October 27, 2011

NaNo NaNo...or National Novel Writing Month

by Karen Ware

In the world of writers November is known as National Novel Writing Month. Also called NaNoWriMo, this event has become the world’s largest writing challenge and nonprofit literary crusade (not to mention fantastic practice for those of us beginning our writing careers or needing a break from writer’s block). 

With the hopes of writing a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, thousands of writers sign up at the National Novel Writing website located at For the month of November writers attempt to meet their word count and ‘let their words flow’, sacrificing quality for quantity, as they squeeze out an approximately 175 page novel. The NaNoWriMo staff even advises you lower your expectations during the month and have fun with your story.

“Why?” you ask.

According to their website: “By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

Founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, this funky and fun writers’ community has cool widgets, word count scoreboards and friendly competition to make you eager to cross that finish line by 11:59 pm on November 30 with the full 50,000 words. Who knows, after completing this novel-of-sorts...why not go back, hone your work and you may find a truly great book…ready to submit! It has happened! In fact, nearly 60 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have been published, including Water for Elephants, a New York Times #1 Bestseller by Sara Gruen. It also became a film in 2011 starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon!

Since its humble beginning in 1999 with 21 participants to well over 200,000 participants in 2010, you are encouraged to write a novel in this one month’s time. Word counts are posted daily. Friendships are forged with others with similar interests. And if you complete your 50,000 words by the end of the month you can even get a cool winner’s certificate and web badge!

Sign up to begin your work before or on November 1. Browse the website and join forums, befriend other writers who will be there for support, join in friendly competition with other regions to see who will have the best word count at the end of the month.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t reach the 50,000 word goal…not all writers do. Last year a little less than twenty percent of those participating completed their goals! But I’d be willing to bet most all had fun trying!

Take a few minutes to check out the website and see if it is something you would be interested in doing…I’ve tried it before (alas, I was not one of those with a completed book) and I enjoyed being able to just let the words flow without worrying about double-checking facts, making sure I was historically accurate or worrying about grammar. November is a month to just let loose and write; and I encourage you to try it!

Karen Ware is a Mississippi Southern Belle, married with two college daughters. Proud of her daughters’ accomplishments but facing the empty nest syndrome, Ware is pursuing the writing career she always dreamed of having and loving it. She is a member of the Mississippi Writers Guild, RWA and HHRW Chapter. She is also an avid genealogy buff. You can find her online at

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