NaNoWriMoTomorrow is that time again. No, not the Day of the Dead, though that falls on November 1. And it’s not the last day of Daylight Savings Time, thus robbing us off an hour of daylight at the end of the day. Yes, both these things happen tomorrow. But tomorrow is also the beginning of NaNoWriMo. If you’re a real sadist, you can start at midnight tonight, technically the start of November.

To the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel-Writing Month, an annual challenge to create a 50,000-word novel in one month. That works out to 1667 words a day. Doable? Yes. Publishable? Don’t be silly. Even if you take the standard 90 days to write a longer novel, you’re only churning out a rough draft. If you can do 2000 words a day, you can finish in 25 days. Which gives you room for Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Road RulesAm I doing it this year? No. Have I? Yes. How long did it take me?

13 days.

The result?

Road Rules. Yep. I did the original draft in 13 days. What you’re reading is the fourth draft that my former agent shopped for about a year. I don’t recommend trying that at home. The reason I could do Road Rules so fast is that I planned the hell out of that story. By the time I sat down to work on it on November 1, 2006, I already knew how each scene would play out. Plus, I went on a vacation to Hocking Hills, the wilderness area in Southeast Ohio. I had an entire week to bang on the manuscript. What I could not believe was when I finished it before the vacation ended. It was not even two weeks after I started.

Can I do it again? I doubt it. I might be able to do thirty days once I finish my degree work, but 13 days is a freak occurrence. I’ve heard that I, the Jury was written in a weekend, that Stephen King’s Bachman novel The Running Man was written in 72 hours. But even for Mickey Spillane and Stephen King, these were freak events, never to be repeated again.

Should you do it? I can tell you if you do 50,000 words in a month, you will get a huge boost of confidence just for finishing. That’s sometimes the most important part.