But what is the real purpose of NaNoWriMo?
It all started as a group of twentysomething writers, led by Chris Baty from the San Francisco Bay area in July 1999. There were only 21 that first year but they had a blast participating in "binge" writing. They proved to each other and a handful of watchful fans that writing can be fun.
The next year, a friend offered to build a website to chronicle this unusual but entertaining effort. They changed the entry month to November so they could recruit more writers. By the time November 1st rolled around, the word had spread to over 140 participants.
With the influx of more people, came demands for "rules". Suddenly, it morphed into a serious event. Still, it was fun with such things as invisible flying monkeys hovering around to enforce the now irrevocable rules and a "Thank God It's Over" party at the end of the month.
Year Three arrived and the NaNo group anticipated an even larger turnout…at least 150 participants they told each other. What they got was 5000. The new found popularity, fueled by bloggers, also brought a new set of problems. The site was hacked, their web host demanded they find another site because they were over the top on bandwidth.
But good things happened, too. This crafty group of participants began to form regional groups with local write-ins. People willing to offer assistance and support began to flood in, making the third year wildly successful.
The Fourth Year's problems started long before NaNo started and centered around a symbol we all know and love - the dollar $ign. Chris's ingenuity was put to a test during this year...but I don't want to ruin the story. It's far too lengthy to tell in detail and I could never do it justice.
Chris Baty is an inspiration. To understand how important NaNoWriMo is to the writing community and how it has exploded into an international phenomena, read an abreviated version of the history at http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/history. And for a fun trip to NaNo land, pick up a copy of Chris's book, "No Plot, No Problem" .
Yeah, I know…I cheated. It’s a short blog but NaNo calls. Besides, I could never tell the story as humorously and heart warming as Chris.