How many of you have heard of NaNoWriMo? How many of you plan on participating? For those of you not familiar, National Novel Writing Month is an event in which the month of November is set aside for authors to do nothing but write for a month straight. The goal is to write 50,000 words, or roughly the length of an entire novel. It seems like an extremely daunting task, but when you give yourself the opportunity to just sit down and write, not worrying about every little plot hole, minor grammatical issues, etc, you can get a lot of writing done. Trust me!
NaNoWriMo started back in 1999, first as an event which showcased the importance of writing, and gave writers the opportunity to bring their stories to life. In 2005, NaNoWriMo actually became a nonprofit organization. The main event is still writing for the full-length of November, but they also offer participation in other events such as: the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?”, featured during other months of the year.
I’ve pulled some info straight from the NaNoWriMo website to give you an idea of how many people are impacted by NaNoWriMo and their various events.
384,126 participants, including 71,229 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
1,168 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
Hundreds of 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 our published authors."
Isn’t that amazing? And I’m sure it’s growing every year. As writers, I’m sure you can agree that having a support network of other writers can greatly impact your work, whether it's a small writing group or an online network. A survey from last year shows that over 80% of participants of NaNoWriMo learned that they were capable of much more than they previously thought, and it was all thanks to the support they found during the writing process. Almost 90% of participants from the Young Writers Program feel much more confident in their ability as a writer after having gone through their program.
If you’re interested in participating, all you need to do is go to their website, sign up, and you’ll have instant access to many great reliable sources. You can talk to fellow writers, keep track of your number of words per day, and you even get little inspirational emails sent to you to keep you going, if you wish it.
Along your writing journey you’ll also be awarded writing badges for exceptional days or certain check-points in your process. And once you’ve reached the end around 50,000 words, you can submit your novel to “win” the event. In other words, you win if you’ve reached your goal of completing a novel within the NaNoWriMo month, which is a huge accomplishment!
There is no limit to how many people can “win”, as it is more the matter of you reaching a goal rather than competing against others. Yet, there are sponsors every year that offer prizes to those who complete their novel. As sponsors change, so do the prizes from year to year, but I will include a link at the bottom for those interested in seeing what is offered.
NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity for you to stretch yourself, to sit down and write long and furiously, not looking back until the end of the month. Not only is it a great opportunity to push yourself and get some writing done, but there are many great resources for those who choose to participate. In most major cities there are writing groups available for those who want to meet up, share their writing, or just support each other through the NaNoWriMo process!
You don’t need to take my word for it. Here are a few great quotes from credible sources:
“[NaNoWriMo]‘s made writing feel like something that’s achievable and, in the process, returned literature to a place of pop art possibility that it hasn’t been in for years.”
— Graeme McMillan, TIME Magazine
“Through [NaNoWriMo], which had my entire class intrigued, we learned how to develop a plot, build character descriptions and foreshadow, through writing our novels.”
— Julia Fox, The New York Times
“By having access to so many peers, thousands of people were going to emerge from [NaNoWriMo] with better stories — and better ability to navigate past writing snags — than they would have enjoyed otherwise.”
— George Anders, Forbes Magazine
So what are you waiting for? Prepare yourself for a great month of writing. Even if you want to write a series of short stories rather than a novel, it’s still a great resource and opportunity to just sit down and write. Get out there and meet your fellow writers, or challenge yourself from the comforts of your own home. I have participated twice and have enjoyed it immensely. Yes, it is difficult to not stop and go back to edit everything you’ve written over the course of a day, but if you can get through a full month of writing without worrying about all of the little things, then I promise you that you’ll have plenty to go back to edit at the end of this whole process!
I have never reached the 50,000 word goal, but I see it as a win if I can make myself write every day for a month. Any amount of writing is progress towards your goal, whether that be finishing your novel, several short stories, or even a bunch of poems. Remember, anything is better than an empty page.
However intense you wish it to be, remember to let yourself go; let your imagination run wild and bring to life the things that only you can imagine and bring to this world. You are capable of much more than you can imagine, and the world would be a sorry place indeed if you didn’t share your stories. We’ll be waiting for your stories to fill up our shelves, so get out there and write!
Main NaNoWriMo page:
Facts and other NaNoWriMo Programs: