WHAT IS NANOWRIMO?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It begins on November 1st of every year and goes until 11:59 on November 30th. During this time, participants must write a novel that is at least 50,000 words.
If you win NaNoWriMo, you get some perks that are listed on the website each year. Examples include discounts on writing software, free downloads, and some free physical copies of your self published book.
There is also a related event called Camp NaNoWriMo. This is the same as NaNoWriMo, but with a few differences:
Camp NaNoWriMo takes place in April and July.
On the Camp NaNoWriMo website, you can be in “cabins" with other writers where you can chat and encourage each other to write.
You can set your own word count goal for Camp NaNoWriMo.
FAQ ABOUT NANOWRIMO
Do I have to write a novel? Can I write an anthology of short stories?
While the original premise was to write a novel, you are free to write an anthology or short stories (or something similar) if you wish.
Does it have to be original fiction? Can I write fan fiction?
Again, the original premise was to write original fiction, but you can write fan fiction if you want.
Am I allowed to plan my story before November?
Yes! Writers are encouraged to prepare prior to NaNoWriMo.
Am I allowed to start writing my story before NaNoWriMo as long as I write an additional 50k words during November?
You’re supposed to start with a new story, but there’s no one to stop you from continuing an old story or even rewriting one.
Does my novel have to be 50,000 words, or can I go over?
You can definitely go over the word count.
Make sure to check the nanowrimo website for more FAQs.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
If you’re prone to writer’s block, I highly recommend that you plan before you write:
My Outlining and Planning Guide
Name Generators for People, Places, and Things
Prepping For NaNoWriMo: The Outlining Stage
Otherwise, prepare mentally and physically for the challenge of writing a novel in a month. Plan out when you will write each day and for how long. Remember, you need at least 1667 words per day to reach the goal by the end of the month. Find a nice spot to write, have all your notes in order, and back up all your files. Here are some more tips and resources:
My Preparation Advice
Kris Noel’s Preparation Advice
Create Your Own Writer’s Retreat
Book Geek Confessions’ Prep Advice
One thing you need to avoid during NaNoWriMo is editing. If you edit while you’re trying to write, your writing will be slowed and you’ll fall behind. Just keep writing.
Writing the Beginning
Writing the Middle
Writing the End
The Elephant Technique (for when you’re stuck with naming or describing something)
Finishing Your Story
Writing Playlists and Music
Writing Software and Websites
OTHER NANOWRIMO TIPS
10 NaNoWriMo Tips
20 Things You Should Know About NaNo
NaNoWriMo is Coming
Writer’s Digest NaNoWriMo Tips
Checklist for Nano
Lots of NaNo Tips
Word Count Widgets If You Don’t Like the NaNo Ones
AFTER NANO ENDS
So NaNoWriMo is over (or you’ve finished your novel) and now you have a rough draft of your manuscript. Here are some tips:
Do not immediately send it to an agent or publisher. Tons of people start sending out their manuscripts right after NaNoWriMo and it’s a huge mistake because they’re not sending polished, ready-to-be-published manuscripts. They’re sending rough drafts they wrote quickly.
Leave it alone before you start editing. Walk away from your manuscript and work on something else or take a break from writing. This break could be a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. It depends on you. Then start editing once you’re fresh again.
For more on editing and publishing, see my How to Write and Publish a Novel page.