Monday, October 5, 2009

National. Novel. Writing. Month.

Don't get it right, get it written.

One month left, y'all.

NaNoWriMo. That's pronounced nah-no-wry-mo. Not to be confused with the NaNo Rhino:


Wait. Did I hear some of you say that you've never heard of NaNoWriMo? This must be remedied immediately.

National Novel Writing Month is the invention of Chris Baty. In 1998, Chris and 20 of his friends decided to write a novel -- defined as 50,000 words of fiction -- in one month. Six made it. Somewhere between then and now, the event gathered more people, picked November as their official month (50K words in 30 days), got a nice website complete with forums and fancy profile pages, and last year over 119,000 people signed up, with 21,720 reported winners.

Participants last year wrote a total of more than 1,643,343,993 words. That's one-point-six billion and change. NaNoWriMo is an amazing motivating force, the community on the forums is beyond cool, and there are local groups that meet up in person as well.

Want to learn more? Check our the NaNoWriMo website, in particular the What is NaNoWriMo? page, the How NaNoWriMo Works page, and the FAQ page. There's also a NaNoWriMo Press Release for 2009.

I will be talking about this a lot in the near future. If you've done NaNo before, please tell us about it in the comments. If not, please check out the website, and then come back, and if you post any questions you might have, I will do my very best to answer them. I think NaNo is an amazing thing that all aspiring writers should try (if you're an established writer, you might enjoy it, too, but I think it's especially good for those who are trying to find their voice and writing style), and I would encourage all my readers to give it a go.

Questions? Ask away!

Later this week: my first year of NaNo


  1. That's hilarious! I want a nanorhino!!!!!

  2. I haven't participated in this. But my question is this: How could this work for plotters or for historical writers who have to stop and research? After I finished, I think I would end up having to go back and make so many adjustments that it would drive me crazy!!

  3. Oooh, good question!

    Well, according to the official rules, you're allowed to spend time pre-November plotting and researching, so long as you don't actually write the text of the novel.

    And I believe Chris Baty himself advocates the "5-click rule" for researching during the month of November: you can use any information that you can find online in 5 or fewer clicks of your mouse.

    My stories are contemporary, so most of my research can be ignored at the time of writing, with a simple "INSERT DESCRIPTION HERE" left as a placeholder.

    And the one time I needed some serious help learning how to perform a particular activity (so that a major scene could take place WHILE the main character was doing it), I posted a question on the NaNoWriMo forums, and an expert in that craft gave me the detailed instructions I needed!

    I'm kind of a pantser anyway, so if there are any plotters who have done NaNo who want to give better suggestions, I'd appreciate the input!

  4. I've been thinking about it just so I have an excuse to write more and hubby can't say much... Although I think he would anyway... Hummmmm... Why don't non-writers get that we HAVE to write? LOL

    Lynnette Labelle

  5. Sounds wonderful. I might join in. have to see how Nov is looking for me.

  6. Damn you for tempting me! My time is more red then my money this fall. :( I love NaNoWriMo.

  7. Yea, a working mama with an 11-month old, there's no way I could participate. I hope to be able to somebday though! Maybe in the spirit of that month, I can just try to pound out a lot of words. Sounds exciting!

  8. i'm going to try NaNoWriMo. who knows? might work for me this year!

    I wanted to let you know about my blog address change. *sigh* If you're following me, my posts now won't show up in your feed, dashboard, sidebar, whatever. So please forgive me, but you'll have to change the address for my main writing blog, Where Romance Meets Therapy, to To do this, you have to "unfollow" me and follow me again. Sorry for the confusion!

    The Character Therapist

  9. I did it last year and back in the late 90s/early 00s. I think it might have been the first or second year that I participated that first time? It's much better-organized these days! The hardest part for me is making sure all my projects are wrapped up so I can start a brand new novel on November 1st.

  10. I'm in! I think NaNoWriMo is a great way to get a first draft (and right now maybe the only way I'll get a first draft :)