How to Get Free Drinks From Everyone

How many actors does it take to change a light bulb? 500. One to do it and 499 to sigh and say "I could have done that." There are a million more jokes like that and they all have the same underlying theme. Most of us are confident in our own artistic abilities and we are convinced that we could be better than that awful actress on the screen, funnier than that stupid comedian and when we watch a film like Showgirls or Batman and Robin we just know we could have written a better script. We know if we just had the time and the pure dumb luck we could write a novel that would be bigger than Harry Potter, more literary than Faulkner, and juicier than Jackie Collins. Luckily for everyone on Earth, November is novel writing month and opportunity is tapping at your windowpane.

NaNoWriMo Friendly ZoneWhat exactly does it take to turn someone who thinks it would be nice to write a book some day into a real author with a real 50,000-word novel to show for it? Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) operates under the assumption that a lot of caffeine, a tight deadline and an impossible plan are key ingredients. He started NaNoWriMo in 1999 with 21 participants and expects 60,000 crazed novelists-in-the-making to take part this year. Take part in what exactly? A frantic effort to write a book in one short month so that you attain your dream of being a novelist and have a valid reason to start drinking like Hemingway. The goal is quantity, not quality, with the aim of getting your words out of your head and into your computer or down on paper without worrying about how good they are. Don't fret over silly worries like logic, proper plot development or even making sure your characters stay the same gender throughout the entire book. Get it done, fix it later if you want and get on with the important business of telling your friends to take you out to dinner to celebrate your new elite authorial status.

While hitting this word count in such a short amount of time sounds like a lot of work, Chris stresses that it is lots of fun, not to be taken too seriously and something not best done alone. He has certainly put a lot into making it fun, hosting some wonderful forums, sending heartening emails and organizing and encouraging get-togethers and parties, especially the Thank God It's Over party blowout that takes place as soon as NaNoWriMo is finished. The discussion boards are there so you can hook up with other Wrimos and get advice, give it, agonize, and of the most importance to the wannabe writer, procrastinate.

In order to give you an idea what it's like to be a Wrimo, I interviewed a woman who is taking part in her third NaNoWriMo, me. In 2003 I started a book called Other People's Blood, a serial killer book with an alien called Mike and a homeless girl with mysterious powers. On the 16th my laptop died and I lost the whole thing. (Moral here is back up your work, data is fragile.) I started a new novel on the same day and gave up on it on the 20th, starting a book called Bluer Than the Night Sky. Amazingly I finished the book in eleven days. Looking back it seems more than unlikely, it seems impossible. The exhilaration and excitement and pride I felt was a rush like few others. It was so worth the insane amount of hours that I put in.

In 2004 I started a book called Bare Minimum and didn't finish it because I suddenly got a big writing assignment and didn't have the time for both projects. This year I'm writing a book called The Fragmented Woman, about a woman who feels her life is so out of control she decides to kidnap an actor just so she can get arrested and spend some quiet time in jail. Unfortunately for her the actor wants to get off the set of the film so badly he takes her gun away from her and makes her take him to her house. As we go to press I am 5100 words into this story and my characters and plot are out of control. I am looking forward to finding out what is going to happen.

Now are you ready to start your own book? Go to the site and register and get writing. Pad your prose, take wild chances, torture your characters and remember the famous advice of Raymond Chandler for how to beat writer's block, "In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns."

Some people have trouble with endings so the middlemost member of the Quality Time team wrote this ending as a special gift for you. Use it wisely and enjoy.

She suddenly realized she had a tremendous desire to eat massive quantities of fish; so, she tore off down the street screaming "Fiiiiiiiiiissh!!!!!!!"