherwise, the criteria for NaNoWriMo is quite loose. The novels can be about pretty much anything, and quantity is highly valued over quality. In fact, the website’s slogan is “No Plot? No Problem!”
The main goal is simply to get people to write, with the deadline and word count serving as motivation. For many, NaNoWriMo is their first completion of or even attempt at a full novel. The writers come from all levels of experience, with lots of diversity. In order to officially “win,” one must submit their novel for word count verification on the official website (nanowrimo.org). Anyone who completes at least 50,000 words is considered a winner. The novel length is calculated using software, so nobody even sees the novel if the author chooses not to show it to others.
Many organized events for NaNoWriMo exist, such as local meet-ups, write-ins, and parties. Friendships are made through these events, as writers bond over their shared creative challenges and burdens. Forums on the website also allow writers to connect with each other and share tips or discussion.
Words of inspiration are shared periodically on the website from past participants and famous writers. Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, John Green, and many others have all shared pep talks on the website in the past.
Many of the novels have gone on to be published independently or through a publisher, some even becoming successful. Water For Elephants was a NaNoWriMo novel and was turned into a movie with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Even if one doesn’t become famous from their novel, it’s a chance to discover or improve their writing prowess.
NaNoWriMo is an excellent way to create a piece of art and discover new things. Writing a novel in a mere 30 days is a daunting but rewarding task; if nothing else, it’s a way to cross “write a novel” off the bucket list.
For more information, check out nanowrimo.org