I remember the first time I saw “NaNoWriMo” mentioned in an online writer’s forum. I immediately thought it must be some new, millennial slang term or text-cronym that I had yet to learn the meaning. So when I Googled it, I was thrilled to discover it instead to be an incredible, month-long challenge presented to writers everywhere: 50,000 words in 30 days.
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, began in July 1999 with a mere 21 participants. The participants found the challenge of writing a full-length novel within the span of a month so titillating, so exciting, that they just had to tell all of their friends…or so we assume this must have happened, seeing that now NaNoWriMo boasts an annual participation of over 384,126 writers!
Yet, as amazing as these figures are in a world where the majority of consumers are glued to their smart phones, video games, and social media, NaNoWriMo still has its critics. Some people insist that NaNoWriMo isn’t likely to increase the out-pour of novels that people actually want to read, and that encouraging writers to just dump out a 50,000 word novel, regardless of quality, devalues the work put in by more established, hard-working writers. These critics enjoy pointing out that NaNoWriMo’s own website relents that the majority of the 50,000 words written by month’s end will be terrible, and that it’s completely acceptable to spit out 50,000 words of garbage.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, the critics often fail to recognize the pure drive this challenge pumps into writers, encouraging those who may have otherwise never found the motivation to just sit down and write. Besides the wonderful website tools and motivational pep talks sent out by the staff, the forums are filled with writers, from all experience levels, offering each other encouragement and support-even trading character names and helping each other with quick plot fixes. And as to whether or not NaNoWriMo has ever produced a quality novel worth reading, just ask Sara Gruen, NaNo superstar and author of the New York Times bestselling novel, Water for Elephants. In fact, over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published!
To wrap this up, if you’re on the wall about whether you should participate in the 2017 NaNoWriMo, I bid you to ask yourself just three questions:
1. Do you feel like you have a story that needs telling?
2. Would you like to gain the support and insight of other writers who are facing the same challenges as you are?
3. Do you just need a kick in the ass to get started on that novel you’ve been planning the last decade?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, then it’s time for you to take the challenge.
For more information and to accept your personal, writing challenge, please visit: http://www.NaNoWriMo.org.
Until Next Time,