Intro To NaNoWriMo

Hands typing on a laptop

If you’re part of the online writing community, you’ll soon be seeing a lot of post about NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that is or why it’s a big deal, this post is for you.

What Is NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a creative writing challenge that takes place in November every year. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript during the 30-day period.

But that’s not all there is to it. NaNoWriMo is also a nonprofit organization. And while the challenge has grown a lot since it’s initial conception in 1999, the organization now offers many other resources and tools. The organization also runs forums and camps.

Why It’s A Big Deal

When NaNoWriMo first began, 21 people participated. In 2010, over 200,000 people participated. That’s a lot of writers!

Because so many people take on the challenge, November ends up being a great month for writer comradery. If you register on the NaNoWriMo website and create a profile, you can become buddies with other participants and follow their progress while tracking your own. You can join in on forum discussions, receive pep-talks from famous authors, join regional groups, participate in writing sprints, and more.

NaNoWriMo logo

But you don’t have to register on the site to take part. You just need to write and aim for the 50,000 word mark. You can follow hashtags on social media and still get in on some comradery.

There’s a lot going on, but it’s all meant to inspire, motivate, and cheer you on.

And, of course, at the end you’ve either got a manuscript or the start of one, so NaNoWriMo is a great way to kickstart or make progress on a writing project.

Why You Should Think About Participating

Aside from the fun and motivation of working alongside a bunch of other people (how often do you get to do that?), the main reason I think participating in NaNoWriMo is worth trying is because it’s a good way to develop or improve your writing practice.

Writers write. At the end of the day, that’s all that’s required. But we all know how tough it can be. By having a really clear goal, NaNoWriMo makes participants prioritize writing every day or nearly every day. It can help you realize how much time you actually have for writing, and having so many others participating can spur you on and keep you accountable.

In the past, I’ve found tracking my word count and manuscript growth on the NaNoWriMo website both motivating and rewarding. Plus, seeing my friends’ word counts grow acted as a kick in the pants whenever I started to drag my feet.

You don’t even have to follow the rules if writing a novel from scratch isn’t your goal. Many people write non-novel projects or take the month to continue developing a work-in-progress. NaNoWriMo participants designate these folks as Rebels (but in a fond way).

So, participate in NaNoWriMo if you:

  • want to write a novel (or another project)
  • enjoy comradery or competition
  • like a challenge
  • want to find more time to write or develop a writing practice

And if you do decide to participate this November, good luck!

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