The Ravings of a Mad (almost) Novelist

I think I'm finally going to do it this year: NaNoWriMo.
Some of you are thinking, "Uh, are you insane?" Some of you are thinking "Awesome!" And some of you are thinking, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

I'm somewhere between the first two opinions. First, let me explain: NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. You have between November 1 and November 30 to write at least 50,000 words. That's it. If you write 50,000 words – even if they are total crap – you win. You can hash out your plot and all of that beforehand, but no novel writing can actually begin until November 1 at midnight. Novels can be any theme, any genre, any language. Seriously anything is allowed – the FAQ on the page says, "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too."

The problem isn't the skill - I think I am a pretty decent writer (although I may be flattering myself). The problem is the plot. I guess maybe my day job of writing about finances and earnings releases and promotions and the implementation of projects and world-class teams and "innovative" initiatives has turned the truly imaginative part of my brain to mush. I have zero plot ideas.

Also? I have the attention span of a gnat. So the thought of writing 50,000 words in a mere 30 days is, you know, a bit daunting. I know it's only April, but I figure I'm going to need a couple of months to come up with a decent idea for a plot.

Anyway, since I have NaNoWriMo on the brain, I thought I would share it – and a few facts about it - with any fellow aspiring novelists out there.

NaNoWriMo is celebrating its ninth birthday this year. It was created in 1999 by Chris Baty of San Francisco.
•50,000 words isn't as long as you think it is. Novels that hover around the 50k word count mark include The Great Gatsby, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Brave New World.
•50,000 words in 30 days averages out to about 1,667 words per day.

Sara Gruen, the author of Water for Elephants, was a participant in NaNoWriMo.
•A scant 21 people participated in 1999, NaNoWriMo's first year. Just for reference, last year, 101,767 writers spent November scrabbling a novel together.
•No one will actually read your novel unless you want them to. When you submit it for a word count, a program actually counts the words – not a real person. So, if your novel is crap, no worries! No one has to know but you.
•The collective word count for 2007 was 1187,931,929
•Participants who have had their books published are:
  • Jon F. Merz---NaNoWriMo novel: The Destructor

  • Lani Diane Rich---NaNoWriMo novels: Time Off for Good Behavior and Maybe Baby

  • Sara Gruen---NaNoWriMo novels: Flying Changes and Water for Elephants

  • Rebecca Agiewich---NaNoWriMo novel: BreakupBabe

  • David Niall Wilson---NaNoWriMo novels: Vintage Soul
  • Francesca Segre---NaNoWriMo novel: Daughter of the Bride
    and The Mote in Andrea's Eye

  • Gayle Brandeis---NaNoWriMo novel: Self Storage

  • Kimberly Llewellyn---NaNoWriMo novel: Cashmere Boulevard

  • Geonn Cannon---NaNoWriMo novel: On the Air

  • Lisa Daily---NaNoWriMo novel: The Dreamgirl Academy

  • Jacob and Diane Anderson-Minshall---NaNoWriMo novel: Blind Curves

  • James R. Strickland---NaNoWriMo novel: Looking Glass

  • Kathy Cano-Murillo---NaNoWriMo novel: Love Shine

  • Ann Gonzalez---NaNoWriMo novel: Running for My Life

  • Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen---NaNoWriMo novel: The Compound

  • Jessica Burkhart---NaNoWriMo novel: High Jumps at Collins Academy

  • Jenna Bayley-Burke---NaNoWriMo novel: Just One Spark

  • Teryl Cartwright---NaNoWriMo novel: A Sensible Match

  • Dave Casler---NaNoWriMo novel: The Story of the Great American Flying Broomstick, Book 1: Genesis

  • Liz Hegarty---NaNoWriMo novel: Salt River

  • C.J. Lines---NaNoWriMo novel: Filth Kiss

  • So, help me out here, Neatorama readers! Anyone ever participated before? Was it worth it? What was your novel about?

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    Hmmmm I took a creative writing class and was introduced by my professor to "The 36 Dramatic Situations" by Georges Polti. The 36 dramatic situations are plots and are supposed to be every single story that can ever be told...(tragedies).

    Check it out!
    the book is here on

    or you can find simple versions of it here..

    Maybe that will help a little?
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    I did it this year, and I got 26K words. I didn't win, but it's 26K more than the guy who didn't write at all. I'm still working on my novel and trying to get it to full-length, so I think it was a useful experience.

    1700 words in a day isn't intimidating, but the problem comes about when you skip a day. 3000 words is a pretty long day. Skip two days and forget about it!
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