Think it’s impossible to write a novel in a month?

Think again.

November is National Novel Writing Month, during which you (yes YOU) are encouraged to write a 50,000-word manuscript by midnight of November 30th. The task seems impossible, but only if you’re worried about whether or not your novel is going to make the NY Times Bestseller list. The goal is “enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft,” according to their site.

NaNoWriMo opens up the literary world to a greater community, making writing accessible to anyone and everyone. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer-by-trade, NaNoWrMo argues that you CAN still write a full-length novel.

Why participate in NaNoWriMo? Just cause.

It’s a fun and challenging way to get yourself to write (even if most of what you put on the page is crap). No edits—just put a story on the page, and you might find that you actually do have a knack for creative writing.

Still, creating a full-length novel (with a beginning, middle, and yes, end) is a tough task, even for the seasoned writer. Here are some tips to consider as you embark on your first (or second, or third, etc.) novel-writing experience:

1. Avoid clichés. Yes, your novel may not be the best written thing on earth, but this project is meant to challenge your creativity! There’s no need to resort to overwrought clichés. Here’s a nifty site to use in case you weren’t sure if your phrase was cliché or not.

2. Don’t think about the amount of writing you have to do—in other words, your goal shouldn’t be focused on writing 50,000 words. Make the task simpler (and less daunting) for yourself by writing in chunks, or chapters, or whatever makes it easier for you.

3. Write what you know. The easiest way to do this? Write about yourself—make yourself the protagonist of the story. Yes, it seems totally narcissistic, but considering you’re writing under a crazy deadline, it’s more understandable.

4. A lot of other participants in NaNoWriMo post about their writing experiences on blogs or other social networking sites. Give each other moral support as you struggle through writing blocks! Keeping up with what other writers are doing can also fuel your own ideas and writing.

Here are some blogs to follow (among many others):

5. Plan ahead. Don’t just start your novel on a whim without a little bit of a plan or idea, or else you’ll story will self-destruct 20,000 words in. Outline or brainstorm before you start writing, so that you have a determined end point in mind that you can work toward.

6. That being said, don’t finish your story—make it the start of something greater. Leave your reader on edge, and leave something that you can add to or work on in the future!

Some people might argue that NaNoWriMo is sending the wrong message. What’s the point of speed-writing 50,000 words when you know it’s (probably) not going to be of any literary worth? Haven’t our teachers always advised us “quality over quantity”?

I think these naysayers might be missing the point. The value of this project is that you might discover something, about your writing and about yourself. As you write, you may fall in love with your story idea, or the writing process itself. You may discover you have a knack for writing within a particular genre.

In any case, NaNoWriMo encourages people to write creatively, and to make up a story just for the heck of it—something most of us probably have not done since we were kids. So start working on your novel already! Your deadline is less than a month away!

You can check out their website here.