NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a creative writing project in which the participants each attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in a single month. The project started in November 1999 with 21 participants. Despite the name, the project is now international in scope. In 2004 42,331 people signed up to participate, 5,892 of them successfully reaching the goal.

The novel can be on any theme, in any genre. It must be started no earlier than midnight November 1st, and completed before midnight on the 30th, local time. Advance planning and notes are permissible, but no earlier written material can go into the body of the novel. Debate exists as to whether the ideal is to write a complete novel of fifty thousand words, or more simply to write the first fifty thousand words of a novel, not necessarily a complete one. The former is arguably more satisfying.

There is no tangible prize for reaching the 50,000-word goal, and nothing to stop one from cheating. Since the only reward is the satisfaction of doing it, a certificate participants must print out themselves, inclusion in a list of successful participants, and the right to use an icon on their web sites, cheating is fairly pointless. An integral part of the whole endeavour are the related forums, where one can find advice, information, criticism and support.

To succeed, a writer would need to write an average of 1666 and 2/3 words per day, which is about four pages, single-spaced. At this pace, most participants find little time for revision, editing, or even for producing their best work. Organizers of the event say that the whole idea is to simply sit down and write, regardless of quality, using the deadline as incentive to get the story going and put words to paper, never mind what they are.

Some who complete this project choose to follow it up in March with NaNoEdMo, or National Novel Editing Month.

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