National Novel Writing Month will soon be upon us, that wonderful, agonising, glorious, painful time wherein writers across the globe voluntarily bend their noses to the grindstone and do their level best to crank out a 50,000 word manuscript in only 30 days. I have been a regular NaNoWriMo participant since 2005, the year I wrote "The Rise of Umbra", a non-winning yet worthy manuscript weighing in at about 26,000 words. I've not succeeded every year I've tried, but three of my last four years have been winners: a science fiction time travel story in 2007, a 50K addition to "Umbra" in 2008, and a steampunk(ish) story in 2009.
Writing a 50,000 word work in the course of a month is not an easy thing, but it's rewarding. I've learned something about myself as a writer every year I've participated, even when I've not won or given up. And if you do NaNoWriMo in November, which is the official month, you'll have the comfort of knowing you're one of thousands of writers the world over subjecting themselves to this crazy thing. You'll participate in writing sprints, whose short-term, frenzied, competitive pace can boost your word count when you need it the most. And, perhaps best of all, you'll have all those other crazy writers to commiserate with when your characters won't cooperate or your plot fizzles or you've just come up with an entirely new storyline that you need to somehow cram into the current one if you've any hope of finishing on time.
For the last two weeks of October I'll be discussing NaNoWriMo, sharing my experiences and talking about tools and tips you can use to better your chances at crossing the 50K finish line by November 30th. Once NaNo starts, I'll be charting my progress here and detailling my own journey along the path this year.