Pens on your mark. Paper set. Write!
It's that time of year again. The time when rational human beings volunteer their lives, their bodies, and their souls for thirty epic days of cramped fingers, blurred vision, and too much caffeine. I'm talking about National Novel Writing Month or, as it's known to the locals, NaNoWriMo. An entire month of literary abandon that produces such a wide variety of emotional and mental upset that we would all be committed if we didn't have such a possessive alibi: "I'm a writer."
Most of you know what I'm talking about already. For the uninitiated, allow me to enlighten you.
NaNoWriMo begins at midnight on November 1st and ends at 11:59 PM on November 30th. The goal is simple: write 50,000 words in those 30 days. If you cross the 50,000 mark by the last day, you get to parade around your house, town, and loved ones, exclaiming: "I wrote a novel!"
The answer to that is in your own head. I've heard a score of reasons why NaNoWriMo-ers young and old do what they do. Some want to try it for the first time. Others use it as a status symbol. Still others are pro writers who simple want to get the first draft on paper or are students doing it with their class. This will be my 8th year participating in NaNoWriMo and my own reasons for doing it are never the same from one year to the next.
There are no rules beyond the 50K/30 day one. You may attempt a complete novel or simply make it your starting point. Have a plot (or don't). Create new and unusual characters or retell the love story of your grandparents. It's all up to you.
If you're a writer, chances are that you know the pain of slogging through a manuscript with the speed of a snail, wondering where in the world your story should go next. NaNoWriMo eliminates that. It takes the need for perfection out of the equation long enough for you to get your tale onto paper. Not only that, but for those who have never written anything "long" before, it's a bite-sized period in which to find out if you really like it or not.
(Disclaimer: This isn't to say that you should leave it be after November. If you like what you've written and want others to read it, start editing! November is for getting it out - after is for revising.)
And, if you lose, no biggie. At least you attempted it. I've won...and I've lost. This year makes the score about 50/50. Some years I've made it far, far beyond the 50K mark. Others haven't seen even 10K words.
It's all about you.