NaNoWriMo is the shortened term for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November each year. The challenge is to write a fifty-thousand-word novel in one month by breaking up the words into easy-to-digest bites of writing that add up during the month to the end goal of 50k words.
That is the basic nuts and bolts about what it is on the surface. But what it truly is cannot be summed up into so few words. Nano, as it is affectionately abbreviated, is about community. It is building a connection with those writers who are in your area. Find kinship with writers like you, struggling through the same barriers, who can teach you more than you know now, and who you can lift in camaraderie.
At its core, it is changing the stereotype that writing is a solitary and lonely profession. As writers, we all enter into a challenge that helps us build our skills and the community around us. Through this community, we begin to learn what it is to be a writer. We fight imposter syndrome by redefining what it means to be a writer.
NaNoWriMo helps us build a healthy daily habit of writing, regardless of our situations or daily tasks. A routine that solidifies the definition of “Writer.” Whatever you choose as your daily writing routine. Whether it is a word count, a writing-adjacent task, or journaling, you can cater your NaNo experience to your needs. But the habits you build throughout November will stay with you beyond NaNo.
The friendships and connections you make are lifelong and cultivated through continued interactions. Whether that be a writing club, group, or association, these connections will benefit you beyond November. Networking is vital to our success as writers; maintaining these connections helps us build a portfolio.
It’s more than 1667 words a day, 50k in a month, its motivation at its core—a challenge to show you that writing a novel does not have to take decades. No matter what state it is in at the end of the month, a novel can be undertaken in 30 days or less. It challenges you to break free from the intrusive thoughts that speak negatively to us. It challenges you to redefine success.
The forum on is broken down into groups and even further into personal regions for many locations across the globe. You can connect with local writers and join a write-in at your local library or coffee shop. A write-in is a pseudo-social event where you meet other local writers and work on your novel together. You can participate in word sprints or use the group as a body double. Sometimes the social aspect of Nano can be more beneficial than the writing itself.
In addition to in-person events, covid has made it abundantly clear that we also need virtual ways to meet with one another. Some groups have zoom rooms that are open the entirety of Nano. As well as virtual write-ins, writing sprints hosted on Twitter, and so much more. Some also use Discord voice chat rooms for socializing and sprinting.
For many reasons, discord is one of the best additions to my local nano chapter. One of my favorites is the word sprint bot which manages timed bursts of writing between other writers in my area. Sprints are lovely motivation to get the words out and not worry about the minutiae. It’s great to type in a command and have the bot keep track of your words and your time.
Nano is also very customizable. You do not have to officially participate in the event to be a part of all the incredible social connections. Nor do you have to win to benefit from the experience. You can modify your project to make it more feasible for you and your limitations.
Also, it doesn’t have to be November to do a NaNoWriMo. Many use this format to finish novels, edit, or build daily habits throughout the year. I know there are other events the organization puts on, like Camp Nano and a youth nano for kids under 18. It’s a very versatile platform for writers of any genre, skill, and ability to participate.
While November 1st has already passed, it isn’t too late to jump in and attempt the challenge. Also, the best part is it is entirely free. So, even if you join to network with other writers and connect to local writing groups to help better your skill, you lose nothing by joining. Writers build up other writers because there is no competition between us. There is room for all stories and a place for every tale. We hope you will join us in the challenge and take the next step to become a better writer.
Good luck and Happy NaNo!