It's always good to get a head start. Stuff happens. Thanksgiving is stuck in there (and for those of us who work retail, Black Friday is shot too.) Offices flood (happened twice during Nanowrimo in the past ten years.) The point is to write every day, and for the days that you know you'll miss, to write extra either before or after so that you make your goal.
For many, this is a fun exercise, and a chance to finally write that book that they've always wanted to write. For a lot of pros it may be a non-event. They may write 50,000 words in three days. (Stephen King wrote a 200,000 word novel in the time it took you to read up to this point in my post.)
Some fun facts:
*Some people clear 250,000 words during Nanowrimo. No kidding. Some of them are even first time novelists. (ooos and aaaahs from the audience.)
*Nanowrimo is organized by the Office of Letters and Light, a charity that does awesome things like provide books for the needy.
*A 'standard' (double-spaced, 12pt. font, 1 inch margins) page has about 250-275 words, depending on writing style. This can vary quite a bit, with some dense pages approaching 300 words, and spare pages with a poetic or spare structure coming in well under 100. These standard pages give an editor a very good idea of how thick the spine on the novel will be.
*Most 'mainstream' novels fall between 80,000 and 110,000 words because traditional paperback and hardback publishing finds that this length satisfies the reader, has ample spine on which to print necessary info like the novel's title, and doesn't have so much content that it requires lots of extra (expensive) paper and ink and binding to produce even if they make the font really, really tiny.
*Lots of incredible books are shorter than 80,000 words and much, much longer than 110,000. Really big ones over 200,000 words are sometimes referred to as door stoppers or tomes.
*Shorter books are often printed with bigger fonts, lots of pictures, or with lots of empty space around the print so that there's enough spine on which to print the title of the book in a visible font. Conversely really long books may be printed on thin paper, in smaller fonts, or have smaller margins. Compare sometime a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare or Stephen King's The Stand with War of Art or Michael Pollan's 64 Rules for Eating Well. (Yes, I really meant War of Art, not Art of War, although that's another book that is often filled out, though more often with commentary and lots of prefaces.)
*Although Nanowrimo seems to be held at a weird time of year and shouldn't offer any tangible benefits, the energy that comes from attempting Nanowrimo has inspired lots of people to meet or exceed their goals year after year. I've tried a year-round goal of 50,000 words, and have also tried it during a more 'sane' and quiet month. Nada. This is the time, the place, and these are the people.
I hope some of you will join me in trying to write 50,000 words (or more!) in November. It's not too late to start! If you do, feel free to buddy me. I'm kzmiller.