There is a story inside of every person. It can be a personal story or something entirely fictional, but either way, everyone has something to say. November is the month above all others that allows someone to tell that story. November is known as the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
Chris Baty, a freelance writer, began NaNoWriMo in 1999 with 21 of his friends, with only six of them reaching their targeted word count. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to begin and finish a 50,000-word manuscript with little to no editing, starting Nov. 1 and ending Nov. 30. After that, a person can toss their manuscript and start anew or see it through to publication.
Quoted by the creator as being “The worst writing contest in the history of writing contests,” NaNoWriMo is meant to allow writers to disregard their inner editor and create their manuscript without the fear of someone else reading it. Once written, the author publishes the manuscript on the website, which records the word count and promptly deletes the entire thing. For many new writers, the fear of their first draft and all the mistakes that come with it keep them from ever finishing their novel. This contest allows writers to shed that fear and write for the sake of writing rather than write for the entertainment of others. NaNoWriMo is a month of experimentation and learning about a person’s internal creative process.
What started as a competition between friends has turned into a nonprofit organization that encourages writers to share their words with the world. Its programs, such as Camp NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program, aid writers to begin their journey and help children find their voices through workshops and the experience of writing for a competition. Other writing programs that can help a starting author are DIY MFA and The Crafty Writer’s Creative Writing Course, both of which are free to explore and learn about.
The current count of novelists actively creating is almost at 800,000 people with over 350,000 manuscripts completed. Some NaNoWriMo successes include The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, all of which are best-selling novels. NaNoWriMo is not a contest to see who is the most talented writer; rather, it is a unique opportunity for writers of all levels to test the creative waters and experiment with the artistic medium.
While not everyone can be Marissa Meyer, who wrote Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress all in the same 30-day period, NaNoWriMo allows participants to express their inner writers and create the novel they have been too intimidated to create. Anyone can participate; there are no guidelines or requirements other than the word count, and everything is completely free. The results produced by participation in National Novel Writing Month have impressed writers around the world and is an experience that promotes freedom of expression in people of all backgrounds, writing levels, and ages.