For aspiring Hemingways, right now is a particularly appropriate time to shake off the writer’s block and glue yourself to a keyboard, because November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. (No, I didn’t just make that up; it’s the official abbreviation.)
Signing up is simple and free at NaNoWriMo’s website. Then, the race is on. The goal is for participants to write a 50,000-word novel before the clock hits midnight on Nov. 30.
For point of reference, 50,000 words is just over one word per minute for the entire month. But since we’re already a few days into November, you might have some catching up to do.
The event is run by a non-profit organization in Berkeley, Calif. As explained on NaNoWriMo’s website, which is a compelling work of literature in and of itself, the movement began humbly in 1999:
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 twentysomethings 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.
They must have gotten a lot of dates because the event has grown prodigiously. Last year more than 250,000 writers participated, of which nearly 39,000 finished novels. About 2,000 of the participants were grade-school students. All told, the 2011 class of NaNoWriMo logged more than 3 billion words of fiction.
To encourage writers to meet their goals, the organization provides several creative confidence boosters, such as pep talks from established novelists like Lemony Snicket. NaNoWriMo also has forums where writers can commiserate and offer support to one another.
While there are badges and banners for writers to use to spread the word about their participation, another way to do so is by tweeting.
Anyone else doing National Novel Writing Month? I wonder if I can reach my goal of writing 50,000 words about spaghetti-o’s.
— Mikey Heller (@yoyorobot) November 3, 2012
Twitter is actually a big part of how the NaNoWriMo keeps people motivated to write. Using the @NaNoWordSprints handle, staff and volunteers from around the world set up “word sprints,” which are periods of time ranging from five minutes to an hour when participants are prompted to write continuously.
“The sprint leader gives people warning that a sprint is about to start, tells them how long the sprint will last, and offers an optional writing challenge for those who might be a little stuck and need a suggestion for something to write about,” NaNoWriMo’s community liaison Sarah Mackey tells Mashable. “The focused writing time is remarkably effective, and having that virtual community writing alongside you is another great motivation.”
Since there are various people all over the world leading the word sprints, they go on for about 20 hours each day.
There is already a long list of authors who have had their NaNoWriMo work published. So, whether you plan on writing about SpaghettiOs or Alphabet Soup, the time for procrastination is officially over. Brew a yourself a pot of coffee and show the world you’re the next James Joyce.
Image courtesy of Nicole Lee, via Flickr
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