NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (which is November). It’s when crazy would-be novelist such as myself set out to write a novel in one month. Or, at least 50,000 unedited words. It’s a way to stifle the inner critic, the mounting excuses, the list of procrastinations, or the myriad of things that get in the way of sitting our butts down in a chair and writing.
The idea of NaNoWriMo started in 1999 when Chris Baty and 20 of his friends set out to write a novel in one month. (What was I doing in 1999? Still dreaming of one-day writing a novel) On the NaNo website, Baty describes that first year:
That first year there were 21 of us, and our July noveling binge had little to do with any ambitions we might have harbored on the literary front. Nor did it reflect any hopes we had about tapping more fully into our creative selves. No, we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.Baty goes on to say that in this process they discovered something they hadn't expected: Novel writing is fun.
Fun was a revelation. Novel writing, we had discovered, was just like watching TV. You get a bunch of friends together, load up on caffeine and junk food, and stare at a glowing screen for a couple hours. And a story spins itself out in front of you.
I think the scene—full of smack-talk and muffin crumbs on our keyboards—would have rightly horrified professional writers. We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.
This sounds like college. I’m in! Seriously. This was made for me!
If the idea of cramming in novel writing in one month college-style – with lots of coffee and junk food and friends – wasn't enough motivation, the deal was sealed when I read that Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNoWriMo. One of my favorite books ever! From NaNoWriMo.org, in 2006:
Then we heard about Sara Gruen. Sara had been one of the first participants to sell her NaNoWriMo manuscript, and had since written another NaNoWriMo novel that had become a bestseller: Water For Elephants. When her new project went out for auction in the fall of ’06, she landed a reported $5.2 million, two-book deal. How did she celebrate? She sat down and wrote another book for NaNoWriMo.Seriously. Deal sealed.
And, of course, Sara wrote a pep talk directly to me: http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/sara-gruen Alright, I don’t own horses, but you get the idea….
So this November, I will be banishing all excuses to write 50,000 words. When I am not blogging, answering my phone, responding to emails, liking statuses on Facebook, or tweeting – I will be writing. When I am not sleeping, I will be writing. When I am not cleaning, I will be writing.
I am not doing this alone, there is an entire NaNoWriMo community to support me. I’m excited. I’ll keep you posted. Or, maybe, I’ll just see you in December
If you want to hear some other authors talk about this crazy idea known as NaNoWriMo, check out: