To NaNo or Not to NaNo?

write-here-every-dayNovember 1 is four weeks away. If you’re a writer, you know what that means: the clock is ticking toward NaNoWriMo.

For the past few years, I’ve offered workshops about prepping for National Novel Writing Month. This year, I have decided to post here each Wednesday in October on some aspect of NaNoWriMo. I’ll discuss taking the plunge and how to prepare. I’ll have a guest over to share her multiple experiences with NaNoWriMo, and I’ll host another writer who offers an alternative for those who find 50,000 words in a month an unrealistic goal.

Let’s begin with the decision to take the NaNoWriMo challenge.

NaNoWriMo is very simple—or can be. Writers sign up with the goal to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. There are no rules that you must write every day. You can work only on weekends, or work all week and skip weekends. You can join regions and cheerlead other participants, or you can go it solo. You can plan out your writing project in advance, or you can pants it. There is no cost but you can donate, as NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit.

When you reach the 50,000 word goal, you’ve won. There are certificates and badges, and you can post and yell and scream that you are a NaNo winner, but the real award is your word count. Even if you don’t make it to 50,000 words by November 30, all the new words you did write are still there, and weren’t there before, and new words is always a win. That’s why, while not everyone “wins” NaNoWriMo by reaching 50,000 words, not making that mark is not a loss. Signing up and writing as much as you can in November seems like a win-win, right?


That’s not to say there are no cons to NaNoWriMo. Despite my pretty words of encouragement above, some people who don’t make the 50,000 word goal will feel like they’ve lost, because some people believe not winning means losing. I disagree with that, but no person can tell another person how to feel about their accomplishments. For this reason, my advice is that you can aim for the goal of 50,000 words but give yourself permission to write as many words as you can.

It all sounds so easy, right? It is and it isn’t. To write an average of 1,666 words per day, which is what’s required to reach 50,000 words in 30 days, you will need to devote significant butt-in-chair time. You’ll need to give up some free time activities. You’ll need to get the cooperation and support of your family. You’ll need to get into the writing-writing-writing mindset. You’ll need to reject your inner editor.

Those are a lot of needs to write approximately 7 pages of new words every day for a month. If it sounds daunting, below are listed some previous blog posts that address how to manage those needs.

Each November, thousands of writers all over the world take the NaNoWriMo plunge. Today, I will sign up for the 2017 challenge. Will you?

More on NaNoWriMo:

11 Pre NaNoWriMo Exercises

NaNo By the Numbers

How to Prepare for a Most of Intense Writing

Kick-Starting Your Writing in November: A Guest Post by Gigi Pandian

How to DIY a Dedicated Writing Month

11 thoughts on “To NaNo or Not to NaNo?

  1. Very helpful (as usual) Ramona. I did my own version of NANO after the holidays last year. (November and December are just too demanding in other ways for me – I’d be setting myself up for failure by signing on for November.) In any case, I was exhausted when I finished my own little NANO but got to goal. Sometimes, we need a ferocious NANO-type regimen to break out of the marsh. I plan to do the same this year. Afterwards, I’ll print my own private award to myself!


  2. Ugh! I would love to pull off a writing feat like this, but it is unrealistic for me. I can’t even devote the hour a day to your sprinting sessions (although, when I do, I produce some of my best work, flying my fingers over the keyboard). I have to reassess what I am capable of as a full-time teacher and mother to teens and dogs… I crave a commitment to becoming more prolific, I just don’t know if I can wake up any earlier to do so. Good luck to all who can meet their writing goals.


  3. I did it once, but with my birthday, Crime Bak, and Thanksgiving in there, I realized it wasn’t realistic for me. And anyway, I now know I can write 60000 words in about six or seven weeks, and do so three times a year. So I’m all set with Nano – and wish others luck with it!


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