Join NaNoWriMo And Write a Novel In One Month

October 31, 2011 | 22:32
Join NaNoWriMo And Write a Novel In One Month
Join NaNoWriMo And Write a Novel In One Month
Tonight at midnight the National Novel Writing Month kicks off. For the 12th year in a row  November is claimed by writers across the world as the month in which they set everything aside to start and finish a novel.

Anyone can participate in NaNoWriMo and the rules are simple. Write a novel from scratch of at least 50.000 words between 00:00 AM November 1st and 11:59 PM November 30th and you’re a winner.

NaNoWriMo was started in July 1999 by Chris Baty and 20 of his friends. During that summer month in San Francisco they came together for write-ins. Deciding to finish a novel just for the hell of it. On the first of August there were 6 winners. They weren’t Pulitzer material but they were finished novels. For Baty the great insight was the sense of accomplishment. He realized that if you make yourself do something and stick to it, you can pull off great feats. Such as becoming a novelist in a month.

In 2000 the NaNoWriMo website went up. Widening the circle of possible participants from people who lived close enough to join the write-ins to anyone with internet access. The event was moved to November because its weather conditions are more suitable for agonizing hours staring at a screen. The second National Novel Writing Month attracted 140 participants from different countries–despite its name- boasting 29 winners. The event has grown ever since. Last year 200,500 people participated  yielding 37,500 novels.

The website which first helped NaNoWriMo go global is now reinforcing local participation. The site hosts over 500 regional chapters where you can find wrimo’s in your neighborhood. Write-ins and workshops are organized all over the world where people can meet to inspire and encourage each other to see through.

In Amsterdam the wrimo’s came together on October 30 in the public library to get ready for November. Host Nico Janssen en writer Lisa Friedman gave a workshop on free writing. In order to get a novel done in 30 days you must send the critical editor in your head on a sabbatical. Most writers have a tendency to pause, reread, cross out and generally go back on what they’ve already written. “During Nano”, says Friedman, “don’t go back. Get work done instead of negating the work you’ve already put down. That’s what NaNo is all about realizing that writing is fun.”

Free writing starts with a prompt, a word or a phrase that gets the imagination going. Once you’ve put your prompt on the paper you just keep writing. You don’t stop, you don’t go back. Just let the words flow right out of you. It’s good advice if you want to complete NaNoWriMo because to make the 50.000 word deadline you need to get down 1667 words a day. This global mass-inspiring event is about quantity not quality. Hence the official NaNo motto: No plot? No problem!

Chris Baty wrote a book about his experience organizing a rapidly growing event without a mandatory entrance fee. There are costs but there is no substantial income. Baty put in some of his own money before asking for donations. That experience wasn’t all that rosy because apparently more people finish a novel than click a paypal button. But as NaNo grew sponsors joined in. Bookstores and publishers offered prizes and publication opportunities. One computer company offered to reward winners with a laptop until they realized that, given NaNo’s brought definition of winners, this could amount to quite a sizable number of laptops.

The Amsterdam workshop was sponsored by the American Book Center and Waterstone’s. ABC offered four prizes in the form of a publication of the novel-to-be on their Espresso Book Machine, a revolutionary device that prints and binds books on the go from digital files. The four future winners were drawn by lot at the end of the workshop. So I guess these four lucky people have no choice but to have a novel ready come December 1.
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