If you’re not familiar with the National Novel-Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, please allow me to introduce you to one of the most awesome things to happen to writers since ballpoint pens.

NaNoWriMo is a caffeine-addled, plot-fevered, ever-growing group of people who bridge geographical distances to write a novel in each other’s company. It espouses “exuberant imperfection,” quantity over quality, speed over strength, and the end of the “one day” novelist. (“One day, I’d like to write a book…” Trust me, your ‘one day’ will expand into thirty, and they are fast approaching, my friend.) NaNoWriMo begins at 12:00 AM on November 1st and ends at 11:59 PM November 30th. In those sweet, mind-boggling, too-short thirty days, you are going to write an original work of fiction of at least 50,000 words – 175 pages in your average Word document.

Writing so much in such a short time is bound to produce a crazed heap of scribbling, and NaNoWriMo’s founder, Chris Baty, acknowledges this – and encourages it. You can’t write the story lurking in your head if you’re too afraid of churning out terrible fiction to even pick up the pen or turn on the computer. NaNoWriMo gives you the excuse and the freedom to write whatever comes to mind in whatever fashion you choose, so long as you hit your word count goal by the end of the month. There is no competition – everyone who crosses the 50,000 word finish line is a winner.

The prize? Being able to tell everyone who asks (or doesn’t): Yes, I wrote a novel.

In a month.

Signups have started, and there’s more information waiting just a click away. Come join the madness!

(If you doubt it’s possible to succeed in this epic quest, let me reassure you – it is. I’ve participated six years in a row and won five of them… while working full-time jobs, and once while attending school and still holding down a job. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make time for something crazy in an already-busy schedule.)