NaNoWriMo is a yearly challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. The point of the challenge is to encourage people to simply write without getting caught up in trying to make their first draft perfect and polished.

This isn’t how books are written.

You write the book, then you rewrite, edit, revise, rewrite, edit, revise, and then maybe you have something you can share with some writer friends who will rip it apart so you can start over. Go through that a few times and you might have a novel worth publishing.

But first, you have to write it.

I’ve done this twice in the last… 10 years or so.It means fitting in a few hours a day everyday, and more hours on days you have less other stuff to do (like weekends) to hit that goal. And it also requires an idea for a novel.

I haven’t succeeded either time in getting to 50,000 words, though I did rather well last year until the last week or so where things in the writing simply fell apart. That project got binned.

Still, I don’t regret it, as just writing something was worthwhile. I planned on doing it this year, but I didn’t want to rehash either of the previous ideas, and I knew I couldn’t make progress on the ⅔ finished novel I’ve have in my virtual desk drawer since last century, and I didn’t come up with a new idea I wanted to write this time around. But I am thinking I may do my own unofficial challenge in January.

But the real question is, what is someone who is not already a published author going to get out of this?

Well, obviously, some people will beocome published authors (Hi Dan!), but for most people the exercise is more about getting your writing muscles into the habit of writing. A lot of people do it because they are writers already, but they are writing blogs, tech news articles, buzzfeed listicles, or something other than a novel and this challenge lets them do something different that will probably improve their writing overall.

Oh, my partially finished novel started life as a sword and sorcery fantasy epic and is now about a girl growing up in a nameless midwestern town. Same story (way down there, really really way down there), different setting and characters. Fun, huh?