I was on Google Plus last week, discussing with Nina Pelletier an entry into her daily prompt-and-share post, which she runs from her blog, when she mentioned that this excellent writing workout with which she challenges us will be operating at reduced capacity during November.
Intrigued as to why, given its popularity and following, she went on to introduce me to National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is more lovingly known in literary circles.
It was both shocking and stunning to learn that everyone in the writing world will be making like squirrels and bears and going into hibernation (at least from their other writing duties) during the whole of November.
So, why do forums go quiet, write-in columns become less populated and the little blue bird tweet less often during November? One word: NaNoWriMo!
Next month is the start, to those less familiar, of National Novel Writing Month; authors all over the globe are priming their characters, scribbling notes on anything that doesn’t move, stocking their cupboards with tins and filling their freezers with ready meals in anticipation of a 30-day lock-in.
So, just what is National Novel Writing Month?
To whittle its definition down to the wood, it is an on-line office/workshop/community wherein you can, sorry: must, scribe your novel in a month - in this case, November.
Or at least 50,000 words towards a finished script.
There are all types of tools to help, including a really cool word-countdown widget (2011's yet to be launched), participant badges to promote the event itself for your own blog or site and a forum where you can draw upon past entrants' experiences if you have queries or simply need a helping hand along the way with the motivational side - it is gruelling, from what I've been told.
There are 'pep-talks' in the archives, too, if you are looking for a light of inspiration - not only from the founders of the site, but top-selling New York authors Sue Grafton and Brian Jacques, amongst many, many others. Who knows - your entry may propel you to the dizzying heights and join the afore-mentioned literazzi at the top of the best-seller's list!?!
Who can enter NaNoWriMo?
It is a multi-national event - Nina, who introduced me, is from Cobourg, Canada, but the people in her G+ circles signing up from her prompt are truly global. No, I don't mean rotund, I mean they come from all around the world.
It is quick and easy to register on the sign-up page; all that is required is a user-name, valid e-mail address, create and confirm your password, set your time zone (you can adopt your local region as your 'home' after registering) and tick the boxes that confirm you are 13 years old (minimum) and have read the t & c's, then that's it - you're in the event!
Why choose a Home Region?
By adopting a home town, your words go towards that region's total word count for the entire write-a-thon.
Not only that, but there are local events organised to coincide with the entire writing competition. In my local region, Europe::England::Birmingham & West Midlands, there are everything from meet-and-greets to pep-talks to a TGIO (which, one assumes, is a Thank God It's Over knees-up), all of which are listed on a handy calendar, once you select an area as your parent region.
What does NaNoWriMo cost to enter?
It is free to enter this competition, but its purpose is to raise money for their non-profit parent company The Office of Letters & Light which makes writing classes available to thousands of adults and children across 500 towns and cities in 3,000 libraries and classrooms throughout the year. Not just through NaNoWriMo, but other programs, too.
You can donate anything from $10 - $5,000 and you do get 'mentions' and tools in recompense, dependent upon the size of your donation; however, this is optional, not obligatory.
There are some big literary names sponsoring the event, too; just by entering, you are entitled to further discounts from their products and services.
You can also sponsor in non-fund-giving ways and also attract a sponsor yourself, once you're signed in.
The Countdown is on!
Okay, so - do you have a novel that's in files and on stickies over numerous folders on your laptop or PC or drawers in your desk at home? That's what has got me interested - I think I am about to eventually fulfil the promise of finishing that vampire novel which I started writing in 2004.
Yep - before they were cool - boy, did I miss a trick, there!?
Anyway, I'm up and running now, profile created, synopsis written and an 'excerpt' posted...
...good luck, everyone.
If you survive, I'll see you in December, complete with your finished novel!
BIG PS - If you want to take a closer look @ Nina's work, you can download the book Letters To My Ten Year Old Self that she and Drew Nicholson have released today (11th October, 2011) on Smashwords.com. The book is free and available on a number of formats.
There is some wonderful artwork in there - especially the black and whites by Zebedeerox...