Yes, November is National Novel Writing Month, and on the first day of that month writers everywhere will begin feverishly scribbling their own versions of, "It was a dark and stormy night . . . ."
Registered participants who meet the goal of completing a 50,000-word novel by midnight on November 30 will be declared winners. Last year, there were nearly 6,000 winners out of 42,000 participants, representing a good, healthy jump from the 2003 stats of 3,500 winners and 25,500 participants. This year they're expecting 60,000 participants.
Which just goes to show there are an awful lot of nutty people in the world.
Here are some of my favorite questions from the informative and entertaining (and very, very long) FAQ page:
Why are you doing this? What do you get out of it?
NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month.
Part of the reason we organize NaNoWriMo is just to get a book written. We love the fringe benefits accrued to novelists. For one month out of the year, we can stew and storm, and make a huge mess of our apartments and drink lots of coffee at odd hours. And we can do all of these things loudly, in front of people. As satisfying as it is to reach deep within yourself and pull out an unexpectedly passable work of art, it is equally (if not more) satisfying to be able to dramatize the process at social gatherings.
But that artsy drama window is woefully short. The other reason we do NaNoWriMo is because the glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you read. And changes, a little bit, your sense of self. We like that.
I have a lot to do in November. Can I start in October and end early?
No. One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is the way it spreads the agony of creation throughout a large community of co-sufferers. For the pain to be properly distributed (and thereby diminished), all participants must be working on the same deadline.
Do I have to start my novel from scratch on November 1?
This sounds like a dumb, arbitrary rule, we know. But bringing a half-finished manuscript into NaNoWriMo all but guarantees a miserable month. You'll simply care about the characters and story too much to write with the gleeful, anything-goes approach that makes NaNoWriMo such a creative rush. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate, and you'll tap into realms of imagination and intuition that are out-of-reach when working on pre-existing manuscripts.
Well, what do you think? Are you tempted?
Here's one last excerpt from the FAQ page:
Can anyone participate in NaNoWriMo?
No. People who take their writing (and themselves) very seriously should probably go elsewhere. Everyone else, though, is warmly welcomed.
Ah. My kind of people.