NaNoWrimo Explained in Full

Pounce, aka my official foot warmer during writing sessions 🙂

I thought it would be good to do an all-NaNo post with the basic introductions and what not so you don’t have to go scrambling all over the NaNo site (although scrambling is recommended). Anyway, the next two sections are copied directly or paraphrased from the site, so no, I did not write these amazing and life-changing words…however, I did write the third collection of amazing and life-changing words entitled “My Own Advice.”

What Is NaNo in a Nutshell?

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Where: You write wherever you’d like. On your computer, on your iPad, on a typewriter—anywhere is fine, just as long as you’re writing!

How Does It Work?

1. Sign up for the event by clicking the “Sign Up Now” link at the top of the site. It’s right there above “National.”

2. Check your email and read the ginormous email our noveling robots send you. It will have “Love” in the subject line, and may be hiding in your Junk folder.

3. Log into your account and use the links on the My NaNoWriMo page to set your timezone, affiliate with a region, and tell us a little bit about yourself.

4. Begin procrastinating by reading through all the great advice and funny stories in the forums. Post some stories and questions of your own. Get excited. Get nervous. Try to rope someone else into doing this with you. Eat lots of chocolate and stockpile noveling rewards.

5. On November 1, begin writing your novel. Your goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30th. You write on your own computer, using whatever software you prefer.

6. This is not as scary as it sounds.

7. Starting November 1, you can update your word count in that box at the top of the site, and post excerpts of your work for others to read. Watch your word-count accumulate and story take shape. Feel a little giddy.

8. Write with other NaNoWriMo participants in your area. Write by yourself. Write. Write. Write.

9. If you write 50,000 words of fiction by midnight, local time, November 30th, you can upload your novel for official verification, and be added to our hallowed Winner’s Page and receive a handsome winner’s certificate and web badge. We’ll post step-by-step instructions on how to scramble and upload your novel starting in mid-November.

10. Win or lose, you rock for even trying.

My Own Advice in a Nutshell

I have lots of advice, but since I added “in a nutshell” to the title, I’ll try and keep it that way. I’ll be posting MUCH more as time goes on, though.

1. Tell everyone you know that you’re doing this, and what your word count target is. This will keep you accountable, because when all else fails, you’ll keep writing just so everyone you know doesn’t disown you for failing. Which they won’t, but tell yourself they will.

2. Plan ahead and, to a degree, go with the flow. If you feel super inspired one day, write way more than your approximate 1,670 goal (if you’re going for 50k). You WILL have days when writing is the last thing on your list, or when you simply don’t have time. Writing extra when you can will help.

3. Don’t beat yourself up if you get behind. Last year I was 10k behind on the last day and I made it two hours before midnight. Also, if you don’t make it, don’t beat yourself up.

4. Go on the forums regularly but not too much. This will keep you motivated but not distract you.

5. Don’t think you have to write all your day’s words in one sitting. Many of us write 100 words at a time whenever we can squeeze it in. But when you can, write like a maniac for hours on end.

6. DON’T STOP. It doesn’t matter if you switch plots/stories/characters/points of view/genres halfway through, just keep on writing. Your goal is 50k of fiction, not 50k of one, single, coherent novel. My fantasy novel last year included several visits from aliens and lots of breaking the fourth wall. Whatever you do, keep writing. This is THE most important piece of advice I can give you. Even if you are reduced to rambling on and on about the color of the sky, it’s fine. Get that 50k out 🙂

**if you did not understand some of the termage used here, go to my ALL THINGS NANO section and find the terms page**

3 thoughts on “NaNoWrimo Explained in Full”

  1. Hey, I’m insertnamehere on the Nano forums and arranging the gift swap. I have a partner for you, but you don’t accept private messages! Her username is sage-and-silver and I’ll gladly resend all of the information whether you want to change your preferences or email me. 🙂


    1. Whooops sorry about that, I didn’t realize the site wipe had changed all my privacy settings. Silly me 🙂 I’ve fixed it, so it should work now. Thanks!


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