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Writer’s Block? Meet NaNoWriMo

It’s November 1, which means that thousands of writers around the world are throwing themselves into the month-long writing marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. This group of participants — improbable as it might seem — include people with children, people with jobs, and people with far too many other commitments to even consider doing such a thing. They do it anyway. This project has given birth to several New York Times bestsellers, so it’s not just an exercise in frustration. Although it may certainly be that too, as evidenced by a perusal of Instagram photos from Day 1 (a few highlights seen below).

Blocked or not, nothing cures procrastination like a massive deadline and public accountability, both of which NaNoWriMo provides, if you so choose.

(If you’re an artist but would like to take advantage of this kind of inspiration-on-steroids, check out November’s Art Every Day Month, the initiative of Leah Piken Kolidas.)


What is NaNoWriMo, really? Here’s the organization’s press release on this year’s festivities:

If on November 1 you hear furious keyboard pounding echoing around the world, fear not. It is the sound of more than 250,000 people beginning a literary challenge of epic proportions: 30 days, 50,000 words, and one original novel.
Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing event and nonprofit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30. There are no judges, no prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone even reads them.
“NaNoWriMo is the writing world’s version of a marathon,” said Grant Faulkner, executive director of National Novel Writing Month. “Writers exit the month with more than a novel; they’ve experienced a transformative creative journey.” More than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, hosting writers in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries. Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience.
“Not only did I write 50,000 words by November 30, I also had cheerleaders from the next block, from across the Atlantic and from NaNoWriMo daily blogs,” said participant Twana Biram. “Imagine getting pep talks through the heavy irony and hilarity of Lemony Snicket, and the clarity and appreciation of fan fiction from Mercedes Lackey.”
With NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, that community crosses age boundaries into K-12 classrooms around the globe. The YWP allows kids and teens to set their own word-count goals, and offers educators high-quality free resources to get nearly 100,000 students writing original, creative works.
Although the event emphasizes creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer, all #1 New York Times Best Sellers.
“You can’t revise what isn’t written yet, right? This novel-in-a-month challenge is such a fantastic way to jump-start your story,” said Lindsey Grant, NaNoWriMo’s Program Director. “Plus it is officially the most fun—and effective—way to shed the constant self-doubts and inner-criticisms and simply pour that story onto the page.”
For more information on National Novel Writing Month, or to speak to NaNoWriMo participants in your area, visit

I’d heart it more if I didn’t have writers block #nanowrimo
Thu, Nov 01 2012 02:31:40

Well this has started well. #book #writing #nanowrimo #sarcasm
Thu, Nov 01 2012 01:37:26

#nanowrimo #writing #nojoke #50kin30days
Thu, Nov 01 2012 02:44:43

Already up and over day 1 goal. Can’t wait to wake up and write more. Goodnight, and good luck. #NaNoWriMo
Thu, Nov 01 2012 02:51:28
9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deliberately Delicious #

    I did NaNoWriMo last year and can’t recommend the experience enough! I am a single mom who works full time, so I’m here to tell you it’s possible in very busy lives. Mind you, I didn’t clean my house in a month 🙂

    November 1, 2012
    • Applause! So glad to hear of your firsthand “win”! 😀

      November 1, 2012
  2. I do it every year and tucker out close to the half way mark. It’s still worth the experience even if you don’t finish. I would like to make it a bit more than half way this time around

    November 1, 2012
    • I agree, Victoria — any effort at all produces pages that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Good luck!

      November 1, 2012

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