According to its website, "National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel."
50,000 words isn't a completely arbitrary number. It's considered the minimum for a work to be defined as a novel. Of course, there aren't any absolutes when it comes to these things. However, it's generally accepted that a work less than 50,000 words is a novella. For publishing purposes, 65,000-80,000 words is a better goal for a novel. (For reference, Renegades was around 80,000 words after the first draft, and it ended up at 72,478 words.) If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and want to reach the 50,000 word goal, you'd have to write 1,667 words daily. When I wrote my first draft of Renegades, I had a daily goal of 1,000 words, which took approximately 2 hours.
You may be wondering why there is a month and an organization dedicated to novel writing with over 340,000 participants. The reason is simple: writing a book is a "one day" thing. As I said in my last post, so many people I talk to say they want to write a book "one day," but they never get around to it. NaNoWriMo gets a bunch of those people together to help motivate each other to reach their goal. When you register, you are not only connected to all those people through the organization and forums, but you can also meet fellow local writers in person. As you write, you update your word count, and if you reach the 50,000 goal by November 30th, you're declared a winner and are entered to win some prizes.
So if you're one of those people who has always thought about writing a novel "one day" then make sure you check out NaNoWriMo. I'll be pseudo-participating like I did last year since I'm starting early. I'm hoping to complete the first draft of my second novel by November 30th, which is a little ambitious, so I need to get started before the 1st. I'm hoping to have 15,000 words before November 1st, and hopefully I can finish before the end of November. I'm aiming for 2,000 words a day this time around! (Yikes!)
If you're participating, then I suggest using this week to brainstorm, and my post next week will be on outlining. Let me know if you're giving it a try, and good luck if you do!