A Beginner’s Guide to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

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In the writing world, the month of November is synonymous not with Thanksgiving, but with another, much more stressful (and exciting!) event … National Novel Writing Month.

What is National Novel Writing Month?

Started in 1999 by freelance writer Chris Baty, National Novel Writing Month came about as a way to build community in writing world as wordsmiths encouraged one another (and held each other accountable) in completing a 50,000-word manuscript in one month.

According to Wikipedia, in National Novel Writing Month’s first occurrence, 140 authors participated. In 2013, 400,000 authors did.

In fact, the event has gone global—many writers in other countries such as the UK and Europe have reportedly been joining in the fun.

How Does NaNoWriMowork?

Simple—go to the National Novel Writing Month website, make a profile, and get started! Write a description of your novel, upload a cover photo, and report your progress every day. Your word count is noted, and if you miss a day, there’s a handy way to calculate the following word counts you’ll need every day to still complete 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Forums—the Best Way to Chat

Check out some of the amazing National Novel Writing Month forums available. Need some encouragement? Write a message in the forum. Can’t decide on a character’s name or town? Go to the Appellation Station forum for suggestions from others! Wondering whether your villain is believable? Try the Character Café for fellow writers’ advice. If there’s something you need help with in your NaNoWriMo manuscript, there is a forum to discuss it at.

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Buddy! Buddy! The NaNoWriMo Buddy System

Got a great group of writer friends on Twitter, Facebook or Google+? Add them as your NaNoWriMo writing buddies! Put their name or novel title in the NaNoWriMo search bar, then add them to your buddy list. It’s a great way to stay accountable, cheer one another on, send messages and share excerpts of what you’re working on.

When Inspiration Is Needed

Writing a novel in one month is hard—trust me, I know. (Writing a novel, in general, is hard, but that’s another story. Plus, you have editors like us here at Midnight Publishing to help). So when you’re slogging through the two-week mark, and you just want to watch Netflix and not worry about that word count, go here, to the NaNoWriMo Inspiration tab. Read pep talks from well-known authors including Neil Gaiman, Marissa Meyer, and a personal favorite of mine, Chuck Wendig. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Sponsor Offers—big-name companies like Scrivener and Book Baby offer NaNoWriMo “winners” (those who’ve completed the 50,000-word goal) lots of goodies and discounts.

Marketing Benefits

It’s a great way to market yourself and your writing. Instead of posting “buy my book!” repeatedly on social media, why not build more community this November with your fellow readers and writers? Share your trials, post excerpts of what you wrote that day, take pictures of your hair as it progressively grows dirtier and more akin to a homeless person … oh, that’s just me who does that? Anyway. Engage your audience, and be a person—not a spam-bot.

For more info on how to master NaNoWriMo, check out these posts:

Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Your 30-Day Cheatsheet at Better Novel Project

How to Survive NaNoWriMo at Blots & Plots

And for a bit of fun, this one:

How to Win at NaNoWriMo at Ashley R. Carlson Editor & Author (that’s me!)

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