NaNoWriMo: An International Writing Challenge

November is right around the corner. For many, this means cooler weather, Thanksgiving break, and lots of pumpkin pie. However, for book lovers, November also means National Novel Writing Month—or NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that challenges anybody and everybody to take on a writing project. The goal is to write 50,000 words throughout the 30 days of November—or about 1,667 words for every day. Yes, this is a lot; the challenge isn’t meant to be easy. It’s meant to challenge writers to struggle, focusing on length rather than quality so that writers can get their ideas on the page and worry about editing their works at a later time.

NaNoWriMo is special because it connects writers with the resources they need to stay creative and motivated throughout the process of writing. People who sign up with NaNoWriMo create an account on the website. Here, they can connect with other writers, share parts of their story, and upload their current progress to be tracked by the website. There are forums where writers can talk about their stories and share bits of advice. Published novelists also write ‘Pep Talks’ to discuss their own tips for writing a successful story, and NaNoWriMo regularly sends out tips to help people overcome writer’s block and stay motivated to throughout the challenge. Overall, writers are able to work on their individual projects amongst a network of other writers that can support and help them along the way. 

If you reach the 50,000 word goal by the end of November, you are deemed a ‘winner’ of NaNoWriMo. In the past, the organization has even teamed up with a self-publishing company called CreateSpace, which offered each winner one paperback copy of their brand-new novel. Of course, the process doesn’t stop here. NaNoWriMo also has its “What Now?” months in January in February, in which writers are encouraged to revisit their novels for editing and possibly even publishing. Much like November, the organization posts tips and helps people through the process, so that more of these new stories can be fine-tuned and shared with the rest of the world. Additionally, there is a Camp NaNoWriMo during the summer, where people are organized into small groups to help them learn everything that they will need to know for their novel-writing experience.

The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to promote creativity and education among participants. It’s free and open to everyone—even people that have never written a story in their life. It’s difficult for people to wrestle with their writing projects, especially without anyone to connect with and lean on for help. This problem is solved through NaNoWriMo. When it was first established in 1999, there were only 21 participants; today, there are over 300,000 writers tackling the challenge and encouraging each other to finish their project. It’s a great opportunity for people who have an interest in writing creative stories, no matter what genres they are interested in pursuing. Hundreds of writers have even had their works published through this experience, including Sara Gruen, who published her story Water for Elephants in 2006.

If you’ve ever had an interest in writing, I would suggest signing up for NaNoWriMo and giving this challenge a shot. Even if you don’t end up with your 50,000 word goal, you will be able to express your creativity and maybe even learn a few things about writing. You can connect to other people that share your passions through this unique opportunity. If you would like to give it a try, you can sign up for NaNoWriMo at their website: 

Good luck, and happy writing!