National Novel Writing Month, alias #NaNoWriMo

#National Novel Writing Month — also known as #NaNoWriMo — started out as a small initiative by a group of kids in the San Francisco area, July of ’99 to start and finish a novel over the course of a single month, for the singular purpose of being able to tell people they were “novelists.”

A year later they had someone build a free website and moved their endeavor to the month of November.  Mainly because they realized more people would participant if they weren’t preoccupied with all the fun they were missing in the summer sun.  They also created rules.  Which are partially enforced by one’s own honor system.

So people started blogging about this thing, and the third year they did this, they had thousands of people interested.   In following years, they got a massive turnout, a wealth of publicity; including a write-up in the #Los Angeles Times, and T-shirts with #NaNoWriMo on them.  There were interviews with NPR’s #All Thing’s Considered, the #CBS Evening News, and the BBC.  Not media anarchy, really, but given how it started, close enough by comparison.  They even wrote a book called “No Plot?  No Problem !”   They got an office, they got a warehouse, they got lawyers, they got widely imitated, big Grants from celebrities, they took advantage of the social media revolution, etc, etc.

They also incorporated a nifty little plot generator to/on their web-site, and they also started an off-shoot to #National Novel Writing Month, called #Script Frenzy.  A separate endeavor, which focuses on screen writing rather than novel writing.  Big time operation, by this time.  Again, all of it sprouting from a group of bohemian kids in their early 20’s sitting around in 1999, trying to write a book just so they could tell people they were “novelists.”

Now, while this is a positive endeavor, keep in mind the goal here is to keep writing and write whatever driveling bullshit comes into your head until you get to 50,000 words.  Not a good idea to haphazardly compare this to the actual chore of planning, writing, and finishing a seriously conceived literary effort.  Professional hardcore writing etiquette, this is not.  There are a lot of dissenting opinions out there on this type of thing.  But to be fair, many of them emanate from anal-retentive, “must always follow strict guidelines” graduate degree types.  And, you can always accomplish any lengthy preparation needed in the months before November.  Such as an outline.  What #National Writing Month is really good for, is a starter course for any average someone to begin writing. Mainly because it teaches the most fundamental learned behavior necessary for a writer.  Commitment to the practice of daily writing.  And it does it by default of the one month writing period.

A good example of a success from this crazy endeavor would be Sara Gruen, who wrote Water for Elephants and got it published as a direct result of #NaNoWriMo.  How many people haven’t heard of that book by now ?  Not many.

So, if you’ve ever considered writing a novel, I would suggest you start using your spare time to prepare your detailed outline for next November.  Or perhaps it’s not too late.  November is still open.  If you’ve got the time, give it a shot.  What’ve you got to loose ?

Break a leg,



National Novel Writing Month:

More here from #USAToday:


One response

  1. Writers participating in National Novel Writing Month discuss their goals:

    November 9, 2011 at 10:23 AM

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