NaNoWriMo Memoir 50,000 words, 30 days

November is National Novel Writing Month, a month-long challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. Described in its motto as “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” NaNoWriMo – as it’s known informally – is a massive challenge.

Makers of writing software and coffee companies all look forward to a surge in customers as hundreds of thousands of participants from around the world fight off exhaustion and procrastination to pound out a novel in a single month.

An entire cottage industry of ‘novel in a month’ books and programs exists specifically for this event.

The challenge has its own website,, and a crest adorned with the symbols of a steaming cup of coffee, a computer, a stack of paper and crossed pens.

The heraldry salutes what must be chosen weapons for anybody who sets out to write a minimum of 1,667 words per day.

A time of frantic creativity and aching fingers, NaNoWriMo is an intense experience, and this will be my second try at the challenge.

It is open to everyone – one simply signs up on the website, then settles in to write and welcome inspiration.

NaNoWriMo can be the perfect springboard for both aspiring novelists and writers of any other stripe.

Divided into regions across the globe, writers can find events and support groups.

Predictably, a city like Los Angeles hosts writers’ events every day, barring Thanksgiving.

There are also events prior to November, one of which was held by USC, and events after, trickling all the way into January.

The biggest regional event is the Great Train escape, from Nov. 18-2,1 is a cross-California event, with challenge participants called WriMos.

Taking up an entire train car, challengers wrote through the Amtrak trip from San Diego to Oakland and the bust trek from Oakland to San Francisco.

Writers also take part in The Night of Writing Dangerously, a 6-hour write-a-thon with dinner and drinks in the Juliana Morgan Ballroom.

Along with this escape, there are a multitude of smaller ‘write-ins’, where WriMos can go to local bookstores and cafes to write the night away with their fellow writers.

It is a tough challenge. Last year, only 37,500 out of over 200,500 participants managed to make the finishing cut of 50,000 words.

Fewer still will achieve the event’s ultimate goal and have their work published. I myself only reached 20,000 words last year, which wasn’t even half.

This year, I plan to win it.

Events can be found in the events calendar at NaNoWriMo.