I joined NaNoWriMo in 2004, went on to become the first "overachiever" averaging 200,000 words in 30 days, instead of the average 50,000 words. Since 2006, I have been receiving on average 5,000 to 20,000 emails a week from fellow writers every October, November, and December, emails asking me how I did it and if I could advice them on what to do so they can write 200k instead of 50k in 30 days too.
In 2006 I wrote The 13 Step Method to Writing, in answer to their requests. In 2007 that was expanded to website known as "EelKat's Guide To NaNoWriMo", from their the advice column for writers (Ask EelKat) was created. Today there are more than 6,000 articles answering questions writers have, not only about NaNoWriMo but every aspect of writing and publishing in general and thus was born in 2013 EelKat.com the one stop database for every article I've ever written on writing. EelKat's Guide to NaNoWriMo is the series of articles that started it all, and here they are:
You are reading page #1 of EelKat's Guide to NaNoWriMo.
In 1999 Chris Baty decided he wanted to write a novel, but knew from past experience that he lacked the motivation and would require a support team to keep him going. He next decided to give himself a time limit: write the novel from start to finish in 30 days. He next concluded that 30 days was only enough time to write a very short novel so set his goal to write a novel 50,000 words long, concluding that writing 1,667 words a day wouldn't be that hard. He contacted 10 people and asked them to sit in a cafe with him, everyday for 30 days until he had written a 50,000 word novel. Those 10 people decided there was no need for him to write alone and they each set out to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days too.
By the end of the month, the friends had each written the first drafts of their novels. They were not complete, they needed lots of editing, but the story itself was finished, start to end each of the friends had done what they had not thought possible: written the first draft of a novel in 30 days. When the group dispersed, they said to one another: "That was fun, let's do it again next year." And they did, but by 2000 each friend had told more friends and many more than 10 people joined for year 2.
By 2001 the idea of "Let's tell the whole country to write with us this time, let's give it a name. let's call it National Novel Writing Month" resulted in a little message board showing up online.
By 2004, 10,000 would-be novelists across America were logging in on that message board every November to write a 50,000 word novel. This was the year I joined NaNoWriMo. I was the first person to join, who was not "wanna-be-writer" looking to write a "first novel". By 2004 I had several books out, was the editor-in-chief of a publishing house, and also owned said publishing house.
In November 1, 2005 first day of the contest, the server crashed and National Novel Writing Month's message board was offline for more than two weeks; a side effect of 30,000 people all logging in at exactly mid-night (in spite of Hurricane Katrina, in fact many came to NaNoWriMo as a direct result of Katrina, people seeking to write novels for income to support their families now that they were homeless, jobless, and had a lot of free time to write daily). National Novel Writing Month's home crew (Chris Baty and his original ten friends) worked round the clock to build a brand new site and host it on a server large enough to handle 30,000 all logged in at the same time, and thus The NaNoWriMo Forums was born.
In 2006 the numbers rose to 90,000 writers, all of them asking questions about "How do I write a novel?", "How do I create characters?", "How can I possibly write 50,000 words in 30 days?", "After November is over, how do I edit this thing?", "Anyone know how to get it published?" Many returning members would answer these questions with "Ask EelKat, she'll know, she knows everything there is to know about writing and publishing." I answered more than a thousand questions that year (not simple two sentence answers - but answers each no less than 750 words long a few topping 2,000 words) AND I wrote 183,000 words of novel besides (becoming the first "Overachiever", and I did all while living under a 8x6' tarp that was by November buried under 6 feet of snow. By December 2006 the "Ask EelKat" advice column was born.
In 2007, more than 1,000 members set their goals to "try to beat EelKat", resulting in the creation of "The Rebels Forum" and "The Overachievers Thread". For the first time Wrimoers were aiming at goals higher than 50,000 words. I zipped past 50,000 on day 3 and ended the month beating my own record ending with 200,000 words of novel, in addition to the uncounted thousands of words of advice column answers for forum members.
From 2009 onward I have been The Official Script Frenzy Municipal Liaison for the Southern Maine, Saco Bay Region of National Novel Writing Month (Script Frenzy is a division of NaNoWriMo). What that means is I now work (volunteer - not paid) for NaNoWriMo on a local level running the script writing groups and get togethers and now not only do I help people online on the forums, but face to face in person at the following locations:
You can find me at any one of these locations advising writers one-on-one, editing novels, typing up answers to current "Ask EelKat" questions, or writing my own latest stories for The Twighlight Manor Series, not just during November and April, but all year long. If you are a writer needing help with your manuscript and you see The Dazzling Razzberry parked outside one of these locations, I'm there and you are welcomed to join me and ask for advice.
(UPDATE: February 2013: So sad to announce that Chris Baty retired, and also Script Frenzy has been canceled. Screnzy was far better than NaNoWriMo ever was, maybe that's because I write short stories and scripts more than novels? Sad. Very Sad. I will certainly miss Screnzy. Oh well, we are still holding the write ins, though Screnzy or no Screnzy! Yay! We don't need a contest to keep the local meetings going, so all the usual places [listed above] are still hosting write-ins, we just won't be writing for Screnzy anymore. And Camp NaNoWriMo will be going on in April now so, I just I can write a script for that instead?)
While I still hold the record for the most words written in 30 days, in the State of Maine (238,000 words), I lost the world record in 2009 when new member "Kateness" ended the month with a whopping 500,000 words (which was five 100,000 word novels). She beat her own record the following year when she set her goal to having "A Million Month", a dedication that had her going with fewer than 4 hours of sleep a day and typing steady, non-stop for 18 hours stretches at a time. At the end she vowed to never try anything like that again. Since than, several others have tried to beat her record, thousands make it to 200,000, a handful have made it to 300,000, but fewer than 10 are verified to have reached 500,000 words in 30days and only 3 are verified to have gone past that, reaching 800,000. (Verified by doing it live in front of witnesses, NOT verified by National Novel Writing Month Forums's online word count verification software; any body can claim any number on the forums, to beat a world or state record requires witnesses to be on hand to see you actually type the amount of words you claimed to have typed. NaNoWriMo calls it "The Luddite Clause")
November 1, 2012 broke a record with 300,000 people from all over the globe logging in at midnight, and for the first year ever the forums did not crash and go offline due to high traffic.
National Novel Writing Month estimates that on November 1, 2013 492,000 people will log in to start writing novels in what has gone down in history as the largest writing group in the world.
Linked below are the very first original advice article answers written for "Ask EelKat", (including The 13 Step Method to Writing) which were originally written as answers to NaNoWriMo forum post questions between 2004 and 2006.
UPDATE: November 2015: The page you are on now, was written in 2007 and updated every November until 2014 - It was last updated October 31, 2014 and there are no future updates planned for it, as after 10 years of doing it, I have retired from "traditional" NaNoWriMo and am now doing a different writing goal each November.
For the current NaNoWriMo 2015 update see THIS PAGE (which includes the first public release of my Dares Generator and information on how I use it to reach 50,000 words in 3 days instead of 30 days, along with info on how I reached 537,000 words in 2013 and thus changed my writing goals for NaNoWriMo.)
UPDATE: October 31, 2014 -
Due to a major hacking of my online accounts, and the theft and plagiarism of some 1,371 of my how-to articles for writers, I am now removing from public access MOST of my How To Guides for writers. They will return at a future date, but henceforth they will not be available for free. I'm tired of shit-head thieves stealing my work and passing it off as theirs. I'm sorry, to those of you who were not creeps and trolls, I know it's not fair to you, but, the hacking was done by a local person did a lot more damage than you know - the vandalism to my house and cars and the murders of my pets and death threats to my family, are not something I take lightly.
Until we can get to the bottom of this and get this jackass stalker out of my life, I am simply not able to leave my articles online, due to the court case that is now brewing over this. I am also leaving NaNoWriMo, because the local NaNoWriMo ML Kendra Silvermander is the cousin of the man doing the harassment, stalking, vandalism (which included blowing up my house with a grease fryer bomb) and has been not only stealing my how to guides and posting them on the NaNoWriMo forums as her own, but also shows up at local restaurants to threaten me and my family while we are trying to eat. I am utterly disgusted that NaNoWriMo allows a filthy, thieving, vandalizing, scum bag like this to continue to year after year, inciting anti-EelKat riot threads on the NaNoWriMo forum, while continuing to allow her to steal my articles off my web site and post them to NaNoWriMo's website as hers.
This article you are reading now, is one of the few, I have not taken down, it is however drastically shorted. My mega long 20,000 word how to articles are ALL removed now, with only and the ones that remain are stripped of most of the info, with only the barest minimum required to answer the reader question - in many cases the articles are 90% shorter then when they originally appeared, most now under 2,000 words instead of their 20,000 word originals.
Complete Index of EelKat's Guide to NaNoWriMo (Including The ORIGINAL 13 Steps To Writing Method)
MANY of these pages are changed to private viewing only now, and or have had most or all of the original content removed - see note above for reason why.
I am wondering why has Amazon moved the Quaraun books to the category "Transgender Romance" and also "Gay Erotica"? The base story is a deeply depressed, suicidal, drug addict Elf who's lover commit suicide and he's trying not to do the same. It's an old Elf in a tavern, monologuing a lot of flashbacks and back story scenes of his youth. These stories are dark, bloody, angsty, full of drug use, murder, rape, Medieval torture, mental/physical/emotional abuse, and references to depression and suicide - no romance in it, unless you count the occasional (and usually brutally violent) rape scenes that show up in nearly every volume - sorry - no clue what Amazon is thinking or why they moved these to Romance and Erotica, but these books are NOT even close to being Romance or Erotica on any level at all. When I published these books I put them in "Dark Fantasy" and "Yaoi". If they show up in any category other then "Dark Fantasy" and "Yaoi", it's because Amazon put them there without my authorization or approval.