NaNoWriMo: A Beginner’s Guide

by Megan Jenkins and Victoria Hershman

November is the month in which hundreds and thousands of writers challenge themselves to an event known as NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is the abbreviation of National Novel Writing Month. According to their website, NaNoWriMo is “… a nonprofit organization that supports writing fluency and education,” (NaNoWriMo) which sets the challenge each year to “to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November,” (NaNoWriMo). Basically, NaNoWriMo is a month where writers set the challenge of completing a novel or a large bulk of their novel by writing 50k in words.

The November challenge began in 1999 with only 21 participants. According to their 2017 poll, over 306,000 writers participated in NaNoWriMo, with each year bringing in more writing enthusiasts than the last.

NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity for writers to write a novel at an intensely small time spam of 30 days. While many do not fully complete NaNoWriMo’s 50k word count, many still achieve more words and more progress of their writing than they would if they did not participate.

How To Participate:

All you have to do is….WRITE!

Start writing a bit each day, most people try to aim for around 1,600-2,000 words a day to achieve the 50,000 word count by the end of November.

A lot of participants track their progress through a word tracking tool, either by writing it down by hand, using a spreadsheet (such as the ones here), and/or even using a word count software such as WriteTrack.

Social media posting is a common (and great way) to get involved with fellow NaNoWriMo enthusiasts while holding you accountable for writing each day. It’s also a great way to meet other writers and maybe make some new friends!

Tips for Success:

  1. Set a word count goal to achieve each day/week
  2. Set a time/place aside specifically for writing
  3. Take a day or two to create a good outline
  4. Don’t stress about format and wording
  5. Have a way to track your progress
  6. HAVE FUN!!

Writing 50,000 words in a month is a daunting task, but it is not meant to be miserable. NaNoWriMo is meant to provide the opportunity for writers to focus on their writing and create that story they’ve been wanting to, but haven’t had either the motivation or challenge to do it.

It does not matter if you only write 500, 5,000 or 50,000 words, NaNoWriMo’s main goal is to allow writers to write and to establish the daily practice of literacy.


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