Updated: Jul 2
NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1st and we want you to be ready to sit down for the creative process with all the tools you need for completing a book. Whether you’re a blooming writer or a seasoned veteran looking for a new way to improve your writing skills, NaNo could be the perfect creative writing companion for you this month.
Let’s explore all things NaNoWriMo so you can put out your best writing and crush your goals in 2022's challenge. We’ve included all the links to access NaNoWriMo’s features, how to use them, and what to do after NaNoWriMo is over so you can continue the path to becoming an author.
What Does NaNoWriMo Stand For?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Though, you don’t have to write a novel, specifically. Many writers choose to work on short stories, poetry, and other non-fiction works.
What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month started in 1999 as a fun, collaborative way to challenge creatives to write a novel in 30 days. In 2006, NaNoWriMo became a 501c3 nonprofit organization where thousands of writers come together each year to write online and share the creative process. You simply sign up, set your goals, and connect with those on a similar writing mission through a platform with incredible tools and features for success.
What are the Rules of NaNoWriMo?
The challenge to draft your novel begins at midnight on November 1st based on your local time zone and ends at exactly 11:59 on November 30th. The goal is to write a new creative work of 50,000 words or more in 30 days. A 50,000-word count means you’re committing to a minimum of 1,667 words per day to stay on track with NaNo’s writing rules.
That might sound daunting but, as a rough draft, 50,000 words is a measurable goal. Plus, it’s been done thousands of times throughout the writing community. The key is to take it as exactly what it is—a fun challenge. Writing a story to the end does not mean you’re not going to have to revise and do a great amount of rewriting before you’re ready to publish the book. The point is to just write and take your writing inspiration as far as it will go throughout the challenge.
What Happens if You Win NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo offers a digital certificate for all winners to print and display their achievements, along with fun merch available to purchase for those who complete their drafts. But what’s better than the elation of knowing you have the first draft of your very own written work? No matter what you choose to do from that point, the ultimate satisfaction is in knowing that you did what you sought to do. Taking the steps to become an author is the win.
What Age is NaNoWriMo for?
Anyone over the age of 13 can participate in NaNoWriMo. However, those under the age of 18 can participate in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. If you’re a parent, teacher, or guardian of a child under the age of 18, you can use NaNoWriMo’s structure with your children to begin introducing them to story writing through a platform like this. Navigate and/or supervise their use of the site and work together to help young writers achieve their goals.
How Do You Sign Up for NaNoWriMo?
Signing up for NaNoWriMo is super easy. Simply log onto the website, put in your email, create a username and password, and start exploring its features. You can add your soon-to-be work in progress, find friends writing in your region, and prepare your book writer’s journey.
The real question should be: Why not? NaNoWriMo is a rewarding experience for all creative writers, allowing you an opportunity to structure your writing goals and track your progress with like-minded people.
When you start writing a book with NaNoWriMo’s community, you are:
holding yourself accountable for your writing
connecting with other writers through mutual support
improving your writing habits and practices
challenging yourself to see what you can accomplish
gaining access to tools and resources to optimize your success
There is no set formula for writing a book, and NaNoWriMo has no expectations for how you go about plotting and writing your book. It’s great for beginning writers who want to participate in daily writing exercises while writing their first book, or for experienced writers who want to expand their writing techniques and challenge themselves to get a draft done.
What are NaNoWriMo’s Top Features and Resources?
The best part about participating in NaNoWriMo is that you’re forced to write without worrying about making edits. This helps writers improve their craft and build habits that they can carry with them even when the month is over.
Writing can feel like an isolating experience. But with all of NaNoWriMo’s features and resources, writing can feel like a collective experience generated by a community of people just like you. NaNo has numerous ways to keep you connected to the craft and other writers.
NaNoWriMo’s features include:
Stats: Track your word counts and progress, average writing speed, and approximate completion date with NaNo’s stats feature to help keep you accountable to your writing goals.
Buddies: While online writing through NaNoWriMo, you can connect with other writer friends and share the journey while you’re drafting your novel.
Forums: Gain access to NaNoWriMo’s forums where thousands of writers are asking questions and starting discussions related to all things creative writing. You can start conversations or join in on others for new insights and connections.
Regions: NaNoWriMo lets you find other writers in your specific region, with regional forms and chats for you to connect with people locally who are writing a book, too.
Groups: You can either create or join groups in NaNoWriMo to bring your writing community closer together or meet new people with similar writing interests.
Planning: NaNoWriMo has a whole page called NaNo Prep 101 dedicated to helping you prepare for the challenge ahead. There are self-guided tools for building your story outline, setting up your account, and other additional resources to stay on track.
Pep Talks: Get some encouragement and motivation from well-known authors through NaNoWriMo’s Pep Talks page. Search for inspiration from some of your favorite published writers throughout the years.
Offers: Holy discounts! NaNoWriMo wants writers who participate to succeed and their reduced-price offers prove it. From writing software like Plottr, Dabble, Scrivener, and more, NaNo sign-up means access to tons of discounts on great writing tools.
The most options you take advantage of, the better. So, be sure to browse around NaNo's platform prior to getting started on the challenge on November 1st. Don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions.
Can You Only Use NaNoWriMo in November?
Nope! With Camp NaNoWriMo, you can also participate in this challenge in April and July. This is a bit different than November’s novel writing challenge because you set your own goals for any project you choose. Get access to the same amount of resources and tools, with a bit more of a loose objective. They even offer a Camp Memoir and World Building resource page to help you get the specific help you need.
What Do You Do After NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is about completing the first rough draft of a work, but after you’ve finished the first draft, there’s still a lot to be done. This process is not at all about perfection, and becoming a novel writer will teach you very quickly that no story gets written without massive amounts of editing.
What happens after you complete NaNoWriMo is not the same for everyone. Some would say that learning how to write a novel is the easy part, and it’s everything that comes after the draft where the true challenge starts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s dive into what you can do post-NaNo to set yourself up for success.
Self-edit and revise your manuscript
Once you’ve got a draft, it’s time to go back to the beginning and start the revision process. This could take several rounds of expansion, and we recommend you stick with the same writing practices you’ve established during NaNoWriMo to go through your self-editing. If you were writing 1,700 words a day, aim to edit about that much per day—or half, if you need to. Consider taking the same approach as a professional editor, going through the developmental editing, then the line editing, and saving the proofreading for last.
Hire a professional editor
No matter which publishing route you choose to take, do not skip the value of hiring a professional editor to look over your manuscript. Even professional editors hire professional editing services for their work, so don’t think you’re exempt from needing fresh eyes on your draft. If budgeting is an issue, consider the benefit of beta and alpha readers to guide you through any holes in the plot structure or story elements that may need work.
Decide how you want to publish
The road to publishing is paved with lots of opportunities. Nowadays, there are many ways you can get your manuscript from a completed draft to a print-ready book. You get to decide whether you want to self-publish a book, seek literary agents and/or traditional publishers, or work with a hybrid press that gives you a little bit of both.
There is nothing more important than making informed decisions about how to get a book published. Your intellectual property and the ownership of your work matter. You want to do the research necessary to be sure you have applicable knowledge about how the publishing process works.
Make a publishing plan
Once you decide your publishing route (self-publishing, traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, etc.), and your manuscript has gone through all of its editing stages, it’s time to strategize.
If you’re set on self-publishing, here’s where you want to get acquainted with constructing a book marketing and distribution plan. Reedsy is a great source for the services and advice you might need to publish. If you know you want to find a literary agent and/or traditional publisher, here’s where you want to research agents and publishers who would best represent your work. Poets&Writers is a perfect starting point to familiarize yourself with agents currently taking manuscripts.
Let Our Galaxy Help You with Post-NaNoWriMo Goals
Our Galaxy Publishing provides an innovative kind of publishing experience with book writing and publishing made easy for aspiring authors. Our goal is to help you get your book published and sell your book your way, empowering an entrepreneurial mindset no matter what path you choose.
As a pay-by-service press that promises 100% ownership of your work stays with you at all times, Our Galaxy offers:
Professional book editing
Book description crafting
Professional author bio writing
Query letter review
Book design and formatting
Consider joining our 1:1 Publish Like a Pro Workshop to work with a publishing expert about whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is best for you, along with the ins and outs of the industry as a whole. Learn more about how Our Galaxy can provide you with the ultimate collaboration between author and mentor.
If you’re planning on doing NaNoWriMo this coming month, become one of our buddies at @OurGalaxyPublishing and join the Our Galaxy Writers group on NaNoWriMo’s site after signing up. We’ll be checking in to see how everyone’s doing throughout the month. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and comment on one of our NaNo posts so we know you’re writing and can look out for your posts.
Reach out if you need us. We’re here for ya.
Christine Weimer is a New York City-based content writer, award-winning author, and publishing advisor whose work has been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She holds an MFA in English and is the co-founder of a woman-owned and operated press, Our Galaxy Publishing, an educational and service-based platform championing inclusivity and diversity in publishing. She can mostly be found sharing her introspections on her Instagram as they ebb and flow. If lost, check the crevices of Washington Square Park—look for the disheveled lady with toddler in tow.
Our Galaxy Publishing is a New York City-based, women-owned, and operated independent press with a nationwide team serving aspiring authors the tools to write and publish. Our seamless publishing experience focuses on action-based tools and resources to publish, exploration of all core storytelling elements, and empowering an entrepreneurial mindset. Whether seeking to self-publish a book or find a traditional publisher, work with us for book publishing, book editing, book marketing, and writing mentorship to publish a successful book.