Photo Courtesy of the Reedsy Blog

Naomi Engle, Staff Writer

Every year on November 1st, writers from around the world join forces with one goal–to write an entire novel in a month.  More specifically, fifty-thousand words, which amounts to almost two-thousand a day.  Participants must overcome writers’ block and time management in order to bring their ideas to life in time to cross the finish line.  This is NaNoWriMo, one of the most difficult writing challenges in the world.  And it has hundreds of thousands of participants every year.  

NaNoWriMo, an abbreviation of National Novel Writing Month, was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 as a game for him and his friends to play.  There were 21 participants initially.  Twenty years later, in 2019, there were 280,000 writers officially competing in NaNoWriMo, which had become an international phenomenon.  The event has produced many bestselling novels, such as Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  When asked in an interview with About Creativity magazine why NaNo had become such a success, Chris replied, “not many of us are lucky enough to have [a job] where we invent and we dream and we conjure. And the idea of spending thirty days exploring the outer limits of our imagination is appealing, whether that’s writing a novel or a script or recording a record”.

The task of writing a book is daunting, but the time constraint forces participants to write first, edit later.  The best way to approach NaNo is to play it how it’s meant to be played.  Signing up on the website and registering a project adds participants to the list and provides them with resources to help them get ideas and find writers around the world.  It’s a big community built to support each other; writers of all skill levels are welcome.  There’s always support on the forums for “Wrimos” of all ages to discuss their projects and ask questions.  Even if you don’t win or end with a full novel, the experience is a must-have for anyone interested in writing.

Now is the time to sign up at before November arrives.  In a few days, NaNoWriMo begins and thousands of writers around the globe will put pen to paper (or fingers to keys!) and start crafting their universes.  Good luck, Wrimos!