Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
As the leaves change color and the temperature drops (and, here in Columbus, goes back up and drops again), as Pumpkin Spice Everything starts appearing on the menu at every coffee shop in town, writers throughout the world and right here in our hometown start planning. They check out every book on characterization and plotting in the entire region's library system, and then they descend on the book shops to clear out the story crafting shelves there as well. They buy up notebooks and fancy pens. And then, on November 1st, when everyone else is out buying discount Halloween candy, they write the first words of their new novels. That's right, National Novel Writing Month is upon us again! This year the event, abbreviated as NaNoWriMo, expects to draw in about 500,000 participants from all over the world, with over 4,000 registered in the Central Ohio region on The goal for each participant is to write a 50,000 word novel by 11:59PM on November 30th. The novel can be anything: The Sailor Moon fanfiction you've had on your mental back burner since the 90s is every bit as welcome as an attempt at the next Great American Novel. There are plenty of participating writers working in the geekiest genres, so no one has to feel shy admitting they're writing about the political intrigues of orcs and elves. To further boost their geek cred, this year's graphical theme is inspired by classic 8-bit RPGs (Role Playing Game, for you non-geeks). Tiny pixelated coffee cups abound. The ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo, now in its 15th year, is to get people writing and experiencing the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing you wrote an entire novel. (Writing a good novel is optional.) The event is run by a 503(c)(3) nonprofit organization of the same name that sprung up organically from a tiny group of San Francisco-area friends who decided, in July 1999, to spend the month writing novels. It grew from there, and by the third year, writes organization founder Chris Baty in the official history of the event, “I had been anticipating 150 participants. Five thousand showed up.” Faced with a need to find some kind of funding to keep the web site and the event going, Baty chose to go non-profit and asked for donations. Similar to public radio, ad-like corporate sponsorships can be purchased, but they're all related in some way to writing, such as noveling software Scrivener and Amazon's CreateSpace self-publishing service. But, also like public radio, the bulk of the funding comes from the event's participants. Volunteers are also vital to making the event happen. Here in Columbus, “Municipal Liaisons” Anne and Carrie donate their time to organize write-ins all over the city, and on the regional forums anyone can declare a get-together at their local coffee house or library. For such a large event it's easy to get involved in the local community. Do you have a novel in you? Of course you do! NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1st, so get out your writing implement of choice, dust off that epic Sailor Moon fanfic idea, and join in!