This contest is really a contest against your own stamina, dedication, and will to hash out a story and not care about anything other then word count. If you've been trying to finish that novel, or wanting to begin one, or have always thought about writing one, now's the perfect time and NaNoWriMo can help you reach your goal.
See, their goal is for your to flesh out your story beginning on Nov 1 and reach 50,000 words by November 30. Sound daunting? Well, the thing is, they don't want you to care one iota about quality, just quantity. They want you to write, and write freely. Don't stop yourself to edit or go back to revise, just write forward... push yourself to write, write, write the whole month through. You can use this time between now and Nov 1 to write notes, an outline, a sketch, etc. But pages begin on Nov 1.
Each day, you will post your total word count and a small excerpt. You will get to read buddies' entries and your buddies will get to read yours. (You accept who your buddies are) You will each cheer each other on to that 50,000 word finish line.
Cindy Pon used NaNo to get over the "middle" hump of her story, Silver Phoenix, and now it is waiting to hit book stores! I am not saying that what she wrote was publishable when NaNo was over. Because, again, beautiful prose is not the objective of NaNo. But she used NaNo to get her unstuck and to reach her personal goal of completing her then, first novel. She then spent the next year, or so, polishing it until it finally sold and incidentally, Cindy has currently sold another two book deal. She will be using NaNo to help write a rough copy of the Sequel to Silver Phoenix and her story has inspired me to get me over my "middle" hump of my story.
Won't you join me? We can cross that finish line together!
To give you a brief idea what 50,000 words are... One page, in correct formatting, is about 300 words, depending on if the page is heavy in dialogue or narration (narration would be wordier). So, 50,000 words is about 166 pages and the average length of, I believe, an early to mid-level MG novel.
I just signed up today. I am nervous and not sure if I will reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month, but as long as I am writing, the word count doesn't really matter to me. I have been striving to finish my current WIP for a long time now and I am going to use NaNo as a tool for me to reach my goal of hashing out large chunks of my story I have really been struggling to write.
So, the folks at NaNo might have a goal for each of us to reach 50,000 words, but I have my own goal. In other words, don't let the word count scare you. Let NaNo be a goal for you to just get that burning novel out. And if you decide to sign up, let me know what your user name is so we can sign up as buddies for one another and cheer each other on.
Good luck my wordy friends and write, write, write!