Have you always wanted to write a novel?
It’s just a few days until November, and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month, better known ’round these parts as NaNoWriMo, is near.
We know some of you have been waiting all year for this month! For those of you who are new to this project, here’s the gist:
Who: You — whether you’re a seasoned novelist, novice writer, wannabe author, or a blogger up for a challenge.
What: A project in which you work toward a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel.
Where: On your laptop. At your desk. In your favorite café. Wherever inspiration strikes.
When: Kicking off this Friday, November 1, and ending at 11:59 pm on November 30.
Why: You’re creative and passionate about words. You’ve got a story to tell. You want to participate in a fun, rewarding project and push others to stretch their imaginations, too.
How: Sign up at NaNoWriMo.org, where you can plan your novel, track your progress, and join a community that offers support, encouragement, and advice — online and off.
Not sure if you’re up for it?
We’re stoked to see so many writers on WordPress.com who’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in the past. In the beginning, some of them didn’t think they could face the challenge.
For a while, teen fiction author Keris Stainton had struggled to get back into writing; she had been trying to write novels, but couldn’t manage finishing one. But one year, she participated in NaNoWriMo:
The novel I wrote for NaNo that year was the first one I ever finished, and so I was hooked.
Author, screenwriter, and songwriter John Palisano says that the month-long project offers a safe place to fail:
It’s about freeing yourself from those constraints and having fun with writing again. Even if writing is your day job, or your dead-serious hobby, NaNoWriMo can be a fun and fulfilling experience.
Fiction writer Kristi Petersen Schoonover shares this sentiment — it’s a great opportunity to write, experiment, and express yourself:
NaNoWriMo is all about writing something you want to write, just for you, without worrying about others sitting in judgment, so it’s an exercise in truly expressing yourself — which means, if you think about it, there really isn’t a way to fail!
Writer and game designer Harry Heckel has published role-playing games and fiction for two decades. Despite his experience, he had similar concerns about participating in NaNoWriMo.
Could he write 50,000 words in one month in addition to working his day job and being a father? He had to sign up to find out.
I’d say if you are on the fence, just give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen? I know 50,000 words seems inconceivable if you’ve never done it, but whether you succeed or fail, I guarantee you you’ll have more done than if you didn’t make the attempt.
Another NaNoWriMo alum, author and blogger Jennifer Bresnick, says to just go for it:
Just do it. Throw a couple of granola bars at the kids and lock yourself in your office if you have to, but just get started. Nutritional deficiencies take more than a month to show up, right? So don’t worry about it.
Convinced and ready? Some tips to consider:
While the NaNoWriMo website is where you’ll capture the magic, we hope you’ll use your blog to post updates, test your material, and share tips:
Connect with other participants on WordPress.com. Be sure to follow NaNoWriMo in your Reader to read what others all over the world are writing and saying throughout the month.
Test material on your readers. While diving into a novel is a solitary journey, know that you’ve got a support network in your readership — they know your voice, so consider trying out material on your blog. Not sure if a scene is working? Post an excerpt.
Reflect on your writing process. If you don’t want to share your novel-in-progress or get too specific with your readers, that’s fine. But consider taking time in between your sessions to reflect on your process: roadblocks you’ve hit, questions about your craft, and advice for other participants.
“Share the lessons you learn about your writing — and yourself — through your NaNo journey,” says Kristi. Then, tag these posts with NaNoWriMo so others can find them. There’s already chatter in the Reader, so dive in: you’ll find resourceful and inspirational posts by bloggers like Kristen Lamb, Rachel Peterson, Cristian Mihai, and E.E. Blake.
Track your progress as you go. While you’ve got an ultimate goal to reach 50,000 words, set other goals for yourself, whether by session, by day, by week, or other ways. “The first thing I always do is set up a word count spreadsheet to keep track,” says Keris. A record of this progress will be helpful.
You can also display the Milestone Widget in your sidebar, so your visitors know right away that you’re participating in this project until November 30.
Interested in joining in on the challenge? Visit and sign up on the NaNoWriMo site. We’ll see how everyone’s doing later in the month, but if you’re curious to hear more advice from WordPressers before you begin, follow The Daily Post — we’re chatting more with the authors in this post on Thursday.
Finally, if you enjoy reading about what’s new with writers in our community — and love reading the top reads on WordPress.com — subscribe to WordPress.com Weekend Reads, delivered monthly to your inbox.
You might also enjoy these posts:
- Your Voice, Live from the Scene: WPrightnow
- Caught in the Act (of Reading): Edwin Turner, Master Book Thief
- Digging in the Dashboard, Part II: Features For Longform Posts