This being November 1st, it is the honorary launching day of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. What is this crazy thing you speak of, you ask? Why, it is a competition of a sort. The goal is to write a novel in 30 days, 50,000 words to be exact. Sounds crazy? Yes, yes it is. I can attest to this because this is my 6th year participating in NaNoWriMo. I have two wins under my belt and I’m currently going for three. I’m also in a three way word war with two friends. I must defend my honor and beat them! (Or at least tie,… again.)

This year over 130,000 budding (and published) authors are going for the goal. This takes place throughout the whole world, and 16 hours after the first regions of the world hit midnight, over 800,000 words had been written. National Novel Writing Month started in the year 1999, created by Chris Baty, with a small group of friends in the Bay Area in California. The next year more joined, and even more in 2001, until eventually they had to launch a website to accomodate people from all over the US. Soon it expanded to the world, and then too the young writers with the Young Writers Program, YWP. This program sends otu supplies to teachers in middle and high schools to challenge their students.

Every year NaNoWriMo does amazing things, like the YWP, to keep people interested in writing, and to help education. This year they have implemented Come Write In! where local libraries and independant bookstores can host places for authors to come in and have a nice atmosphere to work on their novels and seek any books that might help their cause. They’re a non-profit organization that runs purely on donations from the participants, and they state their intentions on the main page of the website, NaNoWriMo. This year they’ve revealed their intentions to start writing camps for both adults and teenagers, after expanding the number of classrooms they’ll sponsor for the YWP.

Don’t want to write alone? No worries! There are regions all over the world you can join where volunteers, ML’s (Municipal Liason’s) run the regions and organize physical get-togethers affectionally called write-in’s. These mostly take place at coffee shops or other places where business’s don’t mind a group of people getting together to have some nerdy, wordy fun. Some of the best times I’ve had have been at write-ins. One year the same Queen song played every week on the jukebox, and it affected what some characters did in a novel. (I also realized that I wasn’t allowed to have marachino cherries, I was oftened asked if I was drunk.)

The forums are also chock-full of activity! From everything to asking advice, to providing that little bit of procrastination that you think you need. Newbies can go there to search for a Mentor to help them through the wilds of NaNoWriMo, and regions can get in contact with each other to see just what is happening locally.

Sound interesting yet? Well let me regal you with the rules. Yes, there are rules, and they are mostly honor based, but do you want to live with the guilt of knowing that your win isn’t real? You can’t write the same word 50,000 times. You must start with an original story, no continuing on something that you’ve already started. If you want to re-write a story, go ahead, but you can’t refer back to what you’ve already written. It only takes 1,667 words a day to reach the legendary 50,000. You can write about anything you want! Fanfiction? Yes! A book of short stories? Go on, you! A movie script? Well, actually they have a separate event for that. Script Frenzy! This one takes place in April.

What happens if you win? You get an awesome certificate to print, lots of images to lord all over the internet to show how awesome you are. Oh, and you’ll be able to print off a free paperback proof-copy thanks to CreateSpace. The goal of NaNo is quanitity, not quality, so turn off that spell check and grammar check, they will do you no good when writing your novel! One thing to note is that during November the site will experience down-times and slow loading speeds. Be patient, thousands of people are all clamoring to be the first to reach 50k words.

What are you waiting for? Go check it out and sign up! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to writing and mentoring some newbies.