NaNoWriMo is nearly upon us again and if you listen really carefully, you might just hear the sound of wrist-splint manufacturers chuckling with glee.
For the few people out there who don't know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month: anyone can sign up and spend November in a frantic, word-churning haze as they attempt to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. No one pretends that NaNoWriMo novels are wonderful (although there must have been some successes, surely?): quantity, not quality is the thing here. And the excitement of writing alongside so many other people determined to succeed.
I think it's a great project. Fun, and quirky, and an almost impossible challenge. I've never been brave enough to try it, mostly because of my RSI: if you're considering taking part yourself, then please make sure you don't do yourself any damage. Double-check the ergonomics of your desk and computer set-up, and remember to take regular breaks from typing. If you don't you'll end up with hands as painful as mine, and it's no fun at all.
You might also want to have a look at No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo. It's not going to show you how to write a literary masterpiece: but what it will do is tell you how other people have got through the month without stopping writing, and what techniques they've used to help make sure they get their words down every single day. It's a quick, fun read full of advice designed to get you writing and keep you going, and it's the perfect pre-NaNo read.
You've got until next Saturday. Sign up to the website (don't leave it until the last minute, there's bound to be a rush), buy the book, and stock up on paper, pens and coffee. I wish everyone who decides to have a go the very best of luck: let me know how you get on.