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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.

You might also enjoy these posts:

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Comments are closed.

  1. agreyworld

    I wonder if I could incorporate this into my serial… Still, putting out two chapters a week is tough enough: A novel’s worth would be hell!


  2. northerncherry

    I am so excited to be doing it and with so many others, should be a lot of fun!


  3. thebritishberliner

    What a wonderful idea!
    I can’t participate this year as I’ve got a Masters deadline which is more than enough for me at the Moment LOL!
    Count me in next year though.


  4. kristipetersenschoonover

    @Joel Fuller: To answer your question regarding graphic novels, I think you can pretty much do anything as long as it’s 50K. If you can write 50K of text for a graphic novel (or novels), I’d say go for it! There’s a specific thread on the NaNo forums called “NaNo Rebels” (or something akin to that). This is a forum topic where people who are using NaNo for more “unconventional” projects hang out. Just an FYI, hope that helps.


  5. Cheri

    but, but, but….I am a NON-FICTION writer…. 😦


  6. linmajazaah

    I’d love to follow this project. But, how long will this project be going on?


  7. mikel27a

    Love this. I am currently wiring the Novel on my blog. Once completed I may publish it a refined version of it.


  8. Sage Beauty Blog

    I think this is a great way to jump start your writing process. Writers need structure and this will help keep me on track.
    It’s going to be interesting writing a novel and a blog 🙂


  9. jenscreativeminds

    Thanks so much for this. It’s just what I need 😉


  10. mygeriamour

    Thanks for sharing, this is the first time I’ve heard of NanoWriMo. I think it’s pretty awesome. I’ve always wanted to write a novel but not really sure how to go about it. The longest writing I’ve done was 25,000 words for my uni thesis, so to do 50,000 in a month is quite daunting but worth giving a go I guess.


  11. dewymoss

    Loved this post. reblogged it. 🙂


  12. Tanela0426 (@Tanela0426)

    I just signed up. I am excited and hopefuily that this will bring the motivation I need~Tanela


  13. ShaharJones

    I’m from Germany and I will participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo for the first time. Although I only write fan fiction, but I can´t wait to start. Good luck to all participants.


  14. thehutowner

    Am I in? That’s the question. I’ve been writing only for our company’s quarterly mag. My first piece was a 10- page experience about travel. When it was out, to my dismay, it became a one and a half page. I called our editor and told me that it has a word limit of only 150. Now that I’ve learned my lesson a regular contribution was religiously met. I’m having second thoughts on this one. Can I do it with a 50,000 limit?


  15. katinatreesee

    So excited. I’m doing it this year 🙂


  16. bwumustanglover

    Reblogged this on bwumustanglover and commented:
    I’ve thought about doing this for a couple years but this is the first year I’ll actually have the time and an idea I want to write more about.


  17. collette247

    I am so excited – I can hardly wait – if you are on the fence and can’t decide – strap on with a wide rope and ride!


  18. strawberryjam1313

    I’m going to be doing NaNo for the 5th time this year. I have to say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s so fun, thrilling, and you get a novel at the end. Thanks for writing this 🙂


  19. booookish

    I did Nano when I was in my Junior year of high school and it was an amazing experience. My story was a horrible trashy soap opera type piece but just finishing the 50,000 word count made me feel like I had climbed the tallest mountain 🙂 Defiantly going to try it again this year 🙂


  20. creativame

    For all my followers, I have gotten off the writing train for some time, but I will be undertaking this challenge! I am nervous and excited and stressed and can’t wait to start. I have too many ideas, but I am just going towing it and see where it goes. I encourage anyone else who has ever wanted to write a novel to take a chance and give it a try!


  21. astronomicaspirations

    I’m doing it for the first time this year, and attempting a romance! An unconventional beginning, but we’ll see how they work it out. I’m writing at MollyAbbasAngel.


  22. Ron Schaeffer

    Writing the 50,000 words in one month is probably the easy part–it’s the editing that takes more than a year. I have found that after the year I still do not have a decent publishable work….Ron


  23. That EJ

    Reblogged this on Whimsical Eclecticist and commented:
    I think I am going to participate. In fact, I am. And I am reblogging this just in case it appeals to anybody else. I am taking it on as a personal challenge, as well as an opportunity to grow as a writer and connect with others. Have a read, it certainly is tempting!


  24. funnysexycool

    Gulp. I just signed up. *silent panic*

    This will kick me into gear! What do I have to lose? I WILL beat my procrastination!!!!


  25. fallenapostate

    I started writing a novel back in August but got side tracked by other ideas. As far as the 50,000 words, I’m already at 41,000 and barely on chapter five. How good is the feedback on the website? I was using wattpad but I was soon disappointed by the lack of adult feedback.


    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      While I personally can’t comment on the quality of feedback over on the NaNoWriMo site as I don’t have that firsthand experience, you might want to poke around on the forums to read the types of conversations and input folks give one another.


  26. ojarts

    Writing is not a problem, but how do I make money from it? Getting it published and all. I already have some finished works that need publishing.

    I’m almost getting tired of blogging due to lack of traffic. I post wonderful works of art and I don’t get enough people to see them. Looking at your long thread of comments, I’ve got to ask: have you any help to offer moi?!


  27. redtearsblackwings

    I struggle to write that much that often but I really do want to take a good stab at it…my problem is that I now feel on the spot and can’t think of an idea lol. I wish everyone luck and of course have fun!


  28. marymelodies

    I tried to write one last year, but I ended up 10,000 words short. Now I’m hopeful for this year!


  29. Sarah Mae Tejares

    Hi. I’ve just signed up to NaNoWriMo as I got curious on how it will help writers. One thing that I am worried about is how safe my idea or novel is once posted on the website.


  30. ronmole777

    How many words should a first novel need ?


    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      For this particular month-long project (NaNoWriMo), you’re asked to shoot for 50,000 words. (But in general, I don’t think you can set a word count for a novel — depends on your story…)


  31. tableandchairs2468

    I am afraid of getting writer’s block.


  32. breieninpeking

    It is my third time NaNoWriMo-writing. I was a winner twice and I hope to win again, because of the joy of hitting the 50.000 words mark.


  33. chantephillips9

    This is a great opportunity just to free your mind and start to write without stopping.


  34. postcarddotworld

    I have an idea since I don’t remember when, but somehow I cannot start the work on it…maybe this is a real kick and my PC will be my companion in the long autumn nights 🙂 Thank you!


  35. nancylou18

    Reblogged this on Literature and Lattes and commented:
    I love the fact that there is something to hold me accountable, at least for a month. This is just the jump start I need to get things moving again with my novel.

    You can always join in on the fun! Who knows, you could be the next best seller.


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