As strange as it may seem to try writing an entire novel in only a month, NaNoWriMo (so called because “National Novel Writing Month” is quite a mouthful) must be working for some writers. NaNo is in its eleventh year in 2009, and in each of the preceding years it has grown in termns of the total number of participants, as well as those who have completed the challenge. In 2008 there were 119,301participants and 21,683 winners of NaNoWriMo. The group logged a total of 1,643,343,993 during November 2008.
It may not be turning out masterpieces, but NaNo is getting writers of every calibre moving!
Wrimos, as participants are called, are provided with the challenge and a virtual meeting place where they can ask questions, seek support, or brag about their accomplishments. Sharing the actual text of one’s novel is completely optional: the book is uploaded once in order to determine its word count, but it is not stored or read by anyone associated with NaNoWriMo.
Participants are discouraged from editing: this event emphasizes content generation, not perfection of grammar or style, or the correction of spelling errors. Editing begins in December, once the event is at a close for the year. The web site points authors in the direction of editing and publishing resources, and yes, some NaNo books have been published! Among those who have published a NaNo product are Avon, Dell, Ballantine, Samhain, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Berkeley and Scholastic.
Over the years NaNoWriMo has also branched out somewhat, now offering a NaNo event for youth that runs concurrently with the adult event, and a script writing month in April. The Young Writers Program is open to anyone 17 and under participating on their own, or to educators at the K-12 level who are leading students through the ecent. unlike the adult event, it allows the young wrimo to set an individual goal instead of the full 50,000 words. There is a participant workbook that can be helpful to the individual or the educator. Three versions are available (one for each level of scholarity) and can be downloaded free of charge.
Spring Script Writing Challenge
Script Frenzy is an April event organized by the Office of Letters and Light, the people who created NaNoWriMo. The goal for this challenge is to write a 100 page script (television, stage or film) in 30 days. Graphic novels are also welcome. For those of us who are less familiar with this format, the site offers resources that describe how to write and format scripts – and comic books too! There is a Young Writers Program for Script Frenzy, for K-12 teachers and individuals under age 13 (individuals 13 and over can sign up for the adult challenge.)
NaNoWriMo Badges, Local Events and Other Helps
Both NaNoWriMo offer web badges and publicity materials for the participant to display and distribute. There are also goodies such as t-shirts or coffee mugs that can be purchased. Proceeds from sales and donations help to support the projucts on non-profit Office of Letters and Light, and allow the group to offer all writing events free of charge each year. There are also a number of AlphaSmart computers available on loan, for classroom use in th youth program or for individuals who don’t have a computer at home.
Local events such as write-ins are organized by community volunteers who participate in Nano or Script Frenzy. For those who crave a more human contact, these get togethers can help keep you motivated and provide a sounding board when you want feedback about what you are writing.
For those who are a little more solitary, think about getting a copy of No Plot? No Problem!sub-titled A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, this book was written by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty, and provides an interesting mix of background on the early days of NaNo and step by step instructions for authors who need a little help. Topics covered are as diverse as time management and dealing with family, where to write, character development, and turning off your inner editor. It also takes the reader/writer through the process of birthing a 30-day novel, week by week. If you’re going to do NaNo, why not have the founder as your companion and confidant throughout the process?
What to Do After November’s Writing
The frenzy of November writing being over, you may wonder what authors do with themselves until the next NaNo. Well, this depends first on whether or not the wrimo has a finished novel by November 30th. For those who have either not completed their 50,000 words, or who have the requisite word count but don’t fee; their book is complete there is nanofimo, National Novel Finishing Month. nanofimo asks writers to add 30,000 words to any incomplete novel (it doesn’t have to be a NaNoWriMo novel) during the month of December.
Take a wee bit of a break after that, though, because March is National Novel Editing Month, NaNoEdMo. The goal of this event is to log 50 hours of editing over the roughly five weeks of March. Again, there are local volunteers called the RedPen Luminaries, who organize get togethers and other events for those who crave a little social contact.
These two events are not officially associated with NaNoWriMo or the Office of Letters and Light (OLL) but have been created by those who have participated in and supported NaNo.
Similar Events, for Those Who Need More Challenge
1) 24 Hour Comics Day
The participant is challenged to create a full 24-page comic – usually months of work – in just one day. The 2009 event is taking place October 3rd.
2) National Playwriting Month (NaPlWriMo)
Another script writing event, but this one is confined only to stage plays. The participant must create a new okay of minimum 75 pages, from scratch, during November. Inspired by NaNoWriMo.
3) National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo)
Started as a fun takeoff on NaNoWriMo, this challenge asks bloggers to write a blog entry every single day of the month. It appears to now be an ongoing thing year-round, but the month of November is a special one in which fun prizers are handed out to randomly selected bloggers who complete the full challenge. NaBloPoMo is a good way to increase exposure for your blog, as they run a blogroll for participating blogs.