For those who are wondering what the hell I'm talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. National as in United States, where the idea originated. But hey, the organisers aren't fussy. They regard the thing as international, and you can participate even if you live in Peru. It's just that InaNoWriMo (they claim) doesn't trip off the tongue so easily.
The idea is, basically, that as many people as possible should start writing a novel at 12.01 a.m. on 1 November, and stop at the end of the month, aiming to complete 50,000 words in the meantime. For more information, go take a look at the main Nanowrimo web site.
This slightly weird enterprise has apparently been going since 1999, when there were 21 participants and 6 of them actually managed to bash out 50,000 words. Last year there were 42,000 participants and just short of 6,000 winners.
The organisers seem determined to regard their project as just good clean fun, and I guess that's the right way to approach it (if you do). But some writers have, it seems, succeeded in selling the result.
Sarah Gruen's soon-to-be released Flying Changes began as a NaNoWriMo novel. Rebecca Agiewich sold her 2003 NaNoWriMo book to Ballantine in 2004; it'll be hitting stores in May of 2006. Dave Wilson sold his 2004 NaNoWriMo manuscript, The Mote in Andrea's Eye, to Five Star/Gale; it'll come out in June 2006. In fall of 2005, Gayle Brandeis sold her 2004 NaNoWriMo manuscript, Self Storage, to Ballantine in a two-book deal. Around the same time, Kimberly Llewellyn found a home for her 2004 NaNoWriMo manuscript, Cashmere Boulevard, at Berkley Books. It's due out in summer 2007.Well, so long as no one takes any of this too seriously, I guess it's OK. And it's certainly possible to write 50,000 words in a month. Thomas Wolfe, it is said, used to stand outside the homes of other writers and chant 'I wrote ten thousand words today!' At least he did until they took to emptying buckets over him. And Gore Vidal claims to have written his Edgar Box detective novels (60,000 words) in a week: 10,000 a day for six days, and then one day to 'tidy it up.' But then he is a frightfully clever chap.
Closer to home, I once wrote a 75,000 word novel in a total of 125 hours, but my working average for time/words is about 3 hours per 1,000 words. Roughly 1 hour per 1,000 words in planning, 1 hour to write, and 1 hour to revise. So a 100,000 novel can be expected to take 300 hours, or 6 hours a week (3 evenings at 2 hours a time) for a year. You have to be keen.