Around this time every year, all over the globe, sane people go nuts. And many of their loved ones observe that for no immediately apparent reason these people actually commit themselves.
However, they don't commit themselves to the asylum. They generally don't go running off to their shrinks, although it has been known to happen. It's not pre-winter blues or hallucinations about the piles of holiday shopping and preparations that pushes them over the edge. It's nothing like that at all. Rather, they commit themselves to writing 50,000 words in an effort to complete a novel.
November is National Novel Writing Month with a dateline running November 1st to the 30th. There's nothing to win and it's not a contest. It's a state of mind – one dedicated month when writers around the world sit down and hammer out 50,000 words or so and create a novel. But just because there's no money involved, no prizes awarded, no fame or glory to strive towards, doesn't mean it's lacking reward.
According to the folks at NaNoWriMo, in 2006 they had over 79,000 participants – almost double the 2004 numbers – with nearly 13,000 of them completing the 50K by the midnight deadline and consequently entered into the NaNoWriMo Hall of Fame forever.
Establishing a goal, sticking to it by writing 1,600+ words/day, and knowing that there are thousands of others on this blue rock doing the exact same thing can be a reward in itself . As the diminished number of finishers shows, a large percentage of writers do not have the self-discipline to reach the goal.
The rules are simple: Sign-ups begin October 1, 2007. On October 31st, at midnight (your local time), you begin writing. Your goal is to finish writing a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30. Are you up to it? That's 720 hours and the clock keeps ticking the seconds away to your deadline. Can you handle the self-imposed pressure?
The project is meant to be a fun, walk-a-tight-rope adventure of enthusiasm against the clock. The intent is not to agonize and ponder over every single word you place on the page. No editing allowed till December. The idea is to persevere and get it done!
So instead of trying to write the Great American Novel, why not become a Wrimo and see if you can't write the Daringly Desperate Paperback? That's what this is all about.
You're not going to become a novelist by crossing the NaNoWriMo finish line. It's not as if there are thousands of publishers waiting on the other side of that finite date at midnight, contract in one hand and cash in the other.
National Novel Writing Month's intent is to get you writing – now! No more procrastinating. This is your opportunity to churn out quantity; quality be damned. And wouldn't it be nice at your next Christmas party to be able to say that you've finished a novel?
If this is the first you've heard of NaNoWriMo then you're a few days behind everyone else. Sign up now and make ready to climb the podium of self-satisfaction.
Fifty thousand words is approximately 175 pages of writing. Not so mean a feat to produce if you break it down to a daily activity and stick to it for 30 days. If you survive the grind, you will be able to officially proclaim that you've completed the National Novel Writing Month's challenge and you'll have 175 pages to add to your portfolio.
I'll be right in there with you this year, as will Penelope Jensen, so look for us in the support forums. We may just need some encouragement of our own or at the very least a friendly "hello" from our fellow INsters. Good luck to all!
Mark London is a Toronto based freelance writer and associate editor of IN who has been with the FWO-Int'l from the early years, volunteering much of his time in assisting young writers' careers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org