What the Heck is NaNoWriMo?

Everything you need to know about this crazy, month-long challenge–and more!

What the Heck is NaNoWriMo?

Every year, on October 31, overachieving authors everywhere are sorting through their piles of index cards, organizing their Post-It notes, and rebooting their computers. They’re creating new Word files, tidying up their desks, and rearranging inhuman amounts of tea bags. Why? Because tomorrow, they’re about to take on a huge challenge–National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo.

What is it?

The challenge is to complete a novel of 50,000 words in the 30 days of November, which divides out to 1,667 words a day. In case you were wondering, your average YA contemporary novel probably falls around 60,000 to 75,000 words. NaNoWriMo requires insane amounts of dedication, motivation, and a whole lot of ideas. Not to mention the coffee, tissues, and tea.

It all started in 199, when some writer friends chose the month of November to create a shared goal for all of them. From there, the idea of a novel writing month caught on, growing from a niche group on the internet to the biggest writing challenge ever. Lots of famous authors got their start in the same challenge. For instance, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder was originally a NaNo novel, as was Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.


So why participate in this crazy challenge? Well, writing is hard. A lot harder than movies make it look. And many authors would try anything to write their book faster, better, easier. So, challenging themselves to write nearly two thousand words a day along with thousands of writers across the globe is not only fun–it’s a strategy. Not only that, but the NaNoWriMo site (along with lots of independent bloggers, Authortubers, and other writers) has loads of resources to motivate you, help you, and inspire you.

Can I participate?

If you want to start your career as an author, or just want to give yourself a fun challenge, it’s really easy to do NaNo. All you really have to do, is write. Open up a new Google Doc or Microsoft Word file on your phone and just start writing. Of course, if you want all the fun, for official NaNo stuff (like badges, banners, and pep talks), take a look at their website, or their youth program for kids under 18.

Writing is a big part of the battle for sure, but no new WriMo can overlook the other part of it–staying motivated, staying healthy, and keeping yourself sane. When you’re starting out, you’re going to want a source of inspiration and motivation to fuel you throughout all 30 days. Maybe create a stack of your favorite novels to remind you of your end goal, or glue a bunch of motivation quotes to your wall. You can set reminders on your phone to keep you accountable, or timers to participate in word sprints (writing really fast for a short period of time!). Make sure you have plenty of snacks handy, too.

Don’t overlook keeping your writing organized, either. Programs like Scrivener allow you to keep your notes, folders, and drafts in one organized, customizable space. A similar effect could be achieved by using Google Drive folders too.

So even though it sounds crazy,–and most certainly is–there’s a reason hundreds and thousands of writers band together every year with one goal in mind–writing 50,00 words in 30 days. It’s fun, hectic, and challenging, but in the end you have so many things to be proud of. Yourself, your brand new shiny manuscript, and a whole community of authors feeling the exact same way.