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A novel idea 

click to enlarge PETER FECTEAU

In 2002, after the high-tech bubble burst, Jim Strickland found himself unemployed and searching the Internet for work. He didn't turn up a new computer job, but instead discovered a Web site that challenged him to do something he had only dreamed about: write a novel. The challenge even came with a deadline, something that the former English major knew was essential to every writing project.

He had 30 days.

Sound crazy? Not to Strickland. He joined National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as members call it), along with thousands of others around the globe.

Since 2002, he's completed the contest three times and written four yet-to-be-published novels. (He created one in the "off season," the NaNoWriMo term for the other 11 months of the year.) The competition is simple enough: All those who finish their novel in 30 days are declared winners.

This November, more than 150 aspiring writers from the Pikes Peak area will join him in attempting to craft 50,000-plus words.

"It comes with its own support group," jokes Strickland. "You've all got this common insanity, a common bond."

Local contestants will meet for a kick-off party, then weekly for "write-ins." At the end, they'll celebrate with a "Thank God It's Over" bash. More than 75,000 others worldwide will gather in NaNoWriMo.org online forums to trade strategies, offer encouragement and commiserate.

Strickland's advice to new NaNoWriMo competitors sounds like the advice you'd give an endurance athlete: "Pace yourself. Eat. Sleep. Take breaks.

"And don't neglect your family. You'll still have to live with them when it's over."

Capsule

Colorado Springs NaNoWriMo Kick-off Party

Panera Bread, 3110 New Center Point

Thursday, Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m.

Event is free for all NaNoWriMo participants.

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