“NaNoWriMo.” Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? In fact, for a few days after I read it, I was saying “nano-rhino,” conjuring up images of a tiny version of the horned African beast. I also thought it sounded like a Native American greeting, such as “Klahowya.”
I first learned of NaNoWriMo on a writing blog I subscribe to. The blogger has been giving advice all month on how to prepare for it. I deleted the first half-dozen posts on this topic because I had no idea what it referred to. Finally I saw a reference to it, but continued deleting the blog posts because I had no intention of participating, that is, until two classmates in my writing program urged me to reconsider.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Celebrated in November, it shares the calendar with “sleep comfort, Native American heritage, peanut butter lovers, model railroads, aviation history, international drums and child safety protection.” An organization called The Office of Letters and Light, described on its website as “a tiny but mighty nonprofit,” sponsors the big NaNoWriMo event: “thirty days and nights of literary abandon.”
Here’s how it works:
- Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30.
- Start from scratch.
- Be the sole author of your novel.
- Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
- Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
The argument that convinced me to engage not only in “literary abandon,” but also to abandon my sanity, free time, social life, and friends for 30 days was that I would start December with a first-draft of a novel. No matter how awful that first draft turned out, the reasoning went, I would have taken a big leap forward toward having a creditable product by the end of the school year. I’ve registered for the challenge, and now I’m trying to cram as much social life in as I can between now and a week from next Tuesday.
Note to friends who live nearby: November could also be National Take a Meal to a Friend’s Spouse Month, or Stop By and Remind a Friend to Take a Shower Month.