All you writers out there grab a hold of your hats-- we're officially three days into National Novel Writing Month!

Sponsored by the website NaNoWriMo, November has become a frenzied mess of hallucinatory word counts, bad sex scenes in random places, and nights of frustration for writers of all shapes and sizes (perhaps more accurately, experience and recognition). It is somewhat appropriate that it follows on the coattails of Halloween, perhaps even surpassing the holiday in insanity. The contest is in its tenth year. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000 word) novel between November 1st and November 30th, midnight. On average, this means you'll be writing a little more than 1,500 words a day.

In 2007 there were over 100,000 participants, 15,000 of which finished their novel by the November 30th deadline. There have even been a few NaNoWriMo novels that have been published (albeit with massive editing from their first form, hence December's designation as National Novel Editing Month). The focus is on quantity, not quality, as it says on the NaNoWriMo website, "You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

How to get started:
Sign up on the NaNoWriMo website. You'll upload your story periodically for official word count and if you meet the deadline, you'll get a fun little certificate for your efforts.

But there's more. NaNoWriMo has created a community of writers by way of the November contest. Their forums allow you to exchange grievances (in the forum aptly named "NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul"), celebrate, or network with other writers in the contest. Writers can also set up "Thank God It's Over" parties at the finish. There is another forum to ask content or character based questions, which has fun questions such as "Where would I find prostitutes in Glasgow, Scotland?" or "How long would it take a leg amputee to be able to hobble around on a crutch?" This forum alone is a goldmine for research information (even if you're only selfishly reading it without participating in the contest) as it opens the questions to a large world audience-- I can rest easy knowing that there is a person in the world, right now, that knows "doxy" would be considered a more appropriate word for a medieval queen to use in conversation than "slut."

So, go check it out. If any of you faithful HFR readers are participating in the contest, please let us know in a comment and keep us updated on your status!