Here are the rules:
Participants' novels can be on any theme and in any genre, and in any language. Everything from fanfiction, which uses trademarked characters, to novels in poem format, and even metafiction is allowed; according to the website's FAQ, "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too." Starting at midnight November 1, novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before 11:59:59 PM on November 30, local time. Planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no earlier written material can go into the body of the novel, nor is one allowed to start early and then finish 30 days from that start point.
Participants write either a complete novel of 50,000 words, or simply the first 50,000 words of a novel to be completed later. While 50,000 words is a relatively low word count for a complete novel, it is still significantly more than the 40,000 word mark that distinguishes a novel from a novella. Notable novels of roughly 50,000 words include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby. Some participants set higher goals for themselves, like writing upwards of 100,000 words, or completing two or more separate novels. To win NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of approximately 1,667 words per day. Organizers of the event say that the aim is simply to get people to start writing, using the deadline as an incentive to get the story going and to put words to paper. This "quantity over quality" philosophy is summarized by the site's slogan: No Plot? No Problem! This is also the title of Chris Baty's book of advice for NaNoWriMo participants, published in late 2004 by Chronicle Books. There is no fee to participate in NaNoWriMo; registration is only required for novel verification.
No official prizes are awarded for length, quality, or speed. Anyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark is declared a winner. Beginning November 25, participants can submit their novel to be automatically verified for length and receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on the web, and inclusion on the list of winners. No precautions are taken to prevent cheating; since the only significant reward for winning is the finished novel itself and the satisfaction of having written it, there is little incentive to cheat. Novels are verified for word count by software, and may be scrambled or otherwise encrypted before being submitted for verification, although the software does not keep any other record of text input. It is possible to win without anyone (other than the author) ever seeing or reading the novel.
In October 2008, the self-publishing company CreateSpace teamed up with NaNoWriMo to begin offering winners a single free, paperback proof copy of their manuscripts, with the option to use the proof to then sell the novel on Amazon.com.
When I first heard about it, the first thing I thought was that since I already had over twenty stories written, long and short, the last thing I needed was to speed-write another one. As I understand it, the goal is to just write it. No worrying about spelling (much). No worrying about grammer (much). You can fix all that stuff next month when the contest is over. Trouble is, I always worry about spelling and grammer. Those quaint little red and green squiggly lines would drive me nuts if I ignored them. I have enough fun figuring out what my computer is trying to tell me as it is.
I never timed myself when I came to my writing. About the best I've accomplished is ten pages a day. At roughly 300 words per page, that's not bad. However, now that I have this very addictive distraction called the internet, of which Facebook is probably the worst, accomplishing ten pages in a day is a thing of the past, I'm afraid.
Maybe I'll give this a shot when I get more of what I already have cleaned up enough to hand over to an editor. How about you? Are you doing NaNoWritMo? If you are, tell us a little about the story you're writing. Here is where you can test your hook.