If I write 3,571.5 (or so) words every day for the rest of November (except Thanksgiving, when I have plans) I will be a novelist. I'm not going to make it, but not because I'm lazy. It's just that I didn't sign up in time for NaNoWriMo, which is how "National Novel Writing Month" sounds if you say it while sticking your head out the window of a fast-moving car.
I read Amy Goetzman's article about the National Novel Writing Month project on MinnPost, a new news service site in Minneapolis.
NaNoWriMo (which is really fun to type) is an international project in which writers vow to write a 50,000-word novel within the month of November. Anyone who hits the word count wins. Some share their novels with other, many wisely do not. More than a few have been published.
From the official explanation for National Novel Writing Month:Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output...Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing.
The site also notes that last year 79,000 NaNoWriMo-ers signed up and almost 13,000 made their deadline. The creative-writing and journalism degree programs in this country should have such stats.
Not only do participants get to feel smug about being able to add "novelist" to their resumes and bar pick-up lines, they can feel good about highlighting literacy, creative writing, the long-term effects of huffing ground-up chocolate espresso beans, and more. A whole lot of people are so into this project that they donate money to keep it running.
NaNoWriMo started in San Francisco nine years ago, when 21 people took the challenge. This year some 2,337 people signed up from Washington and Oregon, and rumor has it there is a betting pool going with the good odds saying Portland will kick butt once the robotic word-counter takes over and verifies results at month's end.
Oh, and that thing about yelling NaNoWriMo and the car window? I thought that up. There's a woman in my novel who does it, only it's a train window and she's really sad.