So you've always wanted to write a novel, but something keeps getting in the way. You don't have the time to do it. You don't have confidence in your abilities. You don't, you know, have an idea for a story. Never fear! National Novel Writing Month is here.
NaNoWriMo, as it's affectionately known by staffers and "Wrimos," is an event with one goal: to encourage people to get off their duffs and write that novel. The single biggest factor that keeps people from starting a book is the mental block. NaNoWriMo tries to shatter that block by focusing solely on word count. If you can put down 50,000 words in the month of November, whether your story is finished or not, then you're a winner.
Not that doing so is easy. 50,000 words for the month comes out to about 1,667 words per day, which is hardly an insurmountable goal until you start thinking about doing it 30 days in a row. Or until you miss a couple of days, and suddenly that per day requirement starts creeping up. Better to power through 5,000 words or so on the first weekend, to build up some credit.
The other issue, spoken of frequently in the NaNoWriMo forums, is that of the dreaded Inner Editor. That's the little voice in your head that tells you the sentence you just wrote sucked, and the next one won't be worth writing unless it's perfect. Put simply, the Inner Editor is a jerk. The time to listen to him is December. November is an editor-free month.
According to the site's own statistics, approximately 15% of the people who sign up for NaNoWriMo each year reach the target word count. Those aren't great odds, but they aren't impossible, either. And when you consider that some NaNoWriMo projects have gone on to become actual, honest-to-God books -- including Sara Gruen's bestselling Water for Elephants -- then you have to admit it seems worth a shot. Your chances are better than buying a lottery ticket, anyway.
What are you waiting for? Head on over to the National Novel Writing Month web page and sign up.