It’s that time of the year when you’ve settled down into your schedule and are starting to realize that the semester is going to end, and sooner than you thought.  November is a time to celebrate mustaches (and men’s health), prepare for winter by stocking up on desserts at Dana, and dream about the real food that awaits you at Thanksgiving dinner, which you’ll also eat too much of.

But most importantly, November is National Novel Writing Month.

The concept is intimidating: you write a novel, about 50,000 words or 200 pages, in one month.  In addition, you’re expected to continue with your life: eat, do other work, sometimes even sleep.  The official rules require you to start from scratch (excepting notes), but participants don’t have to finish; everyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark is a “winner.”

“Who are these intellectual badasses?” you may ask.  “How do they do it?  Is magic involved?”  But this isn’t Harry Potter; these are real people who just like a creative challenge.  The point isn’t to write a masterpiece, but to prove to yourself that you can write a novel and will be a better writer because of it.

Chris Baty started the NaNoWriMo project in 1999 with 21 participants.  It’s grown every year, and in 2010 over 200,000 people signed up.  There are forums and helpful tips on the official website,, and you can even connect with participants in your area.

Sadly, I am not among the WriMos.  It’s on my bucket list, but I haven’t gotten up the courage to do it yet.  My excuse this year is that I’m taking two creative writing classes already, but eventually I’ll be out of justifications.  If you are participating or writing a novel as a longer project, feel free to comment and brag about it.  Seriously.  Consider yourself the Chuck Norris of the literary world, but more importantly, spread the inspiration.


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