November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. This month is set aside as a crazy "thirty days and nights of literary abandon," where anyone who ever wanted to write a book can go for it. There is a support group and pep talks, word counters, and chat forums to help you along your literary way. A "winning" product is a 50,000 word novel downloaded to the NaNoWriMo site by 11:59 PM Pacific time on November 30th.
Many people have at least heard of this event, as I have, but don't know its history. It started in July 1999 with 21 friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, who simply wanted to have some fun and "make some noise." Over the years since they've added a professional website and staff, changed the month, made official sign ups and rules, and have involved K-12 schools through their Young Writers Program. In 2006 they became a nonprofit organization, which runs on donations from participants and Amazon.com.
As of 2011, NaNoWriMo had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them winners, meaning they finished the required word count in one month. They have been featured in the media and endorsed by professional authors. There have been a number of NaNoWriMo participants who have gone on to publish novels as well, some names most familiar being Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants" and Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus."
So if you're looking for a reason to give writing a try, this may be for you. Comes complete with a deadline and good company working toward the same goal. Because I don't know how I feel about downloading my work to someone's website, I'm not going to sign up. But, I am going to do my own unofficial NaNoWriMo at home. Hopefully it'll kickstart my own story juices flowing to the point of no return!