Do you have a novel in your mind that you’ve always wanted to write? Well, this may be your month to dig into that dream!
While November is the month for turkey, pumpkin pie, and counting your blessings for most of us, for hundreds of thousands of writers and would-be-writers, it’s time to sharpen the proverbial pencil or dust off the computer screen and focus on getting the rough draft of that novel done!
In November 2022, 413,295 writers around the world accepted the challenge to write through a program called NaNoMoWr: National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to encourage people to start getting those novels out of their minds and onto paper or a computer screen. The non-profit organization helps writers track their progress, set milestones, connect with other writers, and participate in events to help them complete their novel.
And it’s a free service.
“The idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days,” explains Lee Warren, who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and is part of the Kansas City-based Heart of America Christian Writers Network. “You sign up for a free account one time at www.NaNoWriMo.org. Then each year, you add your new project and update your word count throughout the month. Most metropolitan areas have an official leader who coordinates ‘write-ins’— a fancy way of saying, ‘Let’s meet somewhere and write’— throughout the month.”
Warren notes that the Kansas City group has more than 4,000 members, and that the Omaha group, which he belongs to, has scheduled multiple events for the month. “If you show up at one of the events before NaNoWriMo begins, you get a packet that contains a calendar with your expected word count by the end of each day, stickers to place on the calendar, and various other things to keep you inspired. At the end of each day, you will report your new cumulative word count on the NaNoWriMo website and watch the status bar inch toward your goal. ”
Warren does emphasize that the goal is to write a first draft, not necessarily a novel that’s completely ready to go to the publishers by the end of the month. However, people often say the hardest part of writing is getting that first draft done, so at the end of the month, participants are well on their way to making that novel dream come true!
“I’ve written the first draft of eight novels or novellas during NaNoWriMo over the years,” Warren says, “and I lead a group of writers in Omaha during NaNoWriMo as well. We meet in coffee shops to write and do online word sprints. There’s something about setting aside dedicated writing time on a regular basis that gets the creative juices flowing.”
Four of Warren’s NaNoWriMo faith-based novels and novellas have been completed and published, with another one being released in 2024. Warren has also written Write That Book in 30 Days to help authors keep on track with their writing, within or outside of the NaNoWriMo program.
If you prefer to write a non-fiction book instead of a novel during NaNoWriMo, that’s OK, too. The idea is to just start making those dreams of writing come true!
“Getting involved with NaNoWriMo can help you establish a writing routine, find your unique voice and join a thriving community of fellow writers,” Warren says. “Whether you’re writing a novel, a memoir, or anything else, this is your chance to let your creativity flow freely and unburdened.”
To learn more about Lee Warren’s writing, see leewarrenbooks.com. To learn more about NaNoWriMo, see https://nanowrimo.org/.
—Jeanette Gardner Littleton is a seasoned author and editor and is director of Heart of America Christian Writers Network (HACWN). To learn more about HACWN events, including their November 2–4 conference, visit www.HACWN.org.