What is NaNoWriMo?

nanowrimo badgeDo you realize we are only 19 days away from National Novel Writing Month? I hope you’re all making plans — sharpening your pencils, stocking your freezer, booking daycare for your kids and inventing business trips for your spouses.

Because you’re gonna write a book in a month!

If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo yet, I recommend you get on the stick and start preparing. You’ve GOT to. First time novelists, multi-published authors, everyone. Let’s do this thing.

So what is NaNoWriMo?

Simply: You and thousands of your writer-friends around the world will support each other and cheer each other on as you each write 50,000 words of your novel in the month of November. Remember, if you’re shooting for traditional publication, then your novel need 85-100k words, so simply write the first 50k during NaNoWriMo. Then December will hit, the holidays will be upon us, and we all know you won’t get back to the novel until 2012. But at least you’re halfway through it! However, if you’re doing a self-pub e-book or category fiction, 50,000 words might be just right.

Go to NaNoWriMo to sign up.

When you do, you’ll be able to:

  • Plan your novel.
  • Join a local group of writers and attend in person writing events.
  • Receive online encouragement from staff and published authors.
  • Access a worldwide community of writers in our online forums.

You also track your word count online… and when you hit the 50k mark, BADA BOOM, you are a WINNER!

The challenge begins at midnight on November 1st (local time wherever you are), and ends on 11:59:59 local time November 30.

There are forums on the NaNoWriMo site for quick help with research and plot ideas. Wrimos (that’s you) can ask questions and get answers about your novel, about NaNo itself, or about nearly anything. The forums are a culture unto themselves. (Sounds to me like just one more way to procrastinate and get sucked into social media, but whatever.)

Do you need a goal? Do you need some discipline in your writing life? Do you need support and encouragement? Do you want your family to forevermore DREAD the arrival of November?

Then NaNoWriMo is for you!

Here’s something cool. If you do the math, you’ll see that if you write every day except Sundays in the month of November, then you only have to write 1,923.07 words per day to make your NaNoWriMo goal. Cake!

Standard agent disclaimer: DON’T YOU DARE send out that manuscript to agents on December 1. You and I know that a first draft written in 30 days is not ready for prime time. NaNoWriMo is for the purpose of writing a first draft. Take your time and make it good before submitting.

So, who’s with me? Are you signing up for NaNoWriMo? What are you gonna write about?

Posted in

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  5. […] to get the fires going for NaNoWriMo participants.  Recently, agent Rachelle Gardner even made a blog post about NaNoWriMo, though wisely including an important caveat: “Standard agent disclaimer: DON’T […]

  6. Ricardo Bueno on November 1, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    I’ve decided to participate… I’m not writing a novel, but I have outlined a book I’ve been meaning to write. Now to actually put the pen to paper!

  7. Gail on October 20, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    I’m using NaNo to get my writing schedule back on track. Instead of writing everyday, it’s become a “whenever there’s time”. I’m one of the rebels! Fits me to a T to be in THAT category. ;o)

    Non-fiction: Come Forth as Gold is my working title about the challenges of alopecia, cancer, family suicide.

    Who knows where it can go? May turn into 3 books eventually but for now, I’m READY to start with 50k

  8. Mindy on October 19, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    I signed up this year and can’t wait. By the way, I love your reminder that a novel finished in a month is not ready for prime time!

  9. Jane Steen on October 18, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    Last year I wrote the 72K first draft of my current MS for Nano (it then went through two edit/rewrites, beta readers etc.) This year I’m writing the sequel – I’m hoping to get the draft done in a month again (the secret is outlining and plenty of coffee.)

    One of my NaNo buddies just told me her goal is 50K in 10 days. Do ya think we get a little competitive?

  10. Susan Lower on October 17, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Looking forward to it. Find it to be such a great motivation for getting a first draft finished on a new plot idea.

  11. Amy Sorrells on October 17, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Just signed up. Find me there at WriterMama88!

  12. Beth Ziarnik on October 17, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    I’m in. Just registered for NaNoWriMo with a goal of finishing the first draft of my current WIP. By November 1st, it will need another 50,000 words. So a perfect time to jump in with the rest of you.

    The thought of writing 50,000 words in a month leaves me breathless. I’ve never done it before, but I’m ready to give it a try.

  13. Joanne on October 17, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Ok, so how many nonfiction writers are attempting nanowrimo for the first time?

    I so want to tackle it. Each time I try and think about a plot, my mind goes blank and I hear crikets.

  14. Deanna on October 15, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    I’m joining.

    I really hope I can keep up! Yikkes.

    This will be my first attempt at writing a book and I’m a slow writer (sigh),but I’m just as determined one too!

  15. Brianna on October 15, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    I’m in, with crossover historical fiction, alternating between present day and 1920s Seattle.

  16. Megan on October 14, 2011 at 2:01 AM

    I love NaNo! This will be my second year. I have a personal goal to win 11 years in a row. 🙂

  17. Diane Marie Shaw on October 14, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    I’m in. This will be year number four. I was a winner my first three years and hope that I can do it once again.
    I keep telling people about this wonderful opportunity to write the novel they always talk about and do it in an atmosphere of out of this world support.
    I returned this week from a trip to Illinois where I visited the town I grew up in, Winnetka. This is where my story will take place. I took lots of pictures and will have them posted on my walls for inspiration. I don’t know the direction of the story yet, but heck I’ve got 18 days to figure it out.

  18. CG Blake on October 13, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    I’m going to go for it this year. I’ve had an idea for a murder/mystery rolling around in my head for the past five years. The details are pretty well worked out. I just need the motivation to write it.

  19. S. Wiersma on October 13, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I’ve never had a chance to do NaNoWriMo, but I plan to this year! So excited!!

  20. Rachelle Christensen on October 12, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    I did Nano last year and loved the challenge–and the exhilaration of meeting my goal.
    This year I’m hoping that I won’t have 50K left by the time November starts since I’m already 20K into my new novel and pushing hard to have a personal NaNo in October. I think I’ll sign up just to watch my word count rise toward the finish anyway.

  21. Jessie @ Blog Schmog on October 12, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    I’m joining the mayhem this year by getting up an hour early!

    I’m going to write a story I call Romancing the Trailer. It’s about a family’s struggle to build a house in the Idaho mountains and what home really is.

    The couple builds a house in their 7th yr of marriage while living in a camp trailer with 3 little boys. Prescriptions for disaster and humor along the way. Like a teetering outhouse and a mud hole that swallows a little boys boots. Inspired by a true story. Shhh, I’m not tellin’.

  22. Lyn Midnight on October 12, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Bring on the crazy!!! I’m so on board it’s probably going to tip over at some point. Can’t wait to do this year’s NaNo. Third win’s a charm! lol

  23. Charlotte Sannazzaro on October 12, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    I’ve never done Nano before, but I’m just starting off with a new MS and I think the timing is perfect. I don’t think I’ll “win”, but a little encouragement to write every day can’t hurt, can it?

  24. Sommer Leigh on October 12, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    I usually participate in NaNoWriMo every year, but this year I am one of the first round Cybils judges for the Teen Sci-fi/Fantasy category and I have over 140 books to read through so we can pick the finalists by the end of December, so I don’t have enough time to also do NaNoWriMo this year. Instead I’m going to champion my blog readers who are participating by putting up inspirations, mostly visual but other mediums too, every day of the month.

  25. Charise on October 12, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    I have LOVED reading all the comments for this post and am cheering you on! I’m one of the rebels and finishing my WIP through November. I’ll be riding the coat tails of the NaNos and with you in spirit.

    Rachelle- are YOU doing it? 🙂

    • Rachelle Gardner on October 12, 2011 at 10:47 PM

      Well, Charise, if I were doing NaNoWriMo I wouldn’t have time to take care of YOU!

  26. Patricia Stoltey on October 12, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I’m doing my first NaNoWriMo this year to kick start the first draft of a new suspense novel. My outline is ready, and I’ve even cleaned the clutter out of my little office. All I need now is a single serve coffee pot and a stash of chocolate and I’ll be ready.

  27. Wayne Anson on October 12, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    I must be crazy but I signed up. This will be my first attempt to write a novel. I’m writing a simple answers gone wrong story based in a society changed by 4 additional constitutional ammendments. I do have some advance work done but I already feel behind. lol

  28. Alexis on October 12, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Sounds fun and worthwhile!

    Count me in! 🙂

  29. Kate Larkindale on October 12, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    I’m still vacillating about doing it this year. I did the last 2 years, and the two books I wrote are now edited, revised, rewritten and polished.

    But I just finished a new book in September and need to revise that. Not sure I have time for NaNo this year… But then, I could always leave revising until 2012 and just bang out a new story in November.

  30. Carol J. Garvin on October 12, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    I’ve participated since 2006 but since I usually have novels in the works, I’ll use the month to boost my effort, whether it’s to finish a draft, or work on revisions and edits — an excuse to spend extra time on the current w.i.p. I’m very much a ‘lone ranger’ so it’s also my once a year opportunity to creep out of my cave and meet Wrimos for support and a little writerly socializing via the forums and local write-ins.

  31. Jennifer on October 12, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Well I’ve decided to just go for it and give it ago, whether I reach that 50k plus is another question but the gain from taking part is what you take from it and if that’s self discipline and restraint to knuckle down then so be it.

    Thanks Rachelle, until today I had never heard of NaNoWriMo, I have since passed the link on to a friend who is now also going to take part along side me, albeit from different sides of the pond 🙂

  32. Charlee Vale on October 12, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    I did Camp NaNoWriMo in July, because I knew with my Master’s Program I wouldn’t have time in November. I finished the book and am now revising. So I’m kind of there! I’ll be working like crazy along with everyone doing NaNo, wishing them the best!


  33. Amy Tripp on October 12, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Yay Nano! This is my sixth or seventh year of nano and I’ve finished every year. It’s also my second year as Municipal Liaison for the Watertown region. There’s nothing quite like the hectic, wonderful, crazy month of November when you’re doing Nano.

    Best of luck to everyone who participates!

  34. Patricia Nesbitt on October 12, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    I’m giving it a shot this year. Been waiting for my life to settle down to start second MG novel. Since that isn’t happening, I’m going for it anyway and hope that NaNo will keep me accountable.

  35. Stephanie McGee on October 12, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    I’ve never done NaNo but I’ve verbally committed to doing it this year. Though I have yet to sign up on the actual site itself. I’m also debating between two projects. One is further along in background development (has a bit of a world, some characters’ names, but lacks a lot of the rest of the nuts and bolts) and the other has just a couple of nebulous plot points.

    I just finished draft 1 of my latest project so this could prove a good break from the other. Just have to commit and decide on a project.

  36. Jennifer on October 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    The whole concept of this has my inner intrigued alarm bells ringing and I would so like to put my hand to participation, I do have to consider other working factors in this however with great regard to the hours I work earning a living and to how much actual free time I could give up for this.

    However having said that, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to participate in the hours outside of work where possible even if I get no where near that 50k mark now is it?

    The first week of November I could dedicate my entire time to it having the week off from work, but there are some other things that aren’t possible to get out of. Now considering time is limited and I’m not making excuses as I would so love to have a go at this, do you render it worth while and good practice to ground in some discipline with regards to writing?

  37. Cat von Hassel-Davies on October 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I will be doing NaNoWriMo. I also will have a writer’s conference at the end of November. I think it is perfect timing as I will be taking classes in strengthening your plot, character, etc. Listening to your character and a few others. Another class will be how to present yourself to a publisher or agent.
    I figured this would be great so in December on, I can strengthen the novel.


  38. Carrie L. Lewis on October 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    I am planning to participate with a brand new novel idea, but I need to finish the second draft on my first NaNoWriMo project first. That’s the goal for October. First the second draft by midnight October 31 and my reward is writing something new in November. Woo-whoo!

  39. APhoenix on October 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    This may have already been answered, or not, but do you have to start in Nov 1st? Could you start earlier? Or does that defeat the purpose? I ask only because I have a crazy plot churning in my head and I’m dying to start it.

    • Amy Tripp on October 12, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      The official start is November first, so you’re not supposed to start early. That being said, one year I had 20k of a novel already written and added another 60k to it during nano. I only counted the 60k for nano, though.

  40. Daphnee on October 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    I’ve signed up to do it because it’s a interesting dare-to challenge. I’ll just write for fun, for myself 🙂 Writing is purely a passion!
    My story will be on a young girl who chooses to side with the Angels during an Apocalypse, although inside, her real place is to be with Daemons… Complications arise!

  41. Mary Donnery on October 12, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    NaNoWriMo seems like an ideal way for newbie novelists(like myself) to get a bit more disciplined and organized in their writing.
    This will be my first year and as I usually write poetry, I’m curious to see what I can accomplish in thirty days in another genre.
    Best wishes to everyone participating in this year’s NaNo!:-)

  42. Shelly Goodman-Wright on October 12, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I think NaNo is great. I’ve started two novels by doing this challenge. I really want to do it this year as well, but I am in edits with my book publisher until the end of November. I wonder if it would be too much? I already have a story line, the characters, and some subplots worked out in my head. Happy writing to all those who attempt it. If you want a buddy, I’m already signed up swright011699 or seach Shelly Goodman Wright.

  43. Janet Bettag on October 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Oh, yeah.. forgot to mention what I’m writing about. I’m planning a multi-level novel that stresses the importance of community and the appreciation of history. The main story line includes a murder mystery and plenty of intrigue. There is also a supernatural element to the story.

    I’m with Charity Bradford. It’s killing me not to start the writing. The research and planning has me psyched to get going!

  44. Charity Bradford on October 12, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Oh yeah! I’m MLing for the third year=crazy, but I’m really excited about this year’s idea. YA fantasy with my weird sci-fi twist on faeries. *rubs hands together*

    It’s killing me not to start, but I’m plotting like crazy. 😀

  45. Johnnie on October 12, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    My first two NaNo novels (written years ago) are tucked away in a drawer. But my third and fourth have won conference awards — after much revision and polishing, of course. So I’m a huge NaNo fan, too.

    Since I’m devoting October to the final rewriting/revising on that fourth novel, I’ll spend November reacquainting myself with friends, family, and the vacuum cleaner.

  46. joan Cimyotte on October 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Sorry Rachelle, I really hate contests. It is never time well spent. Writing query letters is let down enough.

  47. almagenes on October 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    I have always found it was a great idea, and have wanted to participate before, but am stuck in an uncomfortable position, I am French, but most of my interests, and most of my time online, happens on the English-speaking net. More importantly, most of the books I have been reading these last few years were from English-speaking authors. Sometimes it seems as if my thoughts come to me more readily in English than in French.

    But while I might have a better use and understanding than the average joe, I am doubtful as to my abilities as a potential English-speaking writer, especially since I would very much like to be read by my fellow French people.

    What should I do, give it a go, seeing as I really need the incentive and discipline this endeavor creates in me, or find something more suitable to my choices and ambitions (and I don’t think there’s an equivalent in France)?

    thanks for your attention

    • Roger Eschbacher on October 12, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      Just from reading your post, I’d say you have no worries about connecting with an English-speaking audience. If you hadn’t declared yourself to be a native French speaker, I wouldn’t have known.

      I say that you should do it. Use NaNo as a motivator to get a first draft written, and don’t worry about whether your prose is written in “perfect” English.

      That kind of adjustment can be put off until the rewrites. Go for it!

      • almagenes on October 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        thanks a lot for taking the time to answer and encourage me 🙂

    • Carol Moncado on October 12, 2011 at 9:26 PM

      Or write it in French. There’s no rule that says it has to be English. At least not that I’m aware of. There’s local groups all over the world. In fact, there’s nearly 2000 members in France. I’m sure they could answer questions for you :). Check it out!

      • almagenes on October 17, 2011 at 2:16 PM

        merci beaucoup pour ton avis 🙂

  48. Carol Moncado on October 12, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    This is my 5th year doing NaNo. I’ve won the last 4 years. One is a novel with interest from an indie publishing co. The rest are best not talked about ;).

    Beth – Casey recommended the NaNo section of MBT – I’ll be heading over there for sure!

    If you have kids who love to write, don’t forget them!

    My will-be-10yo-on-Saturday is participating in her 3rd NaNo with a historical fiction set on the Titanic.

    My will-be-8yo-next-week is participating for the first time with a book about a dog lost in the big city.

    Check out the young writer’s program for more [and you get to set their word goals :D].

  49. Patricia Raybon on October 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Great reminder, Rachelle. But a confession: As a published author, I’m not convinced NaNo results in good, published books. But it inspires writers–and writing. Plus, it builds the writing family. Always a good place to start. Thanks for your post.

  50. Wanda Fittro on October 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    This will be my 5th year doing NaNo. I’ve won the last 3 and I am currently trying to finish my first attempt. I finished my 2009 novel this year, pitched it to an editor and she requested the full manuscript. So it is now in somebodies hands in New York City! But, note, it took 2 years to get from NaNo to finished. I’m a panster, so I have a vague idea for my novel and that’s it. 19 days and counting!

  51. Cherie Reich on October 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    This will be my third year participating in NaNo and I’m even insanely considering writing two YA novels for it.

    It’s definitely a great time to just write and get that first draft out there.

  52. molly on October 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Ooooh, yes. I knew this was coming up and have always thought about doing it. Question: Can you use previous drafts you have written and add to it? I have three chapters of my book already completed.


  53. discount jerseys on October 12, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo yet, I recommend you get on the stick and start preparing. You’ve GOT to. First time novelists, multi-published authors, everyone. Let’s do this thing.

  54. Sam Webb on October 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Last year was my first NaNo and it helped get me back in the swing of writing.(something I’d shelved when Mommyhood hit). I’ve learned to carve out at least an hour a day while my girls are at dance. What used to be sit around and talk time is now productive time.

    And the forums – yep they’re part of the procrastination station – and great all at the same time.

  55. C.E. Hart on October 12, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    This will be my second year. 🙂 It’s such a fun month of madness.

    Let the festivities begin!

  56. Susanne on October 12, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Yes, I am no NaNo this year too. This will be my 3rd time. I am looking forward to the scribbling stress. Let’s go, Wrimos!

  57. Leah Feguson on October 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    I did it last year–completed it with something like 3 hours to go, did a happy dance, drank a beer…then started tackling all the laundry I’d ignored for a month (not to mention my husband and kiddos!). It’s an awesome feeling, and does make the next year of revision-doing that much better–because hey, you got that chunk on paper already. And that’s pretty great.

  58. ericavetsch03 on October 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated for several years, and two of my published novels were written as NaNo projects. This year, like last year, I’m ‘shadowing NaNo’ because I’m a rules follower and am not in a position to start a new work November 1st. I’m in the midst of a WIP and my goal is to write 50K on it in November.

    If you’re looking for a fun, exasperating, hilarious, self-testing ride, NaNo is it!

  59. Jaime Wright on October 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    I have a thousand reasons why November will NOT work for me. SO here I go – opening my window … oops – I just threw them out. Count me in. There’s never a “good month” to buckle down and to have this much accountability is exciting!!! 50,000 here I come! Thx Rachelle! (and I promise I won’t send my 50,000 to you, but I’m going to get my cp on board and send them to her instead 🙂

  60. Katy McKenna on October 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    NaNoWriMo started way back in 1999. My first year to participate was 2001. I just read through my November, 2001, blog archive, which is dedicated almost completely to chronicling my NaNo experience. For NaNo history’s sake, I’ll post a link to the page: http://www.fallible.com/index.php/fallible/2001/11/

  61. Joanne Sher on October 12, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    I’m NaNoing – for the very first time – this year. Have supported friends doing it several times in the past, but I’m JUMPING in this time. Doing biblical fiction. Got a basic outline and working on character development. Will be CRAZY, but that’s fun.

  62. Erin on October 12, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    How fun. I’m sooo not a fiction writer but after reading this, I’m tempted to try just for fun…

  63. Monica on October 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    I am now a NaNoWriMo participant. I have wanted to do it in the past, but this is better! I am very excited! Maybe I can finish my book this year. I have about 31,345 words typed up, and many more hand written!

  64. Robyn Bradley on October 12, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    I did NaNo back in 2004 (I still have my wicked cool super-girl-looking NaNo T-shirt that I wear proudly and that people stare at while I’m standing in random places, like the produce section of Stop & Shop).

    The biggest thing NaNo did for me was this: it gave me permission to write forward, to get down that shitty first draft. Logically, I always understood the importance of this (I was a disciple of Anne Lamott, after all), but I never quite “got it” until I had a deadline of 30 days and 50,000 words staring me square in the face. I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to deadlines, and NaNo was exactly what I needed to get the words down.

    Of course, I ended up scrapping about 49,000 of those words, but the seed that was allowed to germinate eventually blossomed into my first novel.

    Wishing all the NaNo participants much luck this year. Write forward! 🙂

  65. H. A. Titus on October 12, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    I’m not doing a full NaNo, but I’m using it as a challenge to complete a novella I’ve had on the back burner for several months. We’ll see how it goes this time around. 🙂

  66. David Todd on October 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    I don’t do NaNoWriMo. They picked the wrong month for the USA. Thanksgiving kills five days out of the month, what with prep and company. The remaining 25 are not enough, especially since some of those 25 are taken up with early Christmas prep. What genius picked November for this?

  67. Susan Bourgeois on October 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    Thanks Stephen for the reminder of purchasing the book, Stephen King’s Writing. I’ve studied long and hard and that’s one book that I wish to add to my collection.

    I’m heavy into writing my novel but I continue to refresh my memory of the do’s and don’ts of writing.

    I need to purchase that book.

    I’m going to look into signing up for the NaNoWriMo.

    It sounds timely for me and something that would fit perfectly into my schedule.

    It could help me complete my first draft.

  68. Nicole Amsler on October 12, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I have participated in and won NaNo the last five years. It is often the highlight of my year, giving me a new project to edit all year long.

    Some novels were practice novels which will live their lives at a bottom of a drawer. Others had elements of discovery writing, where I got to know the characters through the writing, but deleted the scene.

    And last year’s novel, after ten months of revisions, is out on agent requests. And what better way to wile away the time while you are waiting? Write another novel!

    So glad to see an agent and others encouraging NaNo participation (with a cautionary tale towards revision.) Last year seemed to be the year of NaNo haters. But after Sara Gruen and Erin Morgenstern’s (The Night Circus) successes, I guess it has flipped back to socially acceptable.

    Happy writing!

  69. Cyndi on October 12, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    NaNo is a great, if somewhat masochistic (at least for newbies!) writing exercise. I’ve completed two drafts that way (2005 & 2006) and with major rewrites and revisions, both have become respectable novels, one my master’s thesis and one which is out for agent consideration. I’m considering using this year’s event to jump-start a stalled WIP. The camaraderie and goal-sharing are great.

    After a recent Google+ thread about NaNo, I blogged about my experiences here

    Good luck, all you NaNo writers!


  70. Sarah M. on October 12, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    I participated for several years before winning and with a half done novel that was the best thing I’d ever written. I’m so ready for this year and can’t wait although I’m venturing into uncharted territory (for me) with an “urban” fantasy. November’s going to be wild.

  71. Stephen King on October 12, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    NaNo 2007 was what convinced me I could do this, actually, so I’m a big fan. Technically I failed. At about 30K words I realized I was writing another Ender’s Game, and the world only needs one Ender’s Game–the one it already has. Several of my NaNo friends love the start, though, so once I get done with the current book series I’ll have to pull it out once again and try flexing my Sci Fi muscles.

    That said, no NaNo for me this year. I’m on the final stretch of my dissertation, so I have to stay focused on that. “Dr. King” is right around the corner.

    • Stephen King on October 12, 2011 at 9:02 AM

      To add one thing, though: before y’all start NaNoWriMo, there are still a few weeks in which to acquire and read a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing if you don’t have it, or re-read it if you do. That book has saved many a soul from adverbial horror and the evil gang of dialog tags.

  72. s.p.bowers on October 12, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    I did NaNo last year and it was a blast. I didn’t write Sundays and still finished before the end of the month.

    I’m not doing it this year because I’m so close to finishing my current WIP and don’t want to stop.

  73. Sharon A Lavy on October 12, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Nano always comes in the same month as Thanksgiving, family, etc.

    So I am thankful for ACFW and NovelTrack Writing. Where we set goals and write in a different month. Then NovelTrack Editing to set goals for the re-writing that must always follow.

    I am rooting for all the Nano writers out there. You Go, you writer, you!!!!!

  74. Nathan Rudy on October 12, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    Before this morning I never heard of NaNoWriMo, but I just signed up and I am ready and raring to go to finish my second novel this year. (Recently started looking for representation on the first.)

    I plan to be about 30,000 words into the piece, so am going to target the 50,000 word count in November to complete the novel.

  75. Katie Ganshert on October 12, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    I’ve never done NaNo before! What’s wrong with me?? If I can get these blasted edits done for the current story I’m working on, then I’d love to jump in and try. I was doing pretty well, until my computer crashed and I lost two days of solid work. It’s hard to get motivated to rewrite scenes I’ve already rewritten. Okay….enough whining.

    • marion on October 13, 2011 at 3:41 AM

      Computer problems are the worst.
      But maybe those chapters needed to be rewritten anyway?–or maybe not.

  76. Sherri on October 12, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    I’ve always wondered what NaNoWriMo was but never got around to asking. Now that I know, I’m signing up. I just got started on a new novel and this will be a great challenge and encouragement. Thank you for the information and link. Going there right now!

  77. Katy McKenna on October 12, 2011 at 7:18 AM

    I’ve completed two NaNo’s–the first ten years ago, and the second nine years ago. I’m really considering joining Beth Vogts and Susie May Warren’s group for the support. Ten years ago, support was thinner and consisted mostly of writers weighing in online to record their angst. I love all the different support groups that have sprung up! Have fun, everyone. And don’t forget to celebrate Thanksgiving if you’re here in America…. 🙂

  78. Peter DeHaan on October 12, 2011 at 7:16 AM

    I’ve been drawn to this in past years, but — like this year — can’t carve out that much time in my schedule. I hope that next year I can participate.

    Since my focus is non-fiction, this would be a great way to jump start a work of fiction.

  79. Jeffo on October 12, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    I enjoyed NaNo last year, and found the whole process helpful in getting my writing off the ground. Given my current circumstances, I’m not sure that I can participate again this year. I’ll be a last-minute decision.

  80. Jackie Ley on October 12, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    From reading the comments so far, it sounds like there’s quite a lot of flexibility over novel-writing projects for NaNoWriMo. I’m into a good daily writing schedule with my wip (upscale women’s contemporary fiction with an historical fantasy element)and have just passed the 63,000 word mark. I reckon I still have around 30,000 to go and would love the writers’ support and feedback element, but is it bending the rules of the contest to approach it this way? Old-stagers please advise!

    • Carol Moncado on October 12, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      Jackie – and others –

      Technically, to be an official NaNoWriMo thing, it has to be a NEW Novel.

      That said, there’s a NaNo Rebels group on their Forums for people who are doing something else – like nonfiction, etc. And it’s not like they’ll actually go through with the penalty listed below… or have anyone checking up on you ;).

      From the FAQs:
      Do I have to start my novel from scratch on November 1st? Can I use an outline?


      This sounds like a dumb, arbitrary rule, we know. But bringing a half-finished manuscript into NaNoWriMo all but guarantees a miserable month. You’ll care about the characters and story too much to write with the gleeful, anything-goes approach that makes NaNoWriMo such a creative rush. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate, and you’ll tap into realms of imagination and intuition that are out-of-reach when working on pre-existing manuscripts.

      Outlines and plot notes are very much encouraged, and can be started months ahead of the actual novel-writing adventure. Previously written prose, though, is punishable by death.

  81. Katelyn O'Tierney on October 12, 2011 at 6:09 AM

    This is going to be my 3rd time doing NaNoWriMo. It really helped me get back on track and if I haven’t done it last year, I wouldn’t have known that I’m capable of more than I imagined.
    I made some really good friends there, too.

    And I LOVE it that despite you being an agent, you encourage people to take part in NaNoWriMo. I understand that there are many agents who don’t like NaNoWriMo, because the exact thing you mentioned: some people think 50 000 words in 30 days, without proofreading is enough to get published. And so the work just (slush)piles up for agents during December.

  82. marion on October 12, 2011 at 6:02 AM

    I’m heavily into my first revision. Thought I’d finish that this month and then start something different for NaNoWriMo (which I never participated in before). Star-crossed lovers in ancient Egypt. A nice soap opera to write in a month.

    Finish revision on WIP by end of Oct.? Piece of cake–NOT! I’ll be lucky to have it done by Christmas.
    Maybe next year for NaNoWriMo.

  83. Rosemary Gemmell on October 12, 2011 at 5:05 AM

    I’ve never taken part before but, funnily enough, I was considering it this year. Apart from having several novels needing attention, I also need some kind of deadline to get me producing the words!

    Will have to give it serious thought/planning before I do, as I’m also judging a competition during November. Could I do NaNoWriMo as well? Might be the very thing to get me super focused!

  84. crystal dawn on October 12, 2011 at 5:02 AM

    I have never heard of NaNo before. It sounds exciting! Now I just have to decide if I want to use it to work on my first real novel I am only at 35,000 words or shelf it for now and try this whole first 50 for a new project …decisions, decisions..

    • Amanda Papenfus on October 12, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year.The last 5k words or so were written completely devoid of punctuation and proper paragraphs so I could cross the finish line. It was pretty cool to see how ideas just came out when I was crunched for time and willing to leave the polishing for a later revision.

      As it turned out, I didn’t start revising until about a month ago and I’m still barely over 50k. I had someone read my second draft who told me she liked the story so much she didn’t want it to end, so it’s a good thing that I have another 30-40k words to keep it going.

      I want to do NaNoWriMo again this year, but with an overseas move taking place a few days into the month, I’m not sure how far I’ll get. Last year, I started two weeks late, started writing in longhand and had to type everything for it to count, and was working 13 hour days, and I managed to finish so I am telling myself it’s not unreasonable to think I can do it again this year, even with the move. And I do have about 16 hours to spend on a plane, so there’s that.

  85. T.M. Burnstad on October 12, 2011 at 4:22 AM

    I didn’t know about NaNoWriMo, so thank you for bringing it to my attention. I have this idea for a category romance bouncing around in the back of my brain, itching for some attention so I think this is definitely the type of motivation I’ve been looking for. Good thing it’s still a few weeks until November so I can make sure my house is spotless before I get started… Otherwise my husband will kill me! 🙂

  86. Laura Libricz on October 12, 2011 at 4:08 AM

    I am doing this! I’ve just finished the first draft of my first novel and want to leave it to ferment before I finish the final revisions. So, for the month of November I want to write the first 50k of the second book. I’m starting to panic–scrub the bathroom, clean the desk, clean out the closets, and outline the second novel so that the road is mapped out!!!!

    • SuzeW on October 12, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      Laura – I could have written your comment – that is exactly what I’m using NaNoWriMo for too. First book finished, and I’m planning on writing the first draft of number two during November. I too am plotting, and doing all the chores I won’t be doing in Nov! Good Luck!

  87. Addy Rae on October 12, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    I’m a NaNoWriMo fan, and it’s the only thing guilt inducing enough to force me to write regularly!

    That said, nothing I produce during NaNo is pretty. That’s what revision is for. 🙂

  88. GunDiva on October 12, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    This will be my third year doing NaNoWriMo and I can’t imagine giving it up. Not only do I get an incredible amount of writing done, but it’s a surprisingly social atmosphere. Our ML (leader) is incredible and makes everyone feel comfortable. In fact, many of us meet weekly year ’round to work on our novels. That wouldn’t be possible without a strong ML to pull the group together.

    This year I’ll be a NaNo “rebel” and be revising last year’s novel, which lacked some serious depth. I’m hoping to correct that this year and make my characters more believable.

    Thanks for helping build the excitement for NaNo!

    PS – even if you (Rachelle’s followers) are not interested in *writing* a novel in November, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit, so feel welcome to sponsor a writer or make a donation through the website.

  89. Kathryn Sheridan Kupanoff on October 12, 2011 at 3:04 AM

    Yes, I will be NaNo-ing! It’s my first time (last year, I was editing and revising the novel I was working on at the time), and I’m DYING for November to get here. I’m writing a Camelot steampunk, and I’m really excited. Using the rest of October to outline and do character sheets, and other miscellaneous writing until then. 😀

  90. Mary Ruth Pursselley on October 12, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    Last year was my first NaNo, and I loved it. I’m all ready for this year too–I’ve got my account all updated (I’m MaryRuth on the site for anyone who’s interested) I’ve got my cover art designed, I’ve signed my twelve-year-old sister up for the Young Writers’ Program, and I’m stocking up on dark chocolate-covered pomegranates (an NaNoWriMo essential).
    So thanks, Rachelle, for the pep talk to get me extra excited about it!

  91. Beth K. Vogt on October 12, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    I’m still debating on the whole “do I want to churn out 50k in November” craziness. But I am participating in NaNoWriMo in another way: I coordinate the MBT WriMo.What’s that, you ask? (Thanks for asking.)
    It’s Susie May Warren’s writing community’s support of NaNoWriMo. For folks signing up for NaNoWriMo (Man! That’s hard to type!), and who also sign up at MBT, we’re offering encouragement and prizes!!
    I participated in NaNoWriMo last year and found it worthwhile. If nothing else it proved I could produce as lousy first draft in a a month.

  92. Becca C. on October 12, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    Heck yes I’m in. It’ll be my fourth year. I did Camp NaNoWriMo this August and that was a blast. Can’t wait for November, it’s my favourite month!!

  93. Danica Page on October 12, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    I love Nano, and have taken part of it for years.

    Yes, 50k is definitely not long enough for a novel, but it is a good start and there’s something about writing fast that gets your brain working.

    Do people really even consider sending out query letters/novel on December 1? That would be really funny.

    Good luck to those of you are competing.

  94. Renae on October 12, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    This is a great opportunity for me to complete my book, Ive been working on it for a long time and seemed to get stuck this will push me to get it done

  95. Josin on October 12, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    I’m using NaNo to move forward on a novel, rather than write one from scratch, and to finish up a couple of short projects that are under 50K.

    • Addy Rae on October 12, 2011 at 4:00 AM

      I did the first half of my novel during their summer camp, and I’ll be doing the second half in 19 days. Works out well so far as I’m concerned!

  96. Nick Hight on October 12, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    I would absolutely love to participate in NaNoWriMo, it’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve even had an idea for a short novel brewing for several months now.

    The only problem is that, here in New Zealand, I have my high school exams in mid to late November, so I’ll be way busy with school. Stink :/

    • Janet Bettag on October 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      I signed up for NaNoWriMo several months ago and started immediately on the research and other prep work. This is my first time and I figure that even if I don’t slay the 50K dragon, I’ll be just that much further along with the novel I’ve been wanting to find time to write.

      A note to those of you for whom November is a bad month: This year they started Camp NaNoWriMo (in June, I think) so you can sign up for that and have lots of advance planning time. They also do an activity called Script Frenzy if screenwriting is your thing.

      I’ve already planned my menus for the month, scheduled some vacation time from my day job, put my family on notice that this holiday season will be the year of the gift card, and recruited my son to come to my house to cook Thanksgiving dinnner. I plan to get the bare bones story done in the 50K and then go back and fill in sub-plots, etc.

      50K comes out to about 1700 words a day. That is manageable – especially if you can find time on weekends to get ahead on your word count. I read someplace that the average beginner writes between 500 and 750 words per hour. Two or three hours a day and you’ve got it made. I probably waste that much time watching TV or goofing around on the Internet.

      I see it as a win-win situation. There is no penalty if you don’t finish. Nothing says you have to stop at 50K, either. I’m personally shooting for 80K in 30 days.

      Come on, friends! It will be fun!

  97. Heather Gilbert on October 12, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    I’d just like to comment, as I did on the previous post, that 50,000 words is TOO SHORT for an adult fiction novel. It’s fine for YA. Just don’t want anyone else to get their hopes up, write a 50,000 word book in a month, then find out you have 30,000 more words to add before agents will even think about your work (unless it’s a romance novella)–been there, done that. But it’s a great experience and definitely a way to develop discipline in writing.

    • Tallulah on October 12, 2011 at 6:25 AM

      I’ve never completed my novel during November, but the 50k is definitely enough to firmly establish a plot and characters. I generally do the wrapping up in December/Jan, the editing in June/July 🙂

      • Kathrine Roid on October 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM

        There used to be National Novel Finishing Month for that, where their goal was to add 30k words to the 50k, but as far as I can tell it died in 2009. However, I believe there are groups on the NaNoWriMo boards proper that host a NaNoFiMo in January or whenever. Something to keep your eyes open for.

      • Kathrine Roid on October 12, 2011 at 9:23 AM

        There are groups on the NaNoWriMo boards that host a NaNoFiMo – National Novel Finishing Month – sometime in January or February. I’ve seen them before in the December and Beyond area. They’re someone to keep an eye out for.

      • Heather Gilbert on October 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        I just wish I would’ve known, when plotting my 50,000 word novel, that I had to aim for 80,000 words to wrap things up, instead of 50,000. Here’s a clip of a rejection on a query for that one:

        “Fact is, unless you are writing for one of the genre romance lines that publishes 50,000 word books, you are out of luck and wasting your time. You can find plenty of articles and blog posts online about proper word counts for books. Your target as a first time novelist is 80,000 to 90,000 words, and no amount of rationalizing is going to change that.

        I’m trying to save you (and my fellow agents) time and energy by telling you these things. I hope this gives you enough information so you can figure out how to move forward.”