What’s NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s a free challenge for aspiring authors to complete a draft of a novel in one month. The NaNoWriMo organization that runs the challenge is a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging creativity in writing. They provide a number of events throughout the year, including “Camp NaNoWriMo” in spring, Write-Ins at community centers, and author events.
- Goal: Complete a draft of at least 50,000 words
- Time: November 1-30
- Cost: Free! You may choose to donate to support the nonprofit, or make purchases from the merch store. However, no purchase is necessary to participate.
- Who: Anyone who wants to write! For writers in grades K-12, there is a Young Writers’ program available. Under-13s will need a parent or guardian to register them for the challenge.
- What you need: Word processing software (like Word or Google Docs), a place to save your work, a story idea, and some time in November!
If you want to take on the official challenge, register at NaNoWriMo.org and fill out a simple profile. Set your writing goals and discover (or create) writing groups. You can even invite friends to take on the challenge with you! Writers encourage one another in the website in the Buddies pane, on the Discussion Forums, and at online events. You’ll earn virtual badges for meeting your goals.
The website also provides access to virtual writing events like Meet the Author or Virtual Write Ins. A Write In might be a quiet collaborative space with other writers, or it might be a series of interactive writing prompts and discussion about writing topics.
Published authors have provided a series of “Pep Talks” to encourage you on your journey… because 50,000 words is a lot of writing!
There’s even a free “NaNo Prep Course” available. This can help you plan your novel ahead of November 1st. You can work on the course week by week, or tackle it in your own time. The course helps you work through your story ideas to make sure you won’t run out of ideas halfway through. Writers have the opportunity to communicate with others working through the course, as well. When November hits, you’ll be ready to dive right into the writing process!
Come November 1st, start writing! If your goal is 50,000 words, you’re signing up to write 1,667 words per day. This is the minimum word goal to be declared an official “winner,” but you can set your project goal to any word amount.
Afraid you’ll get stuck? Don’t be! NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity to get writing prompts throughout the month to help keep you moving forward. Feeling brave? Hop into the forums and Try the Dare Machine, which suggests a wild plot twist to put in your book!
Remember: The point is to have fun, be creative, and achieve a writing goal! Nobody is writing the Great American Novel, and this is only a draft. It’s okay if it’s terrible! Just keep writing.
(If you’re looking for places to write, check out weekly write-ins at Martin Library in York, held 10am to 12 noon on Saturdays in November 2022. Bring your own device or notebook and get a couple of hours’ worth of writing in!)
Be a Winner
When you complete your 50,000 word goal on or before November 30, you’ll upload your whole document onto the NaNoWriMo website. It’s not saved and they don’t keep a copy—it’s so their verification machine can count the number of words in your novel!
As long as you’re verified before midnight, you’ll be declared a NaNoWriMo Winner! You’ll get a certificate of completion and social media badges to share your accomplishment.
After winners are declared, NaNoWriMo provides a “What’s Next” series of editing prompts in January and February. If you want, you can take this change to rework your novel, polish it up… and maybe even get it published!
It’s Not Impossible
Some of your favorite novels had their start during NaNoWriMo: Here’s a very short list of some you may have read!
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Wool by Hugh Howey
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble
Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
List courtesy earlybirdbooks.com. Read the article detailing these books here: 9 NaNoWriMo Books That Blew Us Away
NaNoWriMo logo: Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo