"Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft," this November, thousands of aspiring novelists from all over the world will come together to take part in the madness of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it has been affectionately dubbed.
The concept of this literary marathon is deceptively simple. The execution? Not so much.
Since 1999, NaNoWriMo hopefuls have been taking an online pledge to create a 175-page novel (that's 50,000 words) entirely from scratch in just 30 days.
The brainchild of Executive Director, Chris Baty, the "30 days and nights of literary abandon" approach is designed to give writers permission to create without having to obsess about quality.
"The 30-day deadline helps you be less precious about every sentence, and forces you to make writing a priority in a way that you just don't without the external structure that comes from things like taking a class or taking part in NaNoWriMo," Baty said.
Outlines and plot notes are encouraged, however, previously written material is "punishable by death" according to the official website. This rule was created to give writers a creative blank slate, allowing them to get swept up in the manic current of creativity that NaNoWriMo offers.
By arranging for email "pep talks" from published authors, and special discounts on writing software, the Office of Letters and Light, the non-profit organization behind National Novel Writing Month, has taken great care to make the road to 50,000 words a more pleasant journey for its participants.
There is even a local Los Angeles NaNoWriMo forum that is organizing meet-ups and "write-ins" at local libraries and bookstores to foster creativity and encourage everyone to keep their word counts up as the November days and nights wear on.
Tenacious writers who reach their goal of 50,000 words will receive bragging rights for life and a free "proof" copy of their novel from CreateSpace, but as Chris Baty explains, there may be other benefits:
"I think when you set a ridiculously oversized goal for yourself like writing a novel in a month, and you reach that goal…that changes the way you see yourself, and changes what you see yourself capable of doing. You think: "Hey, if I can write a novel in a month, what else can I do?"