To the 42,008 writers who just wrote 50,000 words in 30 days: Congratulations.
They’ve just completed NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month -- the challenge to write a novel during the month of November. The 42,008 authors are an elite few; more than 310,000 writers undertook the challenge this year.
NaNoWriMo started out as an informal group of hopeful writers in San Francisco who decided not to write that novel someday, but in one intense 30-day sprint. That was 15 years ago; the organization is now a nonprofit that reaches out to schools and libraries to create offline components of the online, solitary challenge.
This year, writers from every continent -- including Antarctica -- participated in NaNoWriMo. Those who complete the task are dubbed winners. Some become traditional novelists.
One of 2012’s winners was Rainbow Rowell, who completed the first draft of the manuscript that became the YA novel “Fangirl,” published by St. Martin’s Griffin this year. Other books drafted during NaNoWriMo over the years are Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants,” Erin Morgenster’s “The Night Circus” and Hugh Howey’s “Wool.”
Because writing 50,000 words in 30 days is hard, NaNoWriMo has created a number of support systems for aspiring authors. There are online forums, offline klatches and pep-talk letters from writers -- this year, Lev Grossman, Marie Lu and James Patterson -- during the month.
All that effort, however, can’t guarantee the words will come. Only about 13% of those who started this year crossed the finish line.
For those who didn’t even cross the starting line, there’s always founder Chris Baty’s how-to books, “No Plot? No Problem!” and “Ready, Set, Novel.”