What is NaNoWriMo, and Why Should Writers Participate?

NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. Every year since 1999, writers have joined together to "quick draft" 50,000+ word novels during the month of November. You might be wondering why this thirty-day, intense endeavor would appeal to writers? It's not only a huge commitment and time investment, but it's an especially busy season of the year. Having grown to over 550,000 participants in 2020, there are obviously more than a few writers benefiting from it. Here are 5 reasons to consider participating in this month-long challenge:


Having a word count goal, deadline, and group of like-minded people with the same goals are big motivations for many writers to participate in NaNoWriMo. They want to write a novel, but they can't seem to find the discipline to get it done. Just like the gym helps some to exercise regularly, NaNoWriMo helps writers set short-term, daily goals that feel attainable, while connecting them with other writers for a set period of time. Participants have tools to organize and track their writing projects and progress such as average daily word counts and even average words per minute. This accountability has helped many writers finally finish a first draft of their novel, even if it’s a messy first draft. You have to start somewhere!


Many aspiring writers languish because they lack support from family and friends. Maybe they've tried in-person writer groups but the on-going commitment doesn’t fit their schedule or needs. Many writers turn to virtual events or online platforms that offer more flexibility, like NaNoWriMo. As a participant, writers can join and follow forum discussions, join regional writing groups, search for “Buddies”, and get inspired by “Pep Talks” from successful authors. Participants also have the opportunity to attend live events with other writers.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and provides an opportunity for writers to get their first draft of a book done.


With online forums and many community events, this is a great way to meet other writers, and possibly find mentors. As you journey together through the month of November, some participants find critique partners or groups for the revision road ahead. NaNoWriMo groups often meet in libraries and bookstores which gives participants the opportunity to meet local librarians and bookstore owners as a writer, and not just a patron or customer.


There is a competitive piece to NaNoWriMo. It's the same idea as completing a marathon. While some writers are racing to be done first, most just want to reach their word count goal by the end of the month. Each writer’s profile page showcases the badges they’ve earned when making progress on their projects.  Everyone who reaches 50,000+ words in the thirty days gets their name on the official winner's page, a snazzy winner's certificate for your wall, and a web badge for your blog or website. Who doesn’t want these bragging rights?


Writers receive a number of perks for participating in NaNoWriMo. These include software and service discounts, free trials, and limited time offers. Winners that reach their word count goals receive extra incentives such as 50% off software like Scrivener (a popular writing software). Many writers participate because they want access to the great discounts and freebies.

Why Not Give it a Try?

Even if you don't reach the 50,000+ word count goal, you will likely be much further ahead with your book project than you were thirty days earlier. In addition to National Novel Writing Month in November, the NaNoWriMo organization now offers Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” months in January and February. So, if you're needing that extra push and find that this type of platform works well with your writing process, there are opportunities to get involved several times a year.

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo. 

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