No, NaNoWriMo is not a newer, deadlier strain of the Swine flu. It is, in fact, National Novel Writing Month. And while I won’t officially be participating this year, I am going to use it as an excuse to crank out the final pages of The Land of the Dead. You see, NaNoWriMo is not just a month, it’s an event. The goal for participants is to start a book on November 1, and finish the first draft of the book by November 30. It sounds insane, but believe it or not, it is very doable. I pulled this from NaNoWriMo’s website:
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.
In 2008, we had over 120,000 participants. More than 20,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
So, get your keyboards ready. Brew up a few hundred cups of coffee. Have your dictionary and thesaurus nearby. The writing, she is on!