NaNoWriMo an abbreviation every writer knows

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is happening through November. The idea behind the project is to give writers the opportunity to write a large work on a deadline and to have the support of their peers throughout the process. The goal is to achieve 50,000 written words between the span of November 1 and November 30. Just thirty days to write 50,000 words. To give a rough estimate of the size of the project, that’s the size of a slim novel. The project is not only open to established writers, but encourages any creative individual who has an idea to partake in the contest. An excerpt from NaNoWriMo’s site reveals that last year:

“310,095 participants started the month of November as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.”

The structure provided by the project is what helps new writers the most. With their step-by-step contribution scheme, NaNoWriMo encourages continual work from the aspiring author, asking for daily word counts, providing inspirational content or meeting grounds in order to help with writers block. Finally the site asks the writer to submit a full text of their manuscript for validation. This process confirms that the writer did in fact write 50,000 original words and once validated, the writer ‘wins.’ There are no official prizes other than a feeling of satisfaction. So winning of course means that the participants have completed the word count and are now in possession of a first draft of a novel. The publishing world considers a novel to be anything larger than 50,000 words. This also means that there can be more than one winner in every National Novel Writing Month.

The worldwide contest has few restrictions and the possibility for writing content is really quite limitless. Any genre is permitted and in any language. This includes fan fiction and unconventional novel styles like poetry and metafiction. The FAQ states clearly that, “If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel too.”

Chris Baty started National Novel Writing Month in July of 1999, first locally, and then the project grew over the internet with time. Originally a small group of writers collecting in San Francisco, it soon exploded in popularity to include hundreds and then thousands of writers. This was likely due to the way that blogging can spread the word among writers, as well as some great promotion through major news outlets as the project continued every year. Recently there was a change in the executive director and in the platform that hosts their nonprofit site, but the idea is still going strong in 2014, and there are only nine days left of this month to complete the task.

It’s likely that every writer remembers their first experience with NaNoWriMo, which might possibly be the longest abbreviation in the history of writing. Even if a writer never used the tools that NaNoWriMo established on its online network, the month of November seems to sweep everyone up into the energy of just attempting to put words to the page. It’s infectious and almost impossible not to grin whenever you pass a novice or enthusiast ready to get into the groove because November is here.

Good luck to all finalists in the coming days; may you each win and reach your 50,000 mark!