By Poison Ivy,

It’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo. The National Novel Writing Month is happening November 1- November 30. Right now.

Having trouble writing your novel without a contract in hand? Get a structured deadline by joining NaNoWriMo (no fees, no personal info except a valid e-mail address required) and be in an online community of 90,000 hopeful novelists, all writing their hearts out in the month of November.

Feeling lonely just you and your computer? Join NaNoWriMo and discover fellow sufferers in nearby and far off places. Post about problems. Ask research questions. Vent about your unruly characters. There are forums for all, and you can start your own threads, too.

Or do you yearn to meet other writers without the expense of conferences and seminars? Join NaNoWriMo and become part of various write-ins being held all over the country.

The NaNoWriMo goal? Write 50,000 words in just one month. In 30 days. Well, now you’ve only got 25 days. That’s a mere 2,000 words a day. Or put another way, a mere eight pages of double-spaced typing. On some word processors, even fewer pages. You can do it.

Writing so much and so fast can lead to light-headedness, which might explain some of the trash talkin’ challenges issued by NaNoWriMo regions to rival regions. Maryland has a challenge going against a Texas group, for instance. To win the battle of words (literally, the word count), those writers have rounded up a posse of ambitious wordsmiths, some of whom are promising to write at least 75,000 words or even 150,000 this month! And the good news is that many of these writers are returning from the NaNoWriMo last year as winners. They wrote their 50,000 words then, and they expect to write another 50,000 words this very November. They know it can be done.

Kind of lights a fire under you procrastinators, doesn’t it?

What’s the reward? Obviously, you’ll have all that manuscript, those lovely 50,000 words to edit and rewrite come December. No rewriting now, please. Just steam ahead, unedited, unburdened by second thoughts. If a character takes a wrong turn in Chapter 2, don’t sweat it. Just keep writing. Maybe she’ll straighten up by Chapter 10. Or maybe she’ll develop into a whole new person. Lots of surprises await you if you’ll just sit down (or stand up, Hemingway did) and write!

Does the NaNoWriMo org offer a prize? Sure, a certificate. It can hang alongside your certificates for completing seminars, or showing up at camp, or whatever. If you need that kind of validation. They even have an ingenious method of verifying your word count. You scramble your manuscript and send it to be counted, not read. Their computer counts the words and then dumps the manuscript. And if you are completely untrusting, you can just post your daily totals. No hassles. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to help you, the would-be writer, write up a storm. So go to it!