Mental Floss

Write That Novel, Already

Chris Higgins
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Today marks the start of another NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), an event during which new and veteran writers attempt to complete a brand new novel. As the site says, "The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30." Boasting over 79,000 participants in 2006 -- nearly 13,000 of whom actually completed the 50,000 word goal -- this is where aspiring novelists need to be.

Although NaNoWriMo is primarily about putting pen to paper (or, uh, fingers to keyboard), many NaNoWriMo novels have been published -- check out this list of 19 such novels, including the rather famous Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Here are some impressive statistics demonstrating the growth of NaNoWriMo since its inception in 1999:

Founded: 1999 in Oakland, CA Annual participant/winner totals: 1999: 21 participants and six winners 2000: 140 participants and 29 winners 2001: 5000 participants and more than 700 winners 2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners 2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners 2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners 2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners 2006: 79,813 participants and 12,948 winners Number of official NaNoWriMo chapters around the world: Over 500 Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2005: Over 100 Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2006: Over 300 Number of NaNoWriMo manuscripts that have been sold to big-time publishing houses: Many (details below) Percent of NaNoWriMo's net proceeds from donations and merchandise sales that went to build libraries for children in Southeast Asia 2004-2006: 50% Number of libraries NaNoWriMo has built through this program: Twenty-two (three in Cambodia, seven in Laos, an anticipated twelve in Vietnam, pending 2006 financials) Number of words officially logged by participants during the 2004 event: 428,164,975 Number of words officially logged by participants during the 2005 event: 714,227,354 Number of words officially logged by participants during the 2006 event: 982,564,701

To get started, check out How NaNoWriMo Works (in Ten Easy Steps) or consult the helpful book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. If you're a visual artist, check out NaNoMangO, a similar project for comics.

Have any _flossers participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, share your story in the comments!

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