5 Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month

November is fast approaching so you need to know about NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month is November every year and the aim is to write 50,000 words in 30 days on a new piece of work. Basically, it’s a novel in a month. But don’t be afraid – no one gets to read your “novel” so it is basically a first draft piece of work. Here’s Nanowrimo in a nutshell.

You should do this because:

  • You have always said you wanted to write a novel, so let this be your first step. I felt like this last year (Sept 2009) and last week (Sept 2010) my thriller novel ‘Pentecost’ came back from my editor. Yes, I started ‘Pentecost’ in NaNoWriMo last year and now it is a 70,000 word novel ready for rewrites. Woohoo! I only managed just over 21,000 words in November and most of that was cut out but the idea sprung from Nano as well as a lot of the key ideas and plot. It catapulted me into a novel in 2010.
  • You need to understand how to write a first draft fast. I didn’t know how to write fast last year. I hadn’t learned about separating the creator and editor in my mind and so I agonized over my writing. I felt I had to create a perfectly crafted sentence before writing fiction. Then I was introduced to “Write or Die” and word count goals, and behold, a novel began (the first of many!) Nanowrimo is about quantity of writing, not quality so you are forced to get the words out. There are no blocks here!
  • You will learn a lot in 30 days of writing. Check out my NaNoWriMo posts from last year including videos of my progress and lessons learned. It is an amazing way to get into the nuts and bolts of writing a novel. I was stunned by how much I learned through the process of writing itself and then investigating as I went.
  • You will be part of a global community. Join in the hashtag #nanowrimo on Twitter or the blog posts from writers around the world. Check in at NaNoWriMo.org to see what other people are up to. Receive the brilliant encouraging emails that help you along every week. You can even join in live or online writing events. Thousands of people do this, it is a community writing month!
  • You can clean the novel up later, it’s just a first draft! The aim is to write, not to be perfect. So get the ideas flowing and you will discover that actually writing encourages the muse. You don’t need to sit around thinking – just write! Editing the novel comes later and that is a much more extensive process, but no one can edit a blank page.

NaNoWriMo 2009 changed my life. I can say that hand on heart. It gave me the courage to write badly and to start writing fiction, to put words on the page and to let the ideas flow. I have spent most of this year reworking those ideas, but that month started the process. Without it I may still be saying “I wish I could write a novel” or “I only write non-fiction”. If you have a dream to write a novel, I urge you to register for NaNoWriMo and get started on Nov 1st! (Click here for information)

PS. After saying all that, I have to admit that I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo this year as I have rewrites to do for Pentecost in order to have it ready to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards in Jan 2010. I did want to be ready but I am not pro enough to be able to complete a novel in 1 year yet! I hope you are still encouraged to join in.

Will you be joining NaNoWriMo this year?


This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.