Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The aim is to write a 50,000 word draft in 30 days. The project provides an incentive for aspiring authors to overcome writer’s block and set up a consistent writing routine. Achieving the 50,000 word mark requires an average of 1,666 words a day – no small feat.
To ‘win’ Nanowrimo you must write 50,000 words – it doesn’t matter whether or not your narrative is finished. The project relies on an honour system where you don’t need to submit your manuscript or even have anyone read it. To compete you make an account and update your word progress on the Nanowrimo website. While there is no reward, you do earn the satisfaction of achieving a personal goal and getting more writing done in one month than many do in years. Nanowrimo is the perfect opportunity for writing the book you’ve always wanted to write but never found the time.
The key to winning is to not look back. Nanowrimo is not about creating a polished and succinct story ready for publishing but getting words down on a page. No first draft is good, after all, and to make a compelling story requires coming back at a later date, editing and redrafting. All this is impossible, however, if you have nothing to work with.
Nanowrimo began in 1999 with a group of 21 writers in the San Francisco Bay Area. November was chosen for its poor weather. The following year it moved online and grew in popularity every year since. In 2017 over 400,000 people from across the world participated. Many schools and libraries offer public write-ins where Nanowrimo participants can work together and discuss ideas while a wide range of forums and pep talks are available online.
Since 2006 over 200 Nanowrimo projects have become fully published novels. Countless more have been self published. Big names include:
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgunestern
- The Beautiful Life by Alan Averill
As promised in January, this month I will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. This project will consume most of my creative energy so there will be few blog posts until December. When the 30 days are over I will share what I have learnt from the process. Wish me luck!