National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is just around the corner. On November 1, participants from all over the world will begin working toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Now in its fifteenth year, NaNoWriMo expects half a million people to participate.
Who participates? Just about anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. Even established writers have written first drafts during NaNoWriMo. Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel Water for Elephants was penned during NaNoWriMo. A slew of other published books were written during NaNoWriMo (see the list here).
Writing an entire novel in one month might sound like an impossible task. I first found out about NaNoWriMo last year (in the middle of November), and I think it is a great way for writers to knock out that first draft. “As many NaNoWriMo writers have discovered, the best way to learn to write a novel is by simply plunging in to write a novel,” says Grant Faulkner, executive director of NaNoWriMo.
Of course, NaNoWriMo is not without criticism. In 2010, Salon’s Laura Miller expressed her contempt for NaNoWriMo in her article “Better Yet, DON’T Write That Novel: Why National Writing Month Is a Waste of Time and Energy.” If you are feeling doubtful about the idea, check out Carolyn Kellogg’s response to Miller’s article.
I spent some time exploring the NaNoWriMo website this week, and I’m astounded at how many resources are available to writers: tons of active forums, Facebook pages based on region, in-person meetups, a handy dashboard to track your progress, and much more.
NaNoWriMo has also enlisted well-known published authors to provide support and words of encouragement. These “Pep Talkers” include James Patterson, Lev Gossman, Rainbow Rowell, and many others. Five published authors will take over NaNoWriMo’s Twitter account (@NaNoWriMo) and will answer questions and cheer on participants. The NaNoWriMo blog is another resource for tips, strategies, inspiration, and encouragement.
So, what are you waiting for? I need that kick in the butt to complete my first draft, and NaNoWriMo seems like the perfect way to get started. If you are thinking about participating too, I suggest reading this helpful post by Roz Norris with advice on how to nail NaNoWriMo. Good luck, and let’s do this!