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NaNoWriMo 2013: Want 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.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

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, 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 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 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 LambRachel 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, check out this NaNoWriMo discussion over on The Daily Post.

Finally, if you enjoy reading about what’s new with writers in our community — and love reading the top reads on — subscribe to Weekend Reads, delivered monthly to your inbox.

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Comments are closed.

  1. Kayla

    I am soooooo on the fence about this. I’m not sure if it’s intimidation, or what? What to do–what to do.


  2. Ebonstorm

    Some other ideas to consider for NaNoWriMo 2013:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      Thanks for sharing this — I especially like this essential tip: “NOT EDIT YOURSELF WHILE WRITING. Write without stopping.”

      This is such a great opportunity for writers to just let go, and be able to do so in a supportive environment.


      • Ebonstorm

        For many, myself included, it was the hardest thing to do. We are conditioned to be self-conscious and I think it works against us as writers until we learn to control that critical inner editing eye…


  3. mspikaface

    I didn’t realize there was a national novel month but how fitting of it to be November. This excites me especially considering just started this blog to do more writing. Just like Keris I have an issue with finishing projects. Thanks for the info and I’m going to take the challenge. It will be a birthday treat to myself.


  4. The Mother City

    Very interesting. Here in Cape Town someone is commercialising this and calls it DigiWriMo.


  5. allensrepositoryofstuff

    As a freelance editor, I feel for the aspiring authors. Not editing yourself would be very hard. I would worry of embarrassing myself.


  6. endlessencounters

    Why is it that I only heard about this a few weeks ago?? And the second I heard about it, all of a sudden I’ve been noticing it all over the place. I just joined and already I have started on my novel. I am incredibly excited for this!!!


  7. mariabgood

    Does this have to be fiction? Can it be a memoir?


  8. johnsondon23

    I participated in 2010 and it was an exciting experience. Started with a blank page and no ideas, and ended up with over 50,000 words full of fun, action, romance and whimsy. And I did this despite a full load at an accelerated college. I will be doing it again this year…looking forward to the challenge!


  9. Christina E. Janke

    Reblogged this on Intro to Geek and commented:
    Oh yeah, I forgot that I told myself that I would be participating in this challenge. Cheese and crackers…


  10. tealightsky

    Thank you so much for posting this. I remember reading about the month around February time, thinking ‘Damn! November is ages away!’ I have no idea if I can fit it in with my schedule as of late…but what’s there to lose? 🙂


  11. johnsondon23

    Reblogged this on Along the Lion's Path and commented:
    I participated for this back in 2010, and really enjoyed it! My characters have been begging me to set them free, so I think this is the best time to do so. If you’re a writer–or just like writing–give it a shot…1667 words a day is all it takes!


  12. jezabelbotanica

    This year I will finish my NaNoWriMo-Novel. I just have to.


  13. Rao Dao Zao

    I have a storyline that was going to be a game, then it downgraded to a text adventure because it wasn’t actually very interactive, but it doesn’t even work as that so I might just make it a little novel…


  14. tarassa

    Which languages shall be used? shall we write in any language to participate the month?


  15. skulzstudios

    I wrote a novel. In fact I’ve written several novels, novellas, collections of prose, and various and assorted musings. The entire publishing world is a farce and not worth the effort it takes to get rejected out of hand for not being socially forumed with the special folk.


    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      Your comment reminded me of a recent post on writing that was featured on Freshly Pressed — some insights on the state of publishing/self-publishing, the (lower) level and quality of writers interested in breaking into the industry, and how it might not be the right path for some.


  16. Paul Handover

    Oh, this is scary but ….. I think I’m going to give it a go! What’s a very convincing argument is sharing it on my blog; Learning from Dogs. Because I write a daily post (have been doing so since July 2009) and try as hard as I can, the blog writing, usually 2 to 3 hours a day, drains what few creative juices this 69-year-old has left in his head! So my book project (non-fiction) has been stuck for weeks.

    Declaring to you guys and to my many blog readers that that’s what I’m doing for the month of November feels like a turnstile!

    Dear oh dear! It really is rather scary!


  17. vicbriggs

    A great project – I’m afraid I’m in the middle of a double revision this fall, so will have to join on the next instead. Thank you for sharing, and best of luck to all who will be participating.


  18. oldhamedia

    Hmmm…I’m in.

    I think.


  19. 0207chandic

    Reblogged this on Ms. Anonymous and commented:
    I’ve been meaning to blog about this too, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to blog about it. I’m so doing this. I found out about NaNo in September and I made my account. November is just a few days away, so those who are doing NaNo I wish you luck! November is going to be a month full of writing. May your pencils stay sharp!


  20. girlinterruptedtoo

    I tried to sign up but received an error message.


    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      If you’re receiving an error message on the NaNoWriMo site, you should direct your inquiry there. There’s a “help” link at the bottom of the site — that might be a good place to start.


  21. behealthymin

    I hope to write my first novel soon — maybe children’s or adult — -we will see!


  22. caterina64

    I didn’t know there was a month dedicated to writing a novel – what a great idea. I’m working on a children’s novel and my aim is finish it by the time I have my baby in January. This is the kick up the bum i needed!

    Although 50,000 words…
    Maybe 10,000? =]


  23. betogracida

    I think that it’s a great opportunity to start! I’m joining right now!


  24. spazticnerd

    I’m on the fence but I’m definitely interested! Maybe it’s an opportunity to see what people think of my work!


  25. colinashby

    Great article. I had NO idea about this. I have been working on the first draft of a novel for the past two months and this seems like a perfect was to make sure I get the first draft finished!


  26. Jayanta Tewari

    Very interesting. Planning to give it a try.


  27. danitalovesmakeup

    I will start my book this month. This is something I always wanted to do. How do you find time?


  28. 3Bishops

    Until I started working out short fiction on my blog, I don’t think I would have supposed I ever could produce a novel. Today, with more than 65,000 words across 50+ short stories, it starts to look possible … but of course, that happened in almost two years, not 30 days. Yikes!


  29. artseafartsea

    Sounds like a great idea. I may just have to give it a whirl!


  30. robertrun

    Last year I did NaBloPoMo and it helped me immensely. This might just be the thing that helps me get this thing done. I have most of it written, and like any writer I am never satisfied with my work. But if I commit to this publicly it will put the fire under me.


  31. bringreaner

    I’m going to see my boyfriend for the first time in almost a year (and the first time for more than a week for almost two years, yay LDR) half-way through November, so I’m preeeetty sure I won’t make it (again) but I’m thinking about at least trying.

    Completely forgot about it though, so I don’t have any ideas at all yet.


  32. Caroline Carey Finn

    Reblogged this on csfinn6 and commented:
    A great challenge, up there with the Dublin City Marathon. I have mine on the back burner and think I know where it’s going so I think I’ll stick with it this year. Maybe I’ll have it finished by next year and can start number 2.


  33. kimberlymringer

    I want to do this.. I finished my first novel, and working on the follow up ( 2nd of a trilogy – in loose planning. ) Scared though.


  34. DarkStarBurning

    I’m going to be giving this a go for the first time this year and posting it on my blog. Hopefully. I’m woefully inconsistent though.


  35. Welcome the Weird Productions

    My daughter is Queen Penn for this challenge. She recruited me last night and I said ‘I’ll write mine in a WordPress blog, since I love WordPress so much. Just opening a new post or page gets my juices flowing. So I’m Stephanie Queen for this challenge and the challenge to ‘write the great American novel’. That’s why we do this, right?


  36. Welcome the Weird Productions

    I’m available to be a NanoWhino buddy to anyone out there, so is Queen Penn.


  37. munishp81

    I’m not a brilliant writer, my English is all over the place and writing so quickly sounds scary. I’m really on the fence on this one.


  38. alwaysquietlyhiding

    Wow just in time. Just last night I’ve been in the mood for writing a story. I think I might try this thing.


  39. gogi6666

    Could be both fun and challenge, especially when English is not one’s native language. 😉


  40. riotofprose

    I think, instead of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, I will just write more of my own novel than I normally would. That’s my way of celebrating it 🙂


  41. L.M. Brown

    I am signed up for my fifth year. I look forward to this every year now. This year I am going to try to not only get the 50000 words, but also to participate more in the forums after 1st November and also to blog about my progress. I have even set up a brand new blog/site to do that. Can’t wait until the 1st.


  42. Social Lane (@llkopittcake)

    I’m going to do it this year. I’m ready for the challenge. Thanks Cheri. This blog post was really informative. I plan on sharing it on twitter.


  43. tovegasandback (@2vegasandback)

    What an exciting month this is going to be! My book, “To Vegas and Back” is being published and released during NaNoWriMo. Took five years to write, so, I am trilled it is finally out there.


  44. First Night Design • Rogues & Vagabonds

    Reblogged this on First Night Design and commented:
    This is what I hope to doing in November, in other words getting back to my writing. Do you write? Do you want to write? Join #NaNoWriMo and go with the flow!


  45. Hoshi

    Reblogged this on Hoshi's Space and commented:
    It is four days until NaNo and I was starting to feel unsure of myself. This article was exactly what I needed to read today! I’m printing it out to keep it with me and share with others, especially those in college that are brand new to the whole experience.

    Good luck everyone, we’re going to rock it this year!


  46. pandaruler

    Reblogged this on The panda's mind palace and commented:
    I’m not sure if I can do this, but I’m up for it. My English teacher, who is helping publish the literary magazine for my school this year, is encouraging us to do it, so I’ll at least try.


  47. Lavish Living

    I’m intrigued. Have had a book idea for awhile rattling around in my head. Even tried to write it once. Maybe, just maybe…


  48. minndixiemom

    Wow. Just last week I posted about painting the portrait of my father’s life through a novel. It seemed God was putting people in my path who were encouraging me to take that leap. Now he put NaNoWriMo in front of me. I said it was daunting, but my father took so many leaps of faith during his journey from a small fishing community in Norway to Minneapolis, MN. I can launch this journey of my own — in November!


  49. Nuria Chantre

    I have been looking forward to this all year…I’m so in!!!


  50. dearanonymousfriend

    I am just finishing up the 31 days of Noticing challenge and would love to do this one. I have a novel rummaging through my mind and am determined it needs to finally be written… but…. hubby is having major surgery at the beginning of November and I have a feeling any writing will reflect negatively about being a care giver… maybe next year if I haven’t started this novel before. This sounds like a fun challenge though. I am sad I am not going to go for it. DAF


  51. peterlantz

    Way cool! I’ll have to think about this, I’ve been blogging for awhile, but never considered writing a novel.


  52. Jayd

    That typewriter looks lovely – I just want to start typing away on it! Very inspiring.
    Are you taking part? I am! I did CampNaNo in April and met my goal of 25k, so I’m hoping this will be another win. I’ve got some friends joining in too – started a creative writing group at my sixth form and we’re doing NaNo.


  53. Don Royster

    I have participated three times in nanowrimo and it’s always a lot of fun to meet that challenge. In fact, one year I posted each day’s work on another blog outside of wordpress. But unfortunately I won’t do it this year. I have way too much work to do. In addition to a blog three times weekly, I am currently editing a short story for a kindle singles and a novel to be published next year. I originally wrote the novel, called “The Absolutely Unbelievable Extraordinary Adventures of Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott”, for the 2009 nanowrimo. Writing a humorous novel was a new experience for me. The great thing about nanowrimo is you can write outside your comfort zone and not be afraid of messing up.

    If you are thinking about participating, here’s some suggestions;;
    1. Don’t start out with the idea that what you’re writing will be published. Write for your own amusement.

    2.Don’t plan it all out. Keep some surprises. Otherwise it may be like pushing a stone up a hill.

    3.Try using a prompt to begin each day’s work. It’s a great way to entertain yourself because you don’t know where the next day’s writing will take you.

    4.Here’s one little secret to add up word count. Give the characters really long names. Everytime you mention that character all you have to do is copy and paste. I know it sounds like cheating but it sure helps.

    Good luck and bad writing.


  54. christrocks

    I’ve been counting down to NaNoWriMo for the past few months! November just might be my favorite month of the year, aside from how hectic NaNoWriMo makes it.


  55. L.B. Zumpshon

    Reblogged this on Brains & Writing and commented:
    Ooh good tips and excellent summary. Must remember to add a Milestone widget with my progress.


  56. ragecat1997

    This sounds so good! Can’t wait to try out my writing skills! 😀


  57. mrsloomis

    one day…


  58. kristipetersenschoonover

    Reblogged this on KRISTI PETERSEN SCHOONOVER and commented:
    Speaking of small worlds, long-time NaNoWrimo and Pencils! Writing Workshop buddy John Palisano and I were both interviewed for this WordPress feature…and we pretty much had no idea until a day or two ago. Is that wild or what?


  59. threeprettyposies

    Reblogged this on threeprettyposies and commented:
    I’ve never thought about this before, but it caught my eye this morning and I think it could be a really interesting way to focus my creative energy for a month…


  60. jobgenie63

    Reblogged this on The Last Baby Boomer Blog and commented:
    Ok, I’ve decided to take the plunge. I will attempt to add 50000 words to finish ” The Last Baby Boomer” novel by 30 November. Wish me luck!


  61. stormwrites

    Can’t wait to write something for NNWM.


  62. jewelbarnett

    Thank you! I have wanted to do this for years!


  63. Grandme Sea Gull

    What’s the worst that can happen? I’m going for it


  64. mystical66

    “Love It”…just when you thought you heard everything!


  65. awordfromsolo

    This will be my 7th year, and having won the past five, I’m feeling good about this year! It’s great fun! 🙂

    Solo’s Mum


  66. royallyunamused

    I’ve tried NaNoWriMo in the past, but I’ve never been successful, but this year feels like the year, so I’m going to give in another go, and hopefully this time I succeed.


  67. chyrondave

    This is going to be year seven for me and I’m ready for the challenge once again.


  68. Blog Woman!!!

    I can’t say I will join the effort this round, but I am so friggin’ impressed with the great ideas, awesome support, and general help always offered by the WordPress forums and their blogging subscribers!

    Good luck to all!


  69. sonatano1

    Would if I could. Don’t have time. Maybe in thirty years.


  70. brianbbaker16

    I have a story I’ve been waiting to start on for NaNoWriMo and I’ve been fighting starting it early. This is my second year doing NaNo and this year I’m going to finish the story not stop in the middle.


  71. Kathleen Acebuche

    A friend introduced NaNoWriMo to me early this year. I’ve always dreamed to be an author. I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I have tried writing short stories and poems but writing a novel always fears me. I have a lot of flaws; grammar, creativity and so on… .I’m still in doubt, but I think I should try. Maybe.


  72. mahfyb32

    Thanks for the helpful hints. Signed up a week ago and already I’m feeling the fear, but in a good way. I hope. Here’s to that leap of faith.


  73. mahfyb32

    Reblogged this on Blissing Around and commented:
    Are you ready for NaNoWriMo 2013? Me neither, but let’s go all out anyway. Thelma and Louise style.


  74. cweyrauch

    Reblogged this on cliffweyrauch and commented:
    For those daring enough to attempt this bold feat, may fortune favor you.


  75. relovertigo

    Reblogged this on 6 of One… and commented:
    I would normally never reblog something. It feels lazy to me, somehow. But, I wanted to share this with you today, because I am seriously considering doing this. I only have a few days to make up my mind, so I’d better get my you-know-what together. I also hope that you, Friendly Reader, will consider doing this. The world needs more great art! More you!


  76. katelynngilbert

    Reblogged this on Katelynn Gilbert and commented:
    Can’t wait for November, I love this challenge as a writer. Hope to keep you guys updated on my status as I write this year’s nanowrimo story.


  77. buggjoose

    Reblogged this on SHAKE THE GROUND and commented:
    I’m doing it this year!! Like I have for the past..three? hahaha.. never finished one yet, but I’m not daunted!!


  78. meaganhanes

    Reblogged this on #LoveTroll: ideas & inspiration for social sharing and commented:
    Have you ever wanted to write a novel?

    Well now’s your chance!
    November is National Novel Writing Month!

    I’ll be participating. Will you? Let me know!
    Can’t wait to read everyone’s amazing November creations 🙂


  79. Sofie's Diary

    I participated in 2012. I finished my book. It was exhausting but great fun!!


  80. Traci B

    Great blog post! This is my fourth year doing NaNo, and I can’t wait for November 1. Have no clue what I’ll be writing (same as the last three years), but I’m stoked to get going. 🙂


  81. healthyeasyfoods

    I’ve been trying to write a novel for years and I’ve started it at least 30 times over. Perhaps this is my calling……


  82. mjdresselbooks

    Going into my fourth year…aiming for my fourth win. I love the challenge. It must be the grueling part that makes it so much fun. o_0


  83. Joel Fuller

    Can you do a graphic novel?


  84. fortunenatus

    Thanks — this is a good opportunity for me.


  85. Kel Thompson

    Still thinking about it! Don’t want to start something I don’t think I could finish! Who knows though — might surprise myself!


  86. zlady2001

    Is this open to every country? I hope so!


  87. jasmineraihana

    I am not a great writer yet but I am so going to participate this event this year! Is there any age-limit? 🙂


  88. tuckedintoacorner

    I am doing this, for the third time, with bells on. Since I’m not crazy enough, I’m also doing NaBloPoMo and I have exams. For this I recommend following the Twitter account, they do a feature called ‘Sprints’ where they give you a prompt and you write for X amount of time. It might mean you put a lot of nonsense in your novel – I know I did – but they’re good for keeping the words flowing. Good luck all 🙂


  89. PatriciaMili

    Reblogged this on Migraine Fitness and commented:
    This is something I’ve been trying to get through for the last couple of years… the ONLY way you fail is to NEVER have started to begin with…so this year…yet again, I’m ready to try! Who is with me?


  90. janecdavies

    In 2012 I explored publishing online. Though the book wasn’t successful, understanding the process more was really rewarding. In 2013 I supported a group of older people to design their own website Now it’s time for a bit of me-time. Looking forward to engaging with others and appreciating the opportunity to focus on writing.


  91. LKD

    I’ve tried several times, and every year is ‘the year’. I think this year really is. I can’t wait for Friday!

    Good luck to everyone who is in. And if you’re on the fence, try it!



  92. TheUnextreme

    If I could keep my ideas straight, I think I would like to write a novel. My problem is that I change my mind too frequently. Ugh.


  93. chipings

    I really wonder what will come of this, but remain positive – hopefully the novels will be either good or so bad it’s good 🙂
    (at least I base this assumption it on my writing skills which are probably comparable to “normal human” 😉 ) Peace


  94. agsanda

    Reblogged this on Vintage Puff and commented:
    I will be participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo 🙂 Can’t wait to start – so many great ideas for my novel! Sneak peeks to be posted as the month chugs along 😉


  95. stevendavisuk

    Awesome post. Will be planning for this VERY soon. Thanks for sharing!


  96. anne

    Thank you. This arrived at such a perfect time. I’m going to go for it!


  97. Stef

    I adore Jennifer’s comment – her thoughts made me laugh out loud. Go get ’em! 🙂


  98. Rahul Ranjan

    Okay it’s a very tempting challenge but my question is after finishing my book/novel what do I need to do? Will I have to self-publish it or there is something else which could be more convenient?



  99. godslittleempress

    I’m so excited! This will be my second year! I was 10,000 words away from finishing last year, but this year I am determined to get finished! Good luck to all that will participate! You can do it!


  100. educationconcierge

    Thanks for the reminder! I considered doing this last year and chickened out, but I think I’m ready do go for it this year. I will post novel on and hope I can get 50,000 words by the end of November. Wish me luck!


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