A friend clued me in to this “contest” and I think it’s a really neat idea. Next month is the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, which is described as a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing” where anyone can participate with the goal of completing a 50,000 word novel written between November 1 and November 30. There are very simple rules and the only thing you really win is knowing that you’ve accomplished the creative goal of writing a novel! All it takes is a simple upload to confirm that you’ve written the requisite 50,000 words. You can even scramble your writing without affecting the word count so that no one can read your story if you prefer to keep it private.
Can you cheat, like by uploading a previously written manuscript, or as they joke, plagiarize 50,000 words from Wikipedia? Sure you can – but the only person you’ll really be cheating is yourself. NaNoWriMo’s unique parameters of providing a goal and a deadline for your writing project places the emphasis on “quantity not quality.” This means that the focus is on the 50,000 word goal, not really a pulled-together, polished novel. They describe it as a “kamikaze approach that forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.” So what does that mean? Are you going to be a NY Times Bestseller? Probably not. It’s more likely going to be a 50,000 word pile of rubbish. But it’s your rubbish. And for all you over-achievers or bona fide authors, there is a silver lining that could be yours as well – from what I’ve seen on their site FAQs, bestsellers like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen discovered its roots here. How cool is that?
I plan to sign up, looks like it could be fun…and you never know what you could discover about yourself or whether you’ll uncover the next idea to up-end the publishing world. What do you have to lose? Register for National Novel Writing Month here.