The imminent arrival of Halloween in Boulder doesn't just portend a Pearl Street Mall full of costumes and a jam-packed party schedule. For many locals, the biggest deal about October 31st is that it's the day before November 1... the first day of National Novel Writing Month.
National Novel Writing Month, or "NaNoWriMo" (nah-noh-WRY-moh), is an annual challenge to professional and amateur writers alike to write a 50,000-word draft of a brand new book-length story in 30 days or less. Participants who start writing on November 1--sometimes in the very first minutes of November 1--have until the final moments of November 30 to reach that 50K finish line. Throughout the endeavor, they enjoy the encouragement and camaraderie of their fellow participants (commonly known as "Nanos" or "Wrimos"), attend local events organized by regional volunteer Municipal Liaisons ("MLs"), receive semiweekly pep talks penned by published writers and distributed by NaNoWriMo HQ, and push themselves to accomplish more than they might have expected. The goal is quantity, with the understanding that quality can wait for future revisions. 50,000 words in 30 days comes to about 1,667 words per day, and many writers discover they can meet and exceed that regularly. Indeed, many go on to continue that pace for the bulk of their year-round writing life.
To the universal assertion that "Someday I'll write a novel," NaNoWriMo responds, "How about this November?"
Boulder boasts an enthusiastic community with brand new participants as well as decade-plus veterans. Regional MLs have scheduled a number of write-ins in Boulder and in Longmont. These events are held in coffee shops, bookstores and libraries, and are dedicated to mostly quiet writing... punctuated by word wars (during which contestants vie to produce the most words in a short period of time) and dares (unlikely story prompts, such as "suddenly, a ninja!" which participants try to include in whatever scene they're currently writing) to inspire attendees to even greater daily word counts.
There are parties on the schedule, too, to commemorate landmark dates throughout the project. You can look forward to the Kick-Off Party on October 27, where you can meet other local Wrimos, exchange novel ideas, and generally join each other in nervousness that November 1 is right around the corner; and the Midnight Write-In where attendees gather to usher in the month together and start writing on the stroke of November.
Events on the calendar are open to the public, but you are encouraged--nay, urged--to create a profile on NaNoWriMo.org. That way you can receive updates from NaNoWriMo HQ and from your regional MLs, participate in the forum discussions, and, most importantly, log your word count and earn the right to download all your well-deserved winner goodies when you cross the 50K line.
Remember, "someday" never happens, but November comes every year. Have you got a novel in you? NaNoWriMo 2013 will be a great time to find out.