National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, was initiated by writer Chris Baty in 1999 in San Francisco as a simple challenge between a group of friends—write a 50,000-word novel within a month. This challenge has now become a global event, and writers from across the world take part in order to start on that novel they’ve been thinking about for years, and to develop a daily writing habit.
NanNoWriMo, according to their website, is “a nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.” The appeal and the success of the event is such that it has grown from 21 writers to nearly 800,000 active participants throughout the years.
- Write a 50,000-word novel within the month of November. These 50,000 words can be a complete novel, or the first 50,000 words of a longer novel that is yet to be completed. This is roughly about 1700 words per day.
- You cannot use any previously written work (this excludes the outline for your novel, character profiles, and any relevant research work).
- You should be the sole author of your novel.
Is it Worth it?
01. Can Finally Put Your Idea in Writing
There is an untold story inside each of us. As writers, this story is most often completely mapped out inside our heads, our characters developed, their names and dialogues running in a continuous loop within our subconscious. But we are all guilty of letting this story die, of letting these characters remain unwritten, and the details to fade out.
NaNoWriMo gives you the opportunity to finally put this idea into writing. Whether your first draft turns out as a masterpiece or a disappointment, you would still have penned your story—the edits can come later. It helps you take the first crucial step to writing your novel.
02. Helps Develop a Writing Routine
Most importantly, NaNoWriMo helps you build a writing routine. By participating, you learn to find time for writing no matter how busy your schedule is. In fact, you learn to give writing the same importance as your other tasks. You learn to let go of distractions and push yourself to actually sit and simply write.
03. Helps Build Connections With Other Writers
Writing has always been a lonely endeavor. A writer lives in his own solitary world until his book is complete. But, by participating in NaNoWriMo, you become a part of a global community of upcoming—and even sometimes experienced—writers, communicating with them across various social media platforms through the NaNoWriMo hashtag.
Furthermore, the NaNoWriMo organization invites veteran writers to share tips of the trade, helping you hone your craft. They also host forums and writing discussions for the participants to share ideas and get to know fellow writers from across the world.
04. Builds Your Confidence as a Writer
Even if you are not satisfied with the story you have created at the end of 50,000 words, it wouldn’t matter—because you now know that you can write what’s in your head, and you’ve done it once to prove it to yourself.
“Doing it was magical for me, because once I knew I could write a novel, I knew I could write one well,” says Shaunta Grimes in her Medium article, about how NaNoWriMo built her confidence as a writer.
The first draft is what you write for yourself. By the end of the month, with your completed novel in hand, you can start working on editing and refining the details of your story. Famous novels like ‘The Night Circus,’ by Erin Morgenstern, ‘Fangirl,’ by Rainbow Rowell, ‘Anna and the French Kiss,’ by Stephanie Perkins are all NaNoWriMo success stories—having begun as a simple project.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.