By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou
National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a seemingly impossible but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in the thirty days of November.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people around the world began to write, determined to end the month with about 50,000 words of their own memoir or novel.
They enter the month as elementary school students or teachers, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents.
They leave as novelists.
In 2006, NaNoWriMo officially became a nonprofit organization with their programs supporting writing fluency and education.
The website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.
NaNoWriMo tracks words for writers like Fitbit tracks steps, and hosts real-world writing events in cities from Mexico City, to Seoul, to Milwaukee with the help of more than 900 volunteers in thousands of partnering libraries and community centers.
In 2021, for example, 427,653 writers participated in their programs, including 90,561 students and educators in the Young Writers Program.
842 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guided 671 regions on six continents.
406 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
51,507 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.
Current programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, and the “Now What?” Months in January and February, plus the Young Writers Program for kids, teens, teachers, and families, the Come Write In program for libraries, bookstores, and community spaces, and the Municipal Liaison program for local volunteers.
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. – Toni Morrison
Once you set up an account as a writer (or soon-to-be writer!) you can participate in the programs in a variety of ways.
Prefer to write on your own timeline? Set independent writing goals and work at your own pace.
Find yourself more productive with the structure of an ambitious deadline and enthusiastic community egging you on? Set an official challenge goal during NaNoWriMo in November or Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July. You’ll receive resource-packed messages (and the occasional celebratory gif), and if you reach your word-count goal, you can access a special winner page with sponsor offers and more.
Either way, once you’ve signed up, you can access how-to materials, make writer friends in the forums, join your local region(s) to see what’s going on nearby, pop in on the occasional virtual event hosted by NaNo HQ, make buddies and join writing groups and get inspired by pep talks from authors like Gene Luen Yang, Roxane Gay, Kacen Callender, John Green, and N. K. Jemisin, and—of course—track your own writing progress
You don’t need to write a novel of course, but what better time to write than the ever-earlier darkening days of November?
Can anyone be writer?
It depends what you mean by “writer”, but I am convinced that we all have stories to share.
We all see and experience different things – and we all respond to them differently.
And, as time passes, we often see or understand things that we didn’t understand before.
Writing is the best therapy.
Whether other people see, or even care about, what you write ultimately doesn’t matter that much.
Putting together your story is a gift to those around you.
They just might not know it yet.
Writing is its own reward. – Henry Miller