national novel writing month badge logoThis November marks the 16th annual novel writing month. Where, in 30 days, thousands of participants will pen an entire book, from start to finish. A marathon event that’s known as National Novel Writing Month. And it’s taking the Internet by storm.

Sure it’s quirky and it’s fun – that is, if you think writing 50,000 comprehensive words sounds fun – but it’s also grown into far more than that. The event is an online community, a support system for writers and laymen alike. And an outlet where someone can involved in something new (for free) in an incredibly intense, short-lived fashion. It’s a thriving writer’s workshop.

What is NaNoWriMo?

A non-profit organization, NaNoWriMo is an online resource where writers can announce and share their novel. From start to finish. There are support groups, word counting tools, areas for feedback, meet ups for writers in each city, etc. Inspirational tabs, writing prompts, and most of all, a positive environment of folks who are all trying to cram an entire book into a single month of writing. Use it as a hobby to get you through November, an excuse to write that book you’re always been wanting to write (yes, many come into the exercise with a developed idea, just not on paper). Or a way to try something new … with the chance to read some unique stories.

Getting Down To It

If you think 50,000 words sounds like a lot of wring, let alone in 30 days, you’re right. That’s roughly 1,667 words per day, every day. Yep, even weekends. Or if you need that put into perspective, about a four-page report. (Double spaced.) For those who type (and think) fast, it’s no problem. The words are put into place just as quickly as your fingers can put them there. For the procrastinators, however, good luck. We’ve heard plenty of horror stories of those putting their books off – penning five or six thousand words per day.

But to each their own, some even write better under pressure. But for those on the fence about joining, it sounds far more gentle to spread the love.

As for making it “good,” don’t worry, NaNoWriMo is what’s known as word vomit – or getting the text written down. Later days are for editing and polishing. Perhaps pursuing an editor or additional story feedback.

Does it Work?

Depends on what you mean by “work”. If it’s simply to complete a novel, then absolutely. And if you mean penning a successful book and/or movie, the answer is still yes. Some published or famous stories that began with NaNoWriMo include:

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (award winner and New York Times Best Seller)
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (also on the NYT best-selling list)
  • Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley
  • The Compound by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (received the Bank Street Award for Best Children’s Book of the Year in 2009)
  • Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen (spent more than a year as a NYT best seller and was adapted into a movie)
  • Not enough examples? There are more than eight Times best-sellers, and even more award winners and favorite reads. Click for their titles (or ideas on where to start):

Happy writing participants, we’ll see you on the other side.