A Beginners Guide to National Novel Writing Month

It’s a herculean effort, a grand challenge and a creative battle. It is…NaNoWriMo! Since 1999, November has had a secret identity as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s the time when thousands of people attempt to write 50,000 words or more in just one month.

NaNoWriMo (try saying that five times fast) is also a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves as a resource hub and online community for professionals and novices alike who set out to write a novel during the month of November. Beyond the official NaNoWriMo website, the internet is full of people blogging, vlogging and chatting about their NaNoWriMo experience: the downsides of the concept, tips for others and what the challenge pushed them to achieve. You might have even read a novel that began during NaNoWriMo such as “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, which was on The New York Times bestseller list for weeks, or the popular young adult novel “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell.

Are you excited yet? Ready to jump in or at least just test the waters?

If so, here’s how.

Step 1:

Make an account with NaNoWriMo. This account will help you take full advantage of all the awesome resources. You’ll also need it to be able to log in and access the Gainesville-specific NaNoWriMo page. On the main website, aspiring novelists can find pep-talks from successful writers such as Jenny Han, Andy Weir and Justina Ireland as well as NaNo Prep 101 that helps NaNoWriMo writers with time management, character building, plot creation and so much more. There is even an active NaNoWriMo community specifically for Gainesville residents complete with a Facebook page. Take time to explore both the general website and the specific Gainesville website to get your creative juices flowing!

Step 2:

Start writing! Jump in and see where the journey leads you. It’s an intense challenge that is definitely not about perfection. Just have fun! Write a few words before class, before bed or on the bus. Recruit a friend to do it with you. Adapt the challenge to suit you and your schedule.

Step 3:

As November wraps up, consider sharing something from your NaNoWriMo experience. Maybe post a story about it on your social media pages? Are others interested? Point them toward NaNoWriMo resources. There is even a super cool version of the challenge for teens and youth. Or maybe share some of your writing with friends or family! Who knows, NaNoWriMo might help you during Thanksgiving small talk.

Step 4:

Give yourself credit for participating even if you didn’t make the word count or finish the novel. You’ve been on an awesome literary adventure. You jumped in and went for it!