National Novel Writing Month – Who For?

fullsizeoutput_27fMost authors, especially those who are active online, will have encountered reference to NaNoWriMo (the acronym principally utilised when referring to the programme) at some point in their career.

Though the programme commenced its existence in 1999 it has never been discussed in this website blog. It is about time that omission was corrected. Though a few details of how the programme operates are shared, the primary aim for this article is to consider who would benefit most by participating and who would not.

The ethos behind NaNoWriMo is to present a yearly challenge to would be authors to write a fifty-thousand word novel within thirty days (1-30 November). In its own words:

‘NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds – on and off the page.’

Clearly the idea behind this is a good one, with its aim of helping (prodding) those who have considered a writing life, but so far have either not put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard or are experiencing a stagnation, into actually doing something about it. But, who will benefit the most from participation and who is it really not for.


Undoubtedly those who have considered writing a novel but for some reason such as, fear of not being up to it; fear of what others will say; fear of editorial criticism; uncertainty of how to go about it, etc, have not done so, will benefit from taking part. In addition those who may be experiencing ‘Writer’s Block’ (this is not a place to discuss that issue) or for some other reason a hiatus in their writing may find participation in a project that focuses their mind helpful. The programme:

  • Has a defined goal.
  • Sets milestones.
  • Enables participants to track progress.
  • Provides public exposure.
  • Facilitates connection with other writers.
  • Includes a supportive community.
  • Shares ‘pep talks’ about writing.
  • Encourages participants to finish their project.

Bearing in mind 50,000 words equates to an average of 1,666 words per day the ability to record progress, in the writer’s own dashboard, provides constant encouragement. It is too easy, without such a visible record, for authors to undermine their own abilities. This record also provides a discussion point for sharing in social media communications, etc. In fact, over the years, it is the word count that appears to be the most shared fact during the month. The update frequency is at the writer’s discretion: daily, weekly, twice weekly, etc.


As may be seen, this project is time demanding. Those to whom the following applies are already busy people consequently, to take on another time consuming project is probably not a good idea:

  • already write,
  • have published books,
  • regularly blog,
  • do their own marketing,
  • are active on social media,
  • etc.

There is also the fact because they are already writing, publishing and connecting with their readers and fans, there is little to gain by burdening themselves further. One thousand, six hundred and sixty-six words a day may not sound a lot but as many authors will acknowledge it is not easy to achieve such a goal day by day. Of course, there may be days when the writer is able to achieve a greater count but these are usually offset by days when there are far less.

How it Works

Those wishing to participate in the challenge have to sign up first.

  1. Enter profile details: Email address; Password; Username.
  2. Give novel a title: System cannot be used until this is done. (Title may be changed later.)
  3. Select region: Enables updates on local events. (Region must be entered even if updates not wanted.)

Once signed up:

  • Earn participation and writing badges: Earned by completing specific milestones.
  • Get inspired: Includes talks from published authors.
  • Start writing: From 1st November and update word count in dashboard.
  • Claim a win: From 20th November copy and paste text into the NaNoWriMo word count validator.

Note: The novel cannot be written on the NaNoWriMo site. The author has to write it on their own device and then copy and paste as appropriate.

The site includes a help guide: ‘NaNo Prep 101’ that may be accessed from the ‘Writer’s Resources’ portion of the footnotes.

Advice is to commence outlining, etc., from September so that time is not wasted in November when participants should be concentrating on the actual writing of the novel.


NaNoWriMo is a great programme for those who have considered writing a novel but have not got round to it or have started but have lost impetus.

For those already writing and publishing the time commitment required is a drawback. They have enough to do without adding to their burden. Naturally, it is a matter of personal choice but, if they are inclined to participate, they should seriously determine what the benefits would be.

The November writing project is just one of the programmes available. Further details may be found at the NaNoWriMo website.

Disclaimer: Neither T. R. Robinson Publications nor T. R. Robinson have any affiliation to NaNoWriMo. Nor do either receive any remuneration for mentioning them or their products. What has been shared here is simply designed to help aspiring authors and anyone else who may benefit.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

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