The idea is to put down 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th. (Again, I've never seen a 50,000 word novel, but there aren't any rules that say you can't write more—and a surprising number of people manage 90,000 and more.)
Participants are encouraged to start from scratch and just enjoy a word blow-out. If I felt like I had a "free" thirty-day period to get goofy with writing, the starting from scratch concept would be a kick. And if in the end, all I had was a pile of garbage, it still would be a fun experiment.
Last year, my first year, I decided to add 50,000 words to the project I was working on. It was fun, I loved the encouragement from the emails, and although I did not hit 50,000 words, I wrote quite a few. A lot of them keepers.
Who should participate in NanoWriMo?
If you have a new story brewing around in your brain, Nano would be a great way to get it off the ground.
If you want to add 50,000 words to the manuscript you're currently working on, it's perfect.
If you tend to work on multiple projects at once, and can set the others aside for a bit, I think it might be like a terrific vacation to jump into fresh waters.
If you freeze up under competitive pressure, are notoriously self-critical, or feel the need to be perfect and edit everything over and over, NanoWriMo might be the perfect tool to work through those issues, which to some writers, can be paralyzing.
If you would like to see some terrific encouragement (much of it from published, big-name authors) show up in your mailbox, NanoWriMo is without peer.
Who Should Not?
If you're pushing against a finish line for a project you're working on, and you're concerned about it, this might not be the year for you.
Unless of course, you'd like those encouraging emails.
CR: Still reading the Joseph Finder.
It's all better with friends.