"NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing" says the group's website, encouraging people worldwide to set aside the month of November to write the first draft of a novel.
Every year, people do!
In 2017, more than 400,000 writers reported success in reaching the 50,000-word goal. Many of these efforts are just for practice. Some are a one-time lark for dabblers. Some—like my 2009 NaNo creation—are deemed so bad by the author that the files are deleted forever at the end of November.
Others--like my 2011 production--lead to published work.
Other NaNoWriMo success stories:
In a "pep talk" published on the NaNoWriMo page, author Erin Morgenstern admits that her bestselling novel was drafted during several Novembers:
The circus was my variation on the wise and ancient NaNo wisdom: when in doubt, just add ninjas. I had this plodding, Edward Gorey-esque thing with mysterious figures in fur coats being mysterious and doing very little else. I got tremendously bored with it because nothing was happening so I sent the otherwise boring characters to a circus. And it worked.
By contrast, local author Marissa Meyer says that she drafted the first three books in her Lunar Chronicles series in a single NaNo November:
...I had heard about a contest in which the Seattle-area writer who clocked in with the most words during November would win a walk-on role in an upcoming episode of Star Trek. Being both a geek and a chronic overachiever, I knew I had to give it a shot, so I ended up writing the drafts of three novels instead of one. My grand total was 150,011 words. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win the contest (I came in third place!), but at least I finished with three novels that I was really excited about.
Rainbow Rowell learned to love NaNoWriMo as an already-established author:
One of my challenges as an author is staying inside the fictional world I’m creating. I have to write in blocks (at least four hours at a time, at least four days in a row) to make any progress. During NaNoWriMo, I never left the world of the book long enough to lose momentum.
Want to read more?
The NaNoWriMo website has a page listing all the projects that have been reported as "published", either by traditional publishing houses or self-published by the authors. You can view it HERE.
If you're going to write in November, I'd love to hear about your project in the comment box. And, to all the writers--and readers--of NaNoWriMo, I wish you the very best of words!