National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a grass-roots effort to encourage people to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. It was started by Bay Area resident Chris Baty a feel-good excercise and not an avenue to getting published. As Baty states in the NaNoWriMo FAQ, "My ties to the publishing world end at Kinko's."

Already, many of you are rolling your eyes and reaching for the downvote button, thinking "Man, another squishy-feely California happening. Kill me now." But there's a serious hidden agenda here for some writers: As many of you know from being here on E2, writing gets better with practice. The only way to get good is to write every day, no matter how awful the results are. NaNoWriMo forces you to get in the habit, which is the first step any novelist must take (note that in 2000, only 29 of the 140 participants completed 50,000 words).

Let's face it: millions and millions of folks have always wanted to write a novel but never managed to do it. Life is full of things little and big that get in the way of dreams. NaNoWriMo was created as a way to force yourself to give the novel some time, too.

You can also get a little peer review when you're done. Your novel is thrown into the stack with dozens of other wannabes, all of you turning a sympathetic ear to each other's efforts, and clapping one another on the back for finally getting something done.

You don't have to be a Bay Area resident to participate, although it helps because you can be in on the drinking sessions that they hold in October and December. But novels from anywhere are accepted -- in fact, they're hoping to make the name a misnomer by receiving work from outside the United States.

Think of it this way (paraphrasing Bay Area columnist Beth Lisick): Considering the number of bands using CD burners to churn out crappy music, doesn't your novel deserve to get out there, too?

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