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Writing the Great American Novel: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Me

Updated on June 25, 2014

Toni Morrison's "Beloved" Is Arguably One of the Greatest American Novels of Our Time

First edition cover
First edition cover | Source
NaNoWriMo 2012
NaNoWriMo 2012 | Source

How I Became a WriMo

I discovered National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) by accident, when I was having (already) a particularly tough year teaching high school English. I’ve always wanted to write a novel but the writer in me was crushed at 17 by, of all things, my college English professor. My identity had always been, ever since I could remember, a writer. Everyone around me knew it and encouraged it, until my freshman year of college. (But that’s another Hub!)

I signed up as soon as I saw it, back in 2007, thinking of soothing my tattered soul by writing one of the many novels inside me that were aching to get out. I felt even more emboldened because the whole point of NaNo was simply to get 50,000 words written by midnight on November 30th. The main website said it succinctly: it’s not about the quality; it’s the quantity. The new ML (Municipal Liaison) for one of my Massachusetts regions said it best at our meeting yesterday: “A NaNo novel is not even just a rough draft; it’s the first draft.”

What Is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a nationwide event meant to help writers shut off the editor within and just write, get it all down on paper, ready to edit later. It’s a proven method, taught in many writing courses, for moving past writer’s block issues. By the time you’ve finished, you have actually accomplished something, good or bad or something in-between, but you’ve done it. You can no longer say “I can’t” at the end of NaNoWriMo! You are a writer! And you’ve proven it to the on-line world, your Region(s), and, most importantly, to yourself.

Sign Me Up, Scotty!

NaNoWriMo 2012 Participant Badge - FREE to download and plaster on your blog, Hubs, website, anywhere! Tell the world you're a WriMo!
NaNoWriMo 2012 Participant Badge - FREE to download and plaster on your blog, Hubs, website, anywhere! Tell the world you're a WriMo! | Source

How NaNoWriMo Works

Getting Started

First, you sign up on the NaNoWriMo website ( by creating a username (advice from the Boston ML: pick one that you love!) and password and choosing your Region. Once signed up, you should complete your Author Profile by clicking the “Edit Author Info” link and write your novel’s information (if you already have an idea about what to write but it’s o’kay not to know what you’re doing!) using “Edit Novel Info” link, both of which are on the “My NaNoWriMo” page.

The Rules

There aren’t any rules, really, except two: don’t begin writing your novel until November 1st (or, at least, don’t upload anything you’ve written before November 1st into the word counter) and KEEP WRITING!

My Advice

As I’ve stated in the introduction, I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo since 2007 but I have yet to finish. (Insert sad face emoticon here! Insert deeply depressing violin music, too! If you have the new “smell” app for the iPhone…well, what does deep sadness, depression and a feeling of lacking in follow-through smell like, anyway?) 2012 is my year! I WILL FINISH! I VOW TO WRITE 50,000 by midnight of November 30th or BUST! But…how?

Until this year, I haven’t been able to take advantage of all the supports that NaNoWriMo puts in place for us, madcap WriMos. Most regions have Meet and Greet and Kickoff events right before November 1st and sponsor write-ins at local coffee houses, restaurants, and/or libraries throughout the month. The Office of Letters and Light sends out Pep Talk e-mails throughout the month and at the end (Week Five), sometimes even from published authors, to help get you through.

This year, I attended my first Meet and Greet ever and met the most supportive, fantastic group of writers. After a couple of hours discussing our backgrounds, projects, fears, opinions and advice, I left feeling energized and, more importantly, connected – not only to fellow writers in my local area but to myself.

This is the year I KNOW I will conquer my excuses and fears and complete my first novel, thanks to my fellow WriNoShores (WriMos from the North Shore) more than to my general stubbornness.

Go Forth and Write Your Great American Novel!

So, what are YOU waiting for? Go! Sign up! Get ready to write! Readers await YOUR Great American Novel – because no one can tell it like you do! But be sure to come back here and share your experience in the comments! Can’t wait to read you, fellow Hubbers, fellow WriMos!

© 2012 Everymom/Language Development Company


Submit a Comment

  • everymom profile image

    Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 5 years ago from Massachusetts

    I love the challenge every year. Owing to work and family pressures I could never engage fully. Because I'm a "social hermit" by nature, I thought I could do it in a vacuum. I was really excited to meet real, live fellow NaNoWriMos...and ecstatic to find out, through writing this Hub, how many of my fellow Hubbers have been/are involved! Thanks for your comment, Brainy Bunny! I'm looking forward to being writing buddies for NaNo 2013!

  • Brainy Bunny profile image

    Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

    I love NaNo. I can't do it this year due to work pressures, but I've attempted it several times, and done some valuable work each year. It's just a wonderful program.

  • everymom profile image

    Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 5 years ago from Massachusetts

    @Jaye, thank you very much! This is definitely my year to finish; I feel it in my bones! @Aline, seriously this particular college professor was a true sadist - as was yours, it seems! How can people who are supposed to encourage love and passion for literature (reading it, writing it, treasuring it) be teaching?! Your dream sounds very powerful, indeed. I agree that success is the best revenge; that's why I try so hard to overcome the fear of writing that still grips me. But I know, deep in my soul, that I need to reclaim my art.

    Thanks to both of you for your support! Are you going to join in the NaNo madness?

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Good luck reaching that magic 50,000 word count this year! Thanks for the info about NaNoWriMo. Voted Up++