What is NaNoWriMo
National Novel Writing Month is an Internet-based challenge to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month. It started in 1999 with only 21 participants. By 2012, there were over 340,000 who collectively wrote over 3.2 billion words.
To win, participants must write an average of just over 1,667 words per day. Organizers of the Nano event say that the aim is simply to get people to start writing, using the deadline as an incentive to get the story going and to put words to paper. There is no fee to participate and anyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark is declared a winner.
Writing in Community
Churning out over 1600 words will keep you busy–and alone–most days, but you can also connect with fellow participants and participate in daily challenges, pre-Nano prep sessions and post-Nano activities. You can connect through Twitter [@nanowrimo], on Facebook or follow their blog.
Many people run their own groups locally and regionally to support one another through the month. Tips, printable schedules, and advice is all over the Internet.
Nano has spilled out into communities around the world. Writescape got in on the fun when we led weekly prompts and writing sessions in partnership with the Whitby Public Library a couple of years ago.
There are three formal programs listed on the Nano website:
- The Young Writers Program promotes writing fluency, creative education, and the sheer joy of novel-writing in K-12 classrooms. We provide free classroom kits, writing workbooks, Common Core-aligned curricula, and virtual class management tools to more than 2,000 educators from Dubai to Boston.
- The Come Write In program provides free resources to libraries, community centres, and local bookstores to build writing havens in your neighbourhood.
- Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writing retreat, designed to provide the community, resources, and tools needed to complete any writing project, novel or not.
Does it work?
It sure does. Even if participants don’t complete the 50,000 words, they get words written, lots of words. And anything that helps you write is worth trying. Sometimes just the tension of knowing you have a deadline combined with being part of a larger global event can bring inspiration and focus to the creative process.
But don’t take our word for it. Consider this: there are bestsellers that were born through NaNoWriMo.
The NaNoWriMo website says that more than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. See a full list of published authors.
Maybe NaNoWriMo is “write” for you.
Let us know if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and what it did for your writing.