These days I'm trying not to look at the calendar too much (seriously, what day is it again?) because if I see how much time is left in the year I might actually pass out. Where did 2011 go? But one thing that makes counting down to the end of the year slightly more bearable is the arrival of NaNoWriMo.
Many "serious" writers and publishing folk tend to scoff at NaNoWriMo, claiming that no "serious" writer would ever stoop to attempting the challenge (in basic terms, to produce 50,000 new words in the 30 days of November), claiming that NaNoWriMo is nothing more than a colossal waste of time.
To which I say, "Sucks to be you, then." (Short side note: there is SO MUCH kerfluffle in my small niche of the book world [Nano enthusiast and YA writer/reader] that at the end of the day I don't have much energy to say anything other than "Whatever, screw you," to each new article claiming that such and such doesn't count as "real literature" or is worthless or is corrupting our children! or.... Yeah.)
Don't get me wrong, NaNoWriMo doesn't work for everyone, and its purpose is easily misinterpreted. If you sit at your computer at 12:01am November 1st, expecting to have a completed, query-ready novel at the end of the month... Well, then you don't really know much about writing, or the industry.
In my experience, NaNoWriMo is the perfect antidote to writer's block, an excellent kick-starter, and an all-around good time. NaNo is great if you've been meaning to write that novel FOREVER, but just haven't found the time. NaNoWriMo tells you, "This is the time!" NaNoWriMo is excellent for those people (like me) who have a serious perfectionism complex, resulting in hours and hours spent varying four words in a 75,000 word manuscript. NaNoWriMo tells us, "There's no time for dilly-dallying! Get those words writ, man!"
In short, the ideal product of NaNoWriMo is a draft of a novel. It may be misshapen and slightly green, but it's a draft. (The founders are very clear about this. If you go to the site, there's an entire section devoted to what to do after NaNo, the biggest point of which is REVISE.)
If that sounds like a good time, then by all means, hop on. This ride is for you. But please please please remember: Do not submit your NaNo novel to agents at 12:01am December 1st. There are publishing folk everywhere girding their inboxes for the onslaught of queries reading
something like "OMG I TOTES finished this book in 28.4 days and it is
*Side note to those who claim nothing but crap ever comes out of NaNoWriMo: The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Water For Elephants (Sara Gruen), The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Carrie Ryan), and Cinder (Marissa Meyer) all started as NaNo novels, among others.