National Novel Writing Month
From Seo Wiki - Search Engine Optimization and Programming Languages
|It has been suggested that Chris Baty be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)|
|This article's introduction section may not adequately summarize its contents. To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of the article's key points. (November 2009)|
|This article needs references that appear in reliable third-party publications. Primary sources or sources affiliated with the subject are generally not sufficient for a Wikipedia article. Please add more appropriate citations from reliable sources. (July 2008)|
National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo) is an annual creative writing project coordinated by the non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light. Spanning the month of November, the project challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month. The project was begun in July 1999 by Chris Baty and started out with only 21 participants. In 2000 the project was moved to November and in the 2009 event, over 170,000 people took part in the event. Writers wishing to participate first register on the project's website, where they can post profiles and information about their novels, including synopsis and excerpts. Word counts are validated on the site, with writers submitting a copy of their novel for automatic counting. Municipal Leaders and regional forums help connect local writers with one another for holding writing events and provide encouragement.
Chris Baty started the project in July 1999 with 21 participants in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2000, it was moved to November "to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather." and launched an official website, designed by a friend of Baty's. That year 140 participants signed up for the event, including several from other countries. Baty launched a Yahoo! group to facilitate socialization between participants and, after the posters began asking about guidelines, he set most of the events basic ground rules: the novel must be new, cannot be coauthored, and must be submitted in time to be verified. Of the 140 participants, 21 completed the challenge as manually verified by Baty himself.
The following year, Baty expected similar numbers but 5,000 participants registered, which he credits to news of the event being spread by bloggers and later being reported on by various news organizations including the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. Though Baty was happy with the large turn out and popularity of the event, in the background it nearly did not happen as the website had no automatic registration system. Baty and a group of his friends, who volunteered to help, had to manually process all of the registrations, working for several days in shifts and leaving some with temporary wrist injuries. Within the first day of the event hackers attacked the site, resulting in participants trying to update their word counts seeing a pornographic image and the message "You Suck". Though the site was quickly fixed, their small hosting company requested the event find a new company as it was consuming too much bandwidth and system resources for their company. Already consuming five times its allotted bandwidth, Baty didn't want to change host company's mid-event, so he scaled back the usage and canceled the word count verification normally done via email. Instead, participants were asked to post themselves as winners on an honor system; in the end, 700 people would do so. There were also problems with two people creating unauthorized merchandise using the event's new official logo and slogan, "No Plot, No Problem." They complied with Baty's request to stop selling, after he promised that official items would be forthcoming.
During the event, Baty was approached by AlphaSmart with an offer to donate a laptop to participants, and give National Novel Writing Month itself $10 for every unit sold through the website. The vanity press, iUniverse, offered to published all winners' manucripts for free, though it rescinded the offer after Baty explained how many potential winners there would be. He was leary of having company's providing "kickbacks" and initially declined AlphaSmart's offer as well. Still, the greatly increased costs to host the event's website and the time it took him from his freelance work left Baty scrambling to pay for it. He'd already put $5,000 of his own funds into the event, and the work load was becoming too much for him to handle alone. He estimated that he'd need another $10,000 to pay for hosting, domain registrations, and other business expenses, and to get a lawyer on retainer, and hire a web designer and a programmer to redesign and update the web site's code, respectively. After his applications for grants were rejected, he turned to the participants, hoping the sales of the new official shirts, along with donations, would help. He sent a request that people donate whatever they felt was fair. Expecting everyone would send $1 or so, he was greatly disappointed in the response, with only $3,500 raised. Initially put off, he decided that he needed to just work harder on expressing its needs before the start of the event.
"This was the start of my education in running an event without a mandatory entry fee. The biggest lesson of which is this: When you make contributions voluntary, very few people volunteer to contribute. No matter how great a time they had or how much they believe in your cause, 90% of participants just won't find their way to clicking on the PayPal link or mailing in a couple dollars. The karmic repercussions of it all were mind-boggling to me. Who were these monsters? I'd spent the last month staying up till 3 am every night patiently answering emails, offering encouragement, and giving up every ounce of love and support that the Red Bull hadn't leached from my body. And when I asked for one dollar in return, they turned a cold shoulder? Was this the definition of community?...Either I was a monster, or none of us were monsters. I did some quick calculations and decided, for the sake of my self-image, that none of us were monsters. We were just busy. With our hearts in the right places and way too much going on in our lives for us to always remember to support the institutions that made us happy."—Chris Baty, in sharing the history of National Novel Writing Month and his disappointment over the lack of donations in the third year
2002 saw massive technical improvements and increased automation to the site, as well as what Baty described as "laugh-so-we-don't-cry t-shirt misadventures." Media attention from National Public Radio and CBS Evening News drew increased attention and a participant count of 14,000. The next year, the NaNoWriMo team began the Municipal Liaison program and sent out the first set of pep talk emails. Baty also began work on "No Plot? No Problem!" during the 2003 NaNoWriMo, writing the NaNoWriMo guide concurrent with his own fiction novel.
The site continues to grow every year; 2004 was marked by a new site layout, entirely new code, book-styled Flash profile pages, and 42,000 participants. In 2005, 59,703 people participated and 9,765 were declared winners. New features to the site included the Young Writer's Program and the official Podcast. 2006 included more participants, more publicity from the likes of BoingBoing.net and Yahoo, and additional features such as a WriMo comic and a sponsorship program.
In 2007, registered participants reached 101,767. This year also brought the first fundraising event—"A Night Of Writing Dangerously". All participants, or "WriMos", who donated $200 or more to the cause received an invitation to a 6-hour event in San Francisco featuring free food and fun, prizes, and much more. Weekly email pep talks from well-known authors were also new for 2007. There were 15,335 reported winners. Participants wrote 1,187,931,929 words that year, according to the project's website.
In 2008, over 119,000 people signed up, with 21,720 reported winners—up by 33% compared to 2007; over 1,643,343,993 words were written.
In 2009, over 170,000 people signed up and 2,427,190,537 words were written. 
Participants' novels can be on any theme and in any genre, and in any language. Everything from fanfiction, which uses trademarked characters, to novels in poem format, and even metafiction is allowed; according to the website's FAQ, "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too." Starting at midnight November 1, novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before 11:59:59 PM on November 30, local time. Advance planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no earlier written material can go into the body of the novel, nor is one allowed to start early and then finish 30 days from that start point.
Participants write either a complete novel of 50,000 words, or simply the first 50,000 words of a novel to be completed later. While 50,000 words is a relatively low word count for a complete novel, it is still significantly more than the 40,000 word mark that distinguishes a novel from a novella. Notable novels of roughly 50,000 words include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby. Some participants set higher goals for themselves, like writing upwards of 100,000 words, or completing two or more separate novels. To win NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of just over 1,666 words per day. Organizers of the event say that the aim is simply to get people to start writing, using the deadline as an incentive to get the story going and to put words to paper. This "quantity over quality" philosophy is summarized by the site's slogan: No Plot? No Problem! This is also the title of Chris Baty's book of advice for NaNoWriMo participants, published in late 2004 by Chronicle Books. There is no fee to participate in NaNoWriMo; registration is only required for novel verification.
No official prizes are awarded for length, quality, or speed. Anyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark is declared a winner. Beginning November 25, participants can submit their novel to be automatically verified for length and receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on the web, and inclusion on the list of winners. No precautions are taken to prevent cheating; since the only significant reward for winning is the finished novel itself and the satisfaction of having written it, there is little incentive to cheat. Novels are verified for word count by software, and may be scrambled or otherwise encrypted before being submitted for verification, although the software does not keep any other record of text input. It is possible to win without anyone (other than the author) ever seeing or reading the novel.
In October 2008, the self-publishing company CreateSpace teamed up with NaNoWriMo to begin offering winners a single free, paperback proof copy of their manuscripts, with the option to use the proof to then sell the novel on Amazon.com.
The official forums provide a place for advice, information, criticism, support and an opportunity for "collective procrastination." The forums are available from the beginning of October, when signups for the year begin, until late September, when they are archived and the database is wiped in preparation for the next year.
Most regions have one or more Municipal Liaisons (ML) assigned to them, who are volunteers that help with organizing local events. MLs are encouraged to coordinate at least two kinds of meet-ups; a kickoff party, and a "Thank God It's Over" party to celebrate successes and share novels. Kickoff parties are often held the weekend before November to give local writers a chance to meet and get geared up, although some are held on Halloween night past midnight so writers start writing in a community setting. Other events may be scheduled, including weekend meet-ups or overnight write-ins.
In 2005, NaNoWriMo started the Young Writers Program, primarily aimed at classrooms of kindergarten through 12th-grade students, although homeschooled students are also welcomed. In its inaugural year, the program was used in 150 classrooms and involved 4000 students. Teachers register their classroom for participation and are sent a starter kit of materials to use in the class which includes reward items like stickers and pencils. Lesson plans and writing ideas are also offered as resources to teachers, while students can communicate through the program's forums. 
In September 2006, NaNoWriMo officially became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating under the name "The Office of Letters and Light". All contributions are tax-deductible under U.S. law. Donations can be made directly, or users can purchase items such as T-shirts and mugs from the NaNoWriMo store. In 2004, NaNoWriMo partnered with child literacy non-profit Room to Read, and continued that partnership for three years. Fifty percent of net proceeds from 2004 to 2006 were used to build libraries in Southeast Asia; three were built in Cambodia, seven in Laos, and seven in Vietnam. The program was retired in 2007 to refocus resources on NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program.
NaNoWriMo runs a Laptop Loaner program for those who do not have regular access to a computer or word processor. Old, yet functional laptops are donated from NaNoWriMo participants. Those wishing to borrow a laptop are required to cover the cost of shipping it back and must send a $300 deposit along with proof of identity, but are not charged a fee for using the laptops. In 2006, AlphaSmart, Inc. donated 25 brand-new Neos to expand the Laptop Loaner library with the promise of 25 more over the next two years.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Baty, Chris. "History". National Novel Writing Month. http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/history. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Platoni, Kara (December 19, 2001). "It was a dark and stormy month...". East Bay Express. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/gyrobase/it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-month/Content?oid=1066626&showFullText=true. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
- ↑ All Things Considered Story about NaNoWriMo
- ↑ "News". http://www.nanowrimo.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=89.
- ↑ "NaNoWriMo official website". http://www.nanowrimo.org/. Retrieved December 7, 2008.
- ↑ "NaNoWriMo official website". http://www.nanowrimo.org/. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- ↑ "National Novel Writing Month FAQ". http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/faq.
- ↑ Northern Virginia Daily - Month of Plotting Results in Novels
- ↑ NaNoWriMo FAQ
- ↑ NaNoWriMo FAQ Entry
- ↑ "National Novel Writing Month FAQ". http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/basics.
- ↑ "Chronicle Books - No Plot? No Problem!". http://www.chroniclebooks.com/site/catalog/index.php?main_page=pubs_product_book_info&products_id=4409&store=book.
- ↑ "CreateSpace NaNoWriMo". CreateSpace. https://www.createspace.com/nanowrimo. Retrieved October 29, 2008.
- ↑ "National Novel Writing Month Forums". http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/forum.
- ↑ "National Novel Writing Month - The Community". http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/community.
- ↑ "NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program". http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/.
- ↑ "Libraries in Southeast Asia". http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/librariesinseasia.
- ↑ "AlphaSmart Loaners". http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/alphasmartloaners.
- NaNoWriMo Official Site
- (2007) Three-Part, In-Depth Interview with founder Chris Baty at Writer Unboxed
- (2007) Interview with Chris Baty at The Lancede:NaNoWriMo