Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Culture Lesson: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo ("Naah-No-Wree-Moe"): National Writing Month; thirty days of steadily writing one 75 page, 50,000 word novel and also dedicating one's whining to the singular topic and stress of completing the committed task.
(I kid about the whining. Maybe.) From November 1 through 30, committed professional and amateur writers commit their time to accomplishing the draft for one 75 page novel. Participants can sign up online and participate and network with other devotees while tracking the project's progress.

The idea is to write a novel and worry about edits later. Rather than agonize over worthiness of content and plot, writers must focus on flying over literary hurdles, trudging through plot points, and suffering to the very end of exposition. (I suppose the month of December is for proper editing, and January is for submitting.)

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.
The history, as lifted without shame from Wikipedia:

Chris Baty started the project in July 1999 with 21 participants in the San Francisco Bay area. Since then, the event has been held in November "to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather."[1] 2000 was the first year NaNoWriMo had a website; participants joined a Yahoo! group in the absence of official forums. It was also the year that many of NaNoWriMo's ground rules were laid out, such as disallowing works in progress or co-authored books. 140 participants attempted the challenge, and 21 wrote 50,000 words.

Using the project to combat the onset of winter is actually a pretty good idea! By the way: There are prizes.

Naturally, the popularity of NaNoWriMo has given way to imitators. Matthew Baldwin at Defective Yeti reads a book over the course of the month, hosting a digital book club at his blog, and Eden (Mrs.) Kennedy at Fussy founded NaBloShoeMo (30 Days of Shoes) and NaBloPoMo, the NaNoWriMo of blogging. We'll talk about one of those tomorrow!

National Novel Writing Month starts Sunday, so get to it!

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