Not heard of National Novel Writing Month? It's a program that encourages you to complete a novel by November 30th - along with lots of other would-be novelists.
During the month of November, thousands of writers will work toward the goal of completing a 50,000-word novel. The ideal participant has been described by NaNoWriMo organizers as anyone "who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved."
The idea is that the short deadline actually makes the task more manageable. The "kamikaze approach" is supposed to force participants to "lower ... expectations, take risks, and write on the fly."
NaNoWriMo was launched in 1999 by founder Chris Baty and his friends. That year 21 people gave it a try and six completed novel-length manuscripts. Last year, 167,150 writers participated worldwide, with 32,178 achieving their goal. Sound insane to you? Or like a dream come true?
Well here are Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Participating according to book editor Marjorie Kehe of the Christian Science Monitor.
1. If you think about the goal as 1,667 words a day, it doesn't seem quite as daunting. And 50,000 words is more or less a perfect length for a short novel: longer than a novella (defined as 40,000 words or under) but long enough to more or less measure up to "The Great Gatsby" (about 197 pages).
2. Officially participating in NaNoWriMo means that you will be working as part of a global community. More than 175,000 writers across the planet are expected to participate this year, all linked together by the NaNoWriMo website. In some cities, NaNoWriMo participants will even meet up in groups.
3. There is a huge celebration planned at the end.
4. It must be fun or people wouldn't keep doing this. Last year NaNoWriMo organizers estimated that more than 60 percent of the writers registered were repeat participants. "Making big, messy art is a fun, reviving experience, and once you've done it once, you tend to want to do it every year," Baty told Writer's Digest.
5. We all have a novel hiding in us somewhere. Will there ever be a better time to set yours free?
So go ahead and give it a try. If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, what are you waiting for? Be an artist this month! Enjoy the messy, creative process. Then, after the holidays, you can go back to prune or polish what you wrote. Or maybe you can have your book bound by Kinko’s and give it to friends and family for Christmas (along with a nice gift card perhaps).
To officially participate, you'll need to register with NaNoWriMo. Their free software will track your progress. I’m thinking of hopping aboard with my non-fiction book. Not quite the same, but I may join in anyway. This is geared for mid-length novel writers but you could join in writing anything – a young adult novella, a children’s book …
So what will you write about this month?