National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): What is It, How Do You Participate, and is It Tasty?

Have you ever wanted to write a novel, but quit more times than you can count? Maybe before you’ve even tried?

Ready to finally start writing the novel you’ve been dreaming of forever?

Well, today I’m going to talk to you about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)!

What is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)?

So NaNoWriMo isn’t tasty, it’s not even food.

I’m sorry, I lied to you.

It’s a 30-day challenge to write the first draft of a novel in November!

Sound difficult?

It is, but it’s also lots of fun!

Back in July of 1999, Chris Baty started this challenge with some friends. The challenge was to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month.

They turned it into a group activity and met up after work. From there, the challenge grew and reached more people every year.

Now hundreds of thousands of people around the world are taking part in NaNoWriMo!

You can sign-up to their website and join a community of people writing as well.

Or just keep track of your writing goals. Whichever interests you most.

NaNoWriMo is also a nonprofit (as of 2006), and has programs for educating and encouraging creativity in communities.

They have a shop with a variety of shirts, posters, mugs, books, and other NaNoWriMo memorabilia.

Or you can directly donate to them.

Both avenues help to fund their programs and keeping NaNoWriMo running.

How does it work, and what can I write?

So I’ve mentioned that it’s a 30-day, self-imposed writing challenge, but what does that involve?

Well, from November 1st to November 30th, you’ll be writing 50,000 words for your story’s first draft.

That comes out to 1,667 words a day.

That can be a lot.

Especially if you miss a day or two and the word count starts piling up.

I say this as someone who, on multiple occasions, has done this and gave up.

Here’s the most important thing to remember during NaNoWriMo:

You just need to get the words down.

Remember, this is a first draft.

You’re not coming out of November with a perfect, finished, completely done novel ready for publishing.

The prize of NaNoWriMo is a first draft of a novel.

It’s a start.

A moment to turn off your brain and mindlessly get words down so you can start the process, taking the pressure off getting every word perfect.

It’s a deadline where the only thing you need to complete is 50,000 words.

Your characters can be as flat as a pancake, your plot can have holes that scare swiss cheese, and your dialogue can be brimming with way too many “like’s” and “uh’s” and “and’s.”

It doesn’t matter.

As long as you put words to paper (or screen).

Now, that I’ve talked about the rules, let’s discuss how to break ’em!

Breaking the Rules

So yes, while the challenge is to write every day and get 50k words by the end of the month, you can always adjust it to your personal needs or wants.

If you’re busy with work, family, and/or school (y’know, the big three), you might not have time for writing that much every day.

If you’re interested, I have a blog post on Medium touching on finding time to write.

But I digress.

Some people can manage 25k in a month, and some overachievers do 100k.

Wherever you are on the spectrum is fine.

Much like National Poetry Writing Month, the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to get you writing.

Nearly a decade ago when I was looking up NaNoWriMo videos, I heard a really cool piece of advice (wish I could remember the video).

You can use NaNoWriMo to help jumpstart other aspects of your writing.

Such as completing a story that’s half-done.

If you can finish by the end of November, congratulations! You’ve finished a first draft you might not have otherwise.

Or maybe you’ve finished a first draft, but it’s time for draft two.

Use NaNoWriMo to rewrite what’s needs fixing.

Use NaNoWriMo as a diving board to write whatever you want!

Here’s some more rule-breaking for you: write in whatever genre of writing you want.

Want to write a full story in poetry? Cool, have at it!

Thinking about starting a fanfiction? Hell yeah, I hope it’s fun!

Wanna attempt writing some flash or micro fiction throughout the month? Knock yourself out!

However you get your creative juices flowing, it doesn’t matter.

As long as you’re writing and creating, who cares how you do it. Writing is happening, and that’s all that’s important.

Whether it’s following the rules exactly, overachieving, or creating your own rules: just write!

Announcement: I’ll be writing one blog post a week for October to prepare for NaNoWriMo!

So in preparation for National Novel Writing Month in November, I’ll be writing one blog post a week in October!

After October I will go back to posting every other week.

So keep an eye out for that!

I’ll be going over the basics of creating a story, outlining, maybe some editing, etc.

Some good stuff to help get you started.

NaNoWriMo’s a tough challenge. So I hope I can provide some encouragement and support in the challenging times for writers.

Even if it’s only writing a how-to blog post.

You’re gonna do great, and remember to have fun!

Thanks for reading, and happy writing!

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