I know this blog is usually more about reading books than about writing them, but this first week of November heralds the beginning of NaNoWriMo, a truly momentous endeavor that I simply have to acknowledge. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, happens every November. Writers interested in participating have one month to write a whole novel. That’s a minimum of 50,000 words. It’s essentially a marathon for writers, but without the physical activity part, which is probably for the best, thinking of some of the writers I know, (myself definitely included.)
This isn’t just an insane exercise that turns out half-formed rush jobs though. You’d be surprised by some of the books that originally came out of NaNoWriMo. There are several lists all over the internet for you to look at, but three of the most recognizable titles include Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and each of the Lunar Chronicles books, a YA series by Marissa Meyer. Not all of these writers actually finished their entire book in one November. Morgenstern, for example, needed two NaNoWriMo’s to finish Night Circus. Still, these incredible books were all spurred on into existence by one very special organization.
You see, NaNoWriMo isn’t only the name of the event, it’s the name of the organization that promotes the month of writing and acts as a support network for people in a number of ways. Writers who sign up for NaNoWriMo online get help creating a writing schedule and connections to other writers in the NaNoWriMo community. Famous writers such as Maggie Stiefvater or Alexander Chee from last year will write pep talks that are released throughout November. Writers in the same area often organize write-ins, meetings where all nearby writers get together and just work on their books. Seeing as you have to write over 1,600 words a day to reach 50,000 by the end of the month, authors definitely need all the help they can get.
The sheer numbers can be intimidating, and sure, NaNoWriMo can’t be attempted by everyone every year, but many people praise the month long event for giving them the motivation to write with a focus and intensity they never knew, to start that one story they never thought they could put down to paper. It’s the community and network that really pulls people through.
We’re only four days into November, so if you’re really into the idea, there’s still time to sign up. This November also happens to be when I have finals, so I won’t be able to join you, unfortunately. The 50,000+ words I’ll be writing this month will all be for term papers and exams, and trust me it’s much less readable and enjoyable than Water for Elephants.
If you’re still intrigued by NaNoWriMo but feel left out because you can’t write, maybe you’d like to hear about the organization’s charity work and see how you could support it. They’ve got writing camps for young people, initiatives to build spaces for writing in libraries and the like, and school programs to develop writing skills and creative expression. They have a shop for merchandise and donations on their site.
I realize now this is starting to sound like sponsored content but I swear it isn’t. This whole concept, from the idea to the organization, just appeals to me so much as a reader and writer. Hopefully I’ve intrigued you too. Whether you decide to participate in NaNoWriMo, check out their organization, or even just chase down some famous NaNoWriMo books and read them, I hope you’ll find a way to celebrate National Novel Writing Month.