What Exactly Is NaNoWriMo?


In sunny San Francisco, in 1999, Chris Baty and twenty others were participating in a harmless, friendly writing contest known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Fast forward to 2010, an estimated 175,000 writers are gearing up for the eleventh annual NaNoWriMo. For thirty days in November, writers around the world embark on an ambitious journey writing a novel the length of 50,000 words (175 pages). Will you take the plunge?

Due to the limited time frame, the required word count is only 50,000, equal to a novella. However, participants are welcome to submit novels exceeding 50,000. In order to reach such a lofty goal, participants need to produce roughly 1,667 words per day to reach 50,000 come midnight on November 30th. 

The NaNoWrimo Process

The NaNoWrimo Process. Image by pinterest.cl

To become a NaNoWrimo participant involves a few simple steps. After signing up on NaNoWriMo’s website, verifying your location, and reading past success stories, the last step is pretty simple: begin writing on November 1st.

Throughout the month, writers can upload several excerpts of their work for others to see. If the minimal requirement of words is completed by midnight on November 30th, participants can upload their manuscript for official verification. On the rare occasion that a participant finishes their novel earlier than expected, the first day for word-count verification begins on November 25th.

History of NaNoWriMo

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Founded in 1999 by Chris Baty. Image by faulknersociety.org

Founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, the event was initially just another way to pass the time with some friends. An alternate way to get noticed by the outside world. Unlike 2010’s NaNoWriMo, eleven years ago the event’s participants were comprised of Chris Baty and twenty of his closest friends. Baty admits on NaNoWriMo’s website that, “we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands.”

Over the past eleven years, NaNoWriMo has catapulted itself from a friendly contest into a national writing event involving hundreds of thousands participants. Furthermore, the event has garnered support from sponsors such as Amazon, as well as writing software programs Scrivener and Storyist software. Additionally, the number of participants for the event have gradually increased from year to year. From 21 in 1999 to last year’s event garnering over 119,000 participants.

Let The Writing Begin

50,000 words in 30 days. 1,667 words a day. There is one basic, yet important rule to remember: quantity outweighs quality. As writers, it may be difficult to ignore obvious grammatical errors, but it must be done if one wishes to complete the required amount. By participating in National Novel Writing Month, aspiring writers will learn a useful skill: being able to produce a full-length work in a short period of time.


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