National Novel Writing Month starts today! Over a quarter of a million people participated last year, logging over 3 billion words! Here’s how the NaNoWriMo site describes it:
NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Of course, most people (86% last year) who start NaNoWriMo don’t finish. And we can imagine why: Sometime after the first few days of excitement you may get a little stuck. But you still have weeks left to catch up! So you let yourself get a little behind. Repeat every day until the deadline is on top of you and you have to either start pulling all-nighters or give up.
That kind of problem is what Beeminder is made for! In this case, forcing yourself to spread the writing out over the whole month. If you get too far behind you’ll be off your yellow brick road and your graph will freeze. You’ll have to pledge money to unfreeze it and keep going. Do that more than a few times and it will get very expensive! Pretty soon you’ll do whatever it takes to get onto your yellow brick road by midnight each day. Repeat for 30 days and, lo and behold, you’ve written a goddamn novel.
“We can fetch your wordcount automatically as you write.”
People have been beeminding their writing for a long time, but we’ve now made it dirt simple to get started. If you already use nanowrimo.org then you just tell us your username and we’ll fetch your wordcount from there. If you’re writing in a Google doc, we can fetch your wordcount automatically as you write (pardon the scary-sounding permissions you have to grant us). We can also do that if you’re writing in an Etherpad or anywhere else that generates a publicly accessible URL from which we can grab a wordcount.
We’re working on making this a more general tool for beeminding your writing, which we’re calling Bartlebee, but, first things first:
UPDATE 2013: See blog.beeminder.com/draft!
UPDATE 2015: We have the above button working for 2015 (and beyond)!
UPDATE 2016: See blog.beeminder.com/urlminder!
UPDATE 2020+: We don’t actually have an update for 2020, other than to assure everyone that this still totally works!