The month of November has become the month of writing.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual online creative writing workshop during which participants are challenged to a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Averaging roughly 1,667 words per day, this exercise is the completion of a novel-length draft, with editing taking place at a later point in time.

Writers are able to register for participation online, where they can then create profiles and post excerpts to share with fellow contributors. Regional writers are able to connect through the site as well, with resources for motivation available alongside “pep talks” from published authors.

Once the 50,000-word minimum is completed and uploaded to the site, authors are then “verified” as having completed the project and receive a certificate. In recent years, the self-publishing company CreateSpace has offered winners a limited number of paperback proof copies of their manuscripts.

Though this may be the first time many readers are hearing about NaNoWriMo, the project actually began in July 1999 with only 21 participants. Founder and freelance writer Chris Baty says he started the project “as a very naïve 26-year-old who thought that if I could just convince enough of my friends to agree to write novels with me that we could have fun and write books. None of us really had any idea what we were getting into.” Since then, over 400,000 participants in 633 regions on six continents have joined NaNoWriMo, with 40,000 meeting the end goal of 50,000 written words.

2017 also marks the 12th year of NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program (YWP), a program for K-12 students aimed at encouraging young writers to meet a word count goal of 30,000 words. Teachers are even able to register their classes to participate, offering starter kits and lesson plans on how to motivate young adults to be creative.

As the month moves forward and writers everywhere hustle toward the finish line, there is sure to be an outpouring of creativity throughout communities worldwide. See what’s happening in your region here.