Can You NaNoWriMo?

The month of November brings many things—Veteran’s day, Movember, the autumnal turkey feast, many thank you’s—but among its most sacred assets is National Novel Writing Month, more excitingly known as NaNoWriMo. The goal of the 30-day activity is to produce a 50,000 word novel before the month ends. This breaks down to about 175 pages of text in the span of four weeks, which isn’t too large for a novel, but is definitely a challenge to do in such a short amount of time. On November 1, NaNoWriMo sounds like the perfect idea. But as the days go by, there are innumerable factors that can cut your master work short.

NaNoWriMo’s website—which advertises “30 days and nights of literary abandon”—has a number of resources to keep people writing on their 1700 words-per-day schedule. On the site, potential novelists can register to track their progress, interact with other writers, organize writing meet ups, and listen to pep talks.

While this may seem like a slightly insane concept, over 300,000 potentials have registered to participate in the event generating over 84,218,096 words so far (It’s only 5:00 pm on November 1). Last year, the event brought in 3,074,068,446 words total with 36,843 “winners” (people who finish the 50,000 word project). Most amazingly is the number of people who go on to publish their work. The most famous example being Sara Gruen with the best-selling Water for Elephants.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with freelance writer Chris Baty and 20 friends in San Francisco. He compared the process of drafting novels to that of starting a garage band and making music. It’s not really an exercise in creating award-winning fiction, but more so a way of creating noise, expressing oneself, and getting words on the page.

NaNoWriMo is not for the feeble-hearted. But those who get through it will have 50,000 words of something original—good or bad—by the time December begins. If you think you’re writing something great that the world needs to read, send us a chapter and maybe your work could be published and distributed around the Earth by The Airspace.

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