NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. For anyone who does not know what NaNoWriMo is, it is National Novel Writing Month in which writers all over the world embark on a mad marathon of writing from the 1st to the 30th November with the aim of reaching a target of 50,000 words. That’s 1,677 words a day.
The event was started by a guy called Chris Baty back in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area. A total of 29 people took part. The following year an official website was created and 140 participants joined, 29 of whom completed the challenge. Chris expected a similar number the following year but 5,000 signed up – causing a bit of a headache for the organisers and the technology.
In 2002, following a lot of media attention, 14,000 people signed up for NaNoWriMo and it has continued to grow. Last year 310,095 writers took part. It is a huge, global community of writers with forums which provide a place for support, advice and information. There are regional Municipal Liaisons (ML) who help on a voluntary basis with organising local events, ‘meet-ups’ and to offer advice. A buddy system is in place so you can have someone to keep you going when you start to flag.
The rules are simple. You sit down and you start writing at 12 am on November 1st (when you sign up online you can adjust the clock to match your own time zone). The work must be new but it can be on any theme, it can be the complete story or the beginning of a longer work. You can post the number of words achieved each day and at the end of the month you put the entire work onto the site to be verified – if it’s 50,000 words or more, you have ‘won’. The prize is a sticker to put on your website or blog – so although it would be very easy to cheat it’s simply not worth it. Oh, and CreateSpace offer to produce a draft copy of your finished manuscript.
The aim is to get people to start writing, get the words down and worry about editing later. It is ‘quantity over quality’. The site’s slogan is ‘No Plot? No Problem.’
I tried and failed to reach the 50,000 word target a couple of times. One year, I was so depressed about my failure I swore I’d never do it again. I totally forgot it was supposed to be fun (!?). Last year, I signed up at the last minute and I ‘won’ though I chose not to have CreateSpace turn by 50,000 words of drivel into a ‘book’. I can still remember how very pleased with myself I felt when it was confirmed I had achieved the target.
Since then, I have been turning the muddle of words into a blog called My Dad Is A Goldfish, which is all about caring for my demented dad.
Will I take part in NaNoWriMo this year? I’m thinking about it and if having no plot is really no problem then I might just have a go again.
Will anyone else be signing up for a month of writing mayhem?