Updated: Oct 19
Hello fellow authors, storytellers, and writers of all kinds, I hope this first day of October finds you healthy and happy. As it is October 19, might I remind you that NaNoWriMo is just 13 days away, as you can see from my NaNoWriMo homepage. For those of you who have just awoken from your slumber in the coffin, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and is held each year in November. The rules are quite simple really—just write 50,000 words in 30 days!
History of NaNoWriMo
The very first NaNoWriMo was held in 1999 and was started by its founder, Chris Baty. Twenty of Baty’s friends, all from northern California, joined him in the challenge that first year, and six of them successfully finished by writing 50,000 words. The original challenge was held in July, but moved to November the following year to take advantage of the miserable weather. In that second year, 29 of 140 accomplished the goal, and in only its third year, NaNoWriMo had 5,000 participants. In 2006, NaNoWriMo became a non-profit organization, and last year, 2022, 51,670 of the participants who signed up on the official NaNoWriMo website, met their goal and won the challenge.
How NaNoWriMo Works
To participate in the official NaNoWriMo, all you need to do is sign up on the NaNoWriMo website and announce your participation on your user profile. The original format required writers to start with a new novel, but today you can either start fresh with a new story, or you can continue something you’ve already started. You may begin writing your 50,000 words at midnight on Halloween, or October 31, which will be on Tuesday this year, and finish at midnight, November 30. You are allowed to write in any genre, and NaNoWriMo’s definition of a novel is, “a lengthy work of fiction” and the website states: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.
You can participate in NaNoWriMo unofficially, as I did last year, by committing to the 50,000-word count goal and tracking it yourself, cheating only cheats yourself here. However, by signing up, you can track your progress against other writers, and as a member, you have access to the entire NaNoWriMo network. The official NaNoWriMo challenge does not require that you write an actual novel, as outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged. Just be sure to only count words written during November toward your goal.
The NaNoWriMo Community
As I touched on briefly, there is an extensive, international NaNoWriMo social network with many groups, private and public, that you can inquire about and join. I myself, am not into the social scene, but if YOU are, you can find writing buddies to compete against or chat with, and you can discover NaNoWriMo groups in your area by searching by region on the website. Local groups often have writing parties, online, in-person, or both, where you can meet other writers close to you.
I have never had any of my writing published, but I’ve been writing fiction since I learned how to write, and earlier this year I finished the first draft of my first novel, Mysterious Ways. When I started writing this story, I thought 50,000 words seemed completely out of reach, but, just like my four sons, nine months later I was awarded with a new masterpiece that was 129,000 words (I’m up to 136,000 words for the second draft)! Just kidding about the masterpiece, ha, ha! About the manuscript that is; each of my boys is a masterpiece! I didn’t achieve my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words last year, but I tracked around 35,000, counting revisions (hey, revisions are new writing so they should count, too).
Despite my inexperience as a writer, I have spent countless hours in research and can offer this advice:
1. Just write! And keep writing until you can’t write another word.
2. Don’t look back. Keep your focus, and your story, moving forward.
3. Turn off spellcheck. If you stop to correct mistakes you aren’t moving forward.
4. Set aside time each day to write. Everyone’s schedules are different, but try to find a time and a place each day to write, even if it’s only for five minutes.
5. Brainstorm to fight writer’s block. If you find yourself experiencing writer’s block, read my blog post Say-Goodbye-to-Writer-s-Block-Tips-to-Get-You-Going-Again. Whatever words you write while brainstorming or free writing count as part of your 50,000 words.
6. Don’t research during the challenge. Research takes away from the time that you could be writing and moving forward.
7. Check out these links to see tips and tricks for the NaNoWriMo challenge.
8. Have fun! This challenge is supposed to motivate writers and help them set and achieve the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month. Don’t concern yourself with the quality of your writing or concentrate on being grammatically correct, just write, and write, and write some more!
9. And, as always, Subscribe to the Narrative Niche Blog today!