15 October 2008

NaNoWriMo, more details

National Novel Writing Month takes place 1-30 November. The idea is to write a novel of 50,000 words during the month. Participants have until 23.59 on 30 November to log in their word-count. Nobody reads the entries, there's no cash prize.... But if you make it over the 50,000 word mark, you win.

It's a pretty tempting idea. This NaNoWriMo thing has been happening for several years, from 1999: 21 participants and six winners the first year, to 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners in 2007. When you get a look at those numbers, you get an idea of how difficult the goal is. I did the math: 50,000 words in 30 days is 1,667 words a day.... 30 days in a row. At the moment I write about 300 words a day. Another writer friend of mine -- who is writing full-time -- aims for 1,000. So that's a lot of writing. The NaNoWriMo people don't skirt the issue: the website comes right out and says it is a challenge, and that what you write is probably going to be less than perfect. But the idea is a good one: to hell with how "good" it is, just get it out. Create. Generate.
There are pep talks, forums and a sponsorship program, like with marathons.

Like I said, isn't it tempting?


  1. I wonder how many good novels actually get written during this period??

  2. I think the best you could get out of jamming out 1667 words a day for 30 days is a very rough first draft. The idea behind the project is to be to "just get it down"....leaving behind for a month the internal editor. Good would have to be an issue for subsequent drafts.

    That being said, the website has a list of about 20 NaNoWriMo-originating books that have found publishers, some big, some small at

    But to reply more directly to your question, I can only think of another question. Assuming publication = good, for every book that makes it to the publication, how many good books don't?