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National Novel Writing Month.
FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS OR BUST
In order to be crowned a NaNoWriMo winner you do have to reach that all important landmark by 23:59 on 30th November. The good news is that unlike a race or the Highlander movies there doesn't have to be only one. Anybody who participates and reaches the target by the end of the month will be crowned a winner, and there are a number of sponsor offers for those who participate and reach the target. There is however no limit to how much you can write. Whilst the target is 50,000 Wrimos have written as much as 70,000 words and others have exceeded the 100,000 threshold. Write as much as you can.
THAT'S NOT A NOVEL THIS IS A NOVEL
Let's face it, 50,000 does not a novel make more a novella. There is this misconception that you have to write a novel (or novella) of no more or less than 50,000 words with a beginning, middle and end. This is couldn't be further from the truth as many wrimos write 50,000 of a work in progress that has been underway for months maybe even a year or two. NaNoWriMo can act as a focusing tool for writers needing that extra push whether it's to counter a case of writer's block or a pip to the post to finish the story. The words produced during the NaNoWriMo time frame can make up the beginning, middle or end of the novel, there are no rules or restrictions, and once again 50,000 is the target not the maximum.
FIT FOR PRINT
Writing 50,000 words in one month, even if you are the fastest typist on the world and consume Red Bull like water, no one can produce a story fit for publication. Even if this were possible, this is not necessarily the goal. In fact there will be little time to edit what you have written so far into a perfect publishable novel. The idea is that you produce a coherent piece of fiction, but it does not have to be perfect. The wrimo, at this stage doesn't have to worry about inconsistencies, plot holes, or even shaky characters and stunted dialogue. The goal is to produce something although there has to be some standard of legibility and sense. Typing the words "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" 5,000 times doesn't count nor does writing a load of gibberish. There has to be a story, with some conflict, characters and dialogue but it does not have to be perfect.
NANOWRIMO IS FOR SERIOUS WRITERS
NaNoWriMo is for anyone who wants to write. Whether you are looking to work on that dream novel and become the next Ben Kane, or George R R Martin, or you simply fancy indulging in a bit of fan fiction. Anyone can be a wrimo and although it does require a certain level of dedication as there is a target to reach, NaNoWriMo is whatever you want it to be; a tool to publishing stardom or just a way of living the writing dream and engaging with a global community of other wrimos to broaden horizons and have some fun doing so.
MAKING IT UP AS YOU GO
How one approaches NaNoWriMo is down to the individual wrimo. If you feel truly gifted then you might be able to, come midnight on 1st November, sit at your laptop and pour all the words out from your head. There is nothing wrong however with a bit of advance planning such as an outline of the story, list of characters and their attributes, notes on setting, and so on. The wrimo can plan as much as is needed before the event starts.
So whether you are an aspirant novelist, a professional or a lay scribe longing to get that one good novel out of them, NaNoWriMo offers the potential to make writing happen. It is fun, engaging, intense and requires some planning and dedication. As for yours truly the jury is still not only on whether I want to spend a whole month in a caffeine and sugar induced haze made more heady with little sleep, but which story idea I will bring to life.