15 Facts About National Novel Writing Month

by Alicia Sparks on November 1, 2011

It’s November 1 and, as all most some writers know, the beginning of National Novel Writing Month.

*cricketschirping*

National Novel Writing Month, often referred to as NaNoWriMo or simply NaNo, takes place every November and, simply put, the goal is for participants to complete a 50,000-word novel from scratch between November 1 and November 30.

Basically, NaNoWriMo acts as a swift kick in the ass for those of us who, well, need a swift kick in the ass.

If this is your first year participating in NaNoWriMo, or your first in a few, take a second to check out the 15 items below. They don’t make up an all-inclusive list, but they do highlight some of the main points that will help you get the keyboard clackin’.

  1. Despite its name, the official National Novel Writing Month event is open to every writer, no matter where he or she lives.
  2. To participate in NaNoWriMo, you don’t have to have an account, but it’s fun. For example, signing up will give you access to helpful tools as well as make you eligible for the Winner’s Page if you finish the 50,000 words by midnight, November 1. Plus, you’ll get a winner’s certificate and a Web badge to show off.
  3. You can’t have a writing partner. NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow co-writing.
  4. You must write the novel from scratch. That means you can’t drag out that work-in-progress you haven’t touched in three years and use it as your NaNoWriMo launching page. (Well, you can, but it won’t officially count as a NaNoWriMo effort; it’ll just be you using November to work on your WIP.)
  5. Fortunately, you can use an outline.
  6. 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30 breaks down to roughly 1,667 words a day (if you write on weekends, too). Plan accordingly.
  7. You don’t have to stop at 50,000 words; you just have to make it to 50,000 words.
  8. Once you do hit the 50,000-word mark, you can upload it (this is another reason having an account is handy) between November 25 and November 30 for validation.
  9. Understand that you will produce some, if not a lot of, crap. Embrace it and don’t let it slow you down. There’ll be plenty of time for editing come December.
  10. Go ahead and charge through writer’s block. Remember: You can edit to your little heart’s content once it’s over.
  11. If you need a quiet place to write after work, or need a change in scenery (if you’re a writer who works from home), check to see if one of your local libraries or independent bookstores sponsors a Come Write In.
  12. Stay on top of the game (and maybe brag to others? muahaha) with fun little tools like word count widgets.
  13. Save your work in multiple places. I don’t think this needs further explanation.
  14. Take advantage of social media. You can like the NaNoWriMo Facebook, follow @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints, and use the #NaNoWriMo hashtag to mingle with other writers.
  15. Even if you aren’t into typical social sites, you aren’t alone in this! Visit the official website, www.nanowrimo.org and talk with others in the forums or sign up for the pep talks. You can even see if participants in your area want to meet up and write or just swap horror stories.

Now, go have fun!

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