Sunday, September 27, 2009

Interested in Writing a Novel? Try NaNoWriMo!!!

NaNoWriMo Typewriter poster designed by artist Jason Munn. Image courtesy of Poster available here!

I know that a lot of people dream of writing a novel, being able to call yourself a novelist, getting your creative juices flowing, and finally finding the time to put those awesome story ideas/characters you have down on paper and running with it! Well, if any of this sounds good to you, I'd like to invite you to join me in taking part in November's National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short. It's pronounced Nano Wry Moe)! And guess what? It's all FREE!!!!!

This coming November will be my third time taking part in the National Novel Writing Month and I just can't wait for it to start!

Here's a screenshot of the NaNoWriMo website! I love the running man with pencil logo!

Now you probably have a few questions about NaNoWriMo. Things like, "how long is a novel?" "How does this work?" "Can I write non-fiction?" And plenty of other questions. So here I will post the Who, What, Why, and When info from the horse's mouth itself (the NaNoWriMo website):

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2008, we had over 120,000 participants. More than 20,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Just visit the How NaNoWriMo Works page!


So there's the basic info! I've loved every time that I've participated in NaNo, and I'll bet that if you give it a shot, you will too! One benefit is that once you've signed up, you can also sign up for a "home region" (wherever you live! And this is international, so don't fear if you're in Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, China, and all!). If you're in the US, I recommend searching by the state name first. If you're international, then search by country name.

Here's a shot of the 11 regions with the highest word counts! Seattle is always tough to beat, but there are a lot of European countries are up there too!

There are NaNoWriMo participants everywhere! If there are enough NaNo-ers, there are even further breakdowns! For example, I did NaNo when I was living in Boston, Massachusetts. In Massachusetts alone there are NINE different NaNo regions: Mass-North Shore, Mass-Boston Area, Mass-Cape Cod, etc. I was in the Boston region with over 2000 members and every week (and sometimes more often) we'd have a write-in at a local cafe, library, college, etc. to spur each other on to reach the 50,000 word mark! Now not all 2000 members met up in person. It was more like 20-40 at write-ins, but lots of participation online on the regional forum. I'm now in the Maine region (there are about 780 Maine NaNo-ers) and we've already got plans for write-ins all over the state (including weekly ones about 15-minutes away from my apartment! Huzzah)!

And they also have various chat rooms, and NaNo Groups in the general forums for people to chat with, get encouraged by, advice, and whatnot. Groups for Newbies, Age Groups (20s, 30, 402, 50s and beyond!), Military groups, and "Virtual Worlds" groups (do you do SecondLife? They have weekly virtual write-ins, if you don't have many people participating near you. Or World of Warcraft? Same there!). So don't let the fear of not having any encouragement keep you from participating! You're never far away from NaNo help!

So I hope you'll consider becoming a part of National Novel Writing Month and experience the fun and chaos that comes from trying to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days! In the past, if you win (reach the 50,000-word mark before the stroke of midnight on November 30th), you recieve a coupon allowing you to publish a draft copy of your novel for free! I took advantage of this my first year because I loved how the story came out!

Here's Rosy with my 2007 book: The Melville Conspiracy.

Sure, nobody except for my family and friends have read it (I bought a few extra copies), but it's just such a great feeling to have your work in print!

If I've convinced you, sign up here and feel free to add me as a Writing Buddy (my username on NaNo is Chester.Copperpot). And if you need some more info about it, feel free to peruse their website (I think I've posted enough links to it already, but here it is again) and discover the joy that is National Novel Writing Month!


  1. Wow, this sounds really interesting. I've signed up, but may be putting too much on my shoulders with art, the sketchbook, etc. etc. However I still want to look into it.

    I'll definitely swing this by my fiance, it'd be great for him to participate. He's more of a writer than moi. ;)

    Thanks for this lovely informative post!

  2. I've thought about it, but poetry is really my thing :) Good luck!

  3. Good luck to you! My friend did this last year. I'm editing a novel that I wrote for my independent study class so I don't think I want to start another one.