National Novel Writing Month Kicks Off, Is It Too Late To Join The Fun?

It’s the first day of November. That means chilly days, pumpkin flavors giving way to peppermint, and holiday planning for most people. But for professional and aspiring writers around the world, the first day of November has an entirely different meaning. It’s National Novel Writing Day, the first day of the frenzy of creativity that is National Novel Writing Month. And it’s not too late to join in.

National Novel Writing Month, affectionately referred to by participants as NaNoWriMo, started in 1999 with just 21 participants. In the 16 years since its inception, National Novel Writing Month has ballooned to over 325,000 participants in 90 countries, according to the organization’s website. National Novel Writing Month isn’t an exclusive club — anyone can sign up for free at the organization’s website, though they ask for donations to keep the project going.

[Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month] [Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month]To join National Novel Writing Month, just sign up for an account and give your project a title. There are only a few rules to National Novel Writing Month. First, to be considered a winner, a participant has to write 50,000 words between midnight on November 1 and midnight on November 30. That might sound insane, and most participants delight in that insanity, but 50,000 words is only a 1,667-word-per-day commitment. Write more if you can, less if you must. Just get in 50,000 and, in December, you can claim a winner’s certificate and creative writing glory.

According to a poll conducted by the developers of the Stop Procrastinating App, 21 percent of National Novel Writing Participants start working on their NaNoWriMo project in October. Some writers limit their October work to outlining and character sketches, while some work through the opening chapters of their novels and complete them by the end of November. Not all participants in National Novel Writing Month plan things out ahead of time. Over 50 percent of participants start the month with no outline and no firm plan in place. So if you are considering joining National Novel Writing Month, don’t be afraid to fly by the seat of your literary pants. In fact, there is a term for writers like that: pantsers.

Once you’ve joined National Novel Writing Month and decided on a project, write whenever, whatever, and however you want. While the overwhelming majority of National Novel Writing Month Participants work on computers, 7 percent write their novel on pen and paper, and 3 percent use typewriters. However you manage it, if you’ve written 50,000 words by November 30, you can claim a winners certificate and numerous discounts and freebies from National Novel Writing Month’s many sponsors, including discounted editorial services and writing software.

Writing your novel the old fashioned way is just fine! [Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images]If you have a full-time job or are a full-time student, don’t feel like you have to be in your own room to work on your National Novel Writing Month project. You can work with and around your busy schedule by writing wherever you happen to be. According to Stop Procrastinating, National Novel Writing Month participants have worked in taxis, on buses, on airplanes, in cars, and occasionally in their bathrooms.

If you’re sold on the idea of National Novel Writing Month, but aren’t sure how to tackle 1,667 words per day, help is only a few clicks away. Through the Twitter account NaNoWordSprints, the National Novel Writing Month organization hosts words sprints, short intervals that encourage writers all over the world to write as fast as they can for a set time, usually ten minutes. The organization also sends weekly pep talk emails from professional writers from a wide variety of genres, including Charlaine Harris, Veronica Roth, James Patterson, and Neil Gaiman. The Twitter hashtag #NaNoWriMo2015 is full of participants sharing their National Novel Writing Month experience and sharing helpful and inspiring information.

And if you are sold on the idea of writing a novel, but don’t think you are up to the task in the turkey filled month of November, the National Novel Writing Month organization hosts similar events, in April and July, that allow participants to set their own word count requirement.

[Photo by Tim Boyle / Getty Images]