It’s Nov.7, do you know what your word count is? If you answered “yes,” chances are you’re involved with National Novel Writing Month. If you answered, “no,” and considered the question bizarre, you’re probably not alone.
Origins of National Novel Writing Month
National Novel Writing Month, commonly called “NanoWriMo,” began as one writer’s need to finish a draft of a novel. When that San Francisco-based writer called upon his friends to keep him accountable, the idea grew into a way to get other writers to commit to writing a novel in one month.
The basics of National Novel Writing Month are that participants register on the website, enter the specifics of their intended novels (genre, synopsis, cover art) and attempt to write at least 1,667 words per day to reach a minimum word count of 50,000 words at the end of the month.
And that’s it – -for basics. To fully get involved, participants should go to kick-off parties held in their regions (Indiana has several, as do other states), attend write-ins, and enjoy a Thank God It’s Over Party, usually held around Dec. 1 or so, depending on region.
In addition, participants are invited to a Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco where they can meet in the beautiful Julia Morgan ballroom, and engage in a seven-hour write-a-thon, are treated to cocktails, great food, giveaways, and more.
National Novel Writing Month participants (affectionately called “Wrimos”) are represented by almost all points on the globe, from Africa to Iceland; from Ireland to Mexico, and places in between, writers are balancing work, family, school and other real-life aspects to write a novel during November.
While it is free to participate in National Novel Writing Month, donations are encouraged. Donations to the organization go toward getting creative writing resources to underserved populations.
How to get involved: National Novel Writing Month
Even if you don’t want to write a novel, but you believe in the mission of National Novel Writing Month, you can still donate. Donations are accepted through the website, and whenever anyone buys a t-shirt, pencil, hat, or other piece of NanoWriMo swag, most of those funds are directed to the cause of creative writing literacy.
Winning at NanoWriMo
Veterans of NanoWriMo and staff members of the organization are aware that writing a novel (even a short one) in one month is a daunting and somewhat unnatural task. The month is filled with support and pep talks from famous writers delivered directly to participants’ inboxes on the site. One such writer who gave a pep talk this year was Roxane Gay.
NanoWriMo word counts are verified on the organization’s website. Participants cut and paste their work to get an official count per day and at the end. Those who reach at least 50,000 at the end, are awarded a PDF winner’s certificate, and the opportunity to purchase a winner’s shirt. The cost for the shirt is around $10; the certificate is free.
Noveling during the month of November isn’t just for adults – – printable workbooks for elementary, middle and high school students are available on the website.
National Novel Writing Month is a great way for people to address the serious topic of reaching populations without access to creative writing resources, while building their own skillsets as writers.