Dear ACG Blog readers,
Today is November 1, and this year I’ve pledged to complete NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo — short for National Novel Writing Month, aka November — is a massive worldwide creative writing project sponsored and promoted by a non-profit organization, the Office of Letters and Lights. 2010 is the twelfth NaNoWriMo. In 2009 about 170,000 people wrote 2.4 billion words.
The goal is for each participant to write at least 50,000 words in the 30 days of November, averaging 1,667 words per day. That’s around 7 double-spaced pages in Microsoft Word. You can’t start earlier, and in order to “win” you must finish by 11:59 p.m. November 30. There is no real prize for winners other than the pride that comes with completing so Herculean a task. The 50,000 threshold isn’t necessarily the end of the novel — participants are free to go on writing, either before or after November 30. 50,000 words makes for a fairly short novel, but is well above the 40,000 limit for novellas; furthermore, “The Great Gatsby” and “Brave New World,” among others, are approximately 50,000 words long, proving a good novel can be that length.
Participants can write in any genre: science fiction, romance, historical, etc. I plan on writing literary fiction, but that, of course, can change. It’s also true that many most of the novels written for NaNoWriMo are bad. The quantity-over-quality approach at first seems antithetical to promoting creativity, but the organizers say it forces an abstract plan into real action, helps promote amateur novel-writing and in any event is “art for art’s sake.”
I’m telling you all this, readers, for two reasons. First, NaNoWriMo is a significant investment not only of time but also of creative energy. For that reason, you will almost certainly see a drop in output from this blog. I pledge to continue the daily Morning Briefing and of course will post new recipes every Sunday. The regular posts of this blog, however, will likely cut back a bit. I do plan to continue writing, but the posts will be briefer or farther apart than usual.
Second, putting this plan out there, on the internet, creates some accountability. I tried NaNoWriMo once, in high school, and for a number of reasons I stopped after about three days. I also took a creative writing seminar in college and found it to be one of the most challenging courses I ever took. Looking ahead for this month, there’s a significant portion near the end, a perfect storm of Thanksgiving and a wedding, that I anticipate may limit my writing time, and I am hoping to work ahead through the first few weeks to create a respectable word buffer in case I’m unable to write in those critical final days.
Therefore, I’m telling you about my plans and, at the end of the month, will tell you whether I succeeded or failed, and why. In the meantime, you can track my progress here on this blog, in widgets at the top of the right-hand navigation bar. The calendar, I believe, will be varying shades of green or red depending on how close I am to my daily 1,667-word goal. You can also check out my NaNoWriMo profile, which includes my most recent word count and information about myself and my novel (which as of this writing, 11:30 p.m. Sunday, is completely unplanned). If you too are participating in NaNoWriMo, let’s be writing buddies and help each other through this challenging but rewarding month.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
The ACG Blog