Aw shoot, it’s November 3rd! I am 3,334 words behind schedule and I’m wasting my time writing this blog instead of the next great American novel for National Novel Writing Month.

Okay, not really writing the next great American novel. But I am 3,334 words behind schedule in completing the 50,000-word (175 pages) first draft novel for the National Novel Writing Month, or more affectionately, NaNoWriMo.

Every year, thousands of writers—both professional and amateur—begin the month of November with prayers to the patron saint of writer’s block and go forth to speedily write a novel. “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” says the website where all the magic happens in a fun and helpful online community setting. The whole thing is designed to motivate you and throw you headfirst into the pool—whether you know how to swim or not. The first one started in July of 1999, in the San Francisco Bay area with only 21 novelists. It grew exponentially over the years and now it is the 13th annual NaNoWriMo.

The rules are simple. So to accentuate their simplicity, here’s a bullet list of them quoted from the website:

  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.

So 50,000 divided by the number of days in November comes out to 1,666 and 2/3rds. Most people round up to 1,667 words per day, and I am two days behind schedule. The closest I’ve ever gotten to winning was somewhere in the ballpark of 47,000 words. This is my fourth year and I plan on winning this time!

It’s a great community, a great exercise, and NaNoWriMo helps support writing workshops for kids. Check it out and see if it’s your sort of thing. There are even regional groups in case you prefer face-to-face support. The closest big one is in Santa Barbara, and there is another one in Lompoc. There’s a teeny one in San Luis Obispo as well.

There’s no reason not to start now—you still have 28 days to crank out that many words! Hell, I’m officially starting tomorrow anyway. And according to the NaNoWriMo twitter, and NaNoWriMo twitter word sprints, I’m not alone.

This article is 457 words that I could have written for NaNoWriMo. Curses!

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