NaNoWriMo Essentials

Have you been dreaming of writing a novel, but have yet to start? Does there always seem to be something more important to do? Or is it hard to just get those first few pages on the screen? Perhaps November is the time to start with National Novel Writing Month. (#NaNoWriMo).

NaNoWriMo, a US-based non-profit organization, was started in 1999, with 21 participants and a straightforward challenge—to write a 50,000-word manuscript in the month of November.  The event expanded rapidly and in 2019, with 455,080 participants worldwide.

As with any challenge, there are some rules:

  • Writing starts at 12:00 AM on November 1st and ends at 11:59:59 PM on November 30th, local time.
  • Novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words.
  • Planning, notes, and chapter summaries can be made prior to November 1st, but nothing written before November 1st can go into the novel.

While it is tempting to go back to an unfinished manuscript, this is not the place for it—this is your chance to get that rough first-draft completed.

To get involved, go to and register. According to their website, they host more than a million writers and serve as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing partners. Once registered, participants can post information about their novels, including synopses and excerpts. Local volunteers will help connect local writers, hold writing events, and provide encouragement along the way.

Is writing 50,000 words in 30 days an effective way to get started? It can be, and according to Nanowrimo, hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. Some of the more well-known works included Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, and Hugh Howey’s Wool.

Some tips to keep in mind on November 1st:

  • Set a daily word count: To complete the 50,000 words, you need to average 1,666 words per day. If this may not be possible, try to set smaller daily goals during the week and more on the weekend.
  • Set aside regular time each day to write: This is the start of a great habit! Keep focused on getting the story out and the words on the page/screen and try not to edit. NaNoWriMo has deemed January and February the “Now What” months, which are designed to help novelists with the editing and revision process. Keep going even if you miss your writing goal for the day.
  • Most importantly, have fun: Enjoy the process of plotting, character creation, and seeing your novel take shape in the form of a first draft. Whether you complete the entire 50,000 word count or not, you will have made some significant strides to getting that novel done.

When you are ready to take that first draft and dive into the editing process, consider our Manuscript Evaluation service to take your novel to the next level. But in the meantime, happy NaNoWriMo!

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