Blasting Off for a Writing Adventure

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It’s the end of October already.  Soon Halloween will have come and gone and November will be upon us.  And for me, November means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

This year’s NaNoWriMo theme is “Your Novel, Your Universe,” and I love all the artwork associated with it so far.  It’s all about clean lines, sleek old-school rockets, and astronovelists.  But NaNoWriMo also about so much more than just the art.  It’s about writing the novel you always wanted to, or maybe the novel you didn’t realize you had in you.

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Today I’d like to share some of the inspiring statistics about how NaNoWriMo got started and how much it’s grown over the last seventeen years.  This crazy and amazing 50,000 word novel written in 30 days challenge started with one man, Chris Baty, and 20 of his friends in San Francisco in July 1999.  The next year it expanded and they moved it to November.  (The move was largely due to things already scheduled in early participants and organizers lives between July and October 2000 according to a webinar I attended where Christ Baty talked about the date change.)  And the rest, as they say is history.

  • 1999: 21 participants and 6 winners (29%)
  • 2000: 140 participants and 29 winners (21%)
  • 2001: 5,000 participants and more than 700 winners (~14%)
  • 2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners (~16%)
  • 2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners (~14%)
  • 2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners (~14%)
  • 2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners (17%)
  • 2006: 79,813 participants and 12,948 winners (16%)
  • 2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners (15%)
  • 2008: 119,301 participants and 21,683 winners (18%)
  • 2009: 167,150 participants and 32,178 winners (19%)
  • 2010: 200,500 participants and 37,500 winners (19%)
  • 2011: 256,618 participants and 36,843 winners (14%)
  • 2012: 341,375 participants and 38,438 winners (11%)
  • 2013: 310,095 participants and 42,221 winners (14%)
  • 2014: 325,142 participants and 58,917 winners (18%)
  • 2015: 351,489 participants and 40,423 winners (12%)

(Statistics courtesy of WikiWriMo)

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This year will be the eighteenth National Novel Writing Month.  It’s amazing that in less than 20 years, and largely via word of mouth (in person and on the internet), this amazing program has grown from 21 people who actually knew each other to 351,489 people across the globe, many of whom are no longer strangers to each other because of this amazing challenge.

On top of all that, it’s also an awesome writing challenge.  Writing every day for a full month.  Writing 1,667 words a day.  Completing 50,000 words on a new project in just 30 days.  I know writers who are never as productive any other time of year as they are in November.  I also know writers who started their daily writing habit with NaNoWriMo and have never stopped.  There are writers who take it further, challenging themselves to write 100,000 words in November, or taking on bigger and tougher challenges (like the 3 Day Novel Contest).

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My point, is that NaNoWriMo is this amazing thing that was started by some friends in San Francisco, and now spans the globe in its encouragement of creativity and the power of writing your story.  If you’ve read much of my blog, you know that NaNoWriMo has an important place in my life and is integral to my own writing journey.  Without the inspiration of NaNoWriMo I would never have written my first published novel, or met the amazing authors who inspired me to take the plunge into self-publishing.

So, thank you to Chris Baty who started it all, and for everyone at NaNoWriMo HQ who keep the challenge running, all the amazing and inspiring Municipal Liaisons who keep their own local area pumped, the awesome WriMos in my own regions I’ve met over the years, and every single WriMo who participates and makes this challenge what it is.

*All Images courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

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