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NaNoWriMo: Are You Ready?

A little festival that's taken the world by storm

A woman is sitting in front of her computer. She is holding a cup of coffee, staring off into space, and debating about whether she should participate in NaNoWriMo.
Want to finish a 50,000 word novel in one
month? Then you better stop dreaming and
join the NaNoWriMo challenge.

November is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing—authors worldwide are sharpening their pencils in preparation for NaNoWriMo. Not in the know about NaNoWriMo? This funny little acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is the ambitious—albeit fun—goal of writing an entire novel in one month.

Ready, set, write!

Participants start writing on November 1st and have until midnight, local time, on November 30th to complete a 175-page (or 50,000-word) novel. Thousands of people around the world will be furiously typing away during this month-long quest; in 2008, almost 120,000 people participated in NaNoWriMo, and there were more than 21,000 winners. Even better, more than 30 participants have gone on to be published, some even multiple times. And these numbers have only been growing since.

You don't need any experience to participate in NaNoWriMo

That's crazy, you say? You couldn't possibly write a good novel in one month? Well, that's exactly the point of NaNoWriMo! The idea isn't to write the next great novel in a single month. Not even Shakespeare could have done that; the idea is to just write. Quality doesn't really matter in NaNoWriMo; quantity is the only measurement. You may still want to follow some of our helpful tips on writing a book, in order to create a well-thought out story. The competition's creators hope that by focusing on just writing, you will put aside any fears or hang-ups that you might have and instead follow your dream of writing a novel. You won't get held back by trying to be perfect or by being overly critical, because you'll be so busy just trying to finish.

Want to join?

Getting started is easy. Just head over to to sign up and get registered. On November 1st, you can begin writing your novel—on any computer, using whatever software you have available, or even by hand (there are special requirements for this one, so check out the official site for more info). You can post excerpts of your novel for others to read, and you can keep track of your word count on the site as well. The most important thing is to write and then write some more! If all goes well, by midnight on November 30th, you will have completed a 50,000-word novel.

Play by the rules

NaNoWriMo doesn't have many rules, but here are some of the basics:

  • The novel must begin, from scratch, on November 1st and must be completed by midnight, local time, on November 30th.
  • The novel must be at least 50,000 words (more is great!).
  • The novel must have only one author.
  • The novel cannot be the same word written 50,000 times; it has to be an actual novel (which is defined as “a lengthy work of fiction”).
  • The novel must be uploaded for word count verification sometime between November 25th and 30th.

The event is open to everyone over the age of 13, and you can write your novel in whatever language you would like.

Reach for your goal

If you complete your novel by November 30th, you'll receive a certificate and a badge that you can post on your website or blog, but best of all, you'll find yourself a novelist in possession of a brand-new book. Of course, since you just wrote a novel in a month, you are probably already aware that your novel will need some work before you can send it off to a publisher or agent. Remember, even if you don't finish, you'll still have a great foundation that you can continue to build upon.

Don't stop now!

After spending the month of November writing with abandon, you'll need to spend time reading over your work, making revisions (the delete key may be your best friend), and fleshing out your plot and characters. The editing process can be long and hard, but it is ultimately very rewarding and will result in a clean and polished body of work. Tired of slaving over your book? Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion from either a friend or one of our book editors.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves—your novel can't be published or even edited before it's been written! Sign up for NaNoWriMo before the first of November and start writing!

Photo credit: davidpradoperucha/