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The NaNoWriMo, The Unexpected Prize

Updated on January 22, 2018

What is NaNoWriMo?

By mpclemens from Pleasant Hill, United States (NaNoWriMo: the home front) [CC-BY-2.0 ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By mpclemens from Pleasant Hill, United States (NaNoWriMo: the home front) [CC-BY-2.0 ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Parody] Good Ol' NaNoWriMo

NaNo tips

Top 10 Ways to Increase Your NaNoWriMo Word Count

If You Enter the Nanowrimo, What Can You Win?

Well, it's almost that time of year again. November. The month of madness. The month of glory. The month that thousands of literary geeks all around the world hail as the most exciting month of the year. It is the NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writer's Month. It is the month that the NaNoWriMo Organization sponsors the National Novel Writer's contest.

What exactly is the NaNoWriMo Contest, and what do you win if you enter?

The NaNoWriMo contest is a novelist's contest that is open to anyone that is interested in joining. The goal of the contest is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in the space of 30 days. You can log in at 12:01 Am on November 1, and write off and on between then and 11:59 on November 30. If you meet the 50,000 word requirement by their word counter, you win. Anyone and everyone can win as long as they make the word count.

Prior to entering the NaNoWriMo, you can create your characters, make an outline, imagine some of the scenes in your mind. The only thing that you cannot do is write any part of the novel itself. You must wait for the start of the contest for that.

The novel does not have to be perfect or even good. To win, you just have to meet the required word count.

What do you win? You have the first draft of a completed novel. And Oh, yeah, you get a very artistically created certificate for your wall. There is no monetary prize, no exaltation, you will probably not be in the news.

But, it is worth it!

I have joined the NaNoWriMo contest for the last several years, but I only won the 2007 contest. That year was a tail-end year of one of the worst periods of my life. My character and my finances had both been assaulted, and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. In 2007, I bought the kit to help me get organized and motivated to win, and I did. The prize I got was greater than any other prize I have ever won before or since. And that prize came in many forms.

I learned that I really can make a goal and stick to it. The entire NaNoWriMo Contest is created around the art of goal setting. You have a very specific goal, i.e. 50,000 written words, with a very specific timeline of thirty days. If you want to win, it helps to develop a plan that includes smaller goals and small rewards for meeting them. But the really big boost is when you get to the end and find that you really succeeded. After that, there are no more excuses. The prize is that you know from then on that you are an accomplished person. You know that you can do what you set out to do. You are capable of being a winner.

I learned that there really are people that are willing to offer their support.In the midst of my writing journey, I reached out to a lot of people that I knew, but that I had not taken the time to get to know well. I wanted a way to motivate myself to succeed, so I let them know what I was doing and that I needed help. Before that, I was feeling very alone. By the time i was done, I made many new friends, both among the wrimos and in my own circle of life.

I also feel that it is a wonderful prize to make friends that share my interests. Many creative people suffer from occasional feelings of isolation from not having someone to talk to about things like poetry or art that may not be mainstream activities. Everyone wants to share their lives with someone.

The members of the NaNoWriMo sponsor get togethers during the contest where they can share their characters, their stories and their experiences with their writing life. There are emails and message boards as well, and sometimes lasting friendships are born.

I hang my NaNo certificate on my wall with pride, but the best prize I got that year was the prize of finding myself and my friends.

I highly recommend it to everybody.

By Baroness Hyde de Neuville [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Baroness Hyde de Neuville [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

how many years have you done Nanowrimo?

See results

Nano 2014

November is coming!

It has been 7 years since I won the Nano. November is approaching, and I am looking forward to participating yet again.

This year should be special. My writing has slacked off quite a bit lately, mostly because I went back to college. I wanted to hone my craft by going to creative writing school, but between school and my full-time "real" job, haven't felt like devoting much time to writing. My goal for this Nano is to prove to myself that I really can squeeze in one more thing.

This year, I plan to an anthology of short stories, which I can later turn into hubs. It's not exactly a novel, but it should be OK. My goal is just to get back into the swing of things; I want my rhythm back. We'll see how it goes.

Ways to Make the Writing Go Faster

It might seem like cheating, but go for it!

There are lots of ways that you can increase your word count. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Do not ever use contractions.
  • Give your characters very long names, and then use them occasionally.
  • Use long and complex descriptions. Remember, your goal is the word count. You can edit your novel later.
  • I believe there is a forum on this topic on the Nanowrimo website. You should read it. Also, it helps to talk to other wrimos. They are usually more than willing to share.

Another suggestion that I have is to get Dragon so you can write while you hands are doing something else. I have it. I bought it to help with my school work last year after I had surgery on my hand, and I have been using it ever since. And if you want to take this a step further, you can get a digital recorder and record your novel while you are walking around. Then, if the sound quality of your recorder is good enough, you can play it to the dragon program so it can write it down. If that doesn't work, you can always get a trusted friend to catch up your typing for you.

Williams Self-Portrait

By self portrait [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By self portrait [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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      Marcos 3 years ago

      Heather, I love your Emerson quote, Every artist was first an amtaeur. A friend, who also attended the conference, and I were just talking about that subject. In any creative endeavor, periods of verbal self-flagellation are inevitable. When I was painting, we called it the Uglies. That term still works in my writing. I force myself to work through it. Writing everyday (with occasional exceptions) is a rule. I put pen to paper, or fingertips to keys for at least an hour. That usually turns into two or four. My mantra is Just do it. (By the way, I used that term before Niki!)