Anybody Up for a Little NaNoWriMo? What?!?

Hi, there, HH Family and Friends! This is Brooke with a question for you—how many of you have ever wanted to write a novel? You know, a real, honest-to-goodness piece of fictional genius that will show the world how truly clever you are and give insight into the human condition unlike anything that’s been published before? This lofty goal seems relatively unattainable and is pretty much b.s. anyway. But if you really love writing, have a burning desire to write a book, but lack the motivation to put pen to paper or even rear to chair to get it done, I have a solution for you. . . NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a literary phenomenon that began quietly 14 years ago and has since spread all over the world. Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, and some friends were casting about for something to do, so they decided, “Hey, let’s each write an entire book! And let’s do it in only one month!” Although November is now the official month for the contest, the first NaNoWriMo began at 12:01AM on July 1, 1999, and ended promptly at 11:59PM on July 31, only 30 days later.  The group settled on a minimum of 50,000 words (175 pages) of completely new material to be finished by the end of the month—yikes! The careful preparation and dubious solemnity that normally surround the event of (cue angelic singing) Writing a Novel were mercilessly stomped out—just a crazy group of Gen X-ers wired on caffeine and junk food throwing good judgment, healthy living, and personal hygiene out the window, for a short while. And they did it! Well, a few of them anyway. The first group had 21 participants and 6 winners (winners: those celebrated few who reached 50,000 words by the stroke of midnight). Fast forward to 2011’s NaNoWriMo magical month of creation: 256, 618 participants and 36,843 winners—wow!

The breathtaking pace and severe time limit of this venture force extreme mental focus and stifle the soul-killing perfectionism inevitable to many creative pursuits. Because I often wrestle unsuccessfully with perfectionism and have a gnat’s ability to focus long-term, and because my dearest dream to write a book has to this point been unfulfilled, I’ve maintained a long, envious flirtation with NaNoWriMo. But I’ve never committed . . . until now. Eek!

Ok, my fellow closeted authors out there, here’s how it works: (from the NaNoWriMo website, http://www.nanowrimo.org/about/hownanoworks/)

  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.

Since its inception, this contest has spawned more than 500 chapters of members around the world, many of whom gather together each November in literary “block parties” or fall upon various Starbucks like locusts to bask in shared creative energy and sleep-deprived community. Over the years, NaNoWriMo has partnered with Room to Read, an international children’s literacy program, to build and outfit libraries for children around the world without access to reading resources. Another wonderful offshoot is the Young Writers Program, a NaNoWriMo challenge for kids ages 17 and younger. This program has been an enormous success, spreading across hundreds of classrooms, and by 2011, boasting an astonishing 50,000 young writers who participated!

For any of you who have harbored deep and unspoken yearnings to finally break free of yourself and get that #%&@ book written, I encourage you to check out NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) and join in the fun ASAP! Yeah, November is rapidly unraveling, but panic and adrenaline can be your best friends—they’ve never let me down!

Good luck and blessings,

Brooke

P.S. If you decide to take on this adventure in literary craziness, be sure to drop me a line at brooke@healthyhousewives.com and let me know how you’re doing!

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