NaNoWriMo 2018 – Write a Novel in a Month


Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month? NaNoWriMo, which began in 1999 as the Office of Letters and Light, is an organization that encourages both experienced and novice writers to complete a novel of at least 50,000 words by the end of the day on November 30. If you visit the website and sign up you gain access to a variety of helpful and inspirational resources to help you.

Purpose of NaNoWriMo

Writing a novel is a goal shared by many writers and potential writers. It’s also one of the more challenging tasks for a writer to tackle. It takes a certain amount of motivation, focus, and effort to crank out 50,000 (or more) words. It’s easy to come up with an idea for a novel and perhaps type out a chapter or two. Completing a finished novel, however, takes steady effort. There are a few advantages of signing up with NaNoWriMo, which is a non-profit organization.

  • When you sign up you’re making your goal to write a novel public. This in itself gives you more motivation than if you simply set a personal goal or tell one or two people.
  • NaNoWriMo provides a variety of free online resources for motivation and ways to improve your writing skills.
  • As the NaNoWriMo has expanded, there are now many live events so you can meet people in your own area who share your goal.
  • If you succeed, you have at least a first draft of a novel by December 1. Even if you “fail,” you’ll probably have done some writing that you can always work on later.

Why Write a Novel?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a novel but could never find the time or motivation. On the other hand, you may have never seriously considered the idea. Regardless of your background or experience, writing a novel is a great way to express and stimulate your creativity. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, the process can be beneficial and even therapeutic. You can base the story and characters on your own experiences or get them entirely from your imagination.

Completing a novel takes work and discipline. Following through will help you increase your resolve and get you focused on a challenging goal. This is something that you can apply to every area of your life. If you can write a novel you may find that you can more easily stick to your diet, complete your Master’s thesis, train for a marathon, or start a business. The basic process of following through on your goals is similar in every case. NaNoWriMo is as good a starting point as any.

Furthermore, there are more options than ever for publishing your novel. You can choose between taking the traditional approach and seeking a publisher or agent. There are also more self-publishing options than ever. You can publish your novel on Kindle and/or many other platforms such as Smashwords, Lulu, and many others. You can easily convert your e-book into a print book or audiobook as well. You may or may not make money from your novel. Either way, you’ve accomplished something and have something to show off to your friends and family.

How NaNoWriMo Works

The NaNoWriMo process is quite simple and free.

  • Complete your profile on the NaNoWriMo website.
  • Give your novel a title and post a synopsis.
  • Set short-term goals and earn badges on the site.
  • When you finish, upload your novel on NaNoWriMo. This, however, is just to validate the word count. To protect your work, novels aren’t saved or publically viewable on the site.
  • If you want, participate the following year. You can list your accomplishments on the NaNoWriMo site.

NaNoWriMo Resources

You don’t need NaNoWriMo to write a novel, of course. You can decide to write one anytime and do so on your own. Joining a large movement, though, has its advantages. Let’s look at some of the benefits and resources you get with NaNoWriMo.

  • Forum – One of the best resources offered by NaNoWriMo is the international forum. This lets you meet other writers, share tips, stay inspired, help you overcome writer’s block and just have fun. There are also specialized forums for writing critiques and exchanges and to focus on specific challenges faced by novel writers (e.g. best device to write on, plotting, character development, dialogue, etc.)
  • Local Events – When you sign up for NaNoWriMo, you must choose a region. Participants are from all over the world. You can look for or organize your own local events such as meetups, lectures, writing workshops, or social gatherings.
  • Links to External Resources – The internet has vast amounts of information for writers. Finding the most useful and relevant resources on your own, however, can be difficult and time-consuming. NaNoWriMo recommends useful links for any writing-related issue you can think of.
  • Resources For Young People – Camp NaNoWriMo is a special section of the site dedicated to young people and educators. Kids and teens can sign up and get an early start to their writing careers. They are assigned a “cabin” where they can meet others who are also working on their novels. Teachers and parents can encourage young people to sign up and express their creativity.

Getting the Most Out of NaNoWriMo

It’s easy and free to sign up for NaNoWriMo. Actually writing a novel, however, is still hard work. The commitment and resources provided by NaNoWriMo make it easier but it’s still up to you to put in the effort. Here are some guidelines to help you reach your goal of completing a novel in November.

  • Prepare Yourself – The idea is to start writing by November 1. However, you’ll do better if you have a title, outline, and some of your main ideas ready before then.
  • Create a Schedule – Set aside a certain amount of time every day to write. Choose a place as well as a time. Whether you write at home, in a local cafe, or during your lunch hour at work, give yourself a time and place where you can work uninterrupted for at least a half hour or so.
  • Set Goals – In addition to the overall goal of completing a novel by November 30, set daily and weekly goals.
  • Focus on Writing Rather Than Editing – The goal is to complete the first draft of your novel. If you spend too much time editing, you’ll never reach 50,000 words. Focus on getting out your ideas and worry about making it perfect later.
  • Participate – The whole idea of NaNoWriMo is to join a community. Join the forum, browse the site, and take advantage of all the resources!
  • Have Fun – Writing a novel is an ambitious goal but it can also be a creative and fun experience. There’s no pressure to write a literary masterpiece or bestseller (though you can end up with either). You may as well enjoy it.
  • Use Scrivener – World’s best writing app, to help you win NaNoWriMo. Scrivener is one of NaNo’s most loyal sponsors and you can get a special NaNo trial and a free template. You can also get an exclusive NaNoWriMo’s Scrivener discount coupon and all winners will receive a 50% discount once they complete their 50,000 words challenge.

If you want to count yourself among the people who have written a novel, NaNoWriMo is one of the best ways to get started. It’s a simple and free way to join a community of writers who are very supportive of one another. You can hone your writing skills, meet new people, and end up with a complete novel at the end of the month!

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