What You Need to Know About NaNoWriMo

With Halloween in a little over a week, that seems to be all anyone can think about. But for creative people who love to write, the excitement over Halloween is from what comes after: National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo happens every November, and it’s a month-long goal to write a novel of 50,000 words by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. If you’ve ever had a dream or goal to write a novel, this is your chance to accomplish this. A deadline encourages productive writing, but there’s also a bunch of encouragement and support to help you push through.

Once you’ve committed to writing your novel, it’s time to plan. If you already have an outline or character sketches, you can still use those! This is a great way to expand upon an idea or story you’ve been planning but never got around to. Just make sure that if you’ve written anything for it before November 1, you can’t count those in your end word count.

Next, it’s time to sign up for an account. With this account, you create your author profile and decalre your story information. This also helps you track your word count, give you access to support communities, and earn badges. Badges are “milestone markers, special kudos, and personal descriptors” that are rewards for participating and meeting goals.

So what happens when you finish? You celebrate that amazing achievement! You can also begin revising and editing more to get ready for publishing it. If you choose to do that, NaNoWriMo has the “Now What?” months in January and February. These months are designed to help you find the full potential of your novel with help from the organization.

When you complete your 50,000-word goal, you also win! By validating your novel between November 20 and the end of the month, you join the winner’s circle. When you do that, you can win prizes donated by NaNoWriMo sponsers!

What about if you don’t finish? You still accomplished something you might not have done otherwise. Even if you wrote 1,000 words, that’s 1,000 more than you had before you started. If you set a word-goal and you meet it, but don’t have your novel finished, think of it as a suggestion rather than a stopping point. That gives you something to work on later and keep improving!

Along with this program, the nonprofit organization also has 3 other programs involved with writing. The Young Writers Program promotes creative writing and shorter novel writing in K-12 schools. Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writing retreat that gives you the resources and support you need for writing, novels or any type of writing. The Come Write In program provides free resources and supplies to libraries, community centers, and bookstores to create a creative writing community.

Now that you know what it is, NaNoWriMo has 2 categories for writers: planners or pantsers.

“Planners: You believe in rigorous preparation. You’ll spend the months before November carefully fleshing out characters, building worlds, and plotting your story. On November 1, you’ll have an outline—or at least lots of helpful notes.”

“Pantsers: You believe in hardcore spontaneity. You’ll spend the months before November stocking up on inspiration and maybe a vague idea or two (if you’re ambitious). On November 1, you’ll have a blank document and your imagination.”

If you’re a planner like myself, you’re looking for any and all advice and suggestions to planning efficiently and getting everything ready so you can take off right at the stroke of midnight. There are a ton of resources on NaNoWriMo’s blog, Twitter, forums, and Facebook, so make sure to check those out if you’re looking for more information! If you’re a pantser, then you’re set to go! Stock up on creativity-inducing food, snuggly blankets, or anything you need to get your creative juices flowing.

If you choose to participate in NaNoWriMo, then I wish you all the luck. Happy creative writing!