How’s this for a novel concept? Write a novel in a month, starting today. That’s exactly what a quarter of a million people will do as part of National Novel Writing Month.
NaNoWriMo began with 21 writers in the summer of 1999, and each year, the participants grew exponentially, from 5,000 in 2001 to the 250,000 reportedly registered on www.nanowri-mo.org for this year. Headquartered in San Francisco, NaNoWriMo is all about “quantity not quality.” In other words, they want you to write without thinking. At the end, you’ll have 170 pages of material you can edit.
It’s also a chance for those who have always wanted to write but constantly put it off, to be motivated by the looming Nov. 30 midnight deadline.
Since the first month in 1999, more than 140,000 novels have been written, with more than 100 of those getting published. Sara Gruen wrote the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, “Water For Elephants” as a NaNoWriMo novel. So without the NaNoWriMo site, the world might have never seen Robert Pattinson paired with Reese Witherspoon in the major motion picture adaptation.
Though donations are encouraged, there is no fee to participate in the project, and in December, visitors to the site can read the work of writers who met the minimum 50,000 word count.
The writer’s process
It is possible to write a novel in one month. The question I should be asking is, is it possible for me to do it? I have an idea in my head of some of the characters, but other than that, I have absolutely no idea where this story will go. However, the idea of writing without a plan excites me. If I don’t have an outline of a story, I should at least have an outline of the next four weeks:
Write at least 1,700 words or more a day to get off on the right, inspired foot
Concentrate on writing without thinking and get out of the habit of going over every sentence
Wake up early and write, as opposed to waiting until nighttime
Develop definite characters with solid backgrounds
By the beginning of Week 2, I should have already figured out my conflict and have begun to lead the characters to it
NaNoWriMo suggests 22,000 words by the weekend, but I’ll aim for 25,000.
Start to think about the future of the story: Where will these characters go and how should it affect their actions in this point of the novel?
A conflict should be developed and actions should be leading up to this point
Try to stay positive: It’s half over, and my sleep pattern will be normal again soon!
Main goal: Write as much as I can as the last week (and Thanksgiving!) approaches
One week left means my characters will most likely be at or going through the climax of the novel. The next question on my mind will be: How will this end?
My (hopefully tiny) bit of procrastination will probably show through at the end of this week, so I’ll aim for 2,000- to 5,000- word days
Hit 50,000 words and submit my novel to the website by midnight on Nov. 30. Get book deal, fame ensues!
Follow Sam's challenge on Twitter @samwritesanovel