Yesterday by sheer coincidence I discovered www.nanowrimo.org. NaNoWriMo is an organisation which promotes creative writing and sheer insanity. One way they do this is by organising National Novel Writing Month in November. They challenge willing lunatics to try to write a 50,000 word novel in only 30 days. In 2010 there were 200,000 participants. Over 30,000 of them wrote a novel in a month. Sounds like coordinated madness, right?
Two things impressed me about NaNoWriMo. The first is their all too public honesty. Trying to write a novel in 30 days is slightly mad. It is inevitable that you are unlikely to produce a Booker prize-winning novel. However the one thing which pushes people away from trying their hand at a novel is the idea that writing a novel takes a great deal of time and effort. Weirdly, it’s not time and effort which is the problem, it’s getting started and finding a rhythm. I wrote my initial 80,000 word draft in just over 3 months. The idea of just producing for 30 days and then trying to edit it into a coherent form is a fantastic idea. The reason being that it forces people to write. Regardless of form, a large number of people will finish November as a Novelist, and that is something to cherish.
The second is that it is all organised by a tiny but mighty non-profit organisation called the Office of Letters and Light. These lovely people spend a great deal of time trying to get kids actively interested in creative writing. They do it by raising money for a program which reaches 2,700 different classrooms. They also do nice things for libraries. And well I like libraries. And perhaps if more kids were interested in using their imaginations, maybe there wouldn’t be so many little shits on earth.
After some thought I have signed up. The idea of writing a novel in 30 days sounds so absolutely absurd, that the experience will either drive me mad or teach me something new about myself. Either way I am willing to find out. Honestly, I can’t wait for November 1st.