NaNoWriMo or Bust!

Happy NanoWriMo, everyone!

I've been a regular NaNoWriMo participant for the past five years. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the event, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” It’s an annual event where thousands of writers from around the globe accept the challenge of writing an entire 50,000-word novel within 30 days.

The main event is held every November, but in recent years they've begun hosting "Camp NaNoWriMo" every April and July. The camp events are much more laid back. During camp, you don't have to commit to writing a full 50,000 words. Instead, you have the option of setting your own word goal. Or, you could choose to edit a pre-exisiting manuscript.

First Drafts

Now, I’d like to clarify something. NaNoWriMo (and Camp NaNoWrimo) isn’t about writing a masterpiece. No. Instead the focus of the event is “quantity over quality.” The basic idea is that a lot of writers out there want to write novels but they feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the challenge. They don't know where to start. NaNoWriMo is a great way to break through those limitations.

The point of the event is to have fun. The lesson to be learned is that the hardest step of the writing process is when you first sit down in front of a blank page. NaNoWriMo teaches you that it’s not about how you fill it. The idea is to simply get into the habit of writing something, anything.

Ideally, by the end of the month you'll have a completed rough draft of your novel or other writing process. Once you've got some words on paper, you've got something to work with. Post NaNoWriMo, writers will have plenty of time to edit, revise, polish, and improve upon their initial draft.

NaNoWriMo isn't about writing a masterpiece. It's about pushing past your obstacles and writing your first draft.

Besides, no one writes great literature of the first try-- not even the literary giants. And, insisting on perfect on the first go-round is the best way to discourage yourself from continuing to try. After all, a first draft is simply a first try. The really good story doesn’t start to emerge until later-- when you start to edit your manuscript.

Writing is all about practice and revision. NaNoWriMo is simply a fun way to plunge in feet first into a story. Don’t worry about making it great on the first try. All you have to do is write the story down. You can go back later-- after you’ve hit your 50,000 word goal-- to edit and make the story better.

Online Community

For me, one of the best parts of NaNoWriMo is the online community. The webpage provides a variety of helpful features for writers. For instance, it functions like social hub for NaNoWriMo participants around the world. The online forums where writers can discuss a variety of writing related topics, offer suggestions, ask for advice, and offer encouragement to fellow writers. You can also send private messages back and forth with fellow participants.

My favorite feature is the stats page. I like to update my word count periodically throughout each day of the month. As I update my word count, the webpage inputs the data into a spreadsheet that allows me to track my progress. It'll let me know how many words per day I've currently averaging, the number of words I'll need to write per day in order to finish on time, and an estimated date for hitting my 50,000 word goal.

Throughout the month the NaNoWriMo founders will send out pep talks to participants. I love these! They're always filled with inspirational advice and encouragement. Plus, they often get well known authors to participate.

Then, after I've reached your writing goal for the month, I love to visit the NaNoWriMo shop. The event is hosted by a non-profit group, so I know that any money I spend goes to a good cause. They have t-shirts, coffee mugs, and a variety of books available for sale. I like to treat myself at the end of the month.


Fun Themes & A Challenge

Each year, the NaNoWriMo hosts choose a new theme. Since I've been participating, some of my favorite themes have included the year that all of the graphics featured people in suits of armor (the writers) battling dragons (their writing projects) and the year that they used old school computer game graphics. The characters were pixelated and brought back memories of playing Mario Bros with friends as a kid.

So, who’s with me? NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1st. I challenge each and every one of you to give it a try. Even if you don't reach 50,000 words, you'll at least finish the month with the beginning of a draft. Any progress is good!

Let's do this!


PS-- I’ll be writing under my usual online pen name “Reprieve26.” Feel free to look me up on the National Novel Writing Month web page. You should be able to keep track of my progress (the number of words I’ve written so far). You can also visit with me in the forums. See you there!

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?

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Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 5 years ago from Missouri


Just spoke with a pen pal friend of mine in Australia about this!

Will check you out, Reprieve!


Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author

Thanks! What name is your friend using on NaNoWriMo? I'll look them up. :)

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Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

I just signed up. Thanks for the reminder.

Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author

You're welcome! I'm really looking forward to it. Is this your first year or have you participated before?

Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 5 years ago from Missouri

Signed, Sealed and... Well, not Delivered quite yet, as ScarlettMyDear.

Ouch, this one may hurt a little. I don't know that I can write 50,000 words in one year, much less one month!

That's 29 words right there, I guess. Now, 37... 38...39... I could go on. (;

My Aussie Friend is sleeping at the moment on the other side of the world. I'll ask. I read up on the site history, btw. So, interesting! I imagine it would be a Blast Writing Down The Bones, so to speak, if you partnered up with other gluttons for punishment!

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Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

Hey, Reprieve26, I got back into writing and had an outline for a novel last year. But I wasn't ready and quit after a day or two. I simply didn't have it in me, but with HubPages, I've found that it doesn't take much for me to whack out 2,000 words a day. I did complete the 30/30. Now, I need to get back to writing my novel. The concept for the novel began in 2008. It's about time I get serious and make a move!

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Hey didn't "Gone With The Wind" take 20 years to write. Seriously that's what makes Hub Pages so Great...No Pressure. I too have a Novel "Gloria Rosen"...just not sure what I want to do with it yet...Maybe a Movie with a Cast of Unknowns...We all have our Dreams too! And thanks for the Heads Up on National Writing Month.

Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author

Thanks for all of the comments! :) I'll definately have to look for everyone that signed up on the NaNoWriMo web page. Yes, writing that many words in so little time is definately going to be a challenge-- especially for those of us with day jobs!

Arlene-- don't give up on your novel. I've had projects like that-- where I sort-of lost my steam. I suggest simply setting that project aside for a while and then returning to it with "fresh eyes." Sometimes you just need a break. :)

b. Malin-- That's a fun idea. I'd love to sit down and cast actors to play the different characters in my current novel. ;)

Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author


I'm happy to announce that I knocked out 6339 words in my first day of NaNoWriMo 2011! The part that makes me feel even better about that number is that I was able to write this much around my work schedule and all of my other commitments. I just hope that I can keep up this pace!

~~ Reprieve26 :)

Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author

Update: Well, it's day 9 and I'm starting out this morning with 23,656 words written so far. I started out my NaNo with a blast (6000 words in the first day!), but then I ran into a road block-- a head cold. But, I'm still doing my best to balance all of it-- the writing, my day job, and I'm almost over the bug now (yea!).

Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author

I hit 40,000 words last night-- yea! I've got about a dozen other things going on this month-- including my brother and his family coming to visit, so I'm trying really hard to finish early.

How's everyone else doing on their NaNo's? :)

Reprieve26 profile image

Reprieve26 5 years ago from Oregon Coast Author

Yea!! I'm a winner! I completed my novel last week, but NaNoWriMo gave me my winner certificate this morning. The entire experience was a lot of fun. I'm SO going to have to do this again next year! :)

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

I saw on your Suzie Oneill follow-up hub that you made it to the 50,000 words and up goal and that the resulting book is due out in January. Congratulations!

Suzie ONeill profile image

Suzie ONeill 5 years ago from Lost in La La Land

Thank you! I'm really excited. I've never published an e-book before so this is a new experience for me. I'm still working on re-formatting the book. Since the story is a "choose your own adventure" there are quite a few links. They help the reader hop from section to section as they make their choices about where they want to go next in the story.

The story was a lot of fun to write. I just hope that people have just as much fun reading it! :)

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